Black SplatTo Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything... (1995)
   

"This trip sucks!"

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - Vida, Noxeema and Chi-Chi on the road

Description: John Leguizamo as drag queen Miss Chi-Chi Rodriguez expresses her dislike during a roadtrip to Hollywood in the motion picture To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar (1995).

"Meet Vida Boheme, Miss Noxeema Jackson and their protege Chi-Chi Rodriguez. An unforgettable trio with a style all their own. They're headed for Hollywood. On a sacred mission. But along the way they have an unexpected stop. Now, they're stranded in a strange land that needs a little waking up. Before they leave, they may turn this town from drab to utterly, utterly fabulous."

Miss Chi-Chi Rodriguez is a inexperienced 'drag princess' who accompanies Vida Boheme (Patrick Swayze) and Noxeema Jackson (Wesley Snipes), two veteran drag queens on a roadtrip to California to compete in a major Drag Queen competition.

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - Photo of Julie Newmar on restaurant wall

Their mascot for the trip is an autographed photograph of actress Julie Newmar, which Vida snatched from the wall of a New York restaurant. Vida sees Julie Newmar as a symbol of feminine perfection, and so she uses the pilfered photograph as a good luck compass as they travel west. ("We must take this message from Miss Newmar with us across the land."). Vida describes their journey as "Easy Rider in dresses."

To Wong Foo, Thank You For Everything, Julie Newmar - Vida, Noxeema and Chi-Chi on a roadtrip

For their ride, the girls choose style over substance and purchase a gaudy, beige Cadillac convertible from Crazy Elijah's Used Car Lot that Vida calls a "land yacht." Vida is impressed with the vehicle, and says, "I feel like Miss Jayne Mansfield in this car." To which Noxeema replies, "Oooh, Jayne Mansfield. Not a good auto reference."

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - Sheriff Dollard pulls over the drag queens

Along the way, the girls are pulled over by County Sheriff Dollard (Chris Penn) who tries to force his attentions on Vida. But he is in for a surprise when Vida shouts, "When a lady says no, she means 'Get your hand off my dick, buddy'." In the scuffle, the sheriff falls backwards on the ground. Believing the sheriff dead, Vida and company flee the scene of the crime. The incident frazzles Chi-Chi who complains:

“I didn't ask to come on this trip, did I? No, I don’t think so! Did I ask you to be making me over and jump all kinds of hoops like some circus poodle? No, I don’t think so! Do I want to go to jail because of some cop killer? No, I don’t think so! So as soon as we get to the next town, I am jumping on the first man and riding him all the way to New York City and away from you two puckered up, stuck up putas ‘cause this trip sucks! It sucks!”

A short time later, their car breaks down and Chi-Chi volunteers to thumb down a ride on the highway. Noxeema says, "How you gonna hitchhike, huh?, if there are no cars, stupid?" but Chi-Chi counters, "Well, you don't know me very well, do you, Creepella. I'm the Latina Marilyn Monroe. I got more legs than a bucket of chicken." As Chi-Chi walks away Vida comments: "Now she going to get herself kidnapped by some wild mountain man and we will have to rescue her."

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - Vida, Noxeema and Chi-Chi get a ride

Chi-Chi manages to get the help of Bobby Ray (Jason London), a local guy in a pick up truck who takes them to the nearby town of Snyderville, Nebraska where they hope to find someone to fix their car.

As they wait for their car to be repaired, Vida, Noxeema and Chi-Chi check into a bed and breakfast run by Carol Ann (Stockard Channing) and her husband, Virgil (Arliss Howard). As they prepare for bed, Chi-Chi tells Vida "Uh uh. I'm not sleeping with the Wicked Witch of the West's toenails in my face and your Godzilla breath on me, no way!"

"You know what Vida, you're not a queen because you rule people or you sat on a throne, baby. You're a queen because you couldn't cut it as a man so you had to put on a dress, that's why." - Miss Chi-Chi Rodriguez

"Lets throw you two a pity party. Two fraidy ol' ladies. You gotta live live before it lives you, you stupid... You gonna be second class, you gonna be second rate your whole life." - Miss Chi-Chi Rodriguez

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - Noxeema has the situation well in hand

During their short stay, the girls learn more about each other and experience what it is like to live in a small town and the prejudices that are held in such a community. When some of the town tough guys hassle with Noxeema, she targets the leader of the group, grabs his crotch, and squeezes real hard. Before she shoves him to the ground, she offers this advice: "And please put on a clean shirt when you step outside with your girl. It's affronts the very delicacy of my nature."

Vida also has her chance to educate Carol's abusive husband about the merits of beating up on his wife. Virgil had been raised in a family where man has the complete dominion over the woman. Woman is in charge of the children. As he said, "I learned that lesson with the hiss and sting of mamma's big brown belt (after his dad hit his mom).


Vida: So Virgil, I gather you like to hit ladies
Virgil: Some ladies need to get hit.
Vida: They conversely, some men need to be hit back. [Vida slaps, then slugs the guy and throws him out of his house.]

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - List of places the sheriff thinks he can find the drag queens

Eventually, the townsfolk warm up to the colorful drag queens and invite them to their annual Strawberry Social event, where everyone dresses in red. Meanwhile, Virgil seeks the comfort of a local bar where he meets homophobic Sheriff Dollard who has been looking high and low for Vida and her friends.

"Men, acting like women. Men wanting to be with one another, men touching each other. Their stubbly chins rubbing up against one another. Touching each other. Manly hands touching swirls of of chest hair. An occasional wiff of a rugged aftershave. Their low, baritone voices sighing, grunting. They hold one another in manly, masculine arms. Hold one another. Tight." - Sheriff Dollard [sitting in a bar, talking to himself]

Sheriff Dollard's fellow officers found out he was beaten up by a girl and he wants revenge for the humiliation. He swears to the cops, "I'm gonna bring back three corpses here! And when you look up their dresses, if you don't find something you shouldn't find, I don't know what!"

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - Sheriff Dollard - Showdown with a Shotgun

But when the sheriff arrives in town during the festival with shotgun in hand, the citizens of Snyderville stand up against his threats and the policeman begrudgingly leaves.


Noxeema: Why do I feel like I'm in the Tournament of Rose parade?
Chi-Chi: Because you're as big as a float.
Noxeema: Your mother.
Chi-Chi: Thank You.

Next stop: Hollywood. With their car repaired, Vida, Noxeema and Chi-Chi bid farewell to all their new friends and head to California where ultimately Chi-Chi (who once said, "I'm a looser, I hate myself, I hate my life, I hate everything!") wins the Drag Queen of the Year competition and is crowned, most fittingly, by Julie Newmar.

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - Chi-Chi is crowned winner fo the Drag Queen Contest

Note: The title of the movie came from an autographed picture of Julie Newmar that author Douglas Carter Beane saw in the mid 1980s on the wall of the China Bowl, a Times Square Chinese restaurant.


To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar - Movie Poster


 
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