8.1/10
3,984
32 user 21 critic

Paris Is Burning (1990)

A chronicle of New York's drag scene in the 1980s, focusing on balls, voguing and the ambitions and dreams of those who gave the era its warmth and vitality.

Director:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

15 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Documentary/Concert film covering the annual Drag festival in New York City. Highlights include a performance by drag diva, Ru Paul, and the infamous Lypsinca.

Director: Barry Shils
Stars: RuPaul, John Epperson, Debbie Harry
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A documentary surveying the various Hollywood screen depictions of homosexuals and the attitudes behind them throughout the history of North American film.

Directors: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman
Stars: Lily Tomlin, Tony Curtis, Susie Bright
Pageant (2008)
Documentary
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

A portrait of five men competing in the Miss Gay America pageant.

Directors: Ron Davis, Stewart Halpern-Fingerhut
Stars: Carl Glorioso, Victor Bowling, Robert Martin
Grey Gardens (1975)
Documentary | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An old mother and her middle-aged daughter, the aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, live their eccentric lives in a filthy, decaying mansion in East Hampton.

Directors: Ellen Hovde, Albert Maysles, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Edith Bouvier Beale, Edith 'Little Edie' Bouvier Beale, Brooks Hyers
Documentary | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  

A documentary of the successful career and assassination of San Francisco's first elected gay councilor.

Director: Rob Epstein
Stars: Harvey Fierstein, Harvey Milk, Anne Kronenberg
RuPaul's Drag Race (TV Series 2009)
Game-Show | Reality-TV
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

RuPaul searches for America's next drag superstar.

Stars: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Santino Rice
Reality-TV
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

RuPaul's Drag Race: Untucked! is the access-all-areas pass to the drama that you didn't see on the runway--the backstage bitchiness, the catfights, the struggles, the tears and the secrets.... See full summary »

Stars: RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Santino Rice
Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Two drag queens and a transsexual travel across the desert to perform their unique style of cabaret.

Director: Stephan Elliott
Stars: Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp
Documentary | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The history of the Gay and Lesbian community before the Stonewall riots began the major gay rights movement.

Directors: Greta Schiller, Robert Rosenberg
Stars: Rita Mae Brown, Maua Adele Ajanaku, Red Jordan Arobateau
Short
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

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 »

Director: Jennie Livingston
Stars: Marin Hinkle, Brigitte Bako, Steve Buscemi
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Tempers fray and true selves are revealed when a heterosexual is accidentally invited to a homosexual party.

Director: William Friedkin
Stars: Kenneth Nelson, Peter White, Leonard Frey
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A transsexual punk-rock girl from East Berlin tours the U.S. with her band as she tells her life story and follows the former lover/band-mate who stole her songs.

Director: John Cameron Mitchell
Stars: John Cameron Mitchell, Miriam Shor, Stephen Trask
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
André Christian
Dorian Corey
Paris Duprée
David The Father Xtravaganza
Eileen Ford ...
Herself
Junior Labeija
...
(as Pepper Labeija)
Sandy Ninja
Willi Ninja
Avis Pendavis
Freddie Pendavis
Kim Pendavis
Sol Pendavis
Stevie Saint Laurent
Octavia St. Laurent ...
(as Octavia Saint Laurent)
Edit

Storyline

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 <robsmith@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Having a ball...wish you were here

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

|

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

August 1991 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Children Are  »

Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$3,779,620 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in October 1997. See more »

Quotes

Dorian Corey: 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.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in RuPaul's Drag Race: Absolut Drag Ball (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

I Am What I Am
from 'La Cage aux Folles'
Written by Jerry Herman
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Absolutely riveting
22 November 2004 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Documentary starts in 1986 in NYC where black and hispanic drag queens hold "balls". That's where they dress up however they like, strut their stuff in front of an audience and are voted on. We get to know many of the members and see how they all hold together and support each other. As one man says to another--"You have three strikes against you--you're black, gay and a drag queen". These are people who (sadly) are not accepted in society--only at the balls. There they can be whoever and whatever they want and be accepted. Then the film cuts to three years later (1989) and you see how things have changed (tragically for some).

Sounds depressing but it's not. Most of the people interviewed are actually very funny and get a lot of humor out of their situations. They're well aware of their position in society and accept it with humor--just as they should. We find out they all live in "houses" run by various "mothers" and all help each other out. The sense of community in this film is fascinating.

When this film came out in 1990 it was controversial--and a big hit. It won Best Documentary Awards at numerous festivals--but was never even nominated for an Academy Award. Their reason was "Black and hispanic drag queens are not Academy material". Fascinating isn't it? Homophobia and racism all together.

Seen today it's still a great film--and a period piece. It just isn't like that anymore--the NY they show no longer exists. The balls are still held but not in the spirit we see here. Also drag has become more "accepted" in society (for better or worse). And I've heard the houses are gone too. That's kind of sad. I WOULD like to know where these characters are now--I know two died of AIDS but I have no idea about the others. And what DID happen to that 13 year old and 15 year old shown?

Still, it a one of a kind documentary--fascinating, funny and riveting. A must see all the way! A definite 10. Where's the DVD???


18 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The two boys, homeworldpilot
OMG i can't believe it! drownedw0rld
A sad film Babo2
Song question davisaurus
Willi Ninja R.I.P. HeroineCheek
DVD DScully1245
Discuss Paris Is Burning (1990) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page