if you’re like us, you’ve memorized every word of Paris is Burning.Though we’ve lost many of the seminal drag-ball documentary’s stars, one in particular is getting a second life on the New York stage:
In 1988, Venus Xtravaganza was found strangled to death and shoved under a bed in a Manhattan flophouse. The Murder of Venus Xtravaganza, a new production from Live in Theater, explores the life and untimely death of one of Burning’s most infamous legendary children.
The “immersive theatrical experience,” is a rather unique experience in the vein of Sleep No More: Guests dine on soul food, toast the fallen queen and sniff out clues about her violent, tragic demise. Along the way, they’ll learn about the drag-ball scene and gay life of 1980s New York.
LIT creative director Carlo D’Amore says he’s drawn to fringe characters for his avant theatrical “experiences”: “The 80s drag ball scene in New York was iconic and yet represented only a marginal community, to which Venus belonged,” he explains. “I was so compelled by her tragic story, the pathos of her unfulfilled dreams, and justice never being served. I wanted to give her a voice and let audiences come away with a better understanding of those living on the fringes then and now.”
The Murder of Venus Xtravaganza runs at New York’s Hartley House, September 20 to November 15.