Stevie Nicks has brought plenty of people together, but one New York couple’s love for the White Witch is so incredible it just begged to be brought to life.
Directed by Sara Kiener, the animated short The Shawl follows comedian Shane O’Neill and designer Dusty Lynn Childers who started out as long-distance lovers, their relationship buoyed by Stevie Nicks’ lip-sync videos they’d send back and forth between Madison, Wisconsin and New York City. The crux of the film, in fact, is a pivotal experience the two had while seeing Nicks at Jones Beach.
“Despite their nose bleed seats Dusty saw something special about Stevie that night, an invisible observation that no one else seemed to notice,” Kiener writes on the film’s Kickstarter page.
“Shane didn’t believe a word of it and tension grew between the couple. When their quarrel hit a fever pitch, Stevie twirled and the crowd erupted. Silence set upon the stadium as Stevie stood before the microphone. Just then, she spoke directly to Dusty and Shane, putting their quarrel to bed.—for now.”
One of the highlights of the year for the guys is the annual Night of a Thousand Stevies tribute night in New York. “I had been going for a few years prior to meeting Shane,” says Dusty (a.k.a. Dust Tea Shoulders), who introduced his boyfriend to the event. “He began his twirl as a sort of Lindsey-Stevie hybrid before he went full Nicks with a crazy curly wig, romantic lace dress and, of course, a beginner shawl.”
Last year the guys twirled silk flags at NOTS as Bridget Barkan sang “Crystal,” off the 1991 Practical Magic soundtrack. “We were simulating the water ‘that was flowing all around,’” recalls Dusty. “It’s a full gag.”
Kiener met Shane in 2004 at Macalester College in Minnesota. She and animator Brianne Farley knew they wanted to make a film about Shane and Dusty right away, but, she adds, “We had to discover the story organically, so we booked a recording studio and just let them riff.”
Out of a four-hour recording session came the inspiration for the 20-minute cartoon, which is inspired by works like James Blagden’s Dock Ellis & The LSD No-No.
Listening to the playback, Kiener knew the couple’s Stevie Nicks anecdote was the one to adapt: “It’s all about how Dusty and Shane fell in love, how their love for Stevie kept them close even when they were far apart, and it’s chock full of gay tailgating scenes at Stevie Nicks concerts, with a dash of woo-woo style witchcraft.”
Given the boys’ adoration for Nicks, does she know about The Shawl?
“In my mind, Stevie knows about every time I or any other mega-fan thinks about her,” Dusty insists. “She’s clearly omnipresent.
Kiener, a huge Nicks fan herself, describes the film as “RuPaul produced StoryCorps.” The Kickstarter campaign ends November 29 and, if The Shawl proves successful, there’s plenty of material for another film—or even a series.
“There’s Shane’s whirlwind tour of America in a van retrofitted to look like a tea pot,” Dusty says. “It’s the stuff short films dream they could be made of.”
The Shawl Kickstarter ends November 29.