In writing about the Cockettes, it has become something of a clichéd trope to quote John Waters. Having famously once described the iconic gender-bending performance troupe as a bunch of “hippie acid freak drag queens,” the Pope of Trash seemingly had applied a nice summary to something that had been previously hard to define.
However, as with most succinct overviews, Waters’ comment merely scratches the surface of a larger history. From their very inception, The Cockettes were poised at the precipice of a social and sexual revolution.
Founded in the late 1960s, the group grew to prominence in San Francisco (and later worldwide) for their avant-garde, open approach to art and sexuality. As their popularity grew, so too did their ranks. Waters alumni Divine and Mink Stole famously joined The Cockettes for performances, as did disco icon Sylvester. The group was seen and praised by peers as diverse as Andy Warhol and John Lennon, and through their inspired style, changed the face of performance art and drag forever.
In 2002, filmmakers David Weissman and Bill Weber encapsulated much of The Cockettes’ history in their documentary of the same name. Through candid interviews and archival footage, the film pulled back the layers of an era of social/sexual reform, and perfectly placed The Cockettes in the center of it all. Read More…