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.
With a cigarette in hand and bags of money stashed in the corner, Chelly regularly held court in her bunkerlike 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. Yet few in her circle knew of the risks she took to get there.
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, Queen of the Deuce is an alternate take on cultural history as seen through Chelly Wilson’s empowering story of survival.
Director: Valerie Kontakos
Writers: Valerie Kontakos, Despina Pavlaki
Co-writer: Christos Asteriou
Producers: Ed Barreveld, Valerie Kontakos, Despina Pavlaki
Produced by Exile Films, Storyline Entertainment
Executive Producers: Ed Barreveld, Valerie Kontakos, Don Walters, Bondi Wilson Walters
In co-production with ERT
In association with Channel 8, RTS Radio Télévision Suisse, documentary Channel
Supported by Canada Media Fund, Rogers Documentary Fund, Ontario Creates, with the support of the Greek Film Centre, Creative Europe Programme – MEDIA of the European Union, Jewish Story Partners, Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit, OMDC Film and Television Tax Credit
A native New Yorker, Valerie Kontakos has been living between Athens and New York since 2003. After graduating from New York University, she worked as a sound editor for the Maysles brothers, Deborah Dickson, Anita Thacher and others. In 1989 she directed her first feature documentary A Quality of Light. In 1994 she became the deputy director of the Hellenic Foundation in NYC, where she started the NYC Greek Film Festival and curated a monthly program for the American Museum of the Moving Image. Her second feature, Who’s on First? (2006), aired in the US, Greece, Finland and South Korea. Her third feature, Mana (2015), went viral during the 2018 wildfires in Greece, helping the nuns featured in the film rebuild their orphanage. She founded the production company Exile Films in Athens in 2007 and has been operating the non-profit Exile Room, focusing on social outreach through documentary, since 2009. She has been on the Board of Directors of the Greek Cinematheque for over a decade. Queen of the Deuce is her fourth feature.