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He loves the nightlife! Gooch's photo exhibit

by David-Elijah Nahmod

Flora Goodtyme at Project Nunway 2017. Photo: Gooch
Flora Goodtyme at Project Nunway 2017. Photo: Gooch  

Renowned local photographer Gooch, who prefers to be called by a single name, unveiled his latest photos in a new show at Ravot Gallery in the Richmond District. In "Smoke and Mirrors: Visions of Modern Drag," Gooch celebrates the drag and nightlife scenes in dozens of colorfully vibrant and sometimes outrageous images.

"The incredible diversity of the performance/drag scene in San Francisco is, for me, pure performance art at its very best," Gooch told the B.A.R. as around 50 people perused his work. "My images from this show were shot on location before, during or after a performance. The reason I do that is for the spontaneity and the raw creativity of the moment."

The show features a fascinating collection of images that underscore the talents of the drag community. Many familiar names from the Bay Area are included, such as Heklina, who's dressed in a short skirt while she stands in what appears to be a jail cell, her mouth open as if screaming. Next to Heklina hangs the elegant Honey Mahogany. D'Arcy Drollinger and Sue Casa are seen sprawled across a flight of stairs as if falling down. An out-of-drag Drollinger was in attendance.

"I feel honored to be part of this collection," he said. "Gooch's almost relentless documentation of the drag and nightlife scenes has elevated drag in San Francisco."

For Gooch, diversity is the key word. "I want people to see the incredibly vibrant performance scene in the city, mostly queer but with straight allies," he said. "The performance scene in the city is very alive and strong. There are men dressed in a female form, and biological women, people of all colors and creeds. Everyone is welcome in San Francisco. If you have the guts to get on stage, then you definitely have my vote."

Some of the images are bizarre. In one photo a model named Stanley Frank is made up to resemble a pig, complete with a pig nose. In another, a female Pope is holding silver guns, the word "Resist" written on her podium. There's also a tribute to The Monster Show, featuring 36 archival prints taken at the popular Thursday night show at The Edge in the Castro. These photos are moving, as local drag icon Cookie Dough, who co-created The Monster Show with husband Michael Chu, is no longer with us.

Other images are erotic. In one striking photo, model Violet Cachki is dressed in flaming red, including red fishnet stockings. She's being pulled back on a red leash by gay porn star Boomer Banks.

Gooch acknowledged a debt of gratitude to drag queens from the past: The Cockettes, Angels of Light, Trannyshack, Thrillpeddlers and Peaches Christ's Midnight Mass. "Smoke and Mirrors: Visions of Modern Drag" will be on display through April 13 at Ravot Gallery, 115 Clement St., SF.

Flora Goodtyme at Project Nunway 2017. Photo: Gooch

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