Home » The Queen: AWFJ review of a documentary essential to queer history

The Queen: AWFJ review of a documentary essential to queer history

So proud to have posted this review of documentary The Queen on the anniversary of Stonewall. It is absolutely required viewing for those interested in both queer history and film history.

See the trailer here:

“Before queer was cool, or even fully legal, first-time director Frank Simon created The Queen, a 1968 groundbreaking documentary chronicling one of the original and quintessential competitive drag events in history, the 1967 Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant. Featuring iconic queen Flawless Sabrina aka LGBTQ activist Jack Doroshow as narrator, and a must-see jaw-dropping bitch-fest scene courtesy of Crystal LaBeija, who was later indelibly captured in 1990’s Paris is Burning, this film is truly a priceless cinematic artifact of LGBTQ and film history.”

Click on the link below to read the rest of the review:

and because it’s fascinating, here is a review from the New York Times in 1968:

“THE QUEEN” is an extraordinary documentary about the Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant held at Town Hall in 1967. The contestants were transvestites from all over the country—some of them winners in regional contests—judged for walking, talking, bathing suit, makeup, hairdo and, of course, beauty. The star and the winner was Harlow, a frail, blond, pouting young man, formerly Miss Philadelphia. The director was Frank Simon (his first feature film), and the movie itself is funny—not tactless—and inspired the way “The Endless Summer,” of surfing, was inspired. It shows us another America.It is good to watch for about an hour these colorful human beings whose entire self-image is a put-on, in their Atlantic City of Genet, in their Forest Hills of drag. The drag queens are, of course, perfectly aware that they are not women, and even their mannerisms—the flatted vowels, the relaxed wrist, the gait of the homosexual who wants it known—are not female imitations at all, but parodies. Very witty, detailed parodies at that. The question of invasion of privacy does not arise; one is watching actors, very conscious actors, at work. They may be absolutely miserable (like others) in their private lives, but in their costumed appearances they enrich the landscape enormously.At times, Miss Sabrina, Miss Crystal and Miss Harlow and the rest seem to have taken Hollywood’s old message very much to heart: Both the two-fisted gunfighter and the sex queen could find stardom, but the sex queen really had all the lines. The cosmetic idea was bound to spill over a bit. So here are all these gentlemen in bras, diaphanous gowns, lipstick, hairfalls and huffs—discussing their husbands in the military in Japan, or describing their own problems with the draft. One grows fond of all of them. They are much more entertaining than the conventional Miss This or Miss That.Two shorts opened at the Kips Bay Theater yesterday with “The Queen.” One, French, about a factory where plaster mannequins are molded, filed, hammered and repaired, is about the most extreme, laconic anti-female movie since Dean Martin last starred in anything, and the other, called “2” and spoken in American-accented Italian, is hilarious.Written by Renee Taylor, it is about a couple of people about to make love on the beach, who start confessing to each other. He tells the most outrageous things. She pardons him. She tells the most outraegous things. He pardons her. (“I have been with all your friends, Irving, Lewis . . .” she begins. “So have I,” he says.) It is a fine program altogether.

You can read the rest of that review HERE.