Is Alixe and Gwen's sexual disagreement the cause of their problems, or are their problems the cause of their sexual disagreement? And how should an artist nurture her vision: by seeking ... See full summary »
More than two dozen men and women of various backgrounds, ages, and races talk to the camera about being gay. Their stories are arranged in loose chronology: early years, fitting in (which ... See full summary »
Marlon Riggs, with assistance from other gay Black men, especially poet Essex Hemphill, celebrates Black men loving Black men as a revolutionary act. The film intercuts footage of Hemphill ... See full summary »
This is a documentary of 'drag nights' among New York's underclass. Queens are interviewed and observed preparing for and competing in many 'balls'. The people, the clothes, and the whole environment are outlandish. Written by
Robbie Smith <email@example.com>
A young Pepper LaBeija can be seen very briefly as a contestant in the 1968 documentary The Queen, about a drag beauty pageant held in New York City. The legendary Crystal LaBeija, original mother and founder of the House of LaBeija, is also featured giving a fierce and shady reading. See more »
I always had hopes of being a big star. But as you get older, you aim a little lower. Everybody wants to make an impression, some mark upon the world. Then you think, you've made a mark on the world if you just get through it, and a few people remember your name. Then you've left a mark. You don't have to bend the whole world. I think it's better to just enjoy it. Pay your dues, and just enjoy it. If you shoot an arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you.
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This film came out 12 years years ago, and was a revelation even for people who knew something of the drag scene in New York. The textbooks on drag performance say nothing of these vogueing houses. Anthony Slide's 'Great Pretenders' says nothing. Julian Fleisher's "The Drag Queens of New York: An Illustrated Field Guide" with its flow chart of influence that pulls together Julian Eltinge, Minette, the Warhol queens, and the 90s club scene
and postdates the film - ignores the houses completely. Even Laurence
Senelick's "The Changing Room" - the closest thing that we have to a definitive book on drag performance rushes quickly past the film and does not give the background information that one would have expected from it.
I understand from the film itself,and various articles I found on the web that this house system goes back decades. The major film performance by a house member prior to 1990 seems to be Chrystal La Beija in "The Queen", 1968. The historical context is the biggest missing part of "Paris is Burning".
The film is valuable because it focuses on a scene otherwise being ignored. It is a valuable snapshot of life in 1989. The unfortunate fact that Venus Xtravaganza was murdered during filming provides a very dramatic ending, but this is not the only film about transsexuals to include a real-life murder. As we now know, Dorian Corey had a mummified corpse in her literal closet, but this did not come out until three years later.
Of historical importance, but we still need someone to do either a book or a documentary film that provides more context.
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