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Monday, July 13, 2009

Bearded Hippie Drag Queens: The Rise and Fall of the Cockettes

Douglas Cruikshank writes:

Aug 23, 2000 | It began almost by accident, as a lark dreamed up by a man named Hibiscus. From 1969 to 1972, the Cockettes -- an outrageous theatrical troupe comprising gay men, women and babies -- used their LSD-infused exuberance, imaginations and a gift for dressing to the nines in thrift-store drag and glitter to illuminate a series of funny, flamboyant and utterly unprecedented midnight musicals performed at a run-down San Francisco movie theater.

The live shows, with names like "Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma," "Pearls over Shanghai" and "Journey to the Center of Uranus," were chaotic and witty costume extravaganzas featuring singing, dancing and in-your-face sexuality. As the Cockettes' legend grew, they attracted fans such as Truman Capote ("The Cockettes are where it's at!") and Rex Reed who, in his nationally syndicated column, called the performances "a landmark in the history of new, liberated theater."

Inevitably, the Cockettes became media favorites, showing up everywhere from Rolling Stone to Paris Match. They made a film, "Tricia's Wedding," a transvestite send-up of then-President Nixon's daughter's nuptials, and appeared in other films --"Elevator Girls in Bondage" and "Luminous Procuress." When they were invited to bring their stage shows to New York, the cream of the city's art and culture scene -- Oscar de la Renta, Diana Vreeland, Robert Rauschenberg, John Lennon, Gore Vidal and Anthony Perkins -- partied with them and showed up in force for the opening night performance. And that was when the party ended.

link: The Cockettes: Rise and fall of the acid queens -


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