The Cockettes a drag queen acting troupe premiers their act at the at the Pagoda Palace Theater in North Beach on this day in 1969. They are one of the first gender-bending performing groups. The Cockettes were an avant garde psychedelic hippie theater group founded by Hibiscus – George Edgerly Harris II (September 6, 1949 – May 6, 1982).
Their first impromptu performance gave way to campy, drug-fueled midnight musicals typified by outrageous costumes and sexual anarchy (“genderfuck”), with titles like Hell’s Harlots, Pearls over Shanghai, and Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma. Today, they are credited with influencing the glitter rock era and raising the profile of drag performance outside the gay community.
Singer-songwriter Sylvester first performed with the Cockettes in Radio Rodeo, a benefit for the Gay People’s Defense Fund. His rendition of torch songs by the likes of Etta James, Shirley Bassey, Bessie Smith, Ethel Waters, Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Lena Horne in his solo spots led to him becoming one of the most prolific singers of the disco era.
In early 1971 a few members of the original group broke away from the Cockettes and formed their own theatre group, the Angels of Light. Noh Mercy (formerly On The Rag) and Tuxedomoon formed from the Angels of Light.
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