The Scandalous History of The Cockettes in Pictures
THE COCKETTES PHOTO BOOK PROJECT
The Cockettes story:
The Cockettes Photo Book will be a 208 page book, published by Feral House Press, that will be an abundant collection of the best photos from over a dozen photographers spanning the entire arch of the group's career, along with essays by contributing artists, anecdotes of our escapades, profiles of the members, flyer and poster art and choice media quotes from the era. The book will come in two versions.
The first will be a First Edition Hardcover Book. First Edition printing will be limited to 1500 copies so it's an instant collector's item.
"If Bertolt Brecht had slipped in through a side door one Saturday night, he too might have been pleased." Advocate 1977
"Remarkably un-self-conscious and California innocent, the Cockettes are committed to trucking their fantasies from the street to the stage. The performance is continuous. Their usual style being stoned-out Busby Berkeley emerging from Khubla Khan's tent." Village Voice 1971
STAIRWAY TO PARADISE
I came to San Francisco in the fall of 1968 with my camera in hand. After my initial reincarnation through psychedelics, I, along with my commune of artists, founded our group The Cockettes. Our Shaman was the great Hibiscus.
We ascribed to The Diggers Philosophy of Free, therefore we shared everything, especially our ideas. Nothing was sacred and we aimed to dissolve all sexual and societal boundaries, along with the theatrical fourth wall.
Our common ground was the desire to reveal our inner fantasy life on our bodies, to live as we dreamed and to put it all onto the stage.
From the moment we flung ourselves onto the stage, our lives became entirely about our shows. We performed from New Year's Eve 1969 until the Spring of 1972, primarily at the Palace theatre in North Beach but we also did street performances and other venues as well.
After Herb Caen put us in his column in the San Francisco Chronicle, we became the Talk of the Town and the theater was always packed for our shows which we did once a month.
Soon we were featured in all the underground rags as well as Rolling Stone. There is a tremendous wealth of photography from photo journalists to fashion photographers and artists of the underground, including my work as well.
The challenge will be in the editing as I want to include as many fabulous images as possible.
The book will be published by the fantastic and radical Feral House Press.
With your help, I will be able to publish a gorgeous book
This book project is an important part of the history of American Culture as The Cockettes could not have happened in any other social climate than in the democracy of the great USA.
The era in which we grew was one of complete personal freedom which I now feel is at risk. There needs to be evidence of that different time, to be reminded of what we are all capable of; individuality, equality in race and gender, authenticity in artistic expression and the ability to be experimental without caring what others may think.
Our group consciousness was very powerful and produced a lasting contribution to Pop Culture. We came from a place of Communal Love and Support. Future generations need to see the trajectory of this American aesthetic, from the Beats to the Punks and The Cockettes are a vital link within that strong chain.
The Cockettes live shows were wild and filled with the intense creative energy that pervaded San Francisco in 1969-1970. We wanted to crash through the barriers of conventional theater and produce the kind of sheer Magic that had never been seen before. We were experimental in every way, every show was different. We challenged each other to be as far out as possible both on and off the stage. We lived at the end of our imaginations every day and put it all onto the stage.
The Cockettes at The Walker Art Center! Hippie Modernism; The Struggle For Utopia
So thrilled and proud to have our theatre troupe The Cockettes included in this magnificent show.
I spent an incredible week at the Walker Art Center, attending opening weekend and culminating in my Cockettes Evening, talk and slide show!
AND a radio interview that I did for City Pages, Minneapolis, MN.
Here is a blog done by the Walker about my Cockettes Night.
I am also proud to have my Cosmic Gypsy outfit included in the Bellevue Arts Museum exhibition:
Counter Couture: Fashioning Identity in the American Counter-Culture.
Along with Scrumbly's infamous Doily Suit from Native Funk & Flash
Back in Seattle for the Seattle International Film Festival showing of The Cockettes 2002 cult classic documentary, concluding with a lively discussion about the era with Michael Cepress, curator of Counter Couture: Fashioning Identity in the American Counter Culture. My Cockettes ensemble is featured in the Performance section of the exhibition!
With the curator of Counter Couture, Michael Cepress
AND Hibiscus' Magical Scrapbook, our original source of inspiration for the early Cockette shows.
To see the complete show, view here:
Have you seen the beautiful poster reproduction of the Cockette poster for Pearls Over Shanghai, by Pristine Condition? Offered as one of the perks in the campaign Package. Get yours now!!
Have you seen our 2002 documentary THE COCKETTES? You can screen it here: http://www.cockettes.com/
Some reviews of the film:
“The Cockettes” is an engaging tribute to a theatrical troupe that was the sensation of the late 1960s and early 1970s hippie movement in San Francisco. They were, as John Waters describes them, “hippie acid freak drag queens,” and this sympathetic, straight-ahead look at “people who were allowed to live at the end of their imagination” is a charming and nostalgic revisiting of a lost corner of recent cultural history… This comprehensive and charming film not only recalls those days exactly, it also manages the wonderful trick of taking us back there along with it. –Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times
A flamboyant piece of hippie history gets its due in Bill Weber and David Weissman’s loving look at the San Francisco drugs-and-drag theatre troupe. The filmmakers capture the spirit of life in a late-sixties commune as well as the Cockettes’ hallucinogenic romps—performances foisted on audiences who were in the mood for wigged-out frivolity. With its archival footage and hilariously frank interviews, the movie makes for a ragtag portrait of a cultural moment when free expression reigned supreme. — Bruce Diones, The New Yorker
A fascinatingly detailed snapshot of the flamboyant outer reaches of countercultural San Francisco in the hippie years and an emotional celebration of diversity, liberation, sexual anarchy and fabulousness, “The Cockettes” joyously re-creates the brief but resplendent reign of the legendary freakadelic drag troupe… . The climate of all-embracing acceptance, blurred sexual lines, joyful transgression, rebellion and freedom comes through with warmth, humor and nostalgia. — David Rooney, Daily Variety
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