Irrepressible joy and exuberant colors are rarely what comes to mind when thinking about the height of the AIDS crisis. Luckily, David Faulk and Michael Johnstone—a.k.a. Mrs. Vera and Mr. Tina—are living proof that incredible art can come from immeasurable loss.
Both long-term AIDS survivors and individually brilliant artists, this pair of San Franciscans were led by grief and uncertainty to create new and joyful art together. Using dime-store items to construct whimsical, outrageous, and explosively colored costumes, Mrs. Vera was born. Brought center stage by director Robert James (Verasphere: A Love Story in Costume, Frameline43), this vibrant portrait of Mrs. Vera practically jumps off the screen, wreathed in upcycled extravagance and ready to embrace community.
Archival footage and interviews with activists, artists, and members of the Verasphere enrich this layered and heartfelt exploration of how two survivors have grabbed onto life with both hands. Through the evolution of Mrs. Vera and the community she inspires, we experience the visible heart of a relationship that ultimately invites joyful celebration into every day lived.
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