The Lady of the Jewel Box

A film by Michelle Parkerson

1987 | 21 minutes | Color | 16mm/DVD | Order No. 99114


“It ain’t easy…being green” is the favorite expression of Storme DeLarverie, a woman whose life flouted prescriptions of gender and race. During the 1950’s and 60’s she toured the black theater circuit as a mistress of ceremonies and the sole male impersonator of the legendary Jewel Box Revue, America’s first integrated female impersonation show and forerunner of La Cage aux Folles. The multiracial revue was a favorite act of the Black theater circuit and attracted mixed mainstream audiences from the 1940s through the 1960s, a time marked by the violence of segregation. Parkerson finds Storme in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, now working as a bodyguard at a women’s bar and still singing in her deep silky voice with an “all girl” band. Through archival clips from the past, STORME looks back on the grandeur of the Jewel Box Revue and its celebration of pure entertainment in the face of homophobia and segregation. Storme herself emerges as a remarkable woman, who came up during hard times but always “kept a touch of class.”


"Pays homage to this exceptional woman while disclosing the illusions inherent in notions of gender."

Martha Gever


  • Berlin Film Festival
  • Maysles Cinema
  • London, NY, SF, LA and Chicago Lesbian and Gay Film Festivals
  • Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta


Michelle Parkerson

Michelle Parkerson is an award-winning independent film/video maker based in Washington, DC. Her work has been shown widely in festivals and on public television including the documentaries "A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde", "But Then, She's Betty Carter" and "Gotta Make This Journey: Sweet Honey in the Rock". Ms. Parkerson has received grants from the Independent Television Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the American Film Institute as well as a fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation. Her work has premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and "Gotta Make this Journey: Sweet Honey in the Rock" was nominated for a Local Emmy in the category of Public Affairs Documentary. She was awarded the Prix du Public at the Festival International de Creteil Films de Femmes and the Audience and Best Biography Awards at the San Francisco International Film Festival.

Michelle Parkerson has served on the faculties of Northwestern University, the University of Delaware, Howard University and Temple University. She has also lectured at Yale University, the National Film Board of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art (NYC), the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Flaherty Film Seminar, Harvard University, and the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. She currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the DC Mayor's Office of LGBTQI Affairs. (7/19)


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