CFDA x Susanne Bartsch x Mac Cosmetics Love Ball III

It’s 3:16pm on the day of the Love Ball.

Less than 2 hours before my driver arrives. I haven’t had a final fitting, and I’ve started my make-up.

That’s about when I got the text: The garment won’t be ready in time.

I started shaking, and dropping F bombs. First mistake, there was no plan B.

All I had in my possession was a shiny jacket, a thong, and a pair of fishnets in red and well, let’s just say I wasn’t going for that look.

My brows were already in the blocking process, but I kept doing something wrong and hated the way it was turning out. Mostly I couldn’t focus because now there was a mad dash at the last minute to scramble to put a look together. Kasha was on her way over with the gloves she customized and accessories, and a red look she a showroom she happened to be near had left.

I called Jonatan, and he headed to a showroom to pick up what I ended up wearing.

Knowing they were both on their way gave me some relief. I washed my face and started over.

Now it’s 3:47.

I don’t remember what time Kasha Reavis arrived, but once she did we opened the bags she was carrying and tried out the garment she was able to find at the last minute and realized they wouldn’t work.

At that point, I knew the suit Jonatan Mejia was bring was going to save my life.

Thank you Tago and PlatformaNY!!!!

Through teamwork and some repurposing, I was dressed and so grateful, because for a second there I was completely without any viable options.

So I arrive a little after call time, I don’t see anyone I know and the personalities are HUGE!

I did get to see Ryan Burke, Jonte and Dominique. That was a highlight!

I find a room, and seat and zen out. I dm’d Jacboy whom I had already chatted with a bit thru instagram to see if he had arrived yet.

He said he was in the “Mac Room”.

OMG! I’m in the wrong room. A metaphor for the night, as I was also completely out of my element. The whole time I was under the impression that I was just walking a face an beauty category for Mac. I didn’t realize I signed up for an actual Paris is Burning style moment myself!

Ok, so the quiet panic started to set it. For some reason I thought we’d all be makeup artists creating looks and walking for Mac. Simple.

I definitely should’ve asked questions.

Yeah, so not what happened.

I was surrounded my veterans in the ballroom scene and ballroom adjacent scenes. People who DO this.

Ok, time to find the Mac room. I walk around looking for the sign, there is no sign. Finally I notice a black curtain, peek behind and ask if this was the place. It was. Relief!

I got there and saw a familiar face, Jacen Bowman, which made me so happy. We got to catch up a little and knowing he was there was comforting.

Then I noticed Harper , whose face I recognized from instagram. My friend Christian showed me one of his video covers of Beyonce. I believe he was running in heels on a treadmill. It was incredible, which made it impossible to forget that face. We chatted and realized we had some of our favorite people in common.

Next, I met Karis Wilde. An absolute angel, who was just giving all the good vibes. The Mac room was a haven for me , and it made sense that I belonged in that room.

Now, picture my horror when I kept hearing and seeing in the emails days before the event, the word “performer”.

Performer? I thought I was just walking?

Ok, so the look I’ve been planning is not the look I’m wearing at the last minute, I keep hearing that we are “performers” - something I wasn’t planning to do and hadn’t done in months, oh and did I mention I missed the red carpet because I was late and ended up in the wrong room?

Ok, we were off to a rough start and it just got rougher.

We end up touching up our makeup, taking selfies, and getting to know each other for hours before it’s our turn.

There was a moment when I wished that I brought a robe and slippers to change into.

We line and I see who’s in my category, and now I’m really shook.

I’m surrounded by professional dancers, a voguer, and 2 competitors who seem to make a living doing similar events (not at this one, as this one is about raising money for HIV/Aids research).

Backstage was chaotic, from one moment to the next I often didn’t know what was going on.

Someone was missing, then they weren’t and I went right after one of the most sickening drag queens I’ve even seen in my life!

As if that wasn’t bad enough for anxiety levels, I couldn’t even wear heels because my ankle is injured.

There I was, fish out of water, gasping henny!

Everything happened so fast, I honestly wanted to faint (lol?)

My confidence could be housed in a mouse in that moment. I felt kind of alone in weird way.

Every inch closer to the stage I felt a part of me shrinking.

Billie Porter was hosting, Mary J. Blige was a judge.

It was a lot to take in.

But I said screw it, I walked out there! My entrance was ok but everything after that? I just remember thinking how long is minute, really? I couldn’t hear my music, I could barely feel my legs.

Then I just reminded myself, it wasn’t about me and all I have to do is walk.

So I just walked and smiled and exited the stage as soon as possible.

Off stage I wanted to swiftly jump back into my car and head home, but after terrorizing myself about how much of a mess I felt like, I stayed.

Then I went to the after party.

I said yes to the event because of what it was for and to force myself to do something initially was too afraid to say yes to after a tough few months dealing with one health issue after another.

It felt symbolic that the event fell on the same day my surgery is planned for (more on that another day).

I reschedule my surgery for a few days later and said yes.

Do I wish i could do it over? Of course! Did I do what I set out to? Absolutely.

I’m so grateful to Mac Cosmetics for the opportunity.

Grateful to Jonatan and Kasha for the teamwork and grateful to Tago for coming thru!

I look forward to feeling like myself again after one more scary thing to face this week.

That’s it, that’s the tea.

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Original concept

Original concept

Still want to create a moment with this design. It’s beautiful.

Still want to create a moment with this design. It’s beautiful.

John’s original sketch based on the references Kasha & I put together. The wig was done a month prior.

John’s original sketch based on the references Kasha & I put together. The wig was done a month prior.

Wig constructed by the masterful Suzy Alvarez.

Wig constructed by the masterful Suzy Alvarez.

Ehlie Luna