Priscilla – Queen of the Desert!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

 If you’ve seen this movie, then sit back and enjoy the following barrage of inspired thoughts. If you have not seen it, enjoy nonetheless, but I would definitely recommend checking it out and then reading this all over again… Cuz it’s about to get wild.

A few days before break I was recommended three movies from an Australia colleague of mine. They were recommended to me after I divulged I had seen and quite enjoyed Muriel’s Wedding, and subsequently ABBA, one of Australia’s most well known musical troupes. Other than stating I come from a large theatrical family, I will leave further discussion of why I had such experiences growing up with ABBA and with movies about awkward women’s weddings.

Back to Priscilla: Lucky for me, two of the three movies suggested had full versions on YouTube. Luckier still, though I had no idea how lucky, ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ was one of the two. So one of the first things I did on my 9-day Eid break – jealous much? – was to sit down, work on an art project of mine, all while tuning into this surprising movie. Movie starts, my head’s down working, and I hear the voice of Hugo Weaving talking with another character. Basic stuff. But then the disco hit song ‘Last Dance’ starts to play and as I tilt my eyes in the direction of my laptop I let out one of the most guttural and shockingly shocked guffaws-slash-throat laughs in the history of my life.

Hugo Weaving, King Elron from Lord of the Rings, Agent Smith from The Matrix, the elven warrior, the emotionless fighter, this men of men in the cinematic sense of the word man, is now a buxom blond named Mitzi with silver eye shadow and ruby red lipstick and he is lip syncing to Donna Summers. Whaaaaat?  hugo weaving opening scene queen of the desert If that wasn’t peculiar enough, minutes later, well-known actors Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp walk into frame wearing similarly fantastic and outlandish garb.

The three men load into their newly bought bus Priscilla, and fly off on an adventure across the Australian desert – ridiculousness ensues immediately. Homophobia, hateful intolerance, and a full wardrobe of frocks and feathers fill their journey as they ride to a show in which they’d be performing in the near future. They are loud, boisterous, obnoxious, and utterly absurd. But throughout the journey, while not really figuring anything out, they do find a way to venture into a world they know little about, completely unprepared, and find a way to survive the challenging situations.

Last week, I went on a similar adventure through the luscious sands of the United Arab Emirates. I left my tights and rouge at home, however, and traveled with some friends to an “authentic” Arabian experience tucked away in the folds of the desert, 2 hours southeast of Abu Dhabi. Just as I saw with our three flamboyant fellows, I noticed a pattern. When you Open Desertcontinually leave what makes you comfortable and voyage into the unknown, extreme and positive things happen that reveal many truths about yourself and the world in general. Over the next week I will go into greater depth about the small but meaningful experiences of that Arabian Nights trip, but for now it is with joy I reflect on what it means to sometimes go obnoxiously into the sandy wilderness, a wilderness that is only interested in truth.

Midway through the men’s expedition they find out that they’ve been deceived. The real reason they’re going to perform at this remote show is because one of the three men, Anthony, stage name Mitzi, has a child… and a wife! This time spent with each other on that small bus forces them to confront the truths of their childhood, the present lives, and their futures paths; it just can’t be avoided. Hugo Weaving, the father, has avoided his responsibilities as father and finally confronts his fears of failure and has to now attempt to be the father his son needs. I have also been attempting a similar journey in trying to continually confront fears about what I feel and want to be true and what is actually true.

Felicia (Guy Pearce): “Well, girls, what can I say? Here’s to a secret very well kept.”

Bernadette (Terence Stamp): “Shame it’s not gonna stay that way, isn’t it?”

 Sometimes, truth is revealed to us despite our desire for it to be so, and yet other times, truth is unveiled because of our persistent pursuit. Whichever the case, truth is a precious gem and we should search, seek, and polish it when exposed. Because the sad part is, that whether or not we like and want the truth, it will reveal itself sooner or later, sometimes in drastic form.

So in essence, while I will not engage in much thorough debate, through this forum at least, about what is right and wrong or what one chooses for their own life, I will say that we could all learn a lot from Priscilla and her three vibrant voyagers. Especially when it comes to us realizing that secrets, whether in life or in our hearts, will not stay secret, ‘Shame…isn’t it?