Draped In Dynamo is a 2019 American Drama film written by Cecilia Frugiuele & Ian Stevenson, produced by RuPaul Charles, directed by Gustav Möller starring Ryo Ishibashi, Téa Leoni, Cassidy Gifford, Ki Hong Lee, Tony Oller, Danny Glover, Chadwick Boseman, Clark Gregg, Brian Firkus and Meiko Kaji. The film secured Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Leading Role: Ishibashi, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Score, as well as receiving nominations for Best Score and Best Actress: Leoni.
The film is based on the 2011 RuPaul Charles segment: Desolation Dynamics Dynamo and was released theatrically and in IMAX select theatres on April 25th, 2019 to critical and audience acclaim.
The film's story centres around an aged, overweight asian male drag performer who navigates life in the lonely district of Dynamo in Atlanta, Georgia where he aids a runaway 19 year old girl wishing to transition into a male, her uptight, controlling wealthy mother, illicit affairs with a busker, married man, dying cleaner and underage preparatory school boy. The plot culminates in the tragic death of the protagonist after a stint on a drag queen competitive reality show.
In 1990 in the neon lit district of Dynamo in Atlanta, Georgia Japanese heavyset drag queen performer Lady Kyoto (Ryo Ishibashi) struggles currency wise on his minimal performances. He tends to a gay bashing victim who he drops off at the hospital, waiting on the outside until he is done, his parents however collect him and he disappears. He struggles to continue to book gigs for himself as there be no demand for an aging, asiantic queen who is also overweight.
He finds his way by direction of telephone pole advertisements to a hidden gay club near an old Rialto theatre. The club entitled Aphrodite's Kiss is holding a drag queen event and he books a slot for the next function, Kyoto sneaks his way into the back VIP booth of the club and encounters a collective of queens, some of which are cold to him.
Four diverse performers Rena Starr (Brian Firkus), The Other Cher (Chad Michaels), Helga von Wolfenstein (Aaron Coady) and Blossom Daniels (Jerick Hoffer) however introduce themselves and introduce Kyoto to the Atlanta drag circuit beyond the club. Over time the straight laced Other Cher abandons them as they frequently abuse ketamine, LSD, ecstasy and cocaine instead returning to his contractor partner who he had introduced as his husband on the hope of their eventual marriage. Rena signs on a record deal, abandoning drag and the others.
Helga's supplier eventually assaults Helga and in a following frenzy Helga crashes the Mercedes Benz containing the three, resulting in Kyoto suffering a severe concusion, perpetuating brain damage and scars covering the extent of his legs and chest. Helga is arrested following for the vehicular manslaughter as they had hit and killed a young teenage female.
Blossom returns to the stage at Aphrodite's but unable to deal with the death they caused and already being a rich trust fund child addicted to cocaine overdoses on a fatal amount of various drugs snorted in the bathroom of the club.
Kyoto abandons the circuit and begins a set of illicit encounters, the first with drag void gay club busker Alexander Lee (Ki Hong Lee) who has a similar past to Kyoto.
Alexander continues his intimate nights with Kyoto believing they have entered a relationship. Kyoto also begins seeing married Dr. Duncan Storrer (John Stamos) before him revealing the affair to his incredibly young, cheating seductive wife Sandra (Lily James), causing a domestic disturbance as an argument escalates into both breaking things before engaging a threesome with Kyoto in drag.
Kyoto then has a one night stand with an unnamed building janitor (Donald Sutherland) after meeting a runaway nineteen year old girl Jennifer Field (Cassidy Gifford) who takes up at Kyoto's apartment.
Kyoto brings Jennifer into his world as he discovers she suffers from gender dysphoria and wishes to become a male, believing drag is the way to accomplish this want. Jennifer's wealthy, divorced and incredibly brash and controlling mother Jeanine (Tea Leoni) brings Jennifer home after a suicide attempt. Jeanine prepares to bring Kyoto up on charges as Kyoto pays a visit to check on Jennifer.
The two share a long conversation revealing Jeanine's parenting and roots. Jeanine decides to abandon charges and requests that Kyoto never make contact with Jennifer again. Kyoto eventually becomes a competing queen on the drag queen reality series Superstar Nova which is run by enigmatic drag queen Deandra Diamond (Danny Glover), who secretly in turn favours Kyoto relating to his backstory of abuse by his mother.
Kyoto is constantly excluded in the competition, singled out in challenges and bullied by popular competitors Mistress Payne and Sinamon. Kyoto intends to with the prize money not escape the squalor of his life but rather provide it to Jennifer Field so she may acquire an appointment for gender reassignment surgery.
Kyoto under the stress has a sexual encounter with a young make-up boy who like Jennifer is a runaway. The boy Nathaniel Stoneman (Tony Oller) ends Kyoto's continued sexual trysts with Alexander as they are caught, and Nathaniel is revealed to be merely only fifteen years of age. As a result of this Nathaniel's extremely violent father, acting officer brother Nicholas (Shia LaBeouf) who are of a fundamentalist christian background launch an attack on Kyoto.
Kyoto is disqualified from the competition, reprimanded into custody and found guilty of statutory rape. Kyoto dies in prison of undisclosed means and Jeanine then becomes involved with the competition, blackmailing Deandra Diamond into prematurely ending the running season and nominating the money to her for Jennifer's surgery. The blackmail proves succesful and Jeanine becomes locked in an argument with Jennifer's father and her ex-husband Ivan (Clark Gregg) who tries to fight her on assuming full custody claiming her to be an abusive parent trying to change their daughter into a son.
Jeanine has a moment with Jennifer before the surgery pulls through and Ivan's charges are dismissed from court. The film ends with Jeanine sorting through photos of her, Jennifer and Ivan over the years as well as photos of her childhood, a document by DHS of her emancipation from an abusive father and mother, drug addicts who mistook her tomboyish nature for lesbianism. The film ends as Jeanine quits her homemaker position with Dynamo Realty and begins writing as the novelist she had always aspired to be, writing a manuscript on Desolation Damages Dynamo and setting up a poster a weakened Jennifer is unable to put up, a Superstar Nova performer poster of Lady Kyoto.
- Ryo Ishibashi as Lady Kyoto/Ichi
- Téa Leoni as Jeanine Field
- Cassidy Gifford as Jennifer Field/Jeremiah Field
- Ki Hong Lee as Alexander Lee
- Tony Oller as Nathaniel Stoneman
- Danny Glover as Deandra Diamond/Derek Donnelly Davis Jr.
- Chadwick Boseman as Samuel Bishop
- Clark Gregg as Ivan Field
- Brian Firkus as Rena Starr
- Ana Lynch as Desirae Gardner
- Violett Beane as Sammi Gardner
- Shia Labeouf as Officer Nicholas Stoneman
- Brian Cox as Sergeant William Westward
- Anson Mount as Officer Brent Patrick
- Meiko Kaji as Mother
- Jason Dardo as Mistress Payne
- Jim Marks as Sinamon
- Jason Livingston as Household Henrietta
- Matthew Callaway as Ingrid Eclipse
- Benjamin Edward Knox as Eve Perregreen
- David Petrushin as Star Lut
- Aaron Coady as Helga Von Wolfenstein
- Chad Michaels as The Other Cher
- Brian Joseph McCook as Russian Roulette
- Jerick Hoffer as Blossom Daniels