First up is Beeban Kidron's Too Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995) starring Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo as drag queens. The story of three drag queens on a road trip across the less metropolitan wilds of the country's interior, where there's a breakdown which subsequently forces interactions with less refined locals, was not a very novel idea the year after the success of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It has long been derided as a bad American remake of said film. However, when I first saw this film at around eight or nine (oblivious to my sexuality), I had never heard of Priscilla and loved the film's campness, lavish frocks, sequins, smiles and happy ending. Even as I grew up and my tastes matured, I continued to love everything about the film. It was practically the only gay themed film I watched in my adolescence with straight friends and family. They loved it. I loved it. It was one of the only positive and shared experiences of gay culture as a closeted youth.
So that is all well and good, but now that I have an honours Film degree and a dissertation on gay cinema behind me, bitchy humour, cocks in frocks, and a happy ending can't still have the same effect, right?
...I am not going to lie, I was almost embarrassed by how much I still loved it. Do not get me wrong, I did realise its faults on this viewing: including but not limited to the completely unbelievable script, desexualized gay men, condescending attitude towards women, and deus ex machina conclusion. However, I still find the film immensely enjoyable. The three stars as drag queens are great and obviously having loads of fun. They have everything you want from celluloid female impersonators: over-acting, bitchy one-liners, and an innate campness. However, the relationships between the three queens and especially the relationship between Swayze's Grand Dame and Stockard Channing's battered-housewife carry some real emotional weight and are expertly acted, if not flawlessly written.
The film is not perfect but it is a definitely more than a Priscilla rip-off. I think it deserves some revisiting. As some English queens say - it's camp as tits - and I love it.