1 of Wesley Snipes’ Movies Caused a Backlash — ‘The Streets Weren’t Feeling It’

Wesley Snipes starred in a number of great movies, however, fans weren’t receptive to all of them. Snipes revealed one of his movies caused a backlash both “on the streets” and in the martial arts community. Here’s a look at one of the cult classics in his filmography — and how some people tried to ignore the film when talking to Snipes.

Welsey Snipes in a suit
Welsey Snipes | Hülzer/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Wesley Snipes played a drag queen in one of his movies

The 1990s were an interesting time for the art of drag. RuPaul became a national celebrity, Disney’s Mulan and The Birdcage hit the silver screen, and Marilyn Manson wore feminine garb in the video for “Long Hard Road Out of Hell.” Snipes contributed to the trend as well.

He played a drag queen on the cult classic comedy To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. Snipes told Today he was exposed to a number of androgynous musicians like Parliamentary Funk during his youth in the 1970s. Subsequently, he met lots of LGBTQ people when he attended the LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts and later the State University of New York at Purchase. He didn’t find drag unusual because of his education.

“Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker)” by Parliament, one of the bands that composed Parliamentary Funk

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Fans wanted to ignore ‘To Wong Foo’ when discussing Wesley Snipes’ movies to his face

He was asked whether he faced a backlash for playing a drag queen. “Not so much professionally but the streets weren’t feeling it, and there were certain community circles,” he revealed. “The martial arts community… they were not feeling it at all.

“In fact, when the movie came out and they would come down the street, I would see them in Brooklyn sometimes, they started listing all my movies,” he recalled. “I noticed they would always skip that one. I would correct them, ‘Now you don’t got the full count!’”

A trailer for To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar

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Wesley Snipes’ regret about ‘To Wong Foo’

Snipes’ regret about the movie is that his makeup wasn’t better. “I’m jealous of all these housewives of Atlanta and housewives of Jersey and housewives of California,” Snipes laughed. “I am looking at all of these beat faces thinking we did not have none of that makeup available when we were doing To Wong Foo. I would have had a much different and much better look.”

Was ‘To Wong Foo’ a successful movie in the 1990s?

Despite the backlash To Wong Foo faced, it was still a modest success. Box Office Mojo reports the movie took in over $9 million during its opening weekend. Ultimately, it earned over $36 million. It even has a legacy within the world of drag. According to Yahoo! Life, RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Chi Chi DeVayne took the name “Chi Chi” from John Leguizamo’s character in the film, Chi-Chi Rodriguez. To Wong Foo didn’t please all of Snipes’ fans, but it remains a cult classic — even if Snipes’ makeup wasn’t perfect.

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