25 Essential Drag Queen Films Every ‘Drag Race’ Fan Needs to See
So, you’re a Drag Race stan? Maybe you’re in need of some additional education as we start the latest Drag Race season. Well, this list of drag queen films was made just for you.
Some of these drag queen films (like Tootsie, Some Like It Hot and Mrs. Doubtfire) are technically movies featuring men dressed as women and aren’t technically drag queens films. We still included them on our list because some of them are great, though we did factor that into our ranking.
Here are 25 drag queen films you simply must watch if you consider yourself a true Drag Race fan.
25. Connie and Carla
Plot in a tweet: On the run from the mafia, cisgender women Toni Collette and Nia Vardalos pretend to be a pair of live-singing drag queens.
Best Quote: When Connie says, “We gotta go someplace where we can just blend in. Somewhere where they’d never look for us because there’s no theater, no musical theater, no dinner theater, no culture at all!” To which Carla responds, “Los Angeles!”
24. Cherry Pop
Plot in a tweet: When Zaza, the headliner of a weekly drag show, refuses to come out of her dressing room, all hell breaks loose backstage. Meanwhile, a young newcomer called “The Cherry” is hiding a huge secret from the girls while getting ready for his debut drag performance.
Best quote: “You are worse than Halle Berry in Catwoman!”
23. Some Like It Hot
Plot in a tweet: On the run from the mafia (we’re seeing a theme here), Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon dress up as women and one of them falls in love with Marilyn Monroe.
Best quote: “Story of my life. I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop,” said by Marilyn Monroe.
Plot in a tweet: A talented but volatile actor, Dustin Hoffman has to dress up as a woman in order to land a job.
Best quote: When Dorothy Michaels says, “Oh I know what y’all really want is some gross, caricature of a woman to prove some idiotic point that power makes a woman masculine, or masculine women are ugly. Well, shame on you for letting a man do that, or any man that does that. That means you, dear Miss Marshall. Shame on you, you macho shit head.”
21. Victor Victoria
Plot in a tweet: Julie Andrews is a struggling female soprano who finally finds work playing a drag queen, but it complicates her personal life (of course).
Best quote: When Toddy says, “Oh, god, there’s nothing more inconvenient than an old queen with a head cold.”
20. Hurricane Bianca
Plot in a tweet: A New York teacher moves to small-town Texas, where he’s fired for being gay. So he returns disguised as the biting Bianca Del Rio to get revenge on the nasty town.
Best quote: When Bianca asks, “Keely? Well, I’m going to call you Bath Mat. Not because of that lovely vest you’re wearing. It’s because I think you smell like feet.”
19. White Chicks
Plot in a tweet: The Wayans Brothers play two disgraced FBI agents who go way undercover as white girls in an effort to protect hotel heiresses from a kidnapping plot.
Best quote: “Your mother’s ass is so hairy, it looks like Don King’s about to pop out and say, ‘Only in America!’”
Plot in a tweet: This doc follows several contestants, including RuPaul‘s Drag Race Season 1 contestant Victoria “Porkchop” Parker, on their path to be crowned Miss Gay America 2008.
17. Mrs. Doubtfire
Plot in a tweet: In an attempt to spend time with his kids after a bitter divorce with Sally Field, Robin Williams disguises himself as an older British female housekeeper.
Best quote: When Mrs. Doubtfire says, “It was a run-by fruiting.”
16. La Cage Aux Folles
Plot in a tweet: Two gay men living in St. Tropez have their lives turned upside down when the son of one of the men announces he’s getting married. They try to conceal their lifestyle and their ownership of the drag club downstairs when the fiancée and her parents come for dinner.
Best quote: After Albin says, “He’s being taken from us, and we won’t have any others,” to which Renato responds, “Unless there’s a miracle.”
Plot in a tweet: An ultraconservative police officer played by Robert De Niro suffers a debilitating stroke and is assigned to a rehabilitative program that includes singing lessons with the drag queen next door, played by the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Best quote: When Rusty Zimmerman says, “Oh yeah? Well, life’s a bitch, so I became one, honey!”
14. The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Plot in a tweet: A newly engaged couple has their car break down in an isolated area and must pay a call to the bizarre residence of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, played by the indomitable Tim Curry in this camp classic.
Best quote: “A mental mind fuck can be nice.”
Plot in a tweet: A time capsule of the late 1970s, this Canadian comedy follows a drag queen/hairdresser and his mentally ill female roommate as they lean on each other for support.
Plot in a tweet: Directed by John Waters and featuring Divine, a “pleasantly plump” teenager teaches 1962 Baltimore a thing or two about racial integration after landing a spot on a local TV dance show.
Best quote: “I watch that tramp and I’m embarrassed to be white.”
11. The Queen
Plot in a tweet: An underseen 1968 documentary featuring old-school drag performers and at least one future trans woman, competing in a pageant that was judged by, among others, Andy Warhol.
Best quote: Spoken by Crystal LaBeija, “She said Crystal, darling, don’t go, because you’re not going to get it. And that’s why all the true beauties didn’t come!”
10. Wigstock: The Movie
Plot in a tweet: A concert documentary and Who’s-Who of ’90s drag, including The Lady Bunny, Lypsinka, RuPaul, Jackie Beat, Alexis Arquette, Candis Cayne and the staggeringly strange genius of Leigh Bowery.
Best quote: When Lady Bunny says, “I think Mother Nature must be a drag queen. Can you believe this weather?”
9. To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julia Newmar
Plot in a tweet: Three drag queens — Noxeema, Vida and Chi-Chi — take off on a cross-country adventure to participate in a huge drag pageant, stopping in a small homophobic town where they teach the locals about love and acceptance.
Best quote: When Carol Ann says to Vida, “Vida I do not think of you as a man, and I do not think of you as a woman. I think of you as an angel.”
8. Torch Song Trilogy
Plot in a tweet: Straight-up weeping is on the menu as pioneering out gay actor Harvey Fierstein takes his stage play to film, alongside Anne Bancroft as his judgmental mother.
Best quote: “It’s easier to love someone who’s dead. They make so few mistakes.”
7. Female Trouble
Plot in a tweet: Another John Waters masterpiece, Divine is a schoolgirl who runs away from home, gets pregnant while hitchhiking and ends up as a fashion model for a pair of beauticians who like to photograph women committing crimes.
Best quote: When Taffy says, “I wouldn’t suck your lousy dick if I was suffocating and there was oxygen in your balls!”
6. Pink Flamingos
Plot in a tweet: Notorious Baltimore criminal and underground figure Divine goes up against a sleazy married couple who make a passionate attempt to humiliate her and seize her tabloid-given title as “The Filthiest Person Alive.”
Best quote: “Kill everyone now! Condone first-degree murder! Advocate cannibalism! Eat shit! Filth is my politics! Filth is my life!”
5. Kinky Boots
Plot in a tweet: A drag queen comes to the rescue of a man who, after inheriting his father’s shoe factory, needs to diversify his product if he wants to keep the business afloat.
Best quote: When Lola says, “He wouldn’t talk to me. Even when he got lung cancer. So it’s ironic, really. Fags got him in the end.”
4. The Birdcage
Plot in a tweet: Two gay men (Nathan Lane and Robin Williams in some of the best roles of their careers) living in Miami have their lives turned upside-down when the son of one of the men announces he’s getting married.
Best quote: When Agrador says, “My Guatemalaness; my natural heat!”
3. Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Plot in a tweet: After a botched sex change operation, Hedwig Schmidt becomes an “internationally ignored” rock star who discovers and falls in love with musical prodigy Tommy Gnosis, only to have him leave her and take her material with him.
Best quote: When Hedwig says onstage, “I had tried singing once back in Berlin. They threw tomatoes. After the show, I had a nice salad.”
2. The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert
Plot in a tweet: Two drag performers and a trans woman travel across the desert to perform their unique style of cabaret. As aspirational guides to life go, this Australian dramedy of drag queens brightening up The Outback out-everythings To Wong Foo.
Best quote: When Bernadette says to Felicia, “That’s just what this country needs: a cock in a frock on a rock.”
1. Paris Is Burning
Plot in a tweet: This groundbreaking documentary takes the cake on our list of drag queen films. It captured the lives and times of LGBTQ New Yorkers and ball culture, and it shows the hopes, dreams, struggles and realities of what it was like to live it.
Best quote: Dorian Corey’s monologue: “I always had hopes of being a big star. But as you get older, you aim a little lower. Everybody wants to make an impression, some mark upon the world. Then you think, you’ve made a mark on the world if you just get through it and a few people remember your name. Then you’ve left a mark. You don’t have to bend the whole world. I think it’s better to just enjoy it. Pay your dues, and just enjoy it. If you shoot an arrow and it goes real high, hooray for you.”
How many of these drag queen films have you seen? Did we miss one of your favorite drag queen films? Let us know!
This article was originally published on September 21, 2020. It has since been updated.