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It was the summer of ‘94 when I met the love of my life, Andre, and it was also my first time inside The Original Sound Factory. I had never heard of Junior Vasquez, but I loved good music and I loved to dance. It would be the first time I would hear him spin and to top it off, it was his birthday party! I had no clue what I was in for. I remember walking into a packed room and seeing all these unique people, and all the legendary houses were perched, especially the Milan’s, Xtravaganza’s and Aviance’s. It was also a better glimpse into the House of Aviance, since they weren’t about the balls I had previously attended. I was completely taken by their unique vogue techniques and overall flow. They were all serving it, each in their own style, performing openly. It wasn’t a battle; it was Avi’ous they didn’t need to compete. They were on artistic display. I loved the creative outlet and was overwhelmed by the music, the characters, the feeling, the love and the lights. I felt like Roger Rabbit in Toon Town. That year before my experience with Sound Factory, I had seen Kevin Aviance perform for the first time at a drag competition @ Boy Bar in the East Village. I remember there was nothing but a milk crate in the middle of the stage. He came out in a green, tight body suit, his arms were like leaves and this huge sunflower surrounded his entire head with his face in the middle (designed by Cesar Galindo). He held a cardboard cutout of a sun behind him. He stepped into the milk crate and the magic began. He was lip synching to Oltea Adam’s version of Elton John's "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me" and as soon as that chorus hit, he raised and turned to face the sun, giving dramatics and coming to life, truly feeling like a sunflower. As simple as it sounds I had seen nothing like it. He was unbelievable, and still to this day one of best performers. I would come to see countless more performances where that came from. Over the years The House of Aviance always stood out to me since most other houses surrounded the ballroom scene and the competition. I was asked to be in several houses, and turned them all down. While I enjoyed the excitement and creativity of the balls, I didn’t care to get caught up it in the politics. Mother cared over her children to ensure they wouldn’t be placed in a category, for each one was unique. When a house evolves, just as a person does, there’s no need to compete. As Karl Lagerfeld once said, "The secret to happiness is never compete, never compare." I always danced in my own world and expressed myself on the floor many times and my feeling connected with what I saw in The House of Aviance. I had come to meet and know many people over the years and one night while on the dance floor @ Twilo, Frankie Aviance inducted me into the house. By this time I had already knew lots of Aviance’s and Mother, who was always serving it, alone or with others, giving you matrix and fierce hairdo's, shaving certain parts and thinking outside the box. Soon, I realized most of the people I knew were connected to Aviance in one way or another. That night someone was also feeling fab and was trying to tie me into a battle. I had always vogued at home in the mirror (who didn’t?), and I focused on mechanics, lines and hands, but I never put myself out there. I was rather reserved, and mostly because I didn’t want to be labeled. My Aviance parents knew that of me so no better way than to throw me to the wolves. I clearly remember Frankie Aviance and Cesar Galindo Aviance telling me, “Don’t let hur try it, get hur”, so I turned around and the battle was on. A circle formed and I was in the middle of it with the rest of the club watching on. It was my first ‘battle’ you can say. I’ll never forget it. Especially since the song playing was the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams” and all I could think was “I’m battling to THIS?” Anyway, I came out of nowhere voguing, clicking and dancing my way around that queen & everyone gagged, including me. Lots of my friends came up saying, “Work, I never knew you could vogue, I loved how you did this and that…” and I just smiled. And to top it all off, again, it was Junior’s Birthday Party. There is no such thing as coincidence. I found that in time it went from me watching everyone perform to them watching me in the very same room, years later. Mother and John Aviance always pushed it in me and would pull me out every now and then. My influences in music range from hip hop, pop, 80’s & 90’s rock, freestyle, rap & house so my dancing style consists of a little bit of everything and I never put myself into any box or category. From 1998-2006, I worked days at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of NJ, made my way up the ladder to a Program Manager for Medical Education courses. I worked fast and had a handle on things so it left me open to indulge in my creative side. I always had a passion for writing and shared this with my friends and family, reviewing events, club nights, trips, gatherings, award shows, vacations and pretty much anything that caught and still catches my interest, including lots of poetry. I did most of this while I worked. I also began sending out an “Insight of the Day”, and have been doing so for over 10 years now. I would always end my writings with One Love, so Mother Juan naturally renamed me “CJ One Aviance”, also encompassing my real name, Carlos Juan. And you don’t officially become an Aviance until Mother has given you her own name. 😉 That all began on the Yahoo Aviance Family Group and while the group has gotten quiet, you can log in any day and you’ll find an insight. Now that we all have Facebook and connect on a different level, the “Insight” audience has increased, and while many people post random quotes here and there, I began to feel that mine were no longer special. But, that hasn’t deterred me and I remember that there’s always someone out there who thanks me for providing just what they needed to hear. So, I continue to try to inspire with a simple daily message, living up to the Aviance name of more than a house, we are a movement. Recently, I have also begun adding pictures I’ve been taking while living Another Day Around The Way in South Florida, where I moved to with Andre in 2006 to pursue a different lifestyle and career. In December of 2008, a week before Christmas, thanks to the economy, I was laid off. I was always one to know that everything happens for a reason. Not pressed for coins, I took my sweet time looking for work, collected, went on numerous trips and cruises, wrote, took even more pictures and now I have even more to share, along with a great new job close to home working in a private law firm with contracts. Now, I’m speaking with publishers to push the envelope into a book, or two, and having that time off to write and gather my thoughts was exactly what I needed. Throughout the years The House of Aviance always got together for birthday parties, dinner parties, evening parties, picnics and other events. I remember a couple of years when we all gathered at Central Park for a big pot luck picnic where we gave a circus show with juggling from Cynthia Aviance and tumbling from Andre Aviance, and fierce voguing performance from Mother and John. We called ourselves Cirque De Su Gay! Another year we were on our way to the park and it began to rain. We all gagged, and ran for the nearest train station with our food. We quickly organized ourselves and headed to the nearest Aviance residence, all soak and wet. We peeled our clothing in the hall and went inside to continue our picnic in true Aviance style. Before moving to FL, I was in the mood to push my writing and poetry to the next step, so I decided to compete in my first poetry slam. My house was there for me when I first got on stage at the Bowery Poetry Club to recite my first poem in the Glam Slam that the House of Xavier was hosting. I’ll never forget that day; the spotlight was certainly on me, but in another light. I got up in front of the audience to have my cherry popped and I popped it lovely, receiving a standing ovation from everyone in the room, including one of the judges, La Bruja “Caridad De La Luz”, who I had always looked up to. I remember she gave me some great advice, “Memorize your shit.” Since I had a lil cheat sheet, nervously thinking I might forget a line. It was a magical moment for me since it was always something I wanted to do. Using her advice, I decided I wanted to do it again, and the next year I got up on stage, in nothing but my underwear at that, to recite an erotic poem about a sex scene with Andre. Talk about stepping it up a notch. I took time off school to write, memorize and perform the poem, with help from my friend, Felix Rodriguez Milan, who also taped it all. I was determined to win so I stepped it up and I came home with a trophy, the first trophy I ever won, in the presence of my House. Mother, brothers and sisters were all front row. Having my House there to support me was important, it was the support I needed that I felt I sometimes lacked in my own family. And that's what makes a house what it is, with a single parent at that! Thus, Aviance has become my family, one I would connect with on the daily level, still to this day. We share our accomplishments, our struggles, kiki’s and support each other as all Houses would, helping each other to further realize our dreams, talents and creativity. The House of Aviance represents artists, performers, professionals, and many of us walk the fine line between the three. We are all very talented and cover the globe. As Mother says, “Avi’Here, Avi‘There, Avi’Everywhere” My story is one that reigns with the Aviance story of commitment, passion and love….. Avi’ously! One Love, Carlos Juan Aviance "CJ1 Aviance"