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Michael T. Weiss,
After jointly winning a local drag queen pageant in New York City, Noxeema Jackson and Vida Boheme 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, 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 City or Los Angeles. The three have an extended ...Written by
This movie is much more than a showcase for middle-aged actors to strut their female stuff. It's all about how men, even homosexual men, perceive women, as opposed to the reality of women and their lives.
It's a trenchant though gentle and very funny lesson in gender politics. These actors are brilliant in their portrayal of all of the superficial attributes of women. Every time I see the movie, I'm amazed at their performances - and at the insight and depth of the text.
This movie suggests the impossibility of separating the external gloss of femininity from its source - women themselves. And that women are not the sum of their feminine mannerisms, but whole people who are still too often subgugated by men.
The drag queens are so much more "female" than any genuine woman they meet. But because they are actually men, they enjoy the power of their masculine gender to construct and control their lives that is unobtainable for the women.
The 'girls' end up defending the real women in the movie in a way that is more 'gallant' than any Knight in Shining Armor. Their homosexuality fosters a compassion and understanding of the lot of women in a way that the 'manly' men in the movie cannot grasp. And perhaps the 'girls' end up with a more complete notion of femininity as well. I treasure this movie because I am so grateful for its message.
This flip, light little movie really deserves close examination. Magnificent performances and real heart. Thanks from me too, Julie Newmar!
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