Virtual Screening Room: Split: Portrait of a Drag Queen

Thu 4/29 • 4PM - 5:30PM PDT

Streaming Online

Self-described “transgender performer” International Chrysis made her screen debut in Frank Simon’s documentary The Queen (1968) as one of dozens of contestants in the All-American Camp Beauty Pageant. Years later she appeared briefly in Sidney Lumet’s Q&A (1990) (as a murder victim). In Split: Portrait of a Drag Queen, filmmakers Ellen Fisher-Turk and Andrew Weeks give center stage to the pioneering diva who dominated the New York cabaret and nightclub scene for two decades before her untimely death in 1990. Born in the Bronx, Chrysis split to Manhattan when she was 14 after her parents committed her to Bellevue for dressing as a girl. “People were being shipped off all over,” a confidant recalls of the times, a cultural moment that Chrysis both defied and helped define. As Chrysis tells the camera, “I just had the intention of living my life.” Through their assemblage of interviews, stills and video footage, Fisher-Turk and Weeks capture the sharp wit and vivacious presence that made Chrysis a show-stopping headliner, a muse to fashion designers and artists (most especially Salvador Dalí and a guiding light for the next generation. The Archive is thrilled to present Split with filmmaker Ellen Fisher-Turk in conversation with cultural critic Ernest Hardy.

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