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Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight


An integral part of San Francisco’s queer community and our country’s oldest transgender drag entertainer, the legendary performer Vicki Marlane is captured in lesbian filmmaker Michelle Lawler’s directorial debut, Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight. The documentary will screen on Aug. 14 at Homo A Go Go, a festival dedicated to queer music, film, art, performance and activism; hosted this year in San Francisco.

Lawler approached Marlane to make the documentary after three years of watching her perform. With a passion to record and share Marlane’s story, Lawler hopes to initiate a dialog between the older generation and young people, “I think it’s important to talk to them and hear their stories, and learn from them and record it—record their history before it’s too late.”

With only enough funds ($650) to shoot for 2 days, Lawler created a documentary capturing Marlane’s struggle against alcohol and drug addiction, being arrested countless times for dressing in women’s clothing and her ensuing escape from prison—as well as the loss of her lover to suicide. Lawler recalls Marlane’s willingness to open up to her and share, “every detail, no matter how dark, or how wonderful. She really just went there with us.”

In one particularly poignant scene, Marlane recalls being put in a prison’s solitary confinement, “Toilet bowl, bed—that was it.” She was released from confinement on the singular condition that she cut off her shoulder-length hair in order to look more masculine.

Through interviews with Marlane and her close circle of friends, the use of archival images and Marlane’s own stunning performances, the viewer gains a deep sense of LGBT history and culture through one person’s powerful narrative.

Between running the show, handling the music and booking the performers, Marlane has become a central figure in the family at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, a nightclub located in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco. In order to help with funding for the film, Marlane passed a hat around the audience in between her performances while showing a trailer for Forever. She managed to raise nearly $4,000 in two months. Lawler comments, “Vicki’s story is so inspirational because she’s still doing what she loves and it’s what gives her life.” At 74 years old, Marlane still performs at Aunt Charlie’s every Friday and Saturday night.

For further information and screening times visit homoagogo.com. 

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