"Jackie Curtis is not a drag queen. Jackie is an artist. A pioneer without a frontier." -- Andy Warhol. Superstar in a Housedress examines the life and legend of Warhol transvestite ... See full summary »
"Jackie Curtis is not a drag queen. Jackie is an artist. A pioneer without a frontier." -- Andy Warhol. Superstar in a Housedress examines the life and legend of Warhol transvestite superstar Jackie Curtis who was a poet, playwright, performer, and one of the great personalities of his time. Jackie both lived and performed sometimes as a man, sometimes as a woman - and died tragically of a drug overdose under bizarre circumstances when he was only 38. The film features on-camera interviews with actor Harvey Fierstein who played Jackie's mother in "Americka Cleopatra" when he was 18, Ellen Stewart, founder of LaMama Experimental Theater Club, John Vaccaro, founder of the Playhouse of the Ridiculous, Paul Morrissey, Director of the Andy Warhol films, and surviving superstars Holly Woodlawn and Joe Dallesandro, plus 24 other friends and colleagues of Jackie's. The film includes never-before-seen video and film clips of Jackie performing in stage plays including "Femme Fatale," "Glamour, ... Written by
This was worth seeing for me just to see and hear the Warhol icons Paul Morrissey and Joe d'Alessandro "now," or close to now, as they were characters I watched from a small distance long ago. Also as someone has already noted - the environments of the people interviewed bring back the East Village of the 60s and 70s. Now in their own 60s probably, they are probably the last generation of young artists who were able to live in Manhattan.
If you remember the Max's Kansas City/Andy Warhol era, this will bring something back for you. If you don't, you might get a breath of a so-different, now-gone downtown artistic atmosphere of the East Village in the 60s and 70s.
The movie does a nice job of introducing the gender-shifting performer Jackie Curtis and a kind of outrageous whacked-out druggy boundary-trashing theatre/movie scene, part of the moment of giant culture shifts where gender and sex were concerned.
It's well-paced, intelligent, and always interesting. To some extent it's about the Jackie Curtis phenomenon, but the very articulate woman performer called Penny Arcade communicates a feeling for the person himself, and Holly Woodlawn - I am glad she is still with us - is sad when she remembers his death in his 30s.
The DVD extras - don't skip them. If I recall correctly, that's where we hear from the man who tells us about the seven chihuahuas that Curtis' grandmother kept on top of her breasts.
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