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World of Wonder, Gatekeeper announce The Little Pageant That Could doc

March 27, 2023

Emmy-winning media company World of Wonder (“RuPaul’s Drag Race,” “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”) and Gatekeeper Productions have recently announced the production wrap of “The Little Pageant That Could,” a feature documentary chronicling the journey of the city’s Best in Drag Show to support the Alliance for Housing and Healing.

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 LA’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. 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.

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.

From its earliest days, the show has included performances from amateur and first-time drag artists, and has been put together by volunteers, many of whom endured HIV, and many who survived alcohol and drug addiction and homelessness before finding sobriety and discovering a sense of purpose that saved their lives.

The Little Pageant That Couldis packed with humor, wit, over-the-top fashion and outrageous sight gags but, at its heart, the film is about outsiders coming together in the most difficult circumstances imaginable, combining their talents to help other people triumph over adversity and build a community that has only grown stronger over the decades – and illustrates the powerful force of positivity that is drag.

When John Carlos approached us about this film, we were so moved by this inspiring story about the power of drag. 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,” said Bailey and Barbato.

The film’s director, John Carlos Frey, added: “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 and maybe they would find that drag saves lives and heals hearts.

In response to the recent targeted anti-LGBTQ legislation being proposed in the United 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 Little Pageant that Could” is executive produced by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato of World of Wonder, directed by John Carlos Frey, and produced by David Neuendorff, James Cude, and John Carlos Frey.

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