Q&A with Juan Barquin and Trae DeLellis of Flaming Classics

trae and juan
Flaming Classics’ Trae DeLellis (left) and Juan Barquin (right).

Juan Barquin and Trae DeLellis are the masterminds behind Miami’s unique film series, Flaming Classics. The Knight Arts Challenge grant recipients are bringing their bi-weekly curated film series to PAMM for a special screening of Barbarella to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the sci-fi cult classic film.

The program will explore the divide between good and bad art, the purpose of camp aesthetics in art and performance, as well as the power of feminism, resistance, sexuality, and queerness. “A Night of a Thousand Fondas” drag revue will follow the film screening with performances by Miss Toto, Patent Pending, KUNST, Persephone Von Lips, and Petty Boop, celebrating various points in Fonda’s illustrious and long career as a star, producer, and activist.

We caught up with the film buffs ahead of Thursday’s show and chatted about their inspiration for the series, why they chose “Barbarella,” and what Miami can expect at one of their shows.

Join us on Thursday, September 6 from 5-9pm for PAMM Free Community Night: Flaming Classics featuring Barbarella and Night of a Thousand Fondas Drag Revue.

Barbarella. Image from Barbarella.

What was the inspiration behind Flaming Classics?
We are huge fans of repertory cinema and there is so much to see here in Miami. However, at the time, we felt like some of our favorite films were missing. There seemed to be a lack of things from a queer perspective or films rooted in the feminine. At the same time, we were circulating at the various drag venues in the area such as Counter Corner and Double Stubble. There was one night at Double Stubble where it all kind of coalesced. Kurt Fowl was performing “Goodbye Horses” with a Silence of the Lambs-inspired performance. The film itself is so riveting, but there was this new intensity and kind or radicalism added to the performance. That night we kind of decided we wanted to merge the arts of film and drag as soon as possible.

Why was Barbarella chosen?
Our first Flaming Classics series was entitled “Summer Camp.” It showcased six films that could all be defined as camp, from What Ever Happened to Baby Jane to But I’m A Cheerleader. Barbarella was always a part of that discussion, but we realized that its 50th anniversary was approaching and decided to hold off so that we could give the film a larger platform and explore Jane Fonda with a bit of depth.

Part of our fascination with Fonda stemmed from this podcast we’re obsessed with called You Must Remember This, hosted by Karina Longworth, who does these meticulously researched episodes on different classic film figures. She made us look at Fonda in a new light with her series of episodes on Fonda and Jane Seberg and want to dive into her further.

Miss Toto. Image courtesy of Flaming Classics.

Talk to us a little bit about the “Night of a Thousand Fondas” lineup that’s performing at PAMM.
We think that the line-up reflects the idea behind the project. We wanted to showcase some of the different personas of Jane Fonda throughout her career, be it the role of sex kitten, serious actress, political activist, feminist, or businesswoman, that she was on and off screen. And by choosing five distinct performers that highlight the diversity of style in Miami’s drag scene, we can explore all these different perspectives.

How do you curate the performers?
We go to a lot of performance spaces around the city to scope out performers. We normally meditate on the film we are showcasing and are able to zero in on a performer we feel matches the film best. Something we are definitely looking for is the way the performers convey emotion through their performance, as well as their ability to tell a narrative—kind of the same things we look for in a good film.

For those who have never been to a Flaming Classics screening, what can one expect?
Each Flaming Classics screening revolves around three parts: an introduction to the film highlighting its queer themes as well as a historical context, the film itself, and a reinterpretation of those themes and the film through the art of drag. I think there’s a unique sense of community that comes with enjoying a film together, hearing other people laugh with you and finding yourself amongst people who are like you. Ultimately, we never really know what to expect when we bring drag and cinema together, but that’s kind of our favorite part of both of those things: the unexpected.

Petty Boop. Image courtesy of Flaming Classics.

What does it mean to you to have Flaming Classics at PAMM?
It’s great to have Flaming Classics at the PAMM for this event. We were here in December for the Knight Foundation Arts Challenge award ceremony. It was about six months after we had started Flaming Classics and it has really helped us to cement and expand the program. We certainly wouldn’t have been able to organize something of this scale without the help of organizations like Knight Foundation and PAMM among many others who have supported Flaming Classics over the last year. It’s also terrific to see these wonderful performers on stage in an important art institution. It really showcases all the work and creativity that goes into each of their performances. It definitely feels full circle to be able to return to the PAMM. We are very excited for Thursday evening.

About Flaming Classics
Flaming Classics electrifies the movie-going experience through a curated film series, pairing films from the queer canon with live performances from local drag artists to create a one-of-a-kind event for South Florida. Infused with a sense of social activism, community building, and fun, the series aspires to entertain and educate.​


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