Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Drag Theory vs. Queer Theory


“What Ever Happened to Baby Jane” (1962)
“Baby Jane?” (2010)
"Queer Icon: The Cult of Bette Davis (2009)
"Your Name Is Not Eve Harrington" (2011)
"Staircase" (1969)

1. The major difference between Billy Cliff’s version of Drag Theory (DT) and David Halperin’s concept of Queer Theory (QT) is that Betty Davis rather than Joan Crawford is GOD.

2. Matthew Martin is the drag queen who plays GOD in “Baby Jane?” (2010). His/her version of Bette Davis is highly superior to J. Conrad Frank’s version of the Joan Crawford Blanche character.

3. For example, Mathew Martin performs another version of GOD by reenacting the wicked scene between EVE Harrington and George Sanders in a brief skit entitled “Your Name is Not Eve Harrington.”

4. Matthew Martin first became enthralled by Joseph Mankiewicz's archly crafted dialogue for ALL ABOUT EVE as a very young boy. By the time he reached high school, Matthew was well rehearsed and more than ready to shock classmates and faculty alike with a solo gender-busting performance of the movie's climactic scene, recreated here, pitting ruthless columnist Addison DeWitt against ambitious young actress Eve Harrington.

5. Playing GOD, acting GOD and being GOD, of course, can end up being a BITCH FIGHT between the two major BITCH QUEENS of Hollywood. Davis on finding out that Crawford would be her co-star said simply: “I’ll claw her eyes out.”

6. QT queen bee Miss Halperin piddles around with a minor chapter in her academic QT tome “How To Be Gay” on one of Joan Crawford’s maudlin dreary-deary movies “Mildred Pierce.”

7. But DT actor, singer, dancer, impersonator of the stars and performer extraordinaire Mathew Martin in his/her role as Baby Jane in “Baby Jane” (2010) does just what Bette Davis said she’d do with her competition in “What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?” (1962).

8. There can be only one GOD. As Mathew Martin archly says in the “All About Eve” skit with the bitchy drama critic George Saunders saying: “Your Name is Not Eve Harrington. In fact, honey, you could never be another Eve Harrington even if you tried!!!”

9. Bette Davis claws Joan Crawford’s eyes out—up the stairs, down the stairs, in the cellar with the rats, and especially while doing “A Letter to Daddy” with Victor Buono as Edwin Fagg in front of her rehearsal mirror downstairs in the living room.

10. Bette Davis eats up the scenery. Isn’t that what GOD does? She hogs up the attention of the moviegoer like a Grande Dame Guignol Goddess—leaving the sob-story, saccharine, put-upon tear-jerker scenes to whiny Blanche upstairs ringing her buzzer madly.

11. Bette Davis even does a perfect version of Joan Crawford herself on the phone—impersonating Blanche to the drugstore manager who’s reluctant and hesitant to grant Baby Jane anymore deliveries of booze.

12. The tensions involved between Drag Theory vs. Queer Theory in regard to Hollywood—involves a much more detailed delineating of the various filmic aspects of attempted camp impersonations of GOD than just the aforementioned Blanche-Baby Jane clawing-the-eyes-out conflicts or Miss Halperin’s rather stingy, paltry pronunciamentos on simply one gay classic “Mildred Pierce” (1945).

13. For one thing, honey, a gay film noir classic like “Mildred Pierce” may be good enough for minor QT film discussions in TV Guide—but really my dear. Fag noir has come and gone, along with that whole dreary genre of noir femme fatales and heartless anti-heroines. QT queens wise up!!! Try to be more Moderne, my dears.

14. For example, there’s a whole sub-genre of Grande Dame Male Guignol stars just waiting in the DT wings—like Rex Harrison and Richard Burton in that exquisite hairdresser flop of a movie entitled “Staircase” (1969). Yes, as the credits unroll and get smaller & smaller as the Staircase ascends the sky to GOD—there’s a drag queen angelic choir singing sad laments for the poor old queens left back down there suffering away in their hellish Earthbound Str8t Existence, what a tacky terrible Fate!!!

15. Drag, darlings, doesn’t have to be flamboyant, kitschy, cute, klutsy, bungling “Some Like It Hot” Burlesque—nor does it have to be exquisitely sophisticated Marlene Dietrich “Blue Angel” cabaret camp.

16. A perfect DT moment approaching GOD in a very minor day-to-day bourgeois way—would be the scene in “Staircase” where Miss Burton and Miss Harrison are in their beauty parlor shop. Doing what a married couple of male Hairdressers do their whole lives—nonchalantly giving each other a morning shave and little touch-up.

17. Such a DT moment approaching GOD in its quite ordinary, down-to-earth, ever so subtle, touchingly simple, Dainty Domesticity way—would be how nonchalantly Miss Burton and Miss Harrison flip the barber’s apron around each other, tying it delicately at the neck, doing the delicate shave-cream and razor-routine, a little clip here, a little clip there, nothing extremely flamboyant enough to qualify for Drag, my dears, other than treating each day as just another minor step in the Stairway to Heaven above?

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