Before the iconic Paris is Burning, before RuPaul’s Drag Race, there was The Queen. Discover Frank Simon’s groundbreaking 1968 documentary, set in New York’s competitive drag world, in this fabulous new restoration.
Debuting just before the Stonewall Riots, Frank Simon’s queer classic focuses on the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant, taking audiences inside the world of competitive drag and introducing two LGBTQI icons and activists: Crystal LaBeija, the founder of “house” culture for drag queens, and transgender pioneer Flawless Sabrina.
Anticipating the drag ball competitiveness of Paris is Burning (which features Crystal’s house successor, Pepper LaBeija) and RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Queen delves into the tension and melodrama of the show as Sabrina’s protégé, “Harlow”, does battle with Crystal in the high-stakes showdown, and Simon captures candid asides as contestants talk everything from “sex changes” to gender identity and even the Vietnam draft. It’s a fascinating snapshot of an era, and a formative moment in queer cinema.
“The Queen is an extraordinary documentary.” – New York Times