Jennie Livingston

Paris Is Burning

Paris Is Burning

Where does voguing come from, and what, exactly, is throwing shade? This landmark documentary provides a vibrant snapshot of the 1980s through the eyes of New York City’s African American and Latinx Harlem drag-ball scene. Made over seven years, Paris Is Burning offers an intimate portrait of rival fashion “houses,” from fierce contests for trophies to house mothers offering sustenance in a world rampant with homophobia, transphobia, racism, AIDS, and poverty. Featuring legendary voguers, drag queens, and trans women—including Willi Ninja, Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, and Venus Xtravaganza—Paris Is Burning brings it, celebrating the joy of movement, the force of eloquence, and the draw of community.


Paris Is Burning was restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in conjunction with Sundance Institute and Outfest UCLA Legacy Project. Preservation was funded by Sundance Institute, Outfest, and the Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation.

Film Info

Director-Approved Special Edition Features

  • New 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Jennie Livingston, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New conversation between Livingston, ball community members Sol Pendavis and Freddie Pendavis, and filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris
  • Over an hour of never-before-seen outtakes
  • Audio commentary from 2005, featuring Livingston, ball community members Freddie Pendavis and Willi Ninja, and film editor Jonathan Oppenheim
  • New interview with LGBT film historian Jenni Olson
  • Episode of The Joan Rivers Show from 1991, featuring Livingston and ball community members Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, Freddie Pendavis, and Ninja
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by filmmaker Michelle Parkerson and a 1991 review by poet Essex Hemphill
New cover by Eric Skillman. Cover photo by Jennie Livingston

Purchase Options

Special Features

  • New 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Jennie Livingston, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New conversation between Livingston, ball community members Sol Pendavis and Freddie Pendavis, and filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris
  • Over an hour of never-before-seen outtakes
  • Audio commentary from 2005, featuring Livingston, ball community members Freddie Pendavis and Willi Ninja, and film editor Jonathan Oppenheim
  • New interview with LGBT film historian Jenni Olson
  • Episode of The Joan Rivers Show from 1991, featuring Livingston and ball community members Dorian Corey, Pepper LaBeija, Freddie Pendavis, and Ninja
  • Trailer
  • English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by filmmaker Michelle Parkerson and a 1991 review by poet Essex Hemphill
New cover by Eric Skillman. Cover photo by Jennie Livingston
Paris Is Burning
Cast
Dorian Corey
Mother, House of Corey
Pepper LaBeija
Mother, House of LaBeija
Junior LaBeija
House of LaBeija
Angie Xtravaganza
Mother, House of Xtravaganza
Venus Xtravaganza
House of Xtravaganza
Danni Xtravaganza
House of Xtravaganza
Carmen Xtravaganza
House of Xtravaganza
Brooke Xtravaganza
House of Xtravaganza
Willi Ninja
Mother, House of Ninja
Octavia Saint
House of Saint Laurent
Freddie Pendavis
House of Pendavis
Kim Pendavis
House of Pendavis
Sol Pendavis
House of Pendavis
Paris Dupree
Mother, House of Dupree
Credits
Director
Jennie Livingston
Produced by
Jennie Livingston
Edited by
Jonathan Oppenheim
Cinematography by
Paul Gibson
Coproducer
Barry Swimar
Associate producer
Claire Goodman
Associate producer
Meg McLagan
Executive producer
Madison Davis Lacy
Executive producer
Nigel Finch

From The Current

Paris Is Burning: The Fire This Time
Paris Is Burning: The Fire This Time

New York City’s 1980s drag-ball scene comes to vibrant life in Jennie Livingston’s documentary, a landmark chronicle of the resilience and realness of queer communities of color.

By Michelle Parkerson