When I first saw the initial footage that has become Angela Jude and Lo Calsada’s House of Mamis, showing a group of queer folks voguing in the streets, I was overwhelmed.
Sure, I’d seen lots of footage of queer bodies dancing in the style that has lately become all the rage across television and media, but I’d never seen the story of the ball scene told with Latinx folks front-and-center. I’d never seen it depicted in the streets in Mexico City, a metropolis bursting with queer culture.
And I’d never seen a documentary on the ball scene look so beautiful in just a rough cut.
Since that moment, our teams here at INTO have been working alongside the two queer creators to help take the initial footage they shot during a trip to MXC and turn it into a full-length season of a show that we’ll release in October in partnership with Facebook Watch and others.
As we prepare for the launch of our first ever show, we thought it would be nice to give you some insight into what the project is — and where it’s hoping to go — from the creators themselves.
Zach Stafford: Who are the ‘House of Mamis’ and how did you meet them?
Angela Jude: I lived in Mexico City for a month shooting everything that inspired me, immersing myself in the queer scene there. While filming a small documentary about a trans woman opera singer with Lo, we ate lunch one evening and she spoke about houses in Mexico City.
After that I did some little digging on Instagram and found friends in common with a voguing family that was House of Mamis.
Lo Calsada: Who are a familia en la cuidad de Mexico. They are a group of queer folks, bois, femmes, chicxs, womxn and everything in between.
Vogue and ball culture have been having quite the year with the success of both Pose and My House. But both shows focused specifically on the epicenter of the culture, which is Harlem. What drew you to the House of Mamis in Mexico City?
AJ: There is so much glam around voguing right now. Once upon a time voguing was not cool, not profitable, the culture wasn’t just about dance and outfits, but more about community and that is what drew me to the Mamis.
In a tiny 2 bedroom, you have 10 people living, existing in that space. They cook to feed all of them and they all help each other get ready for the night and the house mother Mendoza, a brilliant dancer in the scene, created this house not of the best dancers around but of folx that really needed a family.
LC: What drew me to the Mamis is their way of sustaining each other, loving each other and working together, whether it be voicing transphobia in a queer space or taking the midnight train. It is done together.
House is Mamis is a family that happens to vogue.
What was it like shooting a documentary there with that queer community?
LC: It was such a pleasure to be welcomed into their lives, to cook together, eat and talk with one another. There are precious moments that the camera simply cannot capture.
However, they were very open and wanted to voice their opinions. So it became very natural to just listen while documenting. By the end of it, La Mendoza, the house Mother, was inviting us to non vogue events, to hang out without the camera.
What are things that viewers will be surprised by after seeing the show? What do you hope people take away from it?
AJ: I think how inclusive the House is and how the goal is not to be the strongest voguing house, but to create spaces for young LGBTQ folx to have a place to escape to.
I hope that folx watch it and grow an appreciation for the artistry and dedication of these Mamis to each other. I hope it helps queer, flamboyant, you-name-it kids to know that even if they live in traditional spaces, such as Mexico, that there are places for them to be who they truly are.
How do you see ‘House of Mamis’ adding to the conversations going on about balls and house culture right now?
LC: Oh a lot. The house brings up issues that have been brought up in Vogue culture all over the U.S. and world. I’m curious to see the reaction. Topics like transphobia, inclusivity in balls and queerness in house culture.
AJ: And I think House of Mamis will reflect the days of old, but also speak on the queerness of today’s youth. It will show the grind of keeping this scene alive and fresh despite [lack of] resources and it will disrupt the idea that it is a space for competition.
Finally, do either of you vogue?
LC: Not quite, but I have a few teachers.
AJ: Depends who you ask. I’m going to say…a little.
‘House of Mamis’ will premiere on October 16th here at INTO and across all of our channels, and will run for seven episodes. Watch out for announcements around live events with the cast, screenings and other exciting announcements.