Childhood curiosity turned to teenage obsession after Highberger -- just 18-years-old at the time -- snuck out to watch the Warhol film, Flesh, a farcical melodrama starring "Warhol Superstars" and gender-bending drag queens Candy Darling and Jackie Curtis, the Off Broadway playwright and cabaret performer who is the subject of his documentary Superstar in a Housedress. (The film starts a limited run at the Cincinnati Art Museum Friday).
For Highberger, his film is as much a personal story as a biography of Curtis' eclectic life.
"My conservative parents would have died if they had known I was going to watch an Andy Warhol film," he said, speaking recently at a restaurant near his Hyde Park home. "Being gay and not being out at the time, I was convinced I didn't belong anywhere. That's why I went to school in New York City and why it was important to meet Jackie Curtis. I learned it was OK to be different. I learned you can be different and still belong." -- Steve Ramos