‘Dirtwoman’ lives on through documentary coming to Florida Film Festival

By : Abigail Brashear and Amanda Espinosa
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Running for mayor, defecating in the back of a police car, mud wrestling and helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars for food banks: Donnie Corker, otherwise known as Dirtwoman, did it all.

Corker, who was a drag icon in Virginia’s LGBTQ community, is known for his outrageous attitude, raunchy acts and kind heart. The 350 lb. legend earned the nickname ‘Dirtwoman’ after a particularly interesting incident.

After turning to drag prostitution at the age of 13, Corker was arrested. After being denied by police officers to use the bathroom, he subsequently decided to defecate in the back of the police car, throwing his waste at the police officers.

With hilarious imagery, stunning visuals and a matter-of-fact view of life, filmmaker and producer Jerry Williams sheds light on the interesting life of Corker with more than 70 interviews and never before seen photos and videos in his film, “Spider Mites of Jesus: The Dirtwoman Documentary.”

The rest of Corker’s life seemed to be just as on brand. At a young age, he was diagnosed with spinal meningitis, causing mental issues such as illiteracy. His mother, who could not pronounce the medical terminology, deemed his disease the “spider mites of Jesus.”

Corker went on to perform drag, become part of a rock and roll charity band and get kicked out of the inauguration of America’s first black governor for impersonating a reporter.

“I used to see Dirtwoman when I was in college walking around campus in an area, usually with maybe a wig on and not in drag,” Williams says. “It just kind of evolved into this process. And next thing I know, my goodness, I’ve got a feature film here and I think the world needs to see it.”

Williams says he originally began working on the documentary 20 years ago with a few friends but they all became distracted with their everyday careers. They dropped the documentary for another 17 years, until Williams heard Corker’s health was in recession. Williams immediately picked his passion project back up in order to tell the legendary Dirtwoman story.

Corker died in his sleep at the age of 65 on Sept. 26, 2017. Williams used videos and phone calls throughout the film to commemorate Corker’s life and show a side most didn’t get to see.

Dakota Bozeman and Carly Gill are both students at the University of Central Florida and advanced marketing team members for the film. They say that despite the extreme nature of some of the tales told about Dirtwoman, the LGBTQ community will undoubtedly love Corker’s story.

“I was expecting this outrageous story about this crazy drag queen, and of course that’s what it’s about,” Bozeman says. “But it’s got a lot of heart to it. I think that’s what stood out to me more than anything about the film.”

Bozeman and Gill came to Williams as a part of a their final assignment through UCF’s Marketing & Film Exhibition course.

“We were learning about the different films that we could be a part of  and promote for the project, and once we heard about what ‘Dirtwoman’ was about and what the film was trying to do we were like, ‘We need to take this one.’ We both immediately were just drawn to the story of his life,” Gill says.

The film was screened in Corker’s hometown of Richmond and immediately had a significant impact leading Mayor Levar Stoney to declare the first week of April to be “Dirtwoman Week.”

When the film was screened for consideration into the Florida Film Festival (FFF), it left quite the impression on the entire festival committee.

“‘Spider Mites of Jesus’ is an amazing film but it is not for the faint of heart,” says FFF Programming Director Matthew Curtis. “When we first watched it some of the staff thought we should make this a midnight feature and I said, ‘No, this needs to be in competition,’ it’s that good.”

“Spider Mites of Jesus: The Dirtwoman Documentary” plays at the FFF on April 14 at 6 p.m. and April 17 at 9:30 p.m. The full festival runs April 12-21. Tickets and information are available at FloridaFilmFestival.com.

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