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Local filmmaker Craig Highberger on Jackie Curtis

By Steve Ramos · November 17th, 2004 · Reel Answer
Sean Hughes/photopresse.com

As a kid growing up in Pittsburgh, Craig Highberger first heard the name Andy Warhol from an uncle who went to college with the celebrity artist in the 1950s.

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



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