THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.
THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.

1.

THE COCKETTES/NOCTURNAL DREAM SHOWS COLLECTION.

A collection of posters and handbills relating to The Cockettes and the Nocturnal Dream Shows that gave them their first public performances. The material covers the period beginning in April 1969, with the first of the Midnight Films series at the Palace Theatre in San Francisco, through to The Cockettes' final official show in July 1972. Notable rarities include the first five handbills designed by Steven Arnold for the Midnight Films series, and both of the two posters screenprinted on flexible clear vinyl announcing The Cockettes in Pearls Over Shanghai and Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma at the Palace Theatre in August and September 1971.

The series of late-night film screenings, first billed as Midnight Films and later known as the Nocturnal Dream Shows, began in early 1969 when Arnold approached the owner of the Palace Theatre, Mr. Chew, with the intention of renting the space for a one-night screening of his student film, Messages, Messages. The audience for it included future Cockettes John Rothermel and Frank Bourquin (Inez Paloma), and its success led to a regular showcase of underground and experimental films. These were soon managed by Arnold's roommate and former accountant for Bill Graham, Sebastian (Milton Miron), who produced the handbills publicising them using the mimeograph machine owned by Mr. Chew.

Arnold first met Kaliflower commune member Hibiscus (George Harris) at the Palace box office, made up as his idol, Jayne Mansfield, and recognising him as a kindred spirit, admitted him for free, a policy extended to other future Cockettes in exchange for their impromptu live performances. By June 1970 Hibiscus had created Fairytale Extravaganza, a full-blown stage production for The Cockettes containing all the songs remembered from his childhood and many Disney classics, ending with the entire cast singing his personal theme song, Some Day My Prince Will Come.

Earlier in 1970, after Arnold had left for Hawaii to concentrate on filmmaking, Todd Trexler assumed responsibility for the design of the Nocturnal Dream Shows and Cockettes posters. Already known for the Peaches Dream Galleries housed in the living room of his Castro Street apartment, he printed them offset litho and made them larger. His work borrowed design cues from The Cockettes' eclectic style of dress and costume, itself inspired by vintage Hollywood glam, and over the next few years his posters both reflected and helped define their visual identity. One of them, in full colour and portraying John Rothermel, announces The Cockettes and Sylvester at the Anderson Theatre in New York City, an infamous, under-rehearsed three week run in November 1971 that was panned by the East Coast critics.

Back in San Francisco and without de facto leader Hibiscus, who had departed earlier due to philosophical differences, and Sylvester, who walked out during the New York trip to pursue a solo career, The Cockettes continued to perform but also fragment. John Rothermel put on Black Moonlight, a one-woman cabaret at the Palace, and Fayette Hauser left for Las Vegas to support Bette Midler. By late 1972, following their last official show, The Miss de Meanor Beauty Pagent, The Cockettes had disbanded and Hauser, along with troupe members Tomata du Plenty, Link Martin, John Flowers and Sweet Pam, moved to New York City to perform in underground theatre. So too did Hibiscus, who put together a number of off-off Broadway revues in the mid-'70s.

Short-lived but highly influential, The Cockettes' radical gender bending sexuality ("genderfuck") helped pave the way for gay liberation and the free expression of queerness, exemplified by the last item in the collection, Pristine Condition's Tri-Sexual Bicentennial Universal Calendar for 1976, a celebratory portrayal of gay consciousness in twelve monthly photographs.

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The collection comprises 38 posters, 21 handbills, and one book/calendar. Selected highlights (illustrated) include:

i) Midnight Films at the Palace Theatre, San Francisco, April 25-26, 1969. Large handbill, mimeograph. 35.5x21.5cm. Artwork by Steven Arnold. The first of the Midnight Films series at the Palace (following its premiere in February). Steven Arnold and Michael K. Weise's first film, Liberation of the Mannique Mechanique, screened for the first time. Also billed are screenings of films by Kenneth Anger (Eaux D'Artifice and Kustom Kar Kummandos) and Jud Yalkut (DMT).

ii) Nocturnal Dream Shows present Midnight Films at the Palace Theatre, San Francisco, October 1969. Offset poster. 43.6x56cm. Artwork by Steven Arnold. Halloween Night: "Live Acts on Stage and Films", including Jack Smith's "banned orgy film" Flaming Creatures and Steven Arnold's The Various Incarnations of a Tibetian Seamstress.

iii) Nocturnal Dream Shows Midnight Films at the Palace Theatre, San Francisco, February, 1970. Offset poster. 43.1x56cm. Artwork by Steven Arnold, his last poster design for them before handing over to Todd Trexler. The Cockettes appeared for the second time at the Palace Theatre in February 1970, performing Paste on Paste, though they are not named on the poster.

iv) Nocturnal Dream Shows Midnite Movies at the Palace Theatre, San Francisco, May 1970. Offset poster. 56x43.5cm. Artwork by Todd Trexler. Lists Kenneth Anger's Puce Moment, Jordan Belson's Allures, and The Danger Girl ("Gloria Swanson does male impersonation in Max Sennett hit").

v) The Cockettes on stage in Les Ghouls at the Palace Theatre, San Francisco, October 29-31, 1970. Offset poster. 61x48.3cm. Artwork by Todd Trexler. The Cockettes' show featured Sylvester as the Queen of Mars, and was preceded by screenings of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead, described by Pam Tent as "the perfect introduction to Les Ghouls". The last night was packed out with everyone "in show-drag and Halloween spirits" (Midnight at the Palace, p. 86/89). Small lower right corner loss. (The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy, p. 207).

vi) Nocturnal Dream Shows presents The Cockettes in Pearls Over Shanghai plus Marlene Dietrich at the Palace Theatre, San Francisco, August 13-14, 1971. Poster screenprinted in pink and green on flexible clear vinyl plastic. 46.5x45.5cm. Artwork by Todd Trexler. The Cockettes' second production of Pearls Over Shanghai.

vii) The Edge of Night. Nocturnal Dream Shows in association with Dennis Lopez presents The Cockettes in Tinsel Tarts at the Palace Theatre, San Francisco, September 10, 1971. Large poster screenprinted in black on flexible clear vinyl plastic. 94x47.5cm. Artwork by Todd Trexler. Also announces Sylvester and His Hot New Band (Sept. 11). The Palace Theatre marquee billed the event as The Cockettes' farewell show before their ill-fated New York City tour, and the audience included critic Rex Reed and Truman Capote, who declared that "This is the most outrageous thing I have ever seen!"

viii) Nocturnal Dream Shows in association with Dennis Lopez presents two shows at the Palace Theatre, San Francisco, October 8-9 and 15-16, 1971 - Finchley Boys and Sylvester and his Hot Band. Offset poster. 56.5x44.5cm. Artwork by Todd Trexler. Both shows were hosted by Goldie Glitters, and the second pair of dates featured an early solo appearance by Sylvester.

ix) Harry Zerler in Association with Dennis Lopez presents a Nocturnal Dream Show from San Francisco - The Cockettes and Sylvester and his Hot Band in a New York debut at the Anderson Theatre, November 1971. Offset poster. 63.3x51.5cm. Full colour artwork by Todd Trexler featuring a photograph of John Rothermel by Clay Geerdes. The Cockettes performed Tinsel Tarts in a Hot Coma and Pearls Over Shanghai. (The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy, p. 308).

x) Nocturnal Dream Shows presents The Fabulous Cockettes in Les Etoilés du Minuit at the Palace Theatre, San Francisco, December 31, 1971-January 1, 1972. Offset poster. 28.7x44.5cm. Artwork by John Flowers. The show marked a successful return to San Francisco for The Cockettes following their New York flop. (The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy, p. 330/331).

xi) The Fabulous Cockettes host The First Annual Miss de Meanor Beauty Pagent. House of Good, San Francisco, July 15, 1972. Handbill. 21.6x13.7cm. Artwork by W.R.S. The Cockettes performed three numbers in their last official show. Lists 'special added attraction' Lady Divine, who gave a speech about her fantasised criminal inclinations written for her by John Waters. The House of Good on Geary Street was a deconsecrated synagogue acquired by Bill Graham that later hosted Jim Jones and the Peoples' Temple. (The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy, p. 264).

xii) The Pristine Condition Tri-Sexual Bicentennial Universal Calendar for 1976. (SF): Exactly That Productions, 1976. 4to. Stapled wrps., unpaginated (32pp.). Signed, inscribed and dated (in 1976) by Pristine Condition to Radical Faeries 'Skosh & Rick'. Front cover photograph by Norman Seeff, hand tinted by Billy Orchid. Illustrated throughout with photographs by Michael Zagaris, Gerard Malanga, Nancy Avis Dukes, and others. Old pinholes to centre right edge of front cover and first few pages, o/w Very Good. (The Cockettes: Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy, p. 264).

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For further details, including a descriptive list and images of every item, please inquire.

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