“Disassociation” . . . refers not only to the detachment of the subject from the world, but also to the deterioration of the internal ordering of subjectivity. . . . The internal-external relation breaks down, resulting in a degeneration of interior organization, and finally - one can imagine, in advanced stages - in a confusion of the external order too. Things begin to circulate, and no longer know their places. Foundations and frameworks crumble and things loop and circle and shift and spin: the inside flies to pieces and explodes outwards, the outside melts and fragments, and elements from both sides drift freely across an indifferent boundary. If the outside is unstable to such a degree that the subject becomes disengaged, who wouldn't want to induce the same confusion, in reality, so that inside and outside come once again into harmony?
(K. Kirby: 102)
It is not necessarily a slick, professional performance but the spectacle of Mitzi singing the drag cabaret classic “I've Been to Paradise, but I've Never Been to Me” is nonetheless a spellbinding opening to Stephan Elliott's road movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994). The song is an aphorism for the consequent road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs embarked upon by drag queens Mitzi and Felicia, and transsexual Bernadette so that they can perform their cabaret act in a club owned by Mitzi's estranged wife. Priscilla, a bus acquired for the trip, not only provides an eponym for the movie, it also embodies what Michel de Certeau calls a spatial story because it places a high value on the geographic coalescence of identity politics and mobility. The journey to Alice Springs is about how mobility, scale, and space “disassociate” Mitzi, Felicia, and Bernadette from their local roots in Sydney, but it is Priscilla that furnishes a haven from which the three friends can safely face issues of sexual identity, home, family, and community. The bus - replete with drag wardrobes, bar and vanity dressers - encapsulates a classifying frame within
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Publication information: Book title: The Road Movie Book. Contributors: Steven Cohan - Editor, Ina Rae Hark - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 349.
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