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BY Chris Donovan

Mike Ruiz Invites All of NYC to His Birthday Celebration

Mike Ruiz celebrates 55 years young on Thursday, December 12, and he’s inviting all of New York to join him!

Presented by Peace Biscuit, the fun begins at 7 p.m. at Ritz Bar, followed by an after party from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. It will feature performances by the legendary dance diva Martha Wash, out crooner Jason Walker, sultry Mia Martina, sexy Yanni Burton and R&B icon Deborah Cox debuting her next sure-fire hit, “Easy Way.” Supermodel Veronica Webb and “America’s Next Top Model’s” J Alexander will be among the evening’s hosts. Music will be by a bevy of today’s best DJ talent, including Girl Squad (Ultra Nate and Moody).

Also in attendance will be many of the muscle men from Bullies and Biceps, Mike Ruiz’s 2020 calendar benefitting animal rescue.

All the night’s proceeds will be donated to the Ali Forney Center, the largest LGBT community center helping LGBT homeless youth in the United States. We spoke with Ruiz from his New York home.

INTERVIEW

Happy birthday! What are your thoughts upon reaching your double-nickel year?
I can’t believe time has flown by so quickly! At 55, I just feel so grateful that I’ve figured out a way to be content and satisfied without being cynical and complacent.

What is one thing you know for sure?
I really don’t know much for sure except that love, empathy and compassion can bring you closer to happiness than anything else.

What inspired you to create the Bullies and Biceps calendar?
Eight years ago, I adopted the sweetest pitbull-type dog, and he set me on a course of awareness and compassion for animals who have been abused, neglected and discarded. I began to support animal rescues and was so heartbroken by the amount of living, breathing, sentient souls that we just dump off at shelters without a second thought. My sadness turned into anger, which manifested into my will to do something about it. Among my efforts to help was to create a calendar that would benefit various rescues. We are in our sixth year now, and they are still going strong raising money and awareness for the plight of animals in need.

Why did you decide to donate all proceeds for the evening to Ali Forney Center?
In this time of political divide where the current administration is making huge budget cuts for homeless programs and is rolling back fundamental protections for LGBT people, I feel compelled to do what I can to help this incredible organization. Ali Forney Center not only provides shelter, food, clothing and healthcare but also lets these kids know that there is a place for them in this world and that they are loved.

Through both of your initiatives, you seem to be drawn to homeless outreach.
Even though I was never homeless, I did have a shitty childhood that left me crippled with low self-esteem and self-doubt. It took me so long to dig myself out from under the crushing feelings that were imposed on me. I finally was able to not only function, but to prosper. I was one of the lucky ones. Since then, I’ve always felt compelled to do what I can to lend a helping hand to those who may not see that there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel.

For those who cannot attend Thursday’s party, is there a way to donate online?
Yes! I’d like to encourage everyone out there who can’t attend the event to please consider making a small donation to Ali Forney Center at https://aliforneycenter.donordrive.com. Please help make this holiday season a little brighter for the LGBT youth who need it most.

Will the Bullies and Biceps calendar men be at the celebration?
Yes! Many of them will be there, and we’ll have calendars on hand for them to sign.

You have an amazing line-up of performers for the evening!
It was important to me to have friends who have supported our community for years and of course, who are legendary performers!

What are you most looking forward to in the new year?
I’m most looking forward to spending as much time as possible with my beautiful husband Wayne and my sweet daughter Julia.

Mike Ruiz’s birthday celebration takes place Thursday,
December 12, from 7 to 11 p.m. at Ritz Bar and Lounge
(369 West 46th Street), followed by an after-party
from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.  All proceeds will be donated to the Ali Forney Center.

SIDE BAR INTERVIEWS

Deborah Cox

What is your most cherished Mike Ruiz memory?
I remember showing up to one of his photo shoots pregnant, and he had no idea. We had the best time, and the pics were flawless, as usual! One of the best shoots that I’ve ever done.

Why should we support the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBTQ youth this season?
Homelessness is an epidemic. The only way to have an impact is by showing up and helping each other when one falls on hard times. A little support goes a long way.

What is your New Year’s wish?
I’d love to have a healthy and happy New Year and to spend more time with my family and peace of mind.

Do you have a special birthday message for Mike?
I wish Mike nothing but love and happiness. He’s always so giving of himself to others. I wish him lots of love. He is a very special person. He knows how much I love him!

What will you perform at Mike Ruiz’s 55th birthday celebration?
I’ll be doing a medley of a few of his fave dance hits.

Jason Walker

How will you be spending the holidays this year, Jason?
Chillin’ at home in Brooklyn. My family is coming to spend their first Christmas in NYC, so I’m sure it’ll be big fun!

What are you most looking forward to during the break?
Rest! Life has been so crazy busy. I’m looking forward to a little downtime.

Do you have a New Year’s wish?
Peace and less division.

Do you have a special birthday message for

Mike?
Thank you for being an inspiration to me and our community. We all love you, Mike!

Why is it important that we support the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBT youth this season?
It’s so important that we take care of our own. There are young people in need, and we all should focus a little less on ourselves and a little more on the youth that need our love and support.

What will you perform at Mike Ruiz’s 55th birthday celebration?
That’s a surprise! But something brand new that I’ve never done live.

Yanni Burton

How did you meet Mike?
I was first introduced to Mike and his work when he was on “The A List: New York.” I was absolutely obsessed with the show and completely smitten by him. During my binge of season two, one of my friends at the time was hosting an event for It Gets Better, and guess who was shooting…
Mike! So I got to meet him and have a sneaky shoot with him, with wind machine and all!

What will you perform at his 55th birthday celebration?
My latest release, “Mess Around (Torna Remix).”

Why is it important that we support the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBT youth this season?
I was lucky enough to have a home and a family that was accepting of me, but I have had friends, and seen first-hand, those who have not. As an openly gay man who has a platform and the privilege of growing up in a safe environment, it’s even more of a responsibility to make sure others can have a chance to experience the same love and support I did.

How and with whom will you be spending the holidays this year?
I’ll be spending time with my fiancé and his family this holiday. We’re looking forward to preparing for our upcoming wedding in Scotland!

Your New Year’s wish?
To be healthy, continue to make more music and have the most fabulous, over-the-top wedding ever.

Do you have a special birthday message for Mike?
Yes, of course! May it be one of the most fabulous, chic birthday bashes ever! Undoubtedly, it will be.

  Martha Wash

What do you love most about Mike Ruiz?
When I’m shooting with Mike, he’s always focused and professional.

Why is it important that we support the Ali Forney Center for homeless LGBTQ youth?
I’ve done Mike’s birthday celebration before, and it’s always been a pleasure to support the center. They do great work in helping the youth feel like they are not alone, that they can be loved and supported in who they are and receive whatever help they may need, which in turn can hopefully help them become healthy, productive, caring adults.

Do you have a New Year’s wish, Martha?
I don’t make wishes per se, but I will say I’m hoping that my new CD (“Love and Conflict”), out on January 6, will be a hit!

Will you be performing songs from the new album at Mike Ruiz’s 55th birthday celebration?
[Laughing] Well, I’m not telling!

Do you have a special birthday message for Mike?
Thank you for your amazing work over the years, and may you have many more years of love, health and the ability to capture beauty in all its forms!

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