You ready for this week’s MOVIES ON THE BLOCK? We’re screening Hedwig and the Angry Inch in synchronicity with RI PRIDE month! Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the film’s production.
Hedwig And The Angry Inch was created by friends Steven Trask and John Cameron Mitchell in the mid-1990’s as an Off-Broadway performance. Mitchell wanted to write a show based on Plato’s Symposium and asked Trask to write some songs. Trask was also a manager for Squeezebox, a drag club where queens sang live with a punk rock band instead of lip syncing. As Trask wrote the songs, Mitchell asked to perform them at Squeezebox, which meant he had to dress in drag to do it.
As a result, the character of Hedwig was created. The show was pieced together in small theaters, and eventually ran in its complete form for two years.
Mitchell is writing a sequel to Hedwig about the character’s experiences in middle age. “My goal is to do a trilogy and when I’m 70 to do the final chapter,” he said to Rolling Stone in 2014.
The footage of Hedwig on The Rosie O’Donnell Show (1996) was shot when Hedwig and the Angry Inch was an off-Broadway musical as a promotion for the show. When Rosie O’Donnell holds up the Hedwig CD, it is a copy of the original off-Broadway cast recording.
John Cameron Mitchell was required to wear so much makeup for such long periods of time, that after his daily lunch break, he’d go to his trailer, shave off his growing five o’clock shadow (through the makeup), then go have his makeup touched up and return to shooting.
Mitchell donned drag for the first time speaking in character and telling Hedwig’s story between songs, written and played by Stephen Trask. This was the first known “drag performance act” that had a storyline, live singing and a live band with original material.
The aqua and peach track jacket worn by Hedwig’s make-up man, Mike, in the call girl in the alley scene shows up several times throughout the film as an inside joke.
The character Hedwig is based on Mitchell’s babysitter, a German woman (not transgendered) named Helga who also worked as a prostitute in Junction City, Kan., where Mitchell lived on an army base and his father was a commander.
Every single piece of music in Hedwig is diegetic (or sound from within the film’s world).
Some inspirations for the music and ideology of Hedwig: David Bowie, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Roni Tennille, Debbie Boone, Anne Murray. It was also inspired by Plato’s Symposiun – a philosophical text detailing the origins of love.
A critical success, there are some entertaining celeb sightings from Hedwig and The Angry Inch’s opening Off-Broadway: David Bowie blew off the Grammys for a night with Hedwig, an actress-model on each arm; Danny DeVito scaled six flights of stairs to meet the young phenomenon; Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson made out as Mitchell sang a love song (‘I took it as a compliment,’ he says).