Ladies Please! by Andrew Saw
 a film documentary by Andrew Saw
 1995 | 48 mins | Australia
 ›› Ladies Please!
 a dragtastic insight into the real Priscillas, Queens of the Desert
 available on DVD as part of the Rebel Studio catalogue
 featuring: Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Ruby Wax
starring: Mark Fitzhugh aka Strykermeyer, Ritchie Finger aka Cindy Pastel, Stuart Garske aka Lady Bump with Adam Cahill, Kerrin Cahill, Andrew Perrott, Tibor Oszoly
You may well wonder what's a documentary about ladies doing on a gay film review website? Well suffice to say that these three ladies are far from ordinary, given they're the original drag queens who inspired Stephan Elliott to write and direct the worldwide hit that was THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT. Only this is not your standard behind-the-scenes piece. For whilst footage of these ladies mixing alongside Guy Pearce, Terence Stamp and Hugo Weaving at the Cannes Film Festival screening of PRISCILLA is to be found, this revealing work makes a determined effort to try to get under their skin and if anything, the very makeup of a drag queen.

To that end, Ritchie Finger aka Cindy Pastel, Mark Fitzhugh aka Strykermeyer and Stuart Garske aka Lady Bump hold one-to-one sessions with the camera, discussing the pros and cons of their day, or rather night job. And whilst the result comes across as more scripted than candid, the raw reality of their trade still hits home and inparticular an ingrained fear of competition. That it takes a special person to offer support to those new on the drag circuit who could eventually erode your income, goes without saying. But then these are special people. As in the case of Ritchie whose relationship with his son Adam formed the father and son core of PRISCILLA and who here admits that "it's not that easy swapping roles from drag to dad."

As to their thoughts on the film itself? Well one moment they were playing small town venues and the next they found themselves the darlings of the international press. And whilst they acknowledge that their cinematic counterparts did "a very good job," in true drag queen style the punchline "I think I could have done better" promptly follows. Only such words fade into the background when in referring to the nature of the drag scene, Ritchie adds: "drag is a two-faced world. But that's what it is; it's about having two faces." For here we get to see both the professional and personal lives of three men who week in, week out, give the world some much needed glitz 'n' glam. Yet their mascara is smudged with tears over the loss of so many close friends to AIDS and a life in which sexual prejudice has all too often raised its offensive head.

Not that you'll see that side of their lives when the spotlight falls upon them. For in the end it's all about putting on a show and here we see these ladies doing just that. From the dramatic 'Sharkey's Night' production to the sheer camp of the 'A Day at the Beach' routine, these performers delight in their work, inparticular when they're surrounded by a set of fit young men stripped to their waist. Then again, who wouldn't?

Made in 1995, you cannot help but wonder if all three are still in drag and if so, how their act has evolved. As it stands however, this is a rare look at the lives of a trio of drag queens who inspired a film that in itself made Hollywood put a cock in a frock TO WONG FOO style. Not that these ladies had anything to worry about there. In short, for those who can't get enough of PRISCILLA or for those who are simply curious about the sexual spectrum of life, then this insightful ABC production makes for dragtastic viewing!
Copyright 2008 David Hall - www.gaycelluloid.com.
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