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Friday, August 19, 2022

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Arts + CultureMoviesFeathered hair and high kicks rule in sparkling 'Shit...

Feathered hair and high kicks rule in sparkling ‘Shit & Champagne’

D'Arcy Drollinger's dragsploitation flick finally comes to the big screen—'70s aesthetics and toilet humor included.

One of the joys of San Francisco life in the years just before the first tech bomb (or boom, if you will) dropped was Enrique, the very theatrical band equally indebted to glam rock and 1970s Saturday morning cartoons. Ditto their affiliated stage productions, starting with 1993’s The Cereal Killers.

When Enrique split up and co-founder Jason Mecier went into his genius mixed-media portrait-making fulltime, D’Arcy Drollinger continued creating (and starring in) such extravaganzas, moving to NYC for a few years, then returning to SF in 2011. In the ever-winnowing Bay Area stage world, his shows have been an ongoing bright spot of camp ingenuity, in recent years calling as home Oasis, the SOMA nightclub for which he is now owner and artistic director.

It takes a bigger house to accommodate the official non-festival premiere of Drollinger’s debut feature, however. Hence the Castro Theatre will briefly light up again—what is up with that place?—Sat/28 for Shit & Champagne, which debuted at Frameline last year (where it sold out a hooting, hollering drive-in) and has traveled the gay film fest circuit since.

Based on a 2006 stage production popular enough (in both NY and SF) to have generated two sequels so far, it features the writer-director-producer himself as Champagne Horowitz Jones Dickerson White, star attraction at the Sha-Boom-Boom Room in North Beach. With her extra-tall platforms and platinum Farrah locks, towering Champagne is almost too much for any one man, though evidently not aptly-named fiance Rod (Mario Diaz).

It is unfortunate, then, that this three-legged ticket to paradise is shot to death by thugs before her very eyes, an event that somehow triggers an alley dance number amidst pink smoke—and also a contract on narrowly- escaped Champagne’s life by one Dixie Stampede (Matthew Martin in a flaming Shirley MacLaine dragon-lady wig). That evil mastermind not only orchestrated Rod’s demise, but is behind a criminal empire driving a drug epidemic and “white slavery on the black market,” plus a “discount escort service.” Reluctantly cooperating with the abrasive, then amorous police Det. Hammer (Seton Brown), Champagne evades her hitmen while seeking revenge and the syndicate’s demise.

Not a musical, though its heroine does get a theme song and more dance numbers (including a climactic catfight-danceoff with Dixie), Shit & Champagne doesn’t stint on the first half of that title. The “booty bumps” causing OD’s all over SF have a diarrhetic effect, and having that situation described as “a regular deja poo” is just the tip of a brown iceberg of scatological humor. I’d have preferred more lines like tough guy Hammer’s put-down to much-married Champagne “You reek of divorce!,” but Drollinger’s writing lineage here isn’t so much Noel Coward as the ka-boom-cha! humor of burlesque.

His aesthetic, however, is all slavish Me Decade homage,with S&C’s costumes, decor, background music and loud widescreen color redolent of 1970s TV commercials, series and exploitation flicks. Indeed, this would make a great double bill with Girls Are For Loving, the last and greatest in the drive-in Ginger trilogy starring Cheri Caffaro as another big-haired, platform-wearing blonde concealing surprise quantities of whup-ass. There’s also good use of SF locations, particularly one footchase improbably cramming every local tourist sight in, and fetish appeal implicit in the quite remarkable number of face slaps worked into the plot.

Featuring such in-or-out-of-drag performance favorites as Leigh Crow aka Elvis Herselvis, Nancy French, James Arthur, Steven LeMay, and Alaska Thunderfuck, with a particularly funny turn by Adam Roy as one of Dixie’s goons, Shit is definitely the kind of movie that will benefit from playing to a raucous live audience. The 8pm Castro event (doors open at 7pm) will include a preshow, Oasis bartenders, and Sha-Boom-Boom dancers. Because reality doesn’t entirely cease to exist at the theater door, proof of vaccination and mask-wearing is required for attendance. For more info on the event, click here. For genera info on the film, check out www.shitandchampagne.com.

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