On the Sunday evening of June 24, 1973, an act of arson created a deadly blaze in the UpStairs Lounge, a second-story gay bar in the French Quarter. Though the New Orleans Fire Department put out the fire quickly, 29 people died on the scene and three later died of injuries. Though it was the deadliest fire in New Orleans history, no one was ever arrested in connection with the fire, and the event was largely erased from public discussion due to homophobia. Some bodies were never claimed by family members.
On Wednesday, June 24, the 42nd anniversary of the fire, Robert L. Camina debuts his documentary Upstairs Inferno at the Prytania Theatre. Camina's film includes interviews with survivors and relative survivors who have not been previously interviewed. Also featured is Gambit political editor Clancy DuBos, who covered the fire for The Times-Picayune (recounted here).
Many survivors are scheduled to attend the premiere, including Regina Adams, Rickey Everett and Francis Dufrene. Family and friends of survivors also will attend, and Louisiana Fire Marshal H. "Butch" Browning will participate in a Q&A.
There is a sold-out showing at 7:30 p.m. but tickets are still available for the 10 p.m. screening.
Camina also directed the documentary Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, about a 2009 police raid of a Texas gay bar.