To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything

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Once you get past the enigmatic mouthful of a title, this is one fabulously classy, flamboyant and spirited adventure. I thought the movie would be nothing but a cultural curiosity, but oh how I adored it! Only once at the very beginning of the movie do you see Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes (two super manly men, by the way) as themselves and ever after they are in full drag all the time. This actually makes it easier to embrace their chosen personas because they are so totally immersed in the roles and never once break character. Patrick Swayze actually made an attractive woman as Vida, a real Steel Magnolia, and John Leguizamo was hilarious as the mercurial and volatile Miss Chi Chi. Wesley Snipes owned his role as the oddly named Noxeema (who wants to be named after a skin cream?) and transcended such meaningless labels as beautiful in favor of being utterly original. Thank goodness none of the trio come anywhere near the territory of Hugo Weaving in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, who might just win the prize for the most unattractive gender swap. Swayze, Snipes and Leguizamo prove they are more than just pretty faces but actors to be reckoned with, each giving amazingly nuanced and charged performances.

The plot is relatively simple, with the three ladies making a cross country road trip to Hollywood, where they are slated to compete in a special sort of beauty pageant.  When their stylish but impractical convertible breaks down in a podunk mid-western town, they’re stranded for the weekend, much to the consternation and fascinated curiosity of the townsfolk.  Their influence on the little hamlet is remarkable, as they make friends, ferret out a variety of secrets and essentially turn the dismally parochial community upside down.  There’s an impressive list of extremely talented actors, such as the lamentably late Robin Williams, Stockard Channing, Blythe Danner, RuPaul, Julie Newmar herself and a very young Michael Vartan.

This movie is pure effervescent joy with no agenda; it doesn’t preach but rather subtly underscores the importance of manners and how to treat other people regardless of who they are. It deals with some serious issues but never dwells on the negative, choosing instead to focus on a love of life. It’s sweet, poignant, very funny and moving and I loved every wonderful second of it. I want Miss Vida’s hats, her graciousness and Noxeema’s strut. (I love wearing hats to church and never miss an opportunity to don one from my rather extensive collection.)  Utterly spectacular, an outrageous adventure that spoke to me on many levels and inspired me to always treat others with respect, kindness and empathy.  – BETHANY

For every conceivable detail about this film, visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114682/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Yes, that’s really Patrick Swayze as Miss Vida

Drag Queen Beauty Pageant

John Leguizamo as Miss Chi Chi and Robin Williams as John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt

“Well, pumpkins, looks like it’s the age-old dilemma. Style… or substance.”  – Vida Boheme

Welcome to Snydersville.  Resort capital of … nowhere.

Miss Chi Chi always has a toothy smile locked and loaded.

Doing their best to help in Snydersville.

                                            It’s important to always be a lady, even when you’re not one.

Photos courtesy of Amblin Entertainment and Universal Pictures

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