Paris Is Burning (1990)


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.

— Dorian Corey

Jeannie Livingston’s Paris Is Burning has been a part of my collection for a long time. I watch it from time to time see the people again, learning a bunch of lingo and see a world that I never knew.

This documentary tells the story of the “ball” scene in New York City in the late 80s. Most African-American gay men were kicked out of the house when their family found out that they were gay. The impoverished men gather together early in morning in rented out banquet halls to have their balls.

It breaks down the different categories, the participants in those categories and the talking heads explaining the mechanics of their moment in a spotlight.

We are introduced to memorable people like the wise Dorian Corey, the fierce Pepper LaBeija, the fem queen realness of Venus Xtravaganza, the gorgeous Octavia Saint Laurent, and the voguing master Willi Ninja.

We learn about “reading”, “shade”, “voguing”, “mopping”, “house” and “mother.” We also learn about the lives of these people that want to achieve the unreachable dream. It’s sad at the same time.

Judgment: If you want to learn the real origin of voguing, check out this documentary.

Rating: ****1/2

About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on September 23, 2009, in 1990, Documentary and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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