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HIV/AIDS Blog Central

The Ninja Report

By Frankie Ninja

August 28, 2011

Many will ask why I have chosen this theme and name and what ninjas have to do with HIV and outcasts, feared by society.

First and foremost, because I am known as Frankie NINJA. Named by The Legendary Icon "Mother" Willi Ninja, of Madonna's "Vogue" and "Paris is Burning" fame, in 1997 when I did not even know who Willi was, is, or would be.

Willi was the choreographer for Madonna's iconic video and starred in the aforementioned and critically acclaimed documentary on the then underground dance phenomena known as "Vogue-ing."

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That said, I want to make it abundantly clear to those in the "ball-room scene" that I am NOT a "voguer," I have NOT walked a "ball," I do NOT hold a title, other than, undeservedly, Overall Father of The Legendary House of Ninja (for the WESTERN US), as accepted by THE Overall Father, Benny Ninja, to whom credit goes for acknowledging and ensuring that Willi's last wishes were met.

I do not seek a title in the ball-room scene, nor do I seek to oversee "the house." I DO, however, seek to share MY story and in so doing, fulfill a promise to Willi. To the community. To THE FAMILY. Benny (Ninja) has taken the name to new artistic heights. It is my intention to take it to new philosophical heights.

My love for "THE FAMILY" began when Willi passed, and was etched in my soul when I would later be diagnosed with HIV and "THE FAMILY" would take me in with arms open and full of love. I am OK today because of the love of people like Archie Burnett -- who continues to care for "Momma Ninja" Esther Leake (Willi's mother) -- and Overall Father Benny Ninja, Emperor Anthony, Grand Father Hector X-travaganza and Luna Kahn, to name but a few of many. THEY gave me love and support when NO ONE ELSE would. The debt of love and gratitude I have for them can never be repaid but I hope that my blogs will be installments on an unfathomable debt of love.

So why the name, "The Ninja Report"?

Well like Ninja's, we lurk in the darkness (so to speak) by trying to blend into our surrounding in the hopes of not being noticed, whether gay, or straight, HIV+ or negative. Of being accepted as normal members of our complacent, prepackaged society. Like Ninja's, we are, generally speaking, in the gay community, a well-educated and defensive as well as resourceful bunch. Like Ninja's, people with HIV are quite literally in a fight for their lives. We rely on our craft, our art, our science, for our very survival.

Now I won't write frequently about Willi or The Legendary House of Ninja, of which I have had the honor to be a significant part since 1997. I may make casual mention of them from time to time as their lives and actions relate to HIV and me. It is my hope and desire to show the world, however, what life is like for "HIVers" (People living with HIV) on the west coast in general and in gay Mecca, San Francisco in particular.

While I hope to inspire some to give back, and others to push back, I hope that my words give a real and substantive insight into what life is like for "us" on the west coast. How, in reality, we are not much different than those not afflicted by this disease.

As we embark on this journey together, I ask that you keep an open mind. That you challenge me when you disagree with what I report and that you educate me where I am factually in error. Like you, I am human. Bound to err but subject to learn and overcome. This is MY story of living with HIV. The errors I made that allowed me to acquire it and how I have overcome the stigma of HIV by learning what it truly is and how to merge it (HIV) into my life. It may be an unwelcome guest in my body, but this is STILL MY body and like my house, in MY body, I make the rules. We may not get along but at the end of the day we must learn to coexist if either of us is to survive this, as yet, incurable disease.

With that introduction, I want to welcome you. I look forward to interacting with you. I promise not to take any prisoners. And like a ninja, I strike hard, strike fast, and never let them take me prisoner!

Sincerely,

Frankie (DADDIE) Ninja

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The Ninja Report

Reader Comments:

Comment by: Luna Khan (NYC) Mon., Nov. 28, 2011 at 5:09 pm EST
Thank you Frankie and I enjoyed reading your article again...you are a wonderful blessing to us :)
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Comment by: Justin B Terry-Smith (Laurel, MD) Fri., Oct. 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm EDT
Hello Frankie I do love the name and the meaning behind it. Willie is truly and icon. Also wanted to hello & welcome to thebody.com It's a great community and family here. I write for thebody.com under the blog called Justin's HIV Journal. Last time I was in San Francisco I was at FOLSOM last year I had a great time. Anyways Welcome Sir.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Frankie Ninja (San Francisco, CA) Mon., Nov. 28, 2011 at 3:41 am EST
hello Justin and thank you for the warm welcome! I look forward to many postings in the future and hope to share my perspective with anyone that is willing to open their minds and listen a little bit. Thank you again and happy holidays!


Comment by: Wesley G, Keewatin (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) Thu., Sep. 8, 2011 at 3:27 pm EDT
This is a very cool resource/site, people still in the Dark Ages should pay attention to this site, it may save one of their own. The stigma, ignorance and discrimination is still with us but in time, we will prevail.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Frankie Ninja (San Francisco, CA) Mon., Nov. 28, 2011 at 3:45 am EST
Dear Wesley,

I recently sat in on a group session where the topic swayed over to ignorance and discrimination. I pointed out that if I were in a room with 100 randomly selected people, some would still stone me because I am, Hispanic, Bi/gay, HIV+ (and in SF,conservative - GASP!) and recovering from addiction. It doesn't matter who you are, or where you are from, someone will always find a reason NOT to like you if they really don't want to. I'm OK with them not liking me. I would be more worried if everyone liked me and no one had anything to say about me. That would mean, to me, that I have not made an impact. Happy Holidays!


Comment by: Juan T (San Francisco, CA) Tue., Sep. 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm EDT
Good on ya' Mate. Congrats. Growing up in NYC and having been around some of the members of the House I am just an outsider but have a marked if not somewhat incidental connection to some fallen members who forever will be in my memories and prayers.

Thank you.
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Replies to this comment:
Comment by: Frankie Ninja (San Francisco, CA) Sun., Oct. 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm EDT
Thank you so much for your kind words Juan T. The Legendary House of Ninja has numerous "chapters" throughout the country and a few internationally. This IS Willi's House. Benny Ninja is the Overall Father of the House. I obviously focus on those things other than the actual dance. But I must say not only was it serendipity that brought us together, I am nonetheless a MUCH better person for it. I believe ALL of the "houses" in the ball-room (vogue) seen should be more proactive within our respective communities in fighting HIV AIDS because the rate of infection within, is particularly high.

One of the people I look up to is also one of the first and youngest (at that time) to be diagnosed with what was then known as "The Grid"

A BEAUTIFUL person with an even more beautiful soul, Luna Khan has always been and continues to be my role model. Why? Because outside of San Francisco, as I was recently and rudely reminded, HIV/AIDS STILL has a stigma. It is people like Luna that inspire me to continue in the fight. I could write significantly more but let's not make this another blog LOL. In closing, THANK YOU for your kind words. This is what keeps me going. And goodness knows, there are many times I want to just give up. You are the reason why I don't

I wish you health and peace

Frankie Ninja
Comment by: Luna Khan (New York) Mon., Nov. 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm EST
Thank you Frankie, amazing article and I appreciate you. Love you,
Luna


Comment by: Green Trees (Atlanta) Sat., Sep. 3, 2011 at 10:56 pm EDT
Great introduction. Welcome! I'm looking forward to reading your blogs.
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The Ninja Report


Frankie Ninja

Frankie Ninja

Frankie Ninja is a paradox defying description. Proving that you should never judge a book by its cover.

Born in Miami, Florida, living in San Francisco since 1996, he's a divorced father and a college graduate; a Pilot/Flight Engineer, Aircraft Technician, Health Educator and Public Speaker.

Fighting for human rights, particularly those of people with HIV/AIDS and minorities, he arrived to "the scene" in 1997 after meeting Legendary Icon "Mother" Willi Ninja of The Legendary House of Ninja (April 12, 1961 - September 2, 2006 -- Who sadly passed due to AIDS). Fast friends, Willi quickly became Frankie's mentor and big brother.

At 44, Frankie has been HIV+ since May, 2007. As a survivor, his calling is to ensure that Willi's legacy continues; and to reduce or end this scourge on society known as HIV/AIDS through education and participation.

In Willi's honor, this blog, for you, will be known as "The Ninja Report."


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Interviews With Frankie:

Frankie and His Partner, Anthony Castro, Talk About Living With HIV (Video) (February 1, 2011)


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