A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Vegas in Space

April 25, 2011

Vegas in Space

“Behold: Vegas in Space- an oasis of glamour in a universe of mediocrity.”

Way back at the start of this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race Ru had the girls perform in a science fiction production as one of the mini competitions. The instant we saw it in the previews for that episode Amanda and I both knew that we had to review this movie as part of our project. Sadly it took a while to track down a copy and purchase it (even in this modern day and age) because for some reason this absolute classic is somewhat hard to come by.

When the precious Girlinium Jewels that the Empress Nueva Gabor uses to keep her artificial pleasure planet of Clitoris in orbit around her sun are stolen the empress of Earth dispatches her best space rangers to investigate. Of course no men are allowed on Clitoris so the daring crew of the Intercourse must first take pills to change their sex to female, and so captain Dan Tracy becomes Tracy Daniels, Mike becomes Sheila and Steve becomes Debbie. Thus transformed the trio can infiltrate Vegas in Space (posing as a trio of chorus girls from Earth invited to entertain at the Empress’ gala) and search for the thief. The prime suspect is the sinister queen of police Veneer, but of course on Clitoris nothing is exactly as it seems.

This movie is a chaotic, crazy, glamorous gem. Created (apparently over the course of several years) by Doris Fish (who stars as Tracy but also designed the hair, sets, costumes and miniatures) this movie is a labour of love. Doris has a couple of her companions from her San Francisco drag show Sluts A Go-Go here as co-stars. Miss X is the hard-as-ceramic-nails Queen Veneer, and Tippi is Princess Angel, the heir apparent to the throne of Clitoris. All three of them deliver fantastic performances (though to be fair Miss X tends to steal the show – she’s just so fabulous!)

For some movies a severely restricted budget can be a blessing. The exterior shots of Vegas in Space are clearly perfume bottles arranged on a counter top. The sets are cardboard draped in fabric, covered in tinfoil or hidden by shag carpeting. At one point in the production they are forced to use black & white film stock (which back in the late eighties when they were filming this would still have been cheaper than color film) and so there’s a scene where Veneer explains to Tracy that the atmosphere of Clitoris can’t hold color and they have to use artificial color boosters most of the time. This looks like a production filmed in somebody’s dressing room – because that is precisely what it is. And that is most of the charm of the movie right there.

I don’t think it is possible with words alone to communicate just how glorious this movie is. How can I describe the catty ADR dialog that fills almost every scene, especially those involving crowds? How can I do justice to the crazy performance s of the all-drag-queen cast? How can I possibly make sense of the WTF moments like the introduction of Veneer’s pet – a primordial missing link called Drag who has been defrosted after being discovered after millennia encased in ice? (You mean humans are descended from Drags?) This is one of those astonishing films that simply has to be seen to be believed.

I will say that my appreciation of this movie has been enhanced by RuPaul (as so many things are.) When we were first introduced to this by one of Amanda’s friends at college my only real touchstone for the world of drag was John Waters and Divine. A couple years of RuPaul along with last weeks viewing of Paris is Burning allows me to enjoy this movie from a very different perspective. It is so clearly a result of the culture that it springs from. As we watched tonight Amanda and I made jokes about “throwing shade” and grinned at the dragalicious performances. The more I learn about drag as an art form the more fun it becomes, and this movie should be shown in drag 101 right there with Paris is Burning. Clearly it inspired Ru this season.

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April 25, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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