Out and About
“The Queen” screens at Drag Brunch, with a performance by Fontaine – July 28, 2019 (Toronto)
Hot Docs is celebrating the herstory of drag this month with a special Drag Brunch event. On Sunday, July 28,the 1968 drag documentary The Queen, will be shown. This film is considered the mother of all drag documentaries, going behind-the-scenes of the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant.
Prior to the screening, guests can enjoy mimosas and snacks, along with a special performance by legendary Toronto Female Impersonator, Fontaine, who got their start in the basement of 511 Yonge Street, and the iconic St. Charles Tavern, alongside ’60s legends like Loonie Lanie and Madam Melba. See below for an exclusive interview Fontaine did with theBUZZ.
One of the first docs to celebrate queer culture and drag performers, this newly restored classic invites viewers backstage for a sneak peek at contestants. Organized by LGBTQ icon Flawless Sabrina months before the Stonewall riots, the New York City competition boasted a star-studded panel of judges including Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick and George Plimpton.
Go back in HERstory to the 1967 Miss All-America Camp Beauty Pageant and see the ground-breaking film that brought competitive drag to the world. Director Frank Simon takes us backstage to kiki with the contestants as they rehearse, throw shade, and transform into their drag personas in the lead-up to the big event. Perhaps most memorable is an epic read calling out the pageant scene’s racial bias delivered by Crystal LaBeija, who would go on to form the infamous voguing clan, House of LaBeija. Unleash your inner diva and celebrate the scintillating history of drag with this rare opportunity to see this unmissable queer classic.
Drag Brunch – Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., Toronto
Doors open & food served: 11:00 AM
Performance + Film: 12:00 PM
Presenting Ms. Fontaine!
Fontaine is a true Toronto original who got her start in the 1960s, when even wearing women’s clothing was a criminal offense. With a list of titles as long as her gowns, this pageant queen continues to headline Pride parades, perform for senior’s groups at The 519 and Fudger House, and was recently featured in the Hot Docs 2019 short, Take Me To Prom.
As a pageant queen who has been part of the drag scene in Toronto for decades,Fontaine offers a unique personal perspective of the LGBTQ community in this city, and its journey over the years. In a year where we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, we can now reflect back and get a sense of how far we’ve come, and how much further there is to go, in the fight for gay rights.
We chat at 11:00 AM on a Tuesday, just five days before she’s set to perform at that exact same time on Sunday. “I’ll be up at 6:00 AM getting ready for this”, she laughs. I then ask if she will be watching the movie afterward, and she replies, “Hell no, I’ll be heading home to get some rest.”
She did divulge that she’ll be doing five numbers, and four costume changes, with literally “10 seconds” to change back stage in between. That in itself will make this event worth the price of admission. She also says her last number will “bring the house down”, as it did when she performed it at The 519 for a group of elders. “They were still clapping for five-minutes after I had left the room,” she says.
She tells me she got her start from her drag mother, the one and only, Michelle DuBarry. “Michelle brought me under her wings. She also made many of my outfits,” she shares, some of which she still owns today…and still fits into! The 60s and 70s were a time of glitz and glamour for these ladies. A time to get decked out in long gowns, sequins and jewels, and of course those high heels.
For Fontaine to still be performing is quite remarkable. It hasn’t always been easy. To go from being a constant target of police and public harassment, always under the fear of being beaten and/or arrested and humiliated, to seeing the Queens of today strutting themselves openly and freely, is truly inspiring. Fontaine is one of the original leaders in the gay rights movement for all.
What’s one tip she has for all the aspiring drag queens out there, simply put, she says, “Help each other out!”
Be sure to get there arrive early for her 11am performance, as you don’t want to miss this!
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.