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Country: China, Language: English, 45 mins

  • Director: Matthew Baren
  • Producer: Matthew Baren; Will Dai

CGiii Comment

It's Shanghai...yet, it feels and sounds like any other 'drag' bar anywhere [else] in the world. Drag - it would seem - does not succumb to multi-culturalism...it's the same-old same-old wherever you are. Here, as multi-nationals vie for their time in the Shanghainese spotlight...'live' drag seems to be flourishing...in the East...as it [kind of] flounders in the West.

Yes...we know...drag has never been so popular, gravitas to Rupaul's co-operation...but, grassroots drag is struggling. London's Black Cap [pub] was a hub for up-and-coming drag queens...from the scruffy to the glamorous...sadly, now closed. The Royal Vauxhall Tavern continually struggles to keep afloat...

Drag is - now - all about glamour [for that we have to thank Rupaul & Co...or, do we?!?]. Miss Jade [in Shanghai] wants to drag 'drag' out of the gay bars and place it - firmly - in the mainstream...well, sweetheart, Rupaul's already done that [via TV]...making it one sure-fire way of killing off the gay bars. London is a prime example of...No drag + expensive drinks + smoking ban + Grindr = No bar. That may sound a little simplistic...but, the reality is...gay bars [all over] are closing down! On the other hand, if drag is to survive...it has to be taken out of the gay bars...and, it has...all the way into your own comfortable home!

Let's face it...call your friends, get on Grindr, stock up on cheap booze from the supermarket, dust off those well-hidden ashtrays, switch on Drag Race and/or All Stars...and, have a party...and, hey, drag is alive and well and kicking...in the comfort of your own home!

The problem with Extravaganza is...it is a little too simplistic in its approach. Snippets of performances accompanied by Miss Jade's idealistic ideaology is moderately entertaining as you would expect...but, that's about it. There's no depth, no revelatory insights into the Shanghai scene [apart from it being just like everywhere else]. Perhaps, if the filmmakers had gone into the [actual] gay bars [of Shanghai] and filmed the drag queens [& kings] in their natural surroundings...a far meatier film would have been produced.

A word of advice, especially in these super-sensitive times...edit out the 'quip' about hating redheads. It's offensive and really does Miss Jade no favours whatsoever!


Extravaganza《炫目上海滩》Trailer from Matthew Baren on Vimeo.

The(ir) Blurb...

Feel the shade, live the fantasy. A new documentary about the Shanghai drag scene.
For over three years, Miss Jade been fighting to bring drag out of Shanghai's gay bars and into the wider public arena. Tonight, she has brought together 12 of the city's top performers for the biggest show the city has ever seen. They are the fiercest kings and queens in town. Extravaganza takes you behind the scenes of one of China's most dynamic drag scenes.

Due to the massive amounts of spam we receive, the comments section is curated...so, no spam, no swearing, nothing unrelated to the film...they just won't be published! Time is precious, let's not waste it!

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