When it comes to superstardom, Milan Garçon is ready to show the world exactly what they are made of. Before becoming a stand out on season two of HBO Max series Legendary, Milan thrived as a producer, media personality, emcee and LGBTQ+ advocate. Their work included stints with Fox29Philly, The Good-Day Morning Show and The Q-Show. Backed by an engaging personality, the rising media correspondent soon took their talents to the red carpets and began interviewing some of the industry’s biggest celebrities. After making the move to New York, Milan expanded their portfolio and started their journey within the immersive fashion scene.
With their passion, spark and one-of-a kind look, they immediately made waves as a runway and published model. Their world continued to open up when they joined the ballroom scene and became a member of the prestigious House of Garçon in 2018. Milan and their house went on to wow viewers on season two of Legendary with their iconic looks and show-stopping routines. After their house finished in the top three of the series, Milan is now eager to continue their growth, not only as a performer, but also as an entertainer and media mogul. GAY TIMES was able to chat with Milan about their ballroom beginnings, the House of Garçon, their brand new podcast and so much more.
When did you first discover ballroom culture?
When I first discovered ballroom culture, it was through a TV screen and through the internet. I’m from Cleveland, Ohio, so I wasn’t necessarily out when I lived in Cleveland. I lived there all the way till I went to college when I was 17. I wasn’t a part of any LGBTQ community in Ohio. I didn’t really have access to the ballroom community – but there is a Midwestern ballroom community, ballroom is everywhere. But I really discovered the culture through YouTube, like ballroom throwbacks and viral voguing clips because they would be everywhere. Of course, I saw Paris is Burning, that’s like basic queer history. That was how I found out about ballroom without having the access to experience it myself. When I moved to New York in 2018, I literally moved in March and in June I was a Garçon.
I’m the type of person that loves change. I love taking risks and I love the evolution of anything. When I came to New York, I knew I wanted more than to just chase my dreams as a media personality and a model. I’m a performing artist at my core. I started off in musical theatre and tap, all of that, so I was like ‘I have to figure out how to get into the ballroom scene.’ So, I was booked for a media coverage gig – we were basically going to a ball to get b-roll and to interview some of the legends and icons that might be in the building and some of the new girls that may have woken up that night and did really well on the floor. When we were done recording and capturing that footage, I was with people that were part of the scene and they said, ‘Hey let’s just hang out at the ball’ and then I heard the commentator ‘OTA runway’ – which means “open to all runway” – and I was like, ‘Open to all means open to all and I know I can pump.’ This is also when I had a ball fade and a beat mug – they used to call me bald fish. So I went out there and I got my 10s, I didn’t win that night but just getting my 10s was enough and I became addicted.
Do you remember the first ball you ever walked in?
The first time I ever walked in a mainstream ball in ballroom I got stacked, which means they voted over me, they voted for the other person. This is my first time ever walking and I’m coming to get my 10s, I have no clue what’s going on and they’re like, ‘There are no 10s, walk, pump, you’re battling her.’ I’m like ‘Oh my god, oh my god.’ So, they choose over me and I’m over it – I’m highly competitive, so I am pissed – but I let that go and still have a good time at the ball. My house family explained to me what was going on and why it went that way and I was like ‘Okay, I understand.’ The next time we had our house ball, which was a month or two later, it was major. Everyone in the ballroom scene was there. So me and my sister Mermaid were in Grand March, we both walk runway and are like identical twins, no shade. When we came out for Grand March, not a lot of people in ballroom knew who we were but we kept getting reposted. We then walked our first ball together a few months later during the Dorian Corey Awards Ball in 2019. We both won, it was a big thing and from there we’ve been M&M – the Garçon girls.
What are three common misconceptions when it comes to ballroom culture?
One thing is, we don’t have that much ballroom representation in the media, we really just have Pose and Legendary. But we are very much out here, we are not a community that comes out after dark anymore. We’re visible. But I feel like, especially with Pose since it’s set in certain decades, people think that ballroom is just like how it is on Pose. But, it has evolved. Ballroom is also international, some people think that ballroom is just in New York City or you have to be in a major city. Ballroom is everywhere! In my house alone we have chapters in nearly every state, we have chapters overseas. We have a Paris chapter that’s really strong, a Dutch chapter, we have members in Amsterdam. The ballroom scene in Brazil is really up and coming and those girls vogue down. They are still really fresh and there is all this excitement. They are going through this progression and it’s really dope to watch.
We have to talk about your iconic house, House of Comme Des Garçon! What does a day to day look like in the Garçon family?
A day-to-day is literally hours of laughter, there is something wrong with my house. We think everything is a joke. It’s also a very professional house. We have a section of the house that does not walk balls, they are solely our members that have very strong professional ties and trailblazers in their respective industries. We really like to highlight that. The House of Garçon, we’re very big on all around life, not just your ballroom career. They want to make sure that whatever career you’re reaching for, there is something or someone in the house that can get you there. They also care about your personal well being as well. There are a lot of check-ins to make sure everyone is doing okay.
That sounds amazing. That actually leads me to your house’s time on Legendary. Out of the nine episodes, which ball was your favourite?
My favourite would have to be…I either choose between Tinsletown or the Ice House. In Tinsletown I was up in the air feeling my jush, but I think I would have to say the Ice House episode. It was my favourite moment, my favourite ball because I tried a new category. It was a category that I loved, before ever even thinking I could walk face. I love watching all the clips and seeing all the femme queens from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s serving face. I did a lot of studying when I was on the show to make sure that I was going to represent myself and my house at my best, but it’s something that comes naturally because I model – no shade. Once I kind of took the pressure off of looking good for ballroom, looking good for the Garçon’s and looking good for myself, I just went out there and was like, ‘Girl, just go out there and model miss thang, but move slowly and sell the mug,’ and it kind of happened. I also made my house mother proud I got her a 10. It was nice to have that moment with Stasha, I learned so much from her and that’s what actually makes it my favourite. It was a big moment. For this woman to give me her tips, and her tricks, her things… it shaped my face.
Do you all have any backstage rituals before heading out on stage?
We would start our rituals early in the morning. One thing that we would do is, Tonka would send an inspirational quote or message. That would kind of centre everybody because you don’t really know everybody’s nerves are. Somebody on your team might be really confident and another person might be really nervous. Someone might feel like, ‘I’m scared to go home’ and another person is like ‘Girl we aren’t going home.’ So, it was a nice way to centre everybody and bring everybody to the same space. Then, we would listen to Gospel music all morning and the other houses. We would sing the songs together. It was either the Ice House or the semi-finals, we were all beat and broke down crying in the tent. Stasha was like, ‘Alright, we can’t listen to devotionals anymore we have to listen to praise and worship.’ We had to lift it up because we were getting to the point where we were like, ‘Wow we’re still here, working hard and feeling good.’ Right before we perform, we might put on a Megan thee Stallion or put on some Nicki [Minaj] or put on a female rapper that was going to get us hype and set the energy.
Were there any guest judges that were your favourite or that made you starstruck?
The guest judge that left me star-struck was Taraji P Henson. One of my favourite movies is Baby Boy, period. Evette was sitting right in front of me girl! Evette was right there. I was gagging. I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is Taraji!’ Another guest judge that I liked a lot was Nico Annan. I think that Nico could be cast as a regular judge on the show. The way that Nico could see the performances, completely unbiased and really understand what was happening… It felt like Nico knew what they were looking for. It was really dope.
What has been the most rewarding moment from competing on Legendary?
When we first got there, we knew that we were the only house that didn’t have any voguers. None of us vogue, they didn’t highlight that enough, honestly, because they kept asking us about it. There are five people in our house, three of us walk runway. Savion walks body and Stasha walks face. None of us walks a voguing category and we don’t have as much experience. A lot of people in the scene can vogue whether they walk a vogue performance or not. A lot of people know how to vogue, they know how to get down. We aren’t used to going out every ball and battling girls and voguing for 30 minutes straight. We knew that we were going to have to continue to build our skills after we got there, we were going to have to basically learn how to vogue competitively. When we came out for Grand March we started off like, ‘We’re going to take this risk and if it works we’re going to keep on doing it.’ After our Grand March performance, Leiomy gave us our critiques and told us that our house was the only one that showed her all five elements and that she loved the artistry we put into it. They don’t air everything the judges say to you – so when she said that she was basically saying ‘Y’all don’t vogue and y’all came out here and vogued down for me.’ With Leiomy being an icon, like the queen of vogue, that was all we needed to put the fire under us and come full force every ball after.
What kind of impact do want to have on the LGBTQ+ and non-binary community?
If there is one thing that I would like everybody even outside of the LGBTQ+ community to take from me and my experience on the show, and me just being visible and in the world as a Black non-binary bad bitch, I want everyone to see beyond the binary. It takes more than just understanding within the community – we know what’s going on in our community – we need everybody on the same page so that we can move on from all of these social stigmas that aren’t “normal”. I want everybody to see beyond the binary and I’m not just talking about gender. I’m talking about sexuality, I’m talking about spirituality, I’m talking about careers and industries, I’m talking about family and home life, I’m talking about making sure that you are living out loud and unapologetically yourself. The person you know is on the inside, make that bitch come out on the outside. Make it happen for you and that’s on period.
Outside of ballroom, what goals or aspirations does Milan Garçon strive towards?
One goal that I have always wanted is to walk in New York Fashion Week BLONDS show. I’ve walked different NYFW shows and I loved them but the BLONDS are literally my favourite designers. Everything they make. I would literally put it in a blender and drink it, I would have to because it’s normally stoned for the gods. I am obsessed! I gagged because they follow me and my sister [Mermaid] and I just want to walk in their show so bad!
What’s next for Milan Garçon?
I actually have something coming up that’s going to last for a couple of months, and hopefully for seasons and seasons. I’m dropping a podcast! It’s going to be so, so dope! The podcast is called In The Mix with Milan Garçon, a podcast by JACK’D and will be available on the app and will be streamed on every listening platform and it’ll be weekly. I’m also going to be travelling, hosting and doing a lot more shows as the world continues to open up and we continue to beat this COVID bitch to the ground.
Make sure to listen to Milan Garçon’s brand new podcast here or below.