Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: Paris is Burning

Confession time: I was completely unaware of the drag scene until I started watching RuPaul's Drag Race (which I just recapped here) in 2012. I had obviously heard of drag, but thought it was an odd subculture that didn't appeal to me. Since then, I've not only fallen in love with drag, but I've actually performed in drag (only once so far, but I plan to do it again soon). Living in the incredibly drag-friendly city of Columbus, Ohio, has allowed me to really dive into this incredibly art form. But as with most things, it's important not only to know the current state of things, but to be aware of the past. There is no better document of the history of drag than Paris is Burning.

Paris is Burning focuses most of its time talking about the balls of New York City, but it also takes time to get to know some of the queens who participate in them. It becomes obvious early on that many of them participate in the balls in order to gain notoriety and fame in the gay community. Most of them are content to stay within that realm, but one, Octavia Saint Laurent, wants to be famous. Even being a transgender model in the 1980s, she has dreams of becoming a household name. She's shown attending a model search, resulting in the best shot from the film:

When we first see the reporter, we don't notice Octavia (in the white shirt and pink scrunchie): her back is turned, and the camera is focused on him. It's not until the camera moves and she turns around that we see just how close she is being on television. Its a fitting metaphor for how close yet so far from achieving stardom.


  1. I didn't think anyone else would notice this shot -- it was my runner up shot. Thanks for participating. Hope you do them all this season!

  2. love this shot! so many of the people in this film are so obsessed with being famous that this brush with fame seems bittersweet.

    and good luck with your future drag! i went to college in columbus and spent many a night at axis...haven't been in years.