Ladyhawke, the latest pond-hopper in the British Invasion encroaching on American popular culture, released her debut single "Paris is Burning" on her eponymous new album. The song caught my attention while running at the gym. I didn't hear the music at first since I was bopping along with my own iPod, but I saw the music video start up on my treadmill's screen. Seeing the title of the song instantly reminded me of the groundbreaking 1990 documentary of the same name, which chronicled the life of the transwomen and drag queens of the New York City Ball Culture. These influential drag artists have seen much cultural poaching from the likes of many pop superstars, *cough* Madonna *cough*. I feared the worst. A young upstart 80s revivalist usurping queer culture for her own gain. After some investigation it didn't turn out as bad as I had thought...

In an interview with the Village Voice, Ladyhawke describes how she was inspired to write Paris is Burning after her first trip to Paris, where she stumble upon Paris Gay Pride.

One of my favorite cuts is "Paris is Burning." Seems like you had this really romantic notion of Paris going into it, like we all do, but it was a bit overwhelming.

Exactly. I'd never been to Europe in my life and I'd just arrived to London. Europe is always this really fairy tale place when you're young, when you think of Paris and Italy and all those places. It should be out of a storybook. I was really stressed out at the time, and my friend was like "come over and play with me." So I went to Paris to visit her and I immediately thought, "Oh my god, this place is amazing." I had such a great time and got really drunk and that was basically my trip. The day I got back to London I wrote "Paris Is Burning."...

When I was there, my friend and I were watching TV in her apartment. We heard all this commotion: yelling and screaming, people marching down the street. I was like "What the fuck is that?" I looked out the window and it was French Gay Pride day or something. There were hundreds of thousands of people--I've never seen so many people. They were on top of bus stops, on top of cars. There were DJ's and bands playing. This was like twelve o'clock, lunchtime, and people were wasted. Falling all over the place. The streets smelled like wine. I was like, "Man, this is my first ever time to Paris and its like the biggest party of the year." [laughs]

It soothes my initial desire to rant about cultural appropriation, but it seems as if any borrowing that happened was largely incidental. And it does make me happy that the buzz of gay pride helped birth a pretty rad song. Catch it below:

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