As news ripples out through the local and national drag community about the loss of San Francisco legend Heklina, many are processing the shocking news and mourning on social media.
We learned Monday afternoon that Heklina, while on tour with friend and collaborator Peaches Christ in London, unexpectedly passed away. The pair had just arrived in London several days ago, with a two-week engagement set to start on April 12 for their show Mommie Queerest, a drag sendup of the 1981 cult-classic movie about Joan Crawford Mommie Dearest, at the Soho Theatre.
The pair originally performed the show in San Francisco, with Heklina as daughter "Hek-tina" and Peaches in the Joan Crawford role, over seven years ago. They had performed it prior to the pandemic in Reykjavik, Iceland — where Heklina, a.k.a. Stefan Grygelko, was from — and last year took it to Palm Springs and Seattle.
Here's a promo video below, from 2016, when they brought the show to Oasis:
The outpourings of grief and memories of her cackles are likely to continue for a while, but many local drag queens have already posted thoughts of mourning and respect. Raya Light, who was a fixture on stage during the days of Trannyshack and Mother, wrote on Facebook, "Without Heklina I don't exist, and I know I stand at the back of a very very very long line of queens who can say the same thing."
Justin Vivian Bond writes, "I thought she was death resistant... I can't get my head around it."
Former business partner and longtime collaborator D'Arcy Drollinger, the owner of Oasis, writes, "I am completely devastated by Heklina’s passing." She noted that Oasis would be opening at 4 p.m. today, for those who may "need community."
Some other remembrances, including a vintage photo of Heklina and Juanita More! in the 90s, below:
Top image: Photo by Liam Mayclem