Dray Ebony, 43

E 125th St between Park and Lexington Aves

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Photograph: Jay Muhlin

Ebony, huh?
It's a stage name. I participate in the ballroom community. It's like a fraternity or a gang. We compete in teams at an event called the Ball, in categories like Best-Dressed Man, Best Body...

Best Belt?
[Laughs] No, but they have a category for Best Footwear. I've reached legendary status within the Best-Dressed Man category.

I'm not surprised. So what do you do when you're not strutting your stuff?
I work in HIV and AIDS prevention at an organization called FACES NY [Forging Ahead for Community Empowerment and Support], and I do HIV testing with a group called GMAD [Gay Men of African Descent]. I also have a model-management company, and I manage male and female strippers.

Wow, many hats.
Yeah, but they all work together. FACES found me because they wanted attention—AIDS, as a pandemic, is not getting no better—and I provide strippers for safer-sex commercials.

Do you ever fall in love with your clients?
Never. If I was selling candy I couldn't eat it, right?

Good point. Do you think stripping is demeaning?
We should be calling them exotic dancers, not strippers, because I deal with the art of it rather than the nakedness.

Okay, tell me about the art of stripping.
It's being sexy to the imagination, rather than being out-and-out nekkid.

And, so...demeaning or not?
Whether it's demeaning has to do with how the person feels about it. I'm not judgmental like that. Whatever a person feels comfortable doing has nothing to do with me.

—Kate Lowenstein

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