Friends and family of Arturo Galster are mourning the loss of this legendary San Francisco drag performance artist best known for his role in the film ‘Vegas in Space’ and impersonations of Patsy Cline, in which he would wow the audience with his vocal skills.
The San Francisco Bay Guardian disclosed yesterday that, Arturo’s close friend, Helen Shumaker, announced his passing on Tuesday. They have also reported that his cause of death is unknown but “comments seem to indicate there was an altercation in Dolores Park after Saturday’s ‘Showgirls: Night of a Thousand Lapdances’ at Castro Theatre, and that Arturo sustained a head wound, but refused medical attention. As of this writing, no charges have been filed and further medical information was unavailable.”
In the two days since his passing, Arturo’s friends and family have taken to social media to express their shock and sadness at the loss of this LGBT icon.
James Roddy via Facebook
When I first moved to SF in 1994, my aunt told me that I had a second cousin living here, and she gave me his contact information. But at the time, I was still in the beginning of my ‘coming out’ process, and I wanted to come to SF and be myself. Since I hadn’t yet come out to my family, I didn’t want to meet a family member in SF that I would have to worry about sharing my secret (oh, If I only knew). So, I ignored the information and never contacted this second cousin that I had never heard about before.
Fortunately, 7 or 8 years later, I was working at a small clinic called The Immune Enhancement Project doing massage, and there was this wonderful man working at the front desk named Arturo. We had worked together for a few months, neither of us knowing who the other was, then one day, he said he had some relatives named Roddy and asked me where I was from. When I told him Sacramento he said that his Aunt and Uncle lived there, turned out that it was my Grandmother and Grandfather.
I was dumbfounded, coming from a conservative family, Arturo Galster was the last person I would expect to be related to. I immediately regretted that I didn’t contact him when I first moved to the city. He would have been a great friend and mentor to have in my first years in San Francisco.
I am very grateful that I finally met him and we were able to share some happy memories.
This is a picture from 2010, when all of his siblings came out to celebrate his 50th birthday. If I remember correctly, I think he said it was the first time in years that all of them were together.
I love you Arturo, and I’m going to miss you.
Heklina via Facebook
Arturo Galster, you were one of the first people to make a huge impact on me when I first moved to SF, when I first saw you perform at the Castro St. Fair in 1991. You had just come back from Japan, and to me you were a superstar. Thanks for always being so brilliant, I can’t believe you’re not here any more…..
Frank Roddy via Facebook
My second cousin, Arturo Galster, passed away this week. Although I only met him once at my parents 50th wedding anniversary, I am deeply saddened by his loss. I wish I had been able to see one of his shows. From our one encountered and the occasional exchange on FB, I found Arturo to be a wonderful person and he will be sorely missed. Say hello to Robin for us.
Our condolences go out to Arturo’s friends and family and those who he touched in his life. May he rest in peace.