19
Jun
2010
Random Pop Culture Top Ten List
Top 10 Badasses Who Take a Turn as a Transvestite
Jordan and Ashley
Random Pop Culture Top 10 List is a (fairly self-explanatory) weekly list in which Jordan and Sam take stock of the realm of pop culture, and come up with their Top Ten in a specific category.


Throughout the history of film, it has occasionally become necessary for some bad ass mother fucker to dress up like a lady. Sometimes he's doing it to escape from bad guys, some times he's doing it to ensnare them, and sometimes he's just playing a transvestite in a movie. Let's look at some of the great thespians (ok, great bad asses) who have undertaken this challenge...

10. John Travolta, Hairspray

Before the Scientology, awful career choices, and accepting the title of "Oprah's Favorite White Man" (seriously, this happened), John Travolta was pretty badass. He was Danny Zuko, Bud Davis, AND Tony Manero. And though something seemed to fall apart in the 80s, he may even have irrevocable membership in the Badass Club for his stellar performance in one of the badassiest movies of all time, Pulp Fiction. While seeing Travolta covered in prosthetic fat and doing a terrible Baltimore accent in the 2007 musical film adaptation of John Waters' 1988 comedy may have been a depressing reminder for some of how far one man can stray from his dignity, for others it was a delightfully out-of-character romp. One thing's for sure: Divine did it better.




9. Johnny Depp, Ed Wood

Though one could argue that Johnny Depp's badass cred wasn't cemented until Captain Jack Sparrow became a cultural phenomenon in 2003, his underground appeal as a teen idol gone rogue was well established by the time he donned angora and sequins as Ed Wood in Tim Burton's 1994 biopic. Wood, a lifelong crossdresser, was eager to lend his personal experiences (as well as his questionable acting ability) to his films, an element Burton captures in all its tragicomic glory. Meanwhile, Depp perfectly embodies the failed director in all of his earnestness, optimism, and sheer perversion; in a particularly memorable sequence, Depp-as-Wood manages to incorporate an angora bolero into an Arabian striptease, a spectacle that convinces girlfriend Delores (Sarah Jessica Parker) that Ed's freak flag might be flying a bit too high for her liking.




8. Gene Hackman, The Birdcage

In many ways, Gene Hackman's character in The Birdcage differs little from the tough-guy characters that have become his trademark: Senator Keeley is a Moral Majority-era Republican in a perpetually dour mood after his reelection campaign is sullied by a sex scandal. But when his daughter (Calista Flockhart) is engaged to a boy who has two daddies, one of whom is a professional drag queen (Nathan Lane, obviously), he finds himself in a sticky situation that calls for an ingenious disguise. Hackman is especially brilliant in the film's penultimate scene, in which he can be found shimmying awkwardly while humming along to Sister Sledge in a Miami gay club.




7. Cillian Murphy, Breakfast on Pluto

Cillian Murphy has fought zombies in 28 Days Later, fought Batman in Batman Begins (and briefly in The Dark Knight) and fought Rachel McAdams in Red Eye (she's more threatening than she seems!). But in Breakfast on Pluto he puts all of that violence aside to portray the soft spoken, and quietly willful Patrick "Kitty" Braden, who leaves her small Irish town to avoid persecution and sets out to find her mother and become entrenched in the English music scene. Patrick isn't someone you'd want to push around, but she also isn't going to spray you with neurotoxins, so she has that going for her.





6. Chiwitel Ejiofor, Kinky Boots

Ejiofor is definitely a man you don't want to mess with. He is chillingly deadly as The Operative in Serenity, treacherously persistent as a revolutionary in Children of Men, a cold hard police detective in Inside Man, and even a mixed martial artist in Redbelt. In Kinky Boots, on the other hand, Ejiofor plays Lola, a sassy drag queen who agrees to help a small town shoe-maker diversify his business by making men's fetish footwear that would allow drag queens to walk more comfortably. To avoid a "walk a mile in someone else's shoes" pun, I think we can just move on...





5. Wesley Snipes, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar

Wesley Snipes is Blade. Need we say more? Yet in To Wong Foo he trades in his swords and sunglasses for high heels and a skirt to play Noxeema Jackson, part of a trio of drag queens on a road trip to a national competition in L.A. (if this plot sounds derivitive of a movie that will appear higher on this list, that's because it is). They face discrimination and change some minds in small town America along the way, and a fun, sassy time is had by all.





4. Michael Caine, Dressed to Kill

Brian de Palma's 1980 thriller Dressed to Kill is mostly known today for is Razzie Awards, its insensitive portrayal of transgender issues, and for blatantly ripping off Psycho. But it also features preeminent badass Michael Caine in drag, even if it's homicidal-maniac-drag. The film follows Dr. Robert Elliott (Caine), a psychologist who specializes in sexual disorders. After one of his patients is murdered, another patient, a transsexual woman named Bobbi, becomes the prime suspect. In one of the least climactic "big reveals" in recent memory, Dr. Elliott and Bobbi turn out to be the same person, driven to homicidal madness by gender confusion. While Dressed to Kill is both a catalogue of outdated DSM diagnoses as well as a generally shitty movie, Michael Caine in bad drag almost makes sitting through it a worthwhile endeavor.




3. Willem Defoe, Boondock Saints

Willem Defoe shows off his badass credentials in Platoon, Wild at Heart, and in Spider-Man. Plus, the man played Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ, and anyone willing to deal with that kind of torture has to be pretty badass. Defoe doesn't go far off of his badass path in Boondock Saints, playing Special Agent Paul Smecker, an FBI Agent with a preternatural sense of how crimes occurred (which leads to some flat out ridiculous sequences and plot developments, but we aren't here to review the movie). At the film's climax, Smecker needs to gain admittance into the house of some Russian thugs, and let's just say he's got a pretty smooth way of doing it.





2. Tony Curtis, Some Like it Hot

As both an action-adventure and western star, Tony Curtis epitomized classic Hollywood masculinity, a persona that made his appearance in Some Like It Hot with Jack Lemmon as male musicians who go into hiding as members of a ladies' orchestra after witnessing a mob hit all the more hilarious and surprising to audiences in the late 50s. The film is consistently ranked as one of the greatest comedies of all time, in part because of Curtis' performance as Joe, whose alter-ego Josephine finds herself engaged to a smitten older man (which provides for one of the greatest ending scenes in movie history).




1. The Cast of The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Almost doubtlessly the largest collection of badasses playing drag queens in film history, Priscilla follows Mitzi (Hugo Weaving, who would go on to be Mr. Smith in The Matrix, Elrond in Lord of the Rings, and V in V for Vendetta), Felicia (Guy Pearce, who was headed towards L.A. Confidential, Memento, and The Count of Monte Cristo) and Bernadette (Terrence Stamp, who had already done Superman II, and Young Guns, and still had The Limey and Wanted in his future) as they travel across Australia to put on a show at Mitzi's ex-wife's failing hotel. They encounter discrimination, mistaken identities, a phenomenal soundtrack and a whole lot of fabulous costumes on the way (the film won a much deserved Oscar for Best Costumes. Three Words: Flip Flop Dress), and also learn something about how complexities are a part of any relationship and that no matter what, true connections can survive the complications.








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