''The first time I ever went out in drag was as Patty Duke. So I have this thing.''
That ''thing'' is why Valley of the Dolls is one of Scott Kenison's favorites among films he helped select for the Atlas Performing Arts Center's ''Gay 101'' film series. Others in the Thursday night summer series include Where The Boys Are, All About Eve, Cabaret, Mommie Dearest and Steel Magnolias.
''People who look at the list say, 'Why are these movies gay?''' says Kenison. ''They're not, they've just been embraced by the gay community for whatever reason -- because they're camp, because of the stars, because they key into a certain aesthetic.''
"Gay 101," which started last month, is just one of three film series at the Atlas this summer. There's also a family series of films from the '70s and another with films from or shot in Italy. Kenison, chief operating officer of Atlas, hopes film screenings become a regular part of the venue's schedule.
''I remember when I was young, I sort of came out going to the movies,'' says the 50-year-old. ''Going to the movies in the old days was a community event. When you see a movie at home, it's not the same experience.''
At Atlas, patrons can eat and drink while watching a film, which adds to the festivities. ''People are laughing and cheering and carrying on during the movie,'' says Kenison. ''It's not quite Rocky Horror Picture Show -- nobody's throwing toast -- but they are having a good time.''
"Gay 101" is Thursday nights at 8 p.m. through Sept. 2, Atlas Performing Arts Center's Sprenger Theatre, '1333 H St. NE. Tickets are $6 each. Call 202-399-7993 or visit atlasarts.org for a full schedule.