Gilbert Speaks on “Queen of the Deuce”

Thanks to Storyline Entertainment and Hot Docs I was able to review Queen of the Deuce, a fascinating documentary about the famous Matriarch of Porn, Chelly Wilson. Yes, I know the film covers her involvement in the porn industry, but Chelly was much more than that. She was a survivor who helped Greece fight the Nazis. So, who was Chelly, and why did I am delighted to review the film?

Queen of the Deuce

Queen of the Deuce is directed by Valerie Kontakos and the cast includes family and people who were friends of Chelly. The film is a tribute to a woman who was way ahead of her time as both an entrepreneur and shrewd businesswoman. But first, we need to travel back in this documentary to Thessaloniki, Greece where Chelly, whose real name is Rachel Serrero, was raised as a Sephardic Jew. Chelly, who wanted to be a doctor, was forced by her father into an arranged marriage. Chelly hated her husband, but they had two children, a son Dino, and a daughter, Paulette. When she finally divorced her husband, he took the boy with him.

When the war broke out in 1939, Chelly was forced to leave her daughter Paulette with a non-Jewish neighbour. She ordered the woman to only speak Greek to her daughter and to not let anyone take Paulette away until Chelly could return and get her. When Chelly arrived in New York, she had five dollars to her name. She obtained a cart and began selling hotdogs. When she had enough money, she rented a room above a porn theatre. Times Square at that time was called the Deuce because of all the adult theatres. Little by little, Chelly began to buy theatres to show Greek films and later, when Greek films were no longer bringing in money, she turned to porn. This is where she met her second husband, Rex Wilson, a Jewish projectionist. They had a daughter, Bondi. They mention four children, but I could only find info on three.

The money raised by Wilson from the Greek Films was used to support the Greek army and their anti-Nazi effort. She used newsreel footage that she got from Greece to produce Greece on the March to help with the war effort and to help Greek immigrants obtain legal status in the U.S. Luckily, Chelly was able to get both her son and daughter out of Greece and to the United States.


There is so much to learn about Chelly, and director Valerie Kontakos uses archival footage, video and audio interviews, and even animation to tell the amazing story of Chelly Wilson. Even though Chelly was married, she was openly gay, and supported the gay community. Among her friends were many actors and actresses that got their big break into show biz by doing porn.

Chelly and her friend Lee Pomeranz even begun their own film production company called Chellee Films. Eventually when you are in the porno business, you have to deal with the mafia, and she did so while holding her own power. After the ’70s, the porn theatres didn’t do well, and Chelly then opened a popular Greek Restaurant called Mykonos. She even had a pet pelican.

Chelly wasn’t a saint, but she made for one hell of an interesting sinner. This documentary is Valerie Kontakos’ loving memorial to a woman who was a friend to the family. Kontakos even worked at the Tivoli theatre selling tickets on the days that Greek films were featured on the marquee.  

Queen of the Deuce makes its broadcast debut in Canada on the Documentary Channel, Saturday June 24, at 9 pm ET/PT. 

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