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Before 'Paris is Burning' There Was 'TV Transvestite' (Maysles Resurrects The Film On Its 30th Anniversary)

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by Tambay A. Obenson
November 13, 2012 12:14 PM
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TV Trans

Interesting... I'm certainly familiar with Paris Is Burning (a film that has gotten some coverage on S&A), but I've never heard of T.V. Transvestite until I received the below press release this morning, from Maysles Cinema, where it'll screen this Thursday, November 15, at 7:30pm:

Before Paris is Burning, there was T.V. Transvestite. Shot in 1982 by filmmakers Simone di Bagno and Michele Capozzi, the documentary captures a fierce House of LaBeija ball thrown at a Harlem Bingo hall. Initially screened to a thunderous crowd in Rome that included Federico Fellini and Michelangelo Antonioni, the film found its way to NYC, where it screened at Paradise Garage in front of Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. Unfortunately, the positive reception was short-lived, as the film would be hampered by music copyright laws for the next several years. Considered "lost" and not screened in public for over two decades, T.V. Transvestite - showing such legends as Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey and Sugar in a period before voguing and at the advent of AIDS - returns to the silver screen on its 30th anniversary at the Maysles.

Drag historian Joe E. Jeffreys will lead a post-screening discussion that'll includes the filmmakers, and Ballroom Hall of Fame inductee Kevin Omni who is featured in the film.

A portion of the proceeds will go to Art From the Heart, who will donate monies to a family who lost a ballroom child to the AIDS virus, to help cover funeral expenses.

Federico Fellini is quoted to have said about the film: "This is a world I recognize. It is just like my own."

No trailer unfortunately. I couldn't find any good media on this; just blurry stills like the one above.

So if you're curious, you'll just have to head to Maysles (if you live in NYC) this Thursday night, and check it out.

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1 Comment

  • Troy | November 13, 2012 11:48 PMReply

    Paris is Burning -- and in particular -- Pepper LaBeija gripped me from both a cinematic and human perspective. Here's hoping T.V.T. will re-resurface somehow for those like me who aren't in NYC.

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