Dressed As a Girl (18) | Home Ents Review

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Dir. Colin Rothbart, UK, 2014, 96 mins.
Sometimes outrageous behaviour but always fascinating, this documentary shows the on-stage and off stage activities of a group of friends who are all drag queens. Jonny Woo – the self-styled leader of the drag artists, who believes that you put on women’s clothes and set yourself free as part of the community – introduces us to the scene and to the characters involved.  Jonny looks like Boy George.

There’s John Sizzle, and his down-to-earth mum, who we see talking about not knowing he was gay as he didn’t wear her clothes.  Then we have Pia who wishes to get castrated.  She has very strange ideas about aliens coming to earth and the end of the world.

Holestar has been doing drag for 10 years and seems quite content to continue.  The difference with her is that she is a woman who looks like a man dressed as a girl.  She refers to herself as “a tranny with a fanny”.  We learn that Holestar was in the army trying to be normal.  She left and became a drag queen. And we have young Scottee, whose parents have both been in the AA.

We learn a lot about Amber who was originally a man with tattoos who gradually transitions into a good-looking young woman who has a very successful boob job and is on her way to becoming a full woman.  There is a moving section in the documentary where Amber meets up with the father she had lost contact with and tries to talk to him about her change.  He is a blunt Northerner and just insists that to him she is the same Dean as before although she is also Amber. The operation has made no difference to him, he asserts. He tells her to eat all her food! We also get to meet Jonny’s very ordinary parents living in Kent.

The movie is not all laughter and jollity and there are sections on the growth of AIDS and the extreme drug habits of a number of the performers.  It shows the more seedy side to that depicted in the new stage musical Kinky Boots.

The film begins and ends with performances of Gay Bingo – a weird and very flamboyant take on Bingo with the drag artists and an unusual take on the numbers in Bingo – let’s just say 99! The final performances, with all the friends present, celebrate 10 years of Gay Bingo.

As you can tell this is a very unusual film. It is most engaging and for sheer fascination it is well worth getting the DVD which is out from 6 December.

Review by Carlie Newman

Carlie Newman

Author: Carlie Newman

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