"Helena Handbasket"


Helena in Daddy Lubucks, 1966

Hank Holden grew up in the middle class suburban town of Hudson Ohio. His fondness for Hollywood musicals led to tap dance and voice lessons. Having very little grace and a nasal voice did not deter Hank from the drama club, and in his junior year he landed the leading role in Hudson High’s production of Annie Get Your Gun. With all the charm of truck driver, his sloppy drag had them rolling in the aisles, winning rave reviews in the local paper.

In the summer of 1964, Hank left Hudson for New York City and settled in The Village as "Helena Handbasket." Helena's comic drag antics won a steady following in the Greenwich Village  theater scene. Hank modeled Helena after Jean Harlow, with a bit of Lucille Ball thrown in. In 1965, Helena teamed up with street artist and fellow messy performer, Powder. Their version of Annie Get Your Gun, renamed Annie Get Your Fix, caused a stir on the Off-Off-Broadway circuit. Powder, a then Factory fixture, created the backdrops and costumes, and co-starred. The hit number was "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly," which featured Helena in an old stained column gown, combat boots, lop-sided platinum blond wig and a five o'clock shadow. Powder’s costume throughout the show was simple, underwear and a cloud of baby powder. 

In 1966, Helena's friend Mario Montez brought him to see Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls, which led to Helena's introduction to Andy at Max's Kansas City. The king of Pop and the Queen of Slop hit it off, and Helena was in and around the Factory from 1966 to 1968, when she moved to Montreal.

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