Mike Varrati

VISIONS OF OZ: A Cinematic Odyssey Over the Rainbow

By Michael Varrati

In this age of reboots, remakes, and reimaginings, it’s not uncommon to hear the modern film fan wax nostalgic for an era of cinema when all the ideas were fresh and new. While there is certainly merit to the nitpicks of these proud protectors of celluloid, often the righteous few forget that some of the silver screen’s most audacious, genre-defining moments were actually remakes or reimaginings of previous works.

John Carpenter’s The Thing comes to mind, adapted from Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World. Also, David Cronenberg’s definitive body-horror epic, The Fly, which originally hit the screens in an earlier, safer incarnation starring Vincent Price.

But perhaps the most beloved and popular remake of all time is one that many people may not even be aware is a remake. Now, I don’t mean to cause any disenchantment here, but the hard truth remains that the gem of 1939 and perennial classic The Wizard of Oz is not the story’s first filmic representation, and to the shock of gays everywhere, Judy Garland is not the first Dorothy. While it is an inarguable fact that The Wizard of Oz is a groundbreaking entry into the world of motion pictures, and its place in history is well-earned, it is certainly not the first comer to the land of Oz. Hell, it’s not even second or third.

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By Michael Varrati

Just as hearing certain songs can instantly transport us to times gone by; there are some cinematic experiences that will always contain the stamp of the film’s initial viewing. However, it’s more than just remembering the first time you saw a movie. Some films carry with them attributes that are almost impossible to describe, an “it factor” that serves as a perfect culmination of the movie’s content and where you happen to be in your own life. It’s a little cinematic synergy, if you will, that makes that particular flick special to you in ways that aren’t always easy to put into available words. It just clicks. You know them when you find them, and, as the film geeks we are, you cherish them deeply.

For me, Amy Heckerling’s Clueless is one of those movies.

In the summer of 1995, my family had taken a brief respite to the small city of Flagstaff, Arizona. I remember distinctly that it was the month of July, because it was that long stretch of the season that tends to be almost creepily hot.  When I wasn’t spending my time by the pool or trying to raise money to buy a new Super Nintendo game, I was most typically glued to MTV. I know it may seem weird to the kids of today, but the once proud network had not yet slipped into the reality TV abyss and was still pumping out some pretty hip content. Even as a kid, I wasn’t particularly one to fall for ad campaigns or the latest trends, but somewhere in the midst of Road Rules reruns and Blind Melon videos, I started to take notice MTV was aggressively promoting this teen flick about a Beverly Hills mallrat.

After about a week of getting inundated with Alicia Silverstone (who I had previously only known as “that Aerosmith girl”), I caved and cajoled my mom into taking me to Flagstaff’s little theater to see the movie.

…and dare I say? It was love at first sight.

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LOVE GONE WRONG: A Cinematic Roundtable on Cupid’s Craziest Movie Moments

By Michael Varrati

I’ve never been one of those single people who carry a sense of vitriol for Valentine’s Day. While it’s true I don’t have a paramour with whom to share the holiday, I just don’t quite understand the need to allow an embittered sense of self-pity ruin what could otherwise be a good time. Furthermore, Valentine’s Day really should be a day of celebration for everyone, because it signals the fact that, in less than 24 hours, a shit ton of candy is about to get discounted at the local drug store.

If you can’t find the love in that, then honey, I don’t know what to tell you.

However, while I take no issue with Cupid’s special day, regular readers will be happy to know that I’m still undeniably me, and that means I can’t let this lover’s holiday slip by totally unscathed. While I do honestly appreciate Valentine’s Day, I’ve always had a habit of celebrating it in a way that is hugely, shall we say, non-traditional.

You see, whether I have a Valentine or not, one of my favorite things to do on this most romantic of days is to take in slices of cinema that highlight couples for whom the “til death do us part” portion of love is brought to the uncomfortable forefront. Maybe it’s a little sadistic, but there’s nothing quite like cuddling up to a date, throwing in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and seeing if they’ll stay snuggled up to you as George and Martha descend into martial dysfunction.

I mean, can you imagine a better evening? I know I can’t.

The truth is, I just love movies about love…gone wrong.

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THe HOLY TRINITY: A Roundtable on the Women of 9 to 5

By Michael Varrati

It’s a well-known fact that here at Peaches Christ HQ, we’re a deeply spiritual bunch.

As such, we often turn our thoughts to the Holy Trinity, allowing the solace of their presence and worldly miracles to heal us in times of sorrow. In the darkest of hours, it is their light that brings us through to a fabulous new morning.

Of course, for those less devout than we, I’m speaking of none other than the divine trio of Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton.

…and if you thought we were talking about something else, you really haven’t been paying attention.

Of course, independently, each of these women is a dynamic force of entertainment, a towering beacon of greatness that elicits the heartiest of gay gasps when even one of their names is mentioned. Bring them together, however, and you have a union tantamount to Nick Fury assembling the Avengers.

Such a summit of sass occurred approximately once in the winter of 1980, and the result was the epic masterpiece that is 9 to 5.

Hugely celebrated for over three decades, the Colin Higgins directed story of three women in the workplace who turn the tables on their misogynistic boss remains as popular as ever for the outstanding performances of its three leads and continued relevant commentary on the glass-ceiling politics of the modern workplace. Also, it’s just one hell of a fun film.

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mg_0645By Michael Varrati

On August 24th, 2013, hundreds of scantily clad cinema & sleaze enthusiasts descended on the Bay Area as the result of a sixteen year odyssey that began when my dear ghoufriend Peaches Christ invited the city of San Francisco, and subsequently the world, to celebrate a singular chapter in cult film history. For nearly twenty years now, Peaches has hosted thousands of screaming fans who have traveled near and far to worship at the altar of Paul Verhoeven’s seminal masterpiece, Showgirls.

As a committed member of the Peaches Christ family, I’ve done my share of Midnight Mass events, but I have to tell you, there are few that engender the level of excitement that surrounds Showgirls. After so many years of presenting the film, which Quentin Tarantino once famously described as “the last great American grindhouse movie,” the people who gather to celebrate it with us have come to expect nothing but the absolute best in showmanship and sin. Peaches, who has taken her personal love of Showgirls to an unprecedented public degree, has made it her mission to celebrate the movie in the grand fashion in which it was made, and, in the process, inarguably helped add to the film’s new lease on life in the cinematic pantheon.

Indeed, in some circles, Peaches’ preshow celebration of the movie has become just as popular as the film itself, and this latest outing proved no different.

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ALL OF THEM WITCHES: Five Must-See Cinematic Spells

By Michael Varrati

I will totally admit that I have a thing about witches.

Like most people growing up in the age of modern pop culture, my first exposure to these hexy broads came in the form of Margaret Hamilton’s iconic Wicked Witch of the West.  As countless generations of children had been captivated by the magic of The Wizard of Oz, I’m sure my parents thought they were doing a good thing by having a family movie night to show me Judy’s musical adventure.

Of course, they couldn’t possibly know when the film started, nor could I, that major life trauma was mere minutes away. In their defense, everything was going rather swimmingly at the onset. The movie was colorful, the songs were fun, and these little people were singing about candy-centric organizations. These are all things with which a little kid will have no problem getting on board. However, suddenly, in the midst of all this Technicolor gaiety, a flash of smoke and wicked cackle brought my little world crashing down.

Interrupting Dorothy’s gleeful bopping in the most epic way, the green specter of Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch was revealed for the first time…

…and I freaked the fuck out.

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GORE UP YOUR GAY PRIDE: 10 Films of Homosexual Horror

By Michael Varrati

Hail, bloody Marys!

June is upon us, and for most of the continental United States (Illinois is in question as of late), the month long celebration of Gay Pride has begun!

This June is especially gay for those of us here at Midnight Mass HQ, because in addition to our usual celebrating, Peaches is currently gearing up to welcome horror’s most illustrious male scream queen, Mark Patton, to join her for a June 22nd screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. Long celebrated for its overt gay subtext, Nightmare 2 is the perfect flick for blood-thirsty gays who are looking to add some chills to their Pride thrills.

Of course, Nightmare 2 isn’t the only horror film out there that adds a little queer to its fear, so today we’re going to delve a little deeper into some homo-horrors and provide for you the absolute best assortment of horror films to give your Pride party a little zest.

Luckily, as multi-faceted as my friendship with Peaches Christ may be, the one thing above all else that we share in common is our love of silver screen scares. As such, this article provided the two of us the marvelous opportunity to sit down and do what we ghoulfriends do best: Gab about gore.

Of course, beyond Midnight Mass, Peaches is no slouch when it comes to injecting a bit of the old homosexual hijinks into a genre flick. Her own movie, All About Evil (directed by her alter-ego, Joshua Grannell) saw drag queens and camp icons alike join together to face off against a murderous character played by Natasha Lyonne, and the film has already inspired a number of cult screenings worldwide. Of course, humility dictates that we shouldn’t include it in our list, but I’m going to give it an honorable mention. After all, this is Peaches’ site, and furthermore, it’s a damn good movie, which is something I’d say even if I wasn’t part of the PC team. Besides, Christ gives so much for us all, I think watching All About Evil this month is a good way to give back to Christ.

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Richie Valens Rising: An Interview with Rob Fatal, Director of LA BAMBA 2: Hell is a Drag

By Michael Varrati

Watching the kaleidoscopic fever dream that is Rob Fatal’s La Bamba 2: Hell is a Drag leaves the viewer with the indelible impression that the very zeitgeist is having a revolution.

As the title suggests, La Bamba 2 is something of a spiritual sequel to the 1987 film starring Lou Diamond Phillips, which, in of itself, is a bit of a conundrum. After all, how does one make a sequel to a film that is based on such true, extremely finite events as the life of Richie Valens? If you’re Rob Fatal, you do it with panache, surrealism, and no small amount of camp.

La Bamba 2, which will have its world premiere at the San Francisco Underground Short Film Festival (hosted by our own Peaches Christ and Sam Sharkey), is as much an ode to Valens as it is to Fatal’s own personal and cinematic explorations of self and culture. Moreover, it is a film that isn’t confined by any one set of rules, utilizing the biography of an icon to explore the hopes and dreams of an individual seeking an identity of his own.

The plot of La Bamba 2 mostly concerns itself with the character of Rob Fatal (playing some semblance of himself), whose idolization of Richie Valens has led to a lifetime of yearning and identity crisis. However, Fatal gets the chance to come face-to-face with his hero when the rocker is taken captive by the forces of the underworld, and Fatal is pulled down to Hell to help in the search. Read More…

PARIS IS BURNING: A Midnight Mass Re-Cap

By Michael Varrati

Featuring Event Photos by Nicole Fraser-Herron

“Is she really going to throw a Ball in a movie theater?”

Making my way through the historic Castro Theatre on the night of “Paris is Burning: A Celebration,” this was a question I heard more than one audience member ask in confused fascination. Of course, their puzzlement was not without good cause. A typical Ball can last anywhere from 10-20 hours, and usually requires a whole venue for its participants to gyrate and pose. To have a Ball in a movie house seemed rather outrageous, audacious, and, well, absolutely Peaches.

Of course, knowing Peaches Christ’s special panache for celebrating movies in a manner befitting their legacy, I cannot think of a more appropriate way to honor the iconic Paris is Burning.

…and, oh, did she ever.

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VOGUE ON FILM: Cinematic Dance Realness

By Michael Varrati

A predator in Prada, her eyes sweep the runway with a cold gaze. In the world of high fashion, Anna Wintour’s opinion is everything, and as the editor of Vogue, she evokes…

…wait, what?

I’ve just been informed by another of Peaches’ undead minions that, despite the grand flourishes of Anna Wintour’s Midnight Mass-esque persona, hers is not the vogue we’re here to talk about today. Instead, I’m here to take you to the floor and highlight the world of voguing, a dance movement that came from the gay Harlem ballroom scene and emerged into a cultural phenomenon.

To be fair, I knew all along this piece wasn’t about Ms. Wintour, but I couldn’t resist. After all, despite their worlds of difference, the Queen of Fashion and the Queens of the Ball have one huge thing in common: They both understand that presentation is everything.

As Peaches prepares to unleash Paris is Burning this weekend at the Castro Theater (with legendary guest star Latrice Royale), my dear ghoulfriend and I thought it wise to revisit the cultural impact of voguing on gay culture and beyond. Now, to truly explore the significance of this movement would require far more time than our little space here allows, so we decided to focus on one aspect that Peaches and I are always ready to celebrate: Film.

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When visiting San Francisco Peaches Christ Productions prefers that you stay at Peaches favorite hotel! Book online and get the special rate just for Peaches fans like yourself!

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After every Castro Theatre show don't forget to head to OASIS for the official after-party at club MOTHER! San Francisco's newest and now premiere drag venue located on the corner of 11th and Folsom...!

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Take a peek inside the main office over at Peaches Christ Productions. This short film stars all your favorites, including Martiny, Lady Bear, and L. Ron Hubby.

Ever wonder about how Peaches’ wigs are made? Or how she’s always able to keep up with the demand for her fabulous merchandise? What about this constant touring and relentless appearance calendar? How does she keep at it? Just who or what is behind the satanic machinery that is Peaches Christ Productions? What keeps it going? All these questions and more are answered in Children of the Popcorn. Watch, and become one of us!

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