Watch: POSE with Billy Porter – Category is Camp


pose season two billy porter pray tell
Image: Pose FX Facebook

The second season of Pose starring Billy Porter as Pray Tell opened on June 11 in the US and after only one episode, Netflix contracted a third season.

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Who said the world would end with the final episode of Game of Thrones?

The latest season moves forward to 1990.

Following Pose‘s early success, the second season confidently dispenses of most of the cis straight white characters.

Now focus moves almost entirely onto the lives and intimate realities of the trans characters rather than their interactions with the dismissive and uncaring straight world.

Pray Tell, the emcee of the Balls (Billy Porter), moves up to a lead role and Porter DELIVERS.

In the summer of 1990, Madonna, inspired by the fabulousness of the Ball performers, released her record-breaking Vogue.

Of course, she famously took inspiration for the hit song from the New York underground Ball scene, as portrayed in Pose.

‘Took inspiration’ is so much kinder than ‘pilfered’.

However the community celebrated acknowledgment of their culture by the pop star by voguing their arses off — the visuals are superb.

The attitude, defiance and flamboyant panache expressed in ‘poses’ made or unmade reputations and relationships.

The amazing characters who inhabited this sometimes cruel and usually dystopian world lived for these moments.

Trans life in N.Y. in the 90s

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In the 90s, many trans women and some gay guys clustered together in New York ‘houses’ to survive, endure and occasionally prosper.

Good house mothers such as Mj Rodriguez’s Blanca, mother of House of Evangelista, were fierce women fought for their proteges to survive,  and even occasionally prosper.

In Pose, Blanca’s opposite number is Elektra, a classic bad queen/bad mother and former dominant queen of the Ball scene.

Despite her fall from grace and subsequent rescue by Blanca in Season 1, Elektra lapses back to her bitchy-diva self.

pose billy porter pray tell
Image: Pose FX Facebook

AIDS hits 90s New York

The personal and collective toll of AIDS complicated further the already complex lives portrayed in Pose.

ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) increased their protests across New York.

The struggles of the women and their gay sidekicks with each other and the outside world increased.

Characters, Pray Tell and Blanca confided their sero status to each other previously, in season one.

In 1990, Pray Tell joins ACT UP.

And Billy Porter is unforgettable as Pray Tell.

No longer merely emceeing the Balls, Pray Tell delivers fiery soliloquies that awe and occasionally intimidate the listener.

Like a preacher, but with fashion sense, he exhorts and berates his flamboyant flock shepherding them along the path to self-determination and a brighter future.

The fabulous camp, vamp of the time in the face of crisis makes for rousing, emotional, compulsive viewing.

Pose bought together the largest cast of transgender performers ever to recreate this story and the balls which were a feature of the New York gay scene from the mid-1980s. The Hollywood Reporter claimed that 1.2 million viewers watched the ground-breaking first episode on June 10.

Made for the FX franchise and underwritten by Netflix, Pose is a collaboration creation of the highly successful Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Steven Canals.

No word yet about Australian screenings, but QN Magazine will maintain a watching brief.

QN Magazine | For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.