"It was complete sexual anarchy. You couldn't tell the men from the women. It was really new at the time, and it still would be new."
-- John Waters, San Francisco Chronicle, 2002
It can be said that we San Franciscans inherited our gender-bending theatricality from The Cockettes, the flamboyant ensemble of late-'60's SF hippies -- gay, straight, and undecided -- who performed in glittery drag of all sorts in a series of legendary, over-the-top midnight musicals at the Palace Theater in North Beach. Founded by Hibiscus (real name, George Harris, Jr.) in 1969, the troupe enacted their own outrageous counter-culture parodies of show tunes (and some originals) and gained an underground cult following that eventually led to mainstream exposure. With titles like Gone With the Showboat to Oklahoma, Hell's Harlots, and Pearls over Shanghai, these extravaganzas featured elaborate costumes, rebellious sexuality, and exuberant chaos. They were soon pinned as the cutting edge of Freak Theatre and appeared in Rolling Stone, Paris Match, and Playboy. The group disbanded in 1972, after attempting a tour to New York.
Fayette Hauser(pictured below) performed with The Cockettes, and was the costumer and set designer for many of their shows. She also took breathtaking photos of her fellow performers, capturing a magical moment in theater culture, counter culture, and gender identity in San Francisco's history.
Her photos will be on exhibit at the Canessa Gallery in San Francisco from March 1st to March 30th.
Break out the glitter and pay homage to our freaky roots.
Children of Paradise: Life with The Cockettes
Photographs by Fayette Hauser
San Francisco 1969-71
March 1-30, 2012
Opening Reception: Friday March 2nd, 5-10pm
Cockette Film Night: Saturday March 17th, 7-10pm
Closing Party: March 30th, 7 -10pm
708 Montgomery St. @ Washington, SF