"Real Girl," a new documentary short film by director Aaron Snow, captures a day-in-the-life of gay nightlife’s most glittering gender-bender, Marti Gould Cummings.
The film (which borrows the name from Cummings’ music single, with new dance remixes being re-released this Fall) reveals the double life led by Cummings and performers like him who juggle remaining elusive during the day with being ubiquitous at night; and the inevitable toll it takes on them. Viewers get a peek into what lay beneath the sparkly fabulousness presented on stage as they witness Cummings relishing in the red carpet spotlight while simultaneously tackling the everyday life problems of the common man.
"There was a time in my life when I was heavy into drugs and alcohol," reflects Real Girl’s Marti Gould Cummings. "I have been clean and sober for two years now. I owe a lot of that to going back to my roots and remembering the love and support I have had from my family and close friends."
Growing up on a farm in Maryland, Cummings says he was the flamboyant boy on the playground, running around, belting show tunes at the top of his lungs. "I flew from my mother’s vagina on a broomstick with sequins exploding out my ass," he laughs. But the sad truth is he didn’t have any real friends until the eighth grade. Instead, he would perform skits for an imaginary audience, pretending to be making his Broadway debut in Cats and Annie. He loved the fantasy of dress up. Heels and costumes made him feel glamorous.
The rejection from peers hurt his young feelings, but it also made him want to work harder to find his authentic self: a persona that would eventually gain him notoriety for its masterful teetering between male and female.
"Although I may be dressed in women’s clothing, I do not consider myself a drag queen," he says. "I am a performer who simply bends the rules a little.
"I am androgynous or, if I must give an exact name, I would call myself a drodge-queen. I like to be me with a little sequin and stiletto."
His uniqueness has won Cummings legions of fans throughout the world. Since making his cabaret debut in 2005 at The Duplex in New York’s Greenwich Village, he has performed many of the cities most popular hotspots including current shows at The Ritz, XL Nightclub, New World Stages, Barracuda and Industry Bar.
Headlining these nightly bar performances is how Cummings came to the attention of Aaron Snow, a film student at NYU, who approached him to be the subject of a documentary short he was making for school. Never one to shy away from the camera, Cummings promptly agreed.
After viewing the film’s rough edits, Snow and Cummings began to contemplate making it more than a school project and submitting the documentary to festivals.
"The film brilliantly captures both my personal and performance sides, which can often times be in conflict with one another," admits Cummings. Still, he sees the documentary as an opportunity to mainstream drag comedy.
"I love RuPaul’s Drag Race but all those girls are so pretty," he says. "I think ladies like Dina Martini and Miss Richfield are great examples of putting the funny face of gender bending into the mainstream. We have so many TV programs with gay and lesbian characters now. Maybe it’s time to throw someone like me into the mix.
"Now that would redefine the new normal," he laughs. "But then again, I don’t know that I could ever get used to being normal."