On April 15, a small piece of lesbian history was made in Brooklyn, N.Y. Located at The Lab, an all “stud” fashion show titled “Gladiator: Etymology of the Female Muscle” took place. Thanks to Fallon Davis and Chanou Wiltshire’s artistic vision, women were able to witness first-hand a runway full of masculine-identified women.
Aside from a few kinks pertaining to the music and lighting, the show was executed flawlessly. The décor was purple and black with gold accents. Women dressed as goddesses assisted everyone to their seats and provided patrons with show programs. Although seating was limited, The Lab was the perfect venue. The epitome of the word “exclusive,” if you did not purchase your ticket ahead of time, you were out of luck. Even though the show started an hour late, few attendees appeared to be bothered. They were all there to support and seemed pleased at the end.
The show opened with a compilation video of all the models saying what label they identify with and what they do for a living. They personified the words “female muscle” with tough exteriors and beautiful features. They were all different shades, heights, and body types.
“We put a lot of hard work into this show to make it a success,” said model Tweet. “We went through our ups and downs, but in the end [it] brought us closer.”
Performances by singer Haywoode, poet Hrsh Reyalitee, and Lady Chanou entertained guests in between runway looks.
“The ‘stud’ woman has a place in the fashion [industry] and I was more than proud to see ‘Gladiator’ give masculine-identified women a voice,” designer Toni Branson shared.
ELIXHER also had the opportunity to chat with Fallon Davis, the executive producer of “Gladiator.” Here’s what she had to say about the show’s success and bumps along the way.
ELIXHER: In one word, what is this event about?
ELIXHER: What does the title, “Gladiator,” mean?
FALLON: Power, strength and courage. Three attributes [masculine-identified] lesbians need to possess in order to “survive in this world.” I researched the history of ancient Roman gladiators and read about how they were enslaved, forced to fight for public entertainment, and treated horribly. It truly relates to the overall struggles and battles [masculine-identified] lesbians face within society and mainstream media.
ELIXHER: How long have you been planning this event?
FALLON: The idea popped into my head in September and in October, the production began. It was the most tiring, glorious, tough, memorable, remarkable, uplifting, powerful six months of my life.
ELIXHER: Which part of the planning and execution was the most difficult?
FALLON: Keeping the team focused on such a long-term project. Encouragement, monthly meetings, and letting people have important roles really gave them something to look forward to. Contacting sponsors was hard as well. My letter went out to over 200 companies. Fuse and Vitamin Water Zero were a blessing. We brought mainstream into our community and they had a wonderful time.
ELIXHR: What are your feelings about the idea traveling to different cities?
FALLON: I’m ready. So ready.
ELIXHER: Were you afraid to produce a show that catered to and centered on masculine-identified women?
FALLON: I wasn’t scared at all. I knew it was an untapped market that needed to be released. The reason people don’t break out of boxes is because they are scared. You can’t change the world unless you believe in what you do and I believe in it 100 percent. The response from it was remarkable from the beginning.
ELIXHER: Do you think there could be more mainstream acceptance of lesbian-centered shows as well as “stud” models?
FALLON: Mainstream is ready for something new. We have to be very strategic but because it’s so innovative and interesting, people will grasp onto it more. Of course there will be those that reject it but fashion has a new face and we want to show it.
ELIXHER: How can we help?
FALLON: Join the movement. Help us create visibility and spread the word. Keep supporting!
– Ebony Dickens
Ebony Dickens is an Atlanta-based lesbian and graduate school student with aspirations of becoming an attorney. She loves staying on top of the latest news and enjoys a challenge.