Judge Brett Cullum warns you that a "fag hag" is not a delightfully whimsical Dr. Seuss character.
I've been holding it in, now I'm letting it run.
I forced a bona fide fag hag to watch this feature. We'll just call her "Jenny" to protect her identity. She's a single mom in her 30s who lives in the gay part of Houston. She routinely hangs out almost exclusively with gay men, and I wanted to solicit her insight into this little film. Jenny appeared armed at my abode with some appropriately pink raspberry sake. She loved the cover, and looked forward to seeing a movie that celebrated her unique social status. After thirty minutes of being subjected to this story she wanted to run screaming into the night with pink liquor in hand. She was speed dialing a drag queen friend in desperation to make alternate plans to finishing our screening. Fag Hag offended her.
If you don't know what a "fag hag" is, you have no business looking at this film or reading this review. And to take it one step further, you probably need to have a personal fag hag of your very own to really get any of this movie. A DC gay film festival called Fag Hag "cinema veri-gay"—the term is apt. This is a primitive homemade film with an early John Waters handheld-on-cheap-stock aesthetic, and it sports a gritty homosexual bad behavior vibe only members of the GLBT community will understand. And even that group will not find it across-the-board appealing. Fag Hag is a hard movie to love. Though some people will, most will loathe it.
This is the story of two losers. Destiny Rutt (Stephanie Orff, Respect My Ass) is competing in the Hope Springs, CA beauty pageant as much out of boredom as any need for validation. She dreams of being an actress and escaping from her nowhere town with a population of under 500 and plenty of parking. Destiny meets Scott Bushey (director, writer, producer Damion Dietz, Neverland), a gay boy crashing in the small community who's been hired as a street Jesus to attract customers to a Christian bookstore/nail salon. He introduces her to a world of tons of gay guys, and the joys of having a friend who can help you win a beauty pageant. Especially when all the contestants end up dropping out, and he encourages you to perform a show stopping number entitled "I Need to Go Number One."
Honestly, this movie will baffle or offend just about anyone. The entire film seems to be inspired by John Waters in his low-tech early days, Showgirls, and the gay grumpy campiness of Gregg Araki (The Living End). In Fag Hag, Scott's big dream is to be the first gay, HIV+, white motivational rapper who appears at elementary schools, named "T-Cell." The only things standing in his way are that he's HIV negative, and has a past as a child molester. So there you are, a prime example of the comedy sensibility of Damion Dietz. I thought it is was funny despite the crass sentiments, especially the two big musical numbers "Fag Hag" and "I'm Gonna Go Number One." Dietz has a peculiar sense of humor, and he's not afraid to slice and dice the gay community for all it's worth. Gay guys with a sense of humor about their culture will giggle, and those that take themselves far too seriously will gag. It's a trashy savage attack on cookie cutter homo conventions, but is clever enough to earn its laughs by being brighter than the average disco bunny into Madonna. It's a John Waters film for boys who can't quite stand Judy Garland.
Troma Team Video gives Fag Hag a respectable release considering it's less-than-a-dime origins. The movie was filmed on 16mm stock, so colors vary as if a five year old is playing with the tint knob, and grain is always present. It's also in full screen, so don't expect any visual splendor. Hell, it looks like it could be playing on your elementary school's audio visual projector, but that's part of the charm of trash like this. Sound is mono, but actually pretty clear for the most part. There's an audio commentary with Dietz, Orff, and their editor—so basically the whole cast and crew, in essence. Their discussion is about making the film on the fly, who they slept with, and who they thought had the biggest genitals on the shoot. What did you expect? Tons of Troma propaganda surrounds the feature, including a pointless introduction by Lloyd Kaufman—who hasn't even seen the movie since he mistakenly claims it "stars" Wil Wheaton (Star Trek: Next Generation), who is only featured in a brief cameo as the foul-mouthed owner of the Christian bookstore/nail salon. Tons of Troma trailers and something they titled "Troma's Sapphic Hall of Fame" can also be found on the disc.
At the end of the day, Fag Hag is worth a couple of chuckles if you are into this type of gay movie. The production values are cheap, the humor is raw, and it's a good diversion when you're looking for something off the beaten path. With a good amount of liquor, some bitchy drag queens around you, and appropriately low expectations, it could be the cult classic you've been searching for. At least it has a catchy song about urination in it! If you're gay, a little twisted, and ready for it, Fag Hag will probably be right up your alley. Otherwise, be prepared to grab your drink and run, girl.
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