The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)
November 27, 2022 8:41 AM - Subscribe

Two drag queens and a transwoman travel across the desert to perform their unique style of cabaret. Trailer.
posted by johnofjack (12 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
The language around trans issues is a bit dated and there is some misgendering and some homophobic slurs, but on the whole I thought this one was fun and a bit ahead of its time.
posted by johnofjack at 8:42 AM on November 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

An interesting contrast with To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar, on the purple eight years ago and which got only 43% on RT; that movie seemed more like an American remake of this one, with actors generally better-known to Americans, although Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Terence Stamp aren't exactly unknown over here.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:36 PM on November 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

I love this freakin movie.
posted by miss-lapin at 5:27 PM on November 27, 2022 [2 favorites]

A true story about me, when I went to see this:

I took myself to see this film alone. I was single and looking to date at that time, and so whereever I went I would check guys out. I wouldn't DO anything to approach them, mind you, but I at least looked about me to see how many guys were about without girlfriends or wives whereever I went.

And this was no different. I got to the theater and took my seat and cast furtive glances around me. And....yeah, there were some cute guys around. And an unusually high number of them seemed to be alone, sans women. Interesting! And as I waited for the film I kept looking, noticing more and more guys coming in, and vanishingly few with women. Some guys even came in pairs. I was getting kind of giddy - so many cute guys right here in the theater! Maybe I'd even make a move on one of them!

....And it wasn't until the lights were starting to dim in the theater before the show started that I remembered what the film was about and thought about what the target audience might be, and I realized "Oh DUH."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:32 PM on November 27, 2022 [10 favorites]

my favorite scene is at 1:27:23
posted by brujita at 10:53 PM on November 27, 2022

but on the whole I thought this one was fun and a bit ahead of its time.

depending on where you lived at the time, this film was light years ahead of its time. If you did not live in a metro area, and especially if you lived in a certain part of Canada where the provincial gov't was perfectly willing to invoke the notwithstanding clause re: same sex marriage 10 years after PQotD was released, it was a pretty wild, and welcome, film. Great choices for Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce, imo.
posted by elkevelvet at 10:44 AM on November 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

Fun trivia: costume designers Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappel won the Oscar for their work on this. Lizzy showed up in a gown made of gold Amex cards; and about a week after the Oscars, I swear I saw a print ad Amex made where it just took a still from the acceptance speech, focused close in on Lizzy's dress, and simply said "Congratulations, Lizzy - and thank you!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:02 PM on November 28, 2022 [3 favorites]

When this was first released, it was illegal to be gay in Tasmania, a state of the country in which the film was made and set. Consensual sex acts between men carried a penalty of 21 years in prison. It took another three years for those laws to be repealed, and it only passed with the narrowest of margins.

That's the climate here in Australia when the film came out. It was not just ahead of its time, it was revolutionary. It has a gay father, and a trans woman who is not a punchline, but a fully fleshed character. It put queer stories first at a time when, and I must really stress this it was a jailable offense to be a sexually active gay man.

So yeah, it has some outdated language and some shitty content (the mail order bride stands out for me personally). But it is, and always will be, a remarkable achievement. The scene where they perform for a remote indigenous community stands out for me, radiantly joyful and inclusive and just promising so much.
posted by Jilder at 11:17 PM on November 28, 2022 [23 favorites]


The Australians have a knack for making weird, contemplative, beautiful movies, and this is one of the best. On a side note, seeing the Broadway musical version was the trigger that made my grandmother stop being homophobic.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 7:37 AM on November 29, 2022 [3 favorites]

Jilder, thank you for posting that context. If I had known all that I would have framed the post differently, but I'm glad you set the record straight.
posted by johnofjack at 1:50 PM on November 29, 2022 [2 favorites]

I loved this movie when it came out and loved it again rewatching recently. However there's one part that really mars the film, the character Cynthia. She's the Filipina wife who does sex shows on stage. The portrayal in the film is the most cringe-inducing and offensive of Asian sex worker stereotypes. Wikipedia has more detail about the criticism and the response from the producer.

I'm pretty tolerant of this kind of disappointment in otherwise great cinema but it almost ruined my enjoyment of the film on second watch. I think I'd prefer watching a bowdlerized edit that just omitted her scenes. (Ideally you'd rewrite and reshoot to make her more a better character but that's not realistic.) I will definitely think twice before sharing this movie again as a fun progressive thing to friends.
posted by Nelson at 11:11 AM on June 1 [1 favorite]

A sequel has been announced!

I just watched this on the heels of the PSB thread on the blue, and when I searched the movie, the the news about the sequel popped up. It sounds like they plan to use the original main characters, but it’s all very much still in the works.

The campfire performance of “I will survive” made me tear up. I’d love to know the translation of the chant that’s interwoven into the song.

Bob is crappy to Cynthia - acts embarrassed of her, even confines her - and there’s no accountability for his behavior. I looked up the actress who plays Cynthia (Julia Cortez). She had a couple of other roles in 1995, but that’s it. I’d feel better if she’d gone on to bigger and better things - but I know nothing about her or why her IMDb profile ends there, so I guess I shouldn’t read too much into it.

Maybe the sequel will try to address the issues with how that character was written.
posted by bunderful at 4:01 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

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