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Cinema

Valerie Kontakos’ Film “Queen of the Deuce” World Premiere at DOC NYC

NEW YORK – Exile Films and Storyline Entertainment are pleased to present the World Premiere of Valerie Kontakos’ Queen of the Deuce at the 2022 DOC NYC festival on Friday, November 11, 9:15 PM, at the SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues) in Manhattan. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Valerie Kontakos, moderated by New York magazine’s Christopher Bonanos.

A warm look at a trailblazing entrepreneur and unconventional matriarch who built a gay porn theater empire, the film will be featured in the festival’s Metropolis Competition section.

From the late ’60s to the mid ’80s, in the notorious Times Square area known as the Deuce, the eccentric, Greek-born Chelly Wilson built a porn cinema empire and a reputation as one of the most savvy and charismatic figures on the scene.

Valerie Kontakos, director of Queen of the Deuce. (Photo by Vangelis Patsialos)

With a cigarette in hand and bags of money stashed in the corner, Chelly regularly held court in her bunker-like apartment above the legendary 8th Avenue all-male Adonis Theatre, summoning a lively cabal of associates, entertainers and fellow poker players, with her female lovers always hovering and grandchildren often underfoot.

Queen of the Deuce reveals Chelly’s origins as a taboo-breaking entrepreneur and traces the fraught events that lead to her departure from Europe on the eve of war, and the unconventional trajectories of her American business ventures and personal life. With the rise of feminism, the sexual revolution and gay pride in frame, the film is an alternate take on cultural history as seen through Chelly Wilson’s empowering story of survival.

Adonis Theatre marquee from Queen of the Deuce directed by Valerie Kontakos. (Photo: Courtesy of the Wilson Family)

Bucking her conservative Jewish upbringing in Thessaloniki, Chelly divorced her husband and then abandoned her children with trusted guardians in Greece before sailing to New York at the outbreak of World War II. In time, she gained a financial foothold, married a movie projectionist and had two more children who didn’t know they had half-siblings until Chelly traveled back to fetch them.

If the loss of her entire Jewish community in Greece during the Holocaust is the heartbreak of her story, then putting her own family back together is its heart.

The film will also be screened on Saturday, November 12, 4:45 PM, at Cinépolis Chelsea, 260 West 23rd Street at 8th Avenue, and will be available on the festival’s streaming platform.

Tickets and additional information are available online: https://www.docnyc.net/film/queen-of-the-deuce/.

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