November 16, 2009

Collection Rotation: Fayette Hauser

Our monthly feature, Collection Rotation: some wonderful guest organizes a mini-exhibition from our collection works online. This month’s guest-curator is the marvelous Fayette Hauser, shining, beautiful Cockette, costume designer, & collector extraordinaire. On December 3, we’re hosting the Cockettes for a rare film screening and celebration of their FORTIETH year. You will LOVE this rotation, which includes some Cockette clips. Thank you, Fayette. xxoo, SS

Claude Cahun (Lucy Renée Mathilde Schwob), Untitled (Self-Portrait), ca. 1929; gelatin silver print; Collection SFMOMA, gift of Robert Shapazian © Estate of Claude Cahun

Claude Cahun (Lucy Renée Mathilde Schwob), Untitled (Self-Portrait), ca. 1929; gelatin silver print. © Estate of Claude Cahun

Fantasy and the Cosmic Collection

When I entered the Artscope it felt like swimming, deeper I went underwater into the image sea. What luxury.

The first artist that hit me was Claude Cahun. Soon I realized that this was a woman, in drag as a man, in drag as a woman. Perhaps she felt genderless or omni-gender, as I often do. Obviously her fantasy life was more important to her than anything. Again I relate.

I grew up in a world of my own, raising myself in fantasy. This world was much more real and vital to me than the other, the actual world. When I first came to San Francisco in 1968, I was already deep into my Victorian fantasy, so excruciatingly dense, but all in my mind. What I found was that everyone was living out their fantasies, seriously. I was home at last.

Of course the psychedelics only amplified this concept. Which brings us to the wild pursuit of the great and fabulous item. There will never be an experience quite as fulfilling and uniquely sublime as the old Alameda Flea Market on Acid. Items would combine themselves in the most profound way, then leap at you and beg to be absorbed into your realm, telling you their stories along the way. I’ve been a collector ever since.

Many of us felt this way and we needed to be together, all the time. So we became the Cockettes and lived together in the Cockette House (actually there were three of them). We went full tilt into the biggest and best of our fantasies, the deeper the better, dark or light, usually all at the same time. We did it for as long as we could, not long enough for me.

Here I’ve assembled a collection that reflects our influences and favorite things. I have added some archival Cockette film clips to tempt you into attending our 40th Anniversary film night at SFMOMA on Dec. 3rd.

Views of Paris c. 1900 complement early Melies and Pathe film clips, while risque French postcards help to illustrate some of the early influences of the gender bending, acid drenched, outrageous  Cockettes. (Music on this clip by Baishaus)


Waiting for Anne/ARS

Max Beckmann, Das Theaterfoyer (Figures in the theater foyer), 1922 ©2009 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn


Claude Cahun (Lucy Renée Mathilde Schwob), Le Mystère d'Adam (The Mystery of Adam), 1929; gelatin silver print; Collection SFMOMA, Fractional and promised gift of Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein © Estate of Claude Cahun

Claude Cahun (Lucy Renée Mathilde Schwob), Le Mystère d’Adam (The Mystery of Adam), 1929; gelatin silver print. © Estate of Claude Cahun

I felt a kinship to the 20’s in Paris and was inspired by early silent films, which influenced many costume and set designs.


waiting for word from Anne

Unknown, Untitled (Woman Dressing) , ca. 1900. Gelatin silver print.

Victorian fantasies run deep in San Francisco. Robert Altman’s film McCabe & Mrs. Miller evokes more of the period in which it was made than the period that it portrays. Altman said that all the cast and crew literally lived the film and were committed to its authenticity. This mirrors the 70’s in every way.


WAITING FOR ARS PERMISSION Paul Klee, Jungfrau (träumend) (Virgin [Dreaming]) [Invention 3], 1903; etching on paper; Collection SFMOMA, gift of the Djerassi Art Trust; © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Paul Klee, Jungfrau (träumend) (Virgin Dreaming) Invention 3 , 1903; etching on paper. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

What do all virgins dream of? A fabulous Hollywood Party of course.
We all wanted to be 30’s Hollywood Chorines.


waiting for caption/permissions from Anne

Chris Ofili, Princess of the Posse, 1999; acrylic, collage, glitter, resin, map pins, and elephant dung on canvas. © Chris Ofili – Afroco and Victoria Miro Gallery

Sylvester was The Cockettes’ Glorious Princess. He performed with us from early 1970 until the NYC shows in late 1971 where he debuted his solo career.

waiting for Anne/ARS

Jackson Pollock, Guardians of the Secret, 1943.  Oil on canvas.  © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Music by Baishaus


Dr. William J. Pierce, _Spirit Photographs_, 1903. Gelatin silver print.

Dr. William J. Pierce, Spirit Photographs, 1903. Gelatin silver print.


Waiting for word from Anne

Felix Jacques Moulin, Untitled (Study of an Algerian Girl), ca. 1856; albumen print; Collection SFMOMA, Accessions Committee Fund

A dual fantasy of being swathed in beautiful textiles and roaming the streets of Tangiers with the style and glamour of Dietrich.


waiting for caption from Anne/ARS

Georges Hugnet, Initiation préliminaire aux arcanes de la forêt (First Initiation to the Secrets of the Forest), 1936. Photocollage. © Georges Hugnet / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Fayette Hauser is an artist currently living in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Boston University College of Fine Arts with a BFA. As a Gemini, Fayette wants to experience everything which has included performance, photography and costume design for film and theatre, winning two Dramalogue awards for Best Costume Design. She is currently writing, archiving and creating new projects. Find her at: or

Comments (4)

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  • Barbara Holliday says:

    Miss Fayette has been one of my ALL TIME favorite artists for over 40 years. To say she deserves every accolade possible would be a miserable understatement. Fayette and the Cockettes have created environments that would have made Toulouse Lautrec stutter in delight. You entered another world at the Cockette’s house, the sweet smell of thousands of roses lining the ceilings and walls, artifacts of every sort, exquisite lamps, furniture, and beautiful rugs in every room and trunks overflowing with vintage clothing and jewelery of every era all blending together to create a profound experience of fantasy melding with reality, absolutely intoxicating all who entered. I very well remember sitting with Fayette’s brother Tim before he founded Manhattan Transfer, during a dress rehearsal at the Anderson Theater on 2nd Ave. in NYC for “Moon Over Shanghai” a guerrilla theater piece staged in less than two weeks with mad sets and costumes, both of us in total awe and admiration over the enormity and beauty of the complex production they’d managed to pull together with such brilliance. I alao highly recommend “Trisha Nixon’s Wedding” filmed at the Chinese Theater in North Beach starring Fayette and the Cockettes. Many rock stars owe their style to Fayette and the Cockettes. SFMoMA is the right place for the incredible gifts they’ve given us. Congratulations to all 🙂

  • AMAZING collection rotation, fayette. claude cahun is awe-induncing & one of my favorites. she/sie is also my “artist i would invite to dinner.” she confronted so many taboos and norms and was so fiercely radical – both then and now: falling in love with hir step-sister; gender-f*ing; confronting nazi-fascism; and surviving nazi imprisonment. FIERCE.

    hir fantasy life was definitely something she escaped to, but she also never failed to make hir real life reflect hir fantasies. we should all push ourselves to do more of the same.

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