Little Richard’s radical queerness takes centre stage in the new trailer for I Am Everything
Little Richard: I Am Everything has just dropped its first trailer, giving an insight into the groundbreaking life and legacy of a rock ‘n’ roll icon.
Directed by Lisa Cortés, the enlightening documentary reinvents the “whitewashed narrative of American pop music”, putting Black rock star Little Richard – born Richard Wayne Penniman in the US state of Georgia in the 1930s – centre stage.
The trailer captures the raucous and disruptive impact the star had on audiences in the 1950s with smash hits such as “Tutti Frutti”, “Long Tall Sally” and “Rip It Up”, alongside his “complex” legacy.
The official synopsis for the documentary teases a glimpse into “Richard’s complicated inner world” by unravelling the icon’s life story with all its “switchbacks and contradictions”.
“In interviews with family, musicians and cutting-edge Black and queer scholars, the film reveals how Richard created an art form for ultimate self-expression, yet what he gave to the world he was never able to give to himself.
“Throughout his life, Richard careened like a shiny cracked pinball between God, sex and rock n’ roll. The world tried to put him in a box, but Richard was an omni being who contained multitudes – he was unabashedly everything.”
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Using a wealth of archival footage alongside illuminating interviews with stars such as Nona Hendryx, Mick Jagger, Tom Jones, Billy Porter, Nile Rodgers, and John Waters, the documentary looks set to delve deep into how Little Richard’s music was rooted in queer history.
The trailer sees one interviewee remark how “Little Richard’s lyrics were too rude to get airplay on the radio,” while another points out how “the south is the home of all things queer.”
It then turns to Little Richard’s identity as a queer man, the huge prejudice he faced, and his lifelong internal conflict with his sexuality.
“Little Richard was renouncing his queerness, he didn’t want to burn in hell. That’s the way we were taught,” one person reflects on the star’s battle reconciling his faith with his sexuality.
The trailer also highlights what makes Little Richard such a complex and fascinating character in history. “He was good at liberating other people. He was not good at liberating himself.”
The documentary is set to be an undeniable celebration of the trail he blazed for musical legends such as Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and countless more.
Rave reviews have already started rolling in, with Collider writing: “It’s almost as if Cortés is showing us that Little Richard, simply through his talents and being who he was, permeated those around him, a powerful presence that left an indelible mark on music history.”
“[It is] the enthralling documentary that Little Richard deserves. It’s a movie that understands, from the inside out, what a great and transgressive artist he was, how his starburst brilliance shifted the whole energy of the culture,” Variety added.
UK audiences will have a chance to catch the groundbreaking documentary during the BFI Flare festival at various dates throughout March. And for those who can’t catch it then, it will be coming to cinemas on 28 April.
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