Tuesday, January 16, 2018

QUEENS IN THE CINEMA

I love movies, especially old ones. Since we are looking at Drag History this month, there have been some really good films featuring drag queens themselves or actor portraying drag queens.
Over the years I've seen many, so we here at the Casa thought it was a good time to take a look at some of our favorite queens in film. These are some of my favorites I feel should be seen, and ones I enjoyed the most.

The Adventures of Priscilla
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a 1994 Australian comedy-drama film written and directed by Stephan Elliott. The plot follows two drag queens and a transgender woman, as they journey across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs in a tour bus that they have named "Priscilla", along the way encountering various groups and individuals. The film's title references the English slang term "queen" for a drag queen or female impersonator.
The Queen

Under seen 1968 documentary I feel,  featuring old-school drag performers and at least one future trans woman, competing in a pageant that was judged by, among others, Andy Warhol. It was made in a time when virtually everything about it was illegal, and it serves up both the legendary Crystal LaBejia and International Chrysis. Have you heard of better drag names than those? Talk about some catty scenes too.
Torch Song Trilogy
Straight-up weeping is on the menu as pioneering out gay actor Harvey Fierstein takes his stage play to film, alongside Anne Bancroft as his judgmental mother. It’s a whole lot of downbeat, but it also proves that lip-syncing for your life is only what you do when you can’t actually croak it out all live and froggy.Arnold, a famous drag queen, tragically lost his lover Alan in a hate crime Alan tried to prevent. Arnold is now torn between his memories on Alan, his bisexual lover Ed, their new adopted teenage gay son David and Arnold's never quite satisfied mother.
Too Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar!
Three drag queens travel cross-country until their car breaks down, leaving them stranded in a small town. Too me, it was basically an American remake of Priscilla in everything but name, the 1995 drag road trip film is was still a charmer none the less. Three queens set out, this time not from Sydney to Alice but from New York to Hollywood, in a battered Cadillac and get stranded in small town America. Along the way, the queens teach us valuable lessons about taking an interest in our elders, community involvement and even manage to end domestic violence! What it lacks in originality it makes up for in a sort of vérité believability: after a while you see the drag queens as the townsfolk do, as really built women. It starred Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo as three of the best named queens around: Miss Vida Boheme, Noxeema Jackson, and Chi-Chi Rodriguez with cameos by drag legends Miss Coco Peru, Floatilla DeBarge and RuPaul herself.
Wigstock- The Movie
A concert documentary and Who’s-Who of 90s drag, including The Lady Bunny, Lypsinka, RuPaul, Jackie Beat, the late Alexis Arquette, and the staggeringly strange genius of the late Leigh Bowery. Watch in stunned amazement as Bowery “gives birth” on stage. Your senses will never be the same.
Victor/Victoria
Yes, I know: Julie Andrews isn’t technically a drag queen. That said, Victor/Victoria is a film utterly about the show business of 1930s Paris where drag was already a culture blooming with beading and feathers. Andrews plays the woman impersonating a man impersonating a woman and manages to completely shatter your associations with her as Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp the minute you see her doing a really good impression of a gay man. The film includes beautiful period recreations of the costumes and performances of the golden age of European drag.
La Cage aux Folles-1978
This was the orginal Birdcage. And while Nathan Lane was very funny in it, I do prefer the original. Two gay men living in St. Tropez have their lives turned upside down when the son of one of the men announces he is getting married. They try to conceal their lifestyle and their ownership of the drag club downstairs when the fiancée and her parents come for dinner.
Some Like it Hot
Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis dress like women to escape the mob. Then they meet Marilyn Monroe. Thanks to heterosexual penises, it gets complicated. When two male musicians witness a mob hit, they flee the state in an all-female band disguised as women, but further complications set in. A classic.
Outrageous
A time capsule of the late 1970s, this Canadian comedy follows a drag queen/hairdresser and his mentally ill female roommate as they lean on each other for support. The trailer promises “a world you’ve never seen” and makes good on that by not showing you anything of the film. It also starred the incredibly talented drag performer Craig Russell.
Flawless
An ultraconservative police officer played by Robert DiNero, suffers a debilitating stroke and is assigned to a rehabilitative program that includes singing lessons, with the drag queen next door, played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The movie was cute as Di Nero's character comes to terms with his budding relationship with a drag queen, someone he wouldn't normally mix with. But I enjoyed their chemistry together.
Paris is Burning
 Gurl.....whoever thinks Madonna Invented Voguing,you are wrong.Please see Paris is Burning for your gay history lesson. I am of course, speaking to myself circa age 18 when this dragumentary blew my white gay head off my shoulders and introduced me to the uptown world of “walking,” representing your house and the golden age of the uptown balls. It's where I learned to walk and cut runways!!! You meet queenster's  Pepper LaBeija, Angie Xtravaganza, and Willi Ninja and see the lives and pageants unfold like the fishtail on a Balmain gown.
Female Troubles
A spoiled schoolgirl runs away from home, gets pregnant while hitch-hiking, and ends up as a fashion model for a pair of beauticians who like to photograph women committing crimes. But we'd be remised if we didn't think the list should included most of Divine's movies, as they are all odd, but yet campy and entertaining and can be down right lewd, which you may be aware I do enjoy from time to time.
I only hope one day the story of Barbette will be turned into a film. What a colorful life she had and the people she knew. Would make for a great film I think.
Have you seen any of these films?

32 comments:

  1. Mistress...that is a incredible list of drag movies. And believe it or not, Flawless is one of my favorite movies.

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  2. I've seen maybe half of these. None of the documentaries. Actually, To Wong Foo is not an American remake of Priscilla. Foo was in production at the time that Priscilla was released. Just a coinkydinky. I love them both and don't see much in common except the whole road trip thing. I never saw Paris is Burning but I did enjoy Leave it on the Floor, a musical kind of based on it. I watched Torch Song on vhs and to this day I can't watch past Alan dying. Watching The Birdcage put me onto La Cage. I also have a "popcorn" movie with a similar theme to Some Like it Hot, Connie & Carla. It's just fun! Flawless made me want to punch Robert DiNiro in the face! Loved it! I'm all over the place with my likes.

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    1. Yes.....Torchsong is a heart tugger.......

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  3. Seen most of them - and I am soooooooo pleased that Outrageous made your list! It's such a sadly neglected film that had a HUGE impact on me as a teen-on-the-cusp-of-coming-out... Jx

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    1. You have done some marvelous post dear. Outrageous is a great movie. So many are neglected you ask me.

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  4. the queen, outrageous, flawless, paris is burning - the ones I have NOT seen.

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    1. Carebear, I think just from the language alone, that you'd enjoy Flawless! It's a bit violent, but the acting is superb. The motley group of drag queens is adorable.

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    2. Agreed....Flawless was quite excellent.

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  5. Seen many of these and loved them, but To Wong Foo .... I just can't with that one.

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  6. I have seen most of these, but have yet see The Queen. I would like to see that at some point. Had no idea Craig Russell even did a movie. But Priscilla has to be my all time favorite movie.

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  7. Cello JoshJanuary 16, 2018 at 7:47 PM
    I didn't know what the hell Leigh Bowery was when I first laid eyes on Wigstock.....but what a over the top style he had.

    Flawless was a excellent movie.....by far the best acting in all these movie.

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  8. That's a lot of movies! Some I've seen. :-)

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  9. I have yet to see more than half of these. I can not stand Julie Andrews so that will not be a must see.

    Too Wong Foo was just a feel good, simple movie of fun. I can't help it, I like John Leguizamo.

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  10. Seen:

    Priscilla--Has the best costumes, dances, and most spectacular performances, and what incredible, magnificent vistas of Australia!

    Too Wong Foo--Made me laugh the most with the best lines! And John Leguizamo is the most beautiful Latino woman in the world!

    Torch song was sad but ended with such hope. I like that. Because with hope, we can survive anything, do anything, and it keeps us going in the toughest of times.

    I also saw Flawless, The Birdcage (remake, not the original), Victor/Victoria, and Some Like it Hot. All entertaining.

    The rest are new to me, so thanks for featuring them and bringing them to my attention.

    P.S. Stupid but funny: Sorority Boys (2002), and most hilarious, White Chicks (2004)--Marlon Wayans is a gorgeous woman! The other brother was like a Tori Spelling twin!

    Most interesting and weirdly entertaining: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

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    1. Wow! I'm the only one I know who's seen Sorority Boys! It is indeed stupidly funny.

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    2. Deedles, Watching stupid funny movies is a guilty pleasure of mine. Sometimes you just need a good laugh.

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  11. Great list Mistress and all very good and entertaining. Have not seen Female Troubles yet.

    Priscilla was quite good. Bernadette wins for the best quote."Now listen here, you mullet. Why don't you just light your tampon, and blow your box apart? Because it's the only bang you're ever gonna get, sweetheart!"

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    1. "Just what this country needs. Another cock, in a frock, on a rock."

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  12. I've seen all these films over the years, except for The Queen and Female Trouble. Maybe someday I'll be able to see them too? I still miss Craig Russell. He was gone too soon, as so many were from that era.

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  13. I've seen all of them except Outrageous and The Queen. Female Trouble is my favorite and I think Paris is Burning is the most important.

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    1. Your right......and nothing wrong with a little ball action.

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  14. Haven't seen Flawless or Outrageous... yet! My PARENTS went to see The Queen. My FATHER had nothing but praise.

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    1. Wow.....thats amazing he went to see it. My father would have had a fit if he had known I saw!!!!!

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  15. I've seen most - and loved them all. What I like best is the fact the characters quickly lose stereotyping as the films progress, and become people. Your take on "...Julie Newmar" is spot on - it really was a version of "Priscilla..." Who cared? It was a great film, IMO.

    "Connie and Carla" is another of our favs.

    Hugs!!!!

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  16. I have seen all but Outrageous and The Queen. All the ones I’ve seen are wonderful films. The original La Cage aux Folles was the first one of those films that I experienced. Where might I find a copy of The Queen? Amazon says it isn’t available.

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    1. Fearsome, at one point Amazon had very few copies. But it's a bigger to find. I actually saw it in it's entirety on YouTube. But that,was several years ago.

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  17. I'd say you nailed a wonderful day of drag movie viewing!!!!

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  18. Craig Russell was amazing... loved him in the 70's movie, Outrageous!, which I happened upon on A&E a few years ago... very worth hunting down a copy of this movie!! There was a sequel that I can't find ANYWHERE called Too Outgrageous! Have you eve seen it?

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    1. I've seen "Too Outrageous" and it was appallingly awful. Just could not capture the magic of the original film again. Both films still show up periodically on Canadian TV.

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  19. Seems like most are either in the Too Wong Foo or the Priscilla camp. They were both good for different reasons.

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  20. Jerry: Have I got things to tell you!
    Joe: What happened?
    Jerry: I'm engaged.
    Joe: Congratulations. Who's the lucky girl?
    Jerry: I am!

    --Some Like It Hot

    If I had more time I'd give you 15 more quotes, including the howler at the end.

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Go ahead darling, tell me something fabulous!

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