Archive | March, 2011

Everything’s Coming Up Drag Queens!

24 Mar

Today, Highkixx spotlights the Jewel Box Revue. The Jewel Box Revue was a long-running and very successful traveling “female impersonator” showcase, (see one of the earlier casts above). Danny Brown and Doc Benner, producers of the revue from its dawn in 1939 through to its final days in the 1960’s, came from the carnival circuit and vaudeville. The show was most often comprised of “25 Men & One Girl” – i.e. 25 Queens and 1 King.

During the spring, summer, and early part of fall, the Jewel Box Revue traveled across the U.S. and Canada usually playing a small town for one night and then spending a couple of weeks to longer in major cities. During the off season in the winter months, the Jewel Box performed out of a nightclub in Miami called the Jewel Box Lounge.

For a treasure trove of clippings and general history on “Danny and Doc’s Jewel Box Review”, check out Queer Music Heritage. Also, check out this 24-page program, complete with individual photos of the queens! Here’s also a later version, perhaps from the early 1960s, showing the increasing sassiness of the Revue!

Below is a must-watch — a highly lauded short documentary featuring Rick Colantino as drag queen, Dorian. Rick traveled with the Revue as Dorian during the late 1950s…

Also check out, Female Mimics Magazine from 1963, (slide show below), which showcases performances from multiple early 1960’s shows, inlcuding the Jewel Box Revue, as well as Madame Arthur’s Cabaret of Paris and Amsterdam, the San Francisco Beige Room, and the Beggars’ Ball…


Quick Update: DragRace 3/Ep9 “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style”

17 Mar

The only update you need on Ru Paul’s Drag Race from last week is this.

To sum up, Johnny Weir rocked as a guest judge and even locked lips with DQ Carmen Carrera while she was lip-sync (ing) for her life along with Yara Sofia.

(Private note:  Carmen, you’re fun to watch, but, like the head cheerleader, you can’t just kiss everyone to keep your popularity forever.  If nothing else, your run will end with the Drag Race Season or high school graduation, whichever comes first.  Please show us something new.  Thank you, MM)

In the end, Ru surprised everyone by keeping both Carmen AND Yara.

Here’s a sneak preview for next week’s episode.

Pakistani Tranny: Up All Night with Begum Nawazish Ali

17 Mar

This week, Highkixx goes to Pakistan to highlight a fabulous, and groundbreaking local talent.  Ali Saleem is best known for his alter-ego Begum Nawazish Ali.  He is a television host, actor, drag queen, (and, maybe, straight up tranny), living in Karachi.

Ali started out doing a good impression of then (and now late) prime minister Benazir Bhutto, and went on to get his own show as the host of Late Night with Begum Nawazish Ali.  Interestingly, Begum in Urdu means (as Ali explains in the video below) a gossipy, rich woman who depends on her husband’s money. (Not a bad gig.)

The Begum, as he is referred to, uses his show as a platform to openly address all kinds of issues traditionally taboo in Pakistani culture.  For instance, talking about “sex” in Pakistan is strictly off-limits, but apparently Ali has been spared a backlash only because he is personifying a woman on the air — (perhaps women are considered less of a threat?)

The Begum even criticizes the military backed Pakistani government every now and again.  There is rumor that former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf was opposed to the show’s airing, which may have led to the show going off the air for a short time.  However, the show was soon picked up by a nearby affiliate in India where it continued as just “Begum”.

Ali doesn’t appear to be on a crusade.  Instead, he seems to simply be living his life honestly and openly.  Highkixx loves this kind of candor and integrity, and hopes Ali is successful as the Begum for a long time to come!

Read more about Ali here.  And read a great interview here.  Finally, find Ali on Facebook here.

Check out this video, which shows Ali getting ready for the show, doing the show, and then some interviews, (including one with a stunned, and interesting, local politician) after the show.

* Disclaimer: I have done my best to represent the Begum and his place in Pakistani culture appropriately.  Please comment if you have any additional thoughts.

Quick Recap: Ru Paul’s Drag Race, “Ru Ha Ha”

15 Mar

In antici…pation of tonight’s Drag Race episode, has a fab overview of last week’s episode 8 of season 3, “Ru Ha Ha”.

In brief, the queens had to put together a short stand-up act. Some did great (SHANGELA), and some ended up sobbing (MANILA), or just being bitchy and defensive (DELTA).

Judges this week included comedienne Rita Rudner and MADTV’s Arden Myren. After a rousing lip-synch to Donna Summer’s “MacArthur Park”, Manila Shantay(ed) and Stay(ed) while Delta was asked to Sashay Away.

Tonight’s episode is all about the girl’s doing Public Service Announcements for the Troops See you there!

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s…a Drag Queen!

10 Mar

I was reading about Madame X today, a recently released Indonesian film that tells the story of a superpowered drag queen who fights to protect minorities by preventing the election of a militantly fascist leader. (SO, pretty standard hero stuff.) And I got to wondering…why is it that I haven’t heard about more drag superheroes?  I mean, what a fabulous hook!  SO, today’s post is dedicated to wig-wearing, villain-fighting, do-gooder drag queen superheroes.

Luckily, Shankie’s House of Guns & Spandex (#bestnamever) did a lot of the work for me, as did Victoria Wayne. Or at least they give good overviews of drag heroes in comics.  Check out this fab Jimmy Olsen (Of Superman All-Stars) comic. (Side note: Jimmy Olsen did a lot of cross-dressing!)

Some of you may remember the Sissy Squad on Adult Swim, in which “the citizens of Cosmodelphia fall victim to the rampages of supervillains and it is up to the courageous Sissy Squad, superhero drag queens Lemon Chiffon, Raspberry Flip, and Cupcake, to stop them with sass and style.” So great.

In that (non-cartoon and slightly more serious, but still fab) tradition, check out the hokey, low-budget, and – yes – hilarious trailer for Madame X…

I guess I just love the whole idea of drag queen superheroes. I already believe that drag queens play this integral role in society — constantly pushing the bounds of “acceptable” — and it just seems like a short leap to imagine them fighting villains and…flying.

Here’s to you drag queens — you’re all superheroes to Highkixx!

Drag Race Re-Cap: “Cakewalk” and “Bye-Bye Back Swamp”

7 Mar

Just a quick overview from last week’s Drag Race Episode 7, Face, Face, Face of Cakes, in which the contestants first took nude photos. The ladies then walked the catwalk in cake-inspired fashion: Alexis Mateo — Cheesecake; Carmen Carrera — Princess cake; Delta Work — Angel cake; Manila Luzon — Carrot cake; Raja — Chocolate lava cake; Shangela — Pineapple Upside-Down cake; Stacy Layne Matthews — Red Velvet cake; Yara Sofia — Strawberry Shortcake.

Sadly, we waved good-bye to Stacy Layne Matthews, but Raja had another great win. Guest judges, Eliza Dushku and Sara Rue were fab. Check out some great overviews at tvlatest and watch Episode 8, Ru Ha Ha, tonight. Go here for a preview!

A Little Dessert with that Drag? Highkixx Spotlights Harvard’s Hasty Pudding Society

3 Mar

This week, is obsessed with early adopters with NO SHAME. As RuPaul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how the HELL you gonna love someone else!” In this vein, we’re highlighting The Hasty Pudding Society at Harvard — a group of smart youngsters hell-bent on having a good time and not afraid to televise it!

The Hasty Pudding Society was founded in 1795, when twenty-one Harvard students crowded into a dorm room and mandated that “the members in alphabetical order shall provide a pot of hasty pudding for every meeting.”  In 1844, the Society performed its first production, Bomabastes Furioso: A Burlesque Tragic Opera, with men playing both the male and female roles. Women are involved in all other aspects of the show, from technical staff, to the band, to authoring and producing the show.

In addition, the Hasty Pudding Society gets attention for its annual awards given for Woman of the Year since 1951, and the Man of the Year since 1967. Recent winners include James Franco, Ben Stiller, Julianne Moore, Anne Hathaway, and Renee Zellweger…

This year’s 163rd production, Kashmir If You Can, runs through March 2011. Get a glimpse of another recent production, Commie Dearest, here…

Congratulations, Hasty Pudding Theatricals…Here’s to having fun and looking FABULOUS doing it!

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