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This is a documentary of 'drag nights' among New York's underclass. Queens are interviewed and observed preparing for and competing in many 'balls'. The people, the clothes, and the whole environment are outlandish. Written by
Robbie Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in October 1997. See more »
This is white America. Any other nationality that is not of the white set, knows this and accepts this till the day they die. That is everybody's dream and ambition as a minority - to live and look as well as a white person. It is pictured as being in America. Every media you have; from TV to magazines, to movies, to films... I mean, the biggest thing that minority watches is what? "Dynasty" and "The Colbys". Umm, "All My Children" - the soap operas. Everybody has a million-dollar bracket. When...
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Documentary starts in 1986 in NYC where black and hispanic drag queens
hold "balls". That's where they dress up however they like, strut their
stuff in front of an audience and are voted on. We get to know many of
the members and see how they all hold together and support each other.
As one man says to another--"You have three strikes against you--you're
black, gay and a drag queen". These are people who (sadly) are not
accepted in society--only at the balls. There they can be whoever and
whatever they want and be accepted. Then the film cuts to three years
later (1989) and you see how things have changed (tragically for some).
Sounds depressing but it's not. Most of the people interviewed are
actually very funny and get a lot of humor out of their situations.
They're well aware of their position in society and accept it with
humor--just as they should. We find out they all live in "houses" run
by various "mothers" and all help each other out. The sense of
community in this film is fascinating.
When this film came out in 1990 it was controversial--and a big hit. It
won Best Documentary Awards at numerous festivals--but was never even
nominated for an Academy Award. Their reason was "Black and hispanic
drag queens are not Academy material". Fascinating isn't it? Homophobia
and racism all together.
Seen today it's still a great film--and a period piece. It just isn't
like that anymore--the NY they show no longer exists. The balls are
still held but not in the spirit we see here. Also drag has become more
"accepted" in society (for better or worse). And I've heard the houses
are gone too. That's kind of sad. I WOULD like to know where these
characters are now--I know two died of AIDS but I have no idea about
the others. And what DID happen to that 13 year old and 15 year old
Still, it a one of a kind documentary--fascinating, funny and riveting.
A must see all the way! A definite 10. Where's the DVD???
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