How outrageous 1977! Celebrate cloud culture

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“If a caterpillar is afraid of wings, it will never become a butterfly.” This line is from the 1977 movie outrageous!, in which the film’s main character is persuaded to replace his hair clipper with a dress and wig, beautifully conveys the film’s message of self-acceptance, self-realization, and the excitement of living a life outside the lines. 45 years ago, Richard Benner He wrote and directed his first film about a gay hairstylist, his schizophrenic best girlfriend, and their quest to become the people they were meant to be. It was a huge success and won critical acclaim at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin International Film Festival. Looking back at the film more than four decades later, it’s still a delightful exploration of drag culture without judgment.

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From the opening scene of the movie, it’s clear outrageous! It will live up to its title. An angry drag queen in a shiny gold skirt and opera-length gloves takes the stage to practice her number. Seconds after her song, she pulls on her skirt as she transforms into a gorgeous floor-length fin array. The performer is in her element and the audience is with her. This is also the first hint to it outrageous! Another look in the late ’70s would be at the “dark side” of the gay community. No, this will be a party and moviegoers are welcome to bring the noise makers and have fun.

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Craig Russell, In a stunning debut film, he plays Robin Turner, a long-suffering Toronto hairstylist who is bored with his work, bored with life, and resigned to his mediocre existence. He yearns for something more but lacks the confidence to step out of his comfort zone as the man who rolls the housewives of town. His best friend Perry (in a fantastic comic performance by Richert Isley) enjoys the occasional foray into dress-up play (impression of Karen Black in Airport 1975 Not to be missed) and tries to encourage Robin to do the same, with little success. It doesn’t help that Robin faces resistance to drag queens within the gay community itself. After eight years of the Stonewall riots, where homosexuals were finally recognized and accepted as equal citizens, there was a growing feeling within the community that the emergence of drag queens had damaged the gay rights movement and gave heterosexuals a reason to ridicule and degrade homosexuals.


In the film, Robin is a double pariah – a man who already faces discrimination for being gay, and who risks further discrimination if he makes drag make his next career choice. Even the gay boss of Robin at the hair salon threatens to fire Robin if he happens to be dragged. “The drag queen works in my shop? Never,” he says. At the Christmas party, after Robin’s boss mocks the men dragging, Robin’s friend Berry responds again, “Sugar, wants to free the denim and lock up the satin queens!” outrageous! It highlights this struggle between “founding” gays and drag queens who were, incidentally, in the front line among those who led the fight at Stonewall that gave birth to the modern gay rights movement.

When Lisa, Robin’s schizophrenic girlfriend (Hollis McLaren) flees the institution in which she is set up and moves to live with Robin, they form a unique “marriage” of sorts – two eccentric strangers, each struggling with his own personal demons, who gain strength and trust from each other. Robin empathizes with Lisa’s condition and helps her come to terms with the visions she sees and the voices she hears. Despite her diagnosis, Lisa sees clearly what Robin could become and eventually convinces him to follow his dream. In a touching scene, Robin confides in Lisa with a different feeling. “Do you know what it’s like when a really good-looking boy looks at you, and all he sees is clouds queen? “Lisa tells him he should follow his aspirations, regardless.” If people laugh, they won’t go crazy. ” outrageous! Poignantly, without restrictions or qualifications, he shows the true love and mutual support of two characters on the fringes of society.


At Lisa’s urging, ‘Robin’ books an engagement at a gay club in Toronto and the fun begins to work. for him Bette Davis The impression comes with a wheelchair brace to take a blanche (from What happened to baby Jane?) in a trip. Then it goes to the file A star is born A copy of Barbra Streisand (“I cut out the picture myself, because that way we get the woman’s point of view. this is woman. It should be noted that in this scene director Russell made sure to include plenty of shots of gay club goers laughing, dancing and enjoying themselves. Films at the time rarely showed what was happening inside gay clubs, and when they did, the clubs usually presented As dark and dangerous places to avoid, not bright and cheerful places where people embraced their lives comfortably. Robin’s work was a success. Fellow drag artists crowd around him and encourage him to do his work in New York City, where he assured that it would bring in both straight and gay audiences. Robin agrees Giving himself two months in the Big Apple to try to make it big, he leaves Lisa (who finds herself pregnant) temporarily behind, but in taking care of Robin’s pull-up friends again, the film introduces men in wigs and high heels not as married couples, but as whole human beings who come together as a family supportive.


Robin is booked into The Jack Rabbit Club, not exactly 42 . StreetA style debut he had hoped for, but certainly a step up from where Toronto Dive has honed his work. He wows the crowd with his really funny impression of May West, which leads him to party at upscale Ziggy’s Cabaret, a Manhattan club with a mixed clientele that gives Robin the opportunity to bring his business into the mainstream. What follows is a montage of Robin’s wonderful message to some of the most iconic women in the entertainment world. there Carol Channing (“We’ve been singing that song for 25 years now, and it’s almost perfect!”), squeaks slightly Marlene Dietrich, Ethel Merman (“I hope you like the lyrics, because you’re sure you’ll listen to it!”), and even Ella Fitzgerald Giant black frame sports glasses with lenses that look like magnifying glasses. Robin gets a standing ovation from a mostly straight audience, and for the first time in modern cinema, they see a drag performer not as an outsider, but as a talent worthy of stardom.

The film takes a sad turn when Lisa loses her child in Toronto, while star Robin is going up in New York. Robin returns to Canada and a desperate Robin returns with him, but is unable to reach her. She says, “I’m dead.” In changing roles from earlier in the film, Robin becomes the catalyst who must convince Lisa to live. While some of Robin’s friends wonder if it would be wise for him to bring the emotionally unstable Lisa to the big city, Robin continues to do so. Remembering that it’s Lisa who told him drag artists keep people crazy, Robin dresses up as Lisa and takes her to Jack Rabbit’s club to watch him perform. While Robin was on stage wearing a gorgeous turban Peggy Lee, Lisa almost rigid, completely emotionally closed. She roams through the crowd like an abandoned cat looking for a corner where she can hide. But while other drag queens take the stage and energize the audience, Lisa comes to life again. Robin told her, “You’re not dead.” “You are alive and ill and living in New York, like 8 million other people.” They take to the dance floor among drag queens, leather queens, and all the other miscellaneous queens and celebrate being weird balls in a community of singles balls. The caterpillars found their wings thanks to their fairy godmother, the drag queen.


outrageous! It gave ’70s audiences a look at a counterculture that wasn’t steeped in self-loathing, but instead found joy in being on the outside. It introduced the world of drag queens to audiences who, up until that point, might have only seen them on their television screens in less than flattering images (such as John Davidson as a deadly cross-dressing performer in the 1974 episode of San Francisco streets). outrageous! She enjoyed the joy of drawing and made fans admire these wonderful, strange and clever creatures. Watching the movie today, it’s not hard to believe that it inspired other modern day drag-themed films like Priscilla, Queen of the Desert And the Very Wong Fu, thanks for everything, Julie Newmar. It’s a groundbreaking film with a positive, life-affirming message that deserves to be rediscovered today.

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