A Drag Queen for Kids plays a part of the DocuNation program at Cinequest Sunday March 6th at 115pm, Monday March 7th at 445pm, and Wednesday March 9th at 5pm.
One of the absolute joys of Short Film Programming is that moment when you've watched several hours of mediocre work, only to have that string broken by a really good little movie. Even rarer than this is when you've been watching solid films, things that will make the Festival, no doubt, and then you come across one that is so Earth-shattering, that you wonder how you ever thought anything less was worthy. That is what happened to me with A Drag Queen for Kids, the magnificent short documentary by Byron Karabatsos.
The film centers on Martha Graham Cracker, drag queen star of Philadelphia, and her performance at the Christ Church Neighborhood House. She had been un-invited after being asked to read Seuss for kids in Jersey, and so the church invited her to perform there instead. The result was something really special - a cabaret-style performance, where several things became obvious. First, Martha Graham Cracker is a helluva performer, has all the tolls to work an audience and fully understands how to deliver material, and second, kids like to be entertained, and she was GREAT at entertaining them. The snippets of the performance we get are super-strong, and it's obvious that the kids were having a great time.
Of course, a Drag Queen might not be fully ready for what a kids entertainment event means. When she goes to work the audience, and she's so good at it, she's not ready for the fact that questions from younglings are more often-than-not going to be statements. She plays with that fact a little, and only minorly gets side-tracked by it. Her reading of Green Eggs and Ham is flat-out phenomenal (and I believe it is the first time my kids ever heard that particular story read at all) and I would give just about anything to experience her show live.
And that's what hits me most - the Performance. She's so good, and with a couple of minor exceptions, it never felt like she was working anything other than a crowd that was appreciative and smart. That is the key to children's entertainment (well, and to sell sodas, if Death to Smoochy is to be believed...) and she's so good at it. I really hope this wasn't a gimmick. I really hope that she keeps bringing her talents to kids. They don't care that she's a drag queen; the kids care that she's amazing at what she does, and I care that Karabatsos gave us this amazing Doc to experience it with them.
Klaus at Gunpoint
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