Notes from the last ever Trannyshack at the Stud. Tuesday, August 12, 2008, midnight.
Trannyshack was a weekly drag show at the Stud Bar hosted by Heklina. Trannyshack is a brand. Trannyshack is a legend, an icon of trash drag performance art club ritual. Trannyshack is a postmodern feminist queer movement of disobedient gender tricksters, art dissidents, and addicts of all kinds. Trannyshack is fucked up, fabulously.
Heklina - Pat Benatar - “We are young We are strong” - 3 hookers defend themselves against a slimy pimp. She says, “That was my first Trannyshack number. It was Retro then! Layers of respectful homage, camp trash, and wannabe appropriation collide when street hooker simulacra takes the Tshack stage.
Juanita More! in black/brown face as Eryka Badu singing “Tyrone” - small joint, super fat joint (cigar size), massive joint... all toked and then passed thru audience in participatory ritual, spreading saliva and ganga through mutual contact, filling the room with smoke. Trash ritual at its best. Break the law, turn on, rock out.
Falsetta Knockers in medley of Donna Summmers’ Love to love ya baby - smoking a cigarette like half the rebel queens that night - a club kid nightmare, with wig that shifted styles with each quarter turn pulling us thru the decades 70 80 90 00’s of a spiraling drug-induced stupidity resulting in madness and a conceptual endurance performance that broke all the drag rules. Yes.
Nikki Star taking us to church in a pop gospel (my joy? it’s from jesus!). Parting the densely packed, nearly immobile crowd, like the Red Sea and dancing dancing as we clapped and clapped and got higher and higher. Only at Tshack could this number be performed almost without irony, definitely without any winks. A veteran black queen, Heklina’s drag mother, Nikki in her Sunday best working the crowd for Jesus. Well!
Suppositori Spelling - what was the song - excellent synching and fabulously dynamic energy - huge femmed Mohawk, classic Spaz costume of bra, panties and accessories, two well timed stage dives each time returning to the stage on cue. (photo #1 by Don Shewey)
Too much Jordan, Kennedy and mediocre numbers that were numbing to those of us standing packed together for over 4 hours. Especially with some of those too cold gay boys who don’t want to acknowledge (or relax into) touch despite the fact that there was no choice but to touch. What a waste of potential pleasure and friendship.
Lot’s of cigarettes on stage. The last taboo. A final remnant of the illegal dangerous incorrect and transgressive roots of T’shack.
So many memories of all the drugs (and sex) of the early days
No direct mention of HIV and the role that AIDS has had in their personal and collective life
Glamamore not doing the tragic act that I adore. Instead doing a Judy/Barbara duo with Mercy Fuck. And then doing 2 songs - which like most of the queens in that never ending epic night they just had to perform more than necessary. The whole event was more than necessary. The club has been ‘ending’ all year. It’s all about excess and decadence and too much (remember Joe Goode’s 29 effeminate gestures which locate Gay in the Too Much).
Rimming straight boy James!! (Photo #2 by Don Shewey)
Followed by Jim Jones doing David Bowie “And we’re gonna have a party” while camo’d queens (one faux) with plastic machine guns handed out coolaid cups to all of the evening’s performers and assistants ending with a massive body pile on stage. I cried.
Unfortunately they didn’t indulge in the maudlin as much as I'd like. (All night long, whenever the mood approached ‘emotional’ it would be corrected with snappy retorts or distractions - which seemed very apropos of the pomo drag culture - fake and real, sincere and camp sincere in a dizzying fusion). But I couldn't watch when they all jumped up for Donna Summer’s Last Dance... at least half of them knowing the lyrics and ‘singing’ along.
Proclamation from city honoring Tshack’s fusion of punk and drag. (OK that's brilliant and righteous but the deliverer of that proclamation, B. Dufty is no gay hero of mine. He was originally an appointee of that ultra rich brat Newsom and both of them are basically republicans in terms of class politics. It really sucks that two progressives ran against Dufty at the same time. Get it together fools. That tactic was doomed to fail and we got another term for a nice gay man who consistently votes against the progressive interests of the majority of District 8.)
Electro as a bare-chested (boob taped) satyr with hind legs puppet manipulated for leaping and flying scenes - lipsynching Sesame St I think... rainbows, the lover the dreamer and I?? Is it obvious that I am not a pop culture 80’s child? That was my punk, tribal, live music only decade.
52 Tuesdays x 12.5 years = approx 650 shows/happenings
with approx 8 performances per night = 5200 performances
How many original numbers did Heklina do? Clearly she duplicates her faves (and not so faves) annually, but she had to have created hundreds of 3-5 minute performances, learning the lyrics to songs, plus costumes and wigs. How many pairs of shoes did she accumulate? How many wigs?
Will her archive end up at the Historical Society? Where are all the Mr. David dresses going to be exhibited?