The Austin Chronicle

https://www.austinchronicle.com/daily/screens/2022-08-31/agliff-review-ericas-first-holy-shit/

aGLIFF Review: Erica's First Holy Shit

By Richard Whittaker, August 31, 2022, 1:00pm, Picture in Picture

What is Erica's First Holy Shit? Aside from being the debut feature from the eccentric, vivacious, and sex positive Erica Nix it is, as Satan describes it, "a psycho-sexual journey of self-discovery" for the very famous (Austin-specific) workout and fitness guru.

This could have been the year's strangest campaign commercial (if Nix hadn't announced at the film's first aGLIFF screening that she's canceling her run for mayor of Austin), and quite possibly have produced the year's most convoluted finance filings. After all, the denouement involves Nix deciding that it's her turn to run for, and loose, political office.

But, like any journey of self-discovery, it's not about the destination but the trip, and that's what Nix takes courtesy of a very unusual facial mask. Even before that she's been part of a Zoom yoga session that escalates into a hilarious and wild online orgy, with spandex and hot dogs as far as the eye can see. It's an opening that establishes the absurdity and self-aware silliness of everything Nix does - and she admits that wildness as she turns to the camera and giddily gambols through the fourth wall and into a series of encounters. There are figures both cosmic (God, the aforementioned Devil, and Austin's own gutter-slut scum queen Christeene as Mother Nature) and stars of the more terrestrial version (how could the homegrown queen of connecting with your body not talk about GOOP?) on her way to some kind of revelation.

Erica's First Holy Shit! continues the tradition of deeply introspective and very Austin movies. But unlike, say, Slacker or Tower, where filmmakers tried to translate an aspect of life in the ATX for outsiders, Nix's raunchy-sweet monologue is often aimed directly at Austin audiences, people who'll remember Leslie without the brief primer that Nix provides. It's a conversation about a particular kind of Austin, the Austin of the late '90 and early 2000s, of a particular kind of weird Austin that's died - and Nix's internal conversation about her role in both protecting it and killing it.

That said, there's more than enough sheer Day-Glo gleeful silliness and saucy visual creativity to keep viewers outside of the ATX engaged. Nix's disarming ability to make her unique mid-pandemic midlife crisis - about relationships, jobs, destiny, her city - accessible and engaging. That vivacity blossoms into the visual style, a dizzy mix of John Waters, Liam Kyle Sullivan, and the handmade avant-garde flair of early Sesame Street. It's a suitable mixture for a film with a serious message about never taking yourself too seriously.


aGLIFF Prism 35 online runs through Sept. 5. More info at agliff.org.

Erica's First Holy Shit is available to rent at watch.eventive.org/agliff.

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