117. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert


Movie: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Release Date: August 10, 1994

Director: Stephan Elliott

Starring: Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, Bill Hunter.

Tag Lines: “Finally, a comedy that will change the way you think, the way you feel, and most importantly… the way you dress.”

Relevance: When I headed back for my second year of Graduate School in August of 1994, many of my friends and theater classmates were chattering on about ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.’ Campy. Fun. Hilarious. Those were just some of the words used to describe this “must-see” film. Apparently I was friends with the gay Siskel and Ebert and their entourage. However, they never steered me wrong before so I quickly added it to my list of movies to check out. Unfortunately, by the time I was told about it, the movie was no longer playing in a theater near me.

Not long after hearing about the film, I went to the local music store to browse and buy CD’s to add to my already enormous collection. Next to the video rental store, music stores were my most frequented places to peruse and spend money. It’s shocking that I ended up working for a company for twenty-five years that sold movies and music. Anyway, I noticed a very bright pink CD in the Soundtrack section that I just had to check out. Not surprisingly, it was the soundtrack to ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.’ Once I read the track listing, I was sold. And in less than five minutes time, it was sold.

The soundtrack quickly became one of my most frequently played CD’s that semester. Songs from The Village People, ABBA, Gloria Gaynor, CeCe Peniston and Vanessa Williams grooved me right to the end of October. It would have grooved me further, but Madonna’s “Bedtime Stories” was released and that took precedence. (Could I have been any gayer?) Actually, I won Madonna’s CD from a local radio station, but that’s a story for another time on a different blog.

Luckily the VHS for ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ was released for rental in early November. Before I headed home for Thanksgiving break, I rented it to see what all the fuss from my friends was about. The film was raw, fresh and oozed over-the-top camp and was equally hilarious. It was quite unlike anything I had seen before. I had very little interaction with “drag performers” before this, so the world was all new and glittery fun and I was more than entertained by these fabulous characters. What was most impressive about the film was that even though it was bawdy and outlandish, there was a certain heart to it. It was tender and thoughtful and showed openly gay characters as humans, a relatively new portrayal for cinema.

I adored the movie and bought it for my movie collection as soon as it became available. I watched it numerous times and listened to its soundtrack even more. The film was very well received by critics, even winning an Academy Award for its glorious costumes, and was a surprise hit both in theaters and home media. It even spawned a successful Broadway jukebox musical, which included some very popular Madonna songs (talk about making the gay even gayer).‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ has remained one of my all time favorite movies and one that I revisit frequently whenever I want to smile, tap my foot and re-connect with my inner gayness.

Today’s Thoughts: “That’s just what this country needs: a cock in a frock on a rock.”

My husband and I watched ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ today and despite us both seeing it several times, we both laughed out loud many times. It made us smile as we sung along to all of its glorious music. It made our house even gayer than it was before, and trust me, it’s gay already.

I never tire of this film or its beautiful direction and performances. The three leads are absolutely fantastic. Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce are untouchable in these roles. Three straight men playing the gayest of gays, with heart, humility and fierceness. They really are quite magnificent and it is fun to watch them twenty-six years later. Mr. Pearce was such a youngster with a superb “drag” body to boot. The costumes are like characters themselves and seem to come alive in every scene, reaffirming Lizzy Gardiner and Tom Chappel deserved all of the accolades they received for creating them.

‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ is a heartfelt, hysterical comedy that is a must see for anyone that affiliates with the LGBTQ community. And for those “straight” people out there, don’t worry, you will be equally entertained, as long as you have an open mind and a sense of humor. Now excuse me while I go “shake my groove thang” to the soundtrack.

“Aren’t we fabulous?”

Awards: Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Lizzy Gardiner, Tim Chappel (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical, Terence Stamp (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design, Lizzy Gardiner, Tim Chappel (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Make Up/Hair, Cassie Hanlon, Angela Conte, Strykermeyer (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Terence Stamp (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Brian J. Breheny (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Stephan Elliott (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, Owen Paterson, Colin Gibson (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Stephan Elliott (nomination).

Ways to Watch: Tubi, Pluto TV, Vudu, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, DVD Availability.


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