Friday, April 29, 2016

Drag In The Movies

Lana O'Day, that name probably doesn't ring a bell to anyone reading this blog, but to me it represents a huge part of my life. Lana O'Day is my drag persona. For the last 3.5 years I have been fortunate to build a character based on all of my favorite things from past and present. Not only that, but I have been fortunate enough to have that persona become respected in the LGBT community of New Orleans... and beyond. It is definitely not something I ever thought I would do, but has become the perfect outlet for my creativity and my need to entertain.

In November of 2015, I was gearing up to host a talent contest that was to be apart of the Faux Real Festival at Bar Redux in New Orleans. I was contacted by David Lee Simmons of Pop Smart Nola about writing a little entry for his website about my top 5 drag moments in the movies. How could I pass that up? In between clients at work, I wrote out the first ideas that came to my mind. It was a fun experience and I decided to share what I wrote here for y'all to read. You can find the original post on David's website here.

Drag In The Movies

1. Some Like It Hot

If you haven't seen this film, you need to have your head checked! You've got Tony Curtis & Jack Lemmon cross dressing in an all girls band to hide out from the mob and you've got Marilyn Monroe! What else could you want or need?!

The scene that has always stuck out in my head is the train scene where we are first introduced to Daphne and Josephine (Tony and Jack). They are trying to walk in heels and look feminine, but they just can't get it. And than it cuts to the voluptuous blonde bombshells herself... Marilyn Monroe who struts passed the fellas and shows them how it's done. Daphne's quote puts it all into perspective... "Will you look at that! Look how she moves! It's like Jell-O on springs. Must have some sort of built-in motor or something. I tell you, it's a whole different sex!"

2. Tu Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar

This one is pretty obvious. A film about drag queens in the 90's was taboo. Throw in top film stars Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes and you've got a recipe for fun.

The opening scene to this film is one of my favorites of all the films I've ever seen. It starts with Salt N Peppa asking "where is the body?", then the beats drops and it cuts to Vita and Noxema getting ready for a night on the town. There's eyelashes, huge powder puffs, girdles, stockings, wigs, gowns... oh my! I was hooked from the first time I saw this... in elementary school! 

And of course Noxema schooled us on what exactly a drag queen is... "When a straight man puts on a dress and gets his sexual kicks, he is a transvestite. When a man is a woman trapped in a man's body and has a little operation he is a Transsexual. When a gay man has way too much fashion sense for one gender he is a drag queen. And when a tired little Latin boy puts on a dress, he is simply a boy in a dress!"

3. The Little Mermaid

Yes, even Disney has its fair share of connections with the cross dressing community. After all, the best villain and my favorite sea witch Ursula was modeled after the one and only... Divine! From her high arched eyebrows to her large red lips, Ursula just screams QUEEN! She is vicious and knows what she wants! She will step on anyone who gets in the way... even the skinny pretty girl. Sounds like a queen to me! "And don't underestimate the importance of body language!"

4. Victor Victoria

Words can not express how much I love this film! You've got Mary Poppins... yes Mary Poppins (Julie Andrews) playing a woman who can't get a job as an entertainer dressing as a man who entertains as a cross dresser. Mind blown right? It's like cross dressing inception! The story line deals with men questioning their sexuality, equal rights for women, and a whole lot of amazing musical numbers. Everyone has seen the Le Jazz Hot scene right? No? Than why are you reading this? It's so good even Glee had to remake it... that means you've made it!

5. Jayne Mansfield

Ok, so technically, Jayne Mansfield isn’t a movie, but she is the definition of camp, glamour and drag. To put it simply, Jayne Mansfield was Vera Jayne Palmer’s drag persona. Jayne learned early on what she needed to do to be successful and get attention. Jayne Mansfield was over the top, gaudy, and a caricature of a glamorous woman. She wore revealing gown, big hair, big lashes, and even had a pink house. Like the entire house was pink and furry. If that isn’t a drag queen’s doing I don’t know what is. Jayne talents shine best in her two most popular films: ‘The Girl Can’t Help It’ and ‘Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?’ Many stars in Old Hollywood created personas that they would play on screen and in public. Jayne Mansfield’s persona just happened to be that of a drag queen.

I hope you guys enjoyed reading this... I had a lot of fun putting it together last year.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Top 10 Classic Hollywood Gowns

When I watch a film from this period, the costumes get as much attention from me as the actors do. In many films, the costume design is the much needed icing on the cake to give these films that little something extra. It just goes to show you that the designers of that period were much more important than they may have known. Not only did they lend their hand in the productions of the films, they also had a lasting touch on the world of fashion. Many of their designs can be seen influencing fashions that are hip today. Below are my top 10 gowns of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Ok let's be honest, who could narrow it down to 10, so here are 10 of my favorites. It is probably no surprise how many times Edith Head pops on on the list...

Grace Kelly | To Catch A Thief (1955)
Blue Gown by Edith Head

Marilyn Monroe | Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Orange Gown by Travilla

Rita Hayworth | You Were Never Lovelier (1942)
White Lace Gown by Irene

Bette Davis | All About Eve (1950)
Brown Gown by Edith Head

Joan Crawford | Letty Lynton (1932)
Black & White Gown by Adrian

Audrey Hepburn | Funny Face (1957)
Wedding Gown by Edith Head

Jean Harlow | Dinner At Eight (1933)
Biased Cut Silk Gown by Adrian

Jayne Mansfield | The Girl Cant Help It (1956)
White Silk Gown by Charles Le Maire

Rita Hayworth | Gilda (1946)
Black Silk Gown by Jean Louis

Jane Russell & Marilyn Monroe | Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
Red Sequined Gowns by Travilla

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