A comedy film about three beautiful drag queens on a cross-country journey, To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar (1995, dir. Beeban Kidron) has a lot of heart and some gorgeous costume choices. Here’s the synopsis:
After Vida Boheme and Noxeema Jackson win a major New York drag contest and a trip to Hollywood, they are persuaded to take the inexperienced drag princess Chi-Chi with them. They hire a beat-up old Cadillac and set off for Los Angeles, but their car breaks down in a small town in the middle of nowhere. With just their wits and an endless supply of garish costumes, they transform the town and everyone who lives there–until homophobic cop Sheriff Dollard catches up with them… (source)
And here are some of my thoughts on this crazy film, henceforth known simply as To Wong Foo, since the title of this film is too long for its own good.
- I can’t believe I’d never seen this before the other night. I thought I would find it kind of dumb, but I actually enjoyed it.
- The story is simple, but it has a lot of heart and a nice message about the importance of personal strength and authenticity.
- It cannot be denied that Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo are pretty great at being drag queens. They all look beautiful as women and their affectations are very feminine.
- It’s quite significant that we see about two minutes of Wesley Snipes and Patrick Swayze as their pre-drag male selves, whilst they spend the entire rest of the film in drag. This sets up an interesting dynamic where this isn’t a story about the conflict of male versus female identity, but rather a celebration of the feminine.
- Eagle-eyed drag enthusiasts will spot not only the one and only RuPaul at the beginning of this film, but also Lady Bunny, Candis Cayne (pre-transition), and Miss Coco Peru, amongst other famous personas.
- I would love to see a remake of this film with actual drag queens as the protagonists though. Perhaps a remake done by a selection of the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race. I would 100% watch that.
- I can’t figure out if the filmmakers deliberately chose masculine actors to transform into very beautiful drag queens, or if the filmmakers truly predicted that Snipes, Swayze and Leguizamo would be very convincing females.
- I really enjoyed To Wong Foo, although if I was going to compare it to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), I think I like Priscilla more.
- To Wong Foo is pretty fluffy and light, and touches upon some pretty big issues for the queer community, but it almost deliberately sideswipes them so that the film maintains its not-so-serious tone.
- All in all, an enjoyable watch, but don’t expect anything too profound.
Watch the trailer here.
P.S.: Here’s Wesley Snipes in all his glory as Noxeema Jackson: