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Heklina, drag queen
Photograph: Clara Rice Heklina

Q&A with legendary San Francisco drag queen Heklina

Written by
Anna Volpicelli

How did you get into drag?

I moved to San Francisco in the early 1990s and became involved with a theatrical group, the Sick & Twisted Players. Gradually, I began doing female roles and experimenting with drag. In 1996, I opened my nightclub, Trannyshack, which, much to my surprise, became a huge hit. Then I became a full-time drag queen.


What made you purchase the Oasis nightclub?

I never intended to do it. My business partners [Geoff Benjamin and D’Arcy Drollinger] saw it as an opportunity. I had hit a wall in my career, was tired of doing shows at other venues where I was at the whim of their technicians and rules and was getting too old to tour. It’s great having a home base now, even though it’s a shit-ton of work. It is my own little Birdcage.


What do you have planned for the 2018 Pride parade?

I’m riding in the parade with the Grand Ducal Council during the day. In the evening, I’m performing at the Frameline Film Festival closing-night party at Oasis.


Top three favorite spots in SoMa?

I love the Stud because of what it has stood for all these years—a bastion of diversity where everyone is welcome. DNA Lounge is another venue that embraces the weird, and the Folsom Street Fair is one of those only-in–San Francisco things where people let their freak flag fly. I love the occasional out-of-towners who have no idea what they’re walking into and look shell-shocked.

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