San Francisco drag queen, actor, and entrepreneur Heklina has passed away at 55 years of age.
Besides founding the drag club Mother (formerly known as Trannyshack) in 1996, Heklina was best known for playing Dorothy Zbornak in drag productions of Golden Girls, collaborating in multiple projects with Peaches Christ, and being a main fixture in the San Francisco drag scene.
On TV, Heklina made appearances on The Cho Show, The Daily Show, The Ricki Lake Show, and Jerry Springer. She also starred in drag queen spoof films such as 2002’s A Nightmare on Castro Street, 2004’s Whatever Happened to Peaches Christ?, and 2010’s Baby Jane?.
In 2022, Heklina and Peaches Christ starred in the drag parody Mommie Queerest in US theaters. As of April 2023, the two drag legends were scheduled to tour around the UK with this new production. But on Monday, April 3, Peaches Christ reported the passing of Heklina while already in London, writing:
“I am shocked and horrified to bring this news to you. I am living in a real-life nightmare so forgive me if I don’t have all the answers just now. This morning, in London, England, I went to collect my dear friend Heklina, who is costarring with me in a Mommie Queerest show here, and found her dead. I do not know the cause of death yet. I know this is shocking news and I am beyond stunned, but I wanted to let folks know what has happened. Heklina is not just my best friend, but a beloved icon of our community. I am a mess. Given this crisis, please do not try to contact me as I am utterly heartbroken, stunned, and focusing on what needs to get done next. I shall be in touch.”
Now, high-profile drag performers are all mourning the loss of Heklina, who was an absolute icon to the LGBTQ+ community at large.
Scroll through to see drag stars’ reactions to the passing of Heklina.
\u201c@sfoasis I\u2019m legitimately SO SORRY for your loss. Heklina was so incredibly kind and warm. Such an incredible supporter of fellow queens, and she made me feel like family anytime I came to Oasis. Sending y\u2019all so much love, and my deepest condolences \ud83d\udc94\u201d
\u201c\ud83d\udc94 over the loss of the legendary #heklina \u2026 she was funny, punk, groundbreaking, a good friend, surrogate drag mother, the best at suggesting restaurants, and the absolute epitome of the word COOL! I loved her, I love her, and the world will miss her so much. #ripheklina\u201d
\u201cI\u2019m absolutely gutted right now. Heklina was a drag legend and I adored her. She was a blast to work with. I will cherish the memories I have of her. Sending love out to all of her family and friends in this tragic time. You will be missed by many. \ud83d\ude22\ud83d\udc94\u201d
\u201cRest in Power @Heklina, the community really lost a Legend today. Was an honor to have gotten to work with you. Sharing a dressing room with this woman is a RIOT to say the least. Y\u2019all def better laugh today, hers was one of the best. \ud83d\udc9b\u2728\u201d
\u201cWow. RIP Heklina. My deepest sympathies to her family and friends. \ud83d\udc94\u201d
— Eve 6000 \ud83e\udd8b (@Eve 6000 \ud83e\udd8b)
\u201cI'm heartbroken. We communicated nearly everyday and nothing made me happier than making her cackle. We visited recently and I'm so grateful we spent some time together. \nHeklina, I loved and adored you and my only comfort right now is in knowing that I told you that often.\u201d
\u201cIt is sad and surreal to hear about the unexpected passing of Heklina. She has always been a true & good friend to us who we will miss immensely. She was consistently humble, wise, generous, forgiving, hysterical, & filthy, and will always be an inspiration to us.\u201d
\u201cThis is really fucking awful! Heklina was a drag pioneer and San Francisco legend. I\u2019m very shocked by this.\u201d
— Crystal | Black Lives Matter (@Crystal | Black Lives Matter)
Marti G. Cummings
\u201cHearing of @Heklina passing is heartbreaking. She was a true icon in every sense of the word. Fostering community, making people laugh, & creating safe spaces for us all. She welcomed me openly to San Francisco and my heart is with that SF drag community. \ud83d\udc94\u201d
\u201cTHIS IS A HUGE LOSS TO OUR COMMUNITY. @heklina is an Icon who personally took time to teach me so much about drag and traveling with drag. I am heart broken and my heart goes out to @PeachesChrist who had to endure this. We love you #Heklina. \ud83d\ude2d\ud83d\ude2d\u201d