"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

Paris is Burning

This is a documentary about vogueing, and the extremely refined and detailed aesthetic sensibilities it reflects, shot in New York City around Chelsea, the Meatpacking District, and Harlem in the mid- to late-80s. The city has changed in dramatic ways since then, to say the least.

The characters of the film are complete outsiders with, at the same time, a deep understanding of the world they are outside of. As Terrence Rafferty wrote in The New Yorker, “the material is almost too rich, too suggestive. Everything about the ball culture signifies so blatantly and so promiscuously that the movie induces a kind of semiotic daze.”

It is certainly hard to view human behavior the same way after watching this film. I hope this low-quality version will be interesting enough to inspire you to rent the real thing.

(The video player embed here should allow you to watch all 11 segments of the film.)

history, New York City, society

14 comments on “Paris is Burning

  1. divadwg says:

    This is great, for a change I have nothing much to say other than that.

  2. Dan Westlake says:

    I've see the full version of this and it is definitely worth seeing – very moving.

  3. sara g says:

    Such an amazing film. You must watch the whole thing!

  4. bob says:

    fantastic documentary, thanks

  5. Do the film makers know that this is available on youtube? Are they all right with this?

  6. lx_ says:

    thank you truly enjoyed it couldnt stop till it was done and i had to watch all the credits
    @restless_conscience grow up

  7. luca says:

    Just brilliant. Thanks for that.
    L (@thefabricpress)

  8. Bill says:

    If anyone is concerned, you can buy the DVD online (amazon for example). This is brilliant advertising for a movie that otherwise would go unnoticed.

    Get off the floor! Learn it and learn it well.

  9. david galbraith says:

    Restless conscience's question is fair and should, I guess, be answered. The quality of the film on Youtube is poor – to the extent that at could be considered a preview, instead of being diminished in time, it is diminished in resolution.

    Of course, this is an accidental thing, but something that has emerged naturally and perhaps could be exploited so that everyone wins. There also is a precedent for this – thumbnail image previews.

    Lastly – I should point out that we try and feature stuff here that has either been lost in time or hasn't had a huge amount of publicity.

    I regularly buy things I sample on YouTube because the quality is impaired.

  10. Simon Perry says:

    I'm fascinated by subcultures and this film shows us that the strength of this one is phenomenal. For the people who lived it, this _was_ their world … their reason for existing.

    It's well made, taking the viewer through a journey from almost overwhelming joy at the start, but as we get to learn more about the characters, more sadness is revealed. Not that this isn't the case for most a lot of subcultures.

    Highly recommended.

    I'd love to see a doc about the history of the development of the trophies alone. Amazingly over-stated, human-sized creations, which given their size back at the end of the 80s, I can't imagine what they look like these days.

    Dave – wouldn't it make sense for people to be able to score these in some way?

  11. aikowest0002 says:
  12. shibata says:

    This city is wonderful. A reference to the urbanism and architecture in the world.

  13. skunkstripe says:

    Ach! A dead embed!

Comments are closed.