For his feature film directorial debut Jonothon Mitchell has queered up everyone’s favorite childhood fairy story : Cinderella. In Mitchell’s take the heroine is a hero, albeit a ‘fairy’ one, who lives in the Deep South with his wicked step daddy and his two thuggish step-brothers who literally want to beat the life out of him.
Teenage Rodney (Hart Morse) is openly gay and refuses to climb back in the closet even though everyone in this small town attempts to make his life hellish. His best, and only friend, Monique (Marianne Johnson)is studying to be beautician so meanwhile she practices her skills on Rodney. His dream is not to meet his Prince Charming (yet) but to enter and win a Teen Drag Pageant.
There is just the small problem of somehow getting tio Atlanta, and also finding something to wear. The latter is solved by rifling through the trucks holding his late Momma’s clothes, and she was a Pageant Queen in her day.
He tricks his Step-Daddy into allowing him to go to Atlanta on an alleged school trip, but Boone (Tyler Scott) his older step brother who has at least one brain cell, cottons on to the real reason for the trip. This results in yet another beating for Rodney which should have finished him off completely if he had not escaped in the nick of time .
Bloodied and bruised Rodney stops off as all all-night diner to wash himself down, and whilst he is doing that, his bike gets stolen. With his face all cut up. penniless and rideless , stuck in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere, Rodney is in total despair. Cue the Fairy Godmother in the shape of Miss Jackie (Catherine Dyer) the diner waitress, and she gives Rodney hope, and if you remember how Cinderella turned out, then you’ll know he is are set for some sort of happy ending.
This campy sweet dramedy is an entertaining wee film that most of us will so enjoy. For other young LGBTQ adults who have had, or are having, a torturous home life simply because of their sexuality or gender identity, this story is probably too close to home to bring them any joy. Amongst all the cute merriment Pageant Material serves as a sharp reminder that still in some parts of the US even in this day and age, being gay can be a death sentence for some