Last week, The Stud bar on 9th and Harrison was emptied of its physical belongings — all the lamps and dusty mirrors and bits of art that adorned its walls for the last 30 years. And on Sunday, after the keys were handed back to the property owners who will likely demolish the building before long, a couple thousand fans and lovers of the bar gathered online to mourn, and watch some drag.
One of The Stud's main impresarios of recent years, VivvyAnne ForeverMore, presided over the drag funeral, which had been announced two weeks prior along with the closure of the bar. The Stud Collective has pledged to reopen to someday, in a new space that will be the third the bar has inhabited since its founding in 1966, but for now, and for this particular weathered watering hole, it's goodbye.
"Queerly beloved, we are gathered here today to mourn the death of a 54-year-old who was taken from us too soon," she began, kicking off what would be many hours of music, tomfoolery, and a few speeches. Top billing at the beginning of the ceremony, just after 6 p.m. on Sunday on the streaming platform Twitch, went to several of the bar's most notable "widows." "The Stud birthed so many DJs, parties, and drag performers, each of you leaving your gay fingerprints and lipstick smears on its many surfaces," Vivvy quipped in her heartfelt eulogy.
"The Widow Heklina" did not choose to perform a number, but dressed in black she spoke about starting out doing coat check and bar-backing at The Stud in the early 1990s, before ultimately getting to launch her club Trannyshack there in 1996. "[Today] is a celebration of a venue that really helped start my whole career," Heklina said. She said most nightclubs she found in her youth were not places she could relate to. "When I started working at The Stud, I was so thrilled to find a place that accepted me just as I was," she said.
Two Rupaul's Drag Race winners, Jinkx Monsoon and Alaska Thunderfuck, took part in the ceremony, each performing numbers (Jinkx opted for a moody Death Cab for Cutie cover, "I'll Follow You Into the Dark" changed to "I'll Follow You Into the Bars," while Alaska went with a stupidly funny werewolf bit).
"I never thought I’d live to see the day the Stud was closing," Jinkx said before her number, "because I’m an alcoholic and there was a strong possibility I’d be dead now."
In an introductory message you can see in the video above around the 1:21:00 mark, Stud Collective member Honey Mahogany connected the uprisings on the street with the opening of The Stud in 1966 — the same year that the Compton's Cafeteria Riot happened in San Francisco.
"In times like these, we queens fall back on traditions of taking to the streets, but also of channeling our pain through performance. Celebrating life even as we acknowledge the darkness that surrounds us, even as we continue to fight, even as we say goodbye," Mahogany said.
Other "widows" included Justin Vivian Bond, who sent a video from v's home in upstate New York; Juanita More!; and Glammamore, who sang an appropriate Cher ballad, "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me."
Those initial performances were followed by a choral performance of Cher's "Believe," and then a blessing by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.
The virtual funeral, which the Chronicle reports had around 2,000 viewers at one early point, went on for many hours after that, with other mourners having submitted videos that were played in succession with some commentary in between. And those were followed by DJ sets lasting into the wee hours of Monday.
The entire thing can be seen in three separate videos on the DragAlive channel on Twitch, and The Stud is continuing to accept donations — $10 suggested — on Venmo @StudSF.
As of two weeks ago, the Stud Collective launched