Film and TV

The Sie Film Center Hosts Queer Camp Movie Night

Denise Richards in Drop Dead Gorgeous
Denise Richards in Drop Dead Gorgeous YouTube
Are you the kind of movie-goer who wants to talk back to the screen? Maybe you’ve been kindly escorted from an Alamo Drafthouse for talking too much, or you’ve been shushed more than your share of times. The new movie night hosted by Andy Scahill, CU Denver's assistant professor of film studies, might be right up your cinematic alley.

On Tuesday, September 13, Scahill hosts a “new interactive queer camp movie night” called Rainbow Cult. It’s a once-a-month gathering at the Sie Film Center that invites everyone to quote and sing along with the movies, all of which have been chosen for their delicious queer cheese. The events include not only the films themselves, but also drag performances, contests, giveaways and more. Rainbow Cult kicks off with Drop Dead Gorgeous, the 1999 pageant comedy starring Kirsten Dunst and Denise Richards. The movie starts at 7:30 p.m., but happy hour will be running from 5 to 7 p.m., where you can not only enjoy an adult beverage, but also a pre-show complete with your own tiara and sash.
click to enlarge
Rainbow Cult's first movie was Troop Beverly Hills; Drop Dead Gorgeous comes Tuesday, Sept. 13
Andy Scahill

“Film should be a communal experience,” insists Scahill. “During quarantine and COVID, we all got siloed, watching TV by ourselves.” One of the important differences between film and television, Scahill says, is that “film is something you do together, something you do with strangers, often. You’re in the dark and you’re gauging your reaction to something on screen against other people’s. And there’s something cathartic about laughing together. One of the things I love about cinema is that it engenders those sorts of experiences.”

So Scahill teamed up with drag artist Electra Dupri to establish an ongoing event meant to host experiences where people — especially in the queer community — could come together to experience film in a celebratory way. “I knew I wanted to do a cult-film night, but I wanted to do something different," he says. "I didn’t want to just curate a series of films.”

Scahill says he patterned the concept off of the midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, complete with their raucous energy and audience participation and spirit of sheer, unadulterated fun. But he wanted to branch out into other types of films — often of a similar campy nature, but new movies given the same adoring treatment. “The films we chose have a sort of currency in the gay community,” Scahill says. “We’re already talking back to the screen every time we make a meme, for example, or a reference or a line in conversation. There’s an exchange there.”

The first film in the series came in August, when Rainbow Cult launched with the movie Troop Beverly Hills. The 1989 Shelley Long comedy about a socialite-cum-Girl Scout Leader is a favorite in the gay community— even among some who’ve never seen it before. “It’s funny,” Scahill says. “There are people who will quote lines from films without ever having seen those films — maybe not even knowing the origin of those things that they say.”

Scahill says that he has a list of over fifty films he’d love to screen with Rainbow Cult, but that “it’s been kind of an education.” Some films are out of circulation, too costly, or purposefully reserved for other use. “I wanted to use Hocus Pocus for October,” says Scahill, “but since Disney has a sequel to that coming out, they have a hold on it.”

Still, that leaves a lot of films to present under the banner of the Rainbow Cult that should be lots of fun. Aside from Troop Beverly Hills and Drop Dead Gorgeous, Scahill is planning the 1992 black comedy Death Becomes Her for the October selection, and hopes to schedule the legendary 1975 documentary Grey Gardens at some point. “Films like that that were made to be campy, or are camp after the fact,” says Scahill. “Those are the kinds of films we’re focused on and excited about.”

The Rainbow Cult events aren’t just for fun — they’re also for a good cause. Proceeds from every movie night go to support a good cause in the queer community. “I wanted to give back a little bit,” Scahill says. Profits from the first few movies will go to establish scholarships for CampSeen, where LGBTQ+ youth — especially queer youth of color — can go to enjoy over 61 acres of pristine wilderness about an hour south of Denver in a safe and accepting environment.

“It’s all about how you’d watch this movie at home with a group of your friends,” Scahill concludes. “That’s the community experience we want to offer. Just to gather and laugh together and enjoy the movies again.”

Andy Scahill and Rainbow Cult present Drop Dead Gorgeous, 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, September 13, Sie Film Center, 2510 East Colfax Avenue. 
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Teague Bohlen is a writer, novelist and professor at the University of Colorado Denver. His first novel, The Pull of the Earth, won the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction in 2007; his textbook The Snarktastic Guide to College Success came out in 2014. His new collection of flash fiction, Flatland, is available now.
Contact: Teague Bohlen