Last week, while thousands were lining up in San Francisco’s Civic Center to see Conan O’Brien, others waited in the rain outside a Fillmore district mansion to catch an all-drag stage production of “The Golden Girls.”
The show, which stars a host of San Francisco drag queens, continues through May 19 in the historic home at 814 Grove St.
Local drag legend Heklina, who presides over San Francisco’s popular Tuesday night club Trannyshack and co-produced this version of the iconic sitcom, says audiences have responded overwhelmingly. Nobody has been turned away, and two shows have been added to the performance schedule.
“With all that’s going on in the world right now, people don’t want to think about a theater production,” says Heklina, who appears as Dorothy, the divorced substitute teacher immortalized by Bea Arthur. “They just want to be entertained. That’s what we’re doing with ‘The Golden Girls.’”
Matthew Martin, who channels Rue McClanahan, who played the promiscuous Southern belle Blanche, finds the breadth of the show’s popularity particularly intriguing.
“Of course, everyone in the cast loves ‘The Golden Girls,’” says Martin, who also directs this production, which features two full episodes of the popular 1984-91 sitcom about four lovable Miami retirees. “But Iwas surprised by how much other people love this show, too. It’s not just women and gay men, as I expected. Even my father knows it!”
Cookie Dough, hostess of long-running Castro District dragstravaganza “The Monster Show,” plays the Sicilian Sophia, the sassy senior portrayed by Estelle Getty on TV.
Wide-eyed stage newcomer Pollo DelMar embodies Rose, the naïve St. Olaf native made so endearing by Betty White, while Mike Finn, owner of the experimental “salon-style” theater space, is a scene-stealing guest star.</p>
More than half of the run’s shows are already sold out. Co-producer Dough attributes a portion of that to the production’s campy, poorly-Photoshopped promotional photo running on the Web site of the VH1 television series “Best Week Ever.”
Others in the cast see no need to explain the production’s success: “It’s drag queens in San Francisco doing ‘The Golden Girls,’” deadpans Heklina, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why this show is doing well.”
The Golden Girls
Where: 814 Grove St. (between Fillmore and Webster streets), San Francisco
When: 8 and 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Tickets: $15, cash only