Carmen Xtravaganza, an NYC ballroom icon who was featured in the 1990 documentary “Paris is Burning,” has died. She was 62.
The House of Xtravaganza — which emerged from New York’s underground ballroom scene and for which Carmen held the position of house mother at various times — announced the news of her death Friday in an Instagram statement.
“Throughout the 1980s, Carmen reigned on the runways as one of the House of Xtravaganza’s ‘impossible beauties.’ Her presence and talent left an indelible mark on the House Ballroom scene,” the statement read.
A cause of death was not shared, but according to a 2022 GoFundMe page, Carmen had been battling Stage 4 lung cancer.
Born in Andalusia, Spain, on April 9, 1961, Carmen moved to the US by the age of 16 and underwent sex reassignment surgery at 18.
She brought ballroom to the mainstream in 1988 when she graced the cover of the Village Voice for an article entitled “Venus Envy: The Drag Balls of Harlem.”
Two years later, Carmen and her house sister, Brooke Xtravaganza, discussed their transition experiences in “Paris is Burning.”
She was inducted into the Ballroom Hall of Fame in 1999.
The House of Xtravaganza concluded in its Instagram statement: “As we hold her memory close to our hearts, her famous quote, ‘… that voice is still there,’ takes on new meaning, serving as a reminder that Carmen’s spirit will live on through the love and memories she left behind.”
“Paris is Burning” is available to stream on Max.