WORKHORSE QUEEN (BFF 2021)
Chronicling the ups and downs of Mrs. Kasha Davis, a Rochester drag queen known for her appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race and local philanthropy, Workhorse Queen is well-crafted, yet it devolves into what seems like an audition tape for what is to come.
The film follows Ed Popil, better know to fans as Mrs. Kasha Davis, as he reflects on his journey through life, his time on RuPaul’s Day Race, and the impacts of television fame on queer performers. Popil narrates much of the film, taking viewers through his childhood and the early days of his drag persona in a revealing, even emotional way. Never shying away from the difficulties encountered, Popil’s dissection of his experiences on the popular show and life after offer unique insights into the culture around Drag Race and the fallout from it. Juxtaposed against the experiences of Thomas Smalley (Aggy Dune) who has not yet made it onto the show, you see the work that goes into not only building a career around drag, but maintaining it.
Director Angela Washko delivers a run-of-the-mill documentary, in a good way, that hits all of the right notes in telling the story of where Popil has been and where he is today, pondering what the future holds. While the star has made an incredible impact in drag both nationally and in his hometown of Rochester, one can’t help but notice there seems to be a desire to revisit the height of his popularity on Drag Race, perhaps by returning to the show. Though he has found a new direction with shows based around inclusivity for all ages and continues to be one of the most giving queens working, it’s hard to ignore that there is a burning desire for more.
Photo from CMU School of Art