New York based Danish filmmaker Christopher Birk’s affectionate but somewhat meandering documentary takes a look at the lives of a coterie of assorted New York drag queens that focuses mainly on their particular journeys to get them performing in the not-always-bright-lights in backstreet bars and clubs. As they share the stories of their struggles (and very few had an easy time), what shines through all the tales of financial woes and even homelessness is their sheer determination to follow their dream. What they seem to share in common is that when they are in full drag with layers of make up piled on then for that very moment, nothing else matters and they can temporarily put aside all their problems.
With such a litany of tough tales, there is a point in Birk’s movie when you question some of the drag queen’s motives for continuing as most of them admit to the fact that they know that they all have a very slim chance of Drag Queen nirvana : i.e. appear on RuPaul’s Drag Race Show. Actually amongst all the curious archival footage that Birk includes in the film, there is a scene of a young unknown RuPaul confessing that he had let men touch him in return for money.
There are some fascinating parts of the film, particularly seeing footage of Doris Fish a drag queen running rings around a patronizing Daytime TV chat show host in the 1980’s , and seeing some the old great performers such as the Dame Edna Everage in her prime and the late Charles Pierce. However as well intended as it is, Birk’s amusing mish-mash of a film attempts to cover far too many different aspects of the nature of drag and and the world of drag performers, that it ends up not being as nearly as good as it could/should have been.