First Period

In honor of Pride Month, I thought I’d revisit my favorite all-time favorite gay movie. What is the greatest gay movie of all time, in my gay opinion, you ask? “Philadelphia” with gay-for-pay actor Tom Hanks playing the stereotypical AIDS victim suing his law firm for unlawful firing practices. No thanks, the only believable part is him choosing a hot attorney (Denzel Washington) to be his counsel. What’s worse than one gay-for-pay actor is two, which is exactly what “Brokeback Mountain” has in Health Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal playing closeted cowboys, which could have been so hot if it weren’t so damn depressing and lacking at least one happy ending. “The Birdcage” at least lightens things up and actually has a gay actor (Nathan Lane) playing opposite Robin Williams as owners of a drag club who try to hide who they are from their son’s conservative in-laws-to-be. Close but no cigar, I never got over Robin as Mork from Ork or my obsession for rainbow suspenders and spacesuit onesies.

I get it Robin, I know how sex works, Nanu to nanu!

The thing gay films possess but mainstream films lack, is their camp factor. Camp is ridiculous, tongue-in-cheek and steps outside societal and gender norms. The greatest gay movie of all time, is a lesser-known film that takes camp to a whole new level. “First Period” is a retro 80’s-inspired coming-of-age comedy about delusional Cassie “Totally Rocking Super Star Extraordinaire, You’re Welcome” Glenn and her wallflower best friend Maggie’s quest to become popular. How can a film about two teen girls’ desire to fit in, by winning their high school talent show, be gay? Are the girls lesbians? No, they’re typical horny teen girls who are all about the D. Is it because they’ve experimented with each other? Well, it’s hinted at but not really. Is it because Cassie and Maggie are played by two grown-ass, gay men in drag? Yeah, that might be it.

Here’s the pic if you look up “camp” in the dictionary. That Merriam Webster was such a whore!

Finally, a film created by and starring a heavily-homo cast. Brandon Alexander III not only perfectly portrays self-absorbed Cassie but he’s also the head writer. Dudley Beene gave a helping hand to the original songs and co-stars as Maggie, the Ethel to Cassie’s Lucy…if Ethel had her own murder podcast. You can’t have a teen flick without the cool kids, and with a nod to an 80’s classic, this film’s Heathers are led by always scheming Lauren Rose Lewis and her tag-along gal pal, Karli Kaiser. Heather’s boyfriend Brett (Leigh Wakeford) is hysterically closeted and lusting after the other Heather’s boyfriend Dirk (Michael Turchin, who I learned is Mrs. Lance Bass) who’s dim, but the heart and eye candy of the film, and is often told to remove his shirt by Brett for any number of various (or is that nefarious?) reasons.

These Heathers traded plaid skirts and croquet mallets for acid washed jeans and Auqanet!

One trick to camp is having respect for cultural references and icons, so star-studded cameos are vital. I first discovered “First Period” when checking out Cassandra “Elvira” Peterson’s filmography. Cassandra has a cameo as Cassie’s mom Ms. Glenn, the mother we all wish had abducted us. Teaching such valuable lessons as nothing in high school matters and sleeping with the whole football team is a solid life goal. If Cassandra’s cameo isn’t enough (but it is) an added bonus is Judy Tenuta as the town psychic Madam Mulva, who’s E.S.P is dwarfed by Cassie and Maggie’s A.D.D.

When HorrorFest came to Connecticut last year, there was only one person I wanted to meet and one item I wanted autographed.

The humor of “First Period” is rapid and I often find myself laughing over the next joke, which makes multiple viewings enjoyable for all the gags I missed the time before. The humor is random and inappropriate but that’s what makes it camptastic. The film has an overall message of inclusion and acceptance, and if you’re able to suspend disbelief, you might find yourself falling in love with these drag tweens.

If you can’t take my word for it’s greatness (how dare you not), here’s the trailer. At the time of this post, the whole movie is available to stream for free on YouTube, Freevee, Tubi, Plex and Hoopla.

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