Your nominations for the Genderbender Hall of Fame?
“What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine,” observed Susan Sontag, who was both a little butch and a lot beautiful.
I remembered this quote today in part because I noticed that Victor/Victoria, starring Julie Andrews as the unemployed performer who finds a work as a male drag queen, was on TCM tonight. And in part because the image it conjured was watching Taking Woodstock, when in walked Vilma, a musclebound blonde in a candy-pink dress, who resembled Mamie Van Doren with stubble. S/he spoke in a familiar voice, like honey mixed with molten asphalt. Holy cow! Liev Schreiber in drag?!? (In his first screen performance, Mixed Nuts, he was also a cross-dresser.) In Taking Woodstock, I particularly liked the contrast of pink frock and Deep Purple voice.
I’d nominate him for cinema’s genderbender Hall of Fame. Already enshrined? Andrews’ Victor/Victoria, Greta Garbo’s Queen Christina, Katharine Hepburn’s Sylvia Scarlett, Doris Day’s Calamity Jane, Gwyneth Paltrow’s turn in Shakespeare in Love and Hilary Swank’s Brandon Teena in Boys Don’t Cry. (I also would pull for Joyce Hyser in Just One of the Guys and Amanda Bynes in She’s the Man, teen movies that dance over the slippery issues of heterosexual boys suddenly attracted to boys, not knowing that the object of their affection is a girl in jeans.) Also enshrined are Cary Grant in I Was a Male War Bride, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot, Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie, Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire, Patrick Swayze, John Leguizamo and Wesley Snipes in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, and Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Nathan Lane in The Birdcage.
What I like most about these films is the empathy engendered by watching a woman walking a mile in another man’s loafers or a man walking a mile in another women’s heels. It’s contagious.
Your nominations for the Genderbender Hall of Fame? Why?