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The House of Impossible Beauties

The House of Impossible Beauties

Author(s): Joseph Cassara

Location(s): Harlem

Genre(s): Fiction

Era(s): 1980s

A gritty and gorgeous debut inspired by the real House of Xtravaganza made famous by the seminal documentary Paris Is Burning

It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ballroom scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, and has a yearning to help create a family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the ballroom circuit.

Into the house come Venus, a whip-smart trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus’ life. The Xtravaganzas must learn to navigate sex work, addiction and persistent abuse, leaning on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them. All are ambitious, resilient and determined to control their own fates, even as they hurtle toward devastating consequences.

Told in a voice that brims with wit, rage, tenderness, and fierce yearning, The House of Impossible Beauties is a tragic story of love, family, and the dynamism of the human spirit.

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