Old school meets new in “Leave It on the Floor,” a refreshing musical set in the ball scene immortalized by Jennie Livingston in “Paris Is Burning,” or at least its West Coast equivalent.
It begins when the mother of the teenaged protagonist, Brad (Ephraim Sykes), finds out he’s gay and throws him out of the house. (It’s OK. He steals her car.) Brad lands on his feet and discovers another kind of house in the ball scene, where his guide is Princess Eminence (Phillip Evelyn) of the House of Eminence.
‘Leave It on the Floor’ April 20-26 at Plaza Theatre 1049 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta, GA 30306 www.plazaatlanta.com
The initially hostile house mother, Queef Latina (Barbie-Q), whose husband is about to get out of prison, says Brad can stay if he learns to walk for the house in an upcoming competition. Brad gets tutored by Carter (Andre Myers), who stole his wallet when they “met cute.” (It’s OK. He stole Carter’s purse.)
It’s no wonder Eminence is a house of perpetual losers, when Mama Queef drives everyone away. She adds Princess to the list but it’s OK; he steals Brad and takes him along to the competing House of Allure.
A tragedy leads to a scene in which the gay and transgender outcasts and runaways confront the homophobic families that rejected them. Despite dealing with such heavy issues the film maintains the sweet innocence of Hollywood musicals of the ‘40s and ‘50s. People can – and do – burst into song at any moment: original songs with lyrics by screenwriter Glenn Gaylord.
Dancing is less important an element. The ball competitions, a relatively minor part of the film that provides major eye candy, are more about strutting in character than dancing, so don’t expect anyone to get seriously served. “Leave It on the Floor” is more about Brad coming of age and coming into his own, discovering who he is and who he loves.
In return for the love shown “Leave It on the Floor” at last year’s Out on Film, where it won the Audience Award for Best Men’s Feature and a Special Jury Citation for its cinematography and costumes, the film is having its theatrical premiere in Atlanta, screening April 20-26 at the Plaza Theatre. It is co-sponsored by Out on Film.