Four Drag Queens, a forbidden love affair, a whole lot of show-stopping headdresses, and three pint-sized lady filmmakers who can match their sky-high Dragstars crotch-slap for crotch-slap. A Dragged Out Affair, the musical short set in Toronto’s steamy Church St. drag scene, is taking over the Reel Asian Film Festival on Thursday, November 11th, and it’s one catchy journey into the heart of (Toronto) fabulous.
Written, produced and directed by young local filmmakers Sonia Hong, Olga Barsky, and Claire Lowery, the film is a visual spectacle starring four of Toronto’s most beloved drag performers: Heaven Lee Hytes, Donnarama, Miss Conception, and Daytona Bitch. Crafted around the concept that two queens can never fall in love, it’s a trash-talking, face-slapping, fire-starting spectacular about a virginal young queen who is seduced by the performer across the street. The costumes, which look something like a narrative incarnation of our dream dress-up cupboard, were created by Donnarama, aka Vince Pincente (“I don’t need money to put on a good show,” he says. “I need a glue gun.”) and the film was choreographed by Daytona Bitch, also known as Dustin Redshaw. It was a labour of love for all involved, and it paid off big time.
“We had a crew of awesome girls in cut off jeans and Doc Martens just running around with drills,” says Hong of the crew, who filmed in four days at St. Vladimir’s on Spadina. Initially, they were a little worried about half-dressed Drag Queens running around a religious organization. “We asked them about the Drag Queens,” says Barsky. “But I don’t think they knew what they were. But they were very nice to us.”
The filming was not without its own special considerations, including, of course, tucking. “After a whole day of shooting, we’d be like ‘get this shot, ’cause it’s comin’ out!” says Heaven Lee. The girls battled for funding, always staying true to their vision for the film. The support came through from the Ontario Arts Council and Reel Asian Film Fest, and Toronto got its very own drag musical.
“When I think of drag on film, I think of three references,” Pincente says. “Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Wong Foo, and Silence of the Lambs. It’s good to throw in a little nugget of gold.”
A Dragged Out Affair screens with 8 other Canadian shorts as part of ‘On The Flip Side’ at Reel Asian Film Fest on November 11th, 6:30 pm at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave. Pick up your tickets now, they’re goin’ fast!