By Nicole De Meneses
It’s often been said that behind every great man is a great woman. In Joshua Grannell’s case, he is the exuberant filmmaker, performer behind the boisterous drag queen persona Peaches Christ. As a young boy growing up in suburban Maryland in the 80’s while other little boys were playing baseball, he was attending drama workshops and acting classes. Always drawn to the theatre and performing arts, he had no idea that what started off as playful make believe would lead to a successful international drag career.
From a young age, Joshua was naturally obsessed with movies. Some of his favorite films to consume were Poltergeist, E.T., and Jaws with a heaping helping of Hitchcock Presents for desert. It wasn’t until he was in junior High that he discovered the transgressive films of John Waters. Films like Pink Flamingos that were made in Maryland and were so far outside the Hollywood system that he realized directors could do more then just entertain, they could challenge societal norms and be outrageous.
As a teenager, Joshua’s cinematic tastes graduated to fantasy horror masters like Wes Craven and John Carpenter. Years later after graduating from Penn State and moving to San Francisco, Joshua started working for Landmark Cinemas and soon after pitched the idea for Midnight Mass. A slew of musical drag performances and outrageous antics followed suit. For a Halloween event in 2001, he made a short hybrid film parody of Halloween meets Mommy Dearest called Season of the Troll. The film initially made for Peaches fans was so well received that a film programmer wanted to screen the film for the Frameline Film Festival. The following year in 2002 Joshua made another parody film called Nightmare on Castro Street. Peaches Christ fans were growing outside of the midnight screenings and finding a more mainstream audience.
In 2003 Joshua decided to start his very own festival called The San Francisco Underground Film Festival. Pre-YouTube and Vimeo, longing for a way to showcase his friends’ works the festival was a way to celebrate the outlandish and shocking. That same year Joshua decided to make an original film called Grindhouse. The film followed a mousy librarian that owned her own theatre and was killing people in the short films that she was screening. This short sparked the idea for the feature film All About Evil. Fast forward to 2007 Joshua had finished the feature script. Alas independent films are made much like his mousey protagonist films with blood sweat and tears, it would be two more years until shooting would start in 2009. In 2010 All About Evil debut to a sold out crowd at The Castro Theatre with John Waters in attendance.
ALL ABOUT EVIL: The Peaches Christ Experience in 4-D kicked off a 20 city tour that would take Joshua all the way back to Baltimore. The cast was a who’s who of horror and cinematic icons like Cassandra Peterson of Elvira fame and one of the Dreamlanders, Mink Stole, a John Waters collaborator. Their eagerness to participate in the film came from the genuine friendships that Joshua had formed over the years with them celebrating their cult works at midnight screenings. What started as a social drag event party had allowed him to work with his childhood heroes and had turned work relationships into authentic friendships. That young boy who had idolized the works or Steven Spielberg and John Waters had become what he had always admired, a filmmaker.
Gore and glamor consume All About Evil’s Deborah played with wickedly twisted perfection by Natasha Lyonne. Deborah is a lonely librarian who killed her mother with a ballpoint pen in a violent rage. She is embolden with a taste for the blood of anyone who stands between her fledgling film career and beloved movie theatre. Deborah starts screening a series of grizzly short films in an attempt to save her father’s old theatre, the shorts bring in a new audience of gore hungry fans. Steven played by doe eyed Thomas Decker is a teenage fan who starts to suspect that there is more to Deborah’s films then red dye and corn syrup. All About Evil is a camptastic gore ride with practical effects that will shock and delight even the most seasoned horror hound.
Joshua credits his over the top, monstrous, wild, larger then life and politically incorrect Peaches Persona to Freddie Krueger from Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street and John Waters principle collaborator Divine. It was his love of Freddie mixed with his love of Divine that ultimately inspired him to be Peaches Christ. You can see Joshua Grannell as Peaches Christ, Jinkx Monsoon and Bob The Drag Queen performing live at The Castro Theatre October 7th in Hocum Pokem @3pm & 8pm shows. You can purchase tickets to shows and get the All About Evil DVD at http://store.peacheschrist.com/