"Let Freedom Bring It"
an interview by Kenneth Avant-Garde

reprinted from CUT Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 4
October 1992


Chicago was recently visited by a large number of out-of-towners. they were here for a gospel convention a few months ago, held at the downtown Hilton. While partying at Clubhouse with a dying crowd of Sunday-nighters, we ran into Gregory Freedom (founder of the House of Freedom), Eric Chanel (from NY's legenday House of Chanel) and Da'Jon Mugler (House of...). I didn't see Eric too much during their week long visit. Da'Jon doesn't vogue at all: he walks for "Face". He and Greg are both members of an all-male gospel group called "Rapture".

I recently gave Greg a call in Hartford, Connecticut, and this is what I found out...

Give me some background on the House of Freedom.
I am the founder of the house. We started in the Summer of '89 with seven members. We didn't know enough about being a house, so we started investigating in different cities: D.C., New York, Virginia... We got a majority of out information from Robert Mugler. Freedom is the first house of Connecticut, ran by Mother Star (who is a real girl, not a drag) and Skee, who is our Father. Our first ball was the House of Africa's in '90, then the second was Xtravaganza's earlier this year. We finally gave our ball in May, which was good. It was real nice.
How many members are in your house now?
There are about 25. We have 10 "Face" walkers, 7 voguers... we have 4 for "Body", and um, people that just generally help out... everybody plays a part.
What effects do you serve?
Runway Model Effect, Performance, Arms Control and Dark and Lovely.
Are your voguers "New Way"?
Well, with us, we combine everything- old and new. If we have to go for old, we go for old: if we have to go for new, we go for new... And everybody has their own style- we might take something from someone else and work with it, but basically, we all have our own style.
Besides Freedom, what other houses are there?
There are three other houses...
And they are..?
There's the House of Nations... They're a combination of different nationalities. They're a nice house. Most of their members used to be in ours, but after that first ball we gave, I guess they felt they could do it on their own. The House of Topaz is dealing a lot with the older people that used to dress up just for fun. When they come out for a ball, they know how to come out. House of Pleasure is mostly a hispanic house. They're mostly into femme queens. They're not really into butch queens... our house is mostly butch queens.
Do you consider any of them a "threat"?
Oh, you're feeling that ovah...
No. It's just that if you go around worrying about other houses, then you're gonna lack something. I mean, work with what you've got. We just got new members. One's name is Joey. Now he's not gay, and he's in high school. He walked the House of Nations' Ball for face on the 19th of September. He got all 10's, but the person that beat him had "structure". They said if it wasn't for that, he would've won. So, y'know, we work with what we've got.
What did you think of the Nations' Ball?
It was shady.
They showed a lot of favoritism. It seemed like they had a list of people they wanted to win... And for the vogue category, I was supposed to be one of the main ones (competing), because my name was on the flyer, but I just didn't feel it. I was mad from the first category they called, so when they came to the vogue category, when they called my name, I really didn't feel for it, so I walked off the stage. The other day they explained it- why this category wasn't won, and why that one wasn't- one, because we used to be friends, and two, our ball is coming up, and the rumors we've heard are that some of them are afraid to walk it, so...
Why is that?
Let me explain something about my house. I don't want it to be one of those screamin' houses where as if someone doesn't win a trophy, they all start cussin' and screamin'... I don't want us to be fighting with any judges- y'know, you get your score, and if you don't do good, you know what to do next time... But they brought the worst out in us on the 19th, and I never thought I would behave like that at a ball- cussin' and screamin' and ready to fight. A lot of that stuff that was going on shouldn't...
How many categories did you walk?
Let me see... I walked for "Runway Model's Effect in a Three-piece" (another member of the house won)... a vogue category... "Best Dressed in a Three-piece" (I won that), and the house walked for "The Age of Nastalgia", dressed up like the Sixties.
That was the Grand Prize category?
No, Grand Prize was a wedding... The House of Pleasure won that one. The two balls that have happened in Connecticut, the Pleasures have taken Grand Prize.
When you were here, how did you "perceive" Avant-Garde?
I really didn't "perceive"... The music just hit me, and my hands went in the air, and one guy came for me- the dark-skinned guy...
Wayne started, and we vogued, and then... Michael (oh Michael!)
Then little Aaron came- Aaron was good. He seems to know more about the new style... Then came Tyrone. Now Tyrone's a "woman", I like the way he- you know.
You looked kinda struck.
Uh huh! I was happy, 'cause I was tired of vogueing! I'd rather "walk" and vogue. I was waiting for someone to hit the runway so I could give it to 'em.
Givin'em hips, chile, 'cause I have to show them the "real woman".

You are a real gag!... Do you have any plans of extending Freedom outside of Connecticut?
Uh, yeah- if we can... if we find some people that are really interested, we'll go anywhere we can... as long as they know where their "castle" is. If they want to branch off and say, "I'm the founder...", I don't think that'll be fair.
Do you have any mentors?
Yeah. Robert Mugler
Anybody else?
José Revlon...
For his "stretch"?
Uh huh! The way he vogues is just ovah!
I'm more partial to Andre [Mizrahi] myself.
I know...
How do you view the ball scene?
It's supposed to be fun. Some people can take a ball and just make it something that it's not supposed to be. I mean shade is cute and everything, but if you've got something personal with somebody, that should remain outside the ball. As long as you bring them what they want, there should be no problem. To our house, getting all 10's is better than- a trophy doesn't mean all that to us.
It's just having fun.
Yeah. Like the kids in New York take trophy getting sooo seriously, like it's a part of their life. If we go to a ball and get all 10's, then we're satisfied... but if I think we should have won that trophy, that's when things get started. But y'know, if somebody worked us... if we got all 10's with that person, than something is accomplished.
Do you have a lot of connections with the kids in New York?
Not like I should. I know a few... like Eric Chanel, Andre Mizrahi, the Muglers and the Allures from DC... I know the House of Aviance, 'cause I used to be in that house (that was the first one I was in)... I know a few here and there, 'cause I like to travel, and I like to get to know people.
Copyright 1992 Kenneth Davis. All rights reserved.
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