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Vegas in Space… Drag queens make glamorous aliens!

Queens... keeping the galaxy safe from boredom.

I knew it. Somewhere, deep in the solar system, is a planet where only women can gaycation. Well, mostly drag queens really, but that’s better in my opinion. In 1991, the famous San Francisco drag queen, Doris Fish, released a really low budget movie called, Vegas in Space. She’d been scraping money together for eight years before she could actualize her dream. The best part? Vegas in Space is based on a party she threw.

I’ve loved this movie for a long time. It was introduced to me by an ex girlfriend that loves Troma Films. Troma films glamorize the filth and trashiness of underground cinema. Although, there’s nothing nasty about Vegas in Space, it’s the perfect incarnation of cheap glamor. It represents many of the things I love about queer media, but until now, I’d never researched it.

As you may have noticed, I love to find stills from the movie I’m discussing, and write captions. With how over the top Vegas in Space is, I was certain I’d find oodles of amazing photos. This wasn’t the case! I mean, I know the movie is a bit underground, but with costumes this outrageous, I figured at least the cast would have gone crazy. I wad disappointed, until I dug a little deeper.

A space heroin's hair can never be too big... it's a way to force villains out of the camera shot.

This movie was made by Phillip R. Ford and Doris Fish. Doris is one of the most important Queens in our queer history, and I didn’t even know. She was scandalous, not afraid of the mostly negative media, and never backed down from a confrontation. In the late 80’s Phillip R. Ford started Sluts-a-go-go with Doris, Tippi and Miss X (all star in Vegas in Space). They redefined drag identity into sometimes shocking, and often political performance art. People who knew Doris all say how mind-blowing and charismatic she was. Unfortunately, Doris and Tippi aren’t with us anymore. I’ll never get a chance to thank her, or shamelessly hound her for life stories. For a while, Sluts-a-go-go was the face of┬áSan Francisco drag. This movie is one of their only existing monuments.

Talking smack with shopping sacks

Watch this, and the first thing I notice from the opening rocket scenes is how much fun they’re having. In order to begin their mission on the planet Clitoris, they have to change sex. It’s hilarious, as Doris is the only man, the other two are ladies in male drag. Clitoris only allows women as visitors, so they swallow a pill and undergo a transformation. If only transitioning was that easy in real life!

Queen Veneer is on the right... her fierceness scares me.. in a good way.

They arrive, barely intact, and we see the first aerial shot of Vegas, the capitol. It’s amazing! Clearly, they’re filming a minature, but the entire city is made of lipstick tubes and perfume bottles. It’s so clever, and cheap… but heartwarming. We meet the Empress Nueva Gabor, who has asked the forces of Earth to find her stolen Girlinium gems. The gems keep the orbit of Clitoris normal, and with them gone, earthquakes plague the fashionista planet. So, Tracy Daniels (Doris Fish), Sheila, and Debbie go undercover as showgirls from Earth.

Princess Angel... is wired to eavesdrop... how deliciously catty!

The inventiveness of the drag in this movie is stellar. Naturally, they camp up the cattiness as much as possible. The bitchiness is almost surreal, as some of the lines are disembodied from the queens that speak them. There’s a definite dream-like quality to the picture. In fact, there is a crazy dream sequence worthy of any 80’s experimental video. You’ll have a favorite character. Mine is definitely Miss X as Queen Veneer, the queen of the secret police. She marches around Vegas punishing tacky queens for their bad fashion choices.

Tracy Daniels: Is there much crime here?

Queen Veneer: Only crimes of fashion, but enough to keep me offended.

Doris Fish out and about... I'm envious and overwhelmed

This movie is funny, creepy, and one of a kind. Even now, dressing and performing in drag is an act of bravery. These ladies were true pioneers of American drag, and I hope when I pass on to the next life, I’ll at least have a time share at Vegas in Space.

Have Netflix? Vegas in Space is ready for instant view! HERE!

Here’s an extremely brave interview with Doris in 1986… not everyone in the audience seems pleased.

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