Drag film Cherry Pop stormed into pride week and made its New York premiere at OutCinema, a celebration of LGBTQ pride and community on film. Produced by NYC Pride with NewFest and the SVA Theatre, the night featured a specially curated screening followed by a talkback and open bar after-party. Gay social networking app Hornet also sponsored, giving out premium memberships to attendees.
“A bawdy, uproarious comedy about a wild night in a down-and-out drag club,” Cherry Pop features performances by Bob The Drag Queen, Detox, Tempest DuJour and Latrice Royale. Directed by Assaad Yacoub, the film follows a misfit troupe of drag performers backstage at a failing drag club.
“It was originally a short film five years ago,” director Assaad Yacoub tells us on the red carpet. “I was a student doing my undergrad thesis and I never had seen drag queens before. I knew I needed to put this on film and that I needed to show behind-the-scenes at a show. So I decided to make it into a short film. Bob was originally in that short. After we did the festival run with the short, we made it into a feature.”
The films opens as the newest “Cherry” arrives for her inaugural gig. Meanwhile, the legendary but unstable Zaza prepares for her final performance. Add a bevy of backstabbing queens, in the end they learn to set aside their differences and embrace what unites them.
Bob The Drag Queen plays “Kitten Withawhip,” the hostess who tries to keeps the show running despite all the drama.
“I met Assaad when he was 19 years old,” Bob tells us. “He use to sneak into Stonewall Inn, underage. He was screwing the DJ. It’s true. The DJ or the bartender, I can’t remember. But this annoying little 19-year-old kid was was sneaking into the bar begging drag queens to be in his film. I couldn’t say ‘no.’ I said ‘yes’ and I am so glad I did.”
“My character is White Chocolate and she is a ghetto-centric bitch who is secretly in love with one of the others queens,” Detox tells us.
“It was really fun,” she elaborates. “I have done a lot of projects like this before but it was the first time having a serious role in a film. It was great to be with the girls who I have grown to love in Los Angeles because I am never home anymore. So it was great to be home and to rekindle my friendship with those people and share this experience with all of them.”
But Detox has more even on screen acting coming her way.
“I have my own show coming out called Detox’s Life Rehab with World of Wonder. The show follows me as a Martha Stewart type drag character giving you life advice in a very tongue in cheek and fun way.”
“It’s scripted. It’s more about self help, fashion and philosophy and how to live your true life, be happy and find happiness in others.”
Reality star and LGBTQ activist Jazz Jennings was also on the red carpet with her mom Jeanette. Jazz is preparing for the third season of her TLC reality show I Am Jazz that begins June 28. She tells us, “This season is about me transitioning from a girl to a woman.”
“Basically that’s expressed because the bottom surgery has been a big deal in my life. It’s this procedure that is very important for a lot of transgender individuals. I talk about that with my family and you see there are some complications. So that is one big thing I am excited to share. But you also will see me dating, hanging out with my family.”
Jazz continues, “Also, I turn 16 and I go to a drag show on my 16th birthday! So, I do all of these different things that represent me growing up.”
Yacoub thinks his film is unique because it showcases drag from a new point of view. “It’s unique because we are showing the drag scene from a completely different point of view,” he tells us. “From an outsider — a straight man’s perspective — of entering the gay drag world and being rejected. This is opposed to a gay man being rejected by the straight world. So we are reversing the ignorance here. I think that is a unique eye to look at the drag scene in that way.”
After the film, Max Emerson hosted a talk back with the cast and Yacoub, asking questions about the process and drag culture in general. Emerson’s film Hooked makes it U.S. premiere Monday, June 26 during a special benefit screening raising funds for the Ali Forney Center.
So, if Cherry Pop follows a straight man doing drag for the first time, what about a straight man being on RuPaul’s Drag Race?
“I hope so,” Yacoub answers. “I would like that. I don’t think drag is exclusive to just gay people. It’s like saying clowns can only be a certain gender or whatever. Anyone can do any job as long as they are good at it. So if you are a straight guy and can turn it out in drag, I think that would be so cool to see happen.”