Friday, January 14, 2011

ALESHIA BREVARD...THE ORIGINAL CROSS OVER T-GIRL DIVA

One of Finocchios stunning divas, who oozed glamour sensuality and pizzazz was born in more humble circumstances of Tennessee’s Appalachian Mountains in the late 30's.

Her original name was Alfred Brevard Crenshaw, but there were many greater name and body changes before arriving at the name that felt right Aleshia Brevard. 
Auditioning at Finocchios in 1959, she became first known as Lee Shaw .
Her signature piece was a Striptease to “My heart belongs to Daddy”, peeling out of a red sweater down to a merry widow lace corset, five inch heels and strutting around on those impossible legs.
Moving onto bigger fields after leaving Finocchios after less than three years, and getting her “op’ in 62, Aleshia became a highly successful actress, appearing in TV shows with Andy Williams, Dean Martin, Larry Hagman.
But it was not just the stage where she excelled, but also with the pen
She is an published author with her must-have biography“The Woman I was not meant to be” which has been optioned by Hollywood for the big screen.
Truly a success and inspiration. for transgender stars of tomorrow!


NOIR T-SHOWGIRLS...THE JIMMY VARGAS CANARD

Local North Beach noir identity Jimmy Vargas has always been known for his ultra glamorous showgirls and stripteasers that he enlists to appear on both his stages and record covers,
But could they be transsexual?
Rumor is that, that is his canard on the new burlesque scene.

Clues point even to the name of his band the “Black Dahlias”, said murder victim Elizabeth Short whose body was mutilated in 1946 in Hollywood. It’s now been made public that she incidentally was a man, and the violation of her abdomen and cutting of her appendage was a vagina-plasty gone horribly wrong by a de-registered Los Angeles doctor.


Maya, one of his many showgirl, is seen here in her cancan froufrou glory who was also rumored to be a pre op transsexual in the late 90s. before taking the ‘op’ in 2004.

THE COCKETTES...SAN FRANCISCO TRANSGENDER THEATRE GROUP

Screaming out of San Francisco in the late 60’s, the COCKETTES, an uninhibited theatre group of hippies, women and gays were founded by "Hibiscus", a member of a commune called KaliFlower that was dedicated to distributing free food to the skid-row and tenderloin habituees of San Francisco, as well as nourishing the body, their agenda was also to entertain the soul, with their creating of free art and theater. 


They first performed as an ad hoc theatre group at The Nocturnal Dream Shows, a weekly midnight eclectic cinema series at The Palace in North Beach.


The Cockettes quickly evolved into bigger, wilder, and more lavish productions, and their shows fast became not-to-be-missed events for the hippest of San Francisco's free spirits.


They created their own revue shows. 
The first "Pearls Over Shanghai" featured all original script, music and lyrics. 
Combining camp spectacle with the endearing awkwardness of a high school operetta production, teetering between farce, hollywood glamour drama and anarchy. 
Burlesque in its original sense.


The Cockettes also attracted a more liberal gay intellect and sois de vivants like Truman Capote, John Waters and notably theatre critic Rex Reed, who upon seeing their performance “Tinsel Tarts in a hot Coma”  went onto say “The Cockettes performance are a landmark in the history of new liberated theatre…The Cockettes are where its at!”


Reed’s gushing reviews in the New York Syndicate tabloids, created demands for an east coast tour of a three week tour. Opening night the crowd ranged from John Lennon, Oascar Dela Renta, Diana Vreeland, Anthony Perkins and Gore Vidal.


However despite the opening night sensation, following the night’s box office receipts weren’t strong to match the hype, and New York turned a cold shoulder to the free form whackery, much more cushioned to the staid Broadway musical formula of yesteryear. 


Non plussed they returned to San Francisco where they continued to put on hugely successful shows "Les Etoiles de Paris" and “Hot Greeks" They gave their last performance in the autumn of 1972. But their legacy and huge influence remains, inspiring the glitter rock of Marc Bolan, Bowie, New York Dolls, and Bette Midler who recreated the Cockettes wild art, recoutouring their style to her own show in the New York Bathhouses in the early seventies on the east coast.




Thursday, January 13, 2011

MARGE FINOCCHIO, A SAINT OF SAN FRANCISCO DRAG QUEENS

It was a haven for girls trapped inside a boy’s body, who longed to be Veronica Lake or Marilyn Monroe.
Their little sound stage, a slice of MGM in a draughty barn in Frisco's North  Beach known as ‘FINOCCHIOS’, a transvestite cabaret.
Its’ architects?
The FINOCCHIOS, a husband and wife team.
JOE and MARGE.
When MARGE was running the club, the venue was “the mecca for all things drag’. 
She was the one who created the room as a pantheon of transsexual triumph. 
The Walls would be decked with stars of the revues in classic ‘Bernard’ of Hollywood glamour. She was a saint, a champion, a Mother Courage for the boys who wanted to be Les Girls.

While her husband administered the till, MARGE orchestrated the tease, planning and staging the elaborate productions. Her name and her image is still venerated by old timers today.
The concept of the club being hers, and it was MARGE who fought the prejudices, the police and the pulpit to create an international cabaret for budding Drag artistes, and a haven for them to create their identity.
A legacy of her training of the ‘girls’ into women, and the setting up of a platform for transgender performers, still resonated after her death in 1950. 
Many went onto become female stars in Hollywood
That platinum puss ALESHA BREVARD, a perfect example, who after leaving FINOCCHIOS, and getting her gender reassignment in Los Angeles went onto star in the Red Skelton show, Dean Martin, and others.

The ghost of  MARGE FINOCCHIO still haunted the backstage of the FINOCCHIOS till its closure in 1999.