It is the end of a decade, New Year’s Eve 1969. At the Palace Theater in San Francisco’s North Beach, a ragtag bunch of hippies take the stage. Kicking up their heels to a Rolling Stones’ song, they wow the crowd with their mix of flamboyant garb, nudity, and gender ambiguity, and when the bearded “chorus girls” lift frilly gowns to reveal glittering genitalia, the Cockettes have made the scene.
During the next three years, the Cockettes create 20 shows and are featured in 4 films. With play titles like Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma and Pearls over Shanghai, the Cockettes make an indelible mark on popular culture. When Rex Reed writes a glowing review calling their performance “A landmark in the history of new, liberated glowing theater,” the Cockettes become national media darlings and are off to the Big Apple. The Cockettes begins with the star-studded New York opening night, then jumps back in time to experience first hand the energy of these escapees from middle-class America. With incredible craft, directors Bill Weber and David Weissman have painstakingly gleaned and layered together amazing archival footage and linked it with interviews from those still living to capture not just a history of the Cockettes, but their essence. Those who remember may suffer a touch of nostalgia, but for the rest it is a remarkable time capsule. Representing a moment you won’t see in the history books. The Cockettes is a gift full of remembrances of the combined spirits that lit the way for the glitter rock era to come.
Associate Director of Sundance Film Festival Programming
Born and raised in Oakland, CA., Tommy Kohl performed in the early theatrical productions at the historical S.I.R. Center. Tommy a.k.a. Sindy Vine of the Sisters of Perceptual Indulgence has become their primary photographer.
After hitchhiking from Austin, Texas with Janis Joplin, Chet Helms became a concert promoter at the Fillmore Auditorium and Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco. Chet’s promotional company The Family Dog was instrumental in developing what has to become known as the San Francisco Sound with such psychedelic rock groups as The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother and the Holding Company.
Since 1980 Chet has presided over Atelier Dore art gallery in San Francisco, which specializes in American and European art circa 1850-1950. His current interest with digital photography has produced some of the most compelling images of 60’s Rock Survivors.
One of the original photographers for Rolling Stone magazine, Robert’s photographs are featured in Cameron Crowe’s film “Almost Famous”.
San Francisco’s premier photographer of queer counter culture, Daniel Nicoletta first burst upon the scene at Harvey Milk’s famed Castro Camera shop.
Original Cockette member Fayette Hauser has designed costumes for Bette Midler, the group Manhattan Transfer and numerous films. Fayette is also known for her work as a table-top prop stylist for food and still life photographers in Bon Appetite. Her photography was recently included in the 35th Anniversary of the Summer of Love exhibit “Full Frame” at StudioZ.tv. Fayette’s line of unique antique French fabric pillows are available for purchase upon request.