CELEBRATING HARLEM’S ICONIC LGBT FIGURES& PLACES
According to NYC & Co., four million people from around the world will arrive in New York City this June to celebrate World Pride and the epic commemoration of Stonewall 50. Taste Harlem Food and Cultural Tours (TasteHarlem.com) is excited to offer premiere activities highlighting Harlem’s glorious LGBTQ history and culture as well as the 100th Anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. Decades before Stonewall, Harlem was home to rich and boldly diverse lifestyles, which helped fuel the famed Harlem Renaissance.
Beginning June 8, 2019, PRIDE in Harlem Tour & Programs will explore the personal lives of cultural icons such as Langston Hughes, Bessie Smith, Josephine Baker, and Countee Cullen, and shines a light on Harlem as the epicenter of underground drag balls and competitions, voguing, and house music attractions. From the roaring 20s to the civil rights period to present-day, this tour and special events inspires and celebrates the dynamic impact of Harlem’s LGBTQ history with emphasis on great personalities of the Renaissance, social gathering places of the present and past, art, storytelling, scandals, music, dance, and the struggles to gain political freedom to live authentically and simply be!
Jacqueline Orange, Curator of Taste Harlem Food & Cultural Tours notes “The LGBT community had a tremendous impact on not only the trajectory of the Harlem Renaissance but on the type of community Harlem has grown into as well and as the world converges on New York City this Pride season it was important that Harlem history be shared and remembered as well.”
“There is so much to see in Harlem…” said Langston Hughes who called the African American Cultural Capital, “our own town, as big as Rome.” Touring with Harlem historian, published author and social activist Michael Henry Adams, you relive Hughes’ experience, seeing some of the places he knew and loved, including ornate churches, the Jungle Alley after-hour strip on West 133rd Street and the one-time homes of Hughes and other historic LGBT luminaries, including comedian Bert Williams, entertainment legend Josephine Baker, poet Countee Cullen, millionaire A’Lelia Walker, opera star Jules Bledsoe, and singers Georgette Harvey and her lover Musa Williams. We’ll also visit the notorious “buffet flat” called Chez Clinton, where live erotic shows attracted white celebrities like composer Cole Porter, dancer Clifton Webb, Archie Leach, aka Cary Grant and “poor little rich girl” Woolworth heiress Barbra Hutton. The Imperial Order of Elks Lodge where much of “Paris is Burning” was filmed is yet another destination that resonates with the drama of pre-Stonewall queer heritage.
Locals and tourist can add to their experience, an hour-long Vogue Dance Class facilitated by dance icon Cesar Valentino, fixture in the underground ballroom and club scene. Voguing has its roots in Harlem, the dance was the creation of the late Paris Dupree one of the original drag ball creators and popularized by the late dancer and choreographer Willie Ninja. From Madonna to Hip-Hop voguing has dramatically influenced the world of dance. On Sunday, June 23rd at 11am and 1pm legendary performer and Queen of Comedy Harmonica Sunbeam will host Taste Harlem Drag Brunch at Lenox Saphire Harlem, 341 Lenox Ave, New York, NY 10027. This event is where good food meets, live comedy and music.
Carmen Neely, President of Harlem Pride which is the largest SGL/LGBT organization in Harlem states, “As the world converges on NYC to celebrate World Pride, come uptown to experience the delectable sights and sounds of Harlem. Harlem Pride invites everyone to celebrate our 10th Anniversary. Come feel the ebb and flow of the Uptown Pride Vibe in Harlem!” For more information visit HarlemPride.org.
Richard E. Pelzer II, Founder of Harlem2020 and Ulysses Williams, Co- Founder of Global Network of Black Pride have created PRIDE in Harlem is an acknowledgement of Harlem as the Epicenter of Black Culture. It symbolizes the unity and affirming of diversity in gender and sexual expression within the Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) community in conjunction and in accord with our allies in the larger Black Diaspora. Our mission is to empower and preserve our community with the long-standing legacy of LGBTQ people in Harlem from the Renaissance, through Stonewall era to present day. PRIDE In Harlem is “Hyper Local”, thus curating and collaborating with small businesses, entrepreneurs, activists, historians and cultural institutions that represent the neighborhood of the Harlem’s Global Reach and 125th Street as Main Street USA.
Jacqueline Orange, Taste Harlem Food & Cultural Tours
On an early visit to New York, this Chicago native had discovered Harlem and fell in love with the diversity and vibrant energy of the neighborhood. The more she explored her new neighborhood, the more she found to share with others. The result is Taste Harlem Food and Cultural Tours, with its range of tours reflecting on many aspects of Harlem life—past, present and future.
Jacqueline is a woman who embraces change and welcomes any challenges put before her. “With the creation of Taste Harlem, I feel as if I’ve been able to incorporate all my past business experience—from creating a financially viable business, to developing my own sales and marketing programs, to researching the latest happenings in Harlem,” says Orange. “Of course, what matters most to me is spending time with people, sharing something I love—great food, inspiring music and art, a living history.
“When I see one of my customers’ eyes light up, be it from the unexpected taste of a Soul Food dish or from learning a bit of history that took place right where they are standing, I know I have found my passion.”
Michael Henry Adams
Born in Akron, Ohio, Michael Henry Adams is an accomplished writer, social and architectural historian and activist living in Harlem. A fine arts graduate of the University of Akron, Michael trained at Columbia University’s graduate historic preservation program as well as studying English country houses at the Attingham Summer School. His books include Harlem, Lost and Found; An Architectural and Social History, 1765-1915, Monacelli Press, 2001 and Style and Grace; African Americans at Home, Bullfinch, 2002. Currently he’s at work on the forthcoming Homo Harlem, A Chronicle of Lesbian and Gay Life in the African American Cultural Capital, 1915-1995. He is a passionate supporter of historic preservation and having visited Paris and Versallies the week of St. Valentine’s Day, discovered for all their splendor and charm, he loves New York, Harlem and Newport far more.
The dance workshop will be facilitated by Cesar Valentino who has been dancing for 35 years and began vogue dancing in 1983. In 1988, he quickly became a fixture in the underground ballroom and club scene where he won several coveted trophies. Cesar was also featured in one of the first ever articles about voguing in the Village Voice and in the documentary The House Of Tres (Directed by Diane Martel). He landed a spot on the Deep In Vogue tour with Malcolm McLaren throughout Europe in 1989, appeared in music videos with artists such as Toni Braxton, Carmen Electra, and K7s in Hi De Ho to name a few.
Cesar appeared in Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning documentary, Voguing, The Message, and Vogue Classique. Working as a runway coach for upcoming and established models and modeled professionally for over 15 years, Cesar appeared in fashion publications for Gear, Details, Vanity Fair and Blue Magazine.
Cesar has performed all over the world such as Japan, Italy and Germany. He has served as a judge and taught vogue workshops at Funkin’ Styles Berlin Germany, Meeting Hip Hop in Sao Paolo Brazil and House Dance International. His classic old way vogue style with grace and precision earned him the respect of his peers when he was presented the Marcel Christian Legend award in 1991.
Harmonica Sunbeam, The Queen of Comedy has been delighting audiences at nightclubs, cabarets, fundraising events and supermarket openings throughout the United States and abroad for over 27 years. Her live appearances have gained her a cult following of all ages, races and backgrounds.
Harmonica has been featured on several television shows (The Deuce, The Breaks, The Jack and Triumph Show, Law and Order SVU, Third Watch, Johnny Zero and 100 Center Street. Her film credits include Honey w/Jessica Alba, Uptown Girls w/Brittany Murphy and the Oliver Stone drama “World Trade Center.” She has worked alongside noted musical artists such as Beyonce, Mary J.Blige and Jennifer Holiday and was recently featured on the season finale of Saturday Night Live as a backup dancer for artist Katy Perry. Harmonica has three independently produced club singles; “Ready to Pump”, “I’m Here To Work” and the latest “This Is The Beat”.
Miss Sunbeam’s latest project is showcasing her unique ability to uplift, encourage and engage children. She is involved with Drag Queen Story Hour where drag queens go into libraries, bookstores, festivals and other events to read books to kids of all ages. Drag Queen Story Hour audaciously encourages the creativity and boundless energy of child’s play as they relate to both gender neutrality and non-conformity, while promoting positive LGBTQ role models.
FOR PRESS INQUIRIES
CONTACT: Jacqueline Orange