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Local Web Series “City Folx” Brings Drag King Laughs

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City Folx

Drag performance may be getting its moment in the pop cultural spotlight thanks to the likes of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”  However, that spotlight’s mainly shining on drag queens, not drag kings.  Instead of waiting for some mainstream media outlet to notice the talent of drag kings, local director Rae Dawn decided to do things for themselves with their web series “City Folx.”  While the series’ final episode dropped on YouTube this week, they’re hoping this won’t be the end for this S.F. Mission District-set situation comedy about two drag king friends and roommates.  

City Folx” began as a Kickstarter project for San Francisco-based writer-director Rae Dawn.  This non-binary queer single-parent educator has previously done punk-rock spoken word and made a documentary about The Voluptuous Horror Of Karen Black’s lead singer Kembra Pfahler.  The series project would be a showcase to let drag kings get top billing and display their comedy chops beyond just a club stage.  Why should drag queens have all the fun in giving the religious fundamentalists of the Rethuglican Party the culture war vapors?

To make this show a reality, Dawn recruited Rebel Kings Of Oakland drag troupe members Bex Salas and Vera Hannush to play the series leads.  The Latinx, Indigenous, and non-binary Salas has previously performed in drag as Jota Mercury, and has done performances in places ranging from the Bay Area to Panama City, Panama.  The queer Armenian-American Hannush has also been a dance teacher and choreographer as well as a SF Playground SoloFest performer. 

 “City Folx”’ story will be for many SF-based readers a familiar tale.  Two friends and roommates in a Mission District apartment struggle to hold on to their place despite repeated efforts by evil landlord Phyllis to toss them out on their ears.  Raq (Hannush) has put her drag life as a Foot Dom sex worker on hold for “health reasons.”  The social butterfly, Cin (Salas) may also have holding problems regarding keeping jobs and having relationships, but she’s always there to protect Raq.  However, being unemployed means a strong possibility that the two roommates soon won’t have a place.  Phyllis’ demands to have the rent paid in two days result in the two friends taking the radical step of finding a new paying roommate fast.  But will Raq and Cin’s radical candor wind up scaring away roommates?  Or will it be a magnet for weirdos?

From what this writer has seen of “City Folx,” it has a better feel for LGBTQ+ life in S.F. than more sanitized mainstream efforts.  Other series content themselves with shots of the Transamerica Pyramid or the Golden Gate Bridge to convey San Francisco atmosphere.  “City Folx,” by contrast, offers images of Orphan Andy’s diner and a bench at Dolores Beach.  The roommate interview sequence in episode 2 is filled with a few recognizable San Francisco types, including Wolfie the leatherman. 

As mentioned above, the web series ended this week with the dropping of the final episode on YouTube.  However, Dawn has plans to continue “City Folx” on television.  Taking a nod from the classic BBC sitcom “The Young Ones,” the television pilot of “City Folx” would supplement the first two original webisodes with three additional comedy sketches.  If “City Folx” gets greenlit for a TV series, Dawn envisions collaborating with five additional Bay Area comics in addition to the original cast to flesh out the show.  Whatever form the proposed TV series takes, at its core it’ll be a celebration of S.F.’s quirkiness…and finding the comic absurdities in the ultimately serious problem of unaffordable housing in the Bay Area.

Good luck to Dawn and the rest of the “City Folx” crew.   May viewers see further misadventures of Raq and Cin in the future.

(All episodes of “City Folx” can be found on YouTube.)

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Peter Wong

Peter Wong

I've been reviewing films for quite a few years now, principally for the online publication Beyond Chron. My search for unique cinematic experiences and genre dips have taken me everywhere from old S.F. Chinatown movie theaters showing first-run Jackie Chan movies to the chilly slopes of Park City. Movies having cat pron instantly ping my radar.

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