Monday, May 20, 2024
EntertainmentOnlineTelevision

D’Arcy Drollinger makes lemonade from COVID lemons

The Bay Area drag legend has not let the pandemic rain on his — or is it her — parade.

Truth be told, I am just one big fan. I like so many talented people in different ways, but Drollinger keeps reinventing and reimagining his role in entertainment that it causes one to pay attention. (I decided not to use 2020’s overused word: pivot.) Drollinger came back to town in 2011 as a seasoned writer, director, actor and drag queen. D’Arcy is one of those beautiful names that can be used as a man or a woman, so even in drag, he’s still D’Arcy. Or, SHE’S still D’Arcy.

Besides making a name for himself in many campy drag versions of “Sex and the City” and “The Golden Girls,” Drollinger has entertained us all in original productions that he has written and directed including his trilogy surrounding the smash stage hit “Shit & Champagne.”

Drollinger soon became a staple in our entertainment community, buying and vamping up the Oasis night club South of Market San Francisco. In the hands of Drollinger and his business partner Heklina, SF Oasis became the toast of the town. And what formula they came up with. First, around 5pm, they’d have in the stage area announcement events and charity events, like the press announcement for the annual Frameline Film Festival or even when someone announcements they are running for Empress in the Imperial Court System. 

D’Arcy Drollinger

Then 7pm, SF Oasis became the West Coast’s very own Off-Broadway theatre. Not only for terrific dragged-up versions of shows like “Sex,” “Golden,” “Three’s Company” and even “Star Trek,” but a showcase for local talents other than Drollinger such as Michael Phillis’ “Baloney” vaudeville show and “Patty from HR.”

Later in the evening, SF Oasis became one of the city’s hottest night clubs. Whether it’s a drag-themed night with many RuPaul alum, or a bear night, diva tribute, lesbian night — any night can be any theme with a dance beat to keep us all on our toes to music we want, if you go your favorite theme night.

The pandemic hit and the rent still needed to be paid. Drollinger once again thought outside the box. He pulled out of archive filmed versions of beloved drag shows that he retained mainly for staging and costuming when the shows returned. Then, while doing these shows, which helped keep his audience engaged during trouble times, they still needed money for that rent and to survive. Drollinger came up with Meals on Heels, where he’d partner with restaurants and caterers and get drag queens to deliver dinners in heels and with a song in their heart. This made some money and certainly helped us all feel a little sparkle at home when we are sheltering in place.

Also, somehow, in the middle of all of this, Drollinger managed to make a movie, the big-screen adaptation of “Shit & Champagne.” It made its world premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival last year in April. You remember April? COVID month two! Like everything else, Drollinger helped turn that cancelled show into one of the first drive-in events and on went the show. Drollinger said the rest of us might be able to see it this September.

Drollinger then started to film — with a crew that quarantined — some more original programs. The talk show “Hot Trash” not only was amazingly entertaining but it was also very newsworthy. It quickly became my #1 news feed. Drollinger tried really hard to find a sponsor. Since sponsorship never happened and the rent and other bills need to be paid, Drollinger has taken all he’s done so far, mixed in a magic blender and has come out with OasisTV. Sure, SF Oasis has a YouTube channel, but now this is a paid streaming channel like a Netflix or Amazon but with more queer-oriented content, helping local talent.

Drollinger now is doing the great drag TV shows as they’ve done them before — but now they are filming them with a TV audience in mind with multiple cameras and editing, just like our sitcoms from days gone by. All that’s missing is the live studio audience. Further, Drollinger is including other original content from her troupe of talented colleagues. In addition to “Hot Trash” and a spinoff show “Talkin’ Snacks with Snaxx,” “Patty from HR” is on the roster and the original locally-produced web series “Gay Husbands of San Francisco.” Sure, all of this is to survive. But Drollinger still feels proud of all that he’s been able to accomplish. 

Give OasisTV a try. There’s a nice trial basis offered at watch.sfoasis.com

SAVE SF OASIS

Drollinger and the SF Oasis nightclub, can use our help now more than ever. Like any small business, they have been severely hit by the pandemic. Now, they are adding a 12-hour telethon on March 6. During the telethon from 12pm to 12am you can call in your pledge to 415-742-1044 and who knows what local legend might answer the phone. Tune in at watch.sfoasis.com or www.givebutter.com/saveoasis to help.

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Kevin M. Thomas

Kevin M. Thomas, or @ReelKev, is an arts blogger and entertainment reporter. In addition to his own website, www.reelkev.com and ReelKev YouTube channel, Kevin used to be the LGBT arts writer for Examiner.com and contributes to progressivepulse.com as well as a semi-regular on San Francisco's cable TV show, "10 Percent."

Kevin M. Thomas has 157 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin M. Thomas

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