Profile: Anna Conda, Drag Queen - 2010
By Hiya Swanhuyser
Photograph by Troy Holden
Like many residents of our fair city, Glendon Hyde left his hometown (in his case, Pittsburgh) to escape abuse "because of my gayness." Hyde, who moved here in 1996, is now a quintessential San Francisco character — a drag queen known as Anna Conda.
His blond stage persona was Miss Trannyshack 2004, but he's dressed in street clothes when we meet, and we joke about whether I could possibly have recognized him out of drag — he spots me, of course, because I am a woman sitting alone at the Eagle Tavern. I tell him immediately how much I admired the "Take Back the Polk" marches he organized in 2008, during which queens hoofed it up and down Polk Street chanting, "Marina girls go home!" while Marina girls applauded and tried to take pictures with the group. So do Marina chicks dig him? Yes and no, Hyde says, which is one of the weird things about the San Francisco drag scene.
"A lot of young straight girls from the Marina don't know how to treat drag queens. They stick their hands in your hair and they pull your wigs off and they yank at your clothes. Honestly, a lot of girls from that area are fine, but get them drunk and trying to impress boys and they just get really messy and out of control."
In spite of all that, he staged those marches in the Tenderloin, four of them, out of an undying affection for and fascination with the neighborhood. When he first came to San Francisco, he moved into an SRO near Polk Street, and became a regular at the Cinch while attending Miss Marty's beauty school. He was instantly smitten with the area. "Polk Street back then was a Polk Street that was full of all kinds of people," he recalls. "Like, from hipsters and Marina chicks to homeless and hookers and gay people; all kinds of really great people. After falling in love with it, I found out it used to be where Gay Pride was held, and Halloween was held, and it used to be the gay area. Which only made me love it more."
From his barstool perch at the Cinch, he branched out to places that welcomed his gayness and his love of rock 'n' roll: the Eagle Beer Bust, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence's Easter in Dolores Park, the Bottom of the Hill. "I like that San Francisco has so much rock 'n' roll and so much culture, and so many different groups of people, living together pretty harmoniously, and that you don't need a car," Hyde says. "And, of course, I've always enjoyed pot."
It isn't all wigs, beer, and pot for Hyde. He's also a political activist and is running for supervisor in District 6, which includes the Tenderloin and SOMA. San Francisco deserves, he says, to be "protected from cash-hungry developers, and politicians who use their positions as stepping stones instead of a platform to help."
Despite his occasional gripes about the city and its politics, he has no regrets about making San Francisco his home. "I owe all my success and peace of mind to San Francisco!" And if you're planning a move, because of your gayness, "San Francisco takes a little while to let you find your groove," he warns, "but when you do, it's totally worth it. So, leave your inhibitions at the door and give it time. Be involved, because San Francisco is built to have people involved. I mean, that's the kind of city it is, and that's one of the things that makes it so great."