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Jamie Babbit

     There's nothing quite like a lesbian cheerleader movie for a seedy male heterosexual, so there I was in the third row for the world premiere of But I'm a Cheerleader at last fall's Toronto Festival of Festivals. This good-natured, late-John Waters-like film is a first feature directed by Ohioan Jamie Babbit, a 1993 graduate of Columbia University. In an NYU film class, she met French actress, Julie Delpy, who does an amusing cameo as a cruising dyke.

     "My other work, short films, is highly stylized," Babbit said after the Toronto screening. "I'm interested in ideas of constructed gender, a perfect foray into But I'm a Cheerleader, where everything is hypermasculine and hyperefeminine."

     Babbit talked of a potentially damaging X rating because of a hot scene involving her teenage girls, Megan (Natasha Lyonne) and Graham (Clea DuVall). The MPAA, Babbit said, objected to "any relations of girl on girl, woman on woman, to when Natasha had sex and said, 'Oh, eat Graham out!' I fixed everything they told me. The film is an 'R' now. I know, that's retarded!"

GERALD PEARY
(May, 2000)

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