Archive of films The Cockettes / The Cockettes

2001, 102 min

Section: Another View
Year: 2002

The larger-than-life theatre ensemble The Cockettes was born in San Francisco in 1969. It arose out of the KaliFlower hippie commune’s spontaneous desire for complete freedom of expression. Though little remembered today, the group became a tremendous success at the time, and even appeared on Broadway.


The theatre ensemble The Cockettes was created in 1969 out of San Francisco’s KaliFlower hippie commune. On stage and off, the members of the group lived a life of absolute sexual and artistic freedom, of unrestrained ordinary human expression. The results involved wild costumes and makeup, parody musical numbers, as well as drugs and all forms of sex. The leader of this cult group was New York actor George Harris, better known as Hibiscus, but he left the ensemble shortly before they appeared on Broadway. The documentary records the reminiscences of former Cockettes members (those who have not succumbed to drugs or AIDS) and rounds it all out with an exceptionally large collection of photographs and footage from the period of the ensemble’s greatest success. The movie offers a glimpse into the history of a group of nonconformists which, in its own way, helped the hippie era last a bit longer; it also looks into American culture of the late sixties and early seventies. The name Cockettes is a takeoff on the legendary dance group, the Rockettes, which performed for decades at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

About the director

David Weissman is an oft-awarded independent director, the first to receive the prestigious Sundance Institute/Mark Silverman Fellowship for New Producers (1990). Weissman directed the popular trailer for the 1995 San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. He recently wrote, produced and directed a series of eight TV spots aimed at AIDS prevention entitled "HIV: Un-infected Does Not Equal Un-affected." Filmography: The Steps (1984), Beauties without a Cause (1986), 976 (1987), Song from an Angel (1988), Mothers (1989), Compliants (1991), Boy-Girl, Boy-Girl (1996), The Cockettes (2001, co-dir., producer). Bill Weber has worked for over twenty years editing commercials, music videos, special effects and features. The Cockettes (co-dir., editor) is his feature-film directorial debut.

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Another View
Director: Bill Weber, David Weissman
Dir. of Photography: Marsha Kahm
Music: Richard "Scrumbly" Koldewyn
Editor: Bill Weber
Producer: David Weissman
Production: Grandelusion

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