You may remember the film 'Paris is Burning', back in 1990, which was all about the underground drag scene in New York, where 'Voguing' originated, well 'Leave it on the Floor' is the West Coast cousin, ready to wrap you up into the world of Brad (the stunning Ephraim Sykes) as he goes from homeless to trophy winning hunk, looking for Mr Right.
Whilst Paris, was all black and white,' Leave It' is is a colorful mish mash of home-made outfits, and original music, set against the backdrop of South Central, and downtown Los Angeles. Although it may not be the most original story ever, Brad's mother kicks him out when she finds him watching gay porn online, the story touches on the sensitive issue of the homophobia within the black community, and the way in which so many young men end up finding a new family in the gay community. For those who are amazing dancers, drag artists or just gorgeously hunky (like Brad), ending up part of the underground ballroom scene, and joining a 'House' can lead to a family like no other. Brad's new 'Mother' is the wonderful Barbie-Q, as 'Queef Latina', the ruler of the House of Eminence. Queef gets most of the best songs in the film, and in my opinion has the best voice.
Other family members are Carter (Andre Myers), whose role as the delicate love interest brings out a tenderness in Brad that is so sweet, in contrast to the scheming 'Princess Eminence' (Phillip Evelyn). My favourite character though is the appropriately named Eppi Durall (James Alsop), a diva whose idea of drag includes a huge pregnant belly. Things don't go smoothly for Brad though, as he attempts to be accepted by Queef and join the House. Haunted by his father's suicide and convinced that everything he touches turns bad, there is a sad undercurrent to the wounded Brad.
But let's not forget that this is a musical with a strong 'Survivor' spirit to things, in fact the music was done by Beyonce's musical director Kim Burse, and the choreography by Beyonce's dance master Frank Gatson, Jr. It is easy to see how things filter up from the very underground scene in the African/American world, to end up in music videos we see from the top stars. In fact one song I particularly liked was one that Princess Eminence does called 'Justins' Gonna Call', which is all about how Justin Timberlake is going to call and ask her to choreograph his videos. The dancing is absolutely amazing, and the film will have you gripped in those moments. There is perhaps just a little too much singing and not enough dialogue at times though, I would of like to hear a bit more on the other House members, especially how they ended up finding their way into the scene.
I must admit to having been a little bit hooked on Rue Paul's drag race a year or so ago when it was on television, and there are several things that Rue has taken directly from this world that he knew so well, having grown up in the NYC ballroom scene. The 'ball's' have different category's (Wall Street executive realness, schoolboy, club face (think Lady Gaga kookiness)(Gaga has admitted to learning all her best moves/looks from drag queens), prom queen,sexy walk etc etc) and then a panel of judges vote on who walked it best on the catwalk. The whole event is hosted by an MC (a very Will.I.am style guy making me look at him in a whole new light), and enormous trophy's are awarded to the winners. When you look at how far Rue Paul has gone, making millions being the face of MAC and getting his own TV show, this is a very real way out of the poverty many of these young men face.
Canadian director Larry Sheldon, has brought together a wonderful cast of actors/singers and dancers. The film was shown earlier this year at the London LGBT Film Festival, and will be shown at various cinemas around the world. It is out in the UK on the 10th of September 2012.