Thursday, August 27, 2015

25th Birthday of "Paris Is Burning" Documentary Of New York City's Gay Ballroom Culture

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information and comments about the 1990 New York City gay ballroom documentary documentary "Paris Is Burning" on that film's 25th birthday. Quotes from drag queen Dorian Corey who is featured in this documentary are also included in this post along with the original movie trailer of this documentary.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, and sociological purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to the producer of this documentary and all those who were featured in this documentary. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post, and the publishers of these videos on YouTube.

"Paris Is Burning is a 1990 American documentary film directed by Jennie Livingston. Filmed in the mid-to-late 1980s, it chronicles the ball culture of New York City and the African-American,Latino, gay, and transgender communities involved in it. Some critics consider the film to be an invaluable documentary of the end of the "Golden Age" of New York City drag balls, and a thoughtful exploration of race, class, gender, and sexuality in America.[2][3] Others have criticized it as exploitive and fetishizing towards trans people of color.[4]

The film received funding from the National Endowment for the Arts shortly during the period when the organization was under fire for funding controversial artists including Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano. …

Several of the most heavily featured performers wished to sue in 1991 for a share of the film's profits. Paris DuPree sought the largest settlement with $40 million for unauthorized use of her ball. The producers stated that they had always planned on compensating the principal participants. All dropped their claims after their attorneys confirmed that they had signed releases. The producers then distributed approximately $55,000 among thirteen of the participants.[2]

Critical reception
Upon release, the documentary received rave reviews from critics and won several awards including a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, a Berlin International Film Festival Teddy Bear, an audience award from the Toronto International Film Festival, a GLAAD Media Award, aWomen in Film Crystal Award, a Best Documentary award from the Los Angeles, New York, and National Film Critics' Circles, and it also was named as one of 1991's best films by the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, Time Magazine, and others.

Paris Is Burning failed to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature that year, adding to a growing perception that certain subjects and treatments were excluded from consideration for Oscars, and leading, in part, to a change in how documentaries are nominated for the Academy Awards.[11]

More than two decades later, Paris Is Burning remains an organizing tool for gay and trans youth; a way for scholars and students to examine issues of race, class, and gender; a way for younger ball participants to meet their ancestors; and a portrait of several remarkable Americans, most of whom have died since the film's production.[12]

However, some in the LGBTQ community have criticized Paris Is Burning. In Is Paris Burning?, bell hooks questioned Livingston's depiction of the drag balls, arguing that it reduces them to mere spectacle: “Much of the film’s focus on pageantry takes the ritual of the black drag ball and makes it spectacle. Ritual is that ceremonial act that carries with it meaning and significance beyond what appears, while spectacle functions primarily as entertaining dramatic display... Hence it is easy for white observers to depict black rituals as spectacle.”[4]

Critic Judith Butler based some of her book, Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex", on this film.[13]"...

08-14-2015, 12:54 PM
Re: "Paris is Burning" Turns 25 Years Old This Sunday
"I loved this documentary. I can't believe we're the same age. It's crazy how even though this took place 25 years ago, A LOT of the same things can still be applied to today. There have been advancements within the LGBT community, however the ball room scene is relatively still the same if not worse. After, doing my due diligence on the lady who did the documentary, I didn't like how she treated them. She was shiesty and tried to refuse to give them royalties for their participation in the film."
"shiesty" = acting like a shyster
"Shyster ... is a slang word for someone who acts in a disreputable, unethical, or unscrupulous way, especially in the practice of law, sometimes also politics or business."

Re: "Paris is Burning" Turns 25 Years Old This Sunday
08-14-2015, 11:01 AM
"I read the backstory of many participants in the documentary and many of them did not like how they were portrayed.nmost of them were really close to their families and they didn't like how the filmmaker portrayed them as castaways with no families or careers outside of drag"...

08-14-2015, 11:45 AM
Location:Jamaica... The one in Queens, N.Y.
Re: "Paris is Burning" Turns 25 Years Old This Sunday
"The one fact about this film that makes me go "Whoa!" and make me feel as if I jump out of my body:

Everything that occurred in this documentary did not happen too long ago.

This didn't occur 40... 50... 55.... 65 years ago. This was only 25 years ago.

The technology, the music, the art and the fashion has changed, but for a large amount of people (in particular, for the LGBTQA members) this kind of sh&t* happened last week... yesterday."
*This word is fully spelled out in this comment.

08-14-2015, 12:18 PM
From Tokyo
Re: "Paris is Burning" Turns 25 Years Old This Sunday
"Just watched this again last week. Really good documentary and showed how much has been poached from gay ballroom culture. Some people build their careers on it, in fact.
"Voguing", "reading someone", and "throwing shade" are some of the cultural products that came from the 1990s gay ballroom scene. The term "boo boo kitty" is also said to come from gay culture where it was coined as "boo kitty".

Click for a pancocojams post on voguing.

Click for a pancocojams post on reading and throwing shade.

Here's a comment about the early use of "boo kitty" from Corey Terrell Daniels, June 2015 on
"Boo Kitty" specifically is a term from underground gay culture of the 1970's and 1980's.... reference 'Paris is Burning' and you will hear a lot of pop culture language"...

"• 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 a arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you.

• Shade comes from reading. Reading came first.

• You get in a smart crack, and everyone laughs and kikis because you've found a flaw and exaggerated it, then you've got a good read going.

• Shade is I don't tell you you're ugly but I don't have to tell you because you know you're ugly ... and that's shade.

• In real life you can't get a job as an executive unless you have the educational background and the opportunity. Now, the fact that you are not an executive is merely because of the social standing of life. Black people have a hard time getting anywhere and those that do are usually straight. In a ballroom you can be anything you want. You're not really an executive but you're looking like an executive. You're showing the straight world that I can be an executive if I had the opportunity because can look like one, and that is like a fulfillment.

• When they're undetectable and they can walk out of that ballroom into the sunlight and onto the subway and get home, and still have all their clothes and no blood running off their bodies- those are the femme realness queens... and usually its a category for young queens.

SHOWCASE VIDEO: Paris Is Burning original theatrical trailer

Jenni Olson, Published on Aug 2, 2014

This is the original theatrical release trailer for the legendary documentary film Paris is Burning, by Jennie Livingston (preceded by a fun little vintage preview message)! …

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment