'Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens': Film Review
Gabrielle Burton's colorful doc finds a surprising variety of gender-bending personalities in Columbus, Ohio.
Those in search of the heartland's oasis of queer-acceptance should, judging from Gabrielle Burton's Kings, Queens, & In-Betweens, be sure to punch Columbus, Ohio into the GPS: The town of well under a million keeps no fewer than five drag venues in business and — in its bohemian downtown, at least — is a place gay couples can hold hands without fearing the scorn of passersby. Introducing locals who enjoy appropriating sexual identities other than those the world expects of them, this modest but enjoyable doc could be an eye-opener for viewers who are befuddled by current debates over sexual expression; its best hopes of finding such viewers is on the small screen.
Even those with a healthy number of non-conforming acquaintances may be surprised by the variety of expression here. Interviewees range from the petite and political Cool Ethan, born a girl, who sees being a drag king as an opportunity to educate, to Sile Singleton, who freely bounces between personas and doesn't care what you call her if you're kind. "I think God's sittin' up there scratchin' His head, wondering why folks are trippin'" about gender issues, Sile says.
As Burton spends much time listening to people discuss variety — I'm a man born in a woman's body who is attracted to women; I'm a gay man who just likes being a woman on stage; and so on — the doc's key asset will be, for some, a failing: She and her co-editors refuse to linger, cutting relentlessly from one story to another, and only the strongest personalities stand out from the crowd. Still, the approach lets Burton cover an awful lot of ground, from the technical aspects of binding, packing and primping to the assorted ways performers have kept or revealed the secret of their cabaret careers.
Production company: Five Sisters Productions
Distributor: Candy Factory
Director-Screenwriter: Gabrielle C. Burton
Producers: Charity Burton, Gabrielle C. Burton, Jennifer Burton, Maria Burton, Ursula Burton
Editors: Gabrielle C. Burton, Anita Kwan, Mike Yearling
Composer: Kevin McDaniels