Queen of the Capital
Muffy Blake Stephyns is a drag performer with high aspirations. She’s a member of the Imperial Court of Washington D.C., a group of philanthropic drag performers led by an empress and her royal court. By day she's a government bureaucrat, by night she's campaigning to become Queen of the Capital.
100 Days of Optimism
Inclusion StatementMuffy and the members of the Court have spent their lives raising money for charities and fighting for LGBTQ rights in the most fun and colorful way possible. Drag is their culture, their history and their identities. By supporting this doc, you're helping shed light on the charities.
About The Project
Our documentary is a story about drag queens, American royalty and government bureaucrats. It follows Muffy Blake Stephyns, a D.C. drag queen with high aspirations. She’s a member of the Imperial Court of Washington, DC. a philanthropic organization of drag queens, drag kings and colorful performers. Every year, the court elects an emperor and an empress. We follow Muffy, both in and out of drag, whether she's performing or working at the Department of Labor. Our cameras followed as she campaigns for empress and dreams of becoming the Queen of the Capital.
The story starts at the Imperial Court of Washington D.C.’s coronation. Empress III, Natasha Carrington, a drag queen from Richmond, Va., is accepting her new crown. Representatives from the International Court System have flown in from all over the continent to pay her tribute. This is where we meet Muffy Blake-Stephyns and her drag mother, Shelby Jewel-Stephyns, as they apply makeup, put on their evening gowns and prepare for the elegant event. Dressed formally, in an evening gown, with gloves and full makeup, Muffy discusses her royal aspirations to be empress.
Members of the Court describe it as “the gay version of the Shriners without the little cars,” but it is much more than that. In addition to raising thousands of dollars every year, it is a group of energetic performers and personalities. The Court is modeled after the royal courts of Europe, with an empress and emperor as a figurehead. Members receive other titles, such as the Duchess of Foggy Bottom and Duke of the Smithsonian. At their formal events, the members dress like drag versions of Disney princesses, with elegant gowns to the floor and glittery crowns. The Court opened up its doors to the documentary, from executive board meetings to a trip (in drag) to the Pentagon’s 9-11 Memorial.
The documentary runs from coronation to coronation (a full reign year), following Muffy from drag performances to work at the Department of Labor. We follow her dress shopping in New York City, campaigning at DC Pride and traveling to Richmond for the election. The story explores how epilepsy, mental illness and dealing with HIV has made Muffy and Shelby who they are.
Queen of the Capital also explores the history of drag in our nation's capital. It features the Academy of Washington, the oldest drag organization in Washington, DC. Through Muffy’s eyes and interviews with drag historians, the film explores how the Academy, the Court and how the history of drag in D.C. has paved the way for the modern drag queen.
Muffy and the Court spend their lives raising money for charity, so by supporting the film, you're supporting the charities highlighted in the film. We highlight ROSMY (a charity for LGBTQ youth in Richmond, VA -- now called Side by Side), the Walk to End HIV in Washington, DC. and the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia. Throughout the year we filmed, the Court raised nearly $60,000 that they gave to other 501(c)3s.
“I am overwhelmed with joy after watching this beautiful film. Being featured in Queen of the Capital gives us a great opportunity to showcase not only what we do, but how someone suffering from epilepsy could be a government bureaucrat, a grass-roots fundraiser and a drag queen."
- Gina Washington, Regional Director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Virginia
For more, check out lot1films.com
This campaign is being run independently of our fiscal sponsor, so contributions made here are not tax-deductible. If you really feel strongly about having a charitable donation tax receipt for your online donation or prefer to write a check, please visit our Docs In Progress donation page at https://www.docsinprogress. org/queenofthecapital. While these donations won't count towards our total on Seed & Spark, they will still help us get to the finish line with the film.
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About This Team
Josh Davidsburg is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. When he doesn’t have a camera in his hand, he’s teaching full-time as a lecturer at the University of Maryland, College Park, Philip Merrill College of Journalism. After working for more than a decade as a reporter for television news, he decided to expand into long-form, documentary storytelling. He’s produced documentary shorts, seen at film festivals across the country and is currently working on a feature-length film.
Alexander Glass’s goal is to capture raw emotion on camera and use it to produce captivating stories. After earning a degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College, he has gone on to produce award-winning work with Early Light Media. When away from the camera and edit bay, Alex can be found sailing on the Chesapeake Bay.
Alanna Delfino is an award-winning photojournalist for WBFF in Baltimore, Maryland. She’s earned her bachelor degree from the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, then went on work professionally as an editor and photojournalist in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metro area. She has since returned to the University of Maryland, College Park as an adjunct professor.
After graduating with a masters degree from the Philip Merrill College Journalism, Brandi Vincent went on to help produce the award-winning Good Luck America series for Snapchat.