Documentaries about the hippy heyday in San Francisco during the late '60s/early '70s all have the same structural development. First, drag out the old farts; noticeably drug-damaged in varying degrees of severity. Let them rhapsodize in grand, bug-eyed terms about how "We thought we were gonna start a revolution, man. We were gonna change the world" Shots of them drinking buckets of LSD and wearing crazy clothes, enjoying a brief period of creative anarchy that, although easy to make fun of, would have been incredibly fun to be part of. Then comes the dismal brown acid era when everyone dies, goes loony toons, or flees to Oregon. "We were just children, man"

Even without hippy parents, you're probably familiar with the woeful tale of free love and mind expansion's fleeting reign. The Cockettes falls within the outline, which is hard to avoid becauseWell, it's what happened. However, this documentary rehashes the legend from a quirky, little known vantage point. The Cockettes were a troupe of drag performers who developed a cult audience through performances at the Palace Theatre in North Beach and outrageous films like Tricia's Wedding and Elevator Girls In Bondage. Combining spontaneous theatrics with astounding costumes and sex, the group was shocking and exceedingly influential.

Part of their charm is their attitude towards sexuality. Although sexual subversion was vital to their identity, the coed group was not conceived as an inherently gay project. The attitude was of sexual ambiguity and nonspecific experimentation that included either hetero or homosexual acts. The wide open acceptance and eschewing of definitive roles seems more enlightened than navigating bungled p.c. terminology and staunch self-identification.

Visually, the film is impressive, archiving the outrageous ensembles that characterized these thrift store glitter enthusiasts. It also exposes one corner of a widely documented and exploited era that has received little attention, and captures the air of rabid expression that drove the scene. The Cockettes bridged the hedonism of the hippy with the gall and glamour of the ensuing gay culture, and their documentation is an educational treat for all aficionados of counter-cultural history.