Paris has burned

Paris is Burning still remains a gay cult classic. Jennie Livingston’s documentary from 1990 about the voguing balls of New York City is full of one-liners, but also of sadness: AIDS, discrimination, drugs, poverty, etc. It was both uplifting and tragic. It’s a rollercoaster of a film.

Voguing, which was later stolen by Madge to great acclaim and millions in record sales, is the art of “walking” different categories against other “houses.” Winners receive trophies and bragging rights and the categories range from high fashion to military to “luscious body.” The performances are as over-the-top as the categories themselves.

Most of the film’s featured players, including Willie Ninja, Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, and Anji Xtravaganza have died over the last 20 years. Only one, Octavia Saint Laurent, managed to keep going. So it was with sadness that I stumbled upon this New York Times obituary. Horacio Silva smartly links a YouTube clip of Ms. Saint Laurent, where she steals the movie from the others, due to her feminine ease and subtle charm.

The world is a little less glamorous these days.