By definition, Merriam- Webster describes “Queer” as 1. differing in some odd way from what is usual or normal; mildly insane; often disparaging, homosexual, gay and the word “moxie” as courage or determination. When you put these two words together, they couple to challenge our perception of Queer being a negative term, transforming it into a powerful phrase with the courage to shift a paradigm; it does away with the rigorous boxes, labels, and standards we assign to individuality. Essentially, it is what Heather Provoncha and Leo Hollen Jr. paired to present to the world with their film screening of “Queer Moxie” debuting at Landmark Midtown Art Cinema on May 19th, 2016. They opened with an amazing array of live performances beforehand from: timelessly chic & sexy Burlesque performer Ursula Undress , the hilariously witty comedian Brent Star, and the deeply insightful Spoken Word artist Theresa Davis.
The film delves into the personal lives and public performances of entertainers in the drag industry and although they make light of the show with their effervescent personalities, behind the scenes it’s evident that there is a level of dedication required to put on any one show that isn’t for the faint-of-heart. Showcasing Drag King and Queens, Burlesque, and self-expression through poetry & comedy, the span of creativity is far -reaching, much like their message. The term Queer isn’t about gender or sexual preference, Queer embodies what it means to be free in every facet- be weird, be colorful, be expressive, embrace body positivity, say what you really mean. More importantly, it brings the obscure art of Drag performance and Burlesque to the public eye to challenge the misconception that it is just a hobby- it’s a job, a job that requires passion and the desire to share a message that isn’t readily received. The film is based in Atlanta- so considering the south- it is also a progressive idea that represents a group of individuals that exist on the outliers of any label that is suitable to the majority.
As a labor of love and dedication, Provoncha and Hollen directed this documentary full of gems that brought many artists under one roof with the goal to share their reality. It leaves age, gender, and sexual orientation out of the question and allows you- if only for a couple of hours, a view into a world so delicate and vivacious at the same time, that you’re left in awe. A labor of love, Provoncha and Hollen have put every ounce of effort and their own dollars into making this film, working on it for 7 years, with an excess of 200 hours of footage they collected, working off of only love and support at times. You can tell their passion has come to fruition with a slow exhale of relief. Together, they furthered they captured the evolution of Queer and furthered the conversation on all that it actually encompasses.
Emotion is evoked, my eyes welled up in tears at the pure supportive nature that exists between human beings in this film and within the theater. With no budget, they made a diamond under pressure. These are the kind of projects that need support. These are the kinds of projects that need financial backing and need to be talked about for generations to come. I look forward to seeing what will become with more supporters like Atlanta Pride who has done much to help out and increased awareness. When individuality wins, we all win- because it allows us to be ourselves in our own skin and that grants others the permission to do the same.