No Guts, No Glory: The Glory Hoes on Queer Films and Presenting Art on Their Own Terms
From the very start, The Glory Hoes never had any intention of presenting the crème de la crème of films, or the most technically impressive selection of must-see hard and fast queer classics.
“Yes, some of these films are objectively bad,” admits drag queen Becca D’ Bus, one-third of the artist collective. Jokingly describing themselves as “three faggots—Bobby Luo, Prashant Somosundram, Becca D’Bus, and one honorary straight cis-gender woman who shall remain unnamed”, The Glory Hoes intentionally lean into the more jocular side of queer culture—as their name suggests.
“It was critical that we had a name we could get behind. Actually [we had rejected] our favourite name because we thought we’d have a hard time trying to list the event in mainstream press. It became our hashtag, and there is no greater pleasure than watching people try to pronounce #cinelanjiao,” they say.
And so, thanks to a winning combination of good timing and a shared vision for a local queer cultural event, Cine Lan Jiao—no wait, The Glory Hoes—was born. Since 2017, The Glory Hoes Present have been hosting a series of no-judgement, no holds barred screenings and after parties for cult queer films at The Projector. Since then, these events have become somewhat of a noteworthy, buzzed about gathering for Singaporeans and Expats alike to scramble to tag their friends in the Facebook event pages of.
From The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Hairspray, many of the films presented often either depict queer elements or sexuality as a chaotic and subversive force, queer characters or not. In a sense, The Glory Hoes Present events buck back against the cultural zeitgeist, proving that it’s okay to challenge norms, to misbehave. In fact, it’s encouraged.
That’s why, in talking to The Glory Hoes, it felt important to discuss not just the collective themselves, but also what makes a film queer, and the larger motivations of organising unabashedly queer film experiences, too.
Sinema: Hi! Could you take me through the first ever Glory Hoes Present event?
The Glory Hoes: It was April 2017 and the film was The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. We were sold out. We had a bunch of drag queens at Intermission Bar [at The Projector] offering mini drag makeovers. It was good times all around. We screened the movie, with additional homemade subtitles so anybody who wanted to sing along could. At the end of the movie, we had a disco dance party. It was incredible fun! We felt like we were really on to something.
How did the concept for The Glory Hoes Present even come about?
The Glory Hoes: A few things were happening at the same time. First, Prashant had recently started running Intermission Bar at The Projector, and was thinking about cultural programming at Intermission Bar. Becca and Bobby were throwing parties together, and in other ways just looking for mischief to get up to. At one point, the conversation turned to films that gay people just [knew] and tended to get into—and if we could do something that celebrated this kind of shared culture that many gay men seem to tune into.
Then as we started to think this out, we imagined what we could do to add some meat to a film screening—hence sing-alongs, and drinking games, and people yelling at the screen. But also activities before the movie while people are waiting to be let into the theatre, and most certainly a dance party after! That’s shifted a bit over time as we started to understand what feels important about these events, what feels special, and also what feels powerful.
“On a certain level, part of what is interesting about [non-queer films beloved by the queer community] is that they still exist as a kind of code, that these films have a particularly queer resonance, and queers have no desire or interest in explaining to anyone else why. It’s for us.”
What makes a film worthy of being presented by The Glory Hoes?
The Glory Hoes: When we started, we had said that The Glory Hoes would screen films made by us, about us, or that were important to us. That hasn’t really changed. We only screen films that audiences know well, because for the most part we’re not introducing the movie to people.
And in some way, it has to be a film that is important to queers, whether because it’s literally about queers—as is the case with something like The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Paris is Burning or Rocky Horror Picture Show—or it speaks to some kind of queer experience as is the case with something like Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Or, it is in someway extremely camp, like Xanadu. We also tend to only be interested in films that end on a note that would allow an audience to run out of the theatre and have a good time at a dance party.
Not all of the films The Glory Hoes have presented in the past necessarily revolve around queer people or queer themes—Clueless or Spice World come to mind—but are still beloved by queer folks. Why do you think this is so?
The Glory Hoes: It’s different with each film, really. Certainly films like Xanadu and Spice World are very camp, which thanks to the Costume Institute at the MET Gala, we’re reminded is a particularly queer sensibility. In other cases, like The Wizard of Oz, the stars are gay icons and elements of the film have become part of gay culture. On a certain level, part of what is interesting about this is that they still exist as a kind of code, that these films have a particularly queer resonance, and queers have no desire or interest in explaining to anyone else why. It’s for us.
What makes a film “queer”?
The Glory Hoes: Queer characters, themes, or situations, of course. And then there are films that just have a kind of queer sensibility. We’d consider those films queer too.
What are some other films, you think, are also worthy of iconic “queer film” status?
The Glory Hoes: Grey Gardens. 881. The Queen. Party Monster. Velvet Goldmine. Happy Together. Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
Queerbaiting has been a hot button topic for a while now; where do you guys personally draw the line between the ambiguity of exploration of sexuality and/or gender in film and downright commodifying it for dramatic effect?
Becca: Speaking as a drag queen, I don’t believe in the process of deciding that some things are kosher and others are not if they check out certain boxes. Ultimately, does the work make sense? And if it doesn’t, was that the point?
The Glory Hoes: As with almost all art, it would matter if the choice resolves itself. We are, however, generally opposed to any director using queer themes or characters to no effect.
“That event surfaced that: even in 2018, a documentary about trans folks and drag culture is [not only] beautiful and uplifting, but also still powerful and dangerous for those who pander to conservative forces.”
Do you remember the first time you saw someone like you represented on the big screen? What was the movie, and how did you feel?
Becca: I remember watching The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and thinking it was really fun and fabulous!
Prashant: It was not really the big screen, but I remember watching The Wedding Banquet VCD in my boarding school and being amused with the whole charade!
Bobby: Rocky Horror Picture Show. I was 17 and was wondering: “What the heck was going on? Who are these wonderfully crazed people?” That was so much fun. My mind was blown. To quote Susan Sarandon: “My mind has been expanded. ”
Why is it necessary to have accessible queer events and experiences like this in Singapore?
The Glory Hoes: To be completely real, we’re not sure how accessible The Glory Hoes Present is. Certainly, being situated in an old cinema, wheelchair access is not available. And certainly our ticket prices are a little higher than regular screening at The Projector, even though taking into account the costs of creating these event, we’re priced quite conservatively.
But perhaps what you mean is why queer events need to be available to anybody that seeks them out, that they are not exclusive. And to be honest, we’ve never thought about that. We just know that we are queer, that queer or gay culture has made our lives richer, and that everybody else, queer or not has a lot to gain from accessing what is important to us.
What has been your favourite movie you’ve presented so far?
The Glory Hoes: In 2018, we presented The Glory Hoes Present Paris is Burning. It was originally meant to be presented in conjunction with the M1 Singapore Fringe, until The Necessary Stage was afraid of being seen to as “celebrating the gay lifestyle” and censored themselves, removing the event from their lineup for fear of losing corporate sponsorship.
That event surfaced that: even in 2018, a documentary about trans folks and drag culture is [not only] beautiful and uplifting, but also still powerful and dangerous for those who pander to conservative forces.
And [as for] the actual event itself, it was such pleasurable fun! A full house of people who came, who knew the movie well enough to yell their favourite lines along with the people on screen, and then a KILLER afterparty.
They came for us. They wish we would go away. We’re still here. Let’s dance.