By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Indeed Tantum and Goldstone's father both relay what were supposedly his last words. When he fell for the second time shortly after arriving at Burning Man, his friends slipped him into a pair of pants before rushing him to get medical attention. Goldstone took one look at their choice and said, "Oh, those won't do."
Longtime club maven Chi Chi Valenti remembered both fondly: "The weirdest thing is that these two people will forever be eulogized together, " she says. "The last time I saw [Willi] was at Motherfucker. I'm very glad that the last thing I saw him do was just dazzle an audience one last time. I still saw him as he wanted to be seen." She adds, "I danced my last dance with Adam, to (Donna Summer's) 'Last Dance,' at the last night of Jackie 60."
Ironically, just a few weeks before Goldstone left for Burning Man, he'd gone to visit Ninja in the nursing home. "Lo and behold, they were carrying on and cracking jokes," Archie Burnett says. Ninja's easygoing, accepting demeanor helped him become a success. It's one of the reasons Livingston felt so comfortable when filming Paris Is Burning. Burnett told stories of Willi performing impromptu on the streets of Paris or Amsterdam, sashaying down the street like it was a catwalkwith model Beverly Peel or climbing a rope that hung from the ceiling of a club and voguing from the rafters. "I thought, 'Boy is crazy, and on beat!' " Burnett laughs.
Until his death, Ninja outlived many of his co-stars in Paris Is Burning, including Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, Angie Extravaganza, and Avis Pendavis. At the end of the movie, the late Corey says, "You've left a mark on the world if you just get through it and a few people remember your name. You don't have to bend the whole world." But Adam Goldstone and Willi Ninja both did just that. R.I.P.
A Willi Ninja memorial/benefit is slated for November. Thursday, friends of Adam Goldstone can go to Sin Sin, 85 Second Avenue, from 6 to 11 p.m.; a memorial party at Cielo will be held November 14.