The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (15)


From the archive

This film was last shown on 18 February 2016

Priscilla took three drag queens (Terence Stamp, Guy Peace and Hugo Weaving) in an infamous lavender bus across Australia, turning writer/director Stephan Elliott’s wild, glittering, flamboyant and fabulously queer road movie into a watershed moment for the LGBT movement. Costumes, cabaret, lip syncing, fights, bigotry AND solidarity – PQOTD is at once clever, funny and beautiful.


Join us afterwards in the bar for an evening extravaganza of glitter, glamour, disco, sequins and shade. Have you got enough charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to take to the runway and lip-sync… for your life!?

Our Speaker

We are exciting to present a post-show talk following the film on the Art of Drag in LGBT Culture and the Gay Rights Movement by Dr. Ben Robbins - a Postdoctoral Fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies in Berlin. His current research project focuses on expatriate queer literature and culture from the late nineteenth century to Stonewall. He has presented on gender and sexuality in relation to twentieth-century Anglophone literature and film in the US, Australia, and Europe, and his writing on these topics has appeared in prominent international journals and essay collections.

 On 28 June 1969, drag queens formed part of a group who rioted in response to a repressive police raid of a Manhattan gay bar, the Stonewall Inn. Their actions sparked the beginning of the gay liberation movement in the United States and what would become a global fight for LGBT rights. However, the importance of drag queens within the gay rights movement has often been overlooked.

In contrast, drag queens are front and centre in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)! The journey of two drag queens and a transgender woman through the Australian Outback shows drag’s fundamental ability to contest gender categories. Through mimicry, exaggeration, and parody, these drag performers highlight how gender identities are constructed. The film also highlights the potential of drag to bring together oppressed minorities and imagine new communities that challenge social norms. We see drag used as a means to overcome racial and ethnic boundaries, connect urban and rural communities, and create alliances between gay and transgender people.

This talk will situate The Adventures of Priscilla in relation to its immediate historical context: queer activism and debate in the early 1990s at the peak of AIDS crisis. It will also trace representations of drag in film and television from Stonewall to the present day. With a wide-ranging focus, I will discuss the subversive transvestism of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), the drag superstars in the films of Andy Warhol and John Waters, the Harlem drag balls documented in Paris is Burning (1990), all the way up to the current success of Ru Paul’s Drag Race. Surveying the representation of drag in visual media over the last half century, this talk will demonstrate the central place of drag performers in LGBT culture and the continuing struggle for equal rights.

This evening’s glamourous happenings (including our Lip-Sync contest) will be presided over by the magnificent and outrageous Vermilda Hyde and Penny Slotz:

Described by those closest to her as “the sweetest smelling vagrant in town” Vermilda Hyde is a playful, sexy performer nestled in the bosom of Sheffield. This cheeky femme clown is joined by her sister Penny Slotz, the mother of the Haus of Arcadia in Warrington and V's BFF Forever. Together they rocked the stage closing Sheffield's 'Cabaret Re:Voltair' at Christmas and are back to cause even more hilarious stains on the carpet."

We are delighted to announce that Start Your Engines will be sound-tracked by Ralph Razor (Razor Stilletto impresario -  out of retirement for one night only!) providing decadent disco treats like no other.


Stephan Elliot
99 mins
Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving, Terence Stamp


We use cookies to help us provide you with a better service, but do not track anything that can be used to personally identify you.

If you prefer us not to set these cookies, please visit our Cookie Settings page or continue browsing our site to accept them.