When any normal city premieres a film by local filmmakers and stars, most locals attend just to say, “Oh hey, look! I know that place!” Drag Becomes Him is *not* that film.
Jinkx Monsoon is one of our favorite local celebrities, and it showed last night at the world premiere of Alex Berry’s Drag Becomes Him. To a sold out crowd at Cinerama, Mama Tits (our other favorite local celebrity: “Not today, Satan!”) hosted what would be the most sensitive, honest, and natural portrayal of drag life on screen.
The film title parodies, as you correctly guessed, the film Death Becomes Her, which Jinkx admits to having a huge influence on her character. Throughout the images, we learn that Jerick was part of the “single moms” generation, when TV inundated us (rightly so) with strong female mothers who got through their middle class lives with laughter. His “nana” would educate him on what polite women would do, and he spent time striking the balance between raunchy TV moms and dignified ladies. At the age of 15, he started performing at an all-ages LGBT club, and thus Jinkx was born to the stage.
With interviews from Jerick’s mother, aunt, father, and friends from Cornish, we are treated to a nearly 360° perspective on a young, slightly introverted, gay nerd who gets responsibility forced on him as a teen while trying his hardest to pursue his acting career. Eventually he makes a name in the Seattle drag scene, from Bacon Strip to LeFaux, and tries out for RuPaul’s Drag Race while starring in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. We get to see our dear Mama Tits, Ben DelaCreme, Waxie Moon, and other favorite queens along the way. Not to mention some local hotspots like The Eagle and Pony.
Through it all, we see a gay nerd coming into his own.
***SPOILER ALERT*** And might we say that Jerick’s dad is probably one of the best out there? Jinkx mentioned that it took the making of this film in order for the father to say that he was proud of his son, drag and all, but I bet you can count on one hand in a given population of gay men how many dads would have said the same thing. We all know that Kurt from Glee is usually more an exception than a reality in most of ‘Murica.
Music keeps the film flowing well, and adds to the humor as well as gravity of each scene. Alex Berry’s direction and cinematography creates images that are arresting and sensitive. As Jinkx said, Berry “takes really normal things and zooms in, and makes it poignant somehow.”
Prior to the film, the audience got to feast their eyes on a glamorous, perfectly cinched Monsoon in fire engine red performing a couple of songs with her sultry, jazzy voice reminiscent of ’40s lounge acts. Although she stated she was nervous, she still entertained us with her charm, wit, and impeccable humor. It’s not uncommon for slightly introverted nerds to use humor as a coping mechanism, but Jinkx is effortless. After the movie, a short Q&A session ensued with Berry, Jinkx, and our esteemed editor of this online rag, Michael Strangeways (and, it should be note, a producer on this film).
I asked, “So you’re basically the perfect example of what’s come out of Seattle and what could be a star. What would you tell aspiring introverts/nerds/queers to help them come out of their shells and become who they’re supposed to be?”
Jinkx: “I think there’s a lot of power in wearing a costume. …And you see that with nerds and introverted people. You know, it’s not just drag, there’s cosplay, there’s also…I mean, what I love about drag becoming mainstream like this and what I love about RuPaul’s Drag Race is that it’s telling people it’s cool to wear wigs. And it’s cool to get dressed up, and it’s cool to do whatever it takes to make yourself feel like the fierce beast that lives inside you. I’m fully sure that it’s ok to change your appearance if that’s what you want to do to project something from inside of yourself. And I think drag is a perfect way to do it…in little bursts, and then go back to your real life.”
Berry: “Are you able to take that fierceness back into Jerick’s life?”
Jinkx: “Oh absolutely! I mean I feel like I deserve a lot more respect in my life. …That’s kind of weird to say, but we deserve to be respected.”
Here we finally have a film ACTUALLY shot in Seattle, that can transcend Seattle. Not just because it’s Jinkx Monsoon, winner of RPDR, but because it’s the story of all of us. It is ours, for better or worse. Let’s look forward to seeing this screened nationwide.