A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Wigstock – The Movie

May 2, 2011

Wigstock: The Movie

I don’t want to review this tonight. I want to just enjoy it. Absorb it and let it wash over me. Tonight’s reunion show represents the end of another season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and we’re ending it with a crazy chaotic look at the 1994 Wigstock festival. It’s a delightful combination of concert DVD and documentary that shows interviews and performances from the stage.

This movie is pure joy for the most part. Yes, it takes place in New York in the nineties at the heart of the AIDS epidemic, and it has to acknowledge that. But it is that very sense of oppression and dread that makes Wigstock so very necessary. Some of the people interviewed talk about how they just want a day of frivolity when they can dress up and forget everything else. A day when folks can let their hair down – or put it up – or cover it with an enormous crazy teased up wig.

This is a celebration of drag, of course. The Lady Bunny emcees a cavalcade of amazing drag acts for our delight end entertainment while the cameras roam through the crowds seeking comment and looking for folks attending the festival in their various drag. Which highlights one of the things that intruiged me most about this movie. It has so many people playing with the concepts of gender roles. There are bearded guys in wigs and dresses. There’s a fantastic interview with a nice older gentleman who talks about how it does nobody any harm for a bunch of guys to dress up in women’s clothes, and then the camera pulls back to reveal that in solidarity he’s wearing a little skirt. There are professional drag queens in full make-up. There are some people that could be men passing as women or could be trans-sexuals or could be genetic women from birth and frankly it simply doesn’t matter what their gender is because they’re just part of this whole mad party atmosphere. “Let go your preconcieved notions,” the film seems to say, “they have no place here.”

The many fantastic drag acts captured on the main stage are fascinating too. It seems that the Lady Bunny and the other organizers have made an effort to feature as wide a range of performers as they can. There are carefully choreographed lip syncing displays. There are performers who actually sing, some of whom have simply astonishing voices and range. There are camp acts like Dee-Light who are not necessarily drag in and of themselves but who are accepted by the drag world. There is a woman who sings in male drag. There are edgy concept acts like the strip tease to Mark Almond’s What Makes a Man and the simulated birth on stage (which seemed to me to be an homage to Female Trouble and the inimitable Divine.)

This was the first time that I had watched the film tonight and I was caught up in it and enjoying it so much that I didn’t take notes like I should have so that I could address specifics. There is so much amazing talent on display here that it seems unfair for me not to talk about specifics, but the truth is that I wasn’t watching it to review it tonight. I was watching it for the spectacle and the joy of it. Maybe tomorrow, while Amanda is at work, I’ll watch it again and try to be more analytical.

To be continued?

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May 2, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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