Famed San Francisco drag performer Hecklina was found dead Monday in London, England, where she was performing in a touring show. CBS Bay Area Report
The death of Hecklina — also known as actor Stefan Grigelko — was first reported in a social media post by fellow drag artist and performing partner Peaches Christ (aka Joshua Grannell), with whom Hecklina was touring in “Mommy Quirest,” a musical parody. 1981 Joan Crawford biopic “Mommy Dearest.”
“I’m living a real-life nightmare so forgive me if I don’t have all the answers right now,” read the message Grannell posted on both the Peaches Christ Facebook page and her page under her name. “This morning, in London, England I went to pick up my dear friend Hecklina, who is costarring with me here at a Mummy Queerest show, and found her dead. I still don’t know the cause of death. I know it’s shocking news. And I’m shocked. , but I wanted to let people know what happened.”
Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic for Clusterfest
London’s Soho Theatre, where the production of “Mummy Queerest” was being staged, told CBS News, “We are saddened and incredibly saddened by the news of Hecklin’s death. Our thoughts are with Peaches and the Mummy Quirest company, Hecklin’s family, friends and the wider community at this time.”
Authorities did not immediately release any information about the cause of death.
San Francisco lawmaker Matt Haney also tweeted about Hecklina’s death, calling him “a drag legend, brilliant performer and trailblazing community icon.”
“My condolences and love go out to all of Hecklin’s friends, family and loved ones and the entire LGBTQ and drag community,” he added.
Heartbroken and saddened to hear of the loss of Hecklina, a drag legend, brilliant performer and trailblazing community icon. My condolences and love go out to all of Heclina’s friends, family and loved ones and the entire LGBTQ and drag community
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) April 3, 2023
State Sen. Scott Wiener released a statement after the news broke, saying he was “absolutely devastated.”
“Hecklina was truly an icon — funny, caring, outrageous and brave. I first saw Hecklina when I was a young gay man in the 1990s, new to San Francisco. Over the years, I got to know her and find her a place of oasis. helped find. I’ve rarely worked with someone as fierce, creative and dedicated,” Weiner said. “Hacklina created events and community spaces that sparkled with giant wigs and hilarious jokes. She was very outspoken and always stood up for her friends and community. She was the soul of San Francisco, and it’s hard to imagine the city without her. .”
“Hecklin was also a staunch defender of drag – which is now under extreme attack – and created opportunities for young drag queens to find their place,” she added. “When we grieve, we must honor his memory by remembering the joy he brought us and the importance of the art form to which he dedicated his life.”
In addition to performing with Peaches Christ in various stage productions and appearing as Dorothy Zabornak in the San Francisco drag production of “The Golden Girls” — which regularly held sold-out runs of its annual holiday show — Hecklina was a San Francisco stud in the mid-1990s. Known as one of the co-founders of “Trannyshack,” the long-running drag show that started at the club.
Most recently, Heklina was part of the group of owners that relaunched the Oasis nightclub and theater in San Francisco’s SOMA District, which reopened in 2014. He regularly appears as host and MC for various community events.