Thespian Thursday – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

thespian thursday

By The Nerdling

Made in the early 90’s, this off-beat Australian comedy features Agent Smith and the guy with no short-term memory from Memento as drag queens.  Also, General Zod as a transvestite.  And they are portrayed as more than just sexed up caricatures of actual human beings.  If that didn’t sell you on this beautiful and touching movie, I don’t know what will.

Anthony “Tick” Belrose (Hugo Weaving), a drag performer known as Mitzi, decides he needs a change of pace from his life in Sidney after he receives a phone call from his estranged wife.  She needs a new entertainment act at the resort she manages in Alice Springs, a town in the remote area of central Australia.  Tick persuades his friends Bernadette (Terence Stamp), a recently widowed transvestite, and Adam (Guy Pearce), a fellow performer known as Felicia, to join him.  The three board a bus they christen Priscilla and make the several days long drive thru the outback.

As it is with any great road trip movie, it is never about the destination.  Though there are a few revelations when once they reach Alice Springs.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Image Courtesy of Poly Gram Filmed Entertainment

As a 13-year-old obsessed with MTV (like all kids in the 80’s and 90’s), I found myself curious about Priscilla. I had seen the movie re-cut of “Finally” by Ce Ce Peniston music video many times and it looked so strange (in a good way), I wanted to see it.  But trapped in suburbia meant this film was not available in a theater where I could have gotten a ticket.

Flash-forward, while spending time with my man, I noticed he had a DVD copy in his collection.  I told him about wanting to see it all those years before and he queued it up for me.

At first, it was shocking to realize Weaving, Pearce, and Stamp were the stars (the former two were not well known in the early 90’s and I didn’t recognize latter in the music video).  But then you don’t care.  You are too wrapped up in these characters.

Mitzi, Felicia, and Bernadette experience the pain of homophobic abuse and the joys of unexpected acceptance together and you are right there with them laughing and crying all the way.  Priscilla has plenty of “Yas, Queen” moments so be ready to bend the knee.

For those who have not already seen Priscilla, the trailer gives away a major plot point and does not do the film justice.  You have been warned.  Happy watching!

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