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Revisiting Paris Is Burning

Acknowledge the past; live the future

by j. brotherlove

Paris Is Burning

I caught the Scion-sponsored screening of 1990’s Paris Is Burning last night at CenterStage in Atlanta. I’ve seen the legendary documentary countless times but not recently. The crowd was a good mix of race, gender and age groups. Watching it again brought back bittersweet memories of growing up during the 80s.

Afterwards, there was a question and answer period with Richard Ninja, Andre Mizrahi and Stephaun Elite Manolo Blahnik.

Some of the questions:

Has the ball scene changed since the movie?

Like everything else in the world, the ball scene has changed quite a bit since it grabbed the world’s attention in the early 90s. Andre mentioned that you learn to adapt to the changes if you want to survive in the scene.

Is there a ball house scene in Atlanta?

I forget how "underground" my interests are to many. So I was surprised by this question because I know that there is a very active ball scene in Atlanta. In fact, Final Fantasy is Sunday, December 2 at The Georgia World Congress Center, sponsored by AID Atlanta. Doors open at 5:00, ball starts at 6:00pm. Best of all, it’s free.

Where is ______? What is s/he doing now?

Unfortunately, most of the featured subjects of Paris Is Burning are dead. Dorian Corey, Pepper La Beija, Angie Extravaganza and Willi Ninja have all passed on. Octavia St. Laurent is still being fabulous and slated to judge a ball during Martin Luther King weekend in Atlanta.

How do ball mothers and fathers address psychological needs of their children? / How are HIV/AIDS involved with the ball scene?

There was quite a bit of discussion about these topics. Richard and Andre admitted they give their guidance to the hundreds of kids in their houses but there is a noticeable disconnect with AIDS Service Organizations (ASO) in general. Andre attributed this to fear. However, many ASOs are becoming more active in connecting with kids in the ball scene.

Andre Mizrahi on Amateur Night at the Apollo

pub: 11/30/2007 | previous entry | next entry | feedback x 3 | subscribe
1. Jeff

Good stuff, while, I’ve never been to any of the ballroom events, not in my area, that movie was such an eye opener into a lifestyle I never knew existed. Those “kids” know how to have fun, and live their lives their way, and, I like that! And, as one of those black men who couldn’t dance if my life depended on it, to see those moves leave my mouth open!

A reminder for commenters: This is not a gossip blog. If you have something derogatory to say please back it up with facts and leave a valid email. That anonymous shit doesn’t fly here.

Thanks for the look back at Paris Is Burning. As a young, rather lost, gay TV, it had such a major impact on me way back when. Powerful piece of work.