Homo Arigato!: THE QUEEN (1968)

Director Frank Simon
Year 1968
Starring Crystal LaBeija, Flawless Sabrina,
Run Time 70min
More Info IMDb

Before Paris Is Burning there was... THE QUEEN.  This documentary, filmed in 1967, follows the drag queens competing in the Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant in New York City. The proceedings were judged by the likes of Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick.  Oddly the event was a fundraiser for muscular dystrophy and was chaired by Jerry Lewis and Austin royalty Lady Bird Johnson.  This documentary is seldom screened and incredibly rare. 

These are the reasons why the film is fabulous. Let's talk about why this film is IMPORTANT.  A crucial moment in the film is when contestant Crystal LaBeija, who won third place in the pageant, confronts the winner.  Crystal is black and the winner is white.  She accuses her and the judges of rigging the contest with race playing a factor in who was crowned the winner.  Crystal is having none of it and proceeds to lose her goddamn mind. In a truly epic moment, Crystal reads the winner to PIECES.  It's assumed that this incident was a catalyst to Crystal starting her own house to counteract the racism that existed in the drag scene. 

This of course is- THE HOUSE OF LABEIJA. 

All of this happening before Stonewall changed the whole story.  Come and bask in the greatness of this beautiful document of drag herstory.  And for all the children that can't handle these queens still shutting it down forty years later? SUFFER.

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