Entertainment » Movies

PIFF 2009 :: ShowGirls

by Robb C. Sewell
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Monday Jun 15, 2009
Dina Martina with director C.Fitz of ShowGirls.
Dina Martina with director C.Fitz of ShowGirls.  

Every Monday night, from late spring into early autumn, throngs of people gather in the idyllic seaside hamlet that is Provincetown, Massachusetts for ShowGirls - a menagerie of performers, both professional and amateur.

Some performers are truly gifted, while others are woefully devoid of talent. From drag queens to dancers to singers to comedians to performance artists, they're all there to entertain. And entertain they do, to the absolute delight (and occasional horror) of all who come to indulge in the insanity and bawdiness that is Showgirls".

ShowGirls Provincetown, MA follows the revue and its performers over the summer of 2007. At the heart of the film is Ryan Landry, a brilliant playwright and actor who presides over the madness of Showgirls with an inane sense of humor and an acerbic tongue.

(Landry and his troupe of actors, affectionately named The Gold Dust Orphans, also perform a satiric show in Provincetown over the summer. This year's offering, which recently completed a successful run in Boston, is Willie Wanker and the Hershey Highway.)

The film also glimpses into the lives of many of the outrageous performers who make Showgirls so memorable.

For instance, there's Landry's co-host, the certifiably insane and amazingly hilarious drag queen Dina Martina; the love of Landry's life, the glamorous and beautiful Penny Champayne (Scott Martino); drag superstars Varla Jean Merman and Randy Roberts; Steamy Brown, a hunky performance artist who covers his naked body with Marshmallow Fluff and cereal; and drag queens Della Cattesen and Deborah Downer who are two of the contestants vying for the title of Showgirl of the Year.

Directed by C. Fitz (who previously helmed the television reality series Knock First) and produced by Fitz and Debra A. Schneider (Billy's Dad is a Fudge-Packer, a spoof of a 1950s educational film), the documentary uses interviews and behind-the-scenes and on-stage footage to peek into the zaniness, lure, and popularity of ShowGirls.

The result is a documentary that offers a raw and frank glimpse into ShowGirls, blemishes, sore egos, and excellent and bad performances intact. For those who have had the good fortune to see "Showgirls" in person, it is a chance to catch up with an old friend.

And for those unfamiliar with the revue, it is a chance to become acquainted with what has surely become a Provincetown legend and institution.

Robb C. Sewell is a writer of fiction and nonfiction. His fiction has appeared in Toasted Cheese, Parlor, and Mississippi Crow. His novel excerpt, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun," was nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. When not crafting new stories and characters, and pitching his play Breeding Ground, he enjoys spending time with his husband Eric and their cats Tabitha and Sciuto in their new home in Collingswood, NJ, and practicing yoga and breath therapy.


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