Paris Is Burning

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Where does voguing come from, and what, exactly, is throwing shade? This landmark documentary provides a vibrant snapshot of the 1980s through the eyes of New York City's African American and Latinx Harlem drag ball scene. Made over seven years, Paris Is Burning offers an intimate portrait of rival fashion houses, from fierce contests for trophies, to house mothers offering sustenance in a world rampant with homophobia and transphobia, racism, AIDS, and poverty.


  • Brooke Xtravaganza
  • André Christian
  • Dorian Corey
  • Paris Duprée
  • Pepper LaBeija
  • Junior Labeija
  • Willi Ninja
  • Sandy Ninja
  • Kim Pendavis

Did You Know?


  • 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.
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    • 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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Atom User Reviews

5.0 out of 5



Technically rough and ragged, Paris nonetheless does an excellent job of digesting a rich, multilayered subculture, and breaking it down for a general audience without oversimplification. [09 Aug 1991, p.F1]

Metacritic review by Edward Guthmann
Edward Guthmann
San Francisco Chronicle

A rough-edged, talking-heads documentary, directed with skill if not polish by Jennie Livingston, that has found a topic almost unbelievably rich in cultural paradoxes and interpretive possibilities. [09 Aug 1991, p.C]

Metacritic review by Dave Kehr
Dave Kehr
Chicago Tribune