“I am what I am. I am my own special creation”. The trans-genre soundtrack of Paris Is Burning


  • Costanza Rovetta




Paris Is Burning, New Queer Cinema, Film Music, Soundtrack, Realness


The purpose of this essay is to highlight and comment on the importance of musical presence within Jennie Livingston's documentary film Paris is Burning (1990), a pivotal film of the cinematographic moment of New Queer Cinema. Despite multiple analyses, from Judith Butler in Bodies That Matters (1993) to Peggy Phelan in Unmarked: The Politics of Performance (1996), there is a lack of literature regarding the narrative, performative and resilient potential of its soundtrack. The essay proposes a new methodological approach by presenting, following a brief historical framework, the audiovisual analysis of three thematic nuclei. The first object of study is the resilience of the pre-existing songs that compile the Paris Is Burning soundtrack, both for their trans-genre nature and for the high number of beats per minute that distinguishes them. Subsequently, a spatial and sound tripartition is proposed which initially diversifies the collective queer minority environments from the heteronormal, cis-gender, collective ones and afterward from the individual queer ones; also determining how Realness compare itself with urban and sound spatiality. Moreover, a new suggestion about the bequest of Paris is Burning on a cinematographic, musical and performative level has been pointed out.



How to Cite

Rovetta, C. (2020). “I am what I am. I am my own special creation”. The trans-genre soundtrack of Paris Is Burning. Cinergie – Il Cinema E Le Altre Arti, 9(18), 193–207. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2280-9481/10408