The influence of the Cockettes on American underground culture is present in every glittery sequin and candy-colored coiffure gracing our daily lives. Birthed in an LSD bathed commune in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district in the summer of 1969, The Cockettes were a fever dream of sexual freedom and expression. They granted themselves names and identities that reflected their inner wild selves then put it all on the stage with elaborate costumes in anarchic musical productions. Gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual— The Cockettes were everything. The photos here are shared from museums, magazines, and the private collection of founding and long-time Cockette, Fayette Hauser. Her memories of the people, places, and outfits are the only documents from a living member of this vital art collective.
To commemorate the collective’s 50th anniversary, another former Cockette, Fayette Hauser, has authored a flamboyantly illustrated coffee table book, The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy (Process Media). The book is more than a paean to a wild yet touchingly poignant bygone era; it’s a virtual encyclopedia of the antecedents of high drag. It’s also a key to unlocking the work of John Waters, who used to hang around the Cockettes with Lady Divine in tow before Pink Flamingos—and long before Hairspray. The Cockettes also provided unacknowledged inspiration for Tommy Tune’s sets in Ken Russell’s 1971 film The Boy Friend. And the music critic David Masciotra once wrote that Prince should have added the disclaimer “apologies to Sylvester” to every song he released to acknowledge his debt to the late Cockette and “Queen of disco” Sylvester, whose high falsetto and channeling of Billie Holiday made him a reliable showstopper. — Maureen Orth, Vanity Fair ~Maureen Orth, Vanity Fair
Some of the best photos provide a glimpse at everyday life inside the psychedelic Cockette House. Who doesn’t love full drag in the kitchen? — The New York Times
Some of the best photos provide a glimpse at everyday life inside the psychedelic Cockette House. Who doesn’t love full drag in the kitchen? — The New York Times ~Betsy Horan, New York Times