Died: 2nd September 2006
Sometimes credited as Willi Ninja or Willy Ninja, William R. Leake grew up in Flushing and began dancing at 7. By the early 1980’s he was vogueing in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village and at drag balls throughout Harlem. He prided himself on being a clean, sharp dancer, with swiftly moving arms and hands, and he was deeply inspired by the martial arts — hence his adopted name, Ninja.
As the “mother” of the House of Ninja — part dance troupe, part surrogate family — he became a New York celebrity, known as much for his quick wit and sharp tongue as for his darting limbs. His ensembles — a coat made of braided synthetic hair, a suit jacket with a skirt and Doc Marten boots — also turned heads wherever he went: “severe” is the word.
An androgynous, self-described “butch queen,” Willi Ninja taught vogueing throughout Europe and Japan, modeled in runway shows for the fashion designers Jean Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler and danced in music videos.
He also taught models how to strut, giving stars like Naomi Campbell pointers early in their careers. Most recently, he worked with the socialite Paris Hilton, whose red carpet sashay has since become her signature.
In 2004, he opened a modeling agency, EON (Elements of Ninja), but he never gave up dancing, appearing on televisions series like “America’s Next Top Model” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and dropping in at local clubs.
Willie Ninja Discography
- 1 Remix
- 4 Vocals
- 1 Instruments & Performance
- 3 Writing & Arrangement
- 5 Featuring & Presenting
Singles & EPs
|Willie Ninja||Hot (Single)||Nervous Records, Nervous Records||US||1994||Sell This Version|
|Trauma (20) Featuring Willie Ninja||Trauma (20) Featuring Willie Ninja - Feel It......Dance!||Cutting Records||US||1999||Sell This Version|
|Chop N Chan Featuring Willie Ninja & Diana Garcia (2)||Chop N Chan Featuring Willie Ninja & Diana Garcia (2) - House Of Pleasure (Maxi)||Endorfun Records||US||2000||Sell This Version|