‘Drag Race’ Team Traces 33 Years of Queer History in ‘The Little Pageant That Could’ Trailer | Exclusive Video

Christina Applegate, Vanessa Williams and Kathy Griffin pop up in the documentary about Los Angeles’ The Best in Drag Show

Decades before RuPaul made her All Stars compete for charity, Los Angeles’ Best in Drag Show provided an opportunity for queens to show off their beauty and talents all while raising money for those living with HIV/AIDS.

In “The Little Pageant That Could,” the team behind “RuPaul’s Drag Race” — EPs Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato from World of Wonder — and director John Carlos Frey (the stage show’s original director) trace 33 years’ worth of queer history with the pageant that’s raised over $6 million since 1989.

TheWrap has an exclusive first look at the documentary before it premieres at this week’s Provincetown Film Festival. The clip begins with a lighthearted, late ’80s warning from a newscaster: “Here’s one beauty pageant that you’re never going to confuse with Miss America.”

“It started out as a parody of Miss America,” one organizer admits in the trailer. “There was this little show that was taking on. It just kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”

“It was a joyous distraction with so much sadness going on in our community,” a voiceover continues. “People we loved were dying of AIDS, so we raised money.”

“Pretty much everybody who’s a contestant in this show has come from a very dark place,” another participant notes. “But they’ve realized that their darkness can provide light for others.”

The logline for the film reads: “The Best in Drag Show, a charity event which started as a spur-of-the-moment spoof of Miss America thrown by a few 20something 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. Through the decades, beneficiary 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.”

Tuesday’s trailer also features appearances from past celebrity guests like Christina Applegate, Melanie Griffith, Vanessa Williams, Martin Sheen, Bob Mackie and Kathy Griffin. Anna Faris, Jennifer Coolidge, John C. Reilly, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Charlie Sheen, Chris Pratt and Jennifer Holliday have also taken part.

“The Little Pageant That Could” premieres Thursday at the Provincetown Film Festival.

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