Hector Xtravaganza, a longtime fixture in New York City’s queer ballroom scene, has died at the age of 60.
A member of the House of Xtravaganza, Hector was listed as a still photographer in the 1990 documentary “Paris Is Burning,” which shined a light on ball culture in New York City’s LGBTQ communities of color during the 1980s. The film marked one of the first times the black and Latinx queer communities were highlighted in any film.
Hector served as the father of the House of Xtravaganza from 1993-1997 and 1999-2003 before ascending to the role of house grandfather. Not to be confused with Hector Valle, who was a founding father of the house and died of AIDS complications in 1985, Hector Crespo changed his last name to Hector Xtravaganza, according to Variety.
Hector most recently worked on the groundbreaking FX show “Pose,” which also is based on New York’s ballroom culture in the 1980s.
The cause of Hector’s death was not immediately clear. The House of Xtravaganza announced on Facebook that plans for a celebration of his life will be announced in the coming days.
“He was a friend to everyone he met, a source of inspiration for all who knew him, and a cornerstone of our House family,” the House of Xtravaganza Facebook post said.
Steven Canals, the co-creator and executive producer of “Pose,” said in a Tweet that Hector was “a show consultant, but more than that a loyal Abuelo to all. Keep him, his family, & friends in your prayers.”
The House of Xtravaganza was founded in 1982, which coincided with the emergence of the modern ballroom scene and marked the first all-Latinx house.
The balls feature competitions from different “houses,” made up of groups of people who formed their own families after many were rejected by their biological families. Ballroom participants often find the events to be a welcome refuge from the hardship they face on a daily basis, which were on full display in “Paris Is Burning.” Part of what made that film so special was the way it showed ballroom and house members discussing the economic, racial, and social issues impacting their lives at the time.
In an interview with Them, Hector said his consulting work with “Pose” was “the opportunity of a lifetime.”
“With Ryan Murphy, how am I supposed to say no? That’s the best decision I’ve made in my life,” he said. “I wouldn’t have let this go for anything. Like my grandmother always said, if a door closes, liquify yourself and ooze your way in.”
Thanks to the work of Hector and others who helped in the production of “Pose,” the show was renewed for a second season and garnered two Golden Globe nominations.