Movie Night: Hedwig & The Angry Inch

Welcome to Movie Night! Where we choose a movie based on any number of variables and feelings, create a themed menu to match, then spend the night eating these foods and watching these movies! It’s an uncomplicated but promising plan.

I was having a pretty solid week and I have pretty solid friends, so I decided we all could handle a) running around in my tiny kitchen making a recipe that requires the “gradual addition of broth” and b) the glorious musical clusterf*ck that is Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I hope I was right. In any case, everyone went home singing rock show tunes and full of fake sausage, so I consider the night a success.

Photos are all by Ben Walsh, master of strange angles.

The Movie

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

[Buy Me]


Synopsis, via IMDB:

“Hedwig, born a boy named Hansel in East Berlin, fell in love with an American G.I. and underwent a sex-change operation in order to marry him and flee to the West. Unfortunately, nothing worked out quite as it was supposed to – years later, Hedwig is leading her rock band on a tour of the U.S., telling her life story through a series of concerts at Bilgewater Inn seafood restaurants. Her tour dates coincide with those of arena-rock star Tommy Gnosis, a wide-eyed boy who once loved Hedwig… but then left with all her songs.”

This summary is technically correct, but it leaves out a lot: How Hedwig is a case study in pathos and wit and anger and charm. How hating musicals is part of my Personal Brand but I love this one anyway. How having “Wig In A Box” stuck in your head will improve your smarts, imaginative prowess, workplace productivity, and general badassery for an average of 2.4 weeks. How a viewing with the right kind of people will spark really interesting and possibly heated discussions about non-binary identities and intersectionality and responsible trans* representation – there’s controversy over how Hedwig’s gender presentation is portrayed, and certainly watching this movie (and writing about it!) doesn’t signify a wholesale signing off on everything in the film. AND let’s not forget how Sleater-Kinney (with memorable help from B-52 Fred Schneider) covered one of Hedwig’s songs for a benefit CD:

If you don’t feel like improving your knife skills after blasting that, I don’t think I can help you. But if you do, let’s get started!

The Menu

Arugula & Fennel Salad

Broccoli & Sausage Rissotto

“Angry Inch” Cocktails


Arugula and Fennel Salad

“I tried singing once, back in Berlin; they threw tomatoes.  After the show, I had a nice salad.” – Hedwig*

Can vegetables be punk-rock? It’s hard to say. But if any have the necessary scowl, my vote is for arugula (it’s all bite) and fennel (it’s got that slow burn).

*I’ve also been in misunderstood bands, and tomatoes are one of the only things in the world I always hate, so I decided that leaving them out was a sign of solidarity. But if you like them, feel free to toss some in!

Ingredients (serves 8)

1 package baby arugula

1 cup fennel, sliced

8 oz artichoke hearts (1 can)

1 shallot or onion

3 tbsp cider vinegar

5 tbsp olive oil

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper

3 oz Parmesan cheese

salad collage

Chop up your onion and/or shallots and leave them in the vinegar to soak for 10 minutes — this will become your dressing. Meanwhile, chop the stems off your fennel, discard them (they make great fake microphones, FYI), and slice the bulbs into bite-sized strips. Put the arugula, fennel, and uncanned artichokes in a bowl and mix it all up. Add the oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to your shallot bowl, whisk it with a fork, and drizzle it over the salad. Grate the parm on top, and voila! Salad days, salad nights.

Broccoli & Sausage Risotto

Sausage because of Berlin. Broccoli because broccoli is delicious and harmonizes well with sausage. Risotto because the care that is required to slowly add the broth, and to mindfully and constantly stir, reminds me of the care needed to maintain a blossoming romantic and artistic relationship such as the one between Hedwig and Tommy Gnosis, as does the fact that it inevitably burns anyway. Sigh.




5 tbsp olive oil, divided

1 head broccoli, chopped into bite-sized chunks

1 onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 lb sausage or fake sausage (I used “Smart Sausage: Italian Style,” and it was delicious and contains 13 grams of protein per serving)

2 cups arborio rice

6 cups veggie broth

1/2 cup white wine

salt and pepper

3 more oz Parmesan cheese

Start by roasting your broccoli — preheat the oven to 400, spread your florets on a baking sheet, drizzle them with about 2 tbsp of the olive oil, and pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, brown your sausage by slicing it up and cooking it in an oiled skillet on medium heat until it’s fragrant and, well, brown (make sure you push it around a lot with a spatula so it doesn’t stick and burn).


If you’ve got helpful friends, or are a one-man band, you can begin the risotto now too. Pour your vegetable broth in a pot and put it on the back burner to heat. When it starts boiling, bring it down to a simmer. Meanwhile, saute the garlic and onion in a stockpot, using the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil. When they’re translucent, add the arborio rice, and stir it into the oil and onion for two minutes. Add the white wine and stir until it evaporates. Then, start adding the stock. This is the time-intensive part! You’re going to want to add half a cup at a time and stir constantly so that the tiny rice kernels can absorb it evenly and become perfectly liquid-filled and soft and delicious. This will take about half an hour and you’ll know you’re done when the risotto is creamy, but with a slight agreeable chewiness, and you’ll know the risotto is creamy-with-some-chew because you will be taste-testing it just enough not to spoil your dinner.

Once it’s reached the right consistency, turn your burner off and stir in the broccoli, sausage, butter, and cheese. Cover it and let it sit for two minutes. Then unveil it and serve it to yourself and your patient and famished friends.

“Angry Inch” Cocktails

I was pretty surprised when I couldn’t find a Hedwig-related drink recipe online, but I was also glad for the chance to make up my own. Inspired by an unforgettable musical number involving oversized candy and bad puns, this cocktail is characterized by its alcoholic flexibility, as “one inch of whiskey” means whatever you want it to when you get to choose the glass. Have fun.


1 inch whiskey

1 shot limoncello


Gummi bears



Pour in the whiskey. Pour in the limoncello. Add a splash of Coca-Cola. Drop in some gummi bears. For extra credit, let your dregs sit overnight and eat the whiskey-soaked gummi bears the next day. Rock star status.

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Cara is a former contributing editor for Autostraddle and a current staff writer at Atlas Obscura. She lives in Somerville with her girlfriend, their roommate, and a cat who can flush the toilet, and is generally thinking about gender, sustainable biodiversity, and/or rock & roll music. You can follow her on twitter @cjgiaimo if you want.

Cara has written 113 articles for us.


  1. Awesome recipes for an awesome movie that I have never seen in its entirety because I keep managing to have sex in the middle of it.

    (As a heads up, I wanted to let you know that in your risotto recipe, you said to heat your veggie oil until boiling, and I think you meant your broth. I don’t want anybody to set their kitchen on fire while trying to boil oil!)

    • oh wow. true story: i had to write about medieval security systems for my day job last week and it seems there was some crossover. hmm.
      thank you! it is fixed and now our kitchens are safe!

  2. YES. This is my favorite movie musical of all time. How did you know??? But I’ve never had a meal and cocktails to go with it. Amazing, in love with this!!

  3. I just watched this last week with a friend who had never seen it before. I wish I had all this deliciousness to go along with it.

  4. You could also watch “Follow My Voice with Music of Hedwig and Angry Inch”
    One record producer, the creators of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and top indie rock artists come together to create a tribute album benefiting the Hetrick-Martin Institute, home of the Harvey Milk School- the first accredited high school in the country for LGBTQ youth. “Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig” weaves the compelling, courageous stories of four students at this controversial school with a unique chronicle of the yearlong creation of “Wig in a Box,” the album whose songs poignantly echo these teens’ struggles and aspirations.

  5. “there’s controversy over how Hedwig’s gender presentation is portrayed”

    By all means sing along and love the songs if you’re so inclined. For me, this is yet another gay man’s gender fantasy with an entire undercurrent about what it supposedly means to be trans (and how we’re really gay people trying to change themselves to be more socially accepted and pathetically failing at it). And the entire “angry inch” part is just stoopid and offensive… yet another joke about ‘trannies cutting their pee pees off.” I wish I had a dollar for every ‘well-intentioned’ cis person I’ve heard who’s seen this film gleefully explaining what the title means to the uninitiated.

    • I’m not sure how familiar you are with the musical, and I don’t mean to discredit anything you’ve said, but I think you might be a little harsh on the piece, or possibly a little misinformed. I was just wondering whether or not you might feel better about it if you read a little more about the character of Hedwig, or possibly the original script. Hedwig’s “angry inch”, as it is called, is actually a source of immense emotional pain for the character, and in my mind is more a casualty of a person yearning so desperately to be free of their suffocating and oppressive surroundings (communist East Berlin, for Hedwig) that they are willing to do anything, including undergoing an unsafe and poorly performed operation, just to escape.

      • Yes Mariah, I have seen it both on stage and the film version. And I think if you actually spoke with a lot of trans women and asked them their feelings about it, they would have issues with it (or at least very conflicted feelings). I’m not saying it’s some vile, transphobic travesty… there are good songs and some witty parts of it, and some of the scenes with the title character and Yitzhak are interesting, but it very much objectifies trans women’s bodies and feeds on a lot of tropes about who we are, what it would be like to have SRS and that someone would actually have SRS for reasons other than body congruity. It’s a cis, gay fantasy, not any kind of expression of who trans people are.

        • I generally agree, although I feel like the biggest problem with the film (I haven’t yet seen the stage version)is less the film itself and more the fact that it is often presented as a story about a trans* woman. Hedwig’s gender identity is never made clear – she uses female pronouns, but only began living as a women in order to escape East Berlin.

          Viewed as a story about the universal search for identity and belonging, I think it is a beautiful story. Viewed as a realistic trans* narrative it leaves much to be desired. Hedwig may well fall somewhere on the trans-feminine spectrum, but she does not appear to be a transsexual woman and I wish that her character wasn’t so regularly described as such.

          I do disagree, however, with the assertion that Hedwig’s SRS is presented as a joke at the expense of trans* women. It seemed like the botched operation served primarily as a metaphor for the fact that she is caught between worlds – searching for her true self and for a place to belong. Still, it isn’t entirely clear and I recognize that my interpretation may be faulty.

  6. I loved this movie when I was 15. I remember running through my parents’ living room shouting, “Where my penis used to be, where my vagina never was!” Yeah…

  7. I’m surprised that Yitzhak doesn’t get a mention at all. I had less than zero interest in Tommy Gnosis or Hedwig’s relationship with Tommy, but I found Yitzhak extremely compelling and interesting.

    Not least because he’s a modern trouser role (male role in opera and music theatre traditionally played by a woman, often with that character then wearing female drag) and that’s one of the things I love best about opera.

    Hedwig, who was forced to have surgery and perform ‘female’ to get her passport and get out of Eastern Europe, is holding Yitzhak’s passport hostage (and those of the rest of the band) and forcing him to perform ‘male’ full-time when he’s been yearning the whole time to put the wig on, and that’s why he wanted to leave home in the first place.

    To me the moment in ‘Midnight Radio’ when the song goes “breathe, feel, love” and Yitzhak is handing Hedwig the wig and she shakes her head and whispers “No, you” right before the word “love” is the heart of the whole movie.

  8. This is so perfect! I’m stage managing a production of Hedwig right now! Anyone who hasn’t seen this performed live has got to get themselves to a solid production of it. Of course the movie is great, but live it is so so much more.

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