December 2015 Issue

 

Assessing an Epidemic

 

Prominent AIDS Researcher Highlights Prevention Marcus Conant was one of the first physicians to diagnose and treat AIDS in 1981 and is a founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He advocates free PrEP as part of a public health policy.
Photo: Bill Sywak

 

 

 

December 1 was World AIDS Day in San Francisco and around the globe. Various events were held in the city, including a community update at the new Mission Bay UCSF campus on HIV cure research sponsored by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and the UCSF AIDS Research Institute. This was followed in the evening by a World AIDS Day report on San Francisco’s progress towards the goals of zero new HIV infections, zero preventable HIV deaths, and zero stigmas. Towards evening the annual “Light in the Grove,” a commemoration and candlelight remembrance of those lost to AIDS, was held in the AIDS Grove in Golden Gate Park, while Christmas tree lighting ceremonies were held in the Castro and in the Rotunda of City Hall sponsored by the Castro Merchants and the Rainbow World Fund.

 

In recognition of World AIDS Day, the Courier checked in with Dr. Marcus Conant, one of the first physicians to diagnose  and treat Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1981 and a founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Conant was a professor at UCSF in dermatology when he first identified Kaposi’s Sarcoma and AIDS in patients and went on to help develop many important AIDS medications.

 

When I first contacted Conant it was to weigh in on a debate between researchers at Stanford and those at the World Health Organization to determine the best way to invest limited HIV resources in preventing HIV  globally. According to the Center for Disease Control, the early release of a highly promising Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
treatment called Truvada constituted “a major step forward in the global fight against HIV ... and could reduce the transmission of HIV worldwide.”

 

In contrast, the Stanford researchers maintained that programs with limited resources should prioritize the scaling-up of existing HIV treatment over using Truvada. While acknowledging that “PrEP really does work almost as good as a condom,” Conant was more preoccupied with the spread and treatment of HIV nationally. “We now have 40,000 people a year infected with HIV. As a nation that’s unacceptable.”

Using data supplied by the White House, one in eight Americans will have their infections go undetected. In Conant’s experience the realistic number is that one-quarter to one-third of the U.S. population does not know if they are infected. If they are among the lesser number that got tested and found out  they are infected with the HIV virus, most will not do anything about it.

 

If you are a white gay male in America, especially if you live along one of the coasts or dense urban areas, you have a 3 percent chance of getting HIV. If you are a black gay male, you have about a 40 percent chance of being HIV positive.
The reasons are many and varied and have to do with education, adequate medication and more.

 

Dr. Conant shifted his view to our national HIV/AIDS strategy and quoted President Obama as saying undiagnosed HIV still affects different ages, races, sexual orientations and even different regions of the country in disproportionate ways. Meanwhile our nation’s vision is to have “unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination” for all citizens.

 

Saying it’s 36 years later and we still don’t have a national AIDS policy, Conant asserts that PrEP should be given for free to almost everyone in the country. On our national AIDS policy, Conant believes that our leaders just deliver feel-good messages. He wants Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer and Jackie Spier to make it a priority to stop the AIDS epidemic. Indeed, he wants our medical schools to add two hours to their curricula just to deliver AIDS training to help stop the epidemic.

 

Finally, there are some positive actions to take in Dr. Conant’s recent assessment of HIV wellness. The first is that his goal would be to “Stop the Epidemic.” He would be far more aggressive with federal and even state policy to stop the epidemic. It would probably take five to eight years to see results.

 

Some targeted activities that are currently showing promise include special “candidate vaccines” that have a greater chance of working and growing more antibiotics early on so there is a greater chance to act. In addition, working on group goals should continue among the labs currently working on vaccines. A cause for optimism is a new strategy to treat people who are already infected, called “Shock and Kill.” This refers to the habits of a virus over time to fit into one’s body and take up semi-permanent residence there, coming out to do damage at later times. The strategy is to fight it from within.

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Density Program’s New Heights

 

Will taller buildings aid the housing crisis?

 

 

With the city confined to a seven-by-seven square mile area, San Francisco’s Planning Commission is exploring a new housing plan to increase height limitations of residential buildings.

 

The proposed idea, introduced by Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Katy Tang last month, is called the Affordable Housing Bonus Program (AHBP). The AHBP provides incentives for developers to include more affordable housing for very low, low, moderate, and middle-income households. Development bonuses, such as increased density, would be offered based on the percentage of affordable units provided.

 

The incentive for developers to join this program is that two extra stories could be added to projects in certain parts of the city if 30 percent of the units in the new building will be permanently affordable for low- and moderate-income residents. The breakdown requires that 12 percent of the units are available to low-income residents, and 18 percent of the units are reserved for middle-income residents (which equates to yearly income of $122,000 to $142,000 for a family of four). Publicly funded projects with 100 percent affordable housing would be allowed to add three floors instead of two.

 

The AHBP would apply to an estimated 30,850 parcels in San Francisco, in areas zoned as neighborhood districts where commercial use is either required or permitted on the ground floor, with residential units above. Projects that develop at least five units of housing would benefit from the program.

 

So what does this mean for the Castro?

 

Looking at the AHBP Web Map, several parcels on Castro Street between 17th Street and 19th Street and the surrounding area are zoned for the program. Housing rights advocate Tommi Avicolli Mecca said this program will have negative consequences for the tenants and small businesses currently occupying those spaces. One example of a targeted space is Harvey Milk’s former camera store, which is now the site of the Human Rights Campaign on Castro Street. A recent meeting with the Planning Commission discussed sparing such historical buildings, but according to Mecca, nothing is guaranteed.

 

“I think the big problem with the plan right now is that they are going to allow developers to tear down rent controlled buildings and also demolish small businesses,” Mecca stated. “You can come build affordable housing, but you don’t have to bulldoze our neighborhood. The mayor is saying he wants to build 30,000 new units by 2020. The reality is that he can meet that goal without tearing down rent-controlled units.”

 

Mecca noted that there are a number of vacant lots and buildings that have been abandoned that could be used to give developers an incentive to build there, instead of in areas where people are already living. Mecca worries that residents and small business owners are going to get displaced from the Castro, and will be forced to relocate outside the city. He expressed concern that this program will essentially change the character of the neighborhood by eliminating diversity and bringing in high-end retailers, chain stores and market-rate housing.

 

District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener disagrees with Mecca. Wiener sees the density bonus program as a powerful tool to increase the production of affordable housing. He says it’s a major potential source of new affordable housing throughout the city.

 

“The density bonus program will not lead to demolition of buildings,” Wiener said. “It’s incredibly difficult to get a demolition permit for older buildings in San Francisco. The density bonus won’t change that.”

 

City planners estimate the program would apply to some 240 sites throughout San Francisco, potentially bringing up to 5,000 below-market-rate units in the next 20 years. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, several proposals have come into the Planning Department that could take advantage of the density bonus program, including a 42-unit building at 1021 Quintara St. The density bonus would allow another three stories at 490 S. Van Ness Ave., a pure affordable-housing site, taking the proposed 72-unit building closer to 100 units.

 

Most recent developments in San Francisco have impacted neighborhoods that have been up-zoned for taller buildings like SoMa, Mission Bay, Upper Market and Dogpatch. The major difference is that the density bonus program would apply to major transit routes in the western part of the city that have not been rezoned. In addition to Castro Street and Divisidero Street, it would potentially affect Noriega Street, Taraval Street and Irving Street in the Sunset, Geary Boulevard and Balboa Street in the Richmond, as well as Fulton Street and Fillmore Street in the Western Addition. It could even reach outer Mission Street in the Excelsior and San Bruno Avenue.

 

An informational hearing was held at the Planning Commission meeting on December 3rd, but the Board of Supervisors will not vote on the AHBP until next year.

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

Interview

Christmas With The Golden Girls

 

Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas with the Golden Girls? Dorothy (Heklina), Rose (D’Arcy Drollinger), Blanche (Matthew Martin), and Sophia (Holotta Tymes) cordially invite you to the Victoria Theatre December 3rd through December 20th to celebrate with them. Now in its ninth year, The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes has brightened the holiday season in San Francisco and has become a favorite tradition for many. The show does tend to sell out so be sure to get your tickets early.

 

Wendy: Your production of Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes has become a holiday tradition for so many people, and it certainly assures you of Christmas plans every year!

 

Heklina: Yes, absolutely!

 

Wendy: And this the ninth year of the show and your fifth year at Victoria Theatre.Heklina: Actually I think it’s the tenth year we’ve been doing it, but we started doing the Golden Girls in the summertime and we added the Christmas episodes later. We just felt like the Christmas episodes resonated so much more with people because they want somewhere to go and feel a part of around Christmas time, and they want to be able to laugh and enjoy themselves around the holidays. When I first started this production with Cookie Dough there really wasn’t a campy Christmas show like it happening in San Francisco at that time, so it kind of filled a void. We just love doing it. We really have found our home in the Victoria; it makes it so much more Christmassy. We can decorate the stage and leave it there. You have to see the sets. They look fabulous. Every year we keep getting bigger and bigger.

 

Wendy: Yes, it’s gotten to be a big production with the sets, as you said, and costume design and lighting and everything else. How many people are involved with the production of the show?

 

Heklina: We have a costume person, we have a backstage manager, we have a sound and lights manager, we have a person who sets the lights for us, we have two house managers, and security, and of course we have the cast.

 

Wendy: Putting the costumes together from that time period sounds like it would be a lot of fun.

 

Heklina: It is. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work too. It’s really difficult to find outfits for Dorothy. Rose and Sophia and Blanche are good ‘cause you can go thrift shopping and find stuff for, but Bea Arthur always had stuff especially constructed for her, so she had a very specific look—it was all very flowy and drapey. It’s hard to find that stuff off the rack. It’s always a challenge.

 

Wendy: Of course you play Dorothy Zbornak in the Golden Girls. Was she your first choice of characters to play? Do you feel an affinity with her?

 

Heklina: Well it’s funny, years ago somebody asked me to play Dorothy in a production of Golden Girls, and I wasn’t a huge fan of Golden Girls at the time but they felt that I’d be perfect for the role. Since then I’ve really gotten to know the Golden Girls. I’ve watched every episode, I own all seven seasons, and so I really have a lot of respect for Bea Arthur. I have respect for all four of the women in that show. They’re all amazing comedians, but I do have an affinity for Dorothy. I feel like she’s the closest to my actual personality, very dry witted and very sarcastic and all that stuff.

 

Wendy: It’s the tenth year of Golden Girls, but is this the tenth Christmas season as well?

 

Heklina: This is the ninth Christmas season.

 

Wendy: And you started the Golden Girls with your dear friend Cookie Dough, who tragically, I was so very sorry to hear, passed away last January.

 

Heklina; Yes, that was awful. We did consider not doing the show but we decided [we’d go on] with it.

 

Wendy: I’m sure that’s what Cookie Dough would have wanted.

 

Heklina: I know it’s kinda corny to say that but that’s what I thought too. [Cookie] worked so hard on those shows all those years with me. I’m reminded of him everywhere I go in this production ‘cause I’m unpacking all the outfits and props from last year, and there’s Cookie’s notes and all that stuff, so Cookie’s very much with us within this production.

 

Wendy: Yes, absolutely. This year you have two new members joining the core cast: Holotta Tymes and D’Arcy Drollinger.

 

Heklina: Yes, Holotta Tymes is taking over the role of Sophia Petrillo, and D’Arcy Drollinger is my coproducer who is taking over the role of Rose Nylund.

 

Wendy: You and D’Arcy work together at the new club that you’ve opened; you reopened the Oasis in SOMA.

 

Heklina: Yes, we’re both co-owners of the Oasis.

 

Wendy: So you see each other all the time.

 

Heklina: We were just at Oasis all day and here we are, together here. It’s like a marriage.

 

Wendy: What was Trannyshack and is now known as Mother happens there. Was that change in name a result of a request from the community?

 

Heklina: It was a couple things. I felt like I wanted a new start once I opened Oasis, ‘cause Trannyshack had been going on for so long and it’s gotten so big. It was kind of a name that belonged to a specific time. I wanted a new start but also I was well aware that the term tranny had taken on a whole new loaded meaning within the trans community. My only intention is to entertain people. I don’t want to be involved in hurting people or controversy; all I wanna do is put on a show.

 

Wendy: What are you looking forward to in the new year?

 

Heklina: I’m looking forward to the process of running the club becoming easier and more streamlined. We opened the club and we were figuring out what worked and what doesn’t work but it’s been a great success so far. What I’m really looking forward to is more work; I’m just kind of a workaholic; I don’t relax very well. I’m always excited to get new projects.

 

Wendy: Work is different for creatives though.

 

Heklina: Exactly, yes. I probably will take a little bit of time off in January, then I’m going on a cruise with Peaches Christ. We are doing a cruise to Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta. After Golden Girls I’m throwing a big party for New Year’s Eve and then my big thing in January’s gonna be the cruise to Mexico. The year will start off in a big way with that which will be great.

 

 

 

 

 

© Castro Courier 2014 No part of this website or artwork portrayed may be redistributed or republished without the express permission of the Castro Courier. Opinions expressed are strictly those of the writers and do not reflect the opinions of the publisher or staff.

 

December 2015 Issue

 

Assessing an Epidemic

 

Prominent AIDS Researcher Highlights Prevention Marcus Conant was one of the first physicians to diagnose and treat AIDS in 1981 and is a founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. He advocates free PrEP as part of a public health policy.
Photo: Bill Sywak

 

 

 

December 1 was World AIDS Day in San Francisco and around the globe. Various events were held in the city, including a community update at the new Mission Bay UCSF campus on HIV cure research sponsored by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and the UCSF AIDS Research Institute. This was followed in the evening by a World AIDS Day report on San Francisco’s progress towards the goals of zero new HIV infections, zero preventable HIV deaths, and zero stigmas. Towards evening the annual “Light in the Grove,” a commemoration and candlelight remembrance of those lost to AIDS, was held in the AIDS Grove in Golden Gate Park, while Christmas tree lighting ceremonies were held in the Castro and in the Rotunda of City Hall sponsored by the Castro Merchants and the Rainbow World Fund.

 

In recognition of World AIDS Day, the Courier checked in with Dr. Marcus Conant, one of the first physicians to diagnose  and treat Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1981 and a founder of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Conant was a professor at UCSF in dermatology when he first identified Kaposi’s Sarcoma and AIDS in patients and went on to help develop many important AIDS medications.

 

When I first contacted Conant it was to weigh in on a debate between researchers at Stanford and those at the World Health Organization to determine the best way to invest limited HIV resources in preventing HIV  globally. According to the Center for Disease Control, the early release of a highly promising Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP)
treatment called Truvada constituted “a major step forward in the global fight against HIV ... and could reduce the transmission of HIV worldwide.”

 

In contrast, the Stanford researchers maintained that programs with limited resources should prioritize the scaling-up of existing HIV treatment over using Truvada. While acknowledging that “PrEP really does work almost as good as a condom,” Conant was more preoccupied with the spread and treatment of HIV nationally. “We now have 40,000 people a year infected with HIV. As a nation that’s unacceptable.”

Using data supplied by the White House, one in eight Americans will have their infections go undetected. In Conant’s experience the realistic number is that one-quarter to one-third of the U.S. population does not know if they are infected. If they are among the lesser number that got tested and found out  they are infected with the HIV virus, most will not do anything about it.

 

If you are a white gay male in America, especially if you live along one of the coasts or dense urban areas, you have a 3 percent chance of getting HIV. If you are a black gay male, you have about a 40 percent chance of being HIV positive.
The reasons are many and varied and have to do with education, adequate medication and more.

 

Dr. Conant shifted his view to our national HIV/AIDS strategy and quoted President Obama as saying undiagnosed HIV still affects different ages, races, sexual orientations and even different regions of the country in disproportionate ways. Meanwhile our nation’s vision is to have “unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination” for all citizens.

 

Saying it’s 36 years later and we still don’t have a national AIDS policy, Conant asserts that PrEP should be given for free to almost everyone in the country. On our national AIDS policy, Conant believes that our leaders just deliver feel-good messages. He wants Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer and Jackie Spier to make it a priority to stop the AIDS epidemic. Indeed, he wants our medical schools to add two hours to their curricula just to deliver AIDS training to help stop the epidemic.

 

Finally, there are some positive actions to take in Dr. Conant’s recent assessment of HIV wellness. The first is that his goal would be to “Stop the Epidemic.” He would be far more aggressive with federal and even state policy to stop the epidemic. It would probably take five to eight years to see results.

 

Some targeted activities that are currently showing promise include special “candidate vaccines” that have a greater chance of working and growing more antibiotics early on so there is a greater chance to act. In addition, working on group goals should continue among the labs currently working on vaccines. A cause for optimism is a new strategy to treat people who are already infected, called “Shock and Kill.” This refers to the habits of a virus over time to fit into one’s body and take up semi-permanent residence there, coming out to do damage at later times. The strategy is to fight it from within.

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

 

Density Program’s New Heights

 

Will taller buildings aid the housing crisis?

 

 

With the city confined to a seven-by-seven square mile area, San Francisco’s Planning Commission is exploring a new housing plan to increase height limitations of residential buildings.

 

The proposed idea, introduced by Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Katy Tang last month, is called the Affordable Housing Bonus Program (AHBP). The AHBP provides incentives for developers to include more affordable housing for very low, low, moderate, and middle-income households. Development bonuses, such as increased density, would be offered based on the percentage of affordable units provided.

 

The incentive for developers to join this program is that two extra stories could be added to projects in certain parts of the city if 30 percent of the units in the new building will be permanently affordable for low- and moderate-income residents. The breakdown requires that 12 percent of the units are available to low-income residents, and 18 percent of the units are reserved for middle-income residents (which equates to yearly income of $122,000 to $142,000 for a family of four). Publicly funded projects with 100 percent affordable housing would be allowed to add three floors instead of two.

 

The AHBP would apply to an estimated 30,850 parcels in San Francisco, in areas zoned as neighborhood districts where commercial use is either required or permitted on the ground floor, with residential units above. Projects that develop at least five units of housing would benefit from the program.

 

So what does this mean for the Castro?

 

Looking at the AHBP Web Map, several parcels on Castro Street between 17th Street and 19th Street and the surrounding area are zoned for the program. Housing rights advocate Tommi Avicolli Mecca said this program will have negative consequences for the tenants and small businesses currently occupying those spaces. One example of a targeted space is Harvey Milk’s former camera store, which is now the site of the Human Rights Campaign on Castro Street. A recent meeting with the Planning Commission discussed sparing such historical buildings, but according to Mecca, nothing is guaranteed.

 

“I think the big problem with the plan right now is that they are going to allow developers to tear down rent controlled buildings and also demolish small businesses,” Mecca stated. “You can come build affordable housing, but you don’t have to bulldoze our neighborhood. The mayor is saying he wants to build 30,000 new units by 2020. The reality is that he can meet that goal without tearing down rent-controlled units.”

 

Mecca noted that there are a number of vacant lots and buildings that have been abandoned that could be used to give developers an incentive to build there, instead of in areas where people are already living. Mecca worries that residents and small business owners are going to get displaced from the Castro, and will be forced to relocate outside the city. He expressed concern that this program will essentially change the character of the neighborhood by eliminating diversity and bringing in high-end retailers, chain stores and market-rate housing.

 

District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener disagrees with Mecca. Wiener sees the density bonus program as a powerful tool to increase the production of affordable housing. He says it’s a major potential source of new affordable housing throughout the city.

 

“The density bonus program will not lead to demolition of buildings,” Wiener said. “It’s incredibly difficult to get a demolition permit for older buildings in San Francisco. The density bonus won’t change that.”

 

City planners estimate the program would apply to some 240 sites throughout San Francisco, potentially bringing up to 5,000 below-market-rate units in the next 20 years. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, several proposals have come into the Planning Department that could take advantage of the density bonus program, including a 42-unit building at 1021 Quintara St. The density bonus would allow another three stories at 490 S. Van Ness Ave., a pure affordable-housing site, taking the proposed 72-unit building closer to 100 units.

 

Most recent developments in San Francisco have impacted neighborhoods that have been up-zoned for taller buildings like SoMa, Mission Bay, Upper Market and Dogpatch. The major difference is that the density bonus program would apply to major transit routes in the western part of the city that have not been rezoned. In addition to Castro Street and Divisidero Street, it would potentially affect Noriega Street, Taraval Street and Irving Street in the Sunset, Geary Boulevard and Balboa Street in the Richmond, as well as Fulton Street and Fillmore Street in the Western Addition. It could even reach outer Mission Street in the Excelsior and San Bruno Avenue.

 

An informational hearing was held at the Planning Commission meeting on December 3rd, but the Board of Supervisors will not vote on the AHBP until next year.

 

 

••••• ALSO IN THIS ISSUE •••••

Interview

Christmas With The Golden Girls

 

Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas with the Golden Girls? Dorothy (Heklina), Rose (D’Arcy Drollinger), Blanche (Matthew Martin), and Sophia (Holotta Tymes) cordially invite you to the Victoria Theatre December 3rd through December 20th to celebrate with them. Now in its ninth year, The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes has brightened the holiday season in San Francisco and has become a favorite tradition for many. The show does tend to sell out so be sure to get your tickets early.

 

Wendy: Your production of Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes has become a holiday tradition for so many people, and it certainly assures you of Christmas plans every year!

 

Heklina: Yes, absolutely!

 

Wendy: And this the ninth year of the show and your fifth year at Victoria Theatre.Heklina: Actually I think it’s the tenth year we’ve been doing it, but we started doing the Golden Girls in the summertime and we added the Christmas episodes later. We just felt like the Christmas episodes resonated so much more with people because they want somewhere to go and feel a part of around Christmas time, and they want to be able to laugh and enjoy themselves around the holidays. When I first started this production with Cookie Dough there really wasn’t a campy Christmas show like it happening in San Francisco at that time, so it kind of filled a void. We just love doing it. We really have found our home in the Victoria; it makes it so much more Christmassy. We can decorate the stage and leave it there. You have to see the sets. They look fabulous. Every year we keep getting bigger and bigger.

 

Wendy: Yes, it’s gotten to be a big production with the sets, as you said, and costume design and lighting and everything else. How many people are involved with the production of the show?

 

Heklina: We have a costume person, we have a backstage manager, we have a sound and lights manager, we have a person who sets the lights for us, we have two house managers, and security, and of course we have the cast.

 

Wendy: Putting the costumes together from that time period sounds like it would be a lot of fun.

 

Heklina: It is. It’s a lot of fun. It’s a lot of work too. It’s really difficult to find outfits for Dorothy. Rose and Sophia and Blanche are good ‘cause you can go thrift shopping and find stuff for, but Bea Arthur always had stuff especially constructed for her, so she had a very specific look—it was all very flowy and drapey. It’s hard to find that stuff off the rack. It’s always a challenge.

 

Wendy: Of course you play Dorothy Zbornak in the Golden Girls. Was she your first choice of characters to play? Do you feel an affinity with her?

 

Heklina: Well it’s funny, years ago somebody asked me to play Dorothy in a production of Golden Girls, and I wasn’t a huge fan of Golden Girls at the time but they felt that I’d be perfect for the role. Since then I’ve really gotten to know the Golden Girls. I’ve watched every episode, I own all seven seasons, and so I really have a lot of respect for Bea Arthur. I have respect for all four of the women in that show. They’re all amazing comedians, but I do have an affinity for Dorothy. I feel like she’s the closest to my actual personality, very dry witted and very sarcastic and all that stuff.

 

Wendy: It’s the tenth year of Golden Girls, but is this the tenth Christmas season as well?

 

Heklina: This is the ninth Christmas season.

 

Wendy: And you started the Golden Girls with your dear friend Cookie Dough, who tragically, I was so very sorry to hear, passed away last January.

 

Heklina; Yes, that was awful. We did consider not doing the show but we decided [we’d go on] with it.

 

Wendy: I’m sure that’s what Cookie Dough would have wanted.

 

Heklina: I know it’s kinda corny to say that but that’s what I thought too. [Cookie] worked so hard on those shows all those years with me. I’m reminded of him everywhere I go in this production ‘cause I’m unpacking all the outfits and props from last year, and there’s Cookie’s notes and all that stuff, so Cookie’s very much with us within this production.

 

Wendy: Yes, absolutely. This year you have two new members joining the core cast: Holotta Tymes and D’Arcy Drollinger.

 

Heklina: Yes, Holotta Tymes is taking over the role of Sophia Petrillo, and D’Arcy Drollinger is my coproducer who is taking over the role of Rose Nylund.

 

Wendy: You and D’Arcy work together at the new club that you’ve opened; you reopened the Oasis in SOMA.

 

Heklina: Yes, we’re both co-owners of the Oasis.

 

Wendy: So you see each other all the time.

 

Heklina: We were just at Oasis all day and here we are, together here. It’s like a marriage.

 

Wendy: What was Trannyshack and is now known as Mother happens there. Was that change in name a result of a request from the community?

 

Heklina: It was a couple things. I felt like I wanted a new start once I opened Oasis, ‘cause Trannyshack had been going on for so long and it’s gotten so big. It was kind of a name that belonged to a specific time. I wanted a new start but also I was well aware that the term tranny had taken on a whole new loaded meaning within the trans community. My only intention is to entertain people. I don’t want to be involved in hurting people or controversy; all I wanna do is put on a show.

 

Wendy: What are you looking forward to in the new year?

 

Heklina: I’m looking forward to the process of running the club becoming easier and more streamlined. We opened the club and we were figuring out what worked and what doesn’t work but it’s been a great success so far. What I’m really looking forward to is more work; I’m just kind of a workaholic; I don’t relax very well. I’m always excited to get new projects.

 

Wendy: Work is different for creatives though.

 

Heklina: Exactly, yes. I probably will take a little bit of time off in January, then I’m going on a cruise with Peaches Christ. We are doing a cruise to Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas, and Puerto Vallarta. After Golden Girls I’m throwing a big party for New Year’s Eve and then my big thing in January’s gonna be the cruise to Mexico. The year will start off in a big way with that which will be great.

 

 

 

 

 

© Castro Courier 2014