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DVD: Documenting the effort behind a fabulous show

Wed 14 Feb 2007 In: Television View at NDHA

We're often not good at documenting ourselves in the glbt community. Sure, there are the impressive media archives growing in places such as GayNZ.com, Takataapui, Livingstone Productions (of late, lamented Queer Nation fame) and of course the LAGANZ collection at the national library and personal collections of happy snaps. But there's a lot of informal material floating around which may never see the light of day in an accessible way. And many non-glamorous or non-confrontational aspects of our community and our issues and events still remain totally undocumented. Think of all the effort and creativity which went into those mega-Hero parties and parades of a few years back, or Devotion and all the others. Sure there is some video footage of the parades but what about the serious hard work that went into making them all happen and the camaraderie which developed as a result. Eileen-Rita Folwell, a straight woman whose mother helped produce the epic Queen of the Whole Universe pageant this year, has seen the gap and filled it with Behind the Seams, a fascinating and heartwarming DVD documentary of the lead up to that magnificent and uplifting spectacle. From the opening scenes of a large male foot rather gingerly stepping into some serious heels to the weeks and weeks of grinding rehearsals, Behind The Seams documents the efforts and talents of ordinary gays and lesbians behind the fabulous facades. Creator Jonathan Smith is all over it, of course, but the real stars are the performers, some trying drag for the first time and knowing their first public outing will be in front of thousands at the massive Aotea Centre. These are real people, not characters. The actors who portray, amongst a host of others, Miss Greece, Miss Scotland, Miss Australia and Miss Argentina are the ones we empathise with most. Their quiet determination to put together the best outfits and novelty items they can, their resigned grins when encountering their own inexperience and lack of coordination, and the shared joy when finally their poi twirling or scottish country dancing start to look like something to be proud of, are memorable. And who knew that in a horrible rehearsal accident one performer dislocated an elbow just days before curtain up and yet managed to go on with the show, disguising the pain and arm cast with a smile and sequins! The Behind the Seams DVD ends with clips of the show as seen by the audience buts its heart is revealed as it documents the sheer hard work and dedication behind the glamour and pizzaz of the biggest drag extravaganzas ever mounted in New Zealand. That all these performers were doing their bit to show the rest of us a fabbo time and to raise money for the NZ AIDS Foundation's vital non-government funded work just underlines their commitment to a community and goals greater than their individual lives and objectives. Behind the Seams is a great documentary which lets the performers and situations speak for themselves. And the proceeds (after minimal production costs as nearly all the work on Behind the Seams was donated free) will also go the the NZAF's vital work. Click the link below to order a copy of this thrilling and heartwarming DVD, then get a few friends around and pour a few wines and laugh and cheer through it - as we did at the launch screening. Watch the 'Behind the Seams' trailer below. Jay Bennie - 14th February 2007    

Credit: Jay Bennie

First published: Wednesday, 14th February 2007 - 12:00pm

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