Lola Teaches Charlie How to Sell Boots
On the plane I was given a choice of dozens of movies on my seatback screen, and I stumbled onto one in progress that I just loved. It was called “Kinky Boots,” and told the story of a beleaguered shoe factory in Northampton, England facing job cuts due to sagging sales of its main product–stodgy men’s dress shoes.
Charlie Price is the namesake son of the founder of Price Shoes, and one after one, he has to make his employees ‘redundant’ as they say in the UK. After twenty or so tearful, gut-wrenching meetings giving out pink slips, one young woman throws out a brilliant idea in desperation–‘why don’t you change your product line to make shoes or boots people will actually buy?” Charlie is no business wizard, but he knows enough to listen to a good idea. So the movie he branches out and takes a stand…he decides to make boots for transvestites. This idea comes to him when he sees Lola in performance. Lola, aka Simon, is a tall black amazon who sings in drag, and Charlie gets to thinking that maybe all of that weight on those precarious heels might be dangerous. So he joins forces with newly minted boot designer Simon and his engineers to come up with a line of outrageous boots for men who dress like women.
The movie is poignant when we see Lola/Simon deliberatly lose an arm wrestling bout to let a big chap from the factory save face, and the triumphant show they put on at the Milan Shoe Show. It brought tears to my eyes as I cheered for them all, and with the wonderful music it was a bloody good way to cross over the pond.