Friday, June 22, 2018

Happy Birthday to Drag Queen, Musician, Kevin Aviance

Eric Snead was born today, June 22, in 1968 in Richmond, Virginia.  He is better known as Kevin Aviance, a drag queen, Club/Dance musician, fashion designer, and nightclub personality. He is a known personality in New York City's gay scene and has performed throughout North America, Europe and Asia. He is a member of the House of Aviance, one of the legendary vogue-ball houses in the U.S. 

He is known for his trademark phrase, "Work. Fierce. Over. Aviance!" He won the 1998 and 1999 Glammy Awards, the award for nightlife personalities in New York City. He has worked with several artists including Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston. In December 2016, Billboard Magazine ranked him as the 93rd most successful dance artist of all-time.

From an early age, Aviance dedicated himself to the study of music and theatre, his first experience in drag was in the seventh grade. His early influences were "punk, Boy George, Devo, and Grace Jones." He moved to Washington D.C. where he worked as a hairdresser and did drag performances. He developed a bad crack habit but with help of the House of Aviance he was able to overcome it, after his initiation in the house he took the name Kevin Aviance. 

He later moved to New York City and made a name for himself as a dancer/performer at Sound Factory, a club mainly for queer Latinos and blacks. Major DJs and club promoters saw him performing and started hiring him, he became one of a handful of drag performers in NYC able to support themselves solely on performances. His career as a performance artist and club personality began in Washington, DC, continued in Miami, and eventually landed him in New York City. The House of Aviance to which he belong was founded in 1989 (in Washington, DC) by Mother Juan Aviance. Kevin is regarded as Mother Juan and the House's "oldest daughter." 

In 1993, Aviance who was living in Florida at the time was asked to moved down to New York City by Mother Juan. He accepted his House Mother's request and shortly after, landed a cameo role in Madonna's 1994 "Secret" video. In July 1999, Aviance performed as part of Billboard's sixth annual Dance Music Summit.

Aviance has appeared in several films, including Flawless starring Robert De Niro and the independent film Punks. Besides his feature-film work he has made guest appearances on such shows as The Tyra Banks Show, and America's Next Top Model, also hosted by Tyra Banks, and worked with artists like Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston. His songs "Din Da Da," "Rhythm Is My Bitch," "Alive," and "Give It Up and Strut," have all reached Number 1 of the Billboard dance chart. The only one of his singles not to peak at Number 1 to date is "Dance For Love." Aviance's most successful dance radio hit to date is "Give It Up" released in 2004. His second album, Entity is a more consistent effort than his first.

On June 10, 2006, while exiting the Phoenix, a popular gay bar located in the East Village section of Manhattan, Aviance was robbed and beaten by a group of men who yelled anti-gay slurs at him. Four suspects were arrested under New York's hate-crime law, but reports say up to seven men were involved in the attack. Aviance was not dressed in his gender-bending performance clothes but as a boy. He had to have his jaw wired for a month. He also suffered a fractured knee and neck injuries as well as blows to the face. Despite suffering a broken jaw, he insisted on appearing in the city's gay pride parade later that month.

On March 21, 2007, all four assailants pleaded guilty, receiving prison sentences ranging from 6 to 15 years in plea agreements that included hate crimes embellishments. The four young men, who range in age from 17 to 21 years old, [would have] faced up to 25 years each for the attack, had they been found guilty in a trial. All had been charged with gang assault as a hate crime.

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