Andy Warhol judges cutthroat 1960s drag pageant in The Queen doc trailer
Before Pose, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Paris Is Burning introduced the art of ballroom eleganza and drag excellence to audiences around the world, Frank Simon’s 1968 documentary The Queen cast a glistening spotlight on the cutthroat world of drag pageantry. Now, Kino Lorber is set to release a digital restoration of the classic nonfiction film, and EW can exclusively reveal the project’s first trailer above.
The film (which originally premiered at the 1968 Cannes Film Festival) follows several drag queens — including LGBTQ+ icon Crystal LaBeija, Rachel Harlow, and mistress of ceremonies, Flawless Sabrina — as they prepare for the 1967 Miss All-America Camp beauty pageant in New York City, which was judged by famed artist Andy Warhol.
Of the film’s subjects, LaBeija is perhaps best known for her contributions to the art of drag, and her legacy lived on well after her death in 1982; Her protege, Pepper LaBeija, is a focal subject in Jennie Livingston’s landmark 1991 documentary Paris Is Burning (which also re-releases theatrically this summer), while RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Aja channeled her feisty likeness during the All-Stars 3 Snatch Game challenge in 2018.
“I am doing it big and I have a right to show my color, darling,” LaBeija says during a particularly tense moment in the trailer before delivering a line that has since become synonymous with her name: “I am beautiful, and I know I’m beautiful.”
The 4K restoration of The Queen (made using the original camera negative) debuts in New York City on June 28 — on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots — via Kino Lorber Repertory, with theatrical expansion to follow. Watch EW’s exclusive trailer above, and see the film’s re-release poster below.