Audience With the Queens Fails to Capture Key West's Drag Culture

To call Audience With the Queens a documentary would insult the word documentary and burden this little trifle with expectations it can never match. Purporting to be a look at Key West's drag queens, "on and offstage," in practice the film is little more than a half-hour postcard for the 801 Cabaret Club, where nearly all of Audience's stars perform. The banal voice-over narration sounds like it came from a junior high book report ("Key West has many charitable events!"), and most of the film's interview subjects are so far off-mic, you can't hear what they're saying. Not that it matters. The editing is too choppy to allow any of the captured queens to articulate a complete thought — or even, very often, a complete sentence — and even the queens' performance clips are truncated unto meaninglessness. Worse, we learn nothing about their lives — what sustains those brave boys who don dresses and trade career prospects and mainstream respectability for a life of faux fabulousness and real poverty. That's a question filmmaker Robbie Hopcraft never thinks to ask, much less try to answer.

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