It’s been a while since I’ve been on a bus, but this isn’t about me. It’s about a movie based on this concept – Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Basically, it’s a story of two drag queens and a transvestite who are summoned from their base in Sydney to Alice Springs to perform at a hotel/casino. Now, anyone familiar with even the basics of transport in Australia will know that it it’s a long, hard slog to get from one city to the other, involving long periods of (for the lack of a better term) lonliness, even when travelling with mates.
In fact, during the movie, there are two journeys going on – the one at the centre of the movie, and the running gag – the “Philips Coast-to-Coast Classic”, and somehow, the two paths meet up a couple of times during the movie. Clearly, she is a fast runner. 😉
However, the main journey does encounter some delays, most notably when it is decided to take the shortcut (essentially an unimproved track through the desert) instead of staying on the sealed roads while heading toward Port Augusta. Thus, they are led through the outback (the filming of which featured many of the creatures that are native to the desert lands) and the result is predictable – the dust clogs up the engine and they wind up stranded. Bernadette (the transvestite) heads off for help, finds it, but once they come upon the scene of the bus, now painted purple (or lavender, but it looked pink), they run off quite quickly. Eventually help is found, a pink kite (which later ends up somewhere else in Southeast Asia) is used to locate them, and they hobble their way to a small roadhouse, then onwards to Coober Pedy and to Alice Springs.
One of the recurring themes is that of tolerance. It all starts out well in Sydney where the type of show that they do is generally well-received. However, in Broken Hill, they receive a harsh lesson in how intolerant people can be when after they finish their stay in the hotel, they find their bus adorned with the phrase “AIDS Fuckers Go Home”. At the roadhouse (where they were suggested to perform by the mechanic who helped them out of being stranded), they were essentially booed off of the stage, preferring to be entertained by the wife of the mechanic who did this amazing trick with some pingpong balls. Interestingly, the only people in the country who really tolerated them (aside from some folks in Alice Springs) were a group of Aboriginals who asked them to attend their camp and they put on a show that ended up in the two groups essentially merging their music.
It’s a movie that discusses (indirectly) some interesting aspects of modern society – particularly the acceptance of people who choose to live their lives differently than the rest of us. I personally do accept the fact that there are people who do choose to live this way; if that’s what they think is the right way of living for them, then they should go for it.