Glennda and Camille Do Downtown (1993), directed by Glenn Belverio
Dear Shaded Viewers,
For Immediate Release
The National Gallery of Art celebrates the 30th anniversary of Glennda and Camille Do Downtown, plus other works from Video Data Bank’s Glenn Belverio Archive. The screening is free, but registration is required: https://bit.ly/3AynNib
The short documentary from 1993 features drag queen journalist Glennda Orgasm (Glenn Belverio) and guerrilla feminist Camille Paglia touring downtown New York City, discussing the state of the feminist and gay mainstream, the virtues of pornography, the Stonewall Rebellion, and gay male sexual culture.
The most extraordinary moment in the 29-minute video occurs when Glennda and Camille have an unplanned confrontation with WAC (Women Against Pornography) on the corner of 8th Street and 6th Ave. This chance encounter escalates as the irate protestors attempt to block the filming with their placards, while Camille and Glennda taunt and lambast them for their puritanical attitudes.
“The feminism of the 21st century will be pro-art, pro-sex, pro-porn!” proclaims Paglia.
Glennda and Camille Do Downtown documents a flashpoint in the feminist movement of the 1990s, when third-wave feminist figures such as Susan Faludi and Naomi Wolf were being challenged by Paglia’s pro-sex, pro-fashion, pro-sex worker, pro-porn and pro-drag positions. With the publication of her best-selling book Sexual Personae in 1990, Paglia established herself as an important radical voice and critic in mainstream media culture.
At the end of 1993, Glennda and Camille Do Downtown was edited down to 15 minutes and transferred to 16mm film. This shorter version premiered at the 1994 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win first prize for Best Short Documentary at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.
Also included in the program at the National Gallery on June 24 are two other videos by Glenn Belverio, which he directed and co-produced for his Manhattan Public Access TV show “The Brenda and Glennda Show.”
The satirical short Equal Rights for Unborn Drag Queens, a collaboration with Duncan Elliott (aka Brenda Sexual) lampoons right-wing Christianity, anti-abortion zealots and Pat Robertson’s The 700 Club, as it also celebrates an unlikely feminist heroine: Pat Robertson’s co-host Sheila Walsh. (Walsh parted ways with Robertson because of her unconventional approach to Christianity.)
Also on the bill is Belverio’s 1992 video On the Campaign Trail with Joan Jett Blakk, in which Glennda Orgasm teams up with the first (and only) Black drag queen to run for President of the United States. The pair interview people outside the Democratic National Convention in New York City, capturing an exciting, contentious moment in ‘90s American politics.
Following the screening, Belverio will be interviewed onstage by NGA Film Programmer Joanna Raczynska, with an audience Q&A.
Highlights from The Brenda and Glennda Show
Saturday, June 24 at 2pm
The National Gallery of Art
East Building Auditorium
6th and Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20565