In San Francisco in the 1970s, Todd Trexler was one of the most prolific and sought-after poster artists for the city’s predictably amazing drag scene. He generated many posters for the Nocturnal Dream Shows and midnight movie screenings at the Palace Theater on 1741 Powell Street (it was also called the Pagoda later on). His attention-grabbing yet stately posters captured and perhaps helped define the distinct aesthetic of San Francisco’s drag happenings. The contrast of art deco filigrees to big personalities like Divine and the Cockettes is very effective.
Sadly, Trexler passed away in February of this year, at the age of 70. His essential posters can be seen in an exhibition that opens this week at Magnet (4122 18th Street) in the Castro district. Some of the items have not been on display in 40 years.
As an art student in 1968, Trexler began making posters, many of them hand-drawn. He was close with Sebastian (or, as he was also known, Milton Miron), a key member of the Cockettes. Todd continued to do work for them for a number of years in the 70s, before moving to Monterey to attend nursing school in 1979.
Here’s Trexler on the “Divine Saves the World” poster shown above:
I absolutely adored working with Glenn on the few occasions that I did! The day that we planned to take photos for the VICE PALACE poster I’ll never forget. Glenn and I sat in the back seat of a car with Sebastian in the front. We drove around San Francisco looking for a place to use as a backdrop. We ended up at the Palace of Fine Arts and decided it was perfect! Glenn was in makeup, bib-overalls with the sides split to make them large enough. He had tossed a couple of 50’s net prom dresses in the trunk of the car. He slipped into a pair of open-toed backless mules and wrapped the prom dresses around himself and instantly became DIVINE! I took the photo and that poster is an all- time favorite of my poster career.
Here’s an interview with David Perry on Channel 104’s Ten Percent from just a year ago: