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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.

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15 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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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)
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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:

 »
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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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

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

Featured in Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Who's Zoomin' Who
Written by Aretha Franklin (uncredited), Preston Glass (uncredited) and Narada Michael Walden (uncredited)
Performed by Aretha Franklin
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User Reviews

 
Defiance and Pathos
20 March 2000 | by (Honolulu, HI, USA) – See all my reviews

In the beginning of this film, one of the commentators says that he was told that he has two strikes against him: he is black and male. But in addition to that, he has a third strike: he's gay. "You're going to have to be stronger than you ever imagined," he is told. "Paris is Burning" is a documentary about gay black and Hispanic men who are tranvestites or transsexuals.

The miracle of "Paris is Burning" is that director Jennie Livingston takes a subject that could have very easily become a freak show and allows the people in it their humanity. We learn their views of homosexuality, men, women, their hopes, their disappointments, their dreams. Some of these dreams are so unattainable it's tragic. Many of the people are seriously in denial;

This is not a film for everyone. There are shots in this movie of nude transsexuals. If you have a problem with homosexuality, then this movie isn't for you. But if you do see this movie you'll realise "Paris is Burning" isn't really about men wearing women's clothes, it's about a group of people who are routinely marginalised and put down by society at large, and what they do to get a sense of community in their lives.

I've watched this movie four times since it was released in 1991, because it says so many things: it's a commentary about materialism in our culture, about gender roles, about rich and poor people, about the media and what it celebrates, about fame and adulation. "Paris is Burning" is one of the most humane, and one of the saddest, movies I've ever seen.


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