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Pollyfilla's "Glamarama"

Wed 16 Feb 2005 In: Performance

Pollyfills I'll be upfront – I've never really got drag. Getting through ten-minute lip-synched floor shows at bars has always been a bit of a struggle, so I'd be lying if I said the thought of going along to a two-hour drag floor show didn't fill me with a little trepidation. For years, I've been rather pompously informed by a variety of different sources that drag is an art form, with the implication being that there's obviously something wrong with me for not understanding it – either that, or I have some kind of internalised homophobic panic going on about men in dresses. The truth is, I've just never been able to understand what is precisely so clever about lip-synching along to other people's songs, with smatterings of cheap smut thrown in for good measure. We're unimpressed when teenie groups do it on Top of the Pops, so why should drag queens get a special dispensation? However, I'm delighted to report that Wellington drag artist Pollyfilla's new show Glamarama transcends all that drag baggage and is a great, entertaining night out. Full of surprises, twists and turns, self-deprecating humour, and an eye-popping array of costume changes – performed with such haste one is left wondering if she's borrowed Superman's phone booth and stashed it behind the curtain – there's nary a dull moment in the show. The key to Pollyfilla's success is an almost frighteningly catholic (in the universal sense of the word) taste in campness. There's such an eclectic wardrobe of characters and numbers on display, coupled with a relentless performance energy, that puts Pollyfilla far above the garden-variety lip-synchers. The changes in tone and character don't just happen between songs, they happen mid-way through. It's as if the whole show has been put together by a panel of cynical TV viewers with their fingers permanently on the channel flicker, best illustrated in the schizophrenic show-stopping finale which segues violently between moods with red lights and string stabs from “Psycho”. It's amazing that Pollyfilla and her cutesy backing trio The Dazzling Fillettes can keep up with the speed of the changes from Cher to Liza to Marilyn Monroe to Julie Andrews...even Barry Manilow (first in a Las Vegas leisure suit and then in drag). Some of Pollyfilla's most hilarious characters can only be described as the divas that didn't quite make it. Blistering torch songs cut short by invisible firing squads, acrobatic leaps in heels that go horribly wrong and send her flying head first into walls (and sometimes the audience), prop insects that start attacking her...yes, this is a performer who doesn't take herself too seriously, is having the time of her life, and wants to make sure the audience is with her every step of the way. Although the first half did seem a little top-heavy on mad divas, and some of the crotch-grabbing manoeuvres got a bit repetitive, generally the choreography, relentless energy, madcap humour, and endless array of colourful costumes (all designed by Polly's alter-ego Colin McLean) make for an action-packed two hours. There's more going on in “Glamarama” than many drag performers would achieve in a lifetime. Highly recommended. GLAMARAMA! 9 pm, 15 – 19 February 2005 Maidment Studio, Alfred St, Auckland Tickets: $25 / $18 Bookings: Phone 09 308 2383 Fax 09 302 1768 Email: Chris Banks - 16th February 2005    

Credit: Chris Banks

First published: Wednesday, 16th February 2005 - 12:00pm

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