You know me, denizens. I lurves me some drag queens. I know, some prefer the term “female impersonator.” Some prefer “gender illusionist.” I take all this into account and I respect it. However, in this particular instance, it’s definitely drag queens. Two, to be precise: Mitzi Del Bra and Felicia Jollygoodfellow, along with their transsexual friend Bernadette Bassenger. Seems they have a gig to perform their drag show in a remote part of Australia, far from their Sydney home base. The only reason that Mitzi would even consider traveling so far and to such a questionable location is because the hotel manager is…special to her. So they pack up their kits (which include lots of makeup, lots of shoes, lots of wigs, and lots of the most elaborate outfits imaginable) into a giant bus they christen…what? Priscilla!
And thus begins The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
This is a relatively bare-bones explanation of this movie’s plot. It’s kind of hard to give more, because if you haven’t seen it, the descriptions aren’t really going to make much sense…and if you have seen it, you’re going to understand completely what I mean with that last statement. I can tell you all the details in the world, but it’s not going to be even remotely close to actually experiencing this movie. Which I highly recommend you do, at least once. Then you too can immediately laugh along whenever you hear someone mention this movie and ping pong or blow-up doll kites or ABBA poo. Or Ralph.
Wait. ABBA. Song break!
See what I mean?
Me? I’ve seen this movie all the way through more times than I can tally (although I know it’s well into the double digits), and way more than that in bits and bobs whenever I catch it on television. Beyond being hilarious and riotous and strange and delightful, it amuses me to no end that the three leads each have found varying levels of fame playing characters utterly opposite from these lovely ladies: Mitzi later became Agent Smith, the ultimate foil to Keanu “The One” Reeves in The Matrix; Felicity would later forget her drag days along with every thing else as Leonard in Memento; and Bernadette once brought Christopher Reeve’s Superman to his knees as General Zod (back when Superman wasn’t mopey and pewey).
It blows my mind a bit that this movie came out 20 years ago this year. All three actors have gone on to do myriad performances beyond these characters, and still these are the roles I think of first whenever I see them. These are the roles I love them for the most.
I know there’s a musical based on this movie. I haven’t heard any of the music. I kind of don’t want to. The movie amuses me so much in its own right, I don’t really need to see another take on it. Besides, it has to be Australian. In Australia. With Australian actors (and Bernadette Zod). And not terrible fake Australian accents. Call me a purist, but I need my Oz fix, dammit.
As a special treat, I’ve come up with the following bit of PhotoShop fun. I call it Three Spocks in Frocks on a Rock. If you don’t get the pun, you now have another reason why you need to watch this movie. You’re welcome.