Paris is Burning: Drag Queens in New York

Paris is Burning chronicles the 1980s New York drag queen balls: a world of fierce competition, sustenance, and survival.

The film shows the ambitions and dreams of the New Yorker drag queens as they flaunt their every pose, while also asking what life is like after the glamorous balls.

Throughout the documentary we’ll acquaint ourselves with groups and individuals who all vow to flaunt their best sides. Groups of people who are all active in the transgender and gay communities of New York’s vibrant life.

In Paris is Burning it doesn’t matter what you are or where you come from; only the pose presented on the stage. Furthermore, the film seeks to portray a group of people who have found a home, a valuable thing to any who might feel like an outcast to an otherwise ‘normal’ society.

Since the documentary film aired in 1990, it has become a cultural phenomenon and a cult classic. Some critics even consider the film a thoughtful exploration of race, class, gender, and sexuality in 1980s America.

To explore the movie even further, a kind youtube user has uploaded the deleted scenes and outtakes from Paris is Burning for anyone to view free of charge.

Where are they now?

Since premiering in 1990, most of the people being interviewed has died. In fact, since the film’s 25th anniversary in 2015 – only one attended the screening.

Dorian Corey – the drag queen performer and mother and founding member of the house of Corey, died of an AIDS-related illness in 1993.

As mentioned in the end of the documentary, Venus Xtravaganza was strangled in 1988 by an unknown murderer. To this day the case is still unsolved.

Pepper LaBeija died in 2003 at the age of 54 due to a heart failure. He had been bedridden for 10 years prior to his death due to type 2 diabetes.

Octavia St. Laurent died to a long battle with cancer in in 2009.

Willi Ninja died in 2008 – only 45 years old. Sadly, Willi suffered an AIDS-related heart failure.

Angie Xtravaganza died at the age of 28 from an AIDS-related liver disease only 3 years after the premiere of the film – 1993.

Freddie Pendavis still lives to this day and is happily taking pictures on instagram.

Paris is Burning: Drag Queens in New York
  • Info
  • Release date1990
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Jennie Livingston
  • Production companyOff White Productions Inc