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Alaska is a Drag

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Alaska Is A Drag is a 2017 LGBT drama film written and directed by Shaz Bennett in her feature film directorial debut[1], based on a short film by the same name. It stars Martin L. Washington Jr., Maya Washington, Matt Dallas and Christopher O'Shea. It follows Leo (Washington Jr.), an aspiring drag star who is stuck dealing with monotonous hardships alongside his twin sister Tristen (Washington). When he is forced to fight back, it lands him in a boxing ring with a new boy in town, and they question what is truly keeping them from leaving.

Warning: Display title "<i>Alaska is a Drag</i>" overrides earlier display title "<i>Alaska Is A Drag</i> (2017 film)".
Alaska is a Drag
Directed byShaz Bennett
Produced by
  • Diane Becker
  • Shaz Bennett
  • Jean-Pierre Caner
  • Melanie Miller
Written byShaz Bennett
Starring
  • Martin L. Washington Jr.
  • Maya Washington
  • Matt Dallas
  • Christopher O'Shea
  • Margaret Cho
  • Jason Scott Lee
  • John Fleck
  • Kevin Daniels
  • Nia Peeples
Music byMaciej Zielinski
CinematographyAlison Kelly
Edited by
  • Jean-Pierre Caner
  • Lex Benedict
  • Brooke Sebold
Production
company
4248 Productions
Distributed byARRAY
Release date
June 23, 2017
CountryUnited States

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The film was released in the United States on June 23, 2017 by ARRAY.

Plot[edit]

Leo, his twin sister Tristen and their father George moved to Alaska ten years ago. Their mother Lucy abandoned them for hairstyling in Los Angeles. Leo works at a fish cannery and Tristen works at a thrift store called The Closet, which is where they get their drag attire. Their father spends most days preaching about God on the side of the road or gambling. They live in an RV. Leo and Tristen have dreams of becoming international superstars and frequently dress in drag together.

A new arrival in town begins work at the cannery and befriends Leo after witnessing a fight between him and his homophobic bully Kyle, who also works at the cannery. He asks Leo to go out for a drink with him, and says his name is Declan. Leo declines the offer, telling him he has to pick up his sister, who has Hodgkin's disease, from the clinic. The two walk home while practicing drag routines. They arrive and find that their father has sold the tires on their truck for gambling money. They receive a postcard from their mother in Los Angeles, and the two profess that they will leave Alaska for the city soon.

Tristen gives a letter to Leo that states he has been chosen to compete in a local Miss Drag America competition with the finalists competing in Los Angeles. The two celebrate at the local gay bar owned by a woman named Jan, who is the closest they have to a mother figure. They ask Jan if they can use her bar for the drag competition taping and she agrees on the condition it will bring in more people. George finds them in the bar and tells them that they should not be there, but they criticize him for selling the tires for money and he backs down. He promises that he will pay them back. A bar attendee named Dan tells the pair to not believe anything George says, calling back to when he lied to Lucy about being gay.

One morning, Kyle attempts to fight Leo, with Tristen retaliating and getting Kyle to back down. The cannery's owner and Leo's boss tells him to do something with the constant fighting and takes him to a boxing gym. He tells Leo about a boxing league that is coming up and recruits Declan to be Leo's sparring partner. The two begin training together. The next day, Leo and Tristen walk home to find Declan waiting outside their RV. Tristen leaves Leo them outside to talk. The two drink, and Leo tells Declan that Kyle was actually his first friend when they moved to Alaska, but Kyle's father didn't approve of Leo's lifestyle. Declan then leaves abruptly.

At the cannery, Kyle continues to bully Leo by throwing fish guts at him. After work, as Leo and Declan are talking, Kyle plays a radio excerpt regarding the sin of homosexuality. Declan inquires on what Kyle's problem with Leo is, and almost starts a fight. Leo and Declan practice boxing after work, and the Declan tells Leo he has never met anyone like him in Alaska. He asks him when he first knew he was gay. Leo tells him it was when Kyle and him joked about giving a beer bottle a blowjob. Leo and Declan joke at the memory and wrestle, with Declan ending up on top of Leo and holding him down. He then gets up to leave and asks Leo if he is going to their first match on Friday, which is the same day as the drag taping.

Leo and Tristen are approached by Hal, a smoker who pesters them about smoking while at the clinic. When at home, the two practice their drag routine, but are interrupted by Declan at the door. He asks if they want to drink with him. They accept. Declan inquires more about their family and Los Angeles. After a while, he leaves. At work, while Declan and Leo are talking, Kyle throws fish guts at them, prompting Declan to beat him up, and is then forced out by their boss. After work, Declan joins Leo and Tristen for a drink. They make their way to an empty field with a couch. When Declan asks more about drag culture, they do a routine and dance with him. He ends up drinking too much and he stays the night at their RV. Declan thanks them for allowing him to sleep at their house, and smokes with Tristen. He is allowed to resume work at the cannery after the previous fight. Leo leaves work to find Declan asking Kyle for a drink as an apology.

The three go to the bar for drinks and Declan tells Leo he only asked Kyle for a drink so he would leave Leo alone. Tristen and Leo then ask Declan if he is gay, and he avoids the question by asking them why they haven't left Alaska yet. He tells them that they should all leave soon. Leo practices boxing as well as drag routine simultaneously for Friday.

As Friday comes and Leo and Tristen are getting ready for both the boxing match and the drag competition, Hal reveals he will be hosting it and that he used to be a former drag queen. When Leo shows up late to the boxing match, the judge laughs at his drag attire. Leo proclaims that he can still fight in drag, and is eventually allowed. He is up against Kyle, who calls him a faggot. The two fight, and after being cornered by Kyle, Leo uppercuts him and wins the match. After the fight, Leo kisses Declan in celebration, to which he is punched in the face. Declan tries to apologize but Leo and Tristen run away before he is able.

At the bar, it is full of drag queens from all across Alaska. Declan approaches Leo before his performance. He tells him he is sorry and wishes him luck on stage. Leo responds with "Don't say good luck. It's bad luck in the drag world. You have to say something really bitchy to me if you want to wish me luck." Declan responds with "You look like shit," and Leo approves. Their boss tells Leo that Kyle wants a rematch. He doesn't have time to respond adequately, and leaves to perform. he drag queens perform, with Leo's act being last. While singing, he looks at Declan, who leaves. Leo wins second place and is upset, but overall satisfied.

Leo walks with Tristen to the clinic where she gets her cancer results back. He continues training with Declan, and their matches are increasingly tense. He tells Leo that he liked how he looked in drag, and the two joke together. Declan ends up on top of Leo again, but kisses him this time. Kyle witnesses this and gets upset. The two escape to a bar owned by a gay couple. Kyle and his friends find them at the bar and attempt to fight them, but are thrown out by the owners. Tristen finds George after Leo failed to pick her up from the clinic. The two find Declan and Leo at the bar and Tristen begins crying, telling Leo that he promised to never leave her alone again. She tells him that the cancer tumor is still growing, and that chemotherapy didn't work. The two hug and Leo tells her that everything will be okay.

The next day, Kyle and his friends ambush Declan and Leo at the boxing gym and force them to fight each other. They are both reluctant. but Declan tells Leo to hit him. After fighting, Leo pulls the fire alarm to alert the cannery owner and he forces them out. Leo tells Kyle to fight him. The two brawl outside before ending up next to each other. They both attempt to hold hands with each other but they both force them away.

That night, George returns the tires, telling them that he promised to pay them back. He reveals that he was the one sending the postcards from Los Angeles, telling Leo and Tristen that they were lost without their mother. The next day, Leo, Tristen and Declan load the truck with their things and say goodbye to George as they depart for Los Angeles. They stop at the Alaskan border sign, and throw rocks at it before leaving.

Cast[edit]

  • Martin L. Washington Jr. as Leo, an aspiring drag star who works in a cannery.
  • Maya Washington as Tristen, Leo's twin sister.
  • Matt Dallas as Declan, a new arrival in town and Leo's sparring partner.
  • Christopher O'Shea as Kyle, Leo's bully and former friend.
  • Margaret Cho as Jan, a gay bar owner.
  • Jason Scott Lee as the cannery's boss.
  • John Fleck as Hal, a former drag queen.
  • Kevin Daniels as George, the father of Leo and Tristen.
  • Nia Peeples as Lucy, Leo and Tristen's mother.
  • Tim Holmes as Dan, a local gay man and George's former lover.

Production[edit]

The film was worked on by Bennett for six years before entering production[2]. It was filmed in South Haven, Michigan.

Reception[edit]

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 64%[3].

References[edit]

  1. "Alaska Is A Drag\nFeature Film written and directed by Shaz Bennett". alaskaisadrag.com. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  2. "Salt Lake City-born filmmaker brings her 'Alaska Is a Drag' to Utah's Damn These Heels LGBTQ Film Festival". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2021-08-03.
  3. Alaska Is a Drag (2017), retrieved 2021-08-03



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