Why Hedwig and the Angry Inch Still Sings—And Blows Bohemian Rhapsody Away


Just months before September 11, 2001, Hedwig and the Angry Inch emerged in cinemas—a personal catharsis turned communal comfort, dressed in drag. Its title character, a genderqueer East German glam-rocker named Hedwig Robinson whos left with an “angry inch” after a botched sex change operation, eschewed convention and embraced contradictions. For a community of defiant misfits challenging the status quo, she became a guiding light—and remains one 18 years later, even as popular discourse around gender has dramatically shifted.

“The character is a survivor, and picks up the pieces and makes something beautiful out of them,” said writer-director-star John Cameron Mitchell in a recent conversation about the film, held in honor of Hedwigs landmark 2019 Criterion release, out June 25.

Mitchells been surviving alongside Hedwig since the 90s. He spent years developing the character, performing as the fictional rock star during live gigs at New Yorks SqueezeBox nightclub—where he admired drag and trans performers, including a pre-fame Laverne Cox—and then during Hedwigs Off-Broadway run, beginning in 1998. In 2001 he directed himself in the Hedwig movie; in 2014 an updated musical revival sashayed to the Broadway stage, making Mitchell feel like a “proud parent.” It won four Tonys and featured a rotating cast of Hedwigs that included Neil Patrick Harris, Darren Criss, Michael C. Hall, Andrew Rannells, Taye Diggs, and Mitchell himself—making for the most lucrative version of Mitchells story.

Hedwig wasnt a real moneymaker ever except [on] Broadway,” Mitchell said. “It was the only time I only really ever made money from Hedwig, and it all went into my moms health care.” Mitchells mother has Alzheimers. “That keeps it pure, it really does.”

Now, for its first-ever Blu-ray release, Mitchells cult art house indie is rocking a digitally remastered, hi-def makeover. Included among the Criterion releases extras is a new sit-down with members of the cast and crew, including Mitchell, cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco, composer-lyricist Stephen Trask, hairstylist and makeup artist Michael Potter, animator Emily Hubley, actor Miriam Shor, and visual consultant Miguel Villalobos. During their warm reunion conversation, they reflect on Mitchell as Hedwig, including when he shaved his eyebrows (they only ever partially grew back, said Mitchell: “My makeup and hair person will never hear the end of it”) and the scene where Hedwig wears a heart shirt previously sported by Cameron Diaz in Charlies Angels.

Hedwig was created out of necessity, as an exploration of Mitchells feelings on sexuality—before language around gender had evolved to the point its reached in 2019. “If I wRead More – Source

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