P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2002
March 25, 2002
"Voguing" Documentary at MASS MoCA April 25
(North Adams, Mass.) Simultaneously embracing and refuting the world of high fashion, New York's Latino and African-American drag queens invented "voguing" at their extravagant balls. Voguing combined dance moves with typical fashion magazine poses and storytelling pantomime inspired by Egyptian hieroglyphics. Paris is Burning, an award-winning documentary made in 1990 about the fringe underworld of drag balls, will play at MASS MoCA on Thursday, April 25, at 8 P.M. The Washington Post called it "loaded with explosive meaning," and termed it, "brilliantly entertaining!"
Before voguing hit the mainstream club scene it was the major outlet of creative expressions for Harlem's gay community. Beatings and threats were a part of daily life for these men living on the edges of society in the late 1980s. Inspired by Paris' House of Dior and House of Chanel, they gathered together in "houses" such as the House of Xtravaganza and the House of Ninja which became a combination of family and street gang offering a safe haven of protection. Individuals and houses competed regularly at fashion balls where they would dress to imitate any number of out-of-reach dreams from diva to marine to corporate yes-man. Paris is Burning shows them competing for prizes in categories ranging from "evening wear" and "executive wear" to "the gay basher who beat you up on the way here tonight."
Some cast members of this poignant documentary go on to have legitimate success in modeling or choreography or to be recruited by Madonna as dancers for her world tour, others suffer violent ends. When the film won several Best Documentary awards including the Sundance Film Festival, the Los Angeles Film Critics, and the New York Film Critics Circle without even a nomination from the Academy it lead to a re-evaluation of the Oscars' process.
Tickets for Paris is Burning are $5. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office at 87 Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. Wednesday through Monday. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located on a 13- acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings. MASS MoCA focuses on the work of visual and performing artists charting new territory.
For Immediate Release