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 true experiences of Russell and Gibson, who were roommates in real life.
Almost any description of “Outrageous!” makes it sound like a sensational gay 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