The 10 Best Drag Queen Movies
The 10 Best Drag Queen Movies You Should Have Seen By Now !
The 10 Best Drag Queen Movies You Should Have Seen By Now! Drag is an art form that dates back to ancient times – long before the first drag queen movies were made (or even before the movie was invented!). It’s a way of exploring one’s identity, which allows people to transform and interpret different sides of themselves. In recent years, drag has increasingly been the center of pop culture’s attention, with shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race attracting massive audiences, even though drag queens have been performing live for decades.
Drag queens are usually bold and catchy, and they have a strong stage presence, so it’s no wonder they’ve been the main characters in so many movies over the years. Be it dramas, comedies or musicals, the range of stories about them guarantees something for everyone to enjoy. Drag allows for a mix of emotional storylines with camp characters and absurd storylines, all of which converge to create the most amazing atmospheres. In the following paragraphs, we’ll dive into some of the best drag queen movies.
Wondering where to look ? It depends on where in the world you live and what streaming services you have. We connect to the streaming service we’re watching in each case – be it Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apply TV+ or elsewhere.
You can get a free month of Amazon Pride (or a 6-month trial for students) from Amazon Prime and also get immediate access to free two-day shipping, Amazon Video, and music. Although you won’t be charged for your free trial, you’ll be automatically upgraded to a paid subscription plan at the end of the trial period – although if you’ve already consumed it all, you can simply cancel before the end of the trial period. end of the test.
Apple TV+ also has a one-week trial, and Hulu has a one-month trial (which can be bundled with Disney!). Another option could be to use a VPN to access locked Netflix titles in other regions. Netflix is now available in over 190 countries around the world and each country has a different library and availability. US Netflix is (naturally) one of the best.
Although we wish it could all be in one place – for now, these seem to be the best streaming platforms to watch.
The Queen (1968)
The Queen (1968), by Frank Simon, is a documentary film about the drag queens who staged and competed in the Miss All-America Camp beauty pageant in 1967. At the center of the film is Jack, a gay New Yorker aged only 24 year old who held the beauty pageant as a drag queen named Flawless Sabrina. Under Jack’s wing is Richard, also known as Rachel Harlow, who enters the contest against heavy opposition.
One very interesting thing about The Queen is the fact that Crystal LaBeija entered the beauty contest documented in the film: she reached the top five with Rachel, opposing her in the final. A historic icon of the scene, LaBeija ends the film with a moving speech that goes to the heart of what drag is all about. As such, her influence is felt all over the drag media: the cast of the incredible Paris is Burning (1990), featured in this list, is made up of several members of House of LaBeija, the drag club she founded later in his career.
The Queen is a treasured document of drag culture and one of the best drag queen movies of all time. It’s a time capsule that encompasses a whole different approach to this way of expressing one’s own identity. The film was released during a seminal year for avant-garde movements. In fact, the film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival, but before the award ceremony, the demonstrations that took place in the streets of Paris in May 1968 led to the cancellation of the festival. While some things have changed, others have stayed the same: The queens featured in The Queen are lively and fun, and any drag fan will love spending time with them.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), by Jim Sharman, is both a musical and a horror film. Perhaps one of the most iconic portrayals of drag culture, Tim Curry plays bisexual mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter, who describes himself as a “transvestite Transsexual, Transylvania.” The film was based on a 1973 musical written by Richard O’Brian, who appears in the film as Riff Raff, also starring Curry. The Rocky Horror Picture Show pays homage to (and at the same time parodies) the horror and sci-fi B-movies that were “mass-produced” in decades past.
The film opens with a criminologist telling this horrific story: Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) marries Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) and, as they go on their honeymoon, a flat tire leaves them stranded in a cold, rainy night. They wander through the woods to find an imposing castle. Against all common sense, they know the door asking for a phone. Inside the castle, an “Annual Transylvania Convention” takes place. Instead of helping them, servant Riff Raff and his French sister Magenta (Patricia Quinn) lead them to the main show. This is where Dr. Frank-N-Furter steps in: he will take the couple on a crazy journey that will lead them to question their identity, both personal and sexual.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of the funniest and weirdest movies of all time. Upon its release, the film did not generate much enthusiasm. Yet, over time, it garnered the most acclaim: After many midnight screenings at the New York Waverly Theater, people began shouting lines from the film and yelling their lines to what the characters were saying. This instituted what is known as the “counterpoint dialogue”, and to this day, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is still screened regularly around the world.
Victor / Victoria (1982)
V ictor/Victoria (1982), by Blake Edwards, is a musical comedy set in Paris about a singer and actress who finds success as a man. Although it was later adapted as a Broadway musical, the original screenplay is itself an adaptation of a 1933 German film named Victor and Victoria. The film received high praise from critics and earned seven Oscar nominations. Of these, it won Best Original Score. Which comes as no surprise: this superb score was composed by Henry Mancini (known for composing The Pink Panther and Breakfast at Tiffany’s), with the lyrics written by Leslie Bricusse (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory).
The film follows two characters: Victoria Grant (Julie Andrews), a frail soprano who cannot find work in any Parisian club, and Carroll “Toddy” Todd (Robert Preston), a gay artist in his later years who works at the Club. His home. The same night Victoria is rejected by the owner of the club, Toddy finds himself kicked out of the club due to an altercation he had with his former lover, Richard (Malcom Jamieson). He sees Victoria in a restaurant as he walks home and decides to approach her. The two get on well and, after a violent encounter where Victoria hits Richard, Toddy has the idea of introducing her as a male interpreter to one of the most important talent agents in Paris.
Victor/Victoria is a deep dive into the central idea behind drag: that gender is a performance, just like singing or performing. It’s something that you find inside of you and you make it real by doing it, by acting like you think you should act, by acting like you really are. That doesn’t make it any less real than any other gender expression. Everything is performance. Victor/Victoria carries a heartwarming message that is ahead of its time and incredibly entertaining to watch.
Paris is Burning (1990)
Paris is Burning (1990), by Jennie Livingston, is a documentary film about prom culture in New York in the 1980s. This film is a critical darling: its thoughtful and layered depiction of drag culture struck a chord with the reviews from around the world. It won a plethora of international awards, but Paris Is Burning did not receive an Oscar nomination that year. This snub leads to several accusations of homophobia and transphobia against the Academy. From subsequent Best Documentary Feature winners, it’s clear that this reaction changed the way the Academy assessed queer documentaries in later years.
For those unaware of the ballroom side of drag culture, it’s an expression of drag inspired by masquerade balls that functioned as a safe space for African Americans and Latinx people. Although its roots are in New York City, it’s important to know that the original drag balls were brought to life by William Dorsey Swann, the first person to portray himself as a drag queen, during the last decades of the 19th century. . These balls were mostly attended by former slaves during the era of racial segregation, but racism was still present at these events. This prompted African-American and Latino entertainers to form their own ballrooms, giving rise to modern ballroom culture in 1960s Harlem.
The film follows several prominent members of the scene, Angie Xtravaganza, Dorian Corey, Willi Ninja and the illustrious Pepper LaBeija, who inherited the LaBeija household after Crystal LaBeija retired. It wasn’t the only house, rather ‘houses’ are organizations made up of older members of the scene who welcome young artists and look after them as if they were part of the family. Part of what makes ball culture so inclusive are those safe spaces that the community has built for itself. Paris is Burning is a must-watch for any fan of drag culture: it’s an insightful look at what makes this subculture such a great place to be a part of.
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The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), by Stephan Elliot, is a road comedy set in the Australian Outback. The film became a hit and was one of the few LGBTQ films of the era to reach a mainstream audience, with millions watching it all over the world. It has been widely praised for its portrayal of the drag, gay, and transgender communities in an empowering way. Just four years after Paris is Burning’s snub , this film received an Academy Award nomination, which it also won, for Best Costume Design. This category is definitely a highlight of the film, having won many other awards for it.
The film follows Anthony Belrose (played by Hugo Weaving), a drag queen named Mitzi Del Bra working in Sydney, Australia. After receiving an offer from his ex-wife Marion to perform at the hotel-casino she manages, Anthony convinces two artists to join him on the four-week trip to Alice Springs: Bernadette Bassenger (Terence Stamp) , a transgender woman, and Adam Whitely (Guy Pearce), a young, self-assured drag queen who uses the alias Felicia Jollygoodfellow. They rent a tour bus that Adam names “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” and leave.
The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of Dessert portrays its characters as hilarious but flawed people. It captures what the life of an artist is all about: a constant search for an act that will make an impact and dazzle people. Like most road trips, their journey through Australia allows them to reflect on themselves and see their lives in a new light: Anthony will find what is missing, whether he likes it or not. This emotional journey will have you rolling on the floor laughing. You may also cry a little and be inspired to soon have your very own fiercely fabulous Priscilla Queen of the Desert!
One of the first drag queen movies – and the one that really held up the best of time.
To Wong Foo, thank you for everything! Julie Newmar (1995)
To Wong Foo, thank you for everything! Julie Newmar (1995), by Beeban Kidron, is a comedy about a group of drag queens who go on a road trip together. The title of the film refers to the autograph that actress and singer Julie Newmar gave to one of them. They carry this autographed photo as a keepsake throughout their trip. From the very Julie Newmar to the extraordinary RuPaul, the film features several cameos from distinguished actors, singers and drag performers.
The film follows three drag queens who travel from New York to Los Angeles in their yellow 1967 Cadillac DeVille convertible. The reason for their trip is the “Miss Drag Queen of America Pageant”, a beauty pageant held in Hollywood. Two of them, Vida Boeheme (Patrick Swayze) and Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes), won this trip after tying for victory in the “Drag Queen of the Year” contest. The third, Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo), is an inexperienced and unlucky “drag princess” whom they have decided to take under their wing.
One of the best things about To Wong Foo, thank you for everything! Julie Newmar stars in it: the filmmakers took two of the sexiest macho men of the 90s and showed them in drag without ever treating it as something bad. Just two years prior, martial artist Snipes starred against Sylvester Stallone in the action comedy Demolition Man. As for Swayze, he had been considered “the sexiest man alive” in 1991 and had played the role of the naughty surfer Bodhi in Point Break. Yet they both manage to portray beautiful drag queens with a lot of respect. Audiences back then were captivated by these macho queens, and you will be too.
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