Paris Is Burning | Review


Paris Is Burning is an American documentary by Jennie Livingston on the drag/queer scene in the 1980’s in New York City. It focuses on African-American and Latino gay and transgender communities that were involved in the scene.

The film shows how the “ball” was born and how contestants would have to fit into a category and be judged on their “realness” (how well they have portrayed the category). While the judging may seem harsh at first, it comes from a loving place. Many formed “houses”, which are groups of people that form a family as they were rejected by their biological families. It also addresses the popular terms of “shade” and “reading” that, all these terms that are still used today.

Pepper LaBeija


Dorian Corey


Angie Xtravaganza


Willi Ninja


I found it really emotional watching, as it shows the racism, homophobia, transphobia, poverty and AIDS related issues that the drag/queer community had to deal with in a time where New York was far from accepting. The film is a must watch for anyone, but particularly people interested in drag, as it shows the true origins of a lot of the content you see in modern day drag (i.e. RuPaul’s Drag Race).

The film can be purchased on Amazon here.

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