Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts
is the story of the intense grind and constant doubt of a folk musician who happens to look like a ridiculous Barbie.
Trixie Mattel was born from Brian Firkus in a small town in Wisconsin and evolved into the “Skinny Legend” we know and love today. You don’t know her? Her name is a great way to understand this person: a homage to Brian’s lifetime love for Barbie (hence “Mattel”) and “Trixie” from a nickname that Brian’s former alcoholic, abusive, homophobic, transphobic stepfather called Brian because of his apparent femininity. And that is Trixie Mattel — a combination of a painful upbringing and a passion for the representation of plastic womanhood.
(Note: Like many men who are drag queens, Trixie uses she/her pronouns while in drag and he/him out of drag. I've tried to use pronouns in this article as they are used in the film.)
I first discovered Trixie on her YouTube series with Katya Zamolodchikova called UNHhhh
. Trixie’s quick and bone dry wit is perfectly edited with Katya’s insanity to make for great 8–9 minute hilarity. Trixie and Katya forged a friendship after both competed (and lost) on season 7 of RuPaul’s Drag Race
. After the season ended, their YouTube show garnered enough attention to get picked up by Viceland. Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts
really starts there.
Much of Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts
gives the audience a glimpse at the construction and the deconstruction of this drag queen’s life. The amount of time spent getting into character is insane. It’s obvious that Trixie has a lot of makeup on, but the detail, time, and dedication behind the application of makeup is an art… and layered, literally and figuratively. Trixie and Jinx Monsoon lament that drag is stupid until the last ten seconds — when the makeup is done, the waist is cinched, the wig is on, it is perfection in every individual iteration.
We see the sets built and taken apart. The audience sees that while the drag shows are fun, funny and glamorous, it’s A LOT of work. These women have created a fantasy world for their audience. As Trixie explains in the beginning, drag can be silly and ridiculous, but the performers take that seriously. The illusion, as obvious as it is, is important.
Trixie quotes Katya stating, “Drag, at its best, is still a failure.” For her drag, Trixie explains that the audience is aware that she is not a woman, but it is the collective suspension of disbelief. However, there is a difference between the audience participating in the fantasy (live shows) and the audience criticizing her drag (Drag Race