A Drag Queen And a Guy Navigate Love and Lust Through The Alter World In ‘Plus Minus’

Plus Minus

Plus Minus’ is a Filipino short film that tells the story of an aspiring drag queen and a guy he meets online. Soon, the two find comfort in each other and create their world out of desolate motel rooms.

It is directed by Lester Cristal and stars Kyle Gopez and Russell Vingno in the lead roles.

The film starts with two naked men in a dingy motel room, one asleep and one smoking a cigarette. Mark, awake and deep in thought, throws a look at the other guy as he blows puffs of smoke. 

Plus Minus

Mark is an aspiring drag queen who does drag shows at night in some bars. After a particular performance, Mark excuses himself to the comfort room to remove his “tuck” (Google is your friend if you do not know what it is). He fishes out his phone from his bra, reads something, drags down his tube top, and then snaps a couple of thirst trap photos.

Moments later, Mark is fucking the same guy earlier, Alex. As he plows him, Mark tells Alex to “think of him.” When they reach their climax, Mark kisses Alex and collapses on top of him, exhausted from their tryst. They hug each other tightly.

After, Mark asks “Mr. Versarap” (Mr. Versalicious) about himself. Alex tells him he’s a fourth-year Chemistry student and asks back about Mark whose on-screen alter ego is called “Mr. AlterManila.” He tells Alex that he’s a cashier by day in some establishment not too far from the motel and by night, a drag queen. Alex quips that they might get shot outside. They laugh. Alex asks if Mark had fun which leads to another round.

Alex and Mark continue hooking up while opening up about themselves to each other. Post-coital, Alex tells him that he wishes he never met his dad while Mark tells Alex that drag makes him feel powerful, like a superhero. Mark admits that it’s a hard journey and he wants to go away from the world with Alex in tow. Alex kisses his nape tenderly and says he’ll be Mark’s jetpack. 

Back at the bar, the drag queens talk about their performances while Mark listens. His phone pings and he gets a message, presumably from Alex. His face lights up.

Alex and Mark meet up again. Alex tells Mark that he doesn’t deserve “this.” Mark says he does. We see a juxtaposition of some tender sex and fast fucking with Mark in drag. Alex doesn’t seem appreciative of the latter and pushes Mark away. He wants to slow down. Cracks appear between them. 

Sometime in between, Alex watches Mark perform in drag and sees another guy looking at him hungrily. 

Back to Alex wanting Mark to slow down, he pushes Mark who’s desperate to have sex, and asks to talk first. Mark gets snarky with Alex and asks why talk in a motel when they could have just gone to a coffee shop. 

 

Watch ‘Plus Minus’ on GagaOOLala.

Elsewhen, when the two are sleeping, Alex’s phone beeping wakes up Mark. He grabs the phone and opens it to a nasty surprise. This leads to Mark spiraling, from drinking to taking more thirst traps for other people.

Pieces fall into place like a puzzle when Mark confronts Alex about his cheating. When Mark previously said that he deserves “this,” he was referring to getting cheated on. And when Mark was asking Alex to “think of him” while fucking, it was to erase the thoughts and memories of the other guy.

Guilt eats up Alex as he scrubs himself clean of his sin. Someone knocks and Alex exits the shower. He opens the door of the motel room and Mark, in drag, enters.

Plus Minus

 

Writer’s Thoughts:

Let’s get down to business. 

The movie was nominated for the 2020 Best Short Film at the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences Awards (FAMAS), the Philippines’ oldest award-giving body for cinema, and was also a finalist for the 2020 Gawad Sining by the University of the Philippines.

All of that achievements aside, the film is about two queer people’s journey through loneliness, lust, tenderness, and betrayal. That much is easy to get. However, the non-linear storytelling might be a turn-off for some viewers as it can cause confusion or can seem troublesome to follow as it did for this writer.

The story highlights the uniquely queer and Filipino aspect of experiencing love and relationships that start and end in the four corners of motel rooms thanks to the hypersexualized culture of the online world of “alters” on Twitter.

However, this writer is humble enough to admit that maybe I just did not connect with the story, especially on the cheating part. Why did Alex cheat? Did it have anything to do with Mark being a drag queen? It did not seem to be so since we had seen them engaging in intercourse while Mark was wearing a full beat and a dress. 

Is cheating part of the queer experience? That’s something to ponder on.

This writer feels lukewarm about this film but overall, at only 15 minutes runtime, I think it is worth giving a shot. Maybe you can tell us what you think about this short film in the comments section below or tweet us @BLTaiOfficial. We would be happy to discuss this with you guys.

You can watch ‘Plus Minus’ in GagaOOLala which is now available to watch on your smart TVs! Just download the GagaOOLala app on Google Play, Amazon Appstore, and Roku.

 

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