MOTHER JUAN AVIANCES BIO
HOUSE OF AVIANCE HISTORY
A secretary by trade and the proud owner of the infamous, trademarked House of Aviance® Juan Aviance, or as legions around the world call him Mother Juan Aviance, has come a long way from his humble beginnings. Born in 1963 in Charleston, South Carolina to Mr. and Mrs. Williams, he has not only been inspired by those musicians and artists he has met along the way but also by his biological mother’s philosophy: “You make yourself who you are, not even a name makes up an individual.”Juan heard the calling at a young age. Raised in Boston, he was always inspired by music, dance and the arts. As a child, he exhibited entrepreneurial skills which are now responsible for the House of Aviance’s success today. Throughout his childhood, particularly in his teens, he participated in school entertainment projects, notably music and dance. Though he truly loved the discipline of the arts, by high school he realized that he didn’t have the passion necessary to consider it as a full-time career. Although he played around with idea of pursuing music & dance in college he couldn’t shake off the repetitive nature of performing. He says, “I just hated doing the same routines over and over again. I simply was not in love with that aspect of entertaining, it was not for me.”
He graduated high school in 1982 but still wasn’t sure what he might do career-wise, so he went to business school to pick up office skills that would enable him to make a living. Juan learned to love that type of work and knew it would be a way to provide a living. While in business school he worked for The Boston Public Schools and then The State of Massachusetts Disability as a Secretarial Clerk.
In 1987, things started happening. He learned that friends who lived in Boston with him were moving to Washington, DC, and they wanted him to join them. Juan felt the time was right to make the move and bravely, without knowing what would happen, went for it! He took his secretarial skills with him and landed a job with an Environmental Lobbyist where he set up press conferences with Senators on Capitol Hill and performed paralegal work. He says, “I guess those skills I obtained in business school and on previous jobs came in handy.”
Shortly after he discovered the nightlife of Washington, DC and his life changed forever. He frequented clubs on a regular basis and his congeniality soon opened doors for him. He learned the ropes and was soon on the A-list of club guest lists and became a staple of the scene.
In 1989, he heard about vogue houses and ballroom competitions, and his childhood experience with setting up talent shows came back to him. He had heard about this in his earlier years, but he never really grasped the concept. Juan states, “In my earlier years I went to the Paradise Garage a few times and heard the Legendary DJ Larry Levan spin. I also witnessed outstanding performances by Liz Torrez, Grace Jones and watched in awe the Houses vogueing in all their glory. I even had the privilege to meet the up and coming artist of time Keith Haring, which was an honor in itself. Although it was all exciting and interesting to me, only in hind sight do I realize those very experiences would help groom me to the person I’ve become today”
HOUSE OF AVIANCE HISTORY
The House of Aviance was founded August 1989 in Washington, DC on 1420 Harvard Street. A few years later the Aviance Sacred Heart Logo came to light. Originally the logo was given as a gift for Valentines Day but Mother Juan loved it so much he asked the creator Alfred Galindo Aviance for his blessing to use it as the House logo. The HOA credo “DESIDERATA” was discovered by Jonathan Clark Aviance, he recited it one night and Mother Juan quickly thought it fit the way he looks at life and adopted it. In August 2014 HOA will celebrate it’s 25th Year Anniversary with a little over 700 members strong (active & non-active). Only 20 members have left the House since its inception back in Washington, DC. Its story is a modern day fable of connections, commitment, dedication, passion, blind faith and love.
The House of Aviance was previously called the House of Power (for a few weeks) until Juan glanced at a vendor cart on the streets of DC, and again, his childhood beckoned. The vendor was selling perfumes and he re-called a commercial from his childhood by Prince Matchabelli. A line from the jingle went, “We’re going to have an Aviance Night.” In an epiphany, he renamed his House “The House of Aviance”. That name has stayed with the House since that fateful experience in the streets of DC.
Juan thought initially that one had to be a drag queen or transsexual in order to be House Mother, so he first discarded the notion. Within weeks that notion was out the window and he naturally became the Mother. Shortly after, the supportive and generous Tony became Father without a doubt. Mother Aviance says, “Daddy Tony Aviance” fit his role perfectly. His willingness to share ideas along with his unselfish way of loving “everybody” really helped pull the House together”.
Moving forward Mother & Father Aviance gathered a few friends to become members and they were on their way. The concept of Aviance was a simple one: To have an understanding of one’s self worth regardless of the situation or circumstance that one has been dealt. Juan and Tony knew they were just little fishes in a big pond but their dreams started to dictate their future. Within a year or two The House of Aviance “1st DJ” Jean Philippe Aviance produced a track titled Go Bitch Go! – “Work This Pussy (Original Bitch Mix) with Side B being Michael Malipit aka Wilma’s mix titled “Work This Pussy” – (Wilma’s Beatz Are Serving” as well as Ultraworld – Life After Death on Strictly Rhythm all were instant hits! DJ/Producer Jean Philippe Aviance later went on to produce other hits such as Useless, Give Me Luv – Alcatraz and many other tracks.
By this time House of Aviance made a name with nightly vogue/runway dance battles which assured their place among the best in DC and New York, keeping the Aviance name on everyone’s lips. The House brought a style & flair to the game that no one had. In fact, the House has a few coined phrases they use today to describe the very essence of the Aviance look and style of vogueing: The Look is: “Avi’ously Aviance” and The Style of vogueing is: “Aviance Storytelling” both phrases are undeniably accurate if you know anything about them.
The journey wasn’t always an easy one. Ballroom competitions were a bane for this uniquely talented ensemble. Juan recalls, “We weren’t embraced in the Ballroom but we did it anyway for the experience and exposure.” Persistence paid off with Aviance winning dozens of trophies and cash grand prizes for their exceptional performances in the Ballroom.
In August 1991 The House decided to have their first Ball called The Inferno Ball at Tracks DC. It was a huge success, and the club was packed with DC Houses, NYC Houses and many patrons. During that time Paris is Burning was a huge success, so House of Aviance asked the Paris is Burning stars Dorian Corey and Pepper Labeija to be judges and they accepted! BET (Black Entertainment Television) got involved and taped the event. Snippets of Ball were used along with private interviews of the participants and patrons for a special feature broadcasted nationwide. Inexperienced, DEFINITELY, but not bad for their first Ball!
During this time Mother Juan and other HOA members traveled to New York City on weekly trips to New York hot spots like Club USA, Limelight, The Original Sound Factory @ 27th Street, Tracks NY and The Tunnel. But rest assured House of Aviance continued to reign the DC nightlife with parties like Kindergarten which were frequently visited by NYC Club Kids Amanda Lapore, James St. James, and Kenny Kenny (just to name a few). The Kindergarten Parties excelled the careers of Kevin Aviance, DJ Jean Philippe Aviance, Paul Somers Aviance (RIP) who was actually the catalyst behind the Aviance Marketing/Other Pages dream/concept. They were truly on the fast track to STARDOM! Mother goes on to say, “DC is where we learned some things, but we knew New York City was where we had to go to get the full effect.”
MOTHER AVIANCE MOVES TO NYC
In 1993 while the buzz was in the air Juan decided to transfer the headquarters to New York. Before long, in addition to the locations in NY and DC, Aviance grew worldwide with members in Brazil, Canada, Israel, Milan, Paris, Turkey and Russia.
Once in the Big Apple, Mother Juan crashed with some friends until he got a job. Characteristically enough, the hard working Juan landed a job in an advertising agency and found his own one bedroom apartment on 55th & 9th. As the House became established in NYC, they did everything from hosting parties, performing, flyer distribution and club décor. Aviance paid their dues and, like in DC, became a staple in the New York City nightlife.
During this time eldest daughter Kevin Aviance was in Florida putting himself on the map there and as Mother got settled he wanted Kevin to come to NYC! Kevin left Florida within a few days of Mother asking and the timing was perfect because shortly after he was called to audition for Madonna’s video “Secret”. Mother Aviance says, “just imagine how excited we all were for him to have such an opportunity”. Within days Kevin got the call and got the cameo in the video! Kevin went on to do countless local and worldwide tours and has had quite a few Billboard hit records. His accomplishments are many and it’s no fluke as to why Kevin quickly became New York’s Nightlife/Dance Music Diva! (Click on Kevin Aviance to see more videos).
REMEMBERING HIS DREAM
Mother Aviance’s past projects & connections are definitely indications of what is yet to come for The House of Aviance. Juan’s dream of opening a show touring House with a booking agency/record label to showcase talents of all kinds is well underway. Juan along with DJ/Producer David Ohana Aviance registered Aviance Records LLC on March 23, 2014. So there is no doubt he’s got a lot going on but this determined and generous spirit does not compromise his integrity to get there.
In fact, in the late 90’s he started working with a few established record labels doing loads of administrative work. Juan learned a lot but realized it wasn’t going to be easy to break into the industry. Nonetheless he was instrumental in co-producing/promoting a few tracks but nothing really panned out. Juan states, “It was definitely a learning experience and a foot in the door and I don’t regret it”.
The House of Aviance has become one of the many influential Houses that have paved the way and they are proud to be an intricate part of history both inside and outside the LGBT community. According to Mother Aviance, “I had no idea the House would get this big and famous sometimes it’s all too much to handle but I/we manage to keep it going and trust me it’s not all glitz and glamour… we’ve had our hardships and difficult times like any family but we’ve always found a way to manage life’s twists and turns”
It seems like just yesterday that Mother Juan decided to launch the House coping with the ups and downs, the challenges and pitfalls that broach such a feat. It wasn’t easy in those early days: Working by day, nightlife afterhours and traveling each weekend – but Juan was up for the challenge and it’s paid off… 25 years later Juan’s experiences and opportunities far exceed any dream he might have had growing up. Take a look at his “BRAGGING RIGHTS” as he calls them, the names go from one end of the spectrum to another and he’s worked with them all in one way or another during the past two decades:
DJ’S & PRODUCERS
Alex Cohen, Alex Tech, Angel Moraes, Toney da Tiger Aviance,
Angelos Styliano, Armand Van Helden, Billy Carroll,
Brian Cancellieri (RIP), Brian Servin Ovahness,
Bryan Raughton Aviance, Breeze, Carlos Dali, Chad Jack,
Chris Padilla, Chris Soul, Corey Craig, Dan Q., Danny Krivit,
Danny Tenaglia, David Knapp, David Morales,
David Ohana Aviance, Deep Dish, Derrick Foxx, DJ Adam,
DJ DRE, DJ Escape, DJ Jennie, DJ Keoki, DJ Kindbud,
DJ Scribble, DJ Sedrick, DJ Tekshur aka MarC Aviance,
Dominick Brandon (RIP), Ed Bailey, Eddie Baez, Eddie Cruz,
Eddie Elias, Ernie Cote, Fabiano Angelo, Frankie Knuckles (RIP),
Gant Johnson, Garry Aviance, Hector Fonseca, Hector Romero,
Hex Hector, Honey Dijon, Jackie Christy, James Andersen,
James Graham Aviance aka DJ DUB, Jean Phillippe Aviance,
Jean Pierre, Jerome Farley, Jimmy Pop, John Martos,
Johnathan Peters, Johnny Dynell, Jools Palmer, Justin Dawson,
Junior Vasquez, Kevin Graves, Lorant Duzgun, Lord G,
MK Knight, Mandy Graves, Merritt, Michael Hades,
Michelle Miruski, Mike Cruz, Murk Boyz, Nick Harvey,
Nita Aviance, Paul Van Wyke, Peter Rauhofer (RIP), Phil Pagan,
Razor & Guido, Reed McGowan, Rico Alexis, Rob Sperte,
Roger Sanchez, Ronnie Ventura, Scotty Thompson, Sin Morera,
Stephen Richards, Steve Travolta, Steven Gonzalez,
Susan Morabito, Tedd Patterson, That Kid Chris, Tim Letteer,
Tom Stephan, Tony Moran, T-Pro, Uri & Saam Dalal,
Victor Calderone, Victor Hugo, W. Jeremy Pelser,
William Daniel of Bug Music, Yoshistoshi.
SINGERS, PERFORMERS, SET DESIGNERS
The Entire House of Aviance, Adam Joseph, Adeva,
Anthony Lamont, Ari Gold, Bette Midler, Bobby Blu,
Ce Ce Peniston, Chante Moore, Coby Koehl, Cyndi Lauper,
Deepa Soul, Ebony Excell, Emanuel Xavier (poet/activist),
Fawn, Grace Jones, House of Mercardo – Ralph Mercardo,
Jack Mizrahi (MC), Janet Jackson, Jason Walker,
Jennifer Hudson, Joi Cardwell, Jonny McGovern, Josh Groban,
Katie Lang, Ke, Kiki Twins, Kimberly Davis, Lady Kier,
Liz Torrez, Madonna, Man of the Arts, Mariah Carey,
Mecca Revlon, Me’lisa Morgan, Melba Moore,
Pat Osorio aka Miss Pat, Patricia Fields, Patti Labelle,
Sandra Bernhard, Vanessa Williams, Vernessa Mitchell,
Vicki Martin, Willie Ninja, Zhana
CLUB OWNERS, PROMOTERS & FILM DIRECTORS
Antonio of Sankey’s, Derek Graves, Father Chris,
Felix Rodriguez, Francis Legge, Franco Aviance,
Frankie Sharp, George Lyter, Giovanni Morales,
Jason McCarthy, Joe Roszak, John Blair, John Ed,
Jose Colon, Lee Chappell, Loft Preservation Society,
Louis Loca, Mark Berkley (RIP), Mark Lee, Mark Nelson,
Mistress Formika, Mr. Stu Black, Noam Gonick Aviance,
Peter Gaiten, Richard Grant, Rob Fernandez, Roze Black,
Saint at Large, Taylor Calvoni, Wolfgang Busch, Yamil X,
NYC CLUB VENUES
Roseland Ballroom, Evolve, Hammerstein Ballroom, Tunnel,
The Original Sound Factory @ 27th Street, Sound Factory Bar,
Spirit, Limelight, SPA, Blu, Champs, Discotheque, Twilo,
Stonewall, Roxy, Monster, Bowery Bar, The Cock, Opaline,
Club Love, Crowbar, Ice Palace – Fire Island, Rebel, Club Joy,
Mr. Black, Palladium, Supper Club/King Kong Room,
Javis Center – (GMHC Dance-a-thon), Cielo NYC, Pacha NYC,
XL Nightclub, Sankey’s NYC, Atlas Social Club, Cellar Bar,
Vlada, The Ritz, Evolve, G Lounge, The Pavilion – Fire Island,
Club 57, Lucky Cheng’s, BPM Nightclub, Splash NYC, LeBain,
Standard Hotel, Webster Hall
DC CLUB VENUES
Badlands, Chapter 8, Club Red, Club Ze, Cobalt, Delta Elite, Edge,
Escandalos, Fifth Column, Fire Place, Frat House, Kilimanjaro,
Ozone, Perry’s, The Bank, The Clubhouse, Tracks DC, Town DC,
BEYOND THE BALLROOM
Mother Aviance and the House members are constantly asked “Why don’t you walk the Balls today and what exactly does the House of Aviance do? We respond by saying, “trophies and grand prizes are not our main focus. The House possesses talents and vocations from dancers to school teachers and everything in between. As a family outside the Ballroom we support each other in the same fashion as other Houses do within the Ballroom community”
One thing that Mother Aviance always had great concern about is “Ballroom politics”. Mother Aviance states, “My concern for the kids/members of the House far overshadows my desire for Ballroom fame”. He has described the House’s past ballroom experience as often intimidating along with unfair judging. Aviance goes on to say, “Some of the kids are fragile and want and need to be accepted and/or belong, but if they make one wrong move on the runway they are verbally abused and humiliated in front of their peers. In my opinion, I think people should be treated with more dignity and respect than what I’ve witnessed in the Ballroom. But make no mistakes I love the concept and despite all the things I find objectionable about the Ballroom I do remember where I came from.”
To date Mother Aviance focuses on the whole of a person treating them with dignity and respect. Membership within Aviance is contingent upon one’s determination to carry the Aviance name with pride. It’s both a responsibility and a personal achievement celebrated by all members and even if that’s not often a conviction among his peers or among those who claim “Aviance is not a real House because of its lack of participation in the Ballroom” Mother Aviance exclaims, “We don’t pay that much attention, we do us and for 25 years now we’ve walked the Ball of life and with great relevance!”
Written by Mother Juan Aviance
Edited by Marco Arturo Aviance, John Aviance and Josef Aviance