Heklina, the iconic drag queen from San Francisco, has been captivating audiences since the late 1980s. She was born Stefan Grygelko in the United States, but was raised in Iceland and named her drag character after the Icelandic volcano Hekla. After returning to the United States, Heklina quickly rose to fame and became a beloved performer, actor, entrepreneur, and LGBTQ icon in San Francisco. Heklina – The Drag Queen Who Captured San Francisco
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Heklina’s Early Life
Stefan Grygelko, the man behind Heklina, was born in the United States and raised by his mother, who was Icelandic. His early years were spent in Iceland in the 1980s. Growing up, Grygelko had an interest in music and theater, taking part in various plays and productionsGrygelko eventually returned to the United States and began to focus more on drag performance. He moved to San Francisco in 1992, where he developed a larger following for his drag character Heklina. His move to San Francisco proved to be a pivotal moment in his career as Heklina, as he quickly gained recognition for his innovative performances. Heklina’s shows frequently featured an array of characters and special guests, making them must-see events for both locals and tourists. In addition to performing, Heklina also became involved in promoting local queer events and venues, furthering her influence on the city’s culture. Heklina – The Drag Queen Who Captured San Francisco
Heklina in Iceland
Heklina, born Stefan Grygelko, was of Icelandic descent. During the 1980s, he lived in Iceland and became deeply immersed in the culture. He named his drag persona after the iconic Icelandic volcano Hekla. Although Heklina didn’t stay in Iceland for long, the experience had a profound impact on him.
When asked about his time in Iceland, Heklina said “I was exposed to incredible visual art, music, theatre and film. It was so inspiring! I think that experience helped shape my aesthetic, which is still rooted in the avant garde.”
Heklina also formed strong connections with Icelanders during his time there. He found great support from local LGBT communities, as well as from artists, musicians and performers. Many of these relationships lasted for years and even decades.
Living in Iceland enabled Heklina to explore his love of drag without any stigma or judgment. He could express himself freely without fear of ridicule. As he said, “I felt like I belonged for the first time in my life.”
The experience gave Heklina the courage to pursue his dreams and become a successful drag queen in San Francisco. When he moved back to the United States, he was determined to follow his passion and make a name for himself in the industry. He later became one of the most celebrated drag queens in the city and created a legacy that will never be forgotten.
Heklina’s Later Years
Heklina’s drag career continued to be successful in the following years, with her shows often selling out. In 2013, Heklina was the host and producer of the Trannyshack variety show at the historic Stud Bar in San Francisco, which ran for 16 years before it was closed down in 2017.
In 2015, Heklina starred in the documentary film “Heklina Out of Costume” which follows her as she prepares for her final show at the Stud Bar. The film premiered at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco and garnered positive reviews from critics.
In 2016, Heklina opened the Oasis nightclub and theater space, located in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. She created Oasis as a safe space for performers and guests to express themselves without judgement or fear of discrimination.
Throughout her career, Heklina has received numerous awards and recognitions for her contributions to the LGBTQ+ community. In 2018, she was inducted into the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor for her activism.
The last few years have been a busy time for Heklina. In 2020, she appeared as a guest judge on the Netflix series “Drag Race UK”. She also runs several popular online drag events such as “Drag Monster Mondays” and “Big Top Sundays”.
Heklina continues to be an important figure in the LGBTQ+ community and a role model for aspiring drag queens all over the world. Her legacy will continue to live on in the hearts of those she has touched throughout her life and career.