The lack of queer representation within the Miami film scene has been shattered this year by Flaming Classics. This year’s in-your-face features for the Flaming Classics’ new Sex. Violence. Whatever. series. include Basic Instinct (Paul Verhoeven, 1992), Set it off (F. Gary Gray, 1996), Bound (Lana & Lilly Wachowski, 1996) and the forthcoming The Doom Generation (Gregg Araki, 1995). “These films foreground a variety of queer characters,” Juan Barquin and Trae DeLellis, the Flaming Classic creators, conveyed, “[They’re] also reflective of a time in which the emerging new queer cinema began to touch into the mainstream. All of these films are very much about queer people raging against the system, the patriarchy, and a society that tries to diminish their worth.”
Early last year, Barquin and DeLellis came up with the brilliant idea to pair specific films with live performances from local drag artists. They explained that their favorite aspects of drag was how it could be used to tell a story and convey emotion, much like film. Barquin and DeLellis also pointed out that drag performances are usually only limited to bars or clubs, which have age restrictions. Thus, their events at the Cosford Cinema, Coral Gables allows the opportunity for anyone to watch the films and performances.
Barquin and DeLellis’s Flaming Classics was recently awarded $25,000 from the James L. Knight Foundation. Receiving the grant was not only a grand confidence boost, they revealed, but has supported administrative and artistic developments including more free or reduced cost events. Most important, the grant allows them the freedom to push the envelope and showcase more obscure films.
Support from the Knight Foundation, the creators explained, has allowed Flaming Classics to bring these representations of queer culture to light. As FIU Film Studies student Jennifer Somoza claimed at the February 11 screening of Bound, “Flaming Classics presents the Miami community with the opportunity to discover queer films they otherwise may not have known existed.” By combining transgressive mainstream films and queer cinema with live interpretive performances, Flaming Classics is anything but a drag.
Karina Forler is a Senior at Florida International University, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications: Broadcast Media, along with a Certificate in Film Studies.