Children of Paradise: Life with the The Cockettes The Cockettes Fayette Hauser June 4th-July 2nd, 2011 drkrm/gallery

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Children of Paradise: Life with the The Cockettes
San Francisco 1969-1972

Photographs by Fayette Hauser


June 4-July 9
, 2011

This event is co-sponsored by the California LBGT Arts Alliance

A Screening of Rare Cockettes Films (One Night Only)
Saturday June 18, 7pm

Featuring:
Palace: Les Ghouls (1970)
Trisha’s Wedding (1971)
Elevator Girls in Bondage (1970)

“The Cockettes were symptomatic of an entire generation flipping out from a lifetime of popular culture. A gut-wrenching angst combined, in this case, with a budding gay sensibility. Conceived on the back seat of a 1953 pink Cadillac parked at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Madison Avenue, weaned on the junky excrement of television, they saw American culture in full circle. And, recognizing themselves, they let out a cry of chaos and rage.”

Mark Thompson from Children of Paradise: A Brief History of Queens

"I can describe The Cockettes only as a nocturnal happening comprising equal parts of Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street, Harold Prince's FOLLIES and movie musicals, the United Fruit Company, Kabuki, and the Yale Variety Show, with a lot of angel dust thrown in to keep the audience good and stoned."

Rex Reed-Chicago Tribune 1971

"It was complete sexual anarchy. You couldn't tell the men from the women. It was really new at the time, and it still would be new."

John Waters-San Francisco Chronicle 2002


read our review



As the psychedelic San Francisco of the 1960s began evolving into the pansexual San Francisco of the 1970s, The Cockettes, a flamboyant ensemble of hippies -- gay, straight, and undecided -- decked themselves out in gender-bending drag and tons of glitter for a series of legendary midnight musicals at the Palace Theater in North Beach.

The Cockettes were born on stage, New Year’s Eve, 1969. The collective passion was to take every fantasy, desire, idol and dream and in the most joyously flamboyant way possible, put it onto the stage.

Founded by Hibiscus (real name, George Harris, Jr.) the troupe performed outrageous parodies of show tunes (or original tunes in the same vein) and gained an underground cult following that eventually led to mainstream exposure. With titles like Gone With the Showboat to Oklahoma, Hell's Harlots and Pearls over Shanghai, these all singing, all dancing extravaganzas featured elaborate costumes, rebellious sexuality, and exuberant chaos.

The Cockettes were soon heralded as the cutting edge of Freak Theatre appearing in Rolling Stone, Paris Match and even Playboy magazines. They attracted admiration from Diana Vreeland, John Lennon and Marlene Dietrich, among others. Truman Capote and Rex Reed attended a San Francisco performance of Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma, and Reed wrote a glowing review calling it "a landmark in the history of new, liberated theater..."

For a time "The Cockettes [were] where it’s at," as Truman Capote put it on the Tonight Show. But all that ended with their catastrophic 1971 New York début, when the Anderson Theater’s large stage overwhelmed their cardboard sets and their flower child anti-professionalism seemed merely unprofessional. Gore Vidal delivered the kiss of death by remarking as he left mid-performance, "A lack of talent is not enough," Apparently, what had seemed so fabulous in San Francisco did not translate well in New York City.

The Cockettes returned to San Francisco to put on some of their most successful shows, Journey to the Center of Uranus, Les Etoiles de Paris and Hot Greeks. They gave their last performance in the autumn of 1972.

The group broke many social, cultural and sexual boundaries foraging a hot path straight through the 70’s to present day where their influence is felt in fashion, theatre and film and inspired the glitter rock era of David Bowie, Elton John, and The New York Dolls, and the campy extravaganzas of Bette Midler and The Rocky Horror Picture Show to Lady Gaga.


Fayette Hauser performed with the group and contributed to the look and structure of many of the shows, and photographed them as well until its demise in the spring of 1972. Fayette went on to perform with Tomata Du Plenty and his Whiz Kidz in Seattle and then, with Tomata, in New York at CBGB’S, Café Cino, La Mama and the Bouwerie Lane Theatre.

Born in Troy, New York, Fayette grew up in the honky-tonk town of Asbury Park, New Jersey. She received her first camera, a Brownie Holiday Flash, at age nine and began photographing her favorite place, the Fun House Arcade on the boardwalk, home of Asbury’s best and brightest freaks.

As a teen-ager, Fayette made frequent trips into Manhattan to check out the underground scene, meeting filmmakers Jack Smith and Andy Warhol and was in the Warhol film The Life Story of Juanita Castro, scripted by Ronald Tavel.

After graduating with a BFA from Boston University, College of Fine Arts, Fayette moved to Greenwich Village for a year before migrating to the West Coast. Moving to Los Angeles in 1975, Fayette received an Assoc. Degree in Photography at LATTC and has gone on to work as a Photographer, a Costume Designer for Film and Theatre and a Stylist for performers such as Bette Midler, and The Manhattan Transfer.

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