Today is the day for the big Heklina tribute/memorial/celebration of life that is more than likely to look and sound like a combination funeral, posthumous roast and big, chaotic drag revue. The Castro celebration will be kicking off outdoors at 6 p.m., and organizers are seeking more donations to cover costs.
As SFist reported last month, the event, officially dubbed "Heklina: A Memorial (She Would Have Hated This)," is happening inside the Castro Theatre starting at 8 p.m., with the free tickets long-since claimed — but you may still be able to find a friend who has an extra. There are some 400 invited guests, speakers, and performers taking part, no doubt including some backup dancers in drag numbers that have been resurrected or retooled in Heklina's honor.
The show will be simulcast on screens outside the Castro, but there will also be an outdoor stage hosted by Dulce de Leche and LOL McFiercen, with tribute performances from 6 to 8 p.m. And the Castro Theatre memorial will be streamed live on Oasis TV and will later be available on demand.
Only one block of Castro Street is closed down, between 18th Street and Market/17th, starting at noon today. But contrary to KRON4's report here, the performances and celebration do not begin until the evening hours — only the setup is beginning when the street closure starts at noon.
HeadsUp: The @Heklina Memorial will require street closures & #SFMuni reroutes in the Castro on Tuesday, 5/23. Castro Street between 18th & Market will be closed from 12pm – 12am. The 24 & 35 will reroute around the area. Transit advisory webpage to follow. pic.twitter.com/fROP3iKlx6— SFMTA (@SFMTA_Muni) May 21, 2023
The event will cause the 24 and 35 Muni busses to be rerouted between noon and midnight.
Organizer and longtime friend Nancy French, who is also the executor of Heklina's estate, posted to Facebook this week that "The bill has just come in [for the event] and it is a lot more than we anticipated."
In addition to having to compensate the city for bus disruptions and police, for which there was already a crowdfunding campaign last month, there have been a number of unforeseen costs, French says.
"Yes, there have been a lot of donations, however things like outdoor toilets, load-in, load-out & construction of the outdoor stage, screens, light, sound, street barricades, cables, trucks, and ALL the specialized labor still need to be paid and frankly were more costly than we thought," French writes.
They are seeking about $20 each from the estimated number of attendees indoors and out, and a GoFundMe has already raised nearly $40,000 of a $52,000 goal.
Friend and longtime collaborator Peaches Christ will be hosting the event, which caps off an extremely emotional eight weeks since Peaches found Heklina dead on April 3 in the London flat they were sharing ahead of a run of their drag send-up "Mommie Queerest."
As Peaches told 48 Hills, "It’s the most traumatic thing I’ve ever experienced... I’m having lots of nightmares, and it’s hard not to think about it."
The cause of death remains to be determined by a London medical examiner, after which there are plans for cremation.
"People still have questions. I have questions," Peaches said. "When we say that we don’t know the cause of death, that is true. So when the toxicology report comes back or when they finish the autopsy and everything, I think they will say."