Free to Be...
(S)he's in there, men, your inner gender illusionist, just waiting to be unleashed. And How to Be a Drag Queen 101, the new how-to video by director Stephen Winter (Chocolate Babies), is your ticket to transcendence. Sure, the production values are pure Robin Leach (witty and warm hostess Sherry Vine spreads her, er, wisdom from the back of a stretch limo, swathed in mink). But with an earnest desire to educate, the video expounds on the art and science of gender illusionism in mesmerizing detail. From body-hair removal to "tucking" to synthetic vs. human-hair wigs, How to Be... shows that doing drag is like making the perfect omelet: There's far more imagination and skill involved than the end product suggests -- and, of course, you have to break those eggs. Along with the help of wig and makeup experts, drag "technician" Tobi Armstrong (HIV positive since 1995 and formerly a special-events manager at AIDS Project Los Angeles) transforms four nervous young men into larger-than-life divas who throw all caution to the wind. But the final stunning makeovers go deeper than skin: Drag frees the guys, physically and emotionally. Let's hope Armstrong and Winter make the sequel, How to Be a Drag King 101, and that they lavish as much silly and sisterly advice as they did on this smart, surprisingly moving video. Get How to Be... by contacting www.tlavideo.com or 212.598.0074.
Also check out The Eyes of Tammy Faye, a campy and strangely engaging documentary about Tammy Faye Bakker Messner. It tests the power of tear-proof mascara, especially during a mid-'80s clip in which she wails about the mistreatment of PWAs. Her former talk-show cohost, HIVer Jim J. Bullock, and POZ cover shutterbug Greg Gorman both preach their loyalty to the queen of televangelism. On video and Cinemax, or through the extras-packed www.eyesoftammyfaye.com (send a TammyGram to your favorite Christian!).