Do you remember the first movie you saw after leaving home as an adult? In my case, it was August 2001 (just a couple weeks before September 11th would change the world forever), and I found myself alone in a dorm room, at a college where I didn’t particularly want to be enrolled. Instead of unpacking, I decided to embrace my newfound freedom and hike up the street to the nearest cinema. Like a beacon, the poster for Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Disc/Download) screamed out at me. Securing the last seat in the tiny theater, the lights dimmed, and reader, this was the moment my movie-going life truly began.
For those unfamiliar, Hedwig is the adaptation of the off-Broadway smash hit about a gender-queer East Berlin rocker who becomes the star of a small cabaret act touring across Middle America. The band “The Angry Inch” is a reference to the botched sex change operation that’s left Hedwig somewhere between male/female, and it’s through their songs that we learn the saga of how young Hansel transitioned into the fabulous diva currently belting out power ballads from under an impressive collection of ever-changing wigs. This movie is a thought-provoking exploration of gender identity and love, featuring one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. And for an eighteen-year-old girl who was still struggling to figure out a lot of things, Hedwig was an inspiration. This character forces us to look at the pieces of ourselves, even the ones we want to run from, in order to accept them all as perfect. Male, female, gay, straight, costumed in drag or naked in the street—we are all human, and must all learn to love ourselves in whatever shape we’ve assumed.
A scene I particularly love is when Hansel meets the American soldier who would hatch a plan to get them out of East Berlin through marriage and the infamous “operation”. Lured by gummy bears, it’s like watching Adam and Eve take a bite of the apple. Suddenly, this young German’s grey world has a hint of color. Let’s toast Hedwig not with a vermouth on the rocks (because blegh), but with this colorful Gummi Bear cocktail.
1 ½ oz Raspberry Vodka
1 oz Peach Schnapps
½ oz Lime Juice
½ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Cranberry Juice
3 oz Lemon-lime soda
Gummy Bears (Haribo of course!)
Combine Vodka, Peach Schnapps, lime juice, simple syrup, and cranberry juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Top with lemon-lime soda, and garnish with gummy bears.
I’ll never forget leaving the little theater in Dupont Circle on that hot August night, feeling like my own world just transitioned to color too. Feeling like things were going to be okay because I had myself, and I had movies. And when the world’s a bit amiss, there’s always makeup and a tape deck. Cheers!