The good news for those of you hoping to enter any of the ball's 17 categories is, you don't have to compete by yourself. To join Florida's gay ballroom scene, hook up with one of the 14 or so flourishing "houses." These are kind of like gangs populated by drag queens, drama queens, and homo thug princes who look like that Backstreet Boy with the goatee. Angel Camacho is a member of the House of Infiniti. "Every house has meetings and practices categories," he says. "Each house wants to represent something." Houses named after designers -- like VonDutch or Cavalli -- go for extravagance; the House of Latex promotes safe sex.
You can come to the ball just to watch -- but it's so much more fun to get on the catwalk. Start practicing your cartwheels to win that Olympic Gymnast category. Get a tux so you can strut as "James Bond sent by the Interpol to spy on a black tie event in Saudi Arabia." Start working on your Virgin Mary act -- so your "serene beauty releases peace on Earth and salvation to mankind." And for chrissake, child, follow directions and, the instructions suggest, "think about it twice before you half-step tastelessly." But most important: "Come in peace or don't come at all." -- Deirdra Funcheon