SF’s legendary heart-'throbs' the Cockettes will get it up again for Cockettes: Res-Erection, a “musical mayhem revue” featuring a touch of the original troupe and a fresh generation of cast members.
Back in early 1970s San Francisco, before there was Peaches Christ’s Midnight Mass or midnight screenings of Rocky Horror Picture Show, the midnight show to see or be seen at was at the old Palace Theatre in North Beach, where a psychedelic performance troupe known as the Cockettes would put on acid-fueled shows with titles like Journey to the Center of Uranus and Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma. Founded in a Haight-Ashbury flophouse in 1969, the Cockettes popularized the “glitter beard” look, once counted disco star Sylvester as a member, and even made a movie with Divine. The Cockettes officially disbanded in 1972, but continue to have an outsize artistic legacy.
Now, a new, rebooted version of the Cockettes will stand tall this weekend, as Cockettes: Res-Erection plays Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at the Oasis.
“The Cockettes appeared shortly after Stonewall and at the beginning of the famous hedonistic period of the early 70s,” original Cockette Scrumbly Koldewyn tells SFist. “We celebrated our new-found freedom by expressing wildly and without any shame. Sexual and artistic freedom in abundance. We inspired other artists from David Bowie, the Kinks, budding gender-benders all across the world. We challenged the standard theatrical norm by injecting anarchy and shock-value into our productions… along with tons of glitter.”
As Cockettes: Res-Erection producer Dan “DJ Dank” Karkosa explains, “The group was only together for three years, but their influences can still be seen today on drag stages. In the early 2000s, a documentary titled The Cockettes came out about them and influenced a whole new generation. You will see the newest version up on that stage at Oasis this weekend.” (The trailer for that 2002 documentary The Cockettes is seen above.)
So why are we getting a new Cockettes show now, more than 50 years after their last performance? “Well, it’s spring, when sexual energy runs hot and thick in the air, a time of renewal and rebirth that extends to the Easter resurrection,” Koldewyn tells us. “We changed the title to fit the concept. And don’t forget in Greek ‘mythology’ Persephone has her own resurrection every year when she returns from Hades and her earth goddess mother causes everything to blossom and grow again.”
Cast member Birdie-Bob Watt (Thrillpeddlers) calls the show “A resurgence of the same revolutionary energy against the prudish proprieties in the establishment, a tilting at windmills, a taunting of sacred cows.”
Koldewyn says that Cockettes: Res-Erection features “new songs, including three written just for the show, along with some of our sexiest past ones, including ones not performed in years. And the usual lavish visuals. Loads of laughs, of course, but a couple of thoughtful songs to balance us out.”
“The audience can expect a night of familiar classic Cockettes numbers like ‘Crab On Uranus,’ ‘Midnight In Manhattan,’ and ‘Lonely Little Turd’ as well as Scrumbly's new ode to the Rites of Spring called ‘Res-Erection,’ according to Karkoska. “It will be a fun, raunchy ride with lots of great music which will replay in your mind for weeks after the show.”
And this res-erection will go on for much longer than after the third day. “After this show, the Cockettes are bound for New York City,” according to Karkoska. “They have been invited to perform at Joe's Pub, New York's premiere cabaret venue.”
“We will be spending the next few months rehearsing for the big show and fundraising. We will need to raise over $16,000 to get us there and back, so expect some bake sales, fundraising events and a GoFundMe campaign.”
Image: Dan Karkoska (L-R) Carl Linkhart, Matt Bratko, Sunshine, Scrumbly Koldewyn, Birdie Bob Watt, Kitten on the Keys, Steven Satyricon