Friday, August 28, 2009

Know your lgbt history - To Wong Foo and Priscilla

Not too many people are aware of the fact that the motion picture To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar was actually an Americanized version of the Australian movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Both are road movies.

To Wong Foo (1995) tells the story of three drag queens (Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo) who travel on a cross country trip to a competition. After a very ugly encounter with a police officer, their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. As they set up residence in the nearby town, their presence change the humdrum existence of the town's residents.

The Adventures of Priscilla (1994) was slightly different. It's the tale of two drag queens (Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce) and a transgender woman (played excellently by Terrence Stamp, who should have gotten an Oscar nomination) who is traveling across the Australian outback to a gig. As they make their way to the gig, we learn more about their lives and attain a degree of respect for them (Although Guy Pearce's character was extremely annoying. I won't even talk about the "ABBA turd.")

While To Wong Foo was a bit more comedic, both I found both movies to be enjoyable features in their own way. However, if I were to compare the two, I found To Wong Foo a bit shallow. It went for the easy laughs rather than to explore the characters' complexities.

Interesting fact to note - Priscillia is actually an Oscar winner. It won Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappel the 1995 Oscar for Best Costume Design.

Gardiner stole the Academy Awards show with her dress made solely of old American Express Gold Cards.

Anyway, enjoy the clips. First, To Wong Foo:

Now here is Priscilla:

Past Know Your LGBT History postings:

Know your lgbt history - Blazing Saddles

Know your lgbt history - Sanford and Son

Know your lgbt history - In Living Color

Know your lgbt history - Cleopatra Jones and her lesbian drug lords

Know your lgbt history - Norman, Is That You?

Know your lgbt history - The 'Exotic' Adrian Street

Know your lgbt history - The Choirboys

Know your lgbt history - Eddie Murphy

Know your lgbt history - The Killing of Sister George

Know your lgbt history - Hanna-Barbera cartoons pushes the 'gay agenda'

Know your lgbt history - Cruising

Know your lgbt history - Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones

Know your lgbt history - I Got Da Hook Up

Know your lgbt history - Fright Night

Know your lgbt history - Flowers of Evil

The Jeffersons and the transgender community

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Bill S said...

I remember that credit card dress!
I enjoyed "Priscilla" a bit more than "Too Wong Fu", in part because of Terence Stamp's rather touching performance. I also have the soundtrack album (it's like a compilation of guilty pleasures).
"Too Wong Foo" has some nice moments, but doesn't quite come off-Wesley Snipes seems miscast, and Patrick Swayze (who in drag looks strangely like Jo Ann Worley) seems too earnest. The movie had its heart in the right place, but its head was in the clouds.

BlackTsunami said...

Here is another interesting fact about To Wong Foo - for a while the buzz was that Leguizamo was going to get an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

He and Swayze got Golden Globe nominations. Wesley got left out.

Bill S said...

Didn't it seem like John Leguizamo was channeling Rosie Perez a little bit?
If I was gonna nominate somebody from it, I'd have picked Stockard Channing as the battered wife. I did cheer when Swayze came to her rescue-even in drag, he's an action hero.
Come to think of it, that would be a great idea for an action/adventure series. A crime-fighting drag queen!
Well, I'd watch it. :)

Anonymous said...

Actually, To Wong Foo is based on the story of world famous dj Larry Tee traveling from Georgia to New York with now famous drag queens RuPaul, Lady Bunny, and Lahoma. Obviously, the decision to make this movie was based on the success of Priscilla, but it is inspired by a very American tale.

Anonymous said...

To Wong also won and Oscar for best makeup

Anonymous said...

To Wong Foo and Priscilla were in production at roughly the same time. To Wong Foo was simply released later and the SUCCESS of the film was due to Priscilla, but it wasn't made because of Priscilla.
Kind of like Deep Impact vs Armageddon.