Friday, October 7, 2011
THE SONS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS, directed, edited, written and produced by Tim Wolff, it's hard not to wonder at the rather shockingly old-fashioned attitudes, interests, and behavior of the gay denizens of New Orleans and its environs, as they reminisce and ready themselves for a relatively recent Mardi Gras ball.
Fernando Rios, murdered by a trio of gay bashers in 1959 -- who got off scot-free. (Those were the days! When something similar happened here in Jackson Heights in the 1990s, prison for at least one of the killers was in the cards.) In the early period of these state-chartered, public "drag balls" (begun a decade before the Stonewall uprising), the application of make-up for royalty (the king and queen, I mean) was done by a fellow who ran the local funeral parlor. It wasn't the best make-up job, one fellow recalls, perhaps because the guy doing it wasn't used to having live people -- who actually moved now and then -- as his subjects.
Williams in the film, though there is a mention toward the conclusion of Blanche DuBois. Other than a smattering of info about the police raids on gays, the coming of AIDS and its destruction, and a bit about Hurricane Katrina's effect on the balls, almost all of the talk and anecdotes center around the costumes (indeed, some of these are original and amazing. My personal favorite: The New York Cheese Cake!) and make-up -- though one fellow does reminisce about New Orleans D.A. and politician Harry Connick, who he explains was the first to actively court the gay vote (and actually made good on his promises to the gay community).
First Run Features, opens today, October 7, in New York City at the Quad Cinema and next Friday, October 14, in Los Angeles at Laemmle's Sunset 5.