Release year: 2002
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A chronicle of the rise and fall of the legendary San Francisco theatrical troupe, The Cockettes (1969-1972). As the psychedelic San Francisco of the '60's began evolving into the gay San Francisco of the '70's, The Cockettes, a flamboyant ensemble of hippies (women, gay men, and babies) decked themselves out in gender-bending drag and glitter for a series of legendary midnight musicals at the Palace Theater.
The Cockettes were founded by "Hibiscus," a member of a commune that was dedicated to distributing free food and to creating free art and theater. The early shows were mostly non-narrative revues, with everybody making their own costumes, and creative spontaneity reigning supreme.
But with "Pearls Over Shanghai" the Cockettes produced their first show with all-original script, music and lyrics. Combining grand spectacle with the awkwardness of a high school operetta, The Cockettes thrilled audiences as much with their unpredictability as with their triumphs.
David Weissman, Bill Weber