An intimate exploration, through a tender mix of touching moments and wise-cracking humor, of the complexities of reality television’s impact on queer performance culture? Told from the perspective of the overlooked yet beloved Queen Mrs. Kasha Davis, WORKHORSE QUEEN focuses on the growing divide between members of a small town drag community – those who have been on television, and those who have not.
By day, Ed Popil worked as a telemarketer in Rochester, New York for 18 years. By night, he transformed into drag queen Mrs. Kasha Davis, a 1960’s era housewife trying to liberate herself from domestic toil through performing at night in secret –an homage to Ed’s mother. After seven years of auditioning to compete on RuPaul’s Drag Race, Ed Popil was finally cast onto the tv show and thrust into a full-time entertainment career at the late age of 44. Workhorse Queen explores the complexities of reality television’s impact on queer performance culture by focusing on the growing divide between members of a small town drag community – those who have been on television, and those who have not.
Director Angela Washko’s directorial debut follows Mrs. Kasha Davis as she navigates the exciting highs and devastating lows of pursuing the fame promised by a reality television platform. With one foot inching toward Hollywood’s doorstep and the other cemented firmly within her beloved Rochester community, Mrs. Kasha Davis finds a surprising new audience at home as she works toward becoming the queer role model for children that Ed didn’t have and desperately wanted growing up.
“It has been an incredible journey documenting Ed Popil/Mrs. Kasha Davis, said Washko. “He stood out to me because it felt like there was so much more to his story and he represented a larger community of drag queens who don’t quite fit the mold of what reality television wants from its participants.”
In addition to Mrs. Kasha Davis, the film also includes the voices and perspectives of drag queen celebrities who have been on RuPaul’s Drag Race, such as superstar Bianca Del Rio, Darienne Lake, Tatianna, and Pandora Boxx, as well as leaders in subversive performance communities around the world, and drag queens who reject or who have been rejected by the reality tv platform.
WORKHORSE QUEEN will hold its World Premiere at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival, with fest play to continue throughout the year.