This talking-heads documentary contains interesting material about its subject, female impersonators, but is rather flatly executed. Less pretentious than PARIS IS BURNING, LIP GLOSS concentrates on the sheer variety of males who've dedicated themselves to feminine disguise rather than the
psychological reasons they've become involved in this sartorial compulsion.
Presenting the life stories of the participants is Armand Monroe, a nite-club emcee and host/hostess. Best known for his dual role in the fright flick TERROR TRAIN, Derek McKinnon brags about his unconventional marriage to an understanding woman who helps him shop for frills and overlooks his gay
indiscretions. Other impersonators include Bobette, a corset-busting caricature, and the elegant Guilda, who entertained European royalty as an Edith Piaf clone. Guilda reveals that he got his start as a stunt performer for French film actresses, and unsentimentally discusses his troubled
childhood and avocational prostitution. Another impersonator named Candy Stevens functions as a half-man half-woman in the twilight world of drag niteries. In a lighter approach to gender-bending, Natch Taylor describes how Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo skewers the haughtiness of lady
ballerinas by letting dancers' maleness shine through teir tutued disguises. Rounding out this colorful carnival of exhibitionists is rotund Baby Papillon who remembers the police raids of a more closeted era, and the film's only transsexual, Shelly, dishes the nitty-gritty about the most drastic
form of female impersonation: the no-turning-back sex change operation.
Interpolating candid still photos of the drag queens interviewed, LIP GLOSS offers a saucy peak at cross-dressers, both amateur and pro. Regrettably, this superficial peep show preaches to the converted fan without offering any insight into these men who relish the aura of womanliness. Its
strength lies in the invaluable oral history provided by these candid impersonators, particularly Guilda who enjoyed a fabulous career as a gay deceiver entertaining assorted crowned heads. Neither condescending nor spiteful in its attitude, LIP GLOSS is simply too artless, too literal in how it
approaches this rich source material. Unlike a gay documentary such as the Canadian lesbian film FORBIDDEN LOVE, which manages to be emotionally involving and sociologically enlightening, this film settles for being a docu-cabaret. Although the spectator gets his money s worth as a
curiosity-seeker, the spotlight on each great pretender is turned off too abruptly to illuminate the sequined confessions. Without a sense of what drives these men who would be women, LIP GLOSS can only offer gossip not drama.(Nudity, sexual situations, extreme profanity.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: NR
- Review: This talking-heads documentary contains interesting material about its subject, female impersonators, but is rather flatly executed. Less pretentious than PARIS IS BURNING, LIP GLOSS concentrates on the sheer variety of males who've dedicated themselves to… (more)