Famous San Francisco drag queen Hakelina was found dead in London on Monday where she was performing a traveling show, according to reports on social media.
Heklina’s death – also known as actor Stefan Grigelko – was first reported in social media posts by fellow drag queen and co-performer Peaches Christ (aka Joshua Grannell), with whom Heklina was touring in “Mommie Queerest”, It is a musical parody of Joan Crawford’s 1981 film Dear Mother.
Read the post Grannell posted on Peaches Christ’s Facebook page and his eponymous page: “I’m living a real nightmare, forgive me if I don’t have all the answers right now.” “This morning, in London, England, I went to pick up my good friend Hicklina, who is co-starring with me in The Mommie Queerest Show here, and found her dead. I don’t know the cause of death yet. I know this is shocking news and I’m so distraught, but I wanted to tell people what happened.” .
The Soho theater where the production of “Mommie Queerest” is taking place tweeted Peaches Christ shared and said they were “shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Hicklina’s passing.”
Moderator Matt Haney also tweeted about the loss of Hicklina, whom he called “a drag legend, brilliant performer and leading community icon.”
He added, “My condolences and love goes out to all of Heklina’s friends, family, loved ones, and the entire LGBT community.”
State Senator Scott Weiner released a statement after the news broke.
“I’m absolutely devastated. Hecklina was an icon in the truest sense—funny, caring, outrageous, brave. I first saw Hecklina perform when I was a young gay guy in the ’90s, new to San Francisco. Over the years, I’d gotten to know her and helped her find a space to Oasis. I’ve rarely worked with someone so fierce, creative, and dedicated,” Weiner said. “Hecklina created events and community spaces that turned glamor, giant wigs, and loud jokes into a sense of home. She was outspoken and always stood up for her friends and community. She was the soul of San Francisco, and it’s hard to imagine a city without her.”
He added, “Hekelina has also been a strong advocate for drag – which is under heavy attack at the moment – and has created opportunities for young queens to find their space.” “As we mourn, we must honor her memory by remembering the joy she brought us and the importance of the art form to which she dedicated her life.”
San Francisco Pride Chairman Nguyen Pham issued the following statement, calling the sudden death “absolutely heartbreaking.”
“Personally, I have been honored and grateful to have interacted with Hecklina first-hand, as well as attended her amazing and unforgettable productions, many times over the years. I know that her unique brand of radically all-encompassing drag artistry has elicited much pure joy from countless members of the community.” And allies for many generations. She was unstoppable and a lady like no other.”
In addition to performing with Peaches Christ in a variety of stage productions as well as appearing as Dorothy Zbornak in the San Francisco drag production of “The Golden Girls” which regularly holds sold-out annual holiday shows, Heklina is best known as one of the founders of the long-running drag show “Trannyshack”. which started at Stud in the mid-1990s.
Most recently, Heklina was part of the group of owners who relaunched the Oasis Nightclub and Theater in San Francisco’s SoMa district which reopened in 2014. She also appears regularly as host and director of a variety of community events.
No details were released regarding the cause of death.
“Lifelong beer expert. General travel enthusiast. Social media buff. Zombie maven. Communicator.”