SF drag legend loses car to arson

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Tuesday August 1, 2023
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Drag king Fudgie Frottage's 1989 Toyota MR2 SC was destroyed during an apparent arson outside the Martin Luther King Jr. pool June 22. Photo: Fudgie Frottage
Drag king Fudgie Frottage's 1989 Toyota MR2 SC was destroyed during an apparent arson outside the Martin Luther King Jr. pool June 22. Photo: Fudgie Frottage

The car of a San Francisco drag icon was torched in the Bayview just before Pride weekend, and answers have been hard to come by.

Fudgie Frottage, 68, a nonbinary genderqueer person who founded and co-hosts the San Francisco Drag King contest, told the Bay Area Reporter he thought it might've been a hate crime because copies of the B.A.R. were strewn behind his 1989 Toyota MR2 SC, which had been burnt to a crisp.

"It's very potentially a hate crime," Frottage said, adding that copies of the Bay Area's LGBTQ newspaper of record had been in his trunk. "Of course, I don't know. There's no camera from SF Rec and Park on the street."

Adding insult to injury, Frottage said he'd not heard back from either the office of District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton or the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.

The incident happened June 22 after Frottage went to a swimming class at the Martin Luther King Jr. Pool, which is in Walton's district.

"There were 40 people in the pool. The meet was from 6-7 [p.m.]," Frottage told the B.A.R. "I left at 7:15 and I thought 'why are the cops here?' and then I saw my car and thought 'what the fuck.'"

Pictures show the interior of Frottage's car burnt and partially melted. Interestingly, the Club steering wheel lock is still intact. Frottage theorizes the blaze may have stemmed from what was intended to be a theft.

"The Club is still on the steering wheel though the whole cabin is melted," Fudgie said. "Maybe they tried to steal the car, they got frustrated, so opened the trunk, put gas all over it, and set it on fire."

The San Francisco Police Department did not return a request for comment from the B.A.R. asking for a report on the incident; however, Captain Jonathan Baxter, the public information officer for the San Francisco Fire Department, did confirm that the fire is under investigation.

Frottage stated to the B.A.R. that the SFFD had been in touch. A fire lieutenant told him "that they are looking into the person of interest, checking video footage in that area, which, sadly, is sparse," Frottage stated.

Frottage wrote an email to several city agencies and officials July 14, including Rec and Park and Walton, in whose district the fire occurred. (Frottage himself resides in Bernal Heights, which is in District 9.) It included a description of someone passersby told Frottage was looking into the car, and who was spotted at an Arco gas station.

"This city is no longer safe, and the blame lands on politicians who are not doing their jobs effectively," Frottage's letter stated, in part. "Meanwhile, people like me get our cars destroyed, broken into, stolen, catalytic converters stolen, not to mention the ridiculous constant bicycle thefts, disassembling, rebuilding and sales that you are allowing to exist as a lucrative form of income while legitimate businesses are forced to close up shop."

As of August 1, Frottage was still waiting for a response from Rec and Park or Walton's office.

"If it were a private business and a car was set on fire, I'd think they'd be like, 'Oh my God, we're so sorry.' Not one person has contacted me," Frottage said. "I contacted them. I'm shocked."

Park and Rec did not return a request for comment from the B.A.R. as of press time. Walton's chief of staff Natalie Gee and legislative aide Tracy Gallardo told the B.A.R. they could not find an email from Frottage on the matter, and requested the B.A.R. provide his info directly.

Frottage provided the B.A.R. a copy of the email, including his and the other email addresses, showing it'd been sent to [email protected] on July 14; Walton's staff did not return a request for comment from the B.A.R. as to whether they'd been able to locate it themselves.

Frottage said he feels he can't return to the MLK pool.

"I used to swim every day of the week at one point, then maybe six days a week, then with the pandemic everything got screwed up in the pool," Frottage said. "I love swimming. Now I feel I can never go back to that place because there's a pyromaniac running around."

Frottage had owned the car for almost 20 years and was about to put new insurance on the car after a paint job.

"The car was very well maintained," Fudgie said. "Needless to say, I did not have comprehensive insurance on it so I couldn't collect anything from insurance. ... I had to buy a car out of pocket."

Thankfully, Frottage's friends helped out with donations.

"It's great my friends helped me and it's great we do have a community," Frottage said. "It's sad we don't have an effective government."

Fudgie Frottage's 27th annual San Francisco Drag King contest takes place Sunday, August 6, at 7 p.m. at Oasis, 298 11th Street. Tickets are $25-$55. www.sfdragkingcontest.com.

Those who want do donate to Frottage's GoFundMe can do so here.

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