The British Film Institute presents the best global cinema on-demand:
From classic and contemporary films to the best of the BFI National Archive.

What's a Girl Like You ...
What's a Girl Like You ...

What's a Girl Like You ... 1969

Close

This film is certified

Please confirm that you accept our terms of use.

Close

What's a Girl Like You ... 1969

52 mins Director. Charlie Squires

Welcome to the 'Palladium of Drag' - south London's Royal Vauxhall Tavern. The first half of this scintillating London Weekend Television documentary celebrates the late-60s drag renaissance at one of Britain's oldest surviving gay venues - then home to a happily diverse throng of working-class regulars. Dynamic camerawork swoops along the bar-cum-stage as pints are nonchalantly pulled under the thrashing heels of anarchic queens Bow, The Polka Dots and Mr Cleo Rose. Despite the clunking insistence that "the one thing you don't have to be for drag is homosexual" this is a refreshingly non-judgemental and joyous insight into queer nightlife half a century ago.

The spotlight shifting to the drag circuit in northern England offers a fascinating contrast in tone. The audiences are still largely working class, but a harder-edged, freak-show vibe creeps in. The girls range from highly polished female impersonators (Bunny Lewis) and glorious grotesques (Al Nicholls) to innovative drag striptease (Terry Durham). Transgender singer Ava strikes a more melancholic note with her number "Strictly a he-male female", a sharp reminder that the outlook for trans women was far from rosy in 1969. Featuring candid interviews with all the performers, this is a valuable rediscovery, and a timely one: in 2015 the RVT became the first venue in Britain to be awarded Grade II-listed status for its importance to the LGBT community.

Directed by

Charlie Squires

Tags

Array Array Array

Collection

LGBT Britain

Released

1969

Language

English

Read lessRead more
Part of

1,000s of beautifully preserved films, capturing 120 years of Britain on Film

Explore
The map

Subscription

View All

Welcome to a new subscription service like no other.

>100s of hand-picked classics and critically-acclaimed films

>Critic Mark Kermode picks a must-see film every week

>No contract, cancel anytime

Cookies Policy

This website uses cookies, as explained in our Cookies Policy.

To accept the terms and hide this message please click 'I accept'.

I accept

Passionate about film? So are we…

Don't miss the email made for the in-the-know film fan:

New releases — on the same day as in cinemas Special collections & unheralded classics Exclusive news on discounts


Never ask | Ask me later