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Mott, G. (1996). Queens of the Road: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and to Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. Psychoanal. Rev., 83(2):278-282.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Review, 83(2):278-282

Queens of the Road: The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and to Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar

George Mott

Even Hollywood's most exploitative potboilers are important vehicles for the collective imaginary, that “constant illusion of a between-us, an entrenous (Lefort, 1986). By evacuating meaning in the cause of box-office success, the movie industry often lets slip revealing aspects of the communal unconscious. When Hollywood produces its own version of the successful Australian import, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, it is interesting to speculate on the ways in which the two films differ.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert concerns three men traveling across central Australia, intent on bringing their drag act to Alice Springs. The oldest of them, Bernadette (Terence Stamp), has undergone a sex change operation. This sad transsexual, whose lover has recently died, recalls the actor's equally haunting portrayal of the enigmatic stranger in Pasolini's Teorema (1967). In the 1967 film Stamp personified the irrational sex drive that irrevocably changed the lives of the film's bourgeoisie. Twenty-seven years later, in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, it almost seems as though the reverse is true, and society has exacted a fierce price for his inclusion. Tick (Hugo Weaving), uneasy in his sexuality, performs in drag as “Mitzi.” He has a young son awaiting him in Alice Springs, the child of his early marriage to Marion (Sarah Chadwick). Adam (Guy Pearce), the youngest of the three, conforms to the popular notion of a silly cute gay man who is a drag queen.

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