This superb documentary from 1990 is one of my personal favorites. Tragic, beautiful, honest, heartbreaking, and touching, this film explores the underground “House Ball” culture in the 1970′s – 80′s in Harlem. This film features a colorful cast of characters and covers a broad range of topics including race, class, alienation, fame, homophobia, transphobia, gender identity, and AIDS.
The film also looks at how underground subcultures influence popular culture; Madonna adopted their “vogueing” style of dance they invented for the music video for her 1990 hit song “Vogue.” Though the film was wildly popular at film festivals, it caused quite a controversy within the general public – a Christian group boycotted the film and described it as “despicably evil” and as “promoting a lifestyle that God abhors.”
Madonna herself was a big fan of the film and attended the Los Angeles premiere with the cast.
This film is currently streaming on Netflix!