Superstar in a Housedress | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Superstar in a Housedress

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"Jackie is just speeding away / Thought she was James Dean for a day," sang Lou Reed in "Walk on the Wild Side." But writer-performer Jackie Curtis, who died of a drug overdose in 1985, was more than some androgynous speed freak; his satiric, sexually ambivalent take on popular culture influenced John Waters, David Bowie, Bette Midler, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. This 2004 documentary features clips from Curtis's movies, footage of his stage productions, and illuminating interviews with such colleagues as Lily Tomlin (who also narrates), Harvey Fierstein, Holly Woodlawn, Joe Dallesandro, Paul Morrissey, and off-off-Broadway producer Ellen Stewart. Evoking Curtis's mystique and eccentric personality, filmmaker Craig Highberger also delivers an invaluable chronicle of New York's barrier-smashing underground arts scene circa 1968-'74. 95 min. Facets Cinematheque.

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