When Our Lips Synch Together: The Transvestite Voice, the Virtuoso, Speed, and Pumped-Up Volume in Some Over-heard Shakespeares

  • Richard Burt


In the spectacular, Las Vegas-style Capulet ball sequence in Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1996), a bearded Mercutio, played by black actor Harold Perinneau, is the “very pink of courtesy,” performing in full drag on a staircase in front of a huge painting of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus, surrounded by six male dancers (who flash their star-crossed buns to the camera) and flanked by two male go-go dancers. Shot as if he’s in an MTV music video sequence in quickly paced zooms, zips, and pans, Mercutio wears a matching sequined cape, necklace, bodice, and miniskirt with exposed garters, stockings, and panties; white, long-sleeved, satin gloves; pumps; false eyelashes; heavy mascara and eyeshadow; bright red lipstick; and a large white fright wig. While dancing a showgirl number complete with above-the-head alternating leg kicks, Mercutio lip-synchs a pumping, Latin disco song entitled “Young Hearts Run Free” (sung by Kym Mazelle) and, extending his tongue at certain moments, makes a striptease-like address to the camera as well as to Romeo. We also see Juliet’s father give his own drag performance at the party, dressed apparently as a garishly made-up Bacchus, singing “Amore” in a red sequined toga that looks like a dress and miming Mercutio as he hikes his toga above his panties and gives his own leg kicks.


Female Voice Male Voice Queer Theorist Movie Star Drag Queen 
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Copyright information

© Richard Burt 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Burt
    • 1
  1. 1.NorthamptonUSA

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