Split - William to Chrysis. Portrait of a Drag Queen

A cinematic tribute to transgender celebrity International Chrysis (1951-1990). Rejected by his parents, this effeminate Bronx boy was desperate to be more than just William, and so he created Chrysis. With bright red hair, a voluptuous bosom and disarming smile, she made a living as a sex worker and began conquering the stages of ever larger Manhattan nightclubs. She won Andy Warhol’s affection, became Salvador Dalí’s muse and matured into an international underground star of the 1980s with her charismatic performances. Consciously combining femininity and masculinity, Chrysis was a gay man who constantly redesigned himself as a woman, inspired by icons like Rita Hayworth and Mae West, but also by her own surreal fantasies. Driven by a formidable determination, she lived a life of extremes motivated by the constant search for perfect harmony. Archive footage of her performances, including her Berlin show with the legendary Hot Peaches, as well as interviews with fellow travellers who share their memories of her, reveal a multi-faceted personality who saw her identity as a perpetual cross-over. Chrysis died at the age of 39 as a result of the many medical interventions on her body.


  • Runtime

    58.0 min
  • Country

    United States
  • Year of Presentation

  • Year of Production

  • Director

    Ellen Fisher-Turk, Andrew Weeks
  • Cast

  • Production Company

  • Berlinale Section

  • Berlinale Category

Biography Ellen Fisher-Turk

Ellen Fisher-Turk has worked as a professional photographer, video maker and radio journalist. Her current interests are how to use image-both still and video- to shift how women see themselves. She employs these methods in workshops and individual photography sessions.
She's won awards in all three media, for the documentary SPLIT at the Berlin Film Festival and from the Caring Foundations Annual Photography competition.
In radio, she's broadcast nationally and won two Associated Press awards for investigative reporting.

Biography Andrew Weeks

After working in the music business, he entered the British film industry in the early 1970s and initially worked in the production of feature films and television series. He went on to produce, write and direct a variety of documentaries, informational and promotional films. In the 1990s, he combined making ethnographic documentaries with advising film distribution companies. In the 2000s, he focused on documenting Maya culture in the highlands of today’s Guatemala. He is currently working on non-film-related projects.