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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Heklina and LeMay Dish on Drag, Sex, and 20 Years of Oral History

Posted By on Wed, Jun 15, 2011 at 1:00 PM

NOTE: This is part one of Steven LeMay's epic sitdown with Heklina, the San Francisco drag legend. For part two, check back next Tuesday.

Last Thursday morning, with nothing less than a few hours to lose before work, I managed to snag an interview with one of SFs biggest queens, Heklina.

When I say 'big', I am not referring to big, as in size, because as she is proud to flaunt, she recently lost 25lbs, and no, not by the removal of her head. (Trust me, as you will find out, her 'head' is still intact).

She is preparing for her birthday celebration this Friday night at DNA Lounge (375 Eleventh Street). It's a "Best of Trannyshack" show with great performances from the past year and a special appearance from J. Vivian Bond.

So I jauntily walked (ran) to her palatial (small) Pacific Heights (Lower Haight) condo (studio). I was graciously greeted by her doorman (a sneer from her possessive cat, Einar) and handed over my housewarming gift to the hostess (non-fat milk for our coffee.)

click to enlarge heklina_trannyshack_bday.jpg
Heklina's place is cute and very tidy, as I guess it would need to be when you're running your Trannyshack empire from a laptop and a huge walk-in closet (or was that the bedroom?) There is the requisite amount of 'Heklinart' on the walls, without being narcissistic and austere. In fact, if you don't open that 'door' in the corner, you might not even know a drag queen lives there.

LeMay: So just to give the most general of backgrounds, because I feel people already know so much about you.

Heklina: I moved here in 1991, from Reijkyavic, Iceland

LeMay: Had you done drag in Iceland?

Heklina: Maybe once or twice, but it was tragic drag. It's hard to find drag there. Then I moved here and started dating Jason Mecier from Enrique and fell in immediately with a colorful crowd. I still didn't do drag for a while after that, maybe for Halloween.

The first mass acceptance of drag I remember was in 1993 when Rupaul's song came out and it was huge. Then everybody was dabbling in drag, and that's when I started doing little bits of drag. I also started to really do drag with The Sick and Twisted Players and some of those roles.

I remember the city being really exciting in the early-mid nighties, despite AIDS and everything that was going on. I never had a plan, and that's why Trannyshack was a delicious accident. I started working at The Stud in 1995, and they always had this graveyard of a shift on Tuesday nights. I saw many clubs go in there and fail, go in there and fail.

Then The Stud, after watching me host some fundraisers for Project Open Hand with Pippi Lovestocking, asked me if i wanted to try something there on Tuesdays. I figured I would try it, it would be me and my friends, it will last for eight weeks. I still didn't even know how to do drag at that point.

LeMay: I know, we have seen the pictures!

Heklina: I was still very much like "Pippi, can you help me put on my lashes?". Then it became successful, and people were showing up expecting me to be able to do drag and be able to perform, and I had never lip-synched or done those type of performances. It was good, in a way, because I didn't come from a traditional drag scene, like the court system, so I really didn't have any rules to follow.

LeMay: So when you first starting dressing up, did you have certain influences? Were you more intrigued by the idea of being feminine or just the notion of being in some fabulous outfit commanding attention?

Heklina: I've never had any delusions that I am feminine or passable or daytime real, so let's get that out of the way! I've been very influenced by people like David Bowie or Madonna, who put on guises or costumes, and it's not really the 'real' them. So when i put that stuff on, I think of it like an armor, and I feel impenetrable. I think that a lot of people see 'Heklina' on Facebook or 'Heklina' in Gloss, always talking about herself, but I feel it's important to not believe your own press. I realize I am pushing myself to push the product, but I don't really sit around and think of myself like "Ohh..." [looks pensive].

I really don't!!

Up Next: "I've sucked more cock than days in the calendar!"

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Steven LeMay


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