I Met Heklina Today!

Well, I e-met her. On the Internet.

Because we’re in a pandemic, and we’ve been staying home for a while, alright. Because life as we knew it may be no mo’, OK. Something has ended and yet, something’s begun.

Entire world capitals, including San Francisco, are grinding to a halt as more and more communities are ordered to shelter in place in order to stave off further spread of this novel (and increasingly deadly and disruptive) coronavirus known as COVID-19 (and nothing else, please – don’t be racist). But we carry on, best we can. We have to. With a little help from our friends.

Today, Manny’s, a local people-powered and community-focused meeting and learning place, launched #MannysSuperCivicCyberConversations, to provide us a fun, appropriate-for-the-times remote-gathering opportunity. The new pandemic-inspired series kicked off with an e-conversation with the one and only Heklina, in a different kind of drag as her alter ego, Stefan Grygelko, the founder of drag show Mother. Zooming in from Palm Springs, where she’s riding out this global storm, Heklina reminisced about the drag shows and the energy and San the Francisco vibe of yore (the exciting transgressive-ness of it all).

She also commented on the Drag Race effect on business and on the expectations of an audience that has become increasingly aware and more knowledgeable and, YAS!, more tolerant and welcoming of us, and advised on what we can do to ensure that our queer communities thrive again once these trying times have passed. Basically, we’re in for now – but as soon as it is safe to go out again and celebrate life, and live more mindful lives, that we shall (so tip away as soon as you may!). Meantime, should you wish to support your favorite local drag queens now that most are having to adjust to an immediate future of cancelled bookings and in-person gigs that won’t happen until who knows when, Heklina suggests you send them a little love via Venmo…or that you find a way to give back to your community and look after anyone who needs it.

Now, since this first of many #MannysSuperCivicCyberConversations to come allowed for a quick Q&A, I asked Heklina whom she’d Kill. Marry. Fuck: Cher, Madonna, Beyoncé.

After a little hesitation, she said she’d “kill…Madonna, marry Cher, and fuck Beyoncé.”

Royal sacrifice. Moving on.

Do check out #MannysSuperCivicCyberConversations and support Manny’s, too, if you can. Sessions scheduled for this week will focus on How the City is Addressing Homelessness During COVID-19” with Jeff Kositsky, director of the San Francisco Department of Homelessness; and imagine the ideal queer dance scene with Levi Maxwell; and ponder with Del Seymour “How the Virus is Affecting the Tenderloin.” Plus so much more. Guests have been lined up through April 6, when Terry Beswick, executive director of the GLBT Historical Society, will discuss why we need an LGBT History Museum.

Sessions will be held weekdays four times a day (13:00, 15:00, 17:00 & 19:00), so check out the calendar and register@welcometomannys.com.

And now you know. E-see you around soon.

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