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MIRROR, MIRROR

France, 1996 (MIFF 1997, Documentaries)

Director: Baillie Walsh

In the words of Consuela Cosmetic (born Floyd William Bradford in 1958), "I'm a fair-skinned black male, self-made star, show personality, couture specialist, scam artist, credit card fraud. blackmailer, liar, cheat, con artist, prostitute and...role model," and, as Mirror Mirror shows, a transsexual living with AIDS in a New York sub­culture that is slowly vanishing.

The pursuit of this lifestyle and Consuela's appetite for self-invention has required silicon injections, hormone therapy, a dizzying array of plastic surgery and near super-star levels of ego and self confidence. Or, as Consuela says, "Whatever it takes" to attain the appearance of a woman yet remain sexually male. Many of the issues raised in Paris is Burning, and buried under layer after layer of cellophane in Priscilla. Queen Of The Desert are laid bare in Consuela's dialogue with the ever-present camera.

Baillie Walsh's film uses Consuela as both a guide to this extraordinary world, and curator of her own past (rich in anecdote) and limited future, never blinking at the sexually confronting aspects of her work history. What emerges finally is a por­trait of great warmth and humour, managing the rare feat of being both celebratory and elegiac.

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