Cult Classic of Underground Cinema Launches
qFLIX Philadelphia 2016 Benefit Campaign
Before Holly Woodlawn, RuPaul, Priscilla, Dame Edna, Caitlin Jenner! Before reality TV was even conceived! Before Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning television shows like Transparent and E!’s I Am Cait! There was Frank Simon’s The Queen (1968), a documentary chronicling the Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant of 1967.
The drag queen pageant hosted by Flawless Sabrina, won by native Philadelphian Rachel Harlow (who obtained local celebrity status and would go on to transition after the contest) and was crowned after a “fierce” competition that continued after the official judge’s decision, including Andy Warhol, “the king” of the then pop art cultural world in New York City.
On Oscar night, how appropriate that you have a truly rare opportunity to enjoy The Queen, that countless film critics, film historians and observers of queer culture, consider “possibly the greatest look at the drag and trans community,” will be screened 2-5 PM, February 28, at Tavern on Camac, 243 S. Camac Street, in the heart of Philadelphia’s Gayborhood. Donation is just $10 and only $5 for those who are “extremely fabulous and arrive in drag,” according to the evening’s host, Brittany Lynn. Door prize is a pair of ALL ACCESS badges to qFLIX Philadelphia 2016, July 5-10.
The benefit evening is the kick-off launching of the fundraising campaign for qFLIX Philadelphia 2016, the region’s LGBTQ film festival, continuing the twenty-two-year tradition as the major arts and cultural event in the tristate area for lovers of LGBTQ film and media arts.
Simon’s cinema verite approach in shooting The Queen is without doubt the precursor of what we know, love and/or hate as its own genre, reality TV. His directorial style is cutting-edge and ahead of its time. It really is beyond a documentary in the manner that we’re used to seeing.
But some have unearthed the underground classic and its unique and interesting, particularly human insights into the “behind the scenes look into drag and trans history” and featuring legendary drag queens like Crystal LaBeija.
Listen to what the award-winning producer of This is Me and co-producer of Transparent, trans woman Zachary Drucker says about The Queen in 2016: “It isn’t only a good movie, it’s an important historical artifact.”
“It’s so important that we know where we’re coming from,” continued Drucker, “The Queen is a rare look at pre-Stonewall queer communities, and reveals a time before gender identity distinctions were cemented: all cross-dressing was a felony whether you were a gay man in drag, a trans woman, somewhere in between, black or white, young or old. Watching this group come together over one of Flawless Sabrina’s pageants (“The Nationals”) in 1967 and talk about the draft in Vietnam, family, and living underground, is a tremendous inspiration for today’s trans movement.”
Besides Warhol, there’re appearances of the who’s who of the underground arts scene of the 1960s in downtown Manhattan, including Terry Southern, Edie Sedgwick and Larry Rivers.
For those who like some synopsis, here’s what J. Hailey wrote briefly about The Queen:
“Jack is 24, sometimes he’s a drag queen named Sabrina. In 1967, as Sabrina, he’s the mistress of ceremonies at a national drag queen contest in New York City. The camera goes behind the scenes, recording the rehearsals leading up to the contest, the conversations in the dressing room (about draft boards, sexual identity and sex-change operations, and being a drag queen), and the jealousies that emerge before and after the competition. Jack introduces us to Richard, a young man who becomes Jack’s protégé. As Miss Harlow, Richard enters the contest. One of his principal competitors is Miss Crystal, who’s from Manhattan. Who will win the crown?”
The Queen is a must-see for everyone who cares about “herstory” and a truly original film experience.
So join us for an afternoon at the movies as we launch our 2016 fundraising campaign at the benefit screening of Frank Simon’s masterpiece, The Queen!
See you at the movies!