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 ... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Jim Dine ...
Himself - Jury Member
Jack Doroshow ...
Flawless Sabrina
Richard Finnochio ...
Harlow
Bruce Jay Friedman ...
Himself - Jury Member
Bernard Giquel ...
Interviewer
Jill Krementz ...
Herself
...
Himself - Jury Member
...
Herself
Mario Montez ...
Himself
...
Himself
Larry Rivers ...
Himself
Edie Sedgwick ...
Herself
Terry Southern ...
Himself
...
Himself
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Storyline

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? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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17 June 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La reine  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Female impersonator Richard Finnochio (aka Harlow) unsuccessfully tested for the role of Myra Breckinridge (ultimately played by Raquel Welch); a clip from his screen test can be very briefly seen on a "making of" extra on the US Myra Breckinridge DVD release. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Pink Flamingos (1972) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Strange Little Time Machine
22 April 2005 | by (Biloxi, Mississippi) – See all my reviews

You can't get much stranger than this 1967 documentary that takes a look at a New York drag show where contestants compete both on and off stage for the crown. Running just over an hour and filmed with hand-held cameras, THE QUEEN is tacky, vulgar, distasteful, embarrassing, and often quite funny as it peeks behind the scenes of the event. But the film is more than accidental camp humor--it really is a historical artifact.

Very few gays or lesbians were "out" before the 1969 Stonewall riots, and the contestants shown here are among the few... and not only were they out, they were out as drag queens, doing the unthinkable by stomping across the stage in evening gowns, heels, and eyeliner. This is not the sort of drag that has entered popular mainstream entertainment via such performers as RuPaul: this is in-your-face, I-am-what-am, I-don't-care DRAG as performed by skinny teenagers with bad skin, fat guys with bald spots, and tough men with hairy chests and tattoos. This is big hair, big make up, and big attitude, and it is all the more unnerving because it isn't just a character that the contestants put on and off. This is the reality that sparked a thousand stereotypes.

Much of the film's entertainment value is accidental. There is nothing funnier, or more painfully embarrassing, than a chunky drag queen in out-of-style clothes. THE QUEEN is really too superficial to be called significant, too tacky-funny to be taken very seriously--and yet, it does make you wonder about the lives of those before the Stonewall Riots, the Gay Liberation Movement, the Anita Bryant hysteria, the advent of AIDS. And therein lies its power: it is a time machine, badly filmed, yes, superficial, yes, but a time machine just the same, capable of giving us a glimpse of what it was like to be gay, a drag queen, and in New York in the mid-1960s. It won't be to every one's taste, but it is worth a look if you can find a copy.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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