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R S V P / INTO THE NIGHT

'Priscilla' Premiere Far From a Drag

August 11, 1994|BILL HIGGINS | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The Scene: Tuesday's benefit premiere of Gramercy's "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" at the Cinerama Dome. A party followed at the Palace. Writer-director Stephan Elliott said it was altogether fitting that his musical comedy about three drag queens traversing the Australian Outback premiered "in what looks like a giant bra cup."

Who Was There: Elliott; two of the film's stars, Terence Stamp and Guy Pearce; Gramercy's Russell Schwartz and Steve Flynn; plus 900 guests, including Aidan Quinn, k.d. lang, Matthew Modine, Julia Sweeney, Lea DeLaria, Stephen Dorff and Ann Magnuson. The big hit of the evening was Julie Newmar, who appeared to be the living inspiration for half the drag queens present.

The Buzz: If the Academy establishes an Oscar for Australian Outback drag queen musicals, this has a lock on it.

Quoted: "The big joy of Australian drag is it's incredibly clever," Elliott said. "They're no longer imitating women anymore. They've taken the Shirley Bassey and the Barbra Streisand out of drag. It's moved on. You can do anything you bloody well want."

Regrettably Missing From the Film: "We had a dress entirely made out of toast with different spreads on it," Elliott said. "But when we got out in the desert the flies took off with it. There must have been 8 million flies. We also had a seafood hairdo made from squids, octopus and whatever, but that idea got dumped when it hit 110."

Dress Mode: The tone was set by the three dozen drag queens present. The money spent on eye shadow could have financed the Streisand tour. Blond wigs, chiffon wraps, full-length gloves, sequin dresses, pearls and rhinestones abounded.

Money Matters: Tickets were $100; $41,000 was netted for L.A. Shanti, an HIV/AIDS support group.

Commentary: One woman noted that a particularly flamboyant drag queen, "looks like Angelyne on a bad day." Her friend said: "That's a redundancy."

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