Get ready for the summer of drag! Queer/Art/Film and the IFC Center have announced a special season of the long-running film series, with the programming of a drag-themed “Summer of Drag.”
Inspired by New York City’s rich history of drag artistry in all forms – as well as the popularity of another Monday night institution, RuPaul’s Drag Race — curators Ira Sachs and Adam Baran have invited four of the city’s most notable drag performers to be a part of this special season. Each guest will screen a film that has inspired them in their lives and work, followed by a Q&A with the audience, and an after party at Julius, New York’s oldest gay bar, a site which has its own important place in New York history.
The four presenters are: the legendary Lypsinka, famed for her innovative lip synch performances to classic Hollywood film quotes; Latina drag artist Barbara Herr, a veteran of drag clubs like Sally’s Hideaway, Escuelita, and The Monster, where she hosts the popular Monday night party Sabor Latino; the queens of Brooklyn’s BUSHWIG festival, including founders Simon Leahy (Babes Trust) and Matty Beats (Horrorchata) along with a gaggle of performers from the inspiring and exciting new Brooklyn drag scene; and finally, the hardest working man in show business, Mr. Murray Hill, downtown’s favorite drag king borscht belt comedian.
“From the queens who used to populate Bowery bars, to the queens who led the clashes with police during the Stonewall riots, to the drag and trans performers so vital to New York’s underground culture today, drag has been one of the most important pieces of our collective LGBT history and struggle,” said Baran.
“We hope that this series shines a light on how drag has been represented in films throughout the years,” Sachs added, “and we are excited to honor our guests’ important position in the cultural and political landscape of New York City.”
Each film in the series relates to themes of drag, performance, creativity, persecution, success, hardship and triumph. Lypsinka’s choice, the drag cult classic Outrageous! (1977 – dir. Richard Benner), is a pseudo biopic of the legendary Canadian drag performer Craig Russell, who wowed crowds all over the world with his impersonations of Mae West, Bette Davis, and Judy Garland, before battling his own demons during the early years of HIV/AIDS. Lypsinka calls the film “the best feature film about drag performance and what it means to have chosen such a weighted, fraught profession.”
Barbara Herr’s selection is the classic Tennessee Williams adaptation Suddenly, Last Summer (1959 – dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz), starring Elizabeth Taylor in a lurid tale which features violence against a homosexual character which, Barbara notes, “still alive and well in our society today in this country and all over the world.”
The BUSHWIG queens selected Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001 – dir. John Cameron Mitchell, and newly revived on Broadway with Neil Patrick Harris in the title role) for its brilliant and groundbreaking exploration of both “performative gender expressions” and “the idea of multiple genders in one being.”
Murray Hill closes out the series with a look back at the pioneering drag ball documentary The Queen (1968 – dir. Frank Simon) which stars legendary drag queen Flawless Sabrina (still going strong today!), and features appearances by Andy Warhol, his early favorite drag queen Mario Montez, and Edie Segdwick. The film gave many, including Hill, the first glimpse of gay/drag life they’d ever seen.
Screenings will take place at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue at West 3rd St.
Adult tickets are $14. Membership packages are available starting at $50.
For more information on the complete series, visit Queer/Art/Film at: http://www.queerartfilm.com/
SUMMER OF DRAG May-August, 2014
Dir. Richard Brenner, USA, 1977, 96 min, digital projection.
Summer of Drag gets kicked off with this cult classic about a hairdresser whose schizophrenic roommate convinces him to turn his passion for imitating Hollywood starlets into a full-fledged career. Before long Robin (played by the brilliant Canadian drag superstar Craig Russell) is wowing crowds with his impressions of Judy Garland, Bette Davis, Mae West and more. Our guest host is the legendary drag superstar Lypsinka (aka John Epperson), who calls OUTRAGEOUS! “the best feature film about drag performance and what it means to have chosen such a weighted, fraught profession.” Come out and celebrate the beginning of a very glamorous summer!
Monday, May 12th, 8:00PM
SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER
Dir. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, USA, 1959, 114 min, 35mm print.
Cannibalism. Homosexuality. Lobotomy. Only Tennessee Williams could pull together this Gothic mix and write a film as moving and beautiful as this. Elizabeth Taylor stars as a young woman who, at the insistence of her wealthy aunt (Katherine Hepburn) is being evaluated to receive a lobotomy after witnessing the death of her cousin. For the legendary Latina drag queen Barbara Herr – who started out in Times Square’s Sally’s Hideaway before owning the stages of Escualita, The Monster, and Friend’s Tavern — the film’s depiction of violence against homosexuals “is still alive and well in our society today in this country and all over the world.”
Monday, June 9th, 7:30PM
HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH
Dir. John Cameron Mitchell, USA, 2011, 95 min, 35mm print.
20 years after Hedwig and the Angry Inch first appeared as a revue at the legendary rock n’ roll drag party Squeezebox, the creators of Brooklyn’s BUSHWIG festival are carrying the torch with their annual dragstravaganza, featuring the most exciting young queens in NYC. We’ll be joined by some of the girls and BUSHWIG founder Simon Leahy, who writes, “We grew up withHedwig, and love it because it deals not only with performative gender expressions but also the idea of multiple genders in one being. It was the first film to bring these ideas to a mainstream audience.” Join us for this groundbreaking film, plus a special surprise or two.
Monday, July 7th, 8PM
Dir. Frank Simon, Canada, 1968, 68 min, digital projection.
Before there was Drag Race, there was The Queen. This seminal documentary about a 1967 NYC drag contest goes behind the scenes, recording the rehearsals, the conversations, and the jealousies that emerge in the lead up to the big competition. For drag king Murray Hill — “the hardest working middle-aged man in show business” — it was also “the first glimpse of gay/drag life that I’d ever seen.” Starring the legendary Flawless Sabrina, and including cameos by Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick and Mario Montez, we can’t think of a better way to end our Summer of Drag than with this perfectly preserved time capsule of the pre-Stonewall New York drag scene.
Monday, August 11th, 8PM