One of San Francisco's most seasoned, bawdiest, and hardest working drag queens, Oasis owner D'Arcy Drollinger, has been named the city's first Drag Laureate.
Mayor London Breed announced the creation of a Drag Laureate position during Pride season last year, saying that the city would seek out a drag queen who could represent the LGBTQ+ community and help preserve the city's rich drag history. Following an application process that launched in the fall, a laureate has now been named — and she even did some rounds on local TV early Thursday morning and got quoted by the Associated Press. We give you, San Francisco Drag Laureate D'Arcy Drollinger.
SF has beaten West Hollywood to the punch in naming the nation's first drag laureate, and the announcement comes amid a bizarrely tense moment for drag on the national stage.
"Anti-trans legislation is roiling the nation. Bills prohibiting drag performances are cropping up in statehouses. Violence and vitriol are turning children’s drag story hour events into headline-news protests," writes the AP. "San Francisco is fighting back Thursday by naming the nation’s first drag laureate, an ambassador-style position designed to represent the city’s famous LGBTQ+ community at a time when rights are under attack."
As Drollinger tells ABC 7, "It's amazing. I feel so honored to get to be the first." And she adds, regarding the role itself, "It felt a little like it was tailor-made for me... it really did track with what I've been doing for the past 10 years in San Francisco."
Drollinger will now take on the 18-month honorary position, which comes with a $55,000 stipend, on the eve of Pride Month, and it will surely come with some public appearances. The city's first Drag Laureate is charged with making sure that SF drag culture is "shared, honored and preserved," and “embody[ing] San Francisco’s historic, diverse and inclusive drag culture, elevating the entire community on the national and international stage."
With a likely reference to the recent sudden death of former business and stage partner Heklina and the spontaneous memorial gathering at Oasis that day, Mayor London Breed said in a statement, "Whether it’s through a tragedy or to celebrate an occasion, [D'Arcy has] really has been a leader in this community and supporter of so many others."
Mayor Breed will be formally introducing Drollinger as Drag Laureate at an event Thursday afternoon at the LGBT Community Center.
As the Bay Area Reporter reports, 16 drag queens applied for the position, and Drollinger was one of five recommended by the mayor to a selection committee.
Drollinger has owned and operated Oasis since 2015, putting on some of her signature stage shows there including the over-the-top, '70s B-movie send-up "Shit and Champagne." She has also played Rose Nylund in multiple iterations of the holiday-time Golden Girls Live shows, alongside Heklina as Dorothy.
During the height of the pandemic, Drollinger put San Francisco drag in the national spotlight on CNN and elsewhere with Oasis's drag delivery service — in which drag queens would deliver dinner and a sidewalk drag show to people's homes. And in trying to keep her club, Oasis, alive after many months of being shut down, Drollinger launched a last-ditch, all-day telethon in March 2021, bringing together much of the city's drag talent, which ended up raising $270,000.
"My goals are to make San Francisco sparkle," Drollinger tells the AP. "I think drag performers bring a lot of sparkle and humor and glamor and silliness to the world. I think that is part of why drag is so successful."
Drollinger adds, "There’s a lot of power for the drag community in San Francisco. I feel very honored to be able to take that one more step."
Given all the hatred that's been spewed on social media recently toward drag queens — and the L.A. Dodgers decision this week to rescind an invitation to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to their annual Pride Night at Dodgers Stadium, under pressure from conservatives — Drollinger is understandably a bit nervous to be in such a public role.
"I know that there are a lot of anti-drag folks out there, and they are very loud, right? But I also don’t want to live my life under the shadow of fear. I don’t want to have intimidation stop me from growing,” she tells the AP. “So, yes, I am a little nervous. But I got a lot of fabulous people and fabulousness behind me."
And, she adds, “I’m going to be in drag pretty much 24/7 for the next 18 months.”
Top photo by Rachel Ziegler via Facebook