New feature length documentary MAISIE is an intimate portrait of ageing and friendship as Maisie Trollette, Britain’s oldest performing drag artiste, prepares for his 85th birthday celebrations and meets Darcelle XV, Guinness World Record Holder and still performing at the age of 88, for the first time.
Featuring fellow drag legends Miss Jason and Dave Lynn, and the Broadway classics ‘One’, ‘Lady is a Tramp’ and ‘If I never Sing Another Song’, MAISIE is a heart-warming and sometimes heart-breaking peek into the world of a character more colourful than his gowns. Stephen Vowles met MAISIE’s director Lee Cooper to find out more.
Maisie Trollette, MAISIE director Lee Cooper and Darcelle XV
So Lee what drew you to this project about Mr David Raven aka Maisie Trollette? Is it a story about an amazing performer that needed to be told?
There are loads of amazing ‘coming out’ stories – Call Me By Your Name, Jamie: Drag Queen at 16, Booksmart, Moonlight… but very few that tell the other end of the tale. At 88, David Raven has performed for over 50 years as Maisie Trolllette, yet we rarely get to hear and see stories like his.
I wanted to celebrate our LGBTQ elders and capture something of historical importance whilst shining a light on this wonderful man and performer. I sound old myself, but there is a whole younger generation who think drag started with Ru Paul. Ru Paul was pooping his diapers when Maisie first performed!
With a running time of almost 80 minutes, this is a proper feature. Did you use the period of lockdown to put together a ‘tight’ edit so the completed movie reflected all aspects of Maisie’s life?
We were fortunate enough to spend two years on-and-off with David, so had a lot of footage. He was incredibly generous and gave us unique access-all-areas, as did Miss Jason, Dave Lynn and Darcelle XV (Guinness World Record Holder from the United States) who also feature in the film. They were incredibly brave and though the film is very funny, there are also some very raw and intimate moments that will surprise people. Lockdown actually gave us the time to explore this and allowed us to find these touching moments.
Does the film include any rare footage of David performing? Any secret gems that you came across whilst putting the documentary together?
We couldn’t make a film about Maisie without the show tunes! Sadly, our LGBTQ heritage was rarely recorded back in the day. Not only were there no camera phones, but the whole scene was underground. David could literally go to prison when he first started performing for simply being gay. He talks about police raids at the RVT as late as in the 1980’s. There is a lot of talk about today’s Queer movement, but Maisie’s very existence was radical back then. But there’s still a few surprises in our film!
So what are your plans for the film? Are you planning to get the film shown at as many film festivals as possible, both national and international?
We had a great debut at Sheffield DocFest, one of the biggest documentary festivals in the world. It was great to not be pigeon-holed as a ‘gay film’ as we believe MAISIE transcends the LGBTQ experience. We have loads of other festivals around the world planned and hope to announce screenings all over the UK very soon before it will be available to watch online and on DVD. Readers can follow us on Twitter @maisietrollette for more details.
Tell us about the special preview screening of the film to be held at The Two Brewers on Wednesday 8th September and how can Boyz readers get tickets?
This exclusive screening is to wet everyone’s appetite for MAISIE! Maisie has played all the iconic LGBTQ venues, including the Two Brewers, so it’s fitting we are showing there. Miss Jason will also be performing on the night and Boyz readers can get a discounted ticket using the code BOYZ10 at Outsavvy.