Monday, February 26, 2007 (SF Chronicle)
SAN FRANCISCO/Friends mourn Fat Bottom Revue creator/Pagan march, service
for performer, activist who ‘didn’t see differences’
Delfin Vigil, Chronicle Staff Writer
Nearly 150 people attended a memorial service and procession Sunday
for Heather MacAllister, the “Reva Lucionary” San Francisco underground
goddess and creator of the Fat Bottom Revue burlesque act.
Many were able to attend the funeral only because MacAllister helped
them avoid theirs. On what would have been MacAllister’s 38th birthday, members of the
gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community gathered to say goodbye to
the performer and activist who ended her life Feb. 13 in Portland, Ore.,
through assisted suicide after a battle with ovarian cancer.
“Heather literally saved so many of their lives. She helped people
who were suicidal and felt worthless and showed them for the first time that
they could be powerful and sexy, even if they were fat,” said Cholla,
the officiating priestess for Sunday afternoon’s ceremony, which included a
procession to El Rio bar led by a woman playing bagpipes.
Cholla wore a black robe and wielded a ceremonial knife to cut a
passage in the air to help send off MacAllister’s spirit. Like many in
the crowd, the priestess went by one name only.
It was a misty afternoon at Precita Park in the Mission District when
the elaborate pagan ceremony began with songs and words of tribute to the
performer’s activist work. An enlarged photo of MacAllister was placed
against a tree.
“We waited for Heather to change the world. We cannot wait any longer.
Go out and change the world,” Cholla said to the grieving crowd, nearly all
of whom described themselves as fat.
“It’s not obese — that’s a diagnosis. It’s not heavy. It’s not
overweight. It’s fat, and Heather helped reclaim the word ‘fat,’ ” said
Deva, a 46-year-old San Francisco woman who helped direct traffic as the
procession slowly made its way along Precita Street to the neighborhood
bar on Mission Street.
MacAllister, a Michigan native, moved to San Francisco in 2005 to
create the Big Burlesque and Fat Bottom Revue, featuring and celebrating large
women. The revue not only received critical acclaim but also had a
profound effect on her audience, according to Julia Caplan, an Oakland
woman who came to pay her respects.
“She was a beautiful, brilliant and bold visionary who was courageous
enough to fight for people who don’t have many allies,” Caplan said.
At El Rio, the mourners signed farewell cards to MacAllister and
shared stories of captivating first impressions. In the patio area, people took
turns bowing their heads at her memorial altar. Holding back tears, Anderson Toone, a 48-year-old drag king, paid his final respects.
“What made Heather such a special activist is that she didn’t see
differences in people,” said Toone. “She saw connections between them.”
E-mail Delfin Vigil at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2007 SF Chronicle