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Film review: Wigstock: The Movie

Superficial documentary of N.Y. concerts is merely a celebration of big hair and female impersonators.

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It's energetic, it's brazen, it's offbeat . . . but is it a movie?

Self-proclaimed as such in its title — "Wigstock: The Movie" — this concert/documentary effort was culled from footage shot during the past two years of the annual Wigstock festival, held each Labor Day in New York. (The movie was a conversational staple during the Sundance Film Festival in January.)

But if you go in expecting to find something insightful or probing about the subject of cross-dressing, you are bound for disappointment. "Wigstock" is merely a celebration of female impersonators, big hair and high-kicking, lip-syncing kitsch.

Wigstock attracts participants from all over the country and the '94 concert was the event's 10th anniversary. And in between the parade of dancing songbirds on stage (including RuPaul, The Lady Bunny, Lypsika, Misstress Formika, Crystal Waters and Deee-lite), we see the results of director Barry Shils taking his camera into the crowds to interview and observe audience-members, as well as people who live in the area.

Some of this is fairly amusing, though Shils never asks any serious questions. And when he goes backstage for comments from participants, he settles for even more mundane comments, never searching for deeper meaning.

If it's enough to hear a superficial explanation of the difference between a "drag queen" and a "transvestite" or stale speeches about tolerance, perhaps this will be your cup of tea. But those who do not consider cross-dressing and store-bought hair an art form should look elsewhere.

Even trickier is much of what passes for entertainment onstage. Deliberate campiness tends to wear out its welcome fairly quickly, and it doesn't help that "Wigstock" is little more than a one-joke affair. (Attempts at shock are even less successful.) After awhile, the stage acts start to repeat themselves and the show just becomes redundant.

"Wigstock" does have its moments. But perhaps not enough to justify making a movie.

Though unrated it would certainly receive an R for nudity, profanity and vulgarity.