Founder of Hula Girl Productions, Connie Florez, has made many documentaries and narrative films that won several awards. At this year’s HRFF, we are honored with a sneak peak of Connie’s documentary of Hawaii LGBT history!
Synopsis: The Glades Project (Work in Progress) reveals an integral part of Hawaii’s culture with very-rare-film footage and performances from the 1960s-70s on the LEGENDARY Glade Show Lounge multi-tiered show-stage located in the heart of Honolulu’s Old Chinatown at 152 N. Hotel Street, which at the time was the red light district. This is a celebrated group of local Mahus, where genders were blurred and ordinary boys became beautiful girls.
Where and how did you collect such great historical videos and photos for this film?
Film clips and some photos are from our very own Bishop Museum Archives and DeSoto Brown. An archive of almost 7,000 photos are from the Glade Show Lounge girls and boys through extensive research from Hawaii to NYC. San Francisco LGBT Archives and State Library were amazing in assistance and literally weeks and weeks of research. Our very own LGBT Center had the most extensive Library that really gave me a foundation to start.
Why should gay and straight audiences come to see The Glades Project (wip)?
The Glades Project is about our community, our ‘ohana and the changes that occurred after Hawaii statehood with new laws through our legislature. That very law enacted after three front-page articles in our newspapers. How a community inclusive of Families, Tourists and military enjoyed coming to the performances by the busloads to see the ‘Boys will be Girls” show….and the change that happened after the “I AM A BOY” button was required by law to be worn as a mahu or drag queen.
What has been one of your favorite stories through your interviews and why?
Lindsey Lau, AKA Isadora Sei of the House of Sei. The life that Lindsey lived has been truly remarkable. As a performer on stage at the Glade Show Lounge, to a queen mother, to a civil rights activist (when she didn’t know a label existed!) for Mahu rights for housing, education and jobs. As Isadora’s would say, ‘It is the right for any human being to have the same opportunities as any one else…I am standing up to do the right thing’. There are many amazing interviews and each has been a journey of life. Honestly they are all amazing and resilient, from Prince Hanalei stories Jack Cione stories and more. All gave their stories for the first time on camera and all life has to offer, one day at a time.
Do you think “mahu” is still seen a derogatory term? Why or why not?
Mahu term is a Hawaiian word that has finally come back to it’s true meaning with aloha. After those years during the 60s-70s of the “I AM A BOY” button and the “Intent to deceive” law, and so many murders and brutal beatings and hate crimes….yes, we as a society has come a long way. I remember the Mahu joke as a child during the late 60s in Hilo.
Knock, knock. Whose there? Me-ma. Me-mahu!
I honestly never knew at the age of 8 or 9 years old what it mean’t to by saying that joke. Only that I never wanted to be Mahu cause they worked the streets on Mamo Street downtown and were living on the beach as well.
So have we come along way? Absolutely YES. Is it still used derogatorily? Sometimes, but no where close to what it use to be during the 60s 70s 80s. Mahus today are Lawyers, government positions, doctors, scientists, professors, kumus, parents, executive directors, CEOs, etc. Mahu, mahu wahine, transgendered are all very fluid currently.
The term Mahu has fluidity in the very character of a person. The essence and meaning is the root understanding of a persons character as we know today.
Since this is a work in progress, what other content can people look forward to in the world premiere version?
The heartbeat of the stories and those that survived it from their own words. We are still looking for film, movie clips of old Glade Show Lounge and the exteriors with the girls. Finishing funds are being sought through a KickStarter Crowdfunding Campaign this summer beginning June 2012.
Do you think the “Glades Show Lounge” could be successful in this current time in Hawaii? Why or why not?
Yes and No. Yes because we will always have Mahus and drag queens that love to perform and the show then was a variety show in the beginning much like the Ed Sullivan Variety Show.
Will we ever have another Prince Hanalei? That pretty much answers your questions. The Glade Show Lounge was a time that will be Golden in our hearts and spirits and remembered forever in memories and dreams