Entertainment » Movies

A Night At Switch N' Play

by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Oct 21, 2019
'A Night At Switch N' Play'
'A Night At Switch N' Play'  

The delightful "A Night at Switch n' Play" is probably the queerest film we have seen in a very long time.

This feature documentary film debut from director Cody Stickels is an exuberant closeup look at an extraordinary queer performance collective who take over a small neighborhood bar in Brooklyn to shock the eager audience into ecstatic applause. The acts consist of experimental burlesque queens, innovative drag queens, some shocking performance artistes, and others that simply defy description.

All of them tantalize with both their gender and sexuality and refuse to be defined by them. In their acts, they satirize traditional role-playing, and although this in itself is a serious personal issue to them, like every single thing that happens in those four small walls it is done with an immense amount of humor.

What the collective has done is create this safe queer and very welcoming space where everyone can be themselves whilst watching the most outrageous performances that are the result their e vivid (and slightly sick?) imaginations.

Their performance space looks like someone's slightly shabby front room and is hosted by Miss Malice, a glam, self-confessed queer femme performance persona and "femmecee" with a bright red stacked bouffant. Her sidekick is Zoe Ziegfeld, an extraordinarily agile and sparsely-dressed burlesque dancer and general nightlife mischief-maker, who, like the rest of the collective, has a wicked sense of humor. Pearl Harbor is a femme-looking drag queen, although that seems a trite definition compared to their bizarrely creative act/performance, which includes their own poetry

Divina Gransparkle confessed that she stumbled into performing initially as a means to deal with her body esteem issues. Now, with exotic multi-gender characters, she is more than happy in her own skin and is subsequently empowering others that may be at the same place she once was. Vigor Mortis is an award-winning drag king who identifies as more of a boy than any of the toxic masculinities they know. His lip-synching performance of Mr. Cellophane (from the musical "Chicago") is so on point about being invisible to most people outside.

K James is a transmasculine identified drag king who uses his androgynous look to both entertain and confuse his audience, which actually seems the collective mantra of the entire group. Nyx Nocturne, a multi-disciplinary artist, pays homage to the fact that their raunchy performances in front of these very supportive audiences have helped them grow in confidence and self-fulfillment, banishing their previous hangups now that they have found their real identity.

Switch 'n Play has been going since 2006, and is not for the faint-hearted. Neither will it ever pander to a mainstream audience. It is for any queers along the spectrum by a group of enlightened and talented queers. In a world so sadly dominated by the homogenized drag queens of the ubiquitous "RuPaul's Drag Race," it so refreshing that these people at least stand true to their roots.

We deserve the sheer audacity of their performances, and to revel in their highly infectious humor and good spirits. They are a true queer family and it is a real joy to have been invited into their home, for even a short while.

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.

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