Paris is burning


A
s anyone who has seen it will attest, Paris Is Burning is one of the most important gay films ever made.

It's glittering, beautiful, laugh out loud funny... and very, very haunting. As Kele Okereke said in Attitude last year, "I watched it again a few years ago... As soon as it finished I started crying. You go to Wikipedia and all bar one are dead. And they died in such sad circumstances. But you watch the film and they all have so much love."

I hope the two unidentified street kids who appear in the film (they're aged just 13 and 15) aren't among those gone. Does anyone know who they are or what happened to them?


Happily, one of my favourites, Freddie Pendavis (pictured left, with the twin towers of the World Trade Center behind him), is still going strong - or was in 2007 when he was interviewed in the video below...



And in 2005, OUT magazine asked, "What became of the world depicted in Paris Is Burning 15 years ago?"


9 comments:

John R Gordon said...

Nice to see Freddie still with us & doing well. Using a magnifying glass I read the magazine pages & it was sad that most everyone else had died. The dvd comes with a great commentary track featuring Livingstone & Willie Ninja, & there's interesting deleted scenes (especially one showing Ninja's - wheelchair-bound - mother - revealing in the light of bell hooks' crit of the film for 'downplaying biological family connections'). When I saw it back in the day with friends we all found it a transformative experience that made, for some time afterwards, the white het world seem blank & malnourished (which it is, of course!).

Jai said...

It's so amazing. Every time I see it, it's more and more intoxicating. My Region 2 DVD doesn't have any extras, never mind a commentary - I need to upgrade!

FLICKERIA said...

Wow! I remember the very first time I saw Paris Is Burning. I watched with my two closest friends both blond, blue eyed, WASP. I, on the other hand, am Black, brown-eyed, Non-believing-Protestant. As the film progress, I remember the feeling of yet another heavy weight crushing me. Paris Is Burning is an amazing film and definitely should have won the Oscar that year for Best Documentary Film - for which it was not even nominated. Fucking Hollywood! I, too, cried afterwards. It just happened. I did not want to cry. The tears come naturally. Falling. I have nothing to do with them. It was so alarming. It definitely redefined post viewing "Paris Is Burning." And ironically the two things that stood out were Freddie (because he seemed so normal and cute) and those two 13 & 15-yr-olds because they were OUT, hickeys, late at night, Manhattan. It was all so surreal - but I could see exactly how real it was. WOW! I bought the DVD the second it came OUT.

Jai said...

Flickeria - that's really powerful stuff.

I was shown it by a friend who's a young 45+. I'm 29, and I've just shown it to a friend who's 23, who was also blown away by it. Ain't that something?

The reason I put this post together was that I'd hope someone out there might see it and have an answer: what happened to those two kids? I doubt we'll ever get one... Maybe that's a good thing.

Anonymous said...

A very moving & still provocative documentary on the state of the gay community in NYC. As for the kids, I can only speak about the 1 in the blue T-shirt: transgendered (male to female)& living in Florida, comes to NYC to visit on occasion.

Jai said...

Anon. - Thank you, that's good news! If you're in contact with her, please ask after her friend. :)

Professor Locs said...

I saw this film as a graduate film student years ago and needless to say it was life changing. I learned that I loved the art of documentary studies.
I had never seen the life of gay people depicted in such a powerful aesthetic.

I have since shared the film with many young gay students. We have started a gay straight alliance at school and I want to share this film with the new bloods...smile.

Thank you for sharing this film and the update. Keep up the great work!

www.professorlocs.com

thegayte-keeper said...

I downloaded this movie to watch this week, but thanks Hurricane Irene I will take a look @ this weekend. Read on ROD's site that the last surviving member died. May he rest in peace.

Glenn Brown said...

I was there and part of that scene. The boy on the right, in this thumbnail, was named Anthony. He was very young, and hustling the Deuce (42nd St) and the piers. My drag queen friends, who worked the Meatpacking district, and I often tried to help him, to convince him to go to a youth shelter, etc., but whatever tragic past he came from had already set his character in stone. He was careless, and would not accept our help. To this day, I think of Anthony, wearing a dress shirt and tie with jeans, working the pier, the sex trade, and I know he could not have possibly survived. To a large extent, the ball scene and prostitution went hand-in-hand, along with other habits and forms of survival, like drugs and shoplifting. I watched nearly all of my friends succumb to HIV-infection. Only a few of us remain.

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