Trannyshack is a weekly San Francisco drag club started by drag queen Heklina, and takes place at The Stud bar. Founded in 1996 as an offshoot of Klubstitute, it has been a Tuesday night fixture in San Francisco for 12 years, and draws large crowds on a regular basis.
The midnight show is known for its cutting-edge performances, sometimes bordering on performance art, and its disdain for staid traditional diva-and-ball-gown style lip-sync drag shows. Past shows have included objects set on fire, frequent use of stage blood and other fluids, live piercings, and other acts intended for deliberate shock value. Music usually comes from the new wave, electro, punk rock, metal, and hip hop genres, as well as more obscure musical types, rather than the typical Top 40 ballads used in more traditional drag shows.
The Trannyshack stage has hosted many celebrities including Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Charo, Gwen Stefani, Lady Bunny, and more. In the early years of the club, Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters lived in San Francisco and performed frequently at Trannyshack before moving to New York in 1999. At the Trannyshack 10th Anniversary party, Ana told the story of how her experience at Trannyshack inspired her to found a similar club in New York called Knockoff. It was at Knockoff that the future members of the Scissor Sisters met each other and decided to form a band. Other notable people have been known to frequent the audience at Trannyshack, including members of The Go-Go's, pop star P!nk, Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron Mitchell, politician Mark Leno and others.
Miss Trannyshack Pageant
Trannyshack holds the annual Miss Trannyshack Pageant in November. The event generated controversy in 2003, when a biological female, Fauxnique won the title.
The Miss Trannyshack Pageant is no longer held in a nightclub. In 2004, Trannyshack Founder and Promoter Heklina teamed up with event producer Juan Garcia of Beatbox Events to move the event from the clubs to the Regency Ballroom and take this event to a whole new level. Together with Juan Garcia the help of drag phenomena and co-hostess Juanita More!, they have turned this little contest into a giant spectacle and late-night dance party complete with celebrity judges, live performances, concert-like production and special effects.
For the past 11 years this annual offsite event has been a fierce pageant-style competition for the title, MISS TRANNYSHACK. Candidates for the pageant are recruited from Trannyshack, the popular weekly show at the Stud Bar in San Francisco. Every week a new theme is presented as inspiration for new and returning talent to perform to eager viewers. Guests look forward to a mix of everything from lowbrow trash, “old-school” traditional drag performances, avant-garde and highbrow installations and gritty punk-rock shows in a dance-club setting. These fantastic performers shock and delight packed audiences at Trannyshack every Tuesday night at midnight. Trannyshack favorites are transformed into stars and work towards entering and winning the coveted title, Miss Trannyshack at the annual Trannyshack pageant. There will not be another pageant, instead this year Trannyshack closes out with the last big blowout, “The TRANNYSHACK FINALE: the kiss off”.
Special Trannyshack events
Trannyshack also holds the annual Trannyshack Reno bus trip. Hosted by Trannyshack veteran Peaches Christ and held over Easter Weekend, participants are encouraged to dress and act as outrageously and/or provocatively as possible and imbibe alcohol heartily over the course of the weekend. During the ride from San Francisco to Reno, the tour bus makes several pit stops in relatively conservative places such as Placerville and Donner Pass, designed partially to get a rise out of small-town locals and unsuspecting travelers, all in real life scenes reminiscent of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The culmination of the event is a special Trannyshack show at a Reno nightclub, followed by Easter Sunday brunch the next day at a local casino.
Trannyshack also holds the annual SS Trannyshack chartered boat cruise on San Francisco Bay, usually held in September, although the event has not been held since 2004.
Trannyshack was the subject of two documentaries which both premiered in 2005. One of them, simply named Trannyshack, was an overview of the history of Trannyshack, while the other, Blood, Sweat and Glitter, focused on the 2004 Miss Trannyshack Pageant.
- Official Trannyshack website
- A night at the Trannyshack
- Miss Trannyshack Pageant's past and present controversies
LGBT and Queer studies