POSTED February 18 2013

Your nominations for the Genderbender Hall of Fame?

Julie Andrews as Victor in Victor/Victoria

Julie Andrews as Victor in Victor/Victoria

“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?



  1. Quora says:

    Your nominations for the Genderbender Hall of Fame? See link for some suggestions:

  2. Gary Kramer says:

    How could you forget the fabolous turn by Chiwetel Ejiofor in KINKY BOOTS?!

  3. Nancy C says:

    THE CRYING GAME blew my mind.

  4. Nancy C says:

    Oh, and if we can expand the boundaries to include theater/television, there’s always Mary Martin’s PETER PAN; GAME OF THRONES’ character Arya Stark impersonating a boy to stay alive.

  5. Miz Val says:

    Without a doubt Tim Curry in Rocky Horror Picture Show .I wish I look that good in in fishnets , bustier,high heels and could sing and move like that without falling on my face ! And I’m a woman! Runner up would be Chiwetel Ejiofor in Kinky Boots on the cat walk in Milan.That scene has your eyes all over the places as he belts out, “These Boots Are Made For Walking.”

  6. adri says:

    Tilda Swinton in Orlando, of course! Sally Potter’s film of Virginia Woolf’s novel, where Swinton plays the lead, who is first one gender, then the other.

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