We credit The Craft with inspiring a whole generation of Witches…but of at least the Witches that I know, who were all obsessed with The Craft, are equally obsessed with To Wong Foo: Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar. When it was released on Netflix last month, I watched it three times (back to back) during an Ordination weekend for one of my students, and then a few more times later that week. All the Witches present that weekend not only didn’t mind all the re-plays, but actively watched it with me. Yesterday, when I went to a co-Witch’s house to record a podcast, Wong Foo played over us like an anthem. In was on this twelfth watch that I realized that the three characters (Vida, Noxeema, and Chi Chi), were actually Witches and that this movie is the great unsung Witchcraft movies of all time.
The proof is below.
1.) Finding the Divine Feminine in Every Gender
The Goddess conforms to no single form. She doesn’t have to be white, skinny, have a vagina, or even identify as a woman. Just as Noxeema says to Chi-Chi, “When a gay man has far too much style for one gender, he is a drag queen,” the power of the feminine divine is open to all who wish to embrace or express it. Or what about that classic line, when Carol Ann says to Vida, “I don’t think of you as a man. I don’t think of you as a woman. I think of you as an angel.” She manifests in whatever body she wants…and sometimes doesn’t even need the “she” label, at all!
2.) Praying to an Elevated Patroness
When the ladies find (and steal!) the image of Julie Newmar, she becomes their guiding force as they go on their “crusade” across the U.S.A. They pray to her in times of trouble and believe she is watching over them. An early primer in Chaos Magick. All hail!
3.) Stockard Channing
4.) A Journey Guided by Intuition
Vida throws away the map early in the story…declaring they would all be guided by intuition, instead. At first it seemed scary, but guided by the spirit of Ms. Newmar, they found themselves exactly where they were supposed to be.
5.) Manifest, Manifest, Manifest
“Let good thoughts be your sword and shield,” Noxeema says to Chi-Chi. “Just imagine good things happening to you…” Vida says to Bobby Lee. Noxeema later reveals she doesn’t have a dream, she has a plan: a plan to be discovered and cast in the role of her dreams when they get to Hollywood. The ladies live by manifesting desires by believing that the right things will come to them…and they do!
6.) Empowering a Younger Witchlet to Stand in Her Power
Vida tells Ms. Bobby Lee to imagine the life she wants and let it come to her. Chi-Chi helps her open her heart and use her inner movie star to lure the man of her dreams. Noxeema paints her face (glamor Magick???), and the little Witchlet casts a powerful spell on the boy of her dreams. Maybe they don’t call it Witchcraft, but we know better. We also caught that the ladies encouraged the little Witchlet to dream bigger than simply dating a particular boy. But that the boy is a good place to start.
7.) The Un-Subtle Homage to the Three “Good” Fairies of Sleeping Beauty
“Sometimes, it just takes a fairy.”
8.) A Bad-Ass Party in the Middle of the Countryside
A glimpse of the festival world?
9.) This Scene:
It wasn’t until I was seeing the movie again that I realized Vida’s plan to say to her parents, “I do not need your approval, but I will take your acceptance,” had become part of my personal mantra. Being an out Witch has its downsides, but remembering that I don’t need anyone’s approval or really even acceptance has been a huge help to me. Thank you, Auntie Vida!
10.) Smashing the Patriarchy and Ridding the Town of Evil
Vida wails on Carol Ann’s drunk, abusive husband. By then end of the movie, the Magick of the Three Good Witch-Aunties has thoroughly influenced the town and rid it not only of evil husbands, but racist cops, too. Well done, ladies!
11.) Being A Good Ally
When the racist, homophobic cop comes for the ladies, the whole town rallies to protect them, all declaring to the cop, “I’m a drag queen!” Same thing happens in some villages in Italy, where everyone declares, “I’m the Strega!” to protect the actual Strega.
12.) Rites of Initiation
In Chi-Chi’s journey in the film, all she wants is to be something special–to be honored as a Drag Queen. She goes through the four steps Noxeema laid out for her, and in the end she is crowned in elevated glory by the Goddess Julie Newmar.
13.) “Abide by the Rules of Love…”
Noxeema declares one of the great steps in becoming a Drag Queen is to abide by the rules of love. Whether “Perfect Love and Perfect Trust” or “Love is the Law, Love under Will,” the ladies nailed it.
Let’s not forget how Chi-Chi decorated the room with a twitch of her nose!
Now, add it to your next Coven movie night line-up. You’re welcome.