How Do I Look

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How Do I Look
Directed by
Produced byWolfgang Busch
Music by
CinematographyWolfgang Busch
Edited by
  • Wolfgang Busch
  • Darryl Hell
  • Gregg Payne
Distributed byArt From the Heart Films
Release date
  • June 4, 2006 (2006-06-04) (New York City)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States

How Do I Look is a 2006 American documentary directed by Wolfgang Busch. The film chronicles ball culture in Harlem and Philadelphia over a ten-year period.


Wolfgang Busch began interviewing subjects from the ball circuit in the mid-1990s and continued filming for a decade.[1] How Do I Look documents the ball culture, which began in the 1920s during the Harlem Renaissance,[2] and has since influenced mainstream artists and musicians. The film follows several ball "legends" such as Willi Ninja, Kevin Ultra-Omni, Octavia St. Laurent, Pepper LaBeija and Jose Xtravaganza. Many of the subjects that are featured in How Do I Look were also featured in the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning.[1]

How Do I Look also explores the prejudices members of the ball culture face due to their sexuality and race.[3] In a 2005 New York Times article, choreographer Willi Ninja commented about the mainstream society's readiness to embrace facets of ball culture while also rejecting the Ball "children" due to their sexuality:

... "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]

Other subjects speak about their attempts to forge careers in mainstream society and the effect that HIV and AIDS has had on ball culture as many of the subjects featured died of AIDS during or shortly after filming was complete.

Production notes[edit]

How Do I Look was filmed in New York City and Philadelphia. It premiered at the NewFest Film Festival in New York City in June 2006. The assistant director was Kevin Burrus.

Home media[edit]

How Do I Look was released on Region 1 DVD in the United States.


  1. ^ a b c Trebay, Guy (May 22, 2005). "Still Striking a Pose". p. 1.
  2. ^ Kilpatrick, Kate (February 14, 2007). "Philly Is Burning". p. 1. Archived from the original on July 16, 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. ^ Trebay, Guy (January 11, 2000). "Legends of the Ball". p. 1.

External links[edit]