Whether she’s turning it on your local drag stage or ballroom floor, lighting up your socials or slaying your TV care of her recent turn on “Legendary,” there is no such thing as Too Many Platforms for the fame and excellence of Milan Garçon! [Cover Photo: Hoshi Joell]
Thotyssey: Hello Milan! So you recently performed for Rify Royalty’s popular “Straight Acting” party at Metropolitan in Brooklyn! How did that go?
Milan Garçon: It was so much fun! I got there a little before call time because the dressing room is a handicapped bathroom… literally, lol! After I got in my gig, all the divas stared to arrive, and we stayed to meet each other. I had fun doing my new legendary number “America Has A Problem” with the Azealia Banks machete dance, which I think it’s hilarious. But I’m honestly trolling her right now because she’s reading me on her Instagram for going viral doing it… and I love that for us.
Lol, she is jealous because you are The Moment! With your Legendary dance skills, your gorge looks and your high profile as a performer and media star, is this the dawn of the Era of Milan?
It sure is, baby! I’m bringing Milan to a city near you, with no passport required. I feel like I’m at a turning point of my life where a lot of things that I’ve been working on for a while are finally coming to fruition, and that’s thanks to manifestation and TikTok sounds.
No, but seriously… since I started working in media in 2015 and moving to New York in 2018, I’ve actually grown as on air host. Joining the ballroom scene when I moved to New York City was the best thing I could’ve ever done in my life. Ballroom has given me a place to express myself like never before; it has led me to the NYC drag scene where I’m about to make shit pop!
Where did you come to New York from, and what sort of arts or interests did you have before ballroom came into your life?
I moved to NYC from Cleveland, Ohio I’m 2018. Before moving to NYC and finding my ballroom family, I was into makeup artistry, modeling, fashion design and musical theater. Growing up, I spent my summers at theater camp and summer stock productions of Broadway plays. I once played George in The Drowsy Chaperone where I had to learn to tap dance, and I think I still got it. In college I started to do my own makeup, and making clothes for myself and my girlfriends.
When you got here to New York, what was it about you and the House of Garçon that made such a great fit?
When I went to my first mini-ball in Brooklyn I met some members from the House of Garçon and the rest was honestly history. While I was at the ball, they encouraged me to walk virgin runway… and being the showgirl I am, I got out there and got my Tens. It was an exhilarating experience, and I never came down from the high it gave me.
After that ball, I continue to hang out with some of the house members. Bonding with the house members outside of balls and learning about the house’s mission and goal to better the lives of each member of the house in and out of ballroom, including professionally, is what really sold me. I was then invited to an induction meeting where I was interviewed and auditioned for the “butch queen up in drags” runway category for the house.
What was the process like for the House of Garçon to eventually take part in HBO Max’s ball competition show, Legendary?
The process was a long one. It took months of individual interviews, followed by weeks of interviews as a house, and from there they gave us the green light and told us to pack our bags and get on the flight!
Rather than ask the 7000 questions I wanna ask about that whole experience of competition, backstage drama, being on TV and the attention that comes with it, being among all those important folks in the scene, etc… I’ll just settle for these basic inquires: What was the biggest standout moment for you, how did the experience change you, and what’s something everyone should know about the Legendary legacy?
Being on the show came with a lot of hard work and drama. When I was on the show, it was difficult for houses to bond with each other because of the Covid restrictions on set. For that reason it was also easy for drama to spread between the houses, because there was a degree of separation that wouldn’t normally be there in the ballroom scene. And they make things seem very secretive throughout the entire process, but that was also due to the heightened competition as the weeks went on.
The biggest thing we learned while being on the show was that ballroom for television is not ballroom… it’s simply an opportunity to show the world who we are and be compensated for it. I can remember every single cast member — whether they were in my house or not — saying how they couldn’t wait to go to an actual ball after being on the show and performing for television.
Thanks to programming like POSE and Legendary and a whole lot of other recent media examples, do you worry that the ballroom culture is in danger of being ‘streamlined” or oversaturated, in the way that one could say drag has become thanks to Drag Race?
I sometimes get wary of ballroom culture being capitalized on by non-black and brown LGBTQ+ people, but I am also aware of the amount of gatekeeping we are doing to protect our people and culture. There have been many recent attempts by celebrities to copy ballroom’s movements, language and looks… but because of social media, we are able to clock the appropriators. The power of our voice can’t be muted, because we are in a place where all of ballroom can connect globally… which makes us more unstoppable than we’ve ever been.
Speaking of social media, tell us a bit about your own presence there. You’re being heavily followed on platforms like Instagram and TikTok and have been for a while, and you have a featured interview / chat series In The Mix care of Jack’d! Were you already a star in social media before Legendary? And how has that particular brand of high profile affected your daily life?
I’ve always been a “people person,” and I like to say I’ve never met a stranger. Since my vlogging days in college, I’ve been noticed in public — which was scary at first. But I’m a logical and practical person, so I adjusted my boundaries a bit so I’m aware and ready for anything to happen at any time… if that makes sense, lol.
Yes, definitely! Lately you’ve been performing in drag shows and parties all over NYC. Does this sort of performing give you a different “high” than ballroom?
Performing in the NYC drag scene is a whole ‘nother experience then performing in ballroom. I think the biggest difference is when you are walking a ball, you’re competing the minute you walk in the ball… whereas in the drag scene, you walk in the door as the diva of the night.
I see that this Thursday you’ll be hosting “Studio Stiletto” at The Q…
Where are you gonna be next?
[This] week, I will be at Rocks in Albany, NY on Saturday.
Excellent! So in closing, what’s your best advice for a newbie who wants to enter the ball scene and possibly a house?
Become familiar with the scene and the people in it, and you will find yourself authentically finding your place in ballroom.