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Trannyshack Collection, 1996-2008
GLC 58  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance
  • Technical requirements note
  • Historical Note
  • Scope and Contents
  • Arrangement

  • Title: Trannyshack Collection,
    Date (inclusive): 1996-2008
    Collection Identifier: GLC 58
    Creator: Trannyshack.
    Physical Description: 13 folders, 1 oversized folder (0.5 cubic feet)
    Contributing Institution: James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library
    100 Larkin Street
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    (415) 557-4567
    Abstract: The club Trannyshack was founded in February 1996 by Steven Grygelko, known by the professional moniker Heklina. Trannyshack was a drag show staged every Tuesday at the Stud, a South of Market gay bar in San Francisco, California. The Tuesday night shows ran for over 12 years until August 2008. The Trannyshack Collection contains posters, press releases, photographs, DVDs, and a series of "Historical Bulletins."
    Physical Location: Collection is stored onsite.
    Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English.


    The collection is open for research, with photographs available for viewing during Photo Desk hours: Tuesday: 1-5; Thursday: 1-5; Saturday: 10-12, 1-5.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the City Archivist. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the San Francisco Public Library as the owner of the physical items.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Trannyshack Collection (GLC 58), Gay and Lesbian Center, San Francisco Public Library.


    The Trannyshack Collection was donated by Heklina (also known as Stefan [Steven] Grygelko), December 2008.

    Technical requirements note

    Collection includes CD-ROMs.

    Historical Note

    The club Trannyshack was founded in February of 1996, by Steven Grygelko (b. June 17, 1967- ) known by the professional moniker Heklina. Trannyshack was staged every Tuesday at midnight at the Stud, a South of Market gay bar in San Francisco, where it ran for over 12 years. The Tuesday night Trannyshack shows ended in August 2008.
    A bartender at The Stud, Heklina was invited by the manager to create an event that would bring in patrons on Tuesdays, the slowest night of the week. As a participant in Klubstitute, a notorious traveling drag show founded by Diet Popstitute (aka, Michael Joseph Collins, 1958-1995) in 1990, Heklina had witnessed the fun and possibilities of Drag without bounds. Trannyshack quickly gained an avid audience, who would wait sometimes until 1:30 in the morning for the show to begin. Many first time performers grew to fame on the tiny Trannyshack stage, some staying on to become co-host and hostesses of various theme nights, and some, such as Peaches Christ and Annamatronic of the Scissor Sisters, who went on to even greater fame.
    With so many creative people in such close proximity, competition was natural and spurred the performers to heights of glamour and vulgarity which challenged long-held notions of what defines "Drag." The inclusive atmosphere encouraged experimentation of all kinds, both on stage and off. Costumes and acts ranged from the extreme, to the bizarre to the hysterical, edging out but never quite obliterating the traditional canons of drag. Transsexuals, drag queens, drag kings, faux queens, and even faux kings filled the Stud along with regular folks both gay and straight who came to watch the spectacle.
    The popularity of Tuesday nights at the Stud inspired Heklina to take the show on the road, starting in 1999 with what was to become an annual event, the Trannyshack Easter trip to Reno. A Hornblower Yacht trip followed in 2000, along with semi-regular away Trannyshacks in Los Angeles and Seattle. The largest non-Tuesday event, was the annual Miss Trannyshack Pageant, which quickly outgrew the Stud, and was hosted at a variety of venues, eventually ending up at the Regency Center. The much larger stage allowed performers to expand their acts, both physically and conceptually, and big production numbers became the norm. The Miss Trannyshack pageant was also expected to be controversial and winners were always contested, most dramatically when the first faux queen Fauxnique won in 2003, sparking dialogue about the very nature of drag.
    As Trannyshack gained renown, it attracted some of the biggest stars in the drag pantheon, including Joey Arias, Lady Bunny, Chi-Chi La Rue, Sherry Vine, Jackie Beat, and Holly Woodlawn. An assortment of stars from music and television made appearances as well, such as Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Linda Lavin, Gina Shock of the Go-Go's, and Charo who judged her own look-alike contest. The club became something of a tourist attraction, and garnered inclusion on many "Best of" lists. In fact, Trannyshack's popularity spawned a number of unlicensed copycat "Trannyshacks," in the U.S. and even London, of which only the London club was granted legal rights by Heklina to keep the name.
    Though the Tuesday night shows at The Stud have ended, Heklina has plans to continue the Trannyshack legacy with the Easter show, and other special events, and to keep the Heklina/Trannyshack brand alive indefinitely.

    Scope and Contents

    The Trannyshack Collection is comprised of posters, press releases, photographs, DVDs, and a series of "Historical Bulletins" written by Bobby Barber which reveal background information on the performers and a history of each of the Tuesday night shows hosted in 2008, the club's final year. The DVDs include two documentaries, Filthy Gorgeous and Blood, Sweat and Glitter, amateur footage taken from the final Trannyshack Kiss-Off show, and a video oral history from December 2008. The photographs include 500 color prints, with about 100 performers and Trannyshack alumna identified by name, and 760 high resolution digital images on disc.


    The collection is arranged into five series, based on material type and media: Series 1. Press and Publicity; Series 2. Historical Bulletins; Series 3. Photographs; Series 4. DVDs; and Series 5. Posters.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Drag queens--California--San Francisco
    Drag shows--California--San Francisco
    Transvestites--California--San Francisco