back to top

17 Facts You Probably Didn't Know About "Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert"

Happy 21st birthday, Priscilla!

Posted on

1. Director Stephan Elliott originally didn't want to cast Guy Pearce in the film, thinking he was "too pretty".

Gramercy Pictures

2. The now-famous thong dress cost only $17 to make, using materials from Target.

(The costume designer's mum worked there, so they got a 15% discount.)
Gramercy Pictures

(The costume designer's mum worked there, so they got a 15% discount.)

3. The whole costume budget was just $20,000.

Gramercy Pictures

4. Tim Curry turned down the role of Mitzi, which later went to Hugo Weaving.

Gramercy Pictures

5. Just before they started filming, the director took the three lead actors out to a bar in drag, and none of them were recognised.

Guy Pearce took the opportunity to be really rude to people, Terence Stamp forgot that he was in drag and started hitting on girls, and Hugo Weaving got hammered and passed out under a table.
Gramercy Pictures

Guy Pearce took the opportunity to be really rude to people, Terence Stamp forgot that he was in drag and started hitting on girls, and Hugo Weaving got hammered and passed out under a table.

6. The man who designed the iconic pink bus also designed all the cars in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Gramercy Pictures

7. The wattle costume from one of the dance numbers had over 100 pom-poms which had to be made by hand.

Each pom-pom took an hour to make. The costume designer knew someone who worked at Sydney's Long Bay Jail, so they got the inmates to help make the costumes.
Gramercy Pictures

Each pom-pom took an hour to make. The costume designer knew someone who worked at Sydney's Long Bay Jail, so they got the inmates to help make the costumes.

8. Because they were on a budget, some of the trucks used to transport costumes and equipment were very cheap. One truck overheated in the middle of the desert, causing all the costumes to melt and stick together.

Gramercy Pictures

The costume designer had to fix them all on the fly, in the parking lot of the Alice Springs Casino.

9. When it was released, some cinemas put up disco balls and used coloured lighting during the "Finally" dance number.

Gramercy Pictures

10. Director Stephan Elliott got his visual inspiration for the film after seeing a feather from a drag queen's outfit blow in the wind along Sydney's Oxford Street, like a colourful tumbleweed in the desert.

Gramercy Pictures

11. Costume designer, Lizzy Gardiner, wanted to include in the film a dress made out of credit cards, but no company would give them permission.

When she won the Academy Award for costume design, she accepted the award in a dress made from American Express cards.
Dan Groshong / AFP / Getty Images

When she won the Academy Award for costume design, she accepted the award in a dress made from American Express cards.

12. The other costume designer, Tim Chappel went on to do the costumes for Miss Congeniality.

Warner Bros. Pictures

13. Priscilla is one of only three contemporary-set films to win the Academy Award for Best Costume Design - all the others have been for period, sci-fi and fantasy movies.

Gramercy Pictures

(The other two were Travels With my Aunt in 1972 and All That Jazz in 1979.)

14. An ABBA fan magazine in the US called for a boycott of the movie, because of the scene where Felicia talks about swiping Agnetha's turd from a toilet.

Gramercy Pictures

15. Hugo Weaving's character, Mitzi, was based on Sydney drag queen Cindy Pastel.

Gramercy Pictures

16. The director, Stephan Elliott was "crucified" in the gay press for not addressing AIDS and not showing men kissing.

Gramercy Pictures

His response was: "You know what? If I was gonna make that film six people would go see it."

17. The original idea was to have a musical number with the three main stars on top of Uluru, but they could not get permission, so the location was changed to Kings Canyon.

Gramercy Pictures