Who Was Carmen Xtravaganza? Star of “Paris is Burning” Dies At Age 62

Hold onto your emotions, folks, ’cause we’ve got some heavy news to deliver, straight from the heart of the Ballroom Hall of Fame. Brace yourselves as we journey through the life and times of the one and only Carmen Xtravaganza, a force to be reckoned with, a model, a performer, and a soul who left an indelible mark on the world. In a twist of fate that hits harder than a thunderclap, Carmen Xtravaganza, a vibrant member of the House of Xtravaganza since the neon-drenched year of 1985, has shuffled off this mortal coil.

Carmen Xtravaganza

Who Is Carmen Xtravaganza?

The curtain fell on her grand act, leaving family and friends mourning the loss of a true gem. A courageous fighter to the end, Carmen, aged 62, waged a battle against the fierce adversary known as lung cancer. Late on a Friday night, the House of Xtravaganza, that glittering constellation she called home, took to the gram to share the gut-wrenching news. “Heavy hearts” barely do justice to the collective sentiment as they penned a heartfelt tribute to their fallen comrade. And oh, how Carmen’s voice reverberates through time, her famous quote, “… but that voice is still there,” now a poignant echo, reminding us that her spirit will forever dance within the tapestry of memories.

Now, let’s rewind the reels to a pivotal moment, captured forever in the celluloid masterpiece of 1990, “Paris Is Burning.” There, in a scene bathed in truth and vulnerability, Carmen shares the spotlight with Brooke Xtravaganza, her housemate. As Brooke bares her journey through laughter and surgeries, a spark of camaraderie ignites. “Except that voice is still there,” Carmen interjects, a line etched into the annals of history. And then, with a dash of defiance and a sprinkling of strength, they perform Gloria Gaynor’s “I Am What I Am,” a moment that blossomed into a symbol of trans sisterhood, resilience, and forging one’s path.

Born on April 9, 1961, under the Spanish sun in Rota, Carmen’s truth was as clear as day from the tender age of five. A father who saw the essence within, who understood long before she took her strides along the path of transition. Fast forward to her teenage years in Washington D.C., a runaway with hormones as her companions, 16-year-old Carmen embarked on the road of medical transformation, a journey that led to life-altering surgery.

The streets of New York in 1981, a place where dreams intertwine with hustle, saw Carmen strutting her stuff in the ballroom scene alongside the House of St. Laurent. A queen of the “face” category, her charisma, bone structure, and radiant aura made her a standout. A defining moment in 1983, under the twinkling lights of the House of Omni, saw her claim victory, a triumph that paved the way for her to grace the House of Xtravaganza, bearing her prize like a badge of honor.

A pen in hand, Carmen dipped into journalism, her words painting vibrant pictures of the drag balls in the Harlem of yesteryears. The ink flowed, and the Village Voice bore witness, thrusting the ballroom into the mainstream spotlight, a turning point that set the stage for “Paris Is Burning.”

As the ’90s dawned, Carmen’s spirit soared back to Spain, her homeland. Fashion, nightlife, and music embraced her, and she forged the Spanish branch of the House of Xtravaganza, sowing seeds that bore fruit even decades later in the realm of Drag Race Espana. She twirled through the nightlife, hosted a tapestry of events, and dropped beats that set Europe on fire. A triumphant return to the Empire State crowned her the mother of the House of Xtravaganza, a title she embraced with open arms.

But destiny, that enigmatic force, called her to new shores. In 1999, the Ballroom’s Hall of Fame opened its doors to Carmen, a testament to her impact and legacy. With the winds of change whispering her name, she journeyed southward to Florida, a new chapter in her story.

In the realm of 2022, a call for solidarity rang out. Mink Xtravaganza led a charge, rallying support for Carmen’s battle against a relentless foe. A GoFundMe emerged, a lifeline cast to weather the storm of chemotherapy. The community rallied, hearts wide open, and over $6,000 flowed in, a testament to Carmen’s enduring impact.

Amidst the waves of time, July 3rd ushered in a bittersweet note. A message from Carmen herself, a poignant farewell as she looked the future in the eye. Stage 4 cancer, spreading through her bones, couldn’t dim her spirit. “Enjoy life,” she urged, a mantra wrapped in her words. Love, forgiveness, humility, and a profound love for the divine – these were her parting gifts.

And now, as we stand on the precipice of a legacy, we hold Carmen Xtravaganza close. A hero, an innovator, and a mentor, her presence echoes through the hearts of many, a resounding anthem of self-discovery and authenticity. So, let’s raise our glasses, toast to her memory, and remember the voice that continues to echo, guiding us to embrace life’s twists and turns with grace, just like Carmen Xtravaganza did.

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