Trannyshack Temptress, Volcanic Icelandic Vixen and Legendary Legend, Talking Toxic presents… HEKLINA!

It’s hard to know where to start with todays feature star. Heklina has become one of the most important figures in contemporary drag culture, founding the infamous Trannyshack travelling stage show as well as starring in a number of short films, stage productions and performing world wide, Heklina is one of the hardest working queens in the biz!
The previously mentioned Trannyshack has provided a space for outrageous and groundbreaking drag performance for over a decade and now regularly tours San Francisco, Los Angeles and even boasts a division in NYC.
Come, kick back as we chat punk rock icons, courting controversy and contemporary drag culture with HEKLINA…
Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux

Photo by Molly DeCoudreaux

Dis) Trannyshack founder, drag legend, actress and counter culture icon! Did you ever think that you would have led (and continue to lead) the kind of career you have or impact drag culture in the way that you have?

Heklina) Ha! I’m so flattered that people think I’ve had an impact, or that I’m an icon or what have you (in some circles, “legend” is another way of saying “Old”). You won’t catch me saying it, people already think I’m conceited enough, but it’s nice to hear others say it. If you had told me 20 years ago that one day I would make my living as a drag entertainer I would have told you you were crazy, but I am so grateful to have the life that I have today. 

D) The Trannyshack performers incorporate a great deal of the punk DIY aesthetic into their show stopping routines. How has alternative culture helped shape your style?
H) Well, I didn’t come from a traditional drag background , or house of drag, so I never really had drag idols in the sense of a “mother”. The people who influenced me when I was growing up were theatrical rock stars like David Bowie. I was also heavily into the punk scene, horror films, John Waters (and Divine), artists like Leigh Bowery. But, I would also say that I love camp, and Hollywood glamour, as well….Liz Taylor, Shirley Bassey, Joan Crawford, Dusty Springfield, Valley of the Dolls, The Golden Girls. I soak everything in!
heklina_250px

D) How has the mainstream (both gay and straight) reacted to the Heklina character and towards Trannyshack?

H) The easiest answer to that is that they haven’t! They haven’t reacted at all, haha!

D) Over the years you have worked with a tremendous number of performers who have garnered harsh critique as well as great praise. Which have been some of your favourites and which of the most controversial acts are you most proud to either have taken part in or promoted?

H) There have been several kinds of controversy at Trannyshack.Racially related, I suffered a huge backlash about a decade ago when one of my performers did a piece in blackface. It didn’t matter that the performer was half black and was trying to make a statement, or what have you. It was just instant outrage. Lesson learned on that one.

And, surprisingly, gender. Whether you have a penis or a vagina has never been a huge deal at Trannyshack, all that matters is what you do with your time on stage. No one had a problem with it until a genetic female (Fauxnique) won the coveted Miss Trannyshack title in 2003. Then all of a sudden it was “That’s not drag” and all that. I even went on NPR to discuss that “scandal”. Crazy!

D) Drag, for many reasons, is enjoying a renaissance of sorts. How do you view the contemporary drag circuit?

H) If by renaissance you are referring to RuPaul’s Drag Race, then yes. I would say it’s a mixed blessing-drag is very much in the public eye because of that show in particular, but it at times makes instant stars out of people who haven’t quite honed their craft yet, so it seems like there has been a bit of a “dumbing down” effect. There’s very much a feeling of “this will do”. Of course, some of the people on that show are amazing performers, but I recently went to see the one-woman show of someone from RPDR, and there was no substance at all to it-no show!

D) The outsider scene has also been referenced in the media on more than one occasion also, how do you see the scene evolving and what are your hopes for alternative drag styles?

H) It’s interesting….Trannyshack was started as a response, or an alternative to, more traditional drag shows, and now we (Trannyshack) are the establishment. We thought we were reinventing the wheel, but truthfully we were just doing our own thing, with no real rules or boundaries. That is all I can hope for in these young girls nipping at my heels; that they do their own thing, develop their own personas, you know the drill.

D) Which performers have driven you to create and continue to inspire you to perform?

H) It always goes back to the previously referenced icons. Most influential to me? Bowie, Madonna, Siouxsie Sioux, The Golden Girls, and cult movies.

Heklina and Peaches Christ

D) You have worked closely with Peaches Christ on a number of projects including live performances and short films. Are there any further collaborations in the works?

H) Always! Peaches is hosting my Trannyshack Halloween show with me on October 25 , and I am doing her tribute to the film 9 to 5 at the Castro Theatre with her on November 23 (go to www.peacheschrist.com for all Peaches related info).

D) We all know that your schedule is jam packed; Where can we see you next, what events are you supporting and where can we buy your latest merchandise?

H) www.trannyshack.com has all my events, check it out!

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