The Real Housewives of Neukölln is a 28-minute long documentary directed by THEM, two French-born and Berlin-based filmmakers Réda Ait and Joséphine Page, which aims to form a portrait of the queer community of Berlin by looking at queer artists and their creative explorations
The documentary depicts the makers of the eponymous drag show, which used to take place in THE CLUB, the famous gay bar in the district of Neukölln. The Real Housewives of Neukölln, “Berlin’s preeminent trash drag musical cabaret comedy sketch show”, as described by the makers themselves became a sort of emblem of Berlin’s creative queer scene and drag community in particular. It has thus contributed to Berlin’s district of Neukölln, becoming a magnet for artists from all over the world who are open to explore creativity beyond sexual and gender standards.
The documentary captures five drag artists with captivating interviews in between performances and combines them with short snippets from their actual stage performances.
The documentary shoot took place from September 2016 to April 2017, resulting in many hours of exclusive footage, which were carefully reviewed and edited by the filmmakers who describe this project as being their most ambitious project to date.
The documentary is a portrait of a “family” of artists from different cultural backgrounds who got together in order to explore the social role of a drag queen within contemporary culture and society. It’s fun to watch the artists describing their stage characters and sharing their personal motivations of doing drag on such a personal and authentic level. Each of the drag queen characters is very unique and each of the portrayed artists has a different artistic approach.
For Cheryl Nobyl, drag is about having fun with gender presentation in order to highlight the performativity of gender, because “people are taking it very seriously, but at the end it’s just a show”. Cheryl Nobyl’s wish is to have a platform to issue her vision of a transgressive queer world where people could live in. For Fanny Crackwhore, it is about being on stage and performing, and the drag performances are a “celebration of fan”. For Ash Traylia, the drag is part of self-discovery and about exploration of the feminine energy within yourself. “The masculinity is just an act you play.”
Ida Entity’s character has both masculine and feminine features: she wears a pink wig and also a moustache. Ida Entity is very aware of the transformative power of clothes. She believes that depending on what you wear you can feel more feminine or more masculine and your body language will change accordingly. And there is another question that she often asks herself: “Why is it funny for a guy to put on a wig? Is femininity something we can make a joke about?” Ida Entity doesn’t give direct answers to these questions, but Ash Traylia does to a certain degree by highlighting that drag performances have a purpose and that special energy, and that they are not glamorous. “They are not dealing with glamorous things necessarily, they are just dealing with some shit that needs to be said.” For Collapsella the drag performance is about embracing the freedom of self-expression and about questioning the binary system of gender ascriptions, which unfortunately still very present in our society. “Being Collapsella allows me to joke about what I see around me…” says Fabio, aka Collapsella.
As diverse and funny as their stage names may be, they are serious with their performances and their unique approaches to drag. With its beautiful cinematography and the exclusive footage of the Neukölln’s certainly hottest queer show of the past year, the documentary offers a unique insight into “Queer-Utopia”, Berlin’s queer artistic community and culture.
Unfortunately THE CLUB was closed, so The Real Housewives of Neukölln drag show is on a forced break at the moment, but the artists are looking for a new place to continue their work. You can still witness their incredible performances at Berlin’s Yo! Sissy! Festival. They also organize a new party series called Frrrrruity. The next party is coming up on the 29th of July, so please don’t miss it!
On the 12th of August The Real Housewives of Neukölln documentary will premiere at Lichtblick Kino in Kastanienallee 77 in Berlin. This one is a Must-Watch!
Words by: Veronika Dorosheva
All visuals courtesy of THEM