Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival
It’s been no secret on this blog that I’m a very big fan of drag queen films, having reviewed more than a few of them over the last few years. The drag queen film can be split up into two seperate but equally important groups, the first one being where it’s about drag queens and the film acknowledges that these are drag queens. Things like Cherry Pop, To Wong Foo Thanks For Everything Julie Newmar or Death Drop Gorgeous (to name three films I reviewed and can therefore link to, thus improving SEO) would fit into this since all the characters involved are stated to be drag queens, even if they’re in drag the entire goddamn movie. The second kind of drag queen film casts drag queens in female roles and treats them as though they were just regular women, basically any role that Divine ever played is a role that’s meant to be a woman and they just happened to cast a Drag Queen.
Today’s movie, Shit & Champagne, is a beautiful and glorious example of the second kind of drag movie.
Shit & Champagne tells the sordid tale of Champagne Horowitz Jones Dickerson White (D’Arcy Drollinger), a dancer at a nightclub who lives a very simple life with her partner Rod (Mario Diaz) and her roommate, adopted half-sister and world-renowned calf model Brandy (Steven LeMay). Champagne’s life is fine until one day when both Rod and Brandy are brutally murdered by members of an underground drug ring who are selling a drug known as “booty bumps” which gives people a great high but also makes them shit themselves. So, with very little help from the police, Champagne must infiltrate this drug ring that’s run by the notorious Dixie Stampede (Matthew Martin)
So, does that plot description give you some idea of how campy and silly this film is? Ok, times that by a thousand and you’re close because this is one of the most gloriously silly and joyfully over the top movies I’ve ever seen. From the moment the film begins, it’s a screamingly playful love letter to 70s sexploitation and action films where all the men have bad wigs and all the women have giant fake tits… and in the case of this film, most of the women are played by men and some of the men are played by women… gender is a construct, tear it apart.
Every single solitary line of Shit & Champagne is either a joke or a setup to a joke and it’s stunning how many of them land. It’s the kind of film where they’re throwing out so many jokes that you’re going to laugh at something and the jokes range from the grotesquely vulgar to the stunningly witty and everything in between. Physical comedy, visual puns, every kind of joke is just mashed in here and for the most part, they work. There’s also a ton of fourth wall breaking and it never feels forced, even when they make possibly the most tasteless joke in the film and just look to the audience going “Too soon”, it’s all so damn good.
Managing to make this work is the complete commitment of the entire cast to just go for broke. These performances are so hammy and over the top in the exact right way for this kind of film. It’s over the top but always compelling, to the point that any insane thing can happen and you’ll go along with it because the film has you in the exact right headspace to go along with the insanity.
Shit & Champagne is glorious, an exploitation parody work of art designed almost scientifically to make me a very happy viewer. It’s got everything you could ask for the second you hear “Someone made a drag queen film lift on sexploitation and cop dramas”. It’s the kind of film that should be getting screened in gay bars all around the world to very happy drunk homosexuals who will scream laugh at every line and cheer during all the dance numbers (Oh yeah, did I mention the dance numbers? Fuck this film is awesome). Shit & Champagne is pure glorious unapologetic campy delight and it’s everything you could want and then some. If you don’t like this film, then there’s something wrong with you.