Paris is Burning

Don’t know how I have managed to get to age 26 without watching this flick! Amazing absolutely fabulous wonderful.

A movie about expressing our humanity. About fashion and rich life while being poor. About coming together as queer people and showing our beauty, forgetting the world and just being. Then you go back out into the world and feel your alienation all over again.

They teach us about voguing, about categories of the balls, about family – real family. They show us what it means to struggle to survive, and not just survive but be yourself while having 3 strikes: 1. Being black 2. being a man 3. being gay. (I would add a 4th as well – being poor.)

And while many of these women believed that when they got a sex change their lives could be better, Pepper LaBeija had some words of wisdom:  “A lot of kids that I know they got the sex change because they felt ‘Oh I’ve been treated so bad as a drag queen, if I got a pussy -excuse the expression – Ill be treated fabulous. But women get treated bad. You know they get beat they get robbed they get dogged so having a vagina doesn’t mean you’ll have a fabulous life, it may be worse.”

 

RIP Beauty Queens ❤

Between seeing the majestic works of art on the runway, and hearing words of wisdom and survival, I just had to pause and look up each of the participants and realized, to my sadness, that most have passed away. They each had their hopes and dreams, and their life lessons.

Venus Xtravaganza – She wanted to be a “rich white woman” taken care of. She wanted to fall in love and live the American dream. At age 23 murdered during the making of the film, strangled in a hotel room and discovered 4 days later.

Octavia St. Laurent – Wanted to be famous, not necessarily rich, but known for her beauty (and beautiful she was!). Died at age 45, AIDS and cancer.

Pepper LaBejia – Mother of the house LaBeija. Took in young queers who were struggling, homeless, and/or cutoff from their families. Died at age 55, complications due to diabetes.

Ninja – also the mother of her house. She was on of the best voguers by far! Wanted to be known for dancing, live in Paris and make it burn! She died of AIDS at age 45.

Dorian Corey – She was an old school drag queen, still a part of the scene and a judge at the balls. She wasn’t as lively or excited as the younger ones, she had lived a tough life and still spread words of wisdom. She said when she was younger she wanted to be a star, but then as you get older you settle for just leaving a mark on the world. Then she realized just by surviving you have left a mark because of the difficulties. Died from AIDS. Interesting side story, after her death a mummified body was found in her closet. People say it was a victim she killed in self-defense during a break-in.

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