After jointly winning a local Drag Queen pageant in New York City, Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes) and Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) win the right and are given the round trip airfare to compete in the Drag Queen of America pageant in Hollywood, California. Noxeema sees herself as the next Dorothy Dandridge, who bucked the trend of most black American movie actresses of her time by never playing the slave house maid. Vida's style reflects her past of growing up in upper class suburban Pennsylvania. One of their fellow New York City contestants, Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo), is a straight-talking, but naive and inexperienced Drag Queen. Seeing that Chi-Chi needs some Drag Queen confidence (despite her bravada), Vida and a reluctant Noxeema decide to cash in their plane tickets and buy an older model Cadillac convertible and drive to Hollywood with Chi-Chi. Their drive takes them through much of the country where alternate lifestyles are less tolerated than they may be in New York ...Written by
The only bad thing about this film, as with most Hollywood films in which gays are depicted, is that it perpetuates the stereotype that all gays are drag queens. Still, Snipes and Swayze are fabulous, hilarious, and courageous to risk their testosterone-driven careers on such a romp. But John Leguizamo, as the drag princess, steals the show, no small feat considering the supporting cast includes Robin Williams, Stockard Channing, Blythe Danner, Melinda Dillon, Arliss Howard, and, of course, the statuesque Julie Newmar.
Much has been made of the similarity between this film and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but each stands on its own for many reasons. Each presented superb casts in stories with obvious similarities. But oh the differences. Completely different approaches to humor, not to mention drag. Also, To Wong Foo is a more pleasant if somewhat more lightweight movie. The American audience probably had a much easier time with this one than with Priscilla.
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