One of my all time favourite movies is The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. An Australian movie made in 1994 starring Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce. The plot follows the journey of two drag queens and a transsexual across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs in a tour bus that they have named “Priscilla”.
The purpose of the journey is to perform at Lasseter’s Hotel Casino Resort in Alice Springs managed by a female friend of Anthony “Tick” Belrose (Hugo Weaving) named Marion. Alice springs is a remote town in central Australia some 2770 km, or 1721 miles from Sydney. Remember Neville Shute‘s A Town Like Alice? But maybe that is a little (or a lot) before your time.
The journey takes them through remote areas bordering the Simpson Desert where they encounter different reactions to their lifestyle. When the bus breaks down in the desert they meet Bob a middle-aged mechanic from a small outback town who joins them on their journey and a group of friendly Australian Aborigines for whom and with whom they perform I Will Survive.
They also encounter the less accepting attitudes of rural Australia and are subjected to homophobic abuse and even violence, and in Alice Springs having their tour bus vandalised with the words “AIDS fuckers go home”
The opening song of the entertainment at the Casino Resort is I’ve Never Been To Me and this seems to sum up the lives of the three unlikely stars of the movie.
“Please lady please lady
don’t just walk away
Cause I have this need to tell you
why I’m alone today
I can see so much of me
still living in your eyes
won’t you share a part
of a weary heart that has lived a million lives..”
The film is part comedy, plenty of one liners and some pathos but well worth seeing I think if you get the chance all these years later. The twister is that Marion and Tick are married and have an 8-year-old son whom Tick hasn’t seen for many years. Bob the mechanic and Bernadette the transsexual form an unlikely relationship/ friendship and they decide to stay in Alice Springs at the end of the four-week engagement.
And the film’s title? It’s pun on the fact that in English speaking cultures, “queen” is a slang term for a male homosexual.
- Fire devil: Filmmaker captures deadly tornado made of fire swirling 30 metres in the air in Australian outback (mirror.co.uk)
- Broadway Sessions Welcomes PRISCILLA’s Nick Adams and More, 8/16 (broadwayworld.com)
- Guy Pearce Movie List (wanttoknowit.com)