KEVIN HEGGE | CANADA | 2022 | 102 MIN | ENGLISH
In the get-rich-quick 80s, a group of misfits labelled the New Romantics navigated the sweaty clubs and crumbling squats of the London underworld, innocent of practicalities. Building friendships from pills and trysts. Shaking the world awake one “radical drag” performance or fashion revolution at a time.
The proudly degenerate origin story of the New Romantics’ “peacock punk” is often dominated by megastars like Boy George, who features wonderfully in this year’s Blitzed, a perfect companion piece to this art-minded visual feast. Here, filmmaker Kevin Hegge pays homage to less often deified boundary-pushers and recovers the virtuosos lost to AIDS. At a time when eccentrics were ignored or punched in the street, artists like Scarlett Cannon, Les Child, Leigh Bowery, Trojan, and BodyMap harnessed the media to prod society forward. Undergirded by a shifting soundtrack of dreamy and deconstructed beats, Tramps! is a high-contrast slipstream of candid interviews and eye-popping archival footage. Unafraid to poke holes in accepted lore, it reveals a nuanced portrait of the “dykes, queers, punks, and prostitutes” who refused to be “fodder for the factories” and asked far more from culture than shades of grey.