The title didn’t roll off the tongue, but the sweet story about three drag performers who get stranded in a small Nebraska town, where some minds don’t want to be opened, still charms and remains perfectly relevant.
“From the first time I heard about [the movie], I knew I wanted to be in it,” Swayze, who played the matriarchal Vida Boheme, wrote in The Time of My Life. “It would be an amazing challenge to transform myself into a convincing woman, and playing a man in drag would really stretch me.”
He explained to The Advocate that he channeled his own life “growing up in redneck Texas, having a mother as a choreographer, and trying to find out who I was. I just took that life and changed it to a boy who has had feminine tendencies all his life and discovered that is who he is. I found Vida very easy to identify with.”
He wrote in his book that he modeled Vida after Lauren Bacall, Demi Moore, Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and his choreographer mother, Patsy Swayze.
Plus, spending time with actual drag queens “was incredibly eye-opening,” Swayze wrote. “Not only did they have an amazing sense of humor, they also had amazing courage. It takes cojones to be exactly who you are, especially when it’s so different from what society has dictated for you.”
Meanwhile, he was in the makeup chair by 4 a.m. every morning and needed a shave five times a day to combat stubble. And tensions ran high between Swayze and John Leguizamo on set. Swayze wrote of losing it over the comedian’s tendency to improvise: “Finally, completely fed up, I snapped, ‘Oh, God! Would you just shut the f–k up for once?'”.
“Patrick swings. And I swing. Both of us in Frederick’s of Hollywood,” Leguizamo wrote in Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas, and All the Rest of My Hollywood Friends. “I’m in hot pants. He’s in f–k-me pumps.… They break it up before we can start pulling each other’s hair and scratching each other’s eyes out.”