Drag Is A Force For Good, Shows Upcoming Documentary ‘The Little Pageant That Could’ From World Of Wonder & Gatekeeper Productions

EXCLUSIVE: A ban on drag performances in public places has been enacted in Tennessee, and more than a dozen other states may follow suit, a movement predicated on the fear that children who might glimpse such a show would be scarred by it. But an upcoming documentary defies that demonization by portraying drag performers as a force for good in their community.

Emmy-winning media company World of Wonder (RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Eyes of Tammy Faye) and Gatekeeper Productions today announced they have wrapped production on The Little Pageant That Could, a feature documentary that chronicles the journey of L.A.’s Best in Drag Show to support the Alliance for Housing and Healing.

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“The event, which started as a spur-of-the-moment spoof of Miss America thrown by a few twenty-something friends in a tiny West Hollywood apartment in 1990, grew to become L.A.’s longest-running drag benefit including appearances by A-list actors, playing before thousands of people and grossing over $6 million to help those living with HIV/AIDS,” according to a release about the documentary. “Through the decades, the Alliance for Housing and Healing has been able to use proceeds from the events to benefit programs including permanent subsidized housing, emergency financial assistance for those facing eviction and homelessness with HIV/AIDs.”

Best in Drag Show performers
Best in Drag Show performers

The Little Pageant That Could is executive produced by World of Wonder’s Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato and directed by John Carlos Frey, who also served as the stage show’s original director. “The film features outrageously funny, never-before-seen footage spanning the pageant’s 33-year history, including host and judge appearances by actors such as Chris Pratt, Jennifer Coolidge, John C. Reilly, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen, Vanessa Williams, Anna Faris, singer Jennifer Holliday, and designer Bob Mackie.”

“When John Carlos approached us about this film, we were so moved by this inspiring story about the power of drag,” Bailey and Barbato said. “People with AIDS were abandoned by society, politicians, and even their own families. But a group of friends stepped in and started this little pageant that could. At a time when legislation is being passed to restrict the art form, this film bears witness to the power of drag to make a meaningful – and desperately needed – contribution to society.”

“Those that choose to criminalize this sacred form of queer expression should be the first to line up and watch The Little Pageant That Could,” Frey said, “and maybe they would find that drag saves lives and heals hearts.”

In response to the recent anti-LGBTQ legislation proposed in many states, “World of Wonder has partnered with the American Civil Liberties Union to create The Drag Defense Fund, an initiative to fight back against censorship of drag performers and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community,” the release noted.

No target release date for The Little Pageant That Could has been announced.

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