Shout Factory has recently released four titles in recognition of Pride Month, the first one being Beeban Kedron’s cult classic, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.
To Wong Foo was released on the heels of the success of Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in 1995. Drag queens had become somewhat popular in the mainstream, due to the likes of RuPaul, and so Universal and Amblin Entertainment decided that it was time to dress up two of the biggest action stars of the time, as well as an up and coming comedian – Swayze, Snipes, and Leguizamo – and tell a hilarious and touching tale of acceptance.
When Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes’ characters – Vida and Noxeema – win a drag competition, they head out to Hollywood, California with feisty amateur “drag princess”, Chi-Chi, in a beat up used car.
When the car inevitably breaks down in the middle of a small blue collar South Carolina town, the girls have to adapt to their newfound surroundings – and some of the redneck locals within it – while they wait impatiently for their car to get fixed. In the meantime, they befriend some of the genteel local ladies, including an abused housewife, played by Stockard Channing.
Before long, the queens turn the town upside down with their special brand of wit, bitchiness, and creativity. Bigots are scolded in the best ways possible, hope and grace are given to the naive and well-meaning locals, and just about everyone comes away with a fresh perspective on human kindness.
It’s a lovely tale, brilliantly told, and I have always preferred it over Priscilla. The performances from the three leads are incredible and perfectly realized, and kudos must also go out to the supporting players. They’re all up to the task, and you can tell that they had the time of their life while making it.
This is a landmark film for the LGBTQ community, one that still sends a powerful message, and one that should be revisited this month in particular.
To Wong Foo is available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory.