Monday, July 15, 2024

Heklina: Thank you for being a friend

With the passing of drag legend and San Francisco icon Heklina, we are reminded of how precious life is.

Heklina was the consummate entertainer for decades in San Francisco. Starting the super popular Trannyshack club night, she pivoted it to Mother when the word “tranny” became socially unacceptable.

She not only put herself on the map with her popular nightclub events, but she also helped promote the city of San Francisco, being an ambassador of the city when they started their “Only in San Francisco” campaign.

Heklina was also part of a troupe of ultra-talented comedic actors who spoofed and parodied many movies and TV shows. One of her biggest successes was playing Carrie in the drag Sex and the City, which she moved away from after several years to run the uber-popular SF Oasis nightclub, which she co-owned with D’Arcy Drollinger. Heklina also worked on the spoofs of Three’s Company and Roseanne.

Some of Heklina’s greatest successes were connected to her long-term friendships with other San Francisco talents. She often worked with legend Peaches Christ with shows that included Mommie Queerest and Peaches and Heklina’s High School Reunion. Christ would often put on annual shows and found a part for Heklina — whether it’s as her top billing co-star or in a small scene-stealing role as Heklina was as good chewing up the scenery as she was eating ass. 

Heklina was actually with Peaches Christ in London where they were about to perform Mommie Queerest before Heklina passed away.

While she had small and memorable roles in many LGBTQ+ films — All About EvilShit & ChampagneBaby Jane? and Hush Up Sweet Charlotte — Heklina’s greatest success was with the annual Golden Girls Christmas Episodes that played in San Francisco for over 17 years and at five theaters as its popularity kept growing, so then did the venue.

Heklina was a great promoter of her shows, nightclub and the arts and was always gracious to grant me interviews. Her surprise passing makes me think I should have spent more time with her — and I need to spend more time with others.

We were all reminded how precious life is when the pandemic started taking lives. But we should never forgot to tell those near and dear to us how important they are.

I am sure Heklina can feel the love as her May 23 Memorial at 8:30pm at the Castro Theatre sold out instantaneously. But if you want to pay tribute, the block the theatre is on will be closed off in her honor and allowing people who didn’t get tickets to be part of the tribute aptly titled Heklina: A Memorial (She Would Have Hated This). The memorial will then be projected outside as well as SF Oasis Nightclub, where you can check things out at

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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, and ReelKev YouTube channel, Kevin used to be the LGBT arts writer for and contributes to 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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