When Our Lips Synch Together: The Transvestite Voice, the Virtuoso, Speed, and Pumped-Up Volume in Some Over-heard Shakespeares
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.
KeywordsFemale Voice Male Voice Queer Theorist Movie Star Drag Queen
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.