A Bold Breakthrough: San Francisco’s First Drag School

The Stud Collective is partnering with CounterPulse, a performing arts organization, to open the first school in San Francisco dedicated to teaching drag.

According to an article published by San Fransisco Chronicles, the two groups will work together to create the first school dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of drag performance and the history of the city’s unique art form.

Woven into the Culture

Sponsored by CounterPulse, the unique school will be part of the Collective’s new Stud Arts organization. The dates of its first classes will be determined when the Stud bar reopens at its new location on Folsom Street in early 2024.

“Nightlife and drag in particular are part of the cultural fabric of San Francisco,” CounterPulse Executive and Artistic Director Julie Phelps told the publication.

“These are artists in our community who are valuable in creating social and safe spaces, carrying on cultural tradition. They’re worthy of support,” she affirmed.

Although the San Fransisco area has long offered many workshops and classes for drag, taught by artists like Grace Towers, Fauxnique, and Peaches Christ, this will be the official first drag school in the city.

The Debut of Drag

Although drag scenes have not been as common as other forms of entertainment in San Francisco, the renewed efforts to establish a school dedicated to the art form will offer drag fans a significant boost. Indeed, it will allow more people to specialize in its performance.

Stud Bar and CounterPulse have long-term ties, working together to promote drag. The bar frequently hosted various events in its previous South of Market Street location.

The events ranged from the acid-tinged hippie drag, inspired by the Cockettes in the 1970s, to the Heklina’s legendary Trannyshack in the 1990s and 2000s. The events inspired the creation of the now-globally influential alternative performance art style known as drag.

Meanwhile, CounterPulse has also hosted many events, including the just-concluded all-day drag festival called “The Show,” held on Saturday, October 14, co-organized by Stud Collective member Vivvyanne ForeverMore.

The Plan

“We believe and want to make sure that the world knows that drag is a folk art that has been around for all time. As long as recorded history, as far back as the Phoenicians, there is a history of drag,” said Nate Allbee, a Stud Collective member.

Allbee added that the group wants “to show off the beauty of San Francisco drag and the Stud’s role as a birthplace of modern drag.”

The Stud Collective’s plan to build a drag school dates back to 2019 when it intended to have its first drag program set in the City College of San Francisco.

However, Allbee told San Fransisco Chronicle that the idea was later abandoned in March 2020 due to Covid pandemic shutdowns. The Collective’s decision to move out of its premises at 399 Ninth St., where the organization had been headquartered for 33 years, also contributed to the decision.

After securing a new location at 1123-1125 Folsom St. last month, the Collective decided to carry on with establishing a drag school. Honey Mahogany will be the school’s first headmistress, though the position will rotate each year among other members.

READ NEXT: Is It Lawful For Religious Schools To Dismiss LGBTIQ+ Educators?

Unique Curriculum to Say the Least!

The school’s curriculum will cover padding, costuming, and the fundamentals of building a look using makeup. Students will undertake performance lessons in character-building, lip-syncing, and studies on working with clubs and how to promote themselves as artists.

The unique school is expected to attract interested students from all experience levels— from amateurs above 21 years old to aspiring professionals. Drag kings, queens, and nonbinary artists are also welcomed.

Although the unique form of art is prominent in pop culture, with TV shows such as “RuPaul’s Drag Race” making it even more popular, it faces criticism from the political right who villainize its performance.

As a result, many states are proposing and passing laws that ban drag performances in public places and the presence of minors.

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This article was produced by TPR Teaching.

Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.

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