Living in Southern California, chances are you’ve run across the drag community at some point. It is thriving, especially in Los Angeles, and is full of amazing personalities and wonderful stories. As a personal aside, I absolutely love it. I never miss an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and often visit drag shows. So, when I heard that one of the thesis films this year revolved around drag queens, of course I sought out more information it!
That film is When Wigs Fly, from director Remy Cashman (BFA/Film Production ’17) and producers Coral Alderfer (BFA/Creative Producing ’17) and Kali Moore (BFA/Creative Producing ’17). The film follows the story of Miss Anthropy, a beautiful, but aging, drag queen who is forced to face her insecurities in the face of an upcoming runway competition, and accept her inevitable fall from drag stardom.
“Although the film is centered on drag queens, it deals with themes that are universal, including confronting one’s worst fears and accepting the inevitable truth–and the truth ain’t always pretty,” said Cashman.
Cashman started developing the story last year in Anne Beatts’ Comedic Screenwriting class. Though the film started as something experimental, it turned into a real idea during her Thesis Development class, and after a few rewriters, got it approved.
“I’ve always been attracted to characters that struggle to find acceptance both by others and by themselves, and I have found myself able to identify with the film’s characters in different ways,” said Cashman.
Since the film centers around drag queens, there is a lot of subject matter that some folks may not have ever been exposed to…and some that they may even find uncomfortable. But bringing these things to light will help people get a better understanding of the community overall.
“I hope it gives more exposure to queens because it’s not a super well-talked about community (at least within Chapman) and I want to have a thesis that I feel is unique,” said Moore.
One of the things they hope people take away from the film is that drag queens are more than just the campy exterior that you’ll find on TV or in the media. The real people, and their real stories, is something that not many people get to hear.
“I’d like to shed light on a way of life that most people are frankly uncomfortable with. I think exposure is the only thing holding people back from experiencing life in someone else’s shoes,” Alderfer said.
The subject matter in general, though, is something that is close to these girl’s hearts.
“Believe it or not, my grandma got me into drag at a pretty young age with films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Birdcage,” said Cashman. “Drag queens showed me that it’s okay to embrace who I am, and be loud and proud about it. I deal with social anxiety on a regular basis, but there’s something about men who wear wigs and heels and lip-synch to female pop stars that gives me a confidence boost.”
“Full disclosure, I only went to my first drag show this January and really I knew almost nothing about them before I signed onto this project,” said Moore. “I love how it allows people to explore a unique side of themselves without feeling judged. It’s so awesome to be in an environment that’s so accepting and without judgment.”
Cashman went on to tell us that there really is an art to it all: “I guess my favorite thing about drag is that it doesn’t have to be strictly dressing as the opposite gender, it’s really just an exaggerated persona that’s unique to you and isn’t necessarily able to be shown to the world on a regular basis.”
The film is set to roll before cameras in the middle of March, but the team is currently raising money to help off-set some of their cost. You can help them out a few different ways.
First, they are raising money on Pinkstart, which you can contribute to here. https://www.pinkstart.me/en/whenwigsfly
Second, they are holding a fundraiser at Blaze Pizza in the Orange Circle on Thursday, February 2, from 6PM to 9PM, where 20% of the proceeds will go toward the film. However, you need to show them the below flier in order to help them out.
In all, as a fan of drag herstory, I am incredibly excited to follow this film’s production and see how it all plays out. As if that wasn’t enough, Cashman’s words about her grandmother are enough to make even the shadiest of queen’s hearts melt.
“I’m dedicating the finished film to my grandma, who passed away earlier last year–if it weren’t for her, drag wouldn’t be so near and dear to my heart.”