‘Paris Is Burning’ star Carmen Xtravaganza dies at 62


Paris is Burning Carmen Xtravaganza
Image: Paris is Burning/Facebook

Paris is Burning star, activist and ballroom icon Carmen Xtravaganza has died at the age of 62.

According to a GoFundMe, Xtravaganza had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in 2022.

The House of Xtravaganza Instagram page confirmed her passing and paid tribute in a post, writing that “her presence and talent left an indelible mark on the House Ballroom scene.”

Carmen Xtravaganza was born in Spain and moved to the U.S. as a teenager, where she started transitioning, according to Out.

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In 1981, Xtravaganza was living in New York’s Meatpacking District and working as a sex worker when she got involved with the House of St. Laurent. In 1983, she joined the House of Xtravaganza, reigning “on the runways as one of the House of Xtravaganza’s ‘impossible beauties”.

She became house mother during the 1990s and 2000s, living in both New York and Spain before she was inducted into the ballroom hall of fame in 1999.

“Her openness and bravery helped pave the way for others, leaving an enduring legacy of acceptance and love, her dedication and mentorship endeared her to many, solidifying her status as an undeniable icon,” the House of Xtravaganza wrote.

“Her contribution to the community and artistry will forever be remembered.”

Carmen Xtravaganza’s ‘unforgettable appearance’ in Paris is Burning

Xtravaganza’s legacy is memorialised in the landmark documentary Paris Is Burning, showcasing “her candidness and humor as she shared her experiences as a trans woman.”

In her later years, Xtravaganza continued to work as an activist for trans visibility.

“I hope to see trans people of colour in a better situation, for violence against us to be reduced,” Carmen said in an interview with The Trans Advocate.

“For our brothers and sisters to be able to get the healthcare and service that we most urgently need. There is a need for us to be educated about our gender identity so we can empower ourselves to reach greater heights and become more visible in society.”

Sarah Davison
Sarah Davison

After working in print and radio, Sarah has joined the team at QNews to expand their coverage into South Australia. Sarah has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, and a Masters in Journalism, Media, and Communications. Get in touch: sarah@qnews.com.au

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