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The Cockettes

The Cockettes

More proof that BBC4 is a wild and wonderful treasure chest.

Happened upon the start of this gorgeous hour-and-a-half long documentarty on this wild San Francisco Hippy-Drag collective called the Cockettes . They were unihibited, wild, beautiful, creative, mad, drug-fuelled anarchists of the nuttiest order.

Seeing this wonderful footage of these bearded guys, bejewelled and encrusted with makeup, walking the streets, draping themselves over the stage, stoned out of their trees on acid, creating their own realities was so touching. I’ve thought in the past that – just as someone said all modern philosophy is footnotes to Plato – that all modern art is footnotes to Warhol.Now I think that all modern fashion is footnotes to the Cockettes. They did everything, every wildness, every genderbending, carefree self-creating, self-validating move that has been rehearsed every since by an increasingly corporatized fash-mag world. It makes me want to grow a beard cover it in glitter put on a Carmen Miranda fruit bowl on my head and wear a gold lame catsuit as I catch the number 18 bus to Paddington.

It’s grim that nowadays we’re so neutered and retro-recycled that those moments of paradigmatic shift, of total anarchy are just an advertising cliche or a sales technique.

That said, the drag show does remind me of the wonderful performance art they used to do at the 291 club in Hackney of a Sunday night. Right down to the heavily made up beard…Shame they decided to shut that party night down…

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