Filmmaker Interview: Amy Oden captures Gaybash 'alt-drag' in 'Lipstick and Leather'
In a buttoned-up city like DC, what happens when drag queens go rogue? "Lipstick and Leather" explores the “alt-drag” community in the nation’s capital, and across the east coast. The popularity of drag has exploded in recent years, allowing performers to find new niches. "Lipstick and Leather" explores how many alt-queens are thriving, and fostering greater understanding of their communities.
Before the Reel South short premiere, we caught up with filmmaker and Emmy Award-winning producer Amy Oden, who currently works at PBS's Maryland Public Television. We asked her a few insider questions beforehand to learn about the behind-the-scenes details of "Lipstick and Leather." Watch the short now at PBS.org.
What inspired you to make Lipstick and Leather?
I was collaborating musically with Donna Slash for a few years, and I had known about Gaybash for a while, as well. Once Donna relocated to Baltimore, the timing was ideal, so I pounced!
What was your favorite part of the film?
Ana's "intro" scene is my favorite. She's just a very sweet, sincere person who is so smart and funny, and we had a really nice day filming together. I was also excited to cut the most feminine scene, featuring the band Dame from Boston.
Was there a part you wished you could have included, but didn't or couldn't? If so, why?
There are two queens who are frequently in the Gaybash rotation that I wanted to include, Pussy Noir and Kunj, and the film was almost too long to be a "short" already (the original edit is just over a half hour!), so I didn't wind up filming with them in the way I wanted to. I want to double back and make other, shorter films about them in the future!
What do you hope people get out of or learn from your film?
I think it's important for folks to know that drag, like any art form, has tons of subgenre niches, and that there's something for everyone in the overall art form. I think it's also important for folks to know that drag queens are artists, and what better way to focus on the folks who are really pushing the work to reach new audiences and express new ideas?
Since the creation of the film, has Gaybash spread to other cities? Not further than Baltimore just yet, because of COVID, but we're working on it and hope to plan a tour!
If someone was interested in hosting a Gaybash in their city, what would you suggest they do?
What is next for you as a filmmaker?
I have a short called SEEING WOMEN in development right now. It's about storefront psychics and their experiences with migration and work. I am also always trying to find new ways to collaborate with folks around Baltimore and DC, and I produce digital shorts for Maryland Public Television.