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Cockettes female co-founder shares group’s saucy history

Handbill for Cockettes exhibit at San Francisco Public Library
Photo by Mary Ellen Mark
Handbill for Cockettes exhibit at San Francisco Public Library

{Airs 5 pm Friday} Meet artist and actor Fayette Hauser, a co-founder of the Cockettes, the 1969-‘72 experimental San Francisco performance troupe known for eye-popping costumes, glittery beards and sexy musicals.

Her beautiful photo and essay book, The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy, inspired a San Francisco Public Library exhibit of the same name on display through Aug. 11. On this week’s Out in the Bay, we hear a clip of her performing (as Fayetta, her stage name), she shows us around the exhibit, reads from the book, and shares saucy Cockettes tales.

“When you took acid, the first thing you did was take off your clothes,” Hauser told us. “Free love was on the menu, my dear!”

Hauser says because San Francisco had affordable housing in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s – individuals sharing a Victorian flat could pay as little as $100 per month for rent – young people could follow their creative dreams.

The Cockettes: Acid Drag and Sexual Anarchy’s 356 pages are full of photos and other graphics from the era, with recent essays by the troupe’s members and other cultural icons. The SF Public Library exhibit, in the James Hormel LGBTQIA Center, displays a sampling of the book’s photos and essays, one of Hauser’s full costumes and other memorabilia. Hauser will be there in person at the exhibit’s closing party Thursday, August 11. Find info at SFPL.org/exhibits.

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Out in the Bay is supported in part by Project Open Hand, which provides 2,500 life-saving meals and 200 bags of groceries daily to sustain people experiencing illness, social isolation, or the health challenges of aging. Learn more at OpenHand.org. Project Open Hand – Meals with Love

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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.