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Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Glorious Legacy of Venus Xtravaganza

Posted by on Thu, Feb 9, 2012 at 10:45 AM


One of the most rewarding parts of the latest season of RuPaul's Drag Race—along with Jiggly Caliente, Sharon Needles, and the lightly bearded pit crew member—is witnessing the extended influence of Venus Xtravaganza, one of the many fascinating subjects of Paris Is Burning, Jennie Livingston's 1990 documentary about the New York drag ball scene and the people who make it fabulous. The film is packed with amazing people, but Venus is one of the ones that sticks with you, not just for her stunning vulnerability and beauty, but for the tragic containment of her story within the film. (Spoiler alert: Near the end of Paris Is Burning, Venus' house mother Angie Xtravaganza tells of the heartbreaking murder of Venus Xtravaganza.)

So what a joy it is to see sparks of Venus flying out of the mouths of so many of RuPaul's 21st-century drag racers. Here's Venus delivering the 20-second riff that will supply drag queens with catchphrases for eternity.

(Also, have you seen Paris Is Burning lately? If you haven't seen it in over ten years, watch it immediately and be clobbered by its amazements. It may as well be the best documentary ever made (after Hoop Dreams), and it's available now on Netflix Streaming.)


Comments (12) RSS

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Bub 1
Always good to have a reminder of the brilliance of Paris Is Burning. I have been known to randomly say "Pen-DAAAA-vis" when walking down the street. Nice to see Venus's legacy on Drag Race.
Posted by Bub on February 9, 2012 at 11:17 AM · Report this
I just watched it again last weekend. It never stops being AMAZING
Posted by Kelly O on February 9, 2012 at 11:22 AM · Report this
O-P-U-L-E-N-C-E. Opulence.
Posted by ERIN! on February 9, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Report this
I was just celebrating this fantastic doc at last night. So wonderful! So poignant. Such vital viewing
Posted by Adam Bernstein on February 9, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this
"You.OWN.EV-reething. EV-reething is YOR-WAS!
Posted by BigDogYVR on February 9, 2012 at 3:58 PM · Report this
"You.OWN.EV-reething. EV-reething is YOR-WUZ!"
Posted by BigDogYVR on February 9, 2012 at 4:00 PM · Report this
touch this skin honey, touch this skin darling, touch all of this skin. You just can't take it. You're just an overgrown orangutan!
Posted by XenoIncognito on February 11, 2012 at 8:54 PM · Report this
I'm really curious to know the results of her homicide investigation. Did they ever find the murderer(s)? What happened to the case?

I've tried in vain to find detailed information about this case. Even the NY death records didn't list her by her drag or real name, Thomas Pellagatti.
Posted by Toonces on March 29, 2012 at 8:30 PM · Report this
It was great to see her legacy living on in Drag Race. There's also a new show here in NYC called the Murder of Venus Xtravaganza. Specifically trying to draw focus to the tragedy of her spirit and dreams violently extinguished. We just opened last night to an overwhelmingly enthusiastic audience. It's a drag ball memorial service for Venus with food & booze and the audience gets the opportunity to Vogue, but then the Mother of Xtravaganza sends the audience out onto the streets of Hell's Kitchen to solve Venus' murder by interrogating "suspects" - 1988 characters - in a fictionalized revisit to Venus' murder that's true to the times of 1988 NYC. Not enough attention can be given to that wonderful film!
Posted by VancePants on September 21, 2013 at 10:43 PM · Report this
I love the movie, and as a Mom, I just wanted to hug Venus and take her home and treat her like a daughter. She was so special in the film, and it broke my heart when she would say "I'm hungry". RIP, little angel.
Posted by 2000 on December 26, 2013 at 12:33 PM · Report this
I have watched "Paris is Burning" more times than I can count, it is a eye opening entertaining documentary on something most people not living in the 80's and unfamiliar with the Drag scene would never get the chance to experience. Venus was one of my favorites and to learn her life was tragically taken was heartbreaking. Had she lived she would have been a star, in her own right. "Touch this skin, touch all this skin" it!!!
Posted by TouchThisSkinCUPCAKE on January 1, 2014 at 12:26 PM · Report this
Has anyone ever attempted to solve Her murder?
Posted by butchinthesheets on January 9, 2014 at 6:03 AM · Report this

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