At 88 David Raven, AKA Maisie Trollette, is the oldest performing drag artiste in the UK. Maisie has strutted the sequinned stages of the London and Brighton scenes since RuPaul was still in school, including performing at every single Brighton Pride. This documentary follows Raven in the build-up to his 85th birthday, and meeting Darcelle XV, the world record-holding American drag queen two years his senior.
Maisie is at its best when it takes a fly-on-the-wall look at Raven’s life. At home he looks like any octogenarian tending to his garden, until we discover that his shed is filled with glamorous gowns. We also get to see his rehearsals with fellow stalwarts Dave Lynne and Jason AKA Miss Jason. Twenty-five years on since the death of his partner, and with no surviving relatives, Raven is endearingly supported by members of the community to which he has given so much.
It is, however, rather sparse on biographical details – Raven’s past life, career and charity work are hastily addressed in text before the credits roll. Raven is a personal testament to how much has changed for LGBTQ+ people – in spite of his long career in drag he still won’t say the name of a gay bar to a taxi driver – but this history isn’t addressed in detail.
But when we get to see Maisie perform, the documentary really shines. She remains a standard bearer for traditional British drag, singing live and delivering unique wit, which is completely, and hilariously, lost on the straight-lace-fronted American queen. Having rubbed shoulders with Danny LaRue, Lily Savage and Dr Who, Maisie has lived in the presence of legends, and now is undoubtedly one in her own right.