8.1/10
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36 user 22 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:

Jennie Livingston
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16 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brooke Xtravaganza Brooke Xtravaganza ... (as Carmen and Brooke)
André Christian André Christian
Dorian Corey Dorian Corey
Paris Duprée
Pepper LaBeija ... Herself
Junior Labeija Junior Labeija
Willi Ninja
Sandy Ninja Sandy Ninja
Kim Pendavis Kim Pendavis
Freddie Pendavis
Sol Pendavis
Avis Pendavis Avis Pendavis
Octavia St. Laurent ... (as Octavia Saint Laurent)
Stevie Saint Laurent Stevie Saint Laurent
Anji Xtravaganza Anji Xtravaganza ... (as Angie Xtravaganza)
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

August 1991 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Children Are See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$310,127, 11 August 1991, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,779,620
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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.
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Soundtracks

Is It All Over My Face!
Performed by Loose Joints
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User Reviews

 
Of historical importance, but ...
13 May 2002 | by Dierdre99See all my reviews

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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