Thrillpeddlers had been performing authentic Grand Guignol horror plays in San Francisco for nearly 20 years when its founder the acclaimed director Russell Blackwood was inspired to revive one of the musicals from the gender-bending troupe The Cockettes.
Little did he know it would ultimately lead to celebrating that group’s 50thAnniversary a decade later with “Cockettes Are Golden!” for one night only on January 4, 2020.
As reported earlier at HVY, The Cockettes were established on Dec 31, 1969 for a midnight show at the Pagoda Palace Theater in San Francisco in a haze of sex, drugs, drag, gender-bending and glitter. They took drag and old Hollywood musicals and turned them inside out and upside down attracting the attention of the American underground culture.
As word got out about these astonishing performances, cult filmmaker John Waters, his cast of actors such as Mink Stole, and drag superstar Divine all traveled to San Francisco to be part of their shows. They were ahead of their time especially in the acceptance of gender fluidity and outrageousness. With the creation of The Cockettes, a small troupe of drug-infused hippie performers changed the face of drag and counter-culture forever.
Recreating those unique midnight shows from the early 70s at the Pagoda Palace Theater in San Francisco’s North Beach took considerable effort. The Pagoda Theater is gone, torn down in 2013.
The surviving original members are now in their 70s. Yet the spirit of those counter-cultural days of the late 1960’s to early ‘70s live on in the reminiscence of the musicals Blackwood and his troupe of Thrillpeddlers had brought back to life on stage. What’s more, the 2002 documentary of “The Cockettes” by David Weissman and Bill Weber was rekindling interest and reached out to a new generation of fans.
From the success of that one musical, Pearls Over Shanghai, first performed at Thrillpeddlers SOMA theatre venue The Hypnodrome in 2009, Blackwood was able to expand. That musical was so well-received that it continued performing its initial run for almost two years. The company’s revivals of other Cockettes musicals were soon to follow.
Blackwood notes to those interested in attending. “Prepare for a night like no other as some of the remaining Cockettes take to the stage to reminisce and celebrate the night as we re-enact some of legendary numbers for them – replete with guest performers, over-the-top make up, hair styles and costumes with plenty of surprises.”
‘The Cockettes’ documentary filmmakers David Weissman and Bill Weber will be in attendance on Jan 4. to screen a short film of about five minutes culled from the award-winning 2002 documentary’s interview outtakes.
In addition, there will be a rare screening of highlights from the Syd Dutton and Scott Runyon filmPalace (15 mins.), which is the only film made of a live performance by The Cockettes of their show Les Ghouls shot Halloween night in 1970 at the Palace Theatre in North Beach, CA. Palacewill be screened with live commentary by Cockette cast members “Sweet Pam” Tent and Fayette Hauser.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence will be “Sainting” members of the original Cockettes in attendance, including: “Sweet Pam” Tent, Fayette Hauser, Billy Bowers, Harlo, Jilala, Ocean Michael Moon, Scottie Tissue and Tahara. Representatives from the California State Legislature and San Francisco Board of Supervisors are scheduled to be honoring The Cockettes that evening of Jan 4 as well.
Performers scheduled to appear include: (in alphabetical order)
Andy Arcade, Bambi Lake, Birdie-Bob Watt, Bruxa, Carl Linkhart, Dee Nathaniel, Diego Gomez, Diogo Zavadzki, D’Arcy Drollinger, Doff the Patriarch, Earl Paus, Eric Tyson Wertz, Jason Wade, Jef Valentine, Katya Smirinoff-Skyy, Kim Larsen, L Ron Hubby, Leigh Crow, Lisa Sheppard Appleyard, Llano-River Blue, Kegel Kater, Michael Phillis, Miss X, Noah Haydon, Ruby Vixen, Russell Blackwood, Miss Sheldra, Steven Satyricon, Sunshine, Suzanne Ramsey, Timmy Spence. The Band includes: Peter Fogel (on guitar), Tim Purdue (bass), David Walker (drums) and Scrumbly Koldewyn (piano).
Original Cockettes scheduled to appear include: Scrumbly Koldewyn,“Sweet Pam” Tent, Fayette Hauser, Billy Bowers, Harlo, Jilala, Ocean Michael Moon, Scottie Tissue.
COCKETTES ARE GOLDEN! will be performed on Sat., Jan. 4, 2020 -One Night Only! at 8:00 pm, at the Victoria Theatre – 2961 16th St., near the Mission St. BART station – in San Francisco’s Mission District. Tickets are $30.00 – $50.00 General admission Orchestra, Mezzanine and Balcony. They can be purchased online at Brown Paper Tickets web site.
For more information call Brown Paper Tickets at 800-838-3006 or DJD Production at 415-350-3295 during business hours.