Tributes have been pouring in after Heklina, one of San Francisco’s most beloved drag queens, died in London at the age of 54.
The star was in the UK with fellow drag artist Peaches Christ as the two were set to perform in Mommie Queerest, a parody of the 1981 film Mommy Dearest, at the Soho Theatre in London and HOME in Manchester.
News of Heklina’s passing was announced by her co-star on 3 April.
“I am living in a real-life nightmare so forgive me if I don’t have all the answers just now,” Peaches wrote on social media.
“This morning, in London, England I went to collect my dear friend Heklina, who is costarring with me in a Mommie Queerest show here, and found her dead.”
Peaches also explained that she did not know the cause of death yet.
“I know this is shocking news and I am beyond stunned, but I wanted to let folks know what has happened,” she continued.
“Heklina is not just my best friend, but a beloved icon of our community.
“I am a mess. Given this crisis, please do not try to contact me as I am utterly heartbroken, stunned, and focusing on what needs to get done next.”
— Peaches Christ (@PeachesChrist) April 3, 2023
There has since been an outpouring of support for both Peaches and Heklina as performers from all over the world paid their respects to the influential queen.
Drag Race winner Trixie Mattel tweeted: “Icon! Heklina was punk rock and made drag what it is today. Legend.”
“I’m heartbroken,” Miss Coco Peru wrote alongside several images of her and Heklina. “We communicated nearly everyday and nothing made me happier than making her cackle. We visited recently and I’m so grateful we spent some time together.
“Heklina, I loved and adored you and my only comfort right now is in knowing that I told you that often.”
I'm heartbroken. We communicated nearly everyday and nothing made me happier than making her cackle. We visited recently and I'm so grateful we spent some time together.
Heklina, I loved and adored you and my only comfort right now is in knowing that I told you that often. pic.twitter.com/UyIcRV7svy
— Miss Coco Peru (@themisscocoperu) April 3, 2023
Oasis, one of San Francisco’s most well known LGBTQ+ venues where Heklina had performed several times, said: “We are shocked and devastated to learn of the passing of Heklina today. Oasis will be open at 4pm for drinks, stories, and community, if you’d like to come by. Sending love to all.”
Lady Bunny shared that she “assumed this was an April Fool’s thing” knowing Peaches’ sense of humour, before stating she will “miss that funny bitch”.
Drag Race UK star Crystal also paid tribute to Heklina.
“This is really fucking awful! Heklina was a drag pioneer and San Francisco legend,” she wrote online. “I’m very shocked by this.”
See how others paid their respects to Heklina below.
💔 over the loss of the legendary #heklina … she was funny, punk, groundbreaking, a good friend, surrogate drag mother, the best at suggesting restaurants, and the absolute epitome of the word COOL! I loved her, I love her, and the world will miss her so much. #ripheklina
— Ginger Minj (@TheGingerMinj) April 4, 2023
— Bianca Del Rio (@TheBiancaDelRio) April 4, 2023
I’m absolutely gutted right now. Heklina was a drag legend and I adored her. She was a blast to work with. I will cherish the memories I have of her. Sending love out to all of her family and friends in this tragic time. You will be missed by many. 😢💔 pic.twitter.com/rRFR43IMC6
— Pandora Boxx (@ThePandoraBoxx) April 3, 2023
We’re heartbroken over the passing of Heklina, a beloved and iconic pioneer in our community and a legend of the San Francisco drag scene.
Our hearts are with her friends, family, and everyone touched by her joyous spirit. ❤️ RIP, Heklina pic.twitter.com/pL0Gt5r3nK
— World of Wonder (@WorldOfWonder) April 4, 2023
I feel like these thoughts are as relevant to Heklina as they are to Savage. It's about community.https://t.co/ReU5qCpIuj
— Myra DuBois (@myradubois) April 4, 2023
Such sad news RIP Heklina x https://t.co/tCCLkv9fmm
— Divina De Campo stream DECODED (@Divinadecampo) April 4, 2023
Icon! Heklina was punk rock and made drag what it is today. Legend. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/a2NY7lvdz1
— Trixie Mattel™ (@trixiemattel) April 3, 2023
Heklina was more than just a friend. She was legend in my eyes. That I got to befriend someone so spectacularly talented and equal parts funny and caring is one of the best gifts I’ve ever had in my life. Heckles: I’ll miss you so fucking much. https://t.co/cEEX6IiZ7Z pic.twitter.com/Nza5otU9Co
— Christopher R. Vasquez (@crv716) April 3, 2023
— Castro Theatre (@Castro_Theatre) April 3, 2023
This is really fucking awful! Heklina was a drag pioneer and San Francisco legend. I’m very shocked by this. https://t.co/O2e6r4URgs
— Crystal | Black Lives Matter (@crystalwillseeu) April 3, 2023
An extraordinary icon, legend & a true star within the Drag community and beyond. RIP Heklina❤️ https://t.co/UqIyiRXCsx
— DRAG QUEEN MERCH (@dragqueenmerch) April 3, 2023
RIP to a true drag LEGEND, Heklina! ❤️ https://t.co/askMKB2ISI
— Cheryl Hole (@CherylHoleQueen) April 3, 2023
It feels like a bad joke to have a friend, partner, mentor and the funniest fucking person I’ve ever met not be here any more. San Francisco loves you Heklina. 💔 pic.twitter.com/lRkokGFUZF
— Tom Temprano (@tomtemprano) April 4, 2023
Soho Theatre, @HOME_mcr and Tim Whitehead are in shock and incredibly saddened with news of Heklina's passing. Our thoughts are with Peaches, Mommie Queerest company, Heklina's family, friends + their wider community. Together with HOME we’ll be in contact with audiences tomorrow https://t.co/jMyWklAeDV
— Soho Theatre (@sohotheatre) April 3, 2023