PHOTOS: Honoring Heklina, a San Francisco drag legend ‘without parallel’

Heklina (center)

Last week, the queendom of drag lost one of its fiercest legends. While on tour in London for her show Mommie Queerest, Heklina (née Stefan Grygelko) was found dead by her close friend and co-star Peaches Christ.

“I am shocked and horrified to bring this news to you,” said Peaches in a Facebook post. “I am living in a real-life nightmare so forgive me if I don’t have all the answers just now.”

Although the cause of her death is still unknown, the loss of Heklina has spurned an outpouring of love for the iconic drag performer/club owner. With a nightlife career spanning nearly 3 decades, she is arguably best known for founding (trigger warning) Trannyshack, San Francisco‘s longest-running drag event series (it has since been renamed “Mother”), as well as spoofing Dorothy Zbornak in Golden Girls Live! at the Victoria Theater. In honor of this fallen queen, we’d like to share some kind words and images from Heklina’s friends and colleagues. Long live the queen.

Pictures provided by Juanita More.

Heklina is da shit
Heklina in Mommie Queerest
Heklina in Mommie Queerest.
Heklina celebrating birthday
Here’s Heklina celebrating her birthday. Who doesn’t love a good bicentennial?
Heklina on stage
Heklina making rent
Heklina serving disco catsuit
Heklina and twink
Heklina (right) with friend
Heklina (right) in vinyl
Heklina with friends

Nguyen Pham, Board President of San Francisco Pride

“Personally, I’ve been honored and grateful to have engaged with Heklina directly, as well as attended her spectacularly memorable productions, numerous times over the years.  I know that her unique brand of radically inclusive drag art has evoked so much pure joy from countless community members and allies for many generations. She was unstoppable and a master without parallel.”

Juanita More, Drag Queen

“From the start (we) understood and appreciated each other. We loved, respected, and laughed at each other with great ease. I’ll miss that laugh.”

Drew Droege, Comedian

“Shocked by our loss of Heklina. A legend, a trailblazer, and a champion of weird drag art. Sending much love to all those who adored her.”

Ginger Minj, Drag Queen

“She was funny, punk, groundbreaking, a good friend, surrogate drag mother, the best at suggesting restaurants, and the absolute epitome of the word COOL! I loved her, I love her, and the world will miss her so much.”

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