‘Las Reinas de los Cuentos’ celebrates magic of storytelling through art of drag


K.C. Alfred

Barbie Q, left, and Raquelita, right, sing the song “Baby Shark” during Drag Queen Story Time at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library on Sept. 10, 2019.

Anasazi Ochoa, Staff Writer

The San Diego Mesa College Humanities Institute hosted a screening of the short film “Las Reinas de los Cuentos,” otherwise known as “The Queens of the Stories,” on April 15 during the school’s Cultural Unity Week.

Directed by one of Mesa’s own, biology professor Paul Detwiler, “Las Reinas de los Cuentos” is a 13-minute documentary profiling two local Latinx drag queens. The film follows Barbie Q and Raquelita as they lead children’s story-hour events in public libraries across the South Bay area. According to the film’s description the queens “are on a mission to educate and empower children through the magic of storytelling.”

The documentary serves to not only challenge the gender roles too often placed on children at a young age, but also to normalize drag as a form or artistic expression and to provide images of queer heroes for those who seek them.

“I think it’s important to share my story because often times I don’t hear or see stories about queer Latinxs,” Raquelita said of their role in the film. “The story that Barbie Q and I shared is important because it means that other kids could see it and learn that it’s okay to be unique and different.”

“DQST (Drag Queen Story Time) for Barbie Q represents the opportunity to be that role model and symbol of hope for LGBT+ youth that I wish I had growing up,” Barbie Q added.

Out of drag, Francisco (Barbie Q) and Xaime (Raquelita) remain committed to being positive role models for children as they celebrate the art of drag through song, dance and storytime wonder — maybe even adding in some fun bubbles for good measure. Despite initially being met with protests by anti-LGBTQ+ groups, they have since received praise and amassed a following of attendees to their story-time events. With shutdowns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have transitioned to virtual events but hope to resume in-person storytime in the near future.

“Every film project is unique with a new set of elements and challenges,” said Detwiler of the production process. “For this project, I worked with Yoon Su Lee, a Los Angeles artist who created a charming animated sequence evoking an imaginative world of story-time. Working with an animator was a new experience, and I was really happy with how it turned out.”

On working with the two queens, director Detwiler said, “It was great talking to these guys and seeing how committed they are to social justice and community activism, and how they use their art to lift up others and support organizations with those causes. Sometimes that’s an aspect of drag queenery that often goes unnoticed by the general public, so I’m glad we could show it in the film.”

The documentary is composed of both live-action and animation sequences, delicately intertwined in a way to emphasize the film’s purest message: drag is magic.

“I hope the film will cause some people to re-examine any negative preconceptions of drag queens and challenge them to develop a more relaxed attitude towards gender and gender presentation,” Detwiler added.

“Las Reinas de Los Cuentos” is an official featured selection in the Frontera Filmmakers Documentary Shorts program of the 2021 San Diego Latino Film Festival. Those interested in joining future storytime events by Raquelita and Barbie Q can stay up-to-date on the film’s official Facebook page or “follow the dolls” on their Instagram accounts, @racquel_ita_x and @duhbarbieq.