Drag Glamour

total running time without talk c.95min

Introduced by Ronald Gregg, Senior Lecturer and Programming Director, Film Studies at Yale University.

This programme pairs José Rodríguez-Soltero’s lavish Lupe with Ron Rice’s landmark psychedelic masterpiece Chumlum. It features two of the most accomplished uses of superimposition in underground film, transporting drag glamour into a psychedelic, cubist-like dimension.


USA 1966. Dir José Rodríguez-Soltero. With Mario Montez, Charles Ludlam. Costumes Montez Creations.

A visually stunning celebration of the life and death of Mexican Hollywood star Lupe Velez, Rodríguez-Soltero’s film is an ecstatic explosion of colour, costume, music, camp performance and multiple superimpositions. Unconstrained by any given style, Rodríguez-Soltero drew inspiration from new wave and experimental film; Latin American, pop and classical music; trash culture; experimental theatre, and Kenneth Anger’s exposé Hollywood Babylon. Lupe is also a love poem to the underground star Mario Montez who designed his own sensational costumes and took immense cultist pleasure in identifying with the tragic Latino star.


USA 1964. Dir Ron Rice. With Jack Smith, Beverly Grant, Mario Montez.

Before his untimely death in Mexico in 1964, Ron Rice was among the most charismatic figures of the New York underground. Chumlum is beautifully disconcerting. Intricate superimpositions mix in- and outdoor milieus and the capers of a colourful gaggle which includes Jack Smith and Mario Montez as they loll about, pursue, and listlessly fondle each other in a riot of costume and colour. Experimental musician (and Velvet Underground drop-out) Angus MacLise composed the spacey soundtrack.

Tate Modern Sunday 05 Dec 2010, 16:00