A Queen Gets Her Own Royal Archive

Flawless Sabrina, in an excerpt from Zackary Drucker’s thesis.

Zackary Drucker, Excerpts from “5 East 73rd street” 2005 - 2007. Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles.

Back in October, Outward ran a piece from Stephen Vider on the opening credits for Transparent, the critically acclaimed Amazon show that follows the story of Maura (an older transgender woman) and her coming-out process. Vider unearthed a wonderful bit of queer history hiding in the frames: Segments from The Queen, a seminal but largely unseen documentary about drag queens and trans people from 1968, were cut into the montage, helping it show “how trans identities and communities have evolved, both in the decades since the documentary’s release and over the years of Maura’s life.” In the piece, Vider also wrote about the main force behind The Queen, Flawless Sabrina (aka Jack Doroshow), a drag performer and activst who ran the groundbreaking pageant documented in the film.

Vider’s coverage necessarily focused on that particular aspect of Flawless’ life, but The Queen was only the beginning of the queen’s illustrious career. As Zackary Drucker, an associate producer on Transparent and “grandchild” of Flawless’, points out in an ongoing Kickstarter project to archive her grandmother’s “lifework,” Flawless “is a living legend in the queer community who has worked tirelessly for decades shaping culture to be safer for LGBT people.”

Along with Diana Tourjee—a writer who is working on a book about Flawless—Drucker is raising funds to enable the cataloging and preservation of the masses of historically significant art, documents, and other artifacts that currently reside in the queen’s small New York apartment. This is both to help her downsize and to make the materials available to scholars, activists, and other parties interested in the history of gender and countercultures. Additionally, the archive will include extensive oral history interviews with Flawless.  

Having had the privilege of spending a number of stimulating afternoons on the far side of Flawless’ desk, I can vouch for the supreme importance of this project. Sources of LGBTQ history are precious, so when we are presented with both a treasure trove and a generous, intelligent elder who is willing to help us understand it all, we should jump at the opportunity. The fundraising campaign will run until Monday, Dec. 8.