JOY! Portrait of a Nun

It’s impossible to imagine San Francisco—or queer culture in all its dragtastic fabulousness—without the irreverent Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who, for 35 years and counting, have whipped out their wimples to promote universal happiness and sexual liberation with cheeky aplomb. Joy! profiles Order founder Sister Missionary P. Delight and her fellow prioresses as they look back on decades of antics and activism from their enclaves.

Mish founded the Sisters in 1979 as a reaction against Catholicism’s repressive edicts, donning saintly apparel and attracting a devoted following of gay male nuns—many also connected to the Radical Faerie movement (and eventually people of all genders and orientations), who are also deeply committed to consciousness- raising and community charity (they were among the earliest responders to the AIDS crisis). Through candid interviews, vestal memorabilia and rare archival footage, director Joe Balass follows Mish and a bevy of Sisters over a seven-year period of parades, faeries, elves, rituals and sex-magic. Sisters, sinners, and viewers of all spiritual persuasions who just can’t seem to kick the habit will genuflect in ecstasy as Joy! delivers on its title with perfect (nun)sense.


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