As seen through the lens of Carlos Valencia's
documentary A Man in a Dress, Enza Supermodel Anderson's story is less about
her failure to get on the ballot for the Canadian Alliance leadership race
than a compelling metaphor of the lengths mainstream-society outsiders will go
to gain acceptance and respect.
Having placed a remarkable third in Toronto's 2000
mayoralty election, Anderson became addicted to the fickle affection of the
media (“[I'm into] totally shameless self promotion, but I'm sincere about
it”). Fast forward two years and she decides to throw her tiara into the ring
with the likes of Stockwell Day and Grant Hill (who Svend Robinson effectively
skewers in the brilliantly edited clip duel) so that she can “change it from
the inside out.”
Like her need to be admired—particularly
has to cross-think in order to rationalize her participation in a new body-
politic that is famous for its bigotry and intolerance. Sadly, it's because
she doesn't belong that the media and some back-room Tories (eager to disrupt
the leadership contest) come roaring to her aid but their sincerity is as
shallow as Day's grasp of geography.
The fast-moving study (the flash-pop transitions are a
nice touch) is peopled with Canadian politicians, journalists and entertainers
eager to offer their thoughts on the Drag Queen's pursuit of glory. A
squeamish Tory speechwriter (“anonymous, off camera”) encourages Anderson to
hammer home the notion that she can “bring diversity to the party.” Toronto
Sun columnist Valerie Gibson eggs on the driven diva to keep fighting because
“people are bored.”
Funny-queer, Scott Thompson is caught having publicity
envy when Anderson appears at his theatrical opening and scorns the offer of being
appointed Deputy Queen in Anderson's government.
Considerable time is devoted to Anderson's appearance on Mike
Bullard's talk show. There is certainly no chemistry between the two and
Bullard resorts to cheap shots (“That's not a change purse down there”) which fall as flat as his ratings.
Perhaps the most telling segments are the practicing then
delivery of “The speech” to a leadership event in Chatham. Anderson tries her
best, but the script sounds as wooden as its writer. She grabs the microphone
like a club and loses her feminine side—except when she momentarily brightens
while pleading for inclusion of everyone, “even a drag queen.” The effect
makes Anderson seem as uncomfortable with herself as she is in a room full of
right-wing devotees. But when the cameras roll, she's instantly back “on
stage,” eager to please an unknown audience that will catch glimpses of those
fabulous legs on the late evening news.
Between many of the segments, classical music is inserted
to smooth the transitions. Chopin and Tchaikovsky get cameos, but it's
Beethoven's Op. 13 Piano Sonata (given a far too-affected reading by the
unidentified pianist) that shows up over a half-dozen times. Intentional or
not, the “Pathétique's” slow movement adds another level of verisimilitude to
the overall tone.
Todd Ross, (Parliamentary Assistant to MPP George
Smitherman), brings understanding and insight to Anderon's plight when the game
is lost. He sees the dichotomy of Anderson's “unglamorous job” at Woody's made
bearable by the gowns, notoriety and attention that—swimming against the
stream—have created for the fabled performer. For her part, Anderson seems lost,
uncertain where to turn after being deserted by her “supporters” and
“admirers” once she has served their ends.
“I hate when people deceive,” she laments, but isn't that
the essence of drag? JWR