Touch this skin, darling, touch this skin honey, touch all of this skin! Okay? You just can’t take it! You’re just an overgrown orangutan!
Paris is Burning Is a film filled with instantly iconic personalities, ones that are unapologetically themselves and all so beautifully unique.
I was mesmerized minutes into the film, wondering why I had waited so long to experience this groundbreaking documentary about the New York Drag Ball scene.
Was it because the subject matter seemed dated since Drag is now part of the mainstream? Is it because I thought it couldn’t live up to insane hype film critics/lovers built over the years?
Whatever the reason was, there was no excuse for me not to have seen this film sooner.
The representation that exploded on screen, from Pepper LaBeija to trans icon Venus Xtravaganza, made me feel the transformative power of film for the first time in a long time. There’s so little films I get the chance to see that shows a truly honest view of trans people and other underrepresented individuals of the LGBTQA+ community and to my surprise, that very film has existed since 1990!
The way the camera frames the contestants and the earlier interviews are brimming with a certain confidence and discovery that it feels like you are watching a director discover their love of film as well (I later found out this was made during the director’s final years at NYU film school).
In a world full of dishonest portrayals of underrepresented people, we must cherish and champion films like Paris is Burning, because this is a one in a million film and I don’t think there will be another one like it.