A film journey through a universe of female masculinity. A legendary Drag King Night in New York is the point of departure for an odyssey to transgendered worlds, where women become men - ...
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A film journey through a universe of female masculinity. A legendary Drag King Night in New York is the point of departure for an odyssey to transgendered worlds, where women become men - some for a night, others for their whole lives. What motivates them? What changes take place? What do they dream of? The drag kings of New York meet in clubs and change lustfully into their male alter egos, parodying them and exploring male eroticism and power strategies. In London we see women experiment with hormones to become new men and 'cyborgs'. Masculinity and transformation as performance, subversion or existential necessity. Written by
Venus Boyz, a documentary film by Gabriel Baur, is all about the exploration and expression of masculinity by women. These individuals range from women who are primarily heterosexual and simply enjoy the power and entitlement they feel while wearing men's clothing and attitudes to women born as hermaphrodites who have, after years of classification as female have opted to explore their inner leanings towards masculinity and male-ness. This range of viewpoints was a key element of why Venus Boyz is a film worth watching.
Unlike their male drag counterparts (queens), drag kings don't have as may films that celebrate and explore why women sometimes feel the need to dress like men, although there are some. Other than Brandon Teena's story, which remains in the spotlight due to his traumatic death and Hillary Swank's portrayal of him in Boys Don't Cry, the individual tales of these female cross-dressers and trans-sexuals are often unheard. Venuz Boyz gives us a range of these stories and a chance to take a glimpse into the performer's lives both on and off stage. Although their tales are sometimes accompanied by kitschy performances, I felt like it was the less showy parts of the documentary that were really able to communicate to me some of the politics, problems and positives of cross-dressing and of exploring female masculinity.
I wouldn't recommend this documentary to everyone. Certainly, you have to be willing to listen with an open mind about these women's experiences with a gender-biased world, but for those who are interested in exploring how a group of women are working individually to redefine gender, this is a worthwhile film. Even though I had a very open mind going into the film and have a background in similar topics, I had no idea that the range of women who choose to cross dress was so diverse. I was also reassured to hear that many of the "protagonists" of the film have been able to find funding and support for their artistic explorations and expressions.
There is a reason that this film has won awards and been featured at major GLBTQ film festivals, and that it is because it offers an insight into a world not found in other films. And, if you have ever wondered about your own female masculinity, this film will likely offer you comfort and familiarity.
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