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Sex, drugs and drag with The Cockettes

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Clay Geerdes
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Clay Geerdes

The Cockettes were a flamboyant, gender-bending, hippie drag troupe active in San Francisco beginning in 1969. Scrumbly Koldewyn was one of the original creators of the group and shares the story of their creation and his view of their legacy on this week’s Out in the Bay.

“We felt like we packed 40 years into two and a half,” says Koldewyn. In that short time, The Cockettes became local legends, bombed in New York and shared the stage with legends like Sylvester, who was a Cockette herself. Divine — from the John Waters movies — performed with the Cockettes in 1972.

Ultimately The Cockettes would break up, but what happened at the end? And what does the future hold for The Cockettes?

Performer and assistant director Birdie-Bob Watt, a self-identified “new vaudevillian,” joins us to talk about the upcoming Oasis show Cockettes - Eternal Emissions, “a little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”

For more on The Cockettes, visit the San Francisco Public Library for The Cockettes: Acid Drag, and Sexual Anarchy now through August 11, 2022. Cockettes: Eternal Emissions runs Thursday, June 2 through Saturday June 4, 2022 at Oasis (298 Eleventh St.) in San Francisco. Tickets for each 7pm show start at $40. More information at SFOasis.com

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The Executive Producer of Out In The Bay is Eric Jansen. This edition of Out in the Bay was produced by Christopher Beale.

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Christopher J. Beale is an independent radio host, producer, and journalist living in San Francisco.
Eric Jansen is a long-time broadcaster and print journalist. A former news anchor, producer and reporter at KQED FM, San Francisco; KLIV AM, San Jose; and Minnesota Public Radio, Eric's award-winning reports have been heard on many NPR programs and PRI's Marketplace. His print work has been in The Mercury News, The Business Journal, and LGBTQ magazines Genre and The Advocate, among other publications. He co-produced the June 2007 PBS documentary Why We Sing!, about LGBTQ choruses and their role in the civil rights fight.