How Do I Look

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For the Style Network makeover show, see How Do I Look?.
How Do I Look
Directed by Wolfgang Busch; assistant directors Kevin Omni and Luna Khan
Produced by Wolfgang Busch
Starring Kevin Aviance
Pepper LaBeija
Willi Ninja
Octavia St. Laurent, Jose Xtravaganza, Tracy Africa, Emanuel Xavier, Kevin Omni, Luna Khan, Carmen Xtravaganza, Andre- Jack Mizrahi, CoolAid Khan and Jaimee Balenciaga.
Music by Tori Fixx
Michael O'Hara
Harmonica Sunbeam, Dutchboy, Shane, Octavia St. Laurent, Jade, Anutha Enity, Willie Villegas, Deadlee, Muhammad Omni, Robson Milian and DJ Punch.
Cinematography Wolfgang Busch
Edited by Wolfgang Busch
Darryl Hell
Gregg Payne
Distributed by
Release dates
June 4, 2006
Running time
80 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15.000

How Do I Look is a LGBT Historic Art Documentary, released in 2006 as a documentary film directed by Wolfgang Busch, assistant directors are Kevin Omni and Luna Khan. Distributed by Art From The Heart; USA, 80 minutes. How Do I Look world premiered at the NewFest Film Festival in New York City in 2006, won a Humanitarian Award at the Black International Cinema in Berlin, Germany in 2008, and won the Pill Award for Best Documentary in New York City in 2007. The How Do I Look DVD is available on and ships worldwide.

How Do I Look is an artistic empowerment and HIV/AIDS awareness community project and is used by university, college, and high school students and by community based institutions for theses, research and outreach, and is screened at festivals and special events worldwide.

How Do I Look is about the Harlem House Ball competitions, also known as "Drag Balls" (see also ball culture). According to a 2005 article published by The New York Times, the director spent a decade collecting footage to create How Do I Look.[1]


How Do I Look is a LGBT Historic Art Documentary focusing on those Ballroom members that opened the doors artistically for the community, the passing of the House Ball traditions from generation to generation, and is a "talent showcase" for this trend setting community in fashion, dance (the originators of the dance "Vogue"), music and runway.[2] It follows several famous artists, such as Willi Ninja, Kevin Ultra-Omni, Octavia St. Laurent, Ross Infiniti and Jose Xtravaganza. The film interviews its artists about their experiences with Ball competitions and the every day challenges faced by the Ball community. Among the issues this community confronts are persistent social misconception, drug use, sex work, acceptance of sexuality and gender, and sends HIV/AIDS hope messages.

In a 2000 article in The Village Voice, noted fashion writer Guy Trebay wrote that the cultural impression was that "the world of the balls was transitory."[3]

In the 2005 New York Times article, one of the stars of How Do I Look commented about the mainstream's lack of acceptance of Ball children and their creative forms of dancing.

"Break dancers get together and do stuff like this, and it's fully accepted," said Willi Ninja, surely the most celebrated dancer ever produced by the ballroom community, speaking in a mainstream sense. "If Madonna does voguing, it's O.K.," he added. "But when the ball children dance, even now, people say, 'Oh, it's a bunch of crazy queens throwing themselves on the floor.' "[1]

A significant number of the artists who are featured in How Do I Look, such as Willi Ninja, Octavia St. Laurent and Pepper LaBeija, have died since the beginning of the filming of this documentary. Because the footage for this film was collected after the release of Paris is Burning and Madonna's hit single, "Vogue," How Do I Look measures the impact on the community since 1990. Some successful artists, such as the dancer Jose Xtravaganza, recounts his appreciation for having worked as a choreographer for Madonna. Other dancers and artists address their experiences with transgender issues and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.[4]

As of 2007, an article about a major Ball competition in Philadelphia commented that the artists who are trained in the Ball community are looking for opportunities to use their talents positively. "As the ballroom scene becomes more accessible, there's hope the talent and creativity it nurtures may finally achieve commercial success."[5]


  1. ^ a b [1] The New York Times, "Still Striking a Pose," by Guy Trebay, Published: May 22, 2005
  2. ^ [2] Pioneer Theater, "How Do I Look," August 2006 Programs
  3. ^ [3] The Village Voice, "Paris Is Still Burning," January 2000
  4. ^ [4], "Wolfgang Busch's How Do I Look," Published: July 8, 2005
  5. ^ [5] Philadelphia Weekly, "Philly is burning," Published: February 14, 2007

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