The Autumn of Swayze?

I’ll have you know I had a nightmare a couple of days ago where it was Christmas Eve and I still hadn’t finished the Summer of Swayze. CLEARLY I have bit off more than I can chew. I also think I have absolutely no concept of time anymore (thanks, 2020) and that has set me up for failure.

Anyway, I actually did watch Too Wong Foo Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. But then I was like “wow there’s a lot to unpack here. And unpack it, I never did. I think it’s best summed up by saying it’s very of its time. And in 1995 I think it was good to have a feature film portrayal of these characters as whole, sympathetic people with a full range of complicated emotions (a.k.a. not caricatures or the butt of the joke).

But I’m not exactly sure what the movie was trying to be. These characters describe themselves as drag queens but they’re in drag 100% of the time and even take a cross-country road trip through areas where it would be much safer to dress as a cis man if, in fact, you were a cis man. So I suppose I question the premise a little bit. I also question the casting (since the main actors are all cis men). But I do recognize that this movie was released a mere two years after And the Band Played On, a television movie about the beginnings of the AIDS epidemic that took a daunting six years to get made. So yes, I do think there’s hopefully some social good that came from three action star types playing drag queens.

Here are a few articles that analyze this way better than I ever could:

‘To Wong Foo’ Not Worthy of ‘Priscilla’s’ Old Pantyhose by Theodore K. Gideonese for The Harvard Crimson, 1995

The Amazing Story Behind To Wong Foo by Mitch Kohn for The Advocate, 2015

John Leguizamo says his To Wong Foo character should be played by a trans latina actor if the film were made now by Louis Chilton for The Independent, 2020

Thankfully, we’ve largely moved past this casting now and so this film feels very much like a museum piece. And I’m grateful for that because I’d also like Dirty Dancing to feel like a museum piece, but unfortunately it still feels very relevant to today’s social issues.

Speaking of Dirty Dancing, I’m actually going to wrap up the last bit of the Summer of Swayze (lol) with my thoughts on Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights which is simply that it is EXTREMELY UNDERRATED. And no I haven’t seen it since 2007 or so but I loved it very much at the time and based on these clips below, still do.

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