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Thursday, October 6, 2016


By Joe Castel
Adelante Magazine
This past June, the empresses and emperors of the Imperial Courts of Los Angeles/Hollywood and Orange County came together to recreate a historic scene for the documentary, Nelly Queen, the Life and Times of Jose Sarria. It was one of the hottest days of the year, but their royal eyeliner never ran, even under the bright lights, as these royal peacocks paraded their vintage couture down the makeshift runway in honor of their founder, Jose Sarria, Empress Jose I.
The reenactment date was October 31, 1963. The scene: the closing night of the San Franciscan Black Cat Café, the Stonewall Inn of the West Coast. The Cat’s s star female impersonator, Jose Julio Sarria, encouraged his fellow revelers to defy the law and wear drag that night. Despite it being Halloween, drag was still against the law and the San Francisco police chief warned the Black Cat staff that anyone caught in drag one minute after midnight on Halloween would be arrested.
Who was Jose Sarria?
Jose was an entertainer activist who exemplified gay pride before the phrase was even coined. From 1952 to 1963, the legendary diva performed opera parodies at the Black Cat Café, a bohemian hangout for local artists, beatniks and gays in a section of North Beach. From a stage made of four tables shoved together, Jose not only entertained his audiences with gay operatic story-lines, he galvanized a disenfranchised community with such slogans as “Gay is Good!” and “United we stand, divided they’ll catch us one by one.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Synopsis for "Nelly Queen: The Life & Times of Jose Sarria

Nelly Queen: The Life & Times of Jose Sarria - Scene recreations of the closing of The Black Cat Cafe (shot on location in Los Angeles - 2016).


"Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of Jose Sarria", 90 minute digital feature documentary examining the social, cultural and political legacy of Jose Sarria, the world's first openly gay man to run for public office. Exploring his struggles amid post WWII San Francisco through interviews, never-before-seen footage, the film will harness Jose Sarria's bold spirit to expose his tragic, valiant and inspiring story. At the unexpected intersection between politics and high camp, Nelly Queen will reveal an intimate portrait of the Latino civil rights pioneer whose heroic drag has long been overlooked as a cornerstone of the gay rights movement.
Nelly Queen: the Life and Times of Jose Sarria is a feature documentary on the life of Jose Sarria, the first openly gay American to run for public office in 1961. The drag cabaret performer was an early and leading champion for equality for the homosexuals in San Francisco 15 years before Stonewall. The 90-minute documentary revolves around personal footage taken by Sarria's close friend and Executive Producer, Joe Castel, spanning 23-years from 1992 to 2013.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Donate Today | Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of Jose Sarria nears completion but we still your help

Donation Link:
Nelly Queen: The Life and Times of Jose Sarria will be accepting ongoing donations through our donation page from our fiscal sponsor From the Heart Productions. We are in the final stages of post production and need your help in finishing the film. Your tax deductible donations will help us hire additional post production crew to polish the final film and getting it ready for next year. We thank you for supporting our film featuring the one and only, Jose Julio Sarria. Thank you.

Monday, March 7, 2016

"Let it Reign" benefiting Jose Sarria documentary | Sat. April 2, 2016 4:30PM | Garden Grove CA

"Let it Reign" proceeds to benefit the making of "Nelly Queen: The Life & Times of Jose Sarria" feature documentary film.

Please mark your calendars.

Reigning Monarchs 
Emperor Logan 
Empress Monet

pre-sale tickets available