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The Cockettes
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1969 ... San Francisco ... Sexual Anarchy
Documentary about the gender-bending San Francisco performance group who became a pop culture phenomenon in the early 1970s. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
5 wins & 6 nominations See more »
(13 articles)
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User Reviews:
You had to be there, I guess See more (10 total) »


Larry Brinkin ... Himself
Peggy Cass ... Herself (archive footage)
Pristine Condition ... Himself (archive footage)

Jackie Curtis ... Herself (archive footage)

Candy Darling ... Himself (archive footage)
Dusty Dawn ... Herself

Divine ... Himself (archive footage)
Anton Dunnigan ... Himself

Ahmet Ertegun ... Himself (archive footage)
John Flowers ... Himself

Allen Ginsberg ... Himself (archive footage)
Goldie Glitters ... Himself
The Grateful Dead ... Themselves (archive footage)
Ann Harris ... Herself

Fayette Hauser ... Herself
Hibiscus ... Himself (archive footage)
Jilala ... Himself
Michael Kalmen ... Himself

Richard Koldewyn ... Himself

Angela Lansbury ... Herself (archive footage)

Taylor Mead ... Himself (archive footage)

Sylvia Miles ... Herself

Peter Mintun ... Himself
Milton Miron ... Himself (as Sebastian)
Rumi Missabu ... Himself

Richard Nixon ... Himself (archive footage)
Tricia Nixon ... Herself (archive footage)
Marshall Olds ... Himself
Maureen Orth ... Herself

Anthony Perkins ... Himself (archive footage)

Ronald Reagan ... Himself (archive footage)
Kreemah Ritz ... Himself
John Rothermel ... Himself
Sylvester ... Himself (archive footage)
Pamela Tent-Carpenter ... Herself

Gore Vidal ... Himself (archive footage)

John Waters ... Himself
Errol Wetson ... Himself

Holly Woodlawn ... Himself
Frank Bourquin ... Himself (uncredited)
Chris Kilo ... Himself (uncredited)
Daniel Ware ... Himself (uncredited)

Directed by
Bill Weber 
David Weissman 
Produced by
Robert Croonquist .... associate producer
Roger Klorese .... co-producer
David Weissman .... producer
Original Music by
Richard Koldewyn  (as Richard 'Scrumbly' Koldewyn)
Cinematography by
Marsha Kahm 
Film Editing by
Bill Weber 
Sound Department
James Lebrecht .... sound
Daniel Sperry .... stereo sound consultant: Dolby
Camera and Electrical Department
Stef Butler .... digital imaging technician
Music Department
Peter Dunne .... music producer
Gerry Gershman .... music supervisor
Other crew
Jonathan Dana .... producer's representative
Irwin M. Rappaport .... attorney
David Haney .... generously funded by
Marc Huestis .... thanks
Roger Klorese .... generously funded by

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated R for nudity, sexual content, drug references and some language
100 min
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

On the Weekend of 22 December 2002, the movie grossed $75.00 (by contrast, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) took in $62,007,000).See more »
John Waters:Well, the Cockettes were basically complete sexual anarchy
John Waters:which is always a good thing.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Sluts' EntranceSee more »


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5 out of 13 people found the following review useful.
You had to be there, I guess, 28 October 2004
Author: mgmax from Chicago

Imagine if people told you about a wonderful party they had... and you said, sure, sounds like you had a great time... and then they handed you a two-hour movie of the highlights. What are the odds you would have as good a time as they did? Not very high, especially if you AREN'T high...

That's the problem with The Cockettes, the story of a once-heralded, now largely forgotten theater troupe in San Francisco whose hippie drag shows were a sensation circa 1970. It's an interesting slice of that era, for a while, but neither the vintage footage (they filmed themselves a lot) nor the modern-day interviews are that much more compelling or moving than what you were up to in 1970, or what you think about it now as a respectable middle- aged person. (It is pretty funny to see a pleasant-looking gay bourgeois in his 50s with a neat haircut and mustache be identified by a name like "Scrumbly" or "Kreemah Ritz." One of them, by the way, is the pianist Peter Mintun, well known in San Francisco for reviving 30s society music in venues like the Fairmont Hotel. Funny, the word "Cockettes" doesn't appear on his own website offering his sophisticated musical services, though it does have a picture of him with the most famous Cockette alumnus, disco-era figure Sylvester.)

To judge by the vintage footage, in fact, their stage parodies of old Hollywood movies were pretty terrible, though they might well have been fun in the right altered state of mind. John Waters recalls the spirit of tolerance that greeted him when he came to San Francisco with his movies and was embraced by The Cockettes, but maybe it's that California laidbackness that was responsible for The Cockettes' work seeming so slapdash and slack next to his own films-- they didn't have the sense of outsider desperation that runs through his films like an exposed nerve (or, similarly, through Rainer Werner Fassbinder's films when he put actresses acting like drag queens through the old Hollywood paces). Nor did they have the classical discipline that Charles Ludlam brought to his brilliantly campy farces at the Theater of the Ridiculous in Greenwich Village. (It was a disastrous trip to New York, facing crowds who expected something cleverer than hippies sashaying in the nude in a bad conga line, that pretty much ended the party.)

Ultimately, for all the talk about them being pioneers in genderbending and transgressive art, it's hard to say that The Cockettes had a real point of view about sexuality-- what they mainly had was a good time, which the audience of a documentary will only share in bits and pieces at this late date.

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