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‘Hocus Pocus’ 2 cast spell on the Drag community

Hocus Pocus 2

Clair Voyance was three years old the first time she asked Hocus Pocus. She can still remember the sound the VHS tape made, and feeling a blanket turn into a makeshift cloak as it was wrapped around her shoulders. But she wasn’t focused on the film’s child stars as they navigated the Halloween adventure. No, all attention was on the Sanderson Sisters. The three witches, played by Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker, threw themselves on the screen and sang “I Put A Spell on You” to a confused and delighted audience. For Clair, n an Orange County, California-based drag queen who plays in a Hocus Pocus drag show, it wasn’t just entertaining. It was magical.

Almost 30 years since the film premiered, Hocus Pocus the legacy has evolved from a theatrical flop into an iconic piece of queer cinema. It is such a strong bond that the Disney cast RuPaul’s Drag Race alums Ginger, Kornbread and Kahmora, for appearing as drag Sanderson sisters in the film. But several drag queens say that drag culture is not just important to Hocus Pocus it kept the film’s legacy alive.

“No matter where you are in the world, if you walk into a gay bar during Halloween, you’ll find three drag queens – one in a blonde wig, one in a red wig and one in a black up-do,” Clair tells Rolling Stone. “They’ll play ‘I Put A Spell On You’ and it’ll make you want to scream and throw your $1 bills.”

HP drag history

Credit: Nicole Halliwell*

First published in 1993, Hocus Pocus focuses on Winifred, Mary and Sarah Sanderson, three sister witches who are desperate to kill children before the end of Halloween in order to keep their eternal youth (played by Midler, Najimy and Parker respectively).

The film had bad reviews and only made about $39 million at the box office, according to Vulture, and was heavily criticized for hiding its stars under a mountain of slapstick makeup and lavish prosthetics—and equally lavish performances. But instead of fading into obscurity, the film’s sexy, slapstick approach to the grim season consistently drew viewers home. Now the film is almost synonymous with the Halloween season and a staple of drag shows everywhere.

For the past 11 years, Nicole Halliwell, a Florida drag entertainer and Midler impersonator, has starred in It’s just a bunch of hocus pocus: a dragon tribute which is considered the oldest and longest Hocus Pocus drag show in the USA. Halliwell says that when the show first started, they were shut down by the fire service after 500 people tried to take part in their 10-minute bar show, and the show went into a multi-show show. Now it’s an hour-long production with sets and numbers, one that draws at least 2,000 visitors a year. The stars, who are proud of the freshness of the film’s iconic look, were even invited to the premiere of Hocus Pocus 2.

“It’s funny how this little show turned into something so loved in our community,” says Nicole Rolling stone. It’s the experience of sitting down in a theater to watch a drag show and seeing all the love and time and effort that has gone into this and how much passion we’ve put into these characters because all of us in this cast love this movie.»

Bev, a Philly drag queen who plays in her own Hocus Pocus Show as Winifred Sanderson, points to a history of Disney films that The little Mermaid or 101 Dalmatiansimbues the villains with drag-like features – a pattern she says has inspired a decade-long history of drag versions of the Sanderson Sisters.

“The characters are mainly in drag. They are such caricatures and archetypes that they are simple to understand, says Bev. “And the most iconic villains are always the ones who are way over the top, the type you can sink your teeth into and have more fun [with].»

It helps that the Sanderson Sisters, at least their fellow actors, are all considered iconic in the drag community for both their strong stances on LGBTQ inclusion and presence in other queer staples like Sister law, Sex and the cityand The First Wives Club.

It’s something magical when you take three women who are gay icons in their own right, like Mandy and Sarah Jessica Parker and Bette Midler, and you put them in giant wigs and corsets and hoist them 30 feet into the air and turn them into witches and make production numbers, says Clair. “It just takes it to another level of imagination. It’s hard not to just smile throughout the film.

Pixel The Drag Jester, a Black New York drag queen who has been performing for almost 10 years, says her experience with Hocus Pocus was minimal before she became heavily involved in the drag scene. As she tells Rolling stone white queens are usually the most enamored of the film, she says she appreciates how the Sanderson Sisters show existing drag ideals.

“It’s about strong women taking revenge, which we live for,” says Pixel. “But the storytelling for these witches really speaks to the drag milieu because it’s all these things. It’s over the top, it’s camp, it’s feminine, it’s about women with power. And I think drag queens really idealize those values ​​and hold those values ​​at the core of their being.

“Disney took a cue from who kept this movie alive and who kept these characters alive for the last 30 years, which were drag queens,” Clair says. Rolling stone. Let’s just say that if drag queens weren’t involved, the sequel wouldn’t have been made. They were the ones who kept it exciting for people.

Even with a mainstream acceptance of Hocus Pocus’ influence on drag, the court has recently seen a flurry of threats and protests against drag queens, fueled by far-right talking points that accuse queens of molesting children or promoting pedophilia.

“It’s a sad situation just now because, especially from the bubble to the drag community, we realize what this really is, which are people from certain political parties who try to take the focus off the bigger problems by annoying their base,” Nicole says Rolling stone. “But drag has been around long before these people existed, and it will be around after we’re all gone.”

There will almost certainly be backlash against drag queens’ inclusion in a Disney film. But with Hocus Pocus the drag community has already proven its endurance to bold, loud, different women and none of the queens talked to Rolling stone so that they plan to be deterred by the threats.

“You make a film that is somehow sacred in queer culture, and you know that queer people are always going to love it and appreciate it” says Clair Rolling stone. “But it has in a way expanded beyond a queer cult classic into a deeply loved coat film for everyone. And now we have this 30-something lineage of people reintroducing this film to the next generation, and they fall in love with it just as much.”

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