Once upon a time (like the mid-'90s), a party promoter named Michael Schmidt had a novel idea: drag queens dumping the lipsynching routine to sing rock and roll live onstage. No one knew what to expect when they first opened the doors to Don Hill's on the fateful night that SqueezeBox! was born in downtown Manhattan. With Mistress Formika presiding as hostess and den mother, the drag queens rocked New York nightlife in a way no one had ever seen before. But what began as a place for queer misfits who'd rather hear a guitar riff than a disco beat turned into a pansexual free-for-all. Straight or gay. Preppy or punk. Man or woman (or somewhere in between). All were welcome at SqueezeBox! as long as they were there to have fun. Though celebrities like John Waters, Drew Barrymore, and Johnny Knoxville were regular fixtures, the movie stars, drag queens, punks, and everyone in between partied elbow to elbow, waiting for a glimpse of what would happen on stage. And what a stage. Not only was it graced by legendary performers like Deborah Harry and Jayne County-it was also where the Toilet Boys were born and John Cameron Mitchell and Stephen Trask started working on Hedwig and the Angry Inch. But when big, bad Giuliani blew through New York nightlife to "clean it up," the party ended-with chins up and middle fingers in the air-after seven rocking years. Directors Zach Shaffer and Steve Saporito capture the raw, debauched energy of SqueezeBox! in their uniquely stylized mix of archival performance footage and interviews, offering those who were there a chance to relive it, and those who weren't a chance to get a taste of the action. Seven years after the seminal party closed its doors, SqueezeBox! is the ultimate tribute to what can never be recreated nor forgotten.
Zach Shaffer is a first-time filmmaker living in Brooklyn. As an actor he has appeared in both Broadway and Off-Broadway plays as well as numerous TV shows. Steve Saporito runs a small literary music management company in New York City. This is his directorial debut.