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    Goodbye, Dear Arturo! Heaven Is Now Your Greatest Stage

    By Dennis McMillan

    memoriamArthur Francis Xavier Galster, known to us friends and his loved ones as Arturo, died on Monday, August 25, at Davies Hospital. The circumstances that led to his death are not yet clear, but he received a head injury during an incident of some sort in Dolores Park late on Saturday, August 22. He was hospitalized approximately a day later and died not long thereafter.

    Galster was an incredibly talented actor. In San Francisco, Galster’s theater colleagues are working on plans for a public tribute show to honor his memory at the Castro Theatre  on Monday, September 22, at 7:30pm. In addition, the Galster family is making plans for a private memorial service that likely will be held in Philadelphia.

    Galster grew up in Philadelphia where his interest in musical theater started with roles in school productions that included Godspell. He graduated and attended the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia from 1977–1978. He moved to San Francisco in 1978 to enroll at the San Francisco Art Institute, which he attended for four years. Galster appeared in plays, musicals, cabaret shows and films in the United States and several other countries from the early 1980s until his death in 2014. He appeared in two cult drag films: as Noodles Nebula in Vegas in Space (1991) and as Patsy Cline in Virtue II (1999). In addition, he appeared as a drag queen streetwalker named Fabrege in “Javelin Catcher,” a 1996 episode of the television series Nash Bridges.

    He was always so excited to inform me of his next great role, reserving me a seat right up front. Onstage in San Francisco, Galster performed in many high-profile and often high-camp theatrical productions that epitomized the city’s renowned queer culture from the mid-1980s on. Among his stage turns were roles in Naked Brunch, Bad Seed, Phillip R. Ford’s Dolls, Christmas with the Crawfords, Eve, Dirty Little Showtunes, Naked Boys Singing, Half-a-Dozen Dorothies, Lavender Locker Room, Stale Magnolias, Simply Stunning: The Doris Fish Story, Scalpel! The Musical, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Pearls Over Shanghai. I attended almost every performance with delight!

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    From 1982 to 1989, Galster toured every summer as the incarnation of country music superstar Patsy Cline accompanied by a tribute band dubbed the Memphis G-Spots. The act appeared at nightclubs in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York City and San Francisco, as well as London and Tokyo.

    From 1995 to 2012, Galster was a regular performer in shows presented by impresario Marc Huestis at the Castro Theatre that brought together camp and classic films with appearances by stars of the movies accompanied by drag tribute shows. Galster performed in 15 of the productions, singing live in such personas as Conrad Birdie from Bye Bye Birdie, Endora from Bewitched and Tim Gunn from Project Runway. Galster also performed in a number of San Francisco’s noted queer nightclubs of the 1990s and 2000s, including Klubstitute, Dragstrip at the DNA Lounge and Trannyshack.

    He will be sorely missed.