A beloved drag queen has died, and all too soon. Cookie Dough, a.k.a. Eddie Bell, succumbed to complications from meningitis at Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco Thursday night. She was 52.
After falling unconscious in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico last week and being medevac'ed back to SF this week, Cookie's condition remained catastrophic, and physicians at Kaiser were unable to help.
An outpouring of mourning that began last night continues on Facebook, where close friend and collaborator Heklina wrote this:
Farewell my sweet Cookie Dough. You were the truest, best friend I ever had. I was so blessed to have you in my life, hearts like yours are one in a million. You made me a better person. I love you.
Cookie Dough emerged as a drag persona about 15 years ago, and she was featured in the 2005 documentary Blood, Sweat & Glitter, which followed four drag queens as they prepared to compete in the 2004 Miss Trannyshack contest.
She went on to launch the successful, semi-annual drag re-enactments of The Golden Girls with pal Heklina, and she went to Puerto Vallarta with a group of other queens in order to do a series of performances there, playing the part of Sophia Petrillo. And since 2005 she's been hosting her own drag show, The Monster Show, first at Harvey's and more recently on Thursdays at The Edge, in the Castro.
As former Guardian publisher Marke Bieschke writes on 48 Hills, "I’ve known Ed (Bell, Cookie’s boy name) since we hung out at Josie’s Cabaret and Juice Joint in the Castro in the mid-’90s. From the booth, Ed trained lights of some of SF’s most legendary performers. I watched Cookie Dough emerge from Ed’s desire to be the one onstage making everyone laugh." He adds, "I can say without a doubt that in terms of big time drag personalities, he’s been the sweetest and purest person I’ve encountered. Cookie’s goofy, off-kilter humor and explosive smile came from a genuine place."
Hoodline adds the following: "As Cookie Dough, Bell had a passion for horror themes which were reflected in his work. Bell, in partnership with his filmmaking and DJ husband [Michael] Chu, was star of a series of short films that showed at film festivals around the country including Creep, Deconstructing Love, Evil Deeds, and Call Me Daddy."
Below, a video interview with Stu Smith, Heklina, and Cookie (dressed as Sophia from The Golden Girls) from 2011.
And here's an interview snippet that the Guardian recorded several years ago.
In addition to appearing many, many times on drag stages at Castro Street Fair, Trannyshack, and elsewhere, and being named Best Drag Queen by the SFBG in 2009, she also was elected Grand Duchess by the local Grand Ducal Council in 2010.
Writing in the third person, Cookie Dough concluded a bio on her website by saying, "Cookie plans to remain on the stage for a long time to come."