Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Funny Girls

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Funny Girls

Article excerpt

My friend the radical queer was very upset. "It's happened. We've been totally mainstreamed." "What?" I asked, shocked by the tone in his voice. "Did Dr. Laura and Rabbi Boteach cater and officiate a kosher gay wedding in Vermont?" "Worse!" he shrieked and then thought for a moment and said, "Well, on a par. The American Film Institute named the two funniest movies of all time, and they're both about drag queens! How can I ever hold my head up in a wig, tiara, glitter, and marabou again? It's so ... so ... suburban!" There was a choked glissando of anguish, and the line went dead. The poor thing.

Of course, he's only partially right. I don't think we'll be seeing pride boutiques opening as anchor stores at any of the major malls quite yet. First of all, the two movies--Some Like It Hot (number 1) and Tootsie (number 2)--are not about drag queens but about straight guys forced to go undercover in drag. While they're not gay, almost everything they do once they put on the hair and the heels is exactly what a drag queen does.

The women they become are an imitation of--as well as an extension of, as well as a comment on--real women. They even go so far as to become romantically involved with other straight men--and not ones in drag either. Tell me you don't know a few drag queens who've pulled that one off. Of course, other than co-opting a gay idea--that the only way you can truly understand women is to walk a mile in their pumps--the two funniest movies of all time have nothing overtly homosexual about them.

But the idea that drag as the central force in a story line could be thought that funny by the American Film Institute--not the British, where drag has long been one of the fundamental entertainment forms--well, that is pretty mainstream. Especially for drag. Two other movies on the AFI list also involve drag as the major plot device: Mrs. …

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