drag queens

Katya Hammered and Sickled My Heart to Pieces

image

Since first viewing Rupaul’s Drag Race, I have become voraciously engaged with the show. It’s a sad truth that a reality television show has done this to me, but I have no qualms about this. Unlike other shows of this nature, Drag Race doesn’t exploit its subjects, and in fact it does a lot to elevate drag queens, who have long been the mascots and sometimes scapegoats of the gay community, to a more accepted status.

Every season brings an assortment of entertainers with various quirks, looks, and wit. While some are not easy to like, most grow on me one way or another, kind of like cancer. This season I am replete with Katya tumors and, oh my god, it’s stage four and it’s so, so, so sickening.

While her time on the show has, tragically, ended there is plenty in the future to look forward to from my favorite bisexual Russian hooker. While I longed to see Katya take the crown, or at least make the top three, a queen like her doesn’t need to win this show to make it out in the real world. Several queens from past seasons have become wildly popular without winning, and some winning queens have faded to relative obscurity (erm… Hello, Tyra?).

My main reason for wanting Katya to have made it farther is that she was my favorite part of every episode. Her personality, humor, and gloriously strange presentation gave me life the house down. Now that she has sashayed away, maybe I can start to recover, but I’d really rather not.

Cheers to Katya and her future. I’ll try to get by for the rest of the season without her. I really don’t care who wins anymore. At least I don’t have to watch her make the top three and *not* get crowned.

Here are some moments, of an infinite many, that trace the route my heart followed when it fell head over heels in love with this special queen. 

image

When she walked into the workroom the first time, I was singing “Love at First Sight” like Kylie Minogue.

image

This slow split was just everything. I. Was. Gagging.

image

Katya was so full of quips, quibbles, and quotes that she put Bianca Del Rio’s rolodex of hate to shame.

image

When she broke down and confided with Miss Fame about her addiction struggles, I broke down too.

image

Now serving: rebellious illegitimate daughter of Ayn Rand realness.

image

Really though… He’s an impishly cute little man.

Re-watch Reviews: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

It’s been over ten years since I first saw this film, and twenty years since its release. Priscilla (I’m not typing out that lengthy title again) is now considered a cult classic among many, especially among gay people, and is one among a handful of Australian films that had breakout success in and around the early nineties. It’s a fun trip, emotional, campy, disco-y, sometimes crude.

But who is this Priscilla figure, and of which desert is she queen?

What could this film be about?

image

Drag queens. This film is about drag queens. Two drag queens and a transsexual to be exact, and their trip across the Outback which brings them all face to face with their pasts, themselves, and their futures.

There’s Anthony “Tick”/Mitzi, whose estranged wife and son reach out to him for opportunities in both work and personal life. His fellow queen, Adam/Felicia dreams of doing some drag hiking if his youthful arrogance and impishness don’t get the best of him first. Finally, there’s Bernadette, former performer and now widow who lost her lover to an early death, and fears her life as an aging transsexual will be bereft of joy.

There road trip to the center of the world (i.e. Alice Springs, Australia, which apparently is surrounded by horrid bad lands) takes center stage, and does so with comedic flair. The whole experience is campy without being grating, and even when the humor is crude, it’s not too tasteless. The scene with ping pong balls comes to mind, and causes quite the pussy riot…

image

More than humor, we get a dramatic look at the pasts and motivations of the characters. These aren’t just flashy drag queen piñatas full of glitter and candy. No. These are people with pain and hopes. Fears and strengths.

Despite his confidence in make up, we see a man confront his sexuality and consolidate his private life with his estranged family. He emerges without shame and with more vigor for his career than ever. That’s Tick (Hugo Weaving).

Bernadette (Terence Stamp) is jaded, mourning her lover, and still sensitive about her former identity as a man. It’s taken her a lifetime to develop the resilience to withstand against the world’s persecution of her identity. Not only does she come alive while fending off a fearsome homophobic assailant by deftly dropping him with a knee to the groin, but she finds love in an unlikely country man.

And what of Adam (Guy Pearce)? He’s a little prick most of the movie, though a funny one, but that just makes it all the better when you see that he begins to grow up by the end of the film. He too feels shame after having been abused as a child, but figures out that he doesn’t have to be so frikin’ abrasive.

These are characters that make a movie for the ages. They’re memorable, varied, and they hit you in the heart. It doesn’t matter if they’re men, women, or something in between.

They’re human.

Much like its comedic Australian contemporaries Strictly Ballroom from ’92 and Muriel’s Wedding also from ’94, Priscilla weaves between heavy-hitting material and campy levity. While Strictly Ballroom bounces around frantically, and Muriel’s Wedding lingers a bit too long in the deep end of grave emotions for it’s comedy to keep it afloat, Priscilla masterfully balances your emotions like a queen’s good wig. It may look larger than life, but it ties the ensemble together so you can pay attention to the performance without distraction.

image

The film’s legacy is still a strong one. It’s main actors are all successful and respected, and the film itself has even been adapted to Broadway. I still remember seeing Hugo Weaving in the opening scene with my friends the first time, and even just watching it recently, the celebratory ending featuring music by Abba still splits my face in half with a smile.

This film takes you on a journey. Whether you find what you never expected at the end of it, or if you wind up back home happier than ever, you’re going to have a fabulous time.

Ninety 90’s Songs: Save the Vanessa for Last

There once was a song about a woman who watched her male friend date other women like a person with allergies uses Kleenex.  This woman had a thing for this man, yet she said nothing. He didn’t see her as more than a friend. All she wanted to be was this man’s one and only Kleenex. Once his romantic allergies subsided he used her finally, and being the last tissue in the box he was stuck with her.

#64 “Save the Best for Last” by Vanessa Williams. The above paragraph summarizes, with a modicum of liberty, the story of this 1992 single. Interestingly, the song’s true to life journey mirrors its lyrics. Vanessa Williams was, in fact, the last singer that this song “dated” in a long line of offerings since the song was written back in ’89. Save the best for last indeed.

Known now as Vanessa’s signature song, it’s far from her career peak. She has spanned everything from Miss America, Penthouse pinup, to a hot seat of controversy (and hot something else according to the nude model posing with Miss W), to singer, actress, Disney Princess (singing voice, anyway), and Desperate Housewife. The song even garner’s its own fame in “The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” where it is featured in the closing credits along with a drag queen.

It’s a campy song, and while that is a quality that may tarnish a song so obviously from a specific time period, in this case it serves as a protective veneer. Like a pair of shiny dentures on a senior citizen, it provides an everlasting sparkle to its smile that makes up for its other aging features. The only thing about the song that doesn’t age is Vanessa herself. Yay, plastic surgery.

All jokes aside, it’s a sweet early-90’s song that more than survives its days and is a classic product from a classic lady. Whether you get caught up in the snowy/monochrome video (not again, silly early 90’s tastes in cinematography) or reminisce the memories of queens in the desert, like the sticky pages of a back issue of Penthouse, this song isn’t going anywhere for a while.

Ninety 90’s Songs: Free Makeup Tutorial! (Sort of…)

Eurythmics (which is more proper minus the “the”) were an especially 80’s musical sensation. Synthesizers, avant-garde style, catchy tunes, they had the right stuff and used it to superior advantage. So when the duo split in 1990 and decided to go their separate solo ways, who was to know that they would have been able to adapt to a new decade and evolving tastes?

#84 “Why” by Annie Lennox. Released in 1992 from the statuesque Scottish lass’s debut album, “Why” immediately made waves and paved the way for more solo hits. The video also likely inspired a brand new generation of drag queens.

Seriously.

She practically gives you a free lesson in stage makeup during the first half of the music video, though the ease with which she seems to apply everything could potentially lead a novice to looking like a clown. In fact, one may be tricked by her androgynous appearance to believe that we are, in fact, watching a drag performance.  It’s either a stage performer’s ultimate dream or worst nightmare to see this cross between Sally Bowles from Cabaret mixed with what must be Scottish Kabuki Theatre.

All jokes aside, the stunning Annie Lennox made a fantastic solo debut with this one, out selling any Eurythmics album, and she even garnered an  MTV Music Award, though MTV’s rather dubious reputation nowadays may confuse those who never knew that MTV used to be somewhat relevant to pop culture.

And that they actually used to play music videos. Like I do.