10 Best Drag Characters in Cinema
In light of our recent LGTBQ film competition Up & Left, and that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is celebrating its 39th anniversary this Fall, we thought we would take a minute to doff our caps to some of the best drag in cinema. Hold onto your garters, here we go!
1. Tim Curry in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Legs, lips, and pearls large enough to choke your grandma, Tim Curry’s Dr. Frank N Furter is the quintessential Sweet Transvestite. We’d take in a Steve Reeves movie with him anytime. Favorite quote: “It’s not easy having a good time. Even smiling makes my face ache.”
2. Terrance Stamp in Pricilla Queen of The Desert
Known for playing more menacing roles such as as General Zod in the Superman series, Terrence Stamp elegantly portrays an aging transsexual plagued with ennui, named Bernadette. Favorite quote: “Why don’t you just light your tampon, and blow your box apart? Because it’s the only bang you’re ever gonna get, sweetheart!”
3. Divine in….well, every single movie she’s ever been in.
Famously known as John Waters leading lady, Divine (Harris Glenn Milstead), the Judy Dench of drag queens, was a force to be reckoned with. Big in size and personality, Divine did it all and was willing to go to the extremes for her craft. The end of Pink Flamingos for example…need we say more? There is plenty to say about Divine, but not enough hours in the day. Favorite quote: “It’s the times. They are a-changin’. Something’s blowing in the wind. Fetch me my diet pills, would you Hon?”
4. John Cameron Mitchell in Hedwig and The Angry Inch
Blond wigs, glitter, rock and roll by a salad bar, and a botched sex change. That’s just the tip *wink wink*…. of the ice burg. The saga of Hedwig goes much deeper into a tale of love, heartache, punk rock, the quest to claim what is rightfully yours and the triumph of overwhelming odds. John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig is a heroine to anyone who has felt the sting of being marginalized, misunderstood, and displaced. Favorite quote: “I got kicked out of university after delivering a brilliant lecture on the aggressive influence of German philosophy on rock and roll entitled ‘You, Kant, Always Get What You Want.’”
5. Miriam Shor in Hedwig and The Angry Inch
Film, stage, and television actress and singer Miriam Shor donned a beard, bandana, and biker jacket to play Yithzak, Hedwig’s band mate and husband. Shors performance is rock solid though the gender of Yitzhak is fluid, as in the end she dons a blonde wig and revels in expressing herself as a woman. Favorite Quote: “F*uck you! I’m going to Guam!”
6. Whestly Snipes in To Wong Fu Thanks For Everything, Julie Numar. This bad ass actor who played Blade in all the Blade flicks, and Simon Phoenix in Demolition Man also totally killed it as Noxeema Jackson in To Wong Fu Thanks For Everything, Julie Numar. You may argue with us, but this has to be one of Snipes brightest cinematic roles. Even Patrick Swayze who also starred in the film as Vida, couldn’t hold a candle to Snipes’s glory. Our personal apology to all of you who are Swayze crazy, but this is the truth. Snipes was FIERCE! Favorite quote: “You look the Miami Sound Machine just exploded all over you.”
7. Gene Hackman in The Birdcage.
The acting virtuoso, Gene Hackman was comedic gold in The Birdcage when his character, the conservative Senator Kevin Keely, dressed as a woman to disguise himself from the prying eyes of the press. Resplendent in a white dress, blonde wig, and make up you could scrape off with a spoon, Hackman was as hilarious as he was hideous. Favorite quote: “No one will dance with me. I think it’s this dress. I told them white would make me look fat.”
8. Robin Willams in Mrs Doubtfire.
Robin Williams plays Daniel Hillard, a father who, while in the midst of separating from his wife, discovers that she is looking for a housekeeper. Hillard disguises himself as a woman and takes the job so that he can be closer to his children. It seemed as if Robin Williams could do just about anything. We are still stunned and saddened that he is gone. Oh captain, my captain, your Mrs. Doubtfire will go down in history as one of the greatest and most memorable. Favorite Quote:”Poor Winstons idea of foreplay was ‘Brace yourself Effie!'”
9. Quinton Crisp as Queen Elizabeth I in Orlando.
Famed cross dresser, author and actor Quinton Crisp donned a corset, layers upon layers of fabric, a bodice that gave his torso blisters, jewels and a red wig and gave one of cinemas most famous portrayals of Queen Elizabeth I. It should be noted that this would have been physically taxing for anyone to play, but the fact that this actor was 83 a the time of filming makes this performance particularly noteworthy. Favorite quote: ” All you call yours is mine already. ”
10. Julie Andrews in Victor Victoria
Most famous for her role as Mary Poppins and Eliza Doolittle on Broadway, Julie Andrews plays an impoverished soprano named Victoria Grant in the 1930’s. Unable to make ends meet, she partners up with a gay cabaret performer, Toddy (Robert Preston) who devises a scheme where Grant will become a female, playing a man, playing a woman and passes herself off as a male impersonator. You follow? The novelty of the act makes her the toast of Paris, and the affection of Chicago gangster King Marchan (James Garner), who can’t quite come to grips with his feelings since he, like everyone else, assumes that she is a he. Oh what fun. Favorite quote: “In spite of what you think, Monsieur Labisse, there are professions where practice *does* make perfect.” [she hits a high note, causing Labisse’s wine glass to shatter, and leaves angrily] Fierce.
There you have it. We know there are many, many more that we could add to this so feel free to add your favorites in the comments below.