Text by Phoenix Alexander, Copyright 2023
Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2023
Styling by KVaughn
Dance Another Day
My family is made up of my mother Johnny Ruth, my father Xavier, my eldest brother James, then myself, my younger brother Jr and my young and the youngest my dear sister Debbie.
I’d like to start by saying we were a military family. I guess you can say I’m a military brat! My father was a head of the military police and to say he was an enforcer of rules both at work and at home, is putting it mildly. We had three responses to anything he asked of us:
1. yes sir
2. no sir
3. I don’t understand sir.
Following his rules was the only option or corporal punishment soon followed.
I was born in the Bronx, New York City on March 21st, 1968 and then around the world we went traveling to Germany on occasion for duty. We moved roughly every 4 years. When stationed in the US we were we living at Fort Belvoir in Mount Clare Virginia , also bases in Maryland and Cincinnati, Ohio. Aside from our military moves, I’ve also lived in the Bronx, New York Philadelphia, Pa. and Iowa. Yes a short time in the midwest….. Iowa! yikes!
In middle school I auditioned for the SCPA the School of Creative and Performing Arts in while living in Cincinnati (not to be confused with SPCA.)
It wasn’t long after my audition that my parents divorced and it was at this point, Phoenix took flight! I haven’t fallen yet, although I’ve come close more than five times.
The first time as a toddler, I took my grandmother’s medication thinking it it was candy. In elementary school while with my father fishing on the Chesapeake Bay, I fell into the water and nearly drowned. While in Germany, I was within inches of being struck by a car. Also, in Germany, while on a field trip exploring rock formations in a cave, I slipped and nearly fell over a cliff. While living in the projects at 4th and Washington streets in Philadelphia, I was severely assaulted for just being myself. In my twenties I was stabbed by two punks and then the police had the audacity to assume I was the perpetrator and not the victim.
Most recently and the most challenging was my battle with kidney failure. I went to dialysis three times a week for nearly 14 years.
Nine months ago I received a new kidney. If you want to make a difference in another person’s life become an organ donor. I can’t describe the amazing power of a second chance in an already amazing life.
It has been unbelievable and I’ll be eternally grateful for this kidney.
I would happily describe in great depth the details of each of these events but it shows I’ve had the wind beneath my wings for my entire life.
The Wind Beneath My Wings would be my mother. She has lifted me through each crisis. Her strength and love is without a doubt unwavering for myself and each of my siblings. I wouldn’t be here or the person I am without the love of my mother. Thank you Johnny Ruth!
I must share that aside from my family, many of the best lessons has come from working at Spruce Street video in Philly for Less Harrison and Fran Price and their son, Lil Les who I’ve had the blessing to watch grow from a young child to a successful adult and yet can still can be a pain in my know you know what! I will always see him as a brother.
I will cherish my experience working at Spruce Street video from the age of 18 to 20, for allowing me to fully be myself with no apologies. It opened me to the doors of iconic clubs like Revival, Black Banana, The Bank and so many other nightclubs including Evolution, Shampoo and others I dare not mention!
I’d like to thank the person who told me I was and always will be legendary: Willie Ninja. He brought me into the House of Ninja and the world of vogue, a form of dance and expression. It truly changed my life!
This story could not be told without mentioning the guardian of my life and keeper of my spirit, who I like to refer to as my bunny head, Rebecca McGettigan. She keeps me focused on what’s important, caring for my health, my mind, my body and my soul.
There are so many people I would like to name for adding unbelievable moments in my life both past and present. There isn’t a word created to express how grateful and blessed I’ve been in this city of brotherly or sisterly, they, them, I, bi, straight, gay or whatever Love for allowing me;
this gay black man to be exactly who I am, a proud legendary Phoenix!
I thank the man upstairs daily for keeping me here to dance another day.