|Columnist Pollo Del Mar, as a ghostly apparition, makes her last performance at San Francisco‚Äôs legendary Trannyshack.
As it began, so too did it end.
While that might sound overly dramatic, it‚Äôs also a perfectly appropriate description of my last Trannyshack performance. With the club ending its weekly tradition after more than 12 years this past Tuesday ‚Äď and capping things off with a ‚ÄúKiss Off Party‚ÄĚ at the Regency Center Aug. 23 ‚Äď I returned to the legendary stage one last time Aug. 5.
The last several weeks have showcased ‚ÄúCommand Performances‚ÄĚ by Trannyshack legends. Not only has Heklina hand-selected the line-up for each night, she also picked the performances. Tuesday saw the return of numbers by Kiddie and Hoku Mama Swamp, Valentine, Becky Motorlodge, Wenda Watch, Kim Burly, my own drag mother Landa Lakes, Fauxnique and two long-lost Miss Trannyshack-winners Mangela Lansbury and Kay White.
For my last appearance, Heklina requested I reprise my very first Trannyshack solo performance. With the help of my friends ‚ÄúMr. Royal Bunny‚ÄĚ Tim Valdivia and Shaghella Rhella, we brought to life ‚Äď or death ‚Äď ‚ÄúThe Bad Bump,‚ÄĚ an amazing song by NYC club personalities Linda James and Corey Tut. As the victim of a drug overdose, I return from my grave, a vengeful spirit seeking retribution from the drug-pushing ex responsible for my demise. It was the very first time I stepped outside my usual look ‚ÄĒ and it won me the title ‚ÄúMiss Trannyshack Star Search 2007.‚ÄĚ
Now in its ninth year, the ‚ÄúStar Search‚ÄĚ contest traditionally crowns the club‚Äôs brightest new star each December. After months of thought and preparation, a record 16 other hopefuls and I competed the day after Christmas 2006. Performing for that rabid audience ‚Äď and judges Heklina, Midnight Mass goddess Peaches Christ, reigning ‚ÄúMiss Trannyshack Star Search 2006‚ÄĚ Holy McGrail and ‚ÄúMiss Trannyshack 2004‚ÄĚ Anna Conda ‚Äď was both terrifying and exhilarating.
Recreating that number brought a flood of memories which still linger days later. Tim returned as the ex who I hack to death with a bejeweled chainsaw. Reigning ‚ÄúMiss Trannyshack Star Search‚ÄĚ Anjie Myma replaced the long-lost Shags as the hapless cheerleader I protect. As we rehearsed, I kept remembering the people, hopes and expectations from that night less than two years ago. The Miss Trannyshack Pageant, at that time, was just a distant dream. Everything was still so new, so exciting, and anything seemed possible.
Since making my drag debut in April 2006, I had looked toward that performance. Landa had won the ‚ÄúStar Search‚ÄĚ title two years before, and I wanted desperately to follow in her footsteps. My ‚Äúsister‚ÄĚ Coco Canal had just stepped down as Miss Trannyshack a month before ‚Äď the same night I appeared in Raya Light‚Äôs triumphant pageant performance. It had been a whirlwind seemingly whisking me toward that single moment.
As we left the stage that night, with the crowd going wild, Heklina declared, ‚ÄúI think we just saw the birth of a Trannyshack superstar!‚ÄĚ I still get chills remembering. It was so surreal, I watched the YouTube video of that performance dozens of times in the days following. It seemed too good to be true!
If revisiting that performance one last time was emotionally overwhelming, I can‚Äôt imagine what was going through the minds of the night‚Äôs other acts, many of whom have performed on the Trannyshack stage for a decade or more. For me, it was a reminder of just how much I love being in front of those audiences.
Trannyshack ‚Äúfans‚ÄĚ have a hard-earned reputation for being wild, raucous lovers of blood, gore and the shocking. While their dark-streaks certainly match my own, they are also a smart, observant and loyal following. They appreciate when a number tells a story and revel in being taken on an emotional journey. It not only allows but encourages performers to transcend drag ‚Äď the make-up, wigs, illusion and lip-sync ‚Äď to become bona-fide artists and create four minute pieces of theatre. Nothing in my life has ever compared.
Many times I have been asked why I performed so infrequently at the club since being crowned Miss Trannyshack last November. The reasons are numerous, I suppose. A significant number of the shows since have been themed and the line-ups largely chosen by the hosting queen. Quite frequently they were tributes to artists or performers which have not particularly impacted me. Should I be completely honest, though, reason I have not taken to the stage more often is fear.
Before being born into the drag world, I was a fan of Trannyshack. I watched the shows and the performers with awe and reverence. As a performer myself, I have found an all-new respect for the audience and their expectations. After winning the crown, I placed tremendous pressure on myself to live to its ‚Äústandard,‚ÄĚ its rich heritage and brilliant performances from my peers. In all honesty, it became unnerving, even paralyzing.
With Trannyshack now closed, I see in retrospect how much fear has robbed me. Gone with the club are amazing opportunities to connect with others, whether the performers or my ‚Äúfans‚ÄĚ (if that is what they might be called) on a weekly basis. More importantly, I lost so many chances for self-expression!
Returning to the Trannyshack stage for that one last performance, to thank not only the audiences but Heklina and all associated with the club which has brought out the absolute best of my worst, was an honor. I can only hope Heklina‚Äôs promise that the Miss Trannyshack Pageant will, indeed, return in Fall 2009 is entirely true.
Nothing excites me more than the idea of returning to that stage, to those fans, one more time. Nothing.
Email ‚ÄúThe Glamazon‚ÄĚ: Pollo_DelMar@yahoo.com