The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is a new documentary directed by New Zealand filmmaker Leanne Pooley on two fascinating subjects—the performing duo Lynda and Jools Topp, twins who have become cultural and national icons in New Zealand over the past 25 years. As one interviewee says, a pair of yodeling lesbian twins doesn’t sound all that impressive on paper, but their act, which includes country music, comedy, and interaction with audience members, succeeds in entertaining extremely diverse groups of people, while subtly making a political statement simply by being who they are. The twins are described in the film by various people as “an anarchist variety act,” “relatively shameless,” and “a healthy, moral, cheerful cowgirl image for out lesbians.” These unique sisters fit a multitude of descriptions, all of them positive.
The Topp Twins grew up on a farm in New Zealand, and are still very close to the land and animals of their upbringing. When they’re not touring the world, they enjoy the simple life of riding horses and raising cattle, but don’t mistake them for “simple” folk. As the film shows, they have a very interesting background, having spent time in the army, busked in the streets to start their music career, and then became very active in political and social issues, fighting for Maori land rights, a nuclear-free New Zealand, and gay rights. In everything they’ve done, Lynda and Jools have remained constant in their dedication to each other, and their undying lighthearted and positive energy, which of course carries into their acts.
Pooley’s film captures this close relationship and amazingly limitless joy. A straightforward and traditional documentary, it also includes great concert and archival footage, hilarious and improvised interviews with the Topp’s comedy characters, such as Ken and Ken, and Camp Mother and Camp Leader. The film gets to the heart of these two wonderful subjects, and upon seeing it, one will no doubt want to find out where they might be touring next.