Paris Is Burning star and ballroom icon Carmen Xtravaganza has tragically passed away at 62. 

On 4 August, the House of Xtravaganza revealed the heartbreaking news in a lengthy post on Instagram. 

“It is with a heavy heart that we share the news of Carmen Xtravaganza’s passing,” they wrote. 

“Today, we extend our deepest condolences to all who loved her. 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. Rest in power, dear Carmen. You will be missed, but your spirit will continue to inspire.”

Before her devastaring passing, the beloved LGBTQ+ icon had been battling stage four lung cancer. 

In September 2022, Mink Xtravaganza created a GoFundMe for Carmen to help with her chemotherapy treatments, which ended up raising a total of $6,145. 

But despite receiving help and fighting as hard as possible, Carmen revealed in July that her cancer had spread via Facebook.

“God is always great, and full of love for his children, us all humans. My message is my departure coming soon as I was noticed by my oncology doctor,” she wrote. 

“My stage four lung cancer has spread to my bones. The chemotherapy I was taking has not worked. My message is enjoy life. Love family, be forgiven, be humble and love god over all things.

“I want to thank you all for being part of my journey in my life. Carmen Xtravaganza.”

In the wake of her death, fans and figures within the ballroom community have flocked to social media with heartfelt tributes for Carmen.

One person wrote: “Carmen Xtravaganza…the legend…the mother…thank you for showing the world that trans is beautiful…rest in peace.”

Another individual tweeted: “Mother Carmen Imaculada Ruiz – Carmen Xtravaganza. My house mother. May you fly high and vogue with the angels. Thank you for the love and support you showed me through my journey. I’m forever grateful.”

Born on 9 April 1961, Carmen’s life first started in Rota, Spain – where she lived until she was five.

At the age of 15, she began her journey as a trans woman and later ran away from home. 

“Life was hard because I was on my own and had to hustle to survive,” she told Trangriot in 2013.

After moving to New York in the late 70s, the beloved talent was introduced to the ballroom community, which resulted in her long and influential career as the renowned Carmen Xtravagnaza. 

Alongside her rise in the ballroom community, Carmen also found success as a model in Europe, walking in various fashion shows and working with some of the biggest agencies. 

“A famous photographer in Madrid opened the modelling world for me, and I did it till 2009. I worked for a few famous agencies, and the best thing; they knew my secret, but the clients didn’t!” she explained in a blog post on her website.  

“Did fashion week, catalogs and runway. Then I went freelance after a few years of working for the agencies. Made more money and didn’t answer to anyone but myself.” 

Carmen reached new heights of fame when she was featured in the critically acclaimed LGBTQ+ documentaryParis Is Burning (1990).

In a brief segment, the talented performer is shown radiating trans joy on the beach with Brooke Xtravaganza, who reflects on her transition and the procedures she underwent. 

In the middle of Brooke’s explanation, Carmen pokes fun at her transition, stating: “except that voice is still there,” which has since become a frequently quoted line for viewers. 

Towards the end of the clip, the two are shown singing Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Am What I Am’ in celebration of their identity and trans sisterhood. 

Check out more tributes for ballroom icon Carmen Xtravaganza below.