Outfest 2012 is happening in Los Angeles from July 12 through July 22. To celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the Los Angeles LGBT film festival, we will be sharing interviews with filmmakers and persons involved with movies being screened. See all of our Outfest Interviews here.
Burlesque is a rich sub-culture. It resides on the edge of striptease and sexual exploitation and performance of sexuality: it deals with so much! Typically, burlesque is seen as sexy, young women performing for men, seemingly the only audience for this performance style. Is that true? No, not at all in any sense. Filmmaker Josh Dragotta has a story to tell that confronts all of those notions by way of his documentary, Satan’s Angels: Queen Of The Fire Tassels. The film follows Satan’s Angel, an elderly lesbian burlesque dancer who has been in the business for decades–and is showing no signs of stopping. Her story is absolutely amazing and candid and Josh does a super duper job of sharing it.
Outfest is one of the most well known LGBT film festivals in the world and has had films shared that have gone on to have profound affects on the world. Can you tell us a little bit yourself and your film? Is this the first time you’ve had a film shown at Outfest?
My name is Josh Dragotta and I have been making short films for the past 18 years. Satan’s Angel: Queen of The Fire Tassels is my first feature length film and this is my first Outfest experience. I can’t say enough great things. The festival hasn’t even started and I have had a warm welcome from the moment the film was accepted. Everyone has been very helpful and the support has been constant. They clearly have a filmmakers best interest at heart with programs like Industry Link, Access LA, as well as parties and series. They really want to help you grow. It’s amazing!
There is a lot going on at Outfest this year–and it is the 30th year of the festival! How does your film fit into Outfest? What are you hoping it brings to the wide variety of different films being shared in the festival?
Well, Angel is a very interesting person. She’s had a lot of experiences and she can really tell a story. She’s an openly gay woman and always has been. What’s great about Angel is that she is so open and proud of her sexuality. She’s also quite complicated. She’s been married 4 times and has had countless affairs with men and women. You can’t just label her or categorize her. She’s an empowering figure. I’m hoping that the film raises some questions about sexuality. People are so quick to say gay or straight and I think that very unproductive. Angel is an example of how complexed and diverse we are. I love it!
People will be coming from all over the world to share and see films at Outfest. What are you hoping people take away from your film?
Burlesque has definitely had a resurgence. You can see a burlesque show in every big city as well lot’s of small cities. We give a little history in this film through Angel and her life from starting in amateur strip contests in San Francisco to traveling the world as a featured exotic dancer. Her days on the Vegas strip will give audiences a glimpse into the lifestyle of a burlesque dancer in those days. We also have a gallery of burlesque legends that contribute to this oral history as well. I’d like to think that we are keeping her story alive and doing a small part in preserving burlesque as well.
Similarly, is there anything specifically Angelenos can take away from your film? Your work speaks to multiple audiences; however, are there certain themes, images, or concepts that may hit Angelenos deeper than other viewers?
Burlesque is local. In the film we shot at 3 of Clubs in Hollywood where Lili VonSctupp has the longest running burlesque show in Los Angeles. Monday Night Tease is true burlesque and curious Angelenos can venture into Hollywood every Monday night and experience the magic of burlesque.
Looking into the future, what’s next for you and the film after Outfest? Where else will your film be going? What are you hopes for the film?
The film has already been selected into another film festival and I am constantly getting email requests from other festivals everyday. From the beginning of this project Tony and I have always been committed to sharing Angel’s story with audiences. We hope to screen around the country and over seas. Distribution is the goal. With HBO, Showtime, and other cable channels as well as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon the ability to get your film out has never been greater.