At first, Gazelle: The Love Issue seems to just be a story filled with sparkly affairs, superficiality, and the enticing glam of New York City nightlife.
The documentary, which is part of the Newfest, focuses on the life of Paulo, an HIV-positive Brazilian flight attendant who travels the world and moonlights as Gazelle, a NYC clubkid famous for serving outrageous looks.
New York City nightlife fixtures appear in the film, including Amanda Lepore, Susanne Bartsch, Michael Musto, and Kenny Kenny, and it also includes a trip to Milan, Italy, a fortune reading, front row seating at The Blonds New York Fashion Week show, and various explosive nightlife occurrences.
Nevertheless, beneath the surface, there's authenticity and normalcy. Paulo is a man who has experienced regret, loss, and love. He discusses his life and healing process after experiencing the loss of his lover, Eric. In one particularly candid scene, the viewer is left to see Paulo break down in tears in a doctor's office after learning that his HIV viral load has gone up.
A highlight from the film is when Gazelle dresses up as a broken Apple monitor for a photo shoot for I-D magazine. The shoot takes place on Fifth Avenue, the viewer, just as those passing by on the street, is left starstruck by the simplistic beauty of Paulo's creativity.
Gazelle: The Love Issue is a fascinating story about drive and ambition. Simultaneously, it's a story about renewal and growth. Gazelle is a fascinating exploration of New York and what it means to be in nightlife.
Gazelle has its NY Premiere Thursday October 22 at 10:30 pm during Newfest. Watch the trailer below: