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Review: “Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts” at the Tribeca Film Festival

Last Thursday night at the Tribeca Film Festival was the premiere of Nick Zeig-Owens‘ documentary Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts and was lucky enough to be in attendance. The theater was sold out, filled the brim with enthusiastic Trixie Mattel fans and they were treated to a pre-movie introduction of the documentary by Trixie and Nick and a post-showing performance by the star of the film herself.

The documentary follows the rise of Trixie from Drag Race star through her rise to superstardom, culminating with her RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 3 victory. Much of movie is spent with Brian Firkus, the man behind the mass of blonde hair and pink ruffles. As with many queens, you get to see the dichotomy of personalities between Brian and Trixie, as Brian comes across a bit more shy and reserved although there is clearly as shared sense of humor between the two facets of his personality, such as when he showed off a childhood picture of himself at the Green Bay Packers football museum and in the midst of such a testosterone-driven environment, Trixie had cheerleader pom poms. He went on to suggest there was no hope for him, right from the very beginning.

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The documentary moves into his relationship with fellow Drag Race star, Katya Zamolodchikova and focused their popular YouTube show, UNHhhh at the time when it was picked up by the Viceland network and rebranded as The Trixie & Katya Show. This was probably the most raw, revealing part of the documentary as we got a glimpse of Katya spiraling out of control with substance issues as Trixie tried to grapple with concern for her friend’s well being but also with apprehension about what this will mean for his own career. Seeing such a larger than life personality like Trixie express trepidation about being able to make it on her own without Katya was both incredibly humanizing and also more than a bit unexpected.

From there, the documentary follows Trixie on her tour overseas and delves into her folk music career (Joking that he and Dolly Parton are “the only two drag queens in folk music”). One of the more powerful moments in the film are the clips during a pre-show meet & greet and you get to see young fans pour their hearts out to Trixie, professing how much she means to them and the impact she has had on their lives. Its another reminder of the way this art form can resonate with people, especially queer youth.

The film reaches its climax as Trixie wins RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars 3, as we get to see her live reaction at Roscoe’s Tavern’s watch party for the finale (and clock that cameo by Chicago drag star T-Rex!). A brief reunion scene with Katya shows that maybe some of the struggles they went through during her issues might be beginning to heal over. In fact, new season of UNHhhh is happening on YouTube so hopefully their friendship is being repaired.

All in all, the film was very well received by the crowd in Tribeca and hopefully this paves the way for more queens’ stories to be told in this format. This documentary deserves to find the right platform to partner up with for distributiongoing forward because it tells a story that deserves to be told and has a built-in, eager global audience that would love to see it.

Update: Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts is now available on Netflix.

Written By

(she/her) Despite being a drag journalist for over a decade, Chiffon only recently realized that she missed a golden opportunity back then to change her drag name to Rhoda Story.

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