Venus Boyz is a 2002 Swiss-German feature film about changing gender identities in the drag king, transgender, and gender activist community.Written and produced by Gabriel Baur over a period of five years, the film is a combination of a documentary and feature film and is set in New York, London, and Berlin.
"Venus Boyz" by Gabriel Baur deals with the issue of what male and female, man and woman represent in today's society and how perceptions of genders vary in society. Basing her work mainly on the drag king and transgender scenes in New York, London and Berlin, Baur also questions common ideals of beauty.
"Venus Boyz" begins at a drag king and transgender night in New York, with the actors crossing gender boundaries. Women become men – some for a night, others their whole lives. The drag kings in New York appear and perform in clubs and turn into male alter egos, parody them, and explore male eroticism and power strategies.
The film then moves location to London, where women experiment with hormones and become new men and cyborgs. Baur sheds light on the phenomenon of masculinity and presents the transformation from one gender to another as a performance, a form of subversion, or as an existential necessity.
The protagonists who appear in Venus Boyz are all personally involved in the film’s topic.
As the Austrian video artist and film-maker Hans Scheirl says about the film, the persons and protagonists influence each other in the film, simply by participating as actors. "Mainly I realize that what happens here is that a trans-personal protagonist, or a protagonist multiplicity is created," he says. "Every character has an effect on the perception of every other character, so I think this movie is futuristic."
The persons who played in Venus Boyz are all personalities in the scene they are members in. The main protagonists include:
Haitian-American performer, actress and gender activist HYPERLINK (new for certain time: https://www.wowcafe.org/event/a-memorial-tribute-to-dred/ D.R.E.D Mildred Gerestant],
Drag king pioneer [[Diane Torr"|Diane Torr]]
Berlin performer and transformation artist Bridge Markland
Video artist and filmmaker Hans Scheirl
Visual artist Svar Simpson
Gender theoretician [[Judith Halberstam|Judith Jack Halberstam]]
Performers and artists Philly Abe, Shelly Mars, Mo Fischer, Storme Webber, Queen Be Luscious and Mistress Formika
Formally speaking, Venus Boyz is a combination of a [[Documentary film|documentary]] and [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feature_film feature film]. It was produced and directed in close cooperation with the performers, based on many years of research and a written script . During filming, two cameras were used with different angles: a main camera and an experimental camera.
As Gabriel Baur explains in an interview with Irene Genhart, "documentaries […] are always a type of staging, a selective form of representation of reality. In "Venus Boyz", the moment of staging is intensified. The performances, that is, the representations of the protagonists on stage, are interwoven with their conscious and unconscious everyday portrayals. The permanent performance of one’s selve hightens our awareness that there are only slight differences between gender performances in normal life and on stage."
According to Baur, this type of performance affects everyone. In her opinion, the dichotomy of genders has become so self-evident for mankind that we hardly give it any more thought. She assumes people grow into these roles and perform their gender every day, without even realizing it. In the interview with Genhart, she refers to Ru Paul when she states, "every morning when we wake up, we get into drag."
For Baur the important aspect about "Venus Boyz" was for the protagonists to open up emotionally, which led to some particularly moving moments. As she explains, she believes these moments are particularly touching, "because they dissolve our ideas of fiction and reality, imagination and convention, man and woman. They open up space for something new, something as yet undefined. 'Venus Boyz' tries to match this moment of performance in its formal language."
Baur filmed using two cameras: a main camera, operated by [http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0537776/ Sophie Maintigneux] as cinematographer, and a second, smaller experimental camera accompanied to the same scenes from a different perspective. Baur also experimented with different recording speeds and lighting.
As the director says, "I aimed at dissolving "reality", I wanted to create an undefined visual zone. In the editing phase, the two levels were mixed together. We also added black & white images, which we produced during the research phase, and the blue images. To me, the blue images are "reality in drag". They constitute a third element, neither black & white nor colour, and no 24 frames or 3 frames per second. They mark short moments from a dream world, a world of imagination. Like the experimental images, they create a distance and refer to the construction of filmic reality. Film has always been "reality in drag"."
- Gabriel Baur: Irene Genhart interviews Gabriel Baur 
Production and Release
Production and direction of Venus Boyz took more than five years. The premier was at the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locarno_International_Film_Festival"Locarno International Film Festival, the international premiere in 2002 at the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_International_Film_Festival"Berlin International Film Festival / Panorama. Venus Boyz has screend at more than 50 film festivals worldwide, including:
2002: [[Karlovy Vary International Film Festival|Karlovy Vary IFF]]
2002: [[Outfest|Los Angeles Outfest IFF]]
2002: [[Moscow International Film Festival|Moscow IFF]]
2002: Rio De Janeiro IFF
2002: Mostra De Sao Paulo IFF
2002: [[Chicago International Film Festival|Chicago IFF]]
2002: Singapore IFF
2002: San Francisco G & L FF
2002: [[Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards|Taipei Golden Horse IFF]]
2002: Haifa IFF
2002: [[Warsaw International Film Festival|Warsaw IFF]]
2003: Sydney Mardi Gras
2003: Seoul WFFIS
Cinema releases in eight European countries and the United States. International DVD releases and TV sales.
Best Film, [[Locarno International Film Festival|Locarno International Film Festival ]] /Semaine de la critique 2001
Official Selection - [[Berlin International Film Festival|Berlinale ]]/Panorama 2001
Nomination [[Swiss Film Prize|Swiss Film Prize 2002]]
Audience Award - Copenhagen Gay & Lesbian Filmfestival 2002
Audience Award - Mostra Lambda Barcelona 2003
Switzerland, USA, Germany
In coproduction with
Salome Pitschen, Jean Vites
- Diane Torr
- Dred Gerestant a.k.a. D.R.E.D.
- Del Lagrace Volcano
- Bridge Markland
- Hans Scheirl
- Svar Simpson
- Judith Jack Halberstam
- Philly Abe
- Shelly Mars
- Mo Fischer
- Storme Webber
- Queen Be Luscious
- Mistress Formika
'Long Live the King: A Genealogy of Performative Genders ' 
'Journal of Gender Studies ' 
'Variety Review' 
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