I spent the weekend watching documentaries, and a couple of fiction films I’ll review in another post. It started with several episodes of TLC’s new series, “Disappeared”, which is quite interesting. Then Claude and I saw where Sundance on Demand had 2 documentaries: Pageant (available now on Sundance on Demand) was sheer entertainment. Highlighting the Miss Gay America pageant (at the time in its 34th year…34th!), it follows about 5 gay men as they prepare for the pageant, including one from Raleigh, NC. This hometown man (at 42 years old) did an impression of Reba McEntire that left me speechless and had hair standing up on my arms. He was so good that Reba McEntire hired him to play Reba in Reba’s own show. I’ve never seen anything like it. The men had to interview as men, in suits, which all of them are, simply gay men who can impersonate women, but don’t live their lives as women or want to be women. The absence of the typical gay-subject matter movie catfighting was refreshing, as was the profile of these men, their real lives, and what drives them to be interested in the artistry that is involved in female impersonation. Pageant was about the artistry – not the gayness or sexual relationships or transvestite or transgender issues. It was really incredible entertainment, and showcased how these men put more work into their costuming, (none can have hormone shots or implants of any kind), the quality of their talent performances, (although most lip-sync) and their personalities and intelligence, much of which is absent from the actual Miss America pageant. Pageant shows the artistic abilities of these people, and this really is art – body art and performance art. I was fascinated and completely entertained. I also feel this movie is viewable by most any person 12 and up, so I’d probably rate it a PG-13. There is minor mention of sex and sexual relationships in the movie, and the introduction of the families and friends of these contestants and the love and support they show is very family- and love-affirming.
Part 2 will be about Prodigal Sons.