This week, the highly anticipated documentary ‘The Queen of Ireland’ finally reaches our cinema screens. The film, directed by Conor Horgan, follows accidental activist Rory O’Neill – perhaps better known as his alter ego, drag queen Panti Bliss – over the course of a number of years, with the intention of telling the tale of the performer. Unexpectedly, the film took a turn with the Pantigate affair, turning Panti from simple drag queen to national f***ing treasure, with the referendum for Marriage Equality looming in the background.
To celebrate the release of ‘The Queen of Ireland’, Movies.ie have gathered together 10 things about drag queen Panti Bliss that you really ought to know.
Just in case you’ve forgotten, the Pantigate affair came about when Panti was a guest on the Saturday Night Show on RTÉ in January 2014. Panti was asked to name those who she felt had an anti-gay attitude, and she mentioned Breda O’Brien, John Waters and the Iona Institute. RTÉ quickly pulled the episode from their player, and issued a payout to Waters, O’Brien and members of the Iona Institute. At the start of February, Panti performed her ‘Noble Call’ speech at the Peacock Theatre in Dublin, which outlined her experiences of being gay in Ireland. The speech went viral and an accidental activist was born.
As well as support from home, in the wake of the Pantigate affair, Panti received words of encouragement from celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Madonna, RuPaul and Graham Norton.
‘The Queen of Ireland’ was in production well before the Pantigate affair, and used Indiegogo to raise cash for the film. Members of the public donated over €50,000 in return for perks, or the simple pleasure of supporting the film.
4. The Story
‘The Queen of Ireland’ follows Rory O’Neill’s journey from a small town in Co. Mayo to becoming Panti, and more recently, a figurehead for LGBTQ rights on the world stage. The film contains interviews with family and friends to give a rounded picture of the man behind Panti.
In 1994, Panti danced on stage in Japan with Cyndi Lauper on her ‘Twelve Deadly Sins’ Tour.
6. Maury Povitch
Several years ago, Panti appeared on the Maury Povitch show with Irish TV personality Katherine Lynch. The two pretended to be brother and sister embroiled in a row over Rory’s dressing in drag. Of course, the entire thing was staged by O’Neill and Lynch, and Panti frequently refers to this in her stage show. Watch the first part of the broadcast below.
7. Read all about it
In 2014, O’Neill released his first book, titled ‘Woman in the Making’, about his life as a drag performer. Of course, ‘Queen of Ireland’ continues on from where the book left off.
In the run up to the Marriage Equality referendum in Ireland being passed in May this year, Panti was on the forefront of campaigning for a Yes vote in the referendum. The TEDx talk below is one of the many talks she gave in favour of equality.
9. No rest for the wicked
Just in case you think Panti is resting on her laurels after a hectic year, she has just finished a sold out run of her stage show at London’s Soho Theatre, and can often be found behind the bar of Pantibar, on Dublin’s Capel Street.
10. When can I see ‘Queen of Ireland’?
‘Queen of Ireland’ is released in Irish cinemas on October 21st 2015. Watch the trailer below…