8.2/10
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38 user 27 critic

Paris Is Burning (1990)

TV Program
3:47 | TV Program
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
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
Paris Duprée
Pepper LaBeija ... Herself
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
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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

Gross USA:

$3,905,297

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,905,297
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

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

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

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User Reviews

 
Defiance and Pathos
20 March 2000 | by chantil955See 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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