Most people think that the drag in Rupaul’s Drag Race is weird enough but it can absolutely get much weirder. There are many different performance styles within the drag umbrella that that show doesn’t represent. Some of those include drag kings and burlesque performers, which don’t get enough mainstream representation. Performers under that umbrella do their passion projects in city boroughs like Brooklyn. That borough is home to Switch n’ Play, a drag queer collective.
A Night at Switch ‘n Play takes us right into the club and talks to the performers themselves. And these talking heads shows those layers of drag. These quick segments are enough to show the diversity within the collective. One of their members, Divina GranSparkle literally dresses up as a sexy twinkie. And during her interview, she is candid about how her South American Muslim roots inspire her drag and led to accept her body.
Drag is an ephemeral, almost untranslatable art form, its performers doing their work in claustrophobic. The harsh lighting in those venues also make capturing performances difficult. A Night at Switch ‘n Play is almost there, respectably choosing unvarnished authenticity over aesthetic. I wish it could do more in that regard to portray the special intimacy of those nights. Its running time also means that it can’t add meat to the way it depicts those scenes.
Despite that, both the interviews and performances add up to something unabashedly queer. The subjects here are honest in the negative sides of their histories and how they turn it into a positive future. It’s also nice to see gender queer people on screen, and their presence is necessary in making cis LGBT people unlearn what a person should look like. This film’s inclusion in Inside Out provides that learning experience we all need.