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15-style summer ’07 collection
“I’m done with that,” says a sunny Kevin Aviance, as he recalls being brutally beaten a year ago this month. “I’m done with thinking about those guys. I have to deal with other things.”
The drag fashionista is walking all over a muddy past. Not with boots, but with a plethora of six-inch platforms – or “stripper heels,” he says – in flashy metallics, rhinestones, bold colors and strappy leathers. Moderately priced, from $49 to $119, the shoeline is designed for women – and (duh!) drag queens. Which makes sense since a woman was the endeavor’s muse. “It all starts with my mom,” Aviance says, his voice deep and mumbled. “My mom was a big shoe whore.”
He started strutting in heels at 5, when he’d sneak some of his mother’s on his feet – until he got caught. Though his closet now, at age 39, is typically flooded in footwear, he can’t even estimate the number of pairs he has. And that’s because there’s a mess of loners lying around. “I usually break ’em by the time I wear them three or four times,” he laughs.
One thing that hasn’t broken is Aviance. He was kicked around. He was punched. He endured anti-gay slurs. And it seemed unlikely, with his jaw wired shut, that he would take to the stage during last year’s New York City Pride two weeks after the attack. But he did.
“Somebody said, ‘I’m not going to go if you’re not going to be there,'” he recalls. After taking morphin, Aviance performed, but his memory of being on stage is fuzzy. The drugs left him loopy and, though he was happy to appease fans, all he could think was: When will this end?
“I really extended myself longer than I was supposed to,” he says, “and I really felt it.”
Not long after, his mother died. The pain Aviance repressed – and buried with toxins – snowballed until he checked himself into rehab on Feb. 1. “I don’t think it was so much about me going there to get off of drugs, and get off of alcohol; it was just, I couldn’t heal properly. … I was just tailspinning to the depths of hell. And I just had to get a grip, go away and deal with myself.”
The pain leaked onto the page. As Aviance recovered from the beating and dealt with his mother’s passing, he translated other emotions – involving discrimination, sexual identification and love – into words. His third album, “Misterpiece,” will drop later this year and some of the writing will explore the above mentioned topics, along with an emphasis on masculinity and indirect references to the beating. The disc’s first single, which Aviance was tight lipped about, is a cover he chose as a drama distractor. “I wear my problems on my sleeve all the time,” he says. “I’m not one to hold back.”
Aviance feels reborn after spending 30 days in rehab and now he’s sitting in the driver’s seat again. And, should the now-sober comeback queen break both heels, he’ll just keep on walking. “I feel like I’m giving myself another chance at life. And if I mess up, or if I happen to fall off the wagon, I know I’ll have tools to work to get back on the wagon.”