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The Cockettes (2002)

Cast: Dusty Dawn, Larry Brinkin
Director: Billy Weber, Billy Weber, David Weissman, more...
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Studio: Strand Home Video
Genre: Documentary, Biographies
Running Time: 100 min.
Languages: English
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In the late '60s and early '70s, a San Francisco-based group of transvestite performers formed a talented troupe known as "The Cockettes." This documentary tells the story of the group's short but memorable existence. Directors Bill Weber and David Weissman utilize a wealth of archive footage to relate how George Harris became "Hibiscus" and formed the gender-bending troupe that would perform street theater. By the time they have their glorious off-Broadway debut, most of the original members had already left. In addition to the flamboyant performers, the directors show how their scene interrelated with the booming San Francisco counterculture. The Cockettes was screened at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. ~ Perry Seibert, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Where is Tricia's Wedding! by Synn November 27, 2004 - 10:45 PM PST
1 out of 4 members found this review helpful
A friend suggested I see Tricia's Wedding after seeing this. Now I don't find Tricia's Wedding here. I actually went to a show of the Cockettes I think in the late 60s early 70s when I visited San Francisco. Although details blur surrounding that evening, one scene sticks clearly in my mind: Onto the stage slowly marched a crowd of Cockettes carrying on their shoulders a platform on which stood a likeness of The Pope in full regalia of long white robes and doing that arm and hand movement blessing the people. They solemnly walk to the center of the stage most dramatically, and to my utter amazement dump the Pope bodily into the crowded audience. When I took an apartment in the Haight Ashbury in the 70s I volunteered at The Switchboard, met socially a few of the Cockettes as well as Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. While I already had met them as people, I really hoped this film would playback more of the incredible stage shows that I never got to see. This film displays The Cockettes as personalities deviant and entertaining. Film contains excessive footage of no importance, such as repetition of one Cockette suffering from mental illness who dances soundlessly in multicolored veils, and extremely long takes of his mother discussing his death from AIDS. The actor Divine has only a few minutes in the film (in spite of centrality on the cover) and seems impatiently patched in as reject material. Flaws include sloppy cinematography, amateurish storyline held together like a bored history lesson, context failure, lack of depth and sensitivity for the Cockettes, no perspective for the Cockettes phenomenon as part of American culture and international art, and an unresolved storyline. I do recommend it nonetheless as a photo album. One can enjoy the titillation from snippets of penises on screen, a scant view of Haight Ashbury in the day, briefest flit across screen of Warhol, young Anthony Perkins and other stars supposedly attending the Cockettes opening in Manhattan, early Divine before his face makeup got fully established, and other random scattered shots.

Don't Miis It. by FOlmstead May 18, 2004 - 8:06 AM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
I lived through this period, albeit in NYC and this doc captures the spirit better than anything I've ever seen. Transvestites who, for the first time, didn't emulate the likes of Judy Garland, who didn't go in for fancy gowns and "high-drag", but instead donned raggedy finery more suited to the '60's. A wonderful mix of insanity, avant garde theater and wild abandon.

In New York, there were Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling and the whole Warhol crew. I knew them all.

The Cockettes were the San Francisco incarnation of that crazy, exciting exhibition of glitter, rag-drag and performance art. Back then, with typical NY atitude, we sort of looked down The Cockettes as somehow "less than". In retrospect, I see that was just pure NY chauvnism. They were wonderful, wild, free spirits... girls who just wanted to have fun.

I wasn't out there in the heartland, but I think this is something that, probably, many of the people who lived that period missed. If so, too bad, but, whether you were there or not, don't miss this picture.

It brought it all back for me.

2 thumbs up!

What a blast! by LJSosa April 6, 2003 - 2:13 PM PDT
11 out of 12 members found this review helpful
I tend to over-romanticize this time period so The Cockettes was truly a joy for me. This is a great documentary that explores that free 'time before' AIDS. A time when the lines between gender, class and sexuality were completely blurred. Regretably for those of who were too young to be a part of those times, they will never come again.

See this one if you lived through the late 60's. If you didn't, see it twice. This is part of Queer history.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.81)
113 Votes
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