‘Queenmaker: The Making Of An It Girl’ (2023) Explained: Who Was The Founder Of Park Avenue Peerage?

What we expected would be a Hulu documentary that would help us understand the great workings of New York socialites and the “Gossip Girls” of high society actually turned out to be an incredibly insightful tale about one particular outsider who lost their way after showing great promise in the world of money, power, and image. Not everybody can be an “It Girl,” but more importantly, not everybody can change “It Girl” culture in the blink of an eye. With the revival of the 2000s in fashion and all things style, it was only time for a documentary like Queenmaker: The Making Of An It Girl to grace our screens. It has the perfect blend of the glamor of those years and the reality of today! If you haven’t seen the film yet, we’d recommend walking into it blind and seeing for yourself where Drucker takes you.

Spoilers Ahead

Plot Summary: What Happens In The Documentary?

The docu-movie begins with words from esteemed publicists, photographers, and other important people of the peak socialite moment describing the Manhattan lifestyle back in the day. From the Gilded Age to the Hilton Age, we quickly skim through the history of socialite life before it crashed drastically in the late 2010s. From when being in the public eye was considered detestable to when celebrities began to be worshipped because of their economic power and idol image, Quickly, it is made clear that all of these “It Girls” of the 2000s were heavily curated and their images constructed by the many publicists of the time, who were the most powerful hands of them all. Publicists had the golden spoon, and they took a helping of anything from anyone who had the money and resources to make them bigger than they already were. Among the many names that were making the rounds at the time, the most popular was Tinsley Mortimer. Although the Hiltons made “It Girl” culture the thing that it was, Tinsley was an outsider whose smile and perfect blonde curls lit up the New York rooms through her Southern charm. She climbed the ladder fast and hard, but she also fell just as hard many years later, as we see later in the film. We hear Tinsley talk through the film, and while initially, it looks like it’s her story we’re exploring, it soon comes to our attention that she is the stepping stone to the real deal, the “queenmaker,” James Kurisunkal.

Park Avenue Peerage: The Rise Of The Blogger And The End Of Socialites

Blogs became a big thing seemingly out of nowhere, and the internet blew up fast with no laws to protect people from  fake gossip and anonymous comments. Two very popular blogs were “Socialite Rank” and “Gawker,” which carelessly pitted socialites against each other and tore them apart with no filters. While on the outside, it seemed these women had a frivolous lifestyle, some of these women were also doing good work, which was being completely sidelined by these blogs and making them appear as wasted and unhinged as possible. Out of the blue, a blog named “Park Avenue Peerage” came out, and instead of insulting these socialities, it only wrote good things about them. Quickly, the New York Times was able to find out who the blogger was and show the world the outsider who wrote the most popular blog of the time. James Kurisunkal was a gay-brown teenager from Chicago whose parents had no idea what he was up to. James’ life quickly went on a rollercoaster ride from his dream world of wanting to be a socialite in New York to actually living it through a job at the New York Times. James was quick to find his way into Tinsley’s life as her biggest fan. She was the one he always wrote the best blogs about. James became so well known that even Gawker’s editor, Emily, began to write about him. We now know that these bloggers were all really young and naive, but at the time, they felt like they were moving the world and loved what they were doing. James had a great imagination and really thought he became a New York socialite in the little time he was there. His best friend at the time, who visited him, thought otherwise. Because of all the public attention, James, who was already insecure about his “fat” body, began to abuse drugs to lose weight and become a perfect socialite. He kept poor company and fell in love with a straight man who had no interest in him whatsoever. James even used up all his inheritance money, leaving his parents to file for bankruptcy and losing his only friend. This was when James began to realize there were always two people inside of him, and it was time to bring one out. He had already quit the New York Times, and now he said goodbye to his precious blog that he had worked so hard to build, announcing to the world that he was depressed.

Transforming From James To Morgan

James’ new life began as he had transformation surgery, and she began to call herself Morgan Olivia Rose. Morgan went from being an almost socialite to a trans call girl (as she states herself in the documentary). She had to face a lot of hardship after losing everything, but her spirit did not dwindle. Morgan found herself free and accepting of her flaws as a woman, and she learned from her mistakes as a young boy back in the day. After shutting down her blog, Tinsley, who had become a supposed friend, lost touch with her because she had no use for the brown boy with a shutdown blog. Morgan had kept Tinsley in the spotlight, but she forgot about her in a second, and soon all the negativity that surrounded her took over, including an abusive relationship and an accusation of trespassing that was her ultimate downfall. Okay, maybe it wasn’t ultimate, considering she’s still at it, but the drama is what this “High Society” star’s life has been.

Did Morgan Meet Tinsley Again After All Those Years?

Soon after, the socialite life was completely forgotten with the onset of a new era and a new celebrity culture, starting with the social media craze. Many of these “it girls” were “wild child” material, and their overuse of drugs and their partying lifestyle took a toll on them. Cool girl Casey Johnson was the heiress of the Johnson & Johnson empire and was the biggest casualty of this situation as she died in bed at 30 from overdose. This shook the socialite world at the time, and things began to change. Tinsley continued to be philanthropic outside the limelight and got back to her rich and perfect lifestyle soon enough. Her goal now is to be a “real” housewife, ironically after her appearance on the show “Real Housewives of New York.” 

It is 2019, by the end of the film, and director Zackary Drucker finally reveals to Tinsley about Morgan’s transition. She is thrilled for Morgan and can’t contain her joy, calling her gorgeous and hoping to send her some of her lashes. On a call, Morgan seems rather removed from the conversation while being invited by Tinsley to a special event. Tinsley is eager to rekindle her “friendship” with the young blogger that once brought her fame, but Morgan doesn’t quite feel the same way. In the end, she realizes that she doesn’t have anything in common with the socialities, and although she puts on the dress and gets in the cab, she decides to go back home instead of stepping into the party or even talking to Tinsley. Morgan has been through a lot, and she’s finally found a good life for herself. Through Drucker’s lens, we are able to see how the era has shaped much of our lifestyle today. Morgan was an outsider, and it was very clear from the start that she would never be accepted. They say you shouldn’t meet your idols, and for Morgan, that statement might mean a glass half full or half empty. If she hadn’t moved to New York, maybe she’d still be living a depressed life with her family or worse, but on the other hand, she wouldn’t have lived the nasty truth of an outsider and maybe found a different path to her freedom.

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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