• • MAE WEST comes alive through the art of the impressionist Sabrina Blaze, who opens Lara Sebastian’s colorful "Life’s a Drag: A Dragumentary" , which focuses on the mysteries and mystique of professional drag queens.
• • Rhode Island filmmaker and RISD Alumni Lara Sebastian, who describes herself as "a very green documentary maker," gained the confidence of these glamour gals and came away with behind-the-scenes portraits that are affecting and funny. Curious about (and astonished by) the vibrant and colorful scene, Sebastian set out to make a film about drag queens that would answer the question: What makes a man want to dress as a woman?
• • On camera, Lara Sebastian asks good questions in a conversational way without being overly probing, which results in her female impressionists giving surprisingly personal insights. Sebastian also gamely queries her transvestite entertainers about the dangerous downsides of their nighttime adventures — — realizing that some people aren’t too happy to see men gussied up as women.
• • Her Virgil-like guide through this sub-culture is Wayne Hawkins, whose stage name is Sabrina Blaze and who does good impersonations, too, of Mae West, Carol Channing, and others.
• • Wayne Hawkins is a personable, amusing, middle-aged man who looks like a librarian and who always wanted to be a performer. Early in his career he became a clown — — but then he realized he was gay.
• • Transformed into Sabrina Blaze, Wayne Hawkins becomes an extroverted and way-out-there character, winning his audience over with snappy quips and songs. (In one hilarious sequence, Sabrina’s disastrous stage entrance from above on a giant silvery quarter moon is more than memorable.) “I cannot imagine a real lady wearing this makeup,” says Hawkins while spreading a thick layer of foundation across his face, which will help him magically transition into the ultra-glam blond bombshell Sabrina.
• • "Life’s a Drag: A Dragumentary" features several prominent Rhode Island drag queens: Kitty Litter (Stephen Hartley), BB Hayes ( Brian Laquerre), and La Diva Jonz (Gary Jacques).
• • Last month [March 2008], at the annual Triple Crown Pageant, Lara Sebastian was named Miss Lesbian Rhode Island.
• • Emcees for this year's GLBT event were Sabrina Blaze and Genesis.
• • Come up and see Mae every day online: http://MaeWest.blogspot.com/
• • Photo: • • Mae West • • none • •