The Queen is a fascinating document of a drag beauty contest held in 1967, the lead-up to the pageant and the backstage goings on. It’s a little-known film that is still hard to find on torrent trackers and has been out of print for many years.
The “Miss All-American Camp Beauty Pageant” was shot with hand-held cameras by director Frank Simon (who later produced the Marc Bolan concert film Born to Boogie). The year was 1967. Before the Stonewall riots. A time when cross-dressing could have gotten you arrested for vice, even in New York City. The film provides an interesting look at an event which was simultaneously rather risqué and underground, and at the same time served as a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy, co-chaired by Jerry Lewis and Lady Bird Johnson!
Artists Jim Dine and Larry Rivers, writers Bruce Jay Friedman, Terry Southern and George Plimpton, photographer Mary Ellen Mark, Warhol superstars Mario Montez and Edie Sedgwick, and Andy Warhol himself were among the judges of the event, although they are glimpsed very fleetingly in the film (Bobby Kennedy dropped out when he realized what he’d been signed up for).
But these luminaries of that era aren’t the main attraction here, that distinction would go to the hostess, “Flawless Sabrina” (Jack Doroshaw), contestant “Rachel Harlow” (aka Richard Finnochio, who Larry Rivers and allegedly also Warren Beatty hit on) and the film’s equivalent to Snookie, snarling, pissed-off Crystal LaBeija who reads everyone within earshot to filth when she suspects the contest has been fixed in favor of the Caucasian Harlow. As LaBeija went on to be the first “house mother” of the voguing clan House of LaBeija, this scene might well have captured a pivotal moment that led—not indirectly, either—to the Harlem voguing balls celebrated in Paris is Burning a few years later (In other words, the Harlem balls were a reaction to the perceived white-bias of the 1967 contest).
It’s true that you can’t judge a book by its cover. In the case of Harpo’s Horrible Secret, you might jump to the conclusion that something untoward was happening, but Harpo’s horrible secret is really that his pap-pap has Alzheimer’s disease, not a pocket full of Viagra.
Before he struck mass market appeal as Sherlock Holmes, Benedict Cumberbatch proved his exceptional talents as Stephen Hawking in this classy BBC film from 2004. Written by Peter Moffatt, and directed by Philip Martin, Hawking tells the story of the scientist’s early years at university, examining his relationships, his work and the onset of the motor neurone disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Cumberbatch is wonderfully supported by John Sessions, Lisa Dillon and Peter Firth as a grumpy Sir Fred Hoyle, the renowned scientist and author of the classic sci-fi work The Black Cloud.
This is annoying: The BBC have decided to cancel one of its very best comedy series, Graham Duff’s brilliant Ideal starring the great Johnny Vegas as Mancunian pot dealer “Moz.” I’m a huge, huge fan of Vegas and Ideal, it’s one of the most-sharply written and acted comedies of the past decade. It’s got everything: Dope. Sex. Severed limbs… It’s also a rock snob’s delight with a terrifically curated soundtrack. Duff has actually used Throbbing Gristle’s music in the show and has even name-checked Carter-Tutti (aka Chris & Cosey) in a dog whistle meant for only a certain percentage of the viewing audience (I love stuff like that).
One of my favorite British TV comedy series — and I’ll be blogging about several during my tenure here at Boing Boing — is a show about a Mancunian pot dealer called Ideal (geddit?). It’s consistently well-written, extremely well-acted and provides comic genius Johnny Vegas with a role worthy of his almost Shakespearean-level verbal talents.
Vegas, the funniest fat man since John Candy, is “Moz” a small-time weed merchant who may or may not be agoraphobic. But Ideal, which has so far aired for four seasons on BBC3 and is scheduled for a fifth beginning in early 2009, isn’t a comedy about drugs per se, it’s more about the dramatic device of Moz’s bohemian line of work bringing whimsical (and psychotic) characters in and out of his flat all day long. “Ideal” is truly one of the best things on television anywhere in the world right now and thanks to the wonders of technology, should you decide it’s something you would want to watch, there is surely a way for you to see it, too. Just get your hands on it, trust me, you’ll love it!
I have seen every episode and own the DVDs. My lovely wife Tara, who also has great taste in TV, forwarded this most depwessing and distwessing news from Graham Duff’s Facebook page. I’ve counted her saying “It really sucks that they cancelled Ideal!” about eight times in the past hour:
As some of you may have heard, the BBC have decided against commissioning an 8th series of Ideal. The reason given was that the new channel controller wanted to make a clean sweep.
It is a source of both pride and frustration that, at the point of cancellation, Ideal was attracting its biggest ever audiences, its highest profile guest stars and its best ever reviews. And the show is now being screened in more countries than ever before - from America to Finland and beyond.
I just want to say a huge, heartfelt thank you to everyone who has appeared in the show and worked behind the scenes over the last 7 years and 53 episodes. And a very special thanks to everyone who has supported the show and spread the word. We really wouldn’t have got this far without you.
It’s been a truly wonderful journey and to work with such a genuinely amazing team has been both an honour and a solid hoot.
Not only is this sad, it’s stupid! What TV channel controller worth their salary makes the decision to yank a show that’s been on for seven years and has a growing international audience??? (Not a declining audience, an audience that is getting bigger worldwide every year—what gives?). How do you justify wanting a “clean sweep” over creating profits from a proven hit in a corporate environment, anyways?
WHO IS THIS PERSON WHO CANCELLED IDEAL?
And why do they still have a job?
Someone needs to organize a protest! Maybe mail this moron rolling papers care of the Beeb?
This sucks! It’s a travesty, I tell you! Let Graham Duff know how much you love Ideal at his Facebook page.
These photographs were taken in Shanxi Province in the Northwest of China. They document the ancient customs, which originate from pagan religious beliefs. Today a number of these customs have survived as one of the most important cultural practices in the Lunar New Year. People dress in stunning costumes, paint their faces, and stage themselves as mythical creatures. I suppose, by contrast to their daily peasant lifestyle, on this special occasion everyone must have felt quite extraordinary, especially since they were representing powerful ancient deities. When I first saw them line up and walk around in the village, I kept on wondering: did I step into wonderland?
Zhang Xiao captures his images with a Holga camera, known for its “low-fi” aesthetic.