The iconic bus from "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." Source: IMDbPro

Bus From Queer Classic 'The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' Found, To Be Restored

Emell Adolphus READ TIME: 2 MIN.

A very special piece of queer cinema history has apparently been found more than 30 years later.

As reported by Guardian, a 1976 Japanese model Hino RC320 model bus was symbolically christened "Queen of the Desert" in in the low-budget Australian film, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert."

The film went on to be an Oscar-winning smash hit, but also a queer classic for its LGBTQ representation. The film sees drag performers Mitzi Del Bra (Hugo Weaving), Felicia Jollygoodfellow (Guy Pearce) and transgender woman Bernadette Bassenger (Terence Stamp) travel from Sydney to Alice Springs on an adventure. However, the iconic bus vanished shortly after the film wrapped.

After countless of Australian's have claimed to have the bus over the years, it was found in the most unlikeliest of ways.

In 2019, a man called Michael Mahon got in touch with the History Trust and claimed the Priscilla bus was sitting on his property in Ewingar, New South Wales.

"Michael sent a message saying he had the bus and wanted to sell it. I felt like I was in The Castle – I said, 'tell him he's dreaming'," said Paul Rees, head of museums at the History Trust and former director of the National Motor Museum. "We were a bit suspicious at first, to be honest. But we put our Sherlock Holmes hats on and soon realized it wasn't a joke, so we started our investigation."

In the process of confirming whether the bus was the real deal or a fake, some pink paint scrapings helped prove the bus was indeed Priscilla.

"What convinced everyone in the end was the pink paint scrapings," says Rees. "Curators are fantastically conservative - they will not jump until they're absolutely sure. But I was jumping all over the place."

Fast forward through lots of natural disasters and inclement weather, Priscilla is still standing at nearly 50 years old and now there is a movement to get her restored.

The History Trust is hoping to raise around $1.4 million to have the bus restored and exhibited.

"She's not in good shape, she's not been loved and cared for. But she's very, very salvageable – if you've got money to throw at it," said Rees. "We want the exhibition to be fabulous. If we're taking her on the road to Mardi Gras, we want that to be a fabulous experience. All those things cost a lot of money, as do the decades of care we will provide her with.

He added, "It's survived flood, fires, 16 years out in the open ... But the film is all about survival – and somehow, the bus survived."

Read the full story at The Guardian.

by Emell Adolphus

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