The Queen + Lipstick City
What does it mean to document a subculture? In 1968, Flawless Sabrina, the doyenne of the New York City drag pageant circuit, decided to document the drag community she had developed during the ‘60s, producing The Queen with director Frank Simon, co-producer Andy Warhol, and others. Since then, the film has been nearly impossible to access, a legend of the queer counterculture until its recent rediscovery. Most notably, excerpts from the film have been featured in the title sequence for Amazon.com’s Transparent, but the film as a whole remains elusive and hard to see. This program pairs the 1968 documentary with Lipstick City, a contemporary experimental narrative film that also seeks to document a drag community. Starring Chicago’s leading drag queens of color, Lipstick City queers the archival project of the documentary through structuring its preservation of this subculture around a nonlinear revenge narrative.
Curated by Nicole Morse (CMS) as part of the Film Studies Center's Graduate Student Curatorial Program.
(Frank Simon, USA, 1968, 68 min., screening courtesy of www.thequeen1968firstlegaldvd.com ; Shea Couleé, USA, 2016, 9 min., digital video. )
Shea Couleé graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in fashion design, and entered the Chicago drag scene in 2013, becoming a notable performer and host locally. Lipstick City is the highest production value film ever produced by drag queens about drag queens and has been garnering national attention.
Marlow La Fantastique, Miss Chicago in The Queen, was deeply involved in Chicago's drag scene in the 1950s and 1960s, a member of the House of La Beija in NYC, and later performed in Berlin and Paris.