Classic Gay Cinema 101 – Watch “OUTRAGEOUS!” (1977) Starring: Craig Russell – FULL Movie [Video]

Classic Gay Cinema 101: Watch "OUTRAGEOUS" (1977) Starring: Craig Russell - FULL Movie [Video]

Outrageous! released in 1977 was one of the first gay-themed films ever to get a widespread theatrical release in North America and is regarded as gay cinema landmark.  It was written and directed by Richard Benner, based on a short story by Margaret Gibson.  Outrageous stars Craig Russell as Robin Turner, a drag queen and cabaret performer and Hollis McLaren as Liza Conners, Robin”s schizophrenic roommate.

Outrageous! is based on the experiences of Russell and Gibson, who were roommates in real life.

Almost any description of “Outrageous!” makes it sound like a sensational exploitation film but that’s exactly what it isn’t. It’s a bittersweet, endearing, sometimes funny story, and when you describe it as the story of a friendship between a drag queen and a schizophrenic, that are both fiercely loyal and very human.

The story revolves around Robin Turner is a gay hairdresser. He hates his job. He loves old movies and will do his customers’ hair in the style of an iconic movie star if they’ll let him, and even if they don’t. At his apartment, he is harboring his medically diagnosed schizophrenic friend, Liza Connors, who can no longer stand being institutionalized. After Liza convinces Robin to attend a drag ball dressed as Tallulah Bankhead, Robin begins to feel liberated. On Liza’s further urging, Robin accepts a local club’s offer to work as a female impersonator, he doing his own singing unlike most drag queens. As he progresses with his female impersonation work to great aplomb, he takes a shot at making it big in New York City. The money will have to come in since despite medical warnings to her not to do it, Liza has become pregnant (not Robin’s baby), she deciding to have and keep the baby.

The film itself is a wonderful time capsule to the past and brings to light that the films of the 1970’s were based more in reality and  jaw dropping compared to the corporate tin of LGBT themed movies today. 

For historical value alone this movie is a must-see and should be on the DVD shelf of every member of the LGBT community


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is a noted LGBT historian, writer, blogger and owner of A longtime gay activist, Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced in notable media venues as MSNBC and BBC News, The Washington Post, The Advocate, The Daily Beast, Hollywood Reporter, Raw Story, and The Huffington Post

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2 Responses

  1. Richard says:

    I remember seeing this in the late 70’s. It was amazing to me then and I have searched for it several times but had no luck till I saw this post. The movie was somehow personally liberating and an encouragement to be true to yourself and your dreams. Thanks for posting this.

  2. Marc Leslie Kagan says:

    I also seeing OUTRAGEOUS when it first released and I also remember that Craig Russell had a live show that I also saw not too long after the film was released and if memory serves me right I think the live show was at Serendipity on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

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