Before the first day of shooting in May 2006, Branham barely spent any time in the drag scene. Though, as a former child actor, something about the showbiz/backstage aspect of drag was comforting and familiar to her.
’When we first started, I was a woman in my mid-twenties who was really struggling internally with feeling like I had the “wrong” comportment to be taken seriously in the job I wanted to be doing in a male-dominated field,’ she says. “So then when I got to the Gay 90s [the bar in downtown Minneapolis where BeBe performed], I was super compelled by the way these (mostly) men were expressing themselves and performing femininity in such a heightened way. It got me thinking about how and why we all perform our gender and identity all the time – in both off-stage and on-stage situations. Plus, bearing witness to the creativity and courage of all drag performers just resonates and never gets old to me.’
‘But then with Marshall particularly, on top of his undeniable talent and unique story, I think I really identified personally with his ambition, persistence, work ethic, and close relationships with his family,’ she says.
‘I also suspect that on some level we both have a bit of trepidation about being truly seen by the outside world. It’s a paradox that I aim to explore through the film – that this is a very skilled performer whose objective is to have everybody look at him, but doesn’t necessarily want to be seen.’