Documentary 'The Queens' is a Look at the LGBTQ Subculture of Pageants
After seven years in the making, the documentary The Queens will finally have its premiere in Chicago at the Kit Kat Lounge & Supper Club on January 25, 2018 and in Minneapolis at Honey at Ginger Hop on February 8, 2018. The documentary, which follows the life behind-the-scenes of the Miss Continental Pageant, has been working toward getting production funding for the last several years.
The Queens chronicles the fascinating transgender subculture of competitive female impersonation. A cinematic fusion between Paris is Burning and RuPaul's Drag Race, the documentary takes viewers on an emotional, entertaining and enlightening journey as it follows pageant contestants (past and present) vying for the coveted title of Miss Continental. The film also discusses the importance of this pageant as a foundation for the trans community, drag, and female impersonation. Various RuPaul's Drag Race contestants have participated in Miss Continental including Naysha Lopez, Roxxxy Andrews, Kandy Ho, Jasmine Masters, and Pork Chop among others.
The Queens is a feature-length documentary produced by The Reporters Inc., a nonprofit [501(c)(3)] journalistic production house. They are dedicated to promoting social awareness, encouraging social change and championing social justice through powerful multimedia storytelling.
Here is the film's synopsis:
Using the framework of the 36-year-old Miss Continental Pageant as its backdrop, "The Queens" explores the complex and fascinating transgender subculture of competitive female impersonation entertainers and their driven and dedicated quest for the crown.
We follow the journeys of several contestants as they diligently plan, prepare and plot their paths to victory. Along the way, we meet several former titleholders, as well as some who have repeatedly competed in the pageant but never left victorious (and are perhaps a bit bitter).
But the documentary focuses on more than just the competition. We delve into the whys and hows of the physical alterations they’ve made to their outer bodies (silicone injections, breast implants, facial reconstruction, etc.), their inner bodies (hormone therapies) and their decisions to refrain from following through with sex reassignment surgery, in order to remain true female impersonators and be eligible to compete and perform as such.
We also talk with female impersonators who live their lives as men outside the pageant and performance world, and the occasional tensions between them and those who’ve been surgically enhanced.
We examine the difficulty many have finding true and lasting romantic relationships. We address the rejection many have experienced from family, as well as the changing opinions and acceptance of transgender individuals by society in general today.
Because Miss Continental is so closely linked to the legendary female impersonation nightclub, The Baton, in Chicago (Jim Flint created and owns them both), we take a side trip deep inside this iconic, 48-year-old show lounge. We dig into its storied history, and meet the permanent cast, many of whom are former Miss Continental title-holders themselves. We learn why this is the holy grail of female impersonation, and why many new Continental pageant winners hope their victories will lead to permanent employment there for them, as well.
We reveal the shadier and sadder parts of The Baton’s past—mob and police pay-offs to stay open, drugs, prostitution, AIDS, crime, tragic accidents, and even murder. Several former Baton performers (and Miss Continentals) have met horrible, haunting deaths.
Returning to Continental, we get to the bottom of why winning this crown means so much to those in pursuit of the title, why they see it as a stepping stone to greater fame, fortune and success, and–yes–how it’s also a cut-throat competition where occasional acts of sabotage have been known to take place.
You’ll be awestruck by the amount of time and money spent (on makeup, costumes, wigs, backup dancers and more) to win this crown. The contestants shimmer and seduce, titillate and twirl. The glitz, the glamour, the talent and the beauty on display here rival—no–put the Miss America and Miss USA pageants to shame!
With thousands in the audience cheering, there are tears of joy for those who perform well under the Miss Continental stage lights; when the show ends, there are tears of heartbreak in the shadows for those who fared poorly.
To some outsiders, and the uninformed, the dolled-up, lip-synched routines at both Miss Continental and The Baton might seem frivolous, perhaps even pointless, after a few viewings. But "The Queens" will show you why creating this illusion and this mystique are a way of life for–not only these performers–but for thousands of others just like them (and their devoted fans) across the United States.
Year after year, decade after decade, the show simply must go on.
Take a look at the trailer here: