To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! ~ Julie Newmar Great or Gross?
After entering a local "drag queen of the year" contest in New York City, Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes) and Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) win a trip to Hollywood
to take part in an even bigger, national drag queen contest. Before
they depart, Vida persuades Noxeema to take along the inexperienced
'drag princess' Chi-Chi Rodriguez (John Leguizamo)
as their protégé (the duo initially refer to Chi-Chi simply as a "boy
in a dress" rather than as a fully-fledged drag queen). To do this, they
trade in their airplane tickets for cash and buy a stylish but old Cadillac convertible with money given to them by John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt (Robin Williams) and the three of them set off for Los Angeles by car, carrying with them an iconic photo of Julie Newmar (signed, "To Wong Foo, thanks for everything! Julie Newmar") that Vida purloined from a restaurant wall.
While on the road they are pulled over by the racist, homophobic Sheriff Dollard (Chris Penn),
who tries to force himself onto Vida. He discovers Vida is not female
and, in the commotion, Dollard falls backwards and is knocked
unconscious. The trio think he is dead, and they hurry off and leave him
behind. While recovering from the incident at a rest stop, their car
breaks down. A young man, Bobby Ray (Jason London),
from the nearby small town of Snydersville happens by and gives them a
ride, where they take refuge in a bed and breakfast owned by Carol Ann (Stockard Channing) and her abusive car repairman husband, Virgil (Arliss Howard).
The drag queens become stranded in the town for the weekend as they
wait for the replacement spare part for their car to arrive. Whilst
there, they are confronted by the town's small-mindedness, though it
does not focus on their transgender identities but rather, their status
as females, which exposes to them and the audience the difficulties
faced by anyone deviating from the "default" gender status (white
heterosexual male). Chi-Chi is harassed by a group of roughnecks, but is
saved by Bobby Ray. The drag queens are ecstatic to find vintage
fashions from the 1960s in the town's clothing store and give the town's
female residents (and themselves) a make-over.
Following their make-over, the group is abused by the same roughnecks
that attempted to attack Chi-Chi. Fed up, Noxeema handles the situation
in a typically New York manner and teaches their ringleader a lesson in
manners. Vida, Noxeema, and Chi-Chi do what they can to be positive and
they set out to improve the lives of the townspeople, including
offering assistance in organizing the annual "Strawberry Social" event.
Meanwhile, Sheriff Dollard is ridiculed by his colleagues, who
believe he was beat up by a girl. He goes in search of the drag queens
and makes a list of places to look (entitled "Places for Homos"), which
- flower shops
- ballet schools
- flight attendants' lounges
- restaurants for brunch
- antique stores
Vida, meanwhile, becomes acutely aware of Carol Ann's abuse at the
hands of her husband Virgil and, shortly thereafter, the three queens
overhear Virgil giving Carol Ann another beating. Vida decides to
intervene and beats up Virgil before throwing him out of the house. The
next day Virgil runs into Sheriff Dollard at a bar and the two realize
that the newcomers to town are the same people Dollard has been
searching for. They head back to Snydersville and Dollard insists the
townspeople turn over the drag queens.
However, the townspeople, who now realize the true gender of their
new friends, begin to protect them. One by one they step up and confront
Dollard, each one claiming to be a drag queen, à la Spartacus.
Dollard is humiliated and flees. The Strawberry Social commences with
everybody dressed in vibrant red outfits for the party. Shortly after,
Carol Ann repairs their car and the three queens are finally able to
leave Snydersville, though they are now slightly saddened to leave
behind their new friends. Carol Ann reveals to Vida that she knew Vida
was a man all along due to his Adam's Apple, which women do not have.
They eventually make it to Los Angeles where Chi-Chi, after having
received many tips from Vida and Noxeema during their ordeal, wins the
title of Drag Queen of the Year. Fittingly, the crown is presented by Julie Newmar herself.
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