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Patient is rebuilding life, starring in a documentary after quadruple amputation


I was called by Scot Coker’s sister to be part of the surgical team to manage the upper extremity reconstruction. I volunteered my expertise to help with the amputations. Scot had an amazingly positive outlook considering the grave medical situation.


I am happy about all the support, and look forward to seeing the documentary in San Francisco sometime soon.

 


Pippi Lovestocking is rebuilding life, starring in a documentary after quadruple amputation

By Tony BravoMarch 23, 2024




Joshua Grannell (better known as Peaches Christ, left) and Scot Coker Free (aka Pippi Lovestocking) in San Francisco.Robert James.



On Easter weekend, San Francisco drag legend Pippi Lovestocking plans to perform a comedy set onstage for the first time in almost a year. 


It’s not exactly the resurrection story the holiday celebrates, but after a 2023 that included Lovestocking being clinically dead more than once, as well as the amputation of both of her hands and feet, it feels miraculous.


“I’m a little bit nervous,” the co-founder of famed 1990s drag night Trannyshack told me by phone from her care facility in Rancho Mirage (Riverside County). “I’m worried I might be rusty.”


The last time Lovestocking was onstage was for the Castro Theatre public memorial for her friend and Trannyshack co-founder Heklina last May.


The show, “Parts of Pippi: A Bawdy Benefit for a Transformative Journey” on Saturday, March 30, at the Palm Springs Cultural Center will be a benefit for a new documentary, “Parts of Pippi,” that San Francisco filmmaker Robert James is making about Lovestocking. The evening will be hosted by Lovestocking’s longtime friend Peaches Christ, who is also a producer on the film, and will include a screening of the rarely seen documentary “Filthy Gorgeous: The Trannyshack Story” presented by directors Sean Mullens and Deena Davenport. 


James began filming “Parts of Pippi” last year while Lovestocking was still hospitalized. 

“Our hope with the event is that people will see the value in a film about Pippi’s extraordinary journey,” said Peaches Christ. “If we can get more eyes on Pippi with a movie, that means more people who can help her, book her, pay her.” 


James, whose documentaries “The Unabridged Mrs. Vera’s Daybook” and “Ruminations” also focus on Bay Area drag artists, said he dropped everything when Peaches Christ told him about Lovestocking’s situation. 




Pippi Lovestocking, far right, appears onstage at the memorial for Heklina at the Castro Theatre. 

Gabrielle Lurie/The Chronicle



“It’s a gift to be able to tell this story,” said James. “There's a broad audience beyond the queer history here, and I think people in the disability world are going to embrace Pippi’s courage and perseverance in overcoming the daily obstacles.” 


“Parts of Pippi: A Bawdy Benefit for a Transformative Journey”: 6 p.m. Saturday, March 30. $15. Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs. bit.ly/PippiBenefit

While speaking at Heklina’s memorial last spring, Lovestocking recalled feeling “like the bottom was dropping out of my heart” but attributed it to grief and being tired from her long drive from Southern California. When the symptoms persisted, she was taken to the emergency room at the California Pacific Medical Center Davies Campus. Following a cardiac surgery necessitated by an aortic aneurysm, Lovestocking was put in a medically induced coma for 16 days. During that period, sepsis set in, resulting in damage to her kidneys and a lack of circulation to her hands and feet. 


Lovestocking, who also acts and does comedy under her birth name Scot Coker Free, was in the hospital in San Francisco for more than four months before moving back to the desert full time. While at Davies, she was fitted for prosthetic legs, which she said she finds painful to wear, as well as prosthetic hands, which she is still learning to use. 




Alan Carvalho, Scot Coker Free (also known as Pippi Lovestocking) and Robert James in Rancho Mirage (Riverside County).


Her Trannyshack drag family including Peaches Christ, Davenport, Timmy Spence, José Alberto Guzmán Colón and Fudgie Frottage were a key support system at the hospital, throwing her a 56th birthday party in her room that even included drag performances. Lovestocking’s sisters also flew out from North Carolina to help with care.


While proceeds from the benefit show in Palm Springs will go toward making the documentary, a separate GoFundMe campaign has already raised almost $70,000 for Lovestocking’s care and living expenses. She’s used some of the money to buy her hand prosthetics, which she said cost “a small car each, more than $20,000,” and to help pay for her living expenses. Even with disability payments and the GoFundMe, she says she’s still about $1,000 short every month toward the cost of her care facility, and the difference has been made up by friends and family. 


While she’s grateful for the support, her ultimate wish is to live independently again.


“As nice as this place is, I’d like to eventually move out,” Lovestocking said of her stay at the desert care facility. “I don’t have a lot in common with the older people who live here, but they’ve been supportive. Some said they even want to come to the benefit to see me perform.”

Peaches Christ said that the Easter weekend date for the “Parts of Pippi” benefit was chosen because that weekend was for years the annual Trannyshack bus trip to Reno.

“I think this documentary will be very important in her recovery,” said Peaches Christ. “No one likes to be exploited as much as Pippi, and that’s been true since I’ve known her.”



Reach Tony Bravo: tbravo@sfchronicle.com

March 23, 2024


Tony Bravo is the San Francisco Chronicle’s Arts & Culture writer. He primarily covers visual arts, the LGBTQ community and pop culture. His column appears in print every Monday in Datebook. Bravo joined the Chronicle staff in 2015 as a reporter for the Style section and also wrote the relationship column “Connectivity.” He is the host of the live interview series “Show & Tell” every month at Four One Nine and created the VoiceMap Chronicle LGBTQ audio tour “Over the Rainbow in the Castro” available for download on the app. Bravo is also an adjunct instructor at the City College of San Francisco Fashion Department, where he teaches journalism.

He can be reached at tbravo@sfchronicle.com.



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