Tuesday, November 17, 2015

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar

I've seen this movie on the TV schedule a hundred times over the years, and I had a general idea of what it was about – three drag queens on a cross-country trip to define their careers in California.

It didn't interest me one iota. Uh uh, not even by a smidgen. I mean, who wants to see Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo dressed up, made up, talking like, and moving like women? Not me. I managed to avoid it for 20 years since it came out in 1995.

So it actually surprised me when I hit the record button on my DVR the other day when I saw it on the Ovation Channel schedule, let the movie languish in my viewing queue for a few days, then on a bored whim, hit the play button.

I have to say that I felt more than a bit uncomfortable watching the guys transform into women via makeup, wigs, clothes and attitude, but they grew on me. To be frank about it, they actually look pretty good after the transformation. Does saying that make me weird?

So why did they head off to Los Angeles? Vida Boheme (Swayze) and Noxeema Jackson (Snipes) tie in the New York Drag Queen of the Year contest and win free round-trip tix to Hollywood to compete in the Drag Queen of America contest. Chi-Chi Rodriguez (Leguizamo), who really wanted to win, loses out.

They sell their airline tickets to John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt (Robin Williams, who hates when the people always shout), buy an old yellow Cadillac convertible for $50, and take Chi-Chi along with them.

Along the way, they meet a horny racist homophobic sheriff (Chris Penn), and a small town full of conservative hicks who are deeply affected by the trio's, uh, affectations. 

Confession: I enjoyed the film. Which just goes to show you shouldn't judge a movie by its general premise. Watch it, then judge. Oh, and Julie Newmar does make a cameo appearance at just the precise moment, which makes the movie worthwhile.

~ "I don't think of you as a man. I don't think of you as a woman. I think of you as an angel." ~ Carol Ann (Stockard Channing)
P.S. For answers to questions you may have about the film's title, read the post below this one.

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