By Adewale Adekanbi
Ballroom icon Hector Xtravaganza passed away on December 30, 2018 in New York City, he was 60 years old. A dancer, activist, and HIV/AIDS advocate Hector used his art of vogue and love of ballroom (combined with his special flair for the “extravagant”) to enhance the lives of countless individuals in the ballroom community for over thirty-five years. His death was officially announced Sunday on the House Of Xtravaganza’s facebook page- the house he loved so much that he adopted Xtravaganza as his legal surname.
In a recent interview with The Cut, Hector explained his devotion to the House of Xtravaganza and the Ballroom community simply saying, “This family is more real to me than my biological family. ‘They are first.” Born Hector Crespo, he was a founding member of the house in 1982. The House of Xtravaganza was formed to give the growing Latin ballroom population a house to call their own.
Hector’s tall slender model-like physique and undeniable good looks made him an instant runway threat “10’s across the board”- face. With the 1990 release of Paris Is Burning Hector became one of the underground poster children for the New York City’s ballroom and vogue scene. The gritty documentary brought the mainstream into the basements, dance halls, and dressing rooms of 80’s runway divas. Often tragic, the insightful film directed by Jennie Livingston became an immediate cult classic.
Always a leader by example Hector became the Father of the House of Xtravaganza from 1993 through 1997 and then again from 1999 through 2003. In 2003 Hector adopted the honorary title of Grandfather, a title he cherished and lived up to for the next fifteen years. Funny, energetic; yet surgically honest, Hector could be both extremely encouraging and brutally satirical in a very grand-grandfatherly way.
Never afraid of reinvention Grandfather Hector found renewed notoriety as a consultant and cast member of the FX blockbuster/groundbreaking series Pose. Set in the turbulent 80’s the series mirrors the life Hector not only lived but survived. His passing is the end of an era, but not the end of his legacy. We mourn your passing and honor your memory Hector Xtravaganza. You may not be with us physically; but you will remain in our hearts forever.