Flaming Classics Pairs Classic Films With Performances by Drag Queens

Still from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Still from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
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In a world where many people would rather binge-watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix, two men from Miami are changing the game. Their series, Flaming Classics, educates audiences about classic films that are feminine, queer, campy, and everything in between — and includes live performances by drag queens. It’s 2017, Donald Trump is president, and we need this.

Flaming Classics, a new film series directed by Juan Barquin and Trae DeLellis, will pair feature films with live performances by some of South Florida’s most popular drag queens and kings at the Bill Cosford Cinema this summer. May 28 through August 6, Flaming Classics will debut its inaugural lineup, Summer Camp, presenting works spanning the 1950s through the 2000s.

Each screening, beginning with the 55th-anniversary presentation of the 1962 film starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, will be preceded by an introduction to the film. Following the screening will be a drag performance inspired by the film. "The drag queen or drag king will recontextualize the material in some way," DeLellis explains.

However, don’t expect to see classic cult films such as Fight Club: Barquin and DeLellis are broadening their definition of the genre to encompass a wide variety of films, including some that many people would not consider classics per se. “We wanted to keep each film either feminine or queer or very campy,” Barquin says, "because a lot of the movies that other theaters play for their classic films are very masculine. A lot of these very typical cult movies... don’t include a lot of femininity. It’s kind of like, hey, let’s bring that in for an audience that’s a little bit different."

Some of the films in the lineup aren’t blatantly queer, such as Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Barquin and DeLellis hope the subtlety will prompt audiences to think critically and with open minds, allowing for great conversation on the subject matter. “You would never think a film starring Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell as immediately something that is considered queer,” Barquin says. “The title of the series, 'Flaming Classics,' was actually inspired by an academic book, and one of the films in it that recontextualizes these classic films that you wouldn’t expect to be seen as queer is Gentleman Prefer Blondes.”

Other films mentioned in that same book are Citizen Kane and Psycho, meaning there might be more queer characteristics to classic films than once originally thought. “You can tell queer people have had an attraction to these masculine films too, so they’ve found these ways to read them in different ways that are very interesting,” DeLellis says.

The series welcomes audience members of all ages, giving people who might have never seen a drag performance the opportunity to do so as well. “We want women; we want gay men; we even want straight men! We want everyone to come,” Barquin says.

The Summer Camp schedule includes:

What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
With performances by Jupiter Velvet and Evan Alexander (whiteandpopular). Introduction by Juan Barquin.
Sunday, May 28, at 8 p.m.

But I'm a Cheerleader
With a performance by Jupiter Velvet
Sunday, June 11, at 8 p.m.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
With a performance by Miss Toto. Introduction by Miami Classic Movie Club’s Stefanie Del Papa.
Sunday, June 25, at 8 p.m.

Serial Mom
With a performance by Queef Latina. Introduction by Daniel Blair AKA DJ Hottpants.
Sunday, July 9, at 8 p.m.

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!
With a performance by Miss Toto. Introduction by Vivian Marthell, Co-Founder of O Cinema.
Sunday, July 23, at 8 p.m.

Psycho Beach Party
With a performance by Queef Latina. Introduction by Trae DeLellis.
Sunday, August 6, at 8 p.m.

Tickets cost $9 online via eventbrite.com and $11 at the door. Follow the series on Facebook and Instagram.

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