A legendary figure in the UK drag scene, David Raven has been performing as Maisie Trollette for 50 years, which makes him Britain’s oldest drag queen – or “Drag Artiste” as he prefers to be called. First-time feature filmmaker Lee Cooper catches up with him in the run-up to his 85th birthday where celebrations and shows are underway to commemorate the occasion. Joined by long-time friends and fellow drag artists Miss Jason and Dave Lynn, Maisie gives viewers a peak behind the curtain at a day in the life of the adored performer. Told with a cheeky wink and plenty of innuendo, Maisie’s short length means it’s not here for a long time, but it’s certainly here for a good time.
Cooper is a silent observer throughout his film. His camera takes us into David’s home, his garden, the dressing rooms backstage and as part of the audience of his shows. Watching him interact with his friends and rehearse is almost as fun as watching the live performances. Their camaraderie is contagious as they reminisce about their careers and wild anecdotes of the past. Moreover, David’s friends are the ones asking the questions, which gives a sense of authenticity and intimacy to what are essentially honest conversations between old friends.
The director likewise doesn’t try to glamourise David’s life. Rather, the opposite is true. Shots of cramped makeshift dressing rooms alongside his cluttered kitchen emphasise the distinction between the real David and his glitzy alter-ego. However, this documentary isn’t a biography. There’s no grand narration of his life story, and except for references to his late partner Don, there’s sparsely any information about his personal life. The filmmaker simply points the camera at David and lets him be himself. While it would have been great to get to know the subject better, his presence tells us everything we need to know about this remarkable character.
While we don’t get to spend much time with David in Maisie, his fantastic personality and unbreakable spirit nevertheless make every second in his company a pleasure.
Maisie is released in cinemas and on BFI Player and Bohemia Euphoria on 5th August 2022.
Watch the trailer for Maisie here: