3/14/24: Drag History Movie Night: First Impressions (1977) and Beautiful by Night (2014)

Drag history movie night, featuring a pop up exhibit and panel featuring Irregular Girl, Kinley Preston, James Hosking, and James Conley.


Join us for a screening of two exquisite short documentaries taking us behind the scenes for frank, tender glimpses into the lives, loves, and the artistry of drag performers. The recently re-discovered and preserved First Impressions (Pat Lehman, 1977, 25 min.) gives performers at a Denver drag club a platform to speak with candor and humor as they prepare for the evening’s performance, a precious and rare document of drag and queer life in the 1970s. James Hosking’s acclaimed Beautiful by Night (2014, 29 min.) is a loving portrait of three older drag performers at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district as they share their musings on art, aging, and self-acceptance. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion on the past and present of drag, featuring drag performers Irregular Girl and Kinley Preston, filmmaker James Hosking, and curator and co-chair of Gerber/Hart Library & Archives, James Conley. The event is a partnership between the Leather Archives & Museum, Media Burn Archive, and Gerber/Hart Library & Archives. 

Notes: Attendees must be 18 years of age or older to attend. Admission is free, and allows full access to the Leather Archives & Museum’s exhibitions. Arrive early to check out the exclusive pop-up exhibit on Chicago drag history curated by Gerber/Hart specifically for this event. Please note that street parking is quite limited, and guests are strongly encouraged to use public transportation. In order to enter the building, guests need to ascend a flight of stairs. If you have accessibility needs, please contact [email protected] at least a week in advance so that we can advise and assist you. Visit https://leatherarchives.org/museum/plan-your-visit to learn more about visiting LAM.


Kinley Preston is a Chicago based entertainer, personality and business owner. In 2011 she joined the Diva cast at the World Famous Kit Kat Lounge and Supper Club and can still be seen there monthly. This Amazonian beauty was formerly Miss Illinois 2016 (Queen of U.S.A pageant system), and has gone on to work alongside many other celebrities, artists and with high end brands. She has been profiled on CBS’s Entertainment Tonight, in Cosmopolitan magazine, Chicago Women’s Magazine, Windy City Times, Chicago Sun Times and many other media outlets. Kinley has received several awards and accolades for her philanthropy/charity work through local and national non-profits.


Irregular Girl is Chicago’s trans diva latina. She is the cohost of Strapped, a lesbian/adjacent drag show and party now at Empty Bottle every first Friday of the month. She was on the cover of the Chicago Reader for a profile in their 2022 Summer Theater and Arts Preview, and was nominated for Best Drag Entertainer for the inaugural 2023 Gaggy Nightlife Awards. She has lived in Chicago her whole life and has been performing in the city for the last 7 years.


James Conley is the Co-chair of Gerber/Hart Library & Archives and a volunteer exhibit coordinator. He is also the Co-founder and Designer at Studio Folklore, a Chicago-based interior design firm. He served a decade as the Media Services Librarian for Loyola University Chicago. Including prior work for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s library system, James’ tenure in public, private, and academic libraries has spanned over 20 years. James also serves on the editorial board of Chicago’s Video Game Art Reader (a peer-reviewed journal) and is a practicing visual artist. James is currently writing his first book on queer readings of popular cinema.


James Hosking is a Chicago-based photographer, filmmaker, and visual artist. He is the Art Director of the Chicago Reader and a 2024 MacDowell visual arts fellow. His work has screened internationally and appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Mother Jones, The Atlantic, and many other publications. His multimedia project “Beautiful By Night” examines identity, aging, and labor among veteran drag performers in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, and includes a documentary that he directed, produced, and edited. He is currently developing an archival LGBTQ+ series, selections from which are currently on view in “Art from the Archives,” at Gerber/Hart Library & Archives in Chicago.



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