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'The Queen', a 1968 Documentary About the Early Days of Drag: FULL VIDEO


A full-length version of The Queen, a 1968 documentary about the early days of drag has appeared on YouTube in full:

The Queen was filmed in NYC in 1967 and released in theaters in 1968.

In 1967 it was illegal for men to dress as women. The documentary follows a 1967 Drag pageant judged by Andy Warhol among others. It stars Jack Doroshow aka Flawless Mother Sabrina, Richard Finochio aka Rachel Harlow and Crystal LaBeija. Crystal went on to start The House of LaBeija pageants which was the premise of the 90's documentary "Paris is Burning."

In 1972 Richard Finochio underwent sex reassignment surgery to become Rachel Harlow, she began dating John B. Kelly, Grace Kelly's brother. The relationship ended when John's mother said she would disinherit him if he married Rachel. Rachel opened the Philadelphia night club "Harlow's" in the 1970's. The only person to surface since this classic film was made is Jack Doroshow when he was interviewed by James St. James on youtube.

International Chrysis (1951-1990) can be seen as a teenage boy rehearsing dance numbers. These are the Queens who opened the doors for RuPaul and RuPaul's Drag Race of today.

Watch it, AFTER THE JUMP...

To watch from beginning, you must manually move the time indicator back to the start.

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  1. How dare you!!! I am outraged.

    Posted by: Rick | Feb 2, 2014 5:54:30 PM

  2. I used to sneak into my mother's room and tried on her clothes. I was disgusted by what I saw in the mirror.

    Posted by: Rick | Feb 2, 2014 6:00:28 PM

  3. I loved Paris is Burning. When I get the time, I'll definitely be watching this next.

    Posted by: Michelle Maibelle | Feb 2, 2014 6:42:18 PM

  4. Original title of this film: Men Who Fail At Being Men

    Posted by: Bania | Feb 2, 2014 6:42:30 PM

  5. More like "Men Who Are Much More Man Than @BANIA".

    Posted by: ger | Feb 2, 2014 6:44:47 PM

  6. Does someone know if Crystal is dead or alive? I can't find any information on her, which is odd since she created the House of Labeija.

    Posted by: Nellie | Feb 2, 2014 7:08:28 PM

  7. Referring to this as about "the early days of drag" is ignorantly ahistorical. It is about a particular group of men at a particular time who were carrying on a long tradition of cross dressing both for entertainment and for self-fulfillment.

    Posted by: gregorybrown | Feb 2, 2014 7:48:23 PM

  8. The triptych of the black gay male experience (1950-1980): The Queen, Portrait of Jason, Paris is Burning.

    Posted by: snork | Feb 2, 2014 7:50:08 PM

  9. I used to be good friend with Jack. He is perhaps the most amazing person I've ever had the pleasure to be around.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 2, 2014 7:57:35 PM

  10. @Snork

    No, that would just be the black gay fem queen experience.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Feb 2, 2014 9:25:37 PM

  11. Sad to see someone degrade himself like this. He has given up on himself as a man and is now an object of pity. Why some gay men can't accept and embrace their status as men I will never understand, but at least there are fewer and fewer of such people in the world as time marches on.

    Posted by: Dave | Feb 2, 2014 9:26:42 PM

  12. I read about this documentary in one of Pauline Kael's books. I saw clips online and it's really catty & depressing in the same way watching "Boys in the Band" is. Self-pity runs pretty strong in both.

    Posted by: will | Feb 2, 2014 9:44:10 PM

  13. I don't really care enough to wade through all this background about this carnival act. But i couldn't help notice that one of the performing clowns called him or herself "International Chrysis" and died at the age of 39. Gee, let's all celebrate life choices that kill you at age 39. Let's all aspire to a life of promiscuity, loveless hookups, instability, and gender confusion. All leading to a reduction in lifespan by over 40 years.

    Anyone who celebrates this is beyond sick.

    Posted by: BobSF | Feb 2, 2014 9:50:00 PM

  14. It's interesting and say how some gay folk including a few of those posting here are too ignorant to realize that the same comments of being "confused" and "not real men" are exactly the same things used by homophobes against gay men. Ah, the irony. That's why LGBT are all in it together.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Feb 2, 2014 11:24:46 PM

  15. Spacecadet, you dummy. Gay men are 100% men. Being gay does not mean that you are gender conflicted or confused. When people say that about gay people, they are lying. When people say that about transgenders, they are telling the truth. That is why LGB and T should not be lumped together.

    Posted by: Mike | Feb 3, 2014 1:14:26 AM

  16. Nope, you are the dummy and ignorant. How would you know transgenders are confused and conflicted unless you are one yourself? Go away troll. LGBT forever!

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Feb 3, 2014 1:29:48 AM

  17. LOVED THIS! Look...yes it was crude compared to todays productions, yes it was depressing (good gawd that soundtrack???) but this is part of OUR history, it's pre Stonewall for christs sake. These girls (IE Drag Queens) were a driving force in our civil rights history, and many of the posters should get a clue and show some respect. I've always been amazed at the courage and strength these catty broads (said w/love and affection) display day in and day out. SO glad to have watched this. What a time capsule!

    Posted by: Geoff M | Feb 3, 2014 2:06:07 AM

  18. The trolls on here would do well to remember that it was a drag queen who stood up against the homophobic raids on the Stonewall Inn and started the LGBT civil rights movement. They stood up and said 'no more'.

    Without drag queens, you wouldn't have the freedom to post your bile on here.

    Posted by: Eric | Feb 3, 2014 4:21:29 AM

  19. The last 5 minutes are the best. Epic reading and shade throwing from the Queens of yesteryear.

    Posted by: NotSafeForWork | Feb 3, 2014 8:42:25 AM

  20. What's the logic of one of the previous posters? Drag queens fought at the Stonewall Inn -- therefore, we must like (or give only positive critiques) of all drag queen movies and documentaries?

    Posted by: will | Feb 3, 2014 10:36:42 AM

  21. I saw this when it was first released in 1968 in SF. I was 18 and in the Navy. I didn't know what to think! I saw it years later around 1977 in a small off-the-wall cinema in Manhattan. The ensuing years had given me a perspective to appreciate this very important aspect of gay culture. It is sad to read some of the comments here.

    Spacecadet, you have spoken the truth.

    For BobSF and others, go f*ck yourselves.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Feb 3, 2014 10:50:27 AM

  22. "The Queen" has a very strong Philadelphia connection. The person that won the contest was Rachel Harlow, a transsexual woman from Philly. And then there was Joey Venuti. Joey was one of the mistresses of ceremonies at the contest in the film, and he was also Rachel's coach (so to speak).

    But Joey was also well known in Philly's Black Gay world. He would open clubs for Black Gays in Center City Philly. They weren't always the greatest places, but atleast he tried. He tried to point where other White Gay bar owners would refer to him as "Joey and his n.ggers".

    Joey was always nice to me...even though he prefered rough trade. :-) LOL, but so did I.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Feb 3, 2014 11:13:25 AM

  23. Jamal, you can cuss me all you want. This person died at 39. Why are you supporting choices that kill a person at 39?

    Posted by: BobSF | Feb 3, 2014 11:37:54 AM

  24. STAGGERING. My heart can hardly take it. What those men dealt with and faced, their strength and resilience. Tremendous.

    And screw the haters. I mean hater Singular. The one sad troll who uses various screen names to mask his insecure wimpery. Stop being upset that Queens in 1968 were more man than you are today.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Feb 3, 2014 11:39:15 AM

  25. The "manly men" who are shrieking here are so over the top in their mannerisms pretending to be butch that they come across more "putting on" than any queen on stage. The queens on stage are doing it for show and they know it. You bitches, on the other hand, are not fooling anyone with your "straight acting straight appearing" ways. "Acting" and "appearing" is right because you guys are delusional if you think you are coming across as anything but bitter, self hating bitches!

    Posted by: Excuse Me! | Feb 3, 2014 1:33:30 PM

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