I knew that Atlanta was a cultural hotspot and even that it had a sizeable and involved queer community. I could not have guessed, however, how diverse its queer arts scene is. Fortunately, the new documentary Queer Moxie has brought me up to speed.
Queer Moxie goes beyond highlighting solely drag queens and kings–it has them share the spotlight with burlesque dancers, poets, comedians, musicians and more. Heather Provoncha and Leo Hollen Jr are the duo behind this project, and we recently got to talk to the directors about their film. We discussed the history of Atlanta’s queer performance art community, honoring heroes of yesterday and today, the community’s DIY aesthetic and more.
AfterEllen.com: What made you want to create this film?
Heather Provoncha: It was kind of an evolution for me. I was hosting a cabaret to celebrate some artists in Atlanta and saw many artists from different places and looked around and recognized that this was kind of phenomenal and wasn’t really being captured. I just started recording from that point, trying to celebrate and document what I thought was both fantastic and something evolving right in front of me.
AE: Leo, when did you get involved?
Leo Hollen Jr: I got involved about three, four years ago. I just really wanted to help celebrate this community.
photo by Jon Dean
AE: How long has this phenomenon been going on for?
HP: That’s why I really am excited to do this film: it’s actually not new. The difference is that drag has really had the luxury and wonderful ability to have many stages and many outlets of expression. It happened most in bars, so it was easier and more people knew about it. But I think gay and queer people have been being funny and writing poems and doing burlesque in smaller places for a very long time. I wanted to celebrate drag as well, but I more wanted to celebrate all the diversity of expression that there was.
Now that being said, about 2005 I started to–I dated a burlesque performer in Atlanta at that time and started to realize and see that queer burlesque was really taking off. In the early 2000s, neo-burlesque was starting itself and having a resurgence, queer and otherwise. Through that, probably because of some of the success that drag queens had, queer women–and also men as Boylesque started–started to take up space on stage as well. Queer comedy has really hit its stride in the last couple of years and is growing. The spoken word has been around for a number of decades and I think has been a very safe place for folks in the margins for a very long time. The difference is from a public and an awareness perspective. When we say “queer performance,” most people’s kneejerk is, “Oh, you mean drag.” So I think it’s a lot more that films like ours and other moments will bring awareness and celebration.