Arts + Culture

50-year-old gay bar The Stud faces closure as rent triples

As a club, the Stud is 50 years old, and has been in its current location for 29 years.

UPDATE: Artist and nightlife fixture Mica Sigourney aka VivvyAnne ForeverMore!, hostess of Club Some Thing at the Stud, has announced he is forming a community co-op to buy the club. For anyone interested in supporting the effort, contact Sigourney at: [email protected] and join the Facebook group here

One of San Francisco’s oldest gay bars, The Stud, sometimes called “the Stonewall of San Francisco,” faces an uncertain future: its building has been sold, the rent will triple in September, and the club’s owner has announced he will retire and move to Hawaii.

At an emergency community meeting called by owner Michael McElhaney this evening, a cavalcade of club kids representing the ’60s through today — many of whom had attended the Stud’s 50th anniversary celebration just last week — gathered at the SoMa bar to hear the shocking news and propose ideas for the future. Ever since an enormous glass luxury condo building sprang up next to the one-story Stud building, hand-wringing has been rife about the future of the venue.

“In 1987, when I walked into the Stud, I knew I wanted to move here,” said an emotional McElhaney, originally from Hawaii, seated on a bar stool and “taking deep breaths of tequila” on the club’s small stage. “When the opportunity came up to buy it a few years later, there were these incredible obstacles,” including substantial debt. “But there I was, this young kid fresh out of art school who just wanted to do it anyway, to keep this magical thing alive.”

Stud owner Michael McElhaney lays out options for the club's future.
Stud owner Michael McElhaney lays out options for the club’s future.

McElhaney purchased the Stud with business partner and vibrant club presence Ben Fiesta in 1996. (Fiesta died in 2011.) McElhaney went on to cite the “golden age” of the Stud in the ’90s, when legendary parties Trannyshack and Sugar packed the club — and he recounted the hard times after those parties left the venue in the late 2000s. Recently, however, the club had been back on an upswing, with parties like Some Thing, Dark Room, and Go Bang.

Suddenly, however, circumstances changed. “For all this time we’ve had an awesome, awesome couple as landlord. But a few years ago, one of them passed away. Things continued fine, we were even able to negotiate a lower rent, which, to be fair, has been very low, especially at this point in history. That’s allowed us to pay off all our debt, get up to date on everything, and be in really good shape.

“But then, I found out a couple weeks ago that the building had been put in escrow to be sold,” McElhaney continued. “That comes just as our lease is up for negotiation, now with the new owners. In two months, our rent will be almost tripled, to $9500. For us as a small cabaret-type club, that is inconceivable. We just can’t do it with the way things are now.

“And also, my mother is getting old. After putting decades into this place, it’s time for me to move back to Hawaii and take care of her.”

McElhaney called on the community to collaborate on saving if not the space then at least the club in a different spot. “The Stud isn’t just a building, it’s a community.” He laid out options that included finding another buyer who could also pay the rent, finding another space and transferring the valuable liquor license, pooling together as “the next generation of queers” to buy the club, and working with the city to find solutions.

As a club, the Stud is 50 years old, and has been in its current location for 29 years.
As a club, the Stud is 50 years old, and has been in its current location for 29 years.

The Stud’s building was erected in 1908, which could qualify it for historical preservation status and, at 50 years — despite a move from nearby Folsom Street where the Holy Cow stands now — the Stud could also qualify as a legacy business.

Nate Allbee, who works in Supervisor David Campos’s office and wrote the legacy business legislation, addressed the crowd, saying that legacy status — which helps longtime business owners with city grants and lease negotiations — would help, but only in so much as it would probably at most shave $2000 off the oncoming monthly $9500 in rent. He added that historic preservation of the building itself may protect the facade, but that the interior could be destroyed and built upon. (The Stud site is currently zoned for five stories.)

Bobby Lopez, representing SoMa Supervisor Jane Kim’s office, said Kim was eager to fast-track the Stud’s legacy business application and help develop ways to leverage the Stud’s valuable liquor license to help preserve the space. Both Lopez and Allbee went on to cite hopefulness in the revival of the SF Eagle, a gay bar that had closed but was then reopened due to pressure from community groups to preserve queer space, and engagement from Kim and other Supervisors in finding new owners.

Allbee also pointed to oncoming “1 to 1” legislation that may be on the November ballot, proposing that, for legacy businesses, new building owners must help either relocate the business if they plan to alter the building, or help the business remain operable during construction and afterward.

Etta james performing at the Stud's former location, where it helped magnetize the gay hippie and funk scenes.
Etta james performing at the Stud’s former location, where it helped magnetize the gay hippie and funk scenes. Photo by Dan Nicoletta.

Comments from the crowd were mostly forward-looking, and applause sprang up throughout at the mention of the club’s past. The fate of the Stud’s beloved staff, however, was still in doubt. “I’m racking my brains to figure out how we can make sure there’s a place for you,” McElhaney said. “When we first bought this place, people said. ‘Oh, this is a gay bar, you should hire shirtless muscle twinks.’ But that’s not what the Stud is about. This is a bastion of beautiful freaks, of the kind of individuals that make San Francisco such a magical place, and I wanted my staff to reflect that.” The attendees burst into wild cheering.

As for action to save the club, McElhaney will put out an official statement tomorrow about the club’s situation, at which point further mobilization will be suggested. There are already plans to investigate the possibility of forming a co-op of owners to take over. But at that moment, everyone was letting the shocking news sink in, “taking deep breaths of tequila” of their own.


SF Carnaval: How it began and what it looks like 37 years later

SF Carnaval was lit from year one — here, a parade participant from 1979. Photo: Lou Dematteis

Carnaval in the Mission is next weekend (May 28-29). The yearly parade and street festival has been around long enough that it’s become an institution to younger generations in the neighborhood.

Born in 1979 out of a desire for more visible signs of various Afro Caribbean cultures, the yearly celebration continues to be a reflection of the priorities of its community. This year’s parade grand marshal is the United Farm Workers’ organizer Dolores Huerta, whose dedication to the fight for social justice mirrors that of this current crop of the Mission’s housing justice and anti-police brutality activists.

“Carnaval San Francisco is the only multicultural parade from around the world that has all the various traditions unified in the streets on one day,” Carnaval executive producer Roberto Hernández told 48 Hills. “It’s a reflection of the unique diversity of San Francisco.”

Carnaval itself is an ancient pagan cum Catholic rite, a pre-Lent ritual that invites the religious to over indulge in the very things they’ll swear off next week.

The tradition has morphed locally in many ways across the globe, and is now celebrated on six continents. Many United States cities have some kind of Carnaval celebrations — like Brooklyn, whose party happens in September and is also known as West Indian American Day — or Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday” in French), the Louisiana institution.

SF Carnaval founder Adela Chu in the debut year of the parade she built. Photo: Luis
SF Carnaval founder Adela Chu in the debut year of the parade she built. Photo: Lou Dematteis

But if you’re talking San Francisco Carnaval timeline, the conversation starts in 1979 when Adela Chu, a Panamanian dance teacher in the Mission, decided that the city was missing an important opportunity for a party.

“I told my students that we had to have one or I wasn’t staying and they agreed to help me,” wrote Chu, a Colón-born world dance instructor, in her account of how SF’s yearly Carnaval festival and parade was started.

The parade and festival, with its stages of music, vendors, and kids’ activities, has taken place every year since.

Chu experienced Carnaval first during her youth in Panama. She brought a Carnaval-like event to Big Sur’s Esalen resort and after attending some of the world’s biggest celebrations in Rio de Janeiro and Bahia, came back to San Francisco with a mission to import that energy to a neighborhood that was full of residents from across Latin America.

She formed a planning committee, and organized a celebration that sent hundreds of performers down the streets of the Mission.

SF Carnaval executive producer Roberto Hernández has been working with the event since 1985, but has been attending since that first parade:

Over 300 dancers and drummers dressed in colorful traditional outfits, along with lowriders cruizin’ around Precita Park. It was amazing to see all the diverse revelers moving freely along the street, bringing life to the cold pavement in La Mission which at that time was a funky predominantly Latino/Chicano barrio!

San Franciscans aren’t known for orderliness during outdoor festivals and the first year of Carnaval was no different. “Perhaps for the uninformed passerby, it all seemed like a crazy, ‘hippie,’ let’s-dance-half-naked-in-the-park event,” said Willy Lizárraga of that first Carnaval in a Shaping SF interview.

SF Carnaval was lit from year one — here, a parade participant from 1979. Photo: Lou Dematteis
SF Carnaval, lit from year one. Photo: Lou Dematteis

But almost four decades later, people are still celebrating Carnaval in the Mission, even as the neighborhood changes rapidly.

At Hernández’s count, last year over 3,000 people participated in the parade (which was broadcast on KOFY TV20) and over 400,000 people came to the parade and two-day festival.

Perhaps the flux makes it even more important.

“Carnaval San Francisco is the only multicultural parade around that world that has all the various traditions unified in the streets on one day,” Hernández said. “It’s a reflection of the unique diversity of SF.”

Nowadays, the community that has grown up with Carnaval is dealing with a changing San Francisco, where residents fight the construction of expensive high rises and for young men of color who are gunned down by police.

Carnaval wanted a social activist to lead the parade this year. “This year I am super excited to have Dolores Huerta as our grand marshal at a time when we are struggling to save the heart, soul and spirit of our beloved city,” said Hernández.

In addition to her pivotal organizing achievements with the United Farmworkers in the 1960s and Presidential Medal of Freedom, Huerta has roots in Carnaval: her daughter Juanita has danced in the SF parade.

Huerta had a message about the state of San Francisco in a post announcing her grand marshaldom on the Carnaval website:

I’m really grateful the community has come out in force to protest these slayings. We just have to keep pressure on law enforcement to change their policies.” She said that the victims “are not animals, they’re people and they shouldn’t be just killing them the way they’re doing. I think the whole culture has to change when it comes to law enforcement. It’s an epidemic. Police aren’t honoring the sanctity of life.

First year revelers at SF Carnaval '78. Photo: Lou Mattheis
First year revelers at SF Carnaval ’78. Photo: Lou Dematteis

Last year, the SF Carnaval grand marshal was Bay Area native drummer Sheila E.

Carnaval organizers are also looking forward to the May 28, 4 p.m. festival performance by Oscar D’León, the singer who penned 1975 Venezuelan salsa classic “Llorarás.” The younger generation hasn’t been forgotten in the planning this year, either: Oakland Panamanian hip-hop duo Los Rakas will perform after D’León at 5 p.m.

This year, Carnaval parties kick off with a free event at the de Young on Fri/20, featuring music and dance troupes that will be marching in next week’s parade.

Parade: May 29, starts at 9:30am at 24th St. and Bryant, SF.
Festival: May 28-29, 10am-6pm, Harrison between 16th and 24th Sts., SF.

Where to celebrate Prince, with dancing


“I’m not a woman, I’m not a man, I am something that you’ll never understand … I’m not your lover, I’m not your friend, I am something that you’ll never comprehend.”

The legacy of Prince Rogers Nelson, who passed away today at the age of 57, is freakiness, freedom, and unfettered exploration of funk.


Those are things that chime especially with Bay Area nightlife, which is why we’ll be taking our grief to the dance floors over the next few weeks. Just like we did, alas, for David Bowie just a few short months ago.

The tribute nights have already started rolling in — here’s a wee list of what’s been confirmed so far; I’ll be adding to it as more come across the wire. Feel free to post ones you know in the comments or contact me at marke (at)

SWEATER FUNK PRINCE TRIBUTE No one knows classic funk more than the Sweater Funk crew, whose regular parties have torn up everywhere from Chinatown basements to huge venues. This time they’re purpling up the MakeOut Room (scene of the giant Bowie tributes last time around – get here early) in honor. Thu/21, 10pm-2am, free. MakeOut Room, SF. More info here

A TRIBUTE TO PRINCE Two of our tip-top hip-hop and chill old school DJs, King Most and Marcellus, team up to turn Hawthorne out. Show some creamy thigh. Thu/21, 9pm-1am, free. Hawthorne, SF. More info here

PRINCE TRIBUTE/BRITISH INVASION You can tell by this mashup how fast the Cat Club — ground zero for ’80s tribute nights — had to pivot in reaction to the awful news. Still, prince could certainly out wave New Wave when he wanted to. One of our absolute best DJs of this whole time period (and beyond), DJ Omar, happens to be guesting, so you know this will be a cathartic experience. There will be a Prince altar for Prince memories. Thu/21, 9pm, $7 (free before 9:30pm). Cat Club, SF. More info here

PURPLE RAIN MIDNIGHT SCREENINGS The Roxie is on it with two midnight screenings of the classic. Purify yourself in Lake Minnetonka. Fri/22 and Sat/23, midnight, $12. Roxie Cinema, SF. Tickets and more info here.

DJ JIM HOPKINS AT 440 CASTRO Castro bear bar 440 may see an influx of diverse Prince fans as one of SF’s classic DJs, Jim Hopkins, brings all the Prince you can handle to the turntables and the video player. knowing Jim, who has DJed here for more than three decades, this probably means some awesome rarities and surprises as well. Fri/22, 4pm-9pm, free. 440 Castro, SF.

ALL ’80S EVERYTHING “Chicks with Decks” Teemoney and DJ Chan Chan whip out the ’80-s hits every fourth Saturday of the month at Pop’s Bar, and I’ve just received word that this installment will of course be super Prince heavy (and also feature tons of other yummy cuts). With Boom Bostic, BENNBA$$, DJ 83’till infinity, DJ Veryserious. Sat/23, 9pm, free. Pop’s Bar, SF. More info here.

LET’S GO CRAZY The Disco Katz throw the monthly Disco Cabana party every month (with fun costume themes), and it is a full-day-long bonkers affair. This Prince-themed party was already planned before the news came down (!) Though they are devastated, they’re continuing with the tribute. “Come in your flashiest hues of Prince and get crazy with the rest of us!” Sun/24, 1pm-10pm, $10. Natoma Cabana, SF. More info here

PURPLE RAIN SCREENING You know the huge screen at the Castro Theatre (please be pipe organ, please be pipe organ) is the perfect place to view this classic. Mon/25, 7pm and 9:30m, $11. Castro Theatre, SF. More info here

PRINCE: A CELEBRATION “We are excited to jam many unheard, unreleased tracks from the legendary vault as well as the hits, the b-sides, live tracks and the related bands and productions. 100% Prince all night. Proceeds from the door will be donated to the San Francisco Aids Foundation.” Don’t miss this one! Wed/27, 10pm-2am, $5. Elbo Room, SF. More info here.  

1015 REMEMBERS PRINCE Cavernous club 1015 Folsom is going all out Thursday, April 28, with a free party featuring 100% Prince tunes — DJs are yet to be announced, but 1015 always pulls in the talent. Thursday, April 28, 10pm-2am, free. 1015 Folsom, SF. More info here

THE GAY COMMUNITY REMEMBERS PRINCE Drag performances, special guests, and music by classic (and gay-adjacent) DJ Paul Goodyear. I’m hoping this doesn’t all collapse into camp and kitsch — or maybe I am rooting for it! Friday, April 29, 10pm-2am, free with Eventbrite registration, $10 at door. More details here

Rest in Purple, Beautiful One. Here’s my favorite 12″ of all time:



‘SOS’ effort launched to save The Stud

The Stud has been in its current location for almost 30 years.

In the wake of Sunday’s shock announcement that SF’s 50-year-old gay bar the Stud faces a 200-percent rent hike and may close, a co-op of Stud workers and affiliates has formed with the intention to buy the business, liquor license, and any other transferrable assets. But it will need the community’s help in the coming weeks.

The group, called SOS: Save our Stud, launched a Facebook page and set up an email account — [email protected] — to keep the community informed of its actions and needs. Mica Sigourney, artist and hostess of the Stud’s weekly drag show Some Thing (as alter-ego VivvyAnne ForeverMore!) is heading up the SOS effort.

“Right now, we’re at a very early stage,” Sigourney told me over the phone this morning. “But we have two goals. One is to make sure the Stud stays in the community. We want it to stay where it is now, with the same staff, everything. But we’re taking in the possibility that the Stud may move, as well.

The Stud has been in its current location for almost 30 years.
The Stud has been in its current location for almost 30 years.

“The other goal is to form a co-op of worker-owners, like Rainbow Grocery, to see if that’s a viable way forward,” Sigourney said. “Right now we’re researching what that co-op would look like and a longterm strategy to make it work.”

“We’re also looking for significant investors who would help us buy the business, as well as the liquor license, which is of course very valuable,” Sigourney added. “If it’s one new owner who steps in, we want to make sure the Stud stays the Stud. But we’re all obviously very motivated to keep San Francisco’s oldest queer performance venue alive.”

When asked, Sigourney said he didn’t know how much money was needed or how much the Stud business was worth yet — Stud owner Michael McElhaney has taken a break from communications after making his announcement — although Sigourney did say that the Stud had proved itself to be “an economically viable business.”

Mica Sigourney as VivvyAnne ForeverMore, hostess of the weekly Friday Club Some Thing drag night.
Mica Sigourney as VivvyAnne ForeverMore, hostess of the weekly Friday Club Some Thing drag night. Photo by Gooch.

So what can people do now to help the Stud, while SOS investigates what it can do?

“I want to say that the Stud belongs to the community, and everyone should do what they feel is necessary to save the Stud, including reaching out to the owner Michael and seeing what he needs for any plan to work,” Sigourney said. “Let’s keep the energy up to save the Stud, because we will definitely need that energy going forward. Keep telling the story of the Stud, and how valuable it is to the community.

“Join the SOS Facebook page. Pressure Jane Kim’s office to find a workable solution. But most of all, actually go to the Stud. One of the inspiring things to come out of this bad news is all the stories pouring forth from people who’ve gone to the Stud over the past five decades. The Stud is still here! Come down and see a show. Make happy hour happen — the Stud has one of the best pool tables in town and there are plenty of corners to cuddle in.

“Support the Stud with your presence, and be there when a call to action comes. Although this has been a shock, we do have two months to figure things out, and if we need to hold an emergency fundraiser for an extra month’s worth of rent to buy us some time, so be it.” (Bartender Brian Feagins already pledged to cover the Stud’s first month of raised rent.)

“But stay involved and present,” Sigourney said.


Strangely, the Stud has no Wikipedia page or other significant historic annal, although its 50th anniversary gave a great opportunity to recount some of its history. Fortunately, invaluable Facebook page Preserving LGBT Historic Sites in California is filling in some of the details of half a century of community debauchery. (See the full post with some illuminating comments here.) 

THE STUD BAR was founded in 1966 in a space at the corner of Folsom and Norfolk streets. At that location, it was home to a gay hippie scene and was a favorite of queer artists, musicians and culture-makers, including poet Thom Gunn (1929–2004), who later was awarded a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. The club hosted DJ dancing, presented art exhibitions and sponsored live performers. Among the stars who appeared many times was blues, soul and R&B diva Etta James (1938–2012).

In 1987, The Stud moved to its current location in a structure dating to 1908 on Harrison Street between Ninth and Gordon streets. At the time, much of the area nearby was given over to a Muni bus yard, light industry and wholesale businesses. In its new location, the bar retained its loyal following, with regular patrons including rock critic Adam Block (1951–2008), poet Steve Abbott (1943–1992) and other personalities of the city’s queer cultural life.

Nayland Blake, "Dust," 1987
Nayland Blake, “Dust,” 1987

Through the darkest years of the AIDS epidemic, The Stud offered a place to dance in the face of doom. At one point in the early 1990s, a graffito that summed up the defiant queer spirit of the era was scrawled on the front of the building: “First we mourn, then we fight, then we party up their butts.” Internationally renowned gay African American artist Nayland Blake found inspiration for a more elegiac response, creating a flag that rearranged the bold letters STUD from the bar’s sign into the word DUST.

The mid-1990s saw The Stud give birth to one of San Francisco’s great queer club nights with drag personality Heklina taking over Tuesdays for Trannyshack, where inventive live shows were presented on a postage-stamp-sized stage. Performers who appeared at Trannyshack included Lady GagaGwen StefaniRuPaul, Charo, Debora Iyall, Mary Wilson and Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters. The club ran weekly from 1996 to 2008.


Ultimate Pride Guide 2016

Happy Prid! Unicorn drawing by Kosred

PARTY RADAR The night of the Orlando shootings, I was at the African American Arts and Culture Complex surrounded by friends I’ve shared hundreds of dance floors with, watching young actor Rotimi Agbabiaka‘s fantastic autobiographical one-person show, “Type/Caste,” part of the ongoing National Queer Arts Festival.

“Type/Caste” is about the travails of a young, black, Nigerian, classically trained actor trying to make it in show-biz, and the daunting obstacles and rejections — from claims about “historical accuracy” in Shakespeare to “thug” casting stereotypes — he faces in a theater world that can’t get past the color of his skin. Equal parts hilarious, scathing, and emotional, it’s also the story of Rotimi’s discovery of his queerness, and the price of coming out to his family, especially his father, in Nigeria.

Rotimi Agbabiaka in 'Type/Caste'
Rotimi Agbabiaka in ‘Type/Caste’

About two-thirds of the way through the show, in a spectacular, neon-drenched coup-de-theatre, Rotimi transforms into … well, I don’t want to give it away, but let’s just say a very divine, powerful authority figure, who gives a very divine, powerful speech about how fear can corrupt love:

“[You think I am] judging you for being gay and your father thinks I am going take his side in this battle between him and his gay demons.

Yes, HIS demons. Ah, this, boy, don’t you know? Demons are nothing but characters out of the stories we tell ourselves. And the demons that your father is convinced have corrupted you are just his demons that he is trying to pass on to you.

And you, my boy, can choose to tell him: these are not my demons, they are your demons — so take them the fuck away from me!”

Those words drifted around the periphery of my panic as I came home that night to discover news about the hostage standoff at Pulse nightclub, and watched the number of estimated dead and wounded quickly climb into the unimaginable. My husband was still out at the Eagle. My friends in Pittsburgh, New York, and LA, oblivious to the situation, were texting me catty gossip from after-hours bathrooms. All my fellow audience members from earlier were now scattered throughout the city at various clubs.

It felt like Orlando was unfolding not just in real time, but also real space — I watched the horrible knowledge of what was happening pass over the face of our nightlife network like a pool of blood spreading across the dance floor. And then came the name of the killer, and the awful national political spins, and then suddenly I was at a candlelight vigil in the Castro, standing on the same spot where I stood celebrating same-sex marriage exactly a year ago, crying my eyes out.

And yet. Demons are nothing but characters out of the stories we tell ourselves. What story are we going to choose to tell ourselves about Orlando? One full of demons, full of fear? One that closes us off from each other, rather than one that opens us up, however painfully, to love, tolerance, and Pride? And marching in the streets, and cuddling in the park, and kissing for the cameras? And cocktails, and drag shows, and fierce lqqks, and dancing and dancing and dancing?

Will the Orlando shooting hold us back from that rainbow arc toward full equality — for all people? Um, yeah, take your demons the fuck away from us. We’ve got the hard and glorious work of love to do. So let’s get to it!

SOME THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PRIDE THIS YEAR: The Pink Saturday celebration in the Castro has been cancelled, although an alternative Pink Saturday celebration is being held in SoMa by the Sisters of Perpetual indulgence. This year at Civic Center after the Pride Parade on Sunday, there will be metal detectors and everyone will be searched for weapons. Organizers and city official say this is in response to Orlando, but Pride is also being sued for a shooting that happened nearby last year. In fact, the list of prohibited items is incredibly restrictive, so check first before you get busted with anything. Please be alert to your surroundings. And finally, last year so many tech workers marched in the parade that it lasted almost three extra hours, so have that in mind when you plan your Sunday, transportation-wise. (Hey, maybe even gay Apple CEO Tim Cook will show up this year, before his meeting with Paul Ryan, whose party just voted down four gun control measures in the wake of the Orlando shooting. Pride! )


'Irrawaddy, Mon Amour' screens Wednesday at the Victoria Theater as part of the Frameline Film Fest
‘Irrawaddy, Mon Amour’ screens Wednesday at the Victoria Theater as part of the Frameline Film Fest

Frameline Fim Festival The world’s biggest LGBT Film Festival was also its first. Now celebrating 40 years, Frameline is bursting with dozens and dozens of films from all over the world showing the presence and diversity of queer life. Check out our guide here — and come out on Wednesday to the Victoria Theater for the 48 Hills-sponsored film Irrawaddy Mon Amour, the first LGBT film based in Myanmar! Festival runs through Sun/26. Tickets and more info here

National Queer Arts Festival 45 performances packed into the schedule this year — the festival’s 19th — including everything from transgender choirs to several film festivals. Festival runs through July 2. Tickets and more info here.



Pullin’ Pork for Pride

Pullin’ Pork for Pride Woah hey there, it’s our 11th annual Pride kick-off party! 48 Hills is teaming up with the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club for a happy hour at the Pilsner Inn, featuring BBQ from Sneaky’s on the back patio and a bunch of beer. Plus lots of hobnobbing and surprises. Join us! Wed/22, 5:30pm-9:30pm, free. Pilsner Inn, SF. More info here

Floor 21 Drag goddess Juanita More bookends Pride this year: Floor 21 is her weekly night at the Starlight Room at the top of the Sir Francis Drake hotel, which will be especially prideful in this instance. (Her official Pride party is on Sunday and will be a hoot.) With DJ Sergio and photographer Garaje Gooch. Wed/22, 5pm-midnight, free. Starlight Room, SF. More info here.

Partytime Lovers Pride A free dance party with some of my bestie queerdos in San Francisco? Yes, please, si si! Siobhan Aluvalot, Cali420 Princess, Miss Pop (back in town, woo!), Boy Young, and Vivvyanne Forevermore bring the tunes and performances, you bring the love. Wed/22, 9pm-2am, free. Makeup Room, SF. More info here



Horse Meat Disco
Horse Meat Disco

Horse Meat Disco My favorite cheeky disco Brits come back to the Bay to slay with joyful rarities and unexpected detours (Wham’s “Young Guns”? OK!). They’ll be at the bonkers Lights Down Low Pride party, with special guests Chris Bowen from Cub Scout and hostess with the Hostess, beloved cupcake-monster Lady Bear. Thu/23, 10pm-3am, $15. monarch, SF. Tickets and more info here.

The Tubesteak Connection SF’s original disco revival party and longest-running queer weekly dance party, helmed by the luminous DJ Bus Station John, will show you the true underground gay life of our fair city in the Tenderloin, on a carpeted dance floor, with very strong drinks. No cell phones out in the club, please! And of course no parking on the dance floor. Thu/23, 10pm, $5. Aunt Charlie’s Lounge, SF. More info here

The Magenta Party Celebrate vital alternative arts space CounterPulse’s shiny new digs — yes, in a big magenta building: “Catch pop-up performances from CounterPulse artists throughout the evening, shop our art-centric silent auction, sip theme crafted cocktails, and explore our fabulous new theater.” Thu/23, 6pm-9pm, $30-$60. CounterPulse, SF. Tickets and more info here

Kick Maxson with his "Pulse" wall work.
Kick Maxson with his “Pulse” wall work.

“Pulse” An art opening at Adobe Books — always a hip happening — that features two Bay-related artists responding to Orlando: Kirk Maxson, one of our best artists working right now, premieres a new wall work of his hammered metal-foil flowers, while Geof Teague produces wearable buttons with the victims’ names. A wonderful tribute. Thu/23, 6pm-8pm, free. Adobe Books, SF. More info here.    

Lexington Presents: Pride Kick-Off Gone but never forgotten! The Lexington Club may have vanished, but the legendary alternative dyke bar lives on — this time through a special Pride Kick-Off event at Virgil’s Sea Room. Jenna Riot (House of Babes, SF/NYC), Chelsea Starr (Portland), and Lady Ryan provide the tunes. with plenty of familiar faces behind the bar. Thu/23, 9pm-2am, free. Virgil’s Sea Room, SF. More info here

Pride Nightlife The Thursday night parties at Cal Academy of Sciences are always a hoot — who doesn’t want to listen to live DJs while staring agog at a floor-to-ceiling aquarium — but the Pride editions are especially wild. Hecklina hosts a drag tribute to Bowie and Prince, plus vogueing, Cheer SF, DJ Leah Perloff, and Juanita More. Thu/23, 6pm-10pm, $12-$15. Cal Academy, SF. Tickets and more info here.



Trans March 2016 An essential, absolutely gorgeous Pride event, especially given all the political-football bathroom-panic shit trans people have had to endure this year. “This year is really special because we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, which happened in August, 1966 — three years before Stonewall,” and was led by transgender people. Fri/24, program starts at Dolores Park at 11am, march from Dolores Park to Turk and Taylor Streets at 6pm. Free. More info here.

Oakland's SBSM perform at Bustin' Out
Oakland band SBSM perform at Trans March afterparty Bustin’ Out

Bustin’ Out 11: Show and Party Against the Prison-Industrial Complex Two big parts to the official Trans March after-happenings this year. A live music show (6:30-9pm) at the Knockout featuring Oakland’s SBSM, SISSYFIT, and DJ Jasmine. And then a party (8pm-late) at both El Rio and Virgil’s Sea Room. Click the links above for prices and more info.

We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re … Some Thing I can’t lie to you — this is going to be a fantastical all-night marathon of possibly some of the craziest drag and cutest tunes (courtesy of special guest DJs Rich King and Stanley Frank) you will witness. And by marathon, I mean: 10pm-8am (although the doors close at 4am, so make sure to get in there!). SF’s art-drag weekly party Some Thing always makes it a Pride to try to remember. Fri/24, 10pm, $12. The Stud, SF. More info here, including like 100 drag names.

Pound Puppy Pride Arf! Arf arf arf! Grrrrrrrowl! Arf arf! “This Pride, we are inviting you to show your teeth and come join the pack. Whether you like to sit, stay, roll over or just straight up hang out on all fours… This evening is for you. Frisky, furry gents are waiting for you to come throw some balls around and sniff out what’s rightfully yours.” With excellent disco edit princess Gay Marvine and soulful DJ CarrieOn Disco. Fri/24, 8pm, $20. Eagle, SF. More info here

Quay Dash performs at Swagger Like Us
Quay Dash performs at Swagger Like Us

Swagger Like Us Queer Pride Our biggest and most exuberant queer hip-hop party swings into action at the Elbo Room, with a special appearance by Bronx rap slayer Quay Dash. DJs Jasmine Infiniti, boy_friend, and Lady Tragik bring the noise. Fri/24, 9pm, $10. Elbo Room, SF. Tickets and more info here

Ewe Nasty Once upon a time — and still! — there was a giant sheep art bus that travelled the world from Burning Man to Palm Springs, even acting as the dance stage for Folsom Street Fair. BAAAHS (Big Ass Amazingly-Awesome Homosexual Sheep) attracts scruffy queer burners from hither and yon to dance and make out in her woolly shadow. Join the BAAAHS crew for a night of dancing — and shearing, because there will actually be a barber there giving haircuts (!) Fri/24, 10pm-4am, $10-$20. F8, SF. Tickets and more info here.

The Musical Prostitute This live music/performance piece looks pretty incredible: “A young man and Freddie Mercury are unexpectedly taken on a phantasmagorical live musical journey exploring the reality of free love vs. fear of love. Peter Griggs and Lysol Tony-Romeo create a provocative multi-dimensional backdrop for a world with AIDS and a world without.” Fri/24 (also Sat/25), 7:30pm, $15-$20. AAACC, SF. Tickets and more info here.

Steam Does Pride Inexplicably, San Francisco has no bathhouses — so here’s the next best thing: a bathhouse-themed party with go-gos in shower stalls, men in wet towels, tons of steamy tunes, and even a few bathmats in the backroom. Host Walter Gomez looks great in a glittery Speedo. Potion of the door goes to GLBT Community Center of Central Florida in Orlando. Fri/24, 9pm, $10. Powerhouse, SF. More info here

Club IRL Family vibe party! DJ Sappho comes down from Portland with the killer techno tunes, joined by Trevor Sigler and Jordee at this totally affordable, totally mixed spot in the Lower Haight. Benefitting Trans Lifeline. Fri/24, 10pm, $5-$10. Underground SF. More info here.

Miss Honey Pride  Cosmic green queen Terry T presents this annual tradition at Monarch, which is always such anarchic fun. “We invite all Queers, Trans, Aliens and Allies to celebrate together with us! We’re throwing a Gender Queer Alien Andro Two-Spirit Creature Pride Party!” That’s basically what happens, this time with ace DJs Vin Sol and Chelsea Starr on the decks. Best look wins $250. Fri/24, 9pm, $10-$20. Monarch, SF. Tickets and more info here.  



24th Annual Dyke March “This year our theme is ‘Still Here, Still Queer.’ We are marching against displacement. We are showing up, taking up space, taking to the streets, and saying enough is enough. This is our city.” Heck yes, I love the Dyke March so much!! Sat/24, Program starts at 1pm in Dolores Park, March at 6pm, free. More info here.

Katey Red performs at House of Babes
Katey Red performs at House of Babes

House of Babes This huge annual queer Pride party has like a zillion things going on, from food to nail art manicures (!), but things you need to know are a) the OG queen of New orleans sissy bounce, Katey Red, is performing b) so is NYC rapper Dai Burger, and c) OMG everyone here really is a babe, regardless of gender, size, or specifications. Benefitting Black Lives matter. Sat/25, 7pm-3am, $25-$50. Public Works, SF. Tickets and more info here

Afterglow The radical faerie party vibe is strong at this annual “blacklight discotheque” — all night on several dance floors and play spaces, with actually very good music ranging from house and disco classics to cutting-edge techno. A blast until dawn, so break out the Day-Glo. Sat/25, 10pm-6am, $40. Sound factory, SF. Tickets and more info here

Lady Miss Kier appears at the Starlight Room
Lady Miss Kier appears at the Starlight Room

Lady Miss Kier A DJ set from our favorite disco alien, the voice of Dee-Lite, and a strong voice on social issues — love it, especially at the Starlight Room. It’s always a treat to have Kier in the room (or on the beach: remind me to tell you about our wild night in Miami back in 1993 sometime … let’s just say it involved a cruise ship called Ecstasy.) Sat/25, 5pm, $30. the Starlight Room, SF. Tickets and more info here

Sure Thing: Delano Smith The Sure Thing parties are always a great time with a prime focus on quality music, so if you’re looking for some killer, classic deep techno from Detroit legends Delano (accompanied by map.ache from the dominating introspective-electronic label Giegling), here’s a chance to ride the Pride rainbow someplace a little different and dance yourself into a higher state. Sat/25, 10pm-late, $15. Monarch, SF. Tickets and more info here.    

Device Pride Monthly party Device always brings in more experimental, darker musical guests than your usual night at the leather bar — which is perfect. This time’s no exception, with Douglas J. McCarthy, the singer and founding member of essential industrial-EBM legends Nitzer Ebb on the turntables with DJ Bill Converse, former techno DJ prodigy who made the rounds when he was a teen. New sounds now. Sat/25, 9pm, $10. Eagle, SF. More info here.   

Pink Mammoth The flipside of Afterglow — an all-day, outdoors, pink-themed party for a more straight-leaning crowd that still welcomes plenty of us queers into the fold. Especially when the Pink Mammoth Burning Man crew brings in heavy hitters from all over the musical spectrum. Sat/25, noon-9pm, $20-$25. Mighty, SF. Tickets and more info here.

Dark Room: One in the Pink Another monthly party that proves itself on dark atmosphere and tunes — this time on the more nostalgic side, but still with one finger on the current. Freaky drag shows, stage blood for sure, and “DARK-WAVE/SYNTH POP/PUNK/ & INDUSTRIAL” dancing. Sat/25, 9:30pm-3am, $8-$10. The Stud, SF. More info here



46th Annual Pride March and Celebration This year’s theme is “For Racial and Economic Justice”  — you can find all the detail about Pride here, but don’t miss the Faerie Freedom Village! Parade starts at 10:30am at Embarcadero.

Jujanita More's Pride Party is always cute.
Juanita More’s Pride Party is always cute.

Juanita More! Pride Party An annual can’t-miss event for the fashionable boys and girls, hosted by drag goddess Juanita More. Miss Rahni brings down the house with a special performance, DJs Rolo and and Guy Ruben warm up for soulful, energetic NYC master Tedd Patterson, and many celebrity sightings abound. Benefitting Queer LifeSpace. Sun/26, noon-10pm, $45. Jones, SF. More info here.   

Hard French Hearts Los Homos with Psychic TV A classic, all-vinyl ’60s soul party with a Latin spin hosting the transgender founder of psychedelic-industrial rock? This is an only-in-SF party that will be packed with cuties and I can’t wait for it. I mean, come on. Sat/26, 3pm-11pm, $25. Mezzanine, SF. Tickets and more info here.

Disco Daddy Pride Edition “Launched just after the SF Eagle miraculously rose phoenix-like from the ashes some three years ago, DJ Bus Station John’s semi-monthly “DISCO DADDY!” tea dances continue to soar, pulling in “a happy, diverse, attitude-free, inter-generational crowd of disco & hi-NRG lovers, representing all age-, waist- and hair- lines. Find your ‘Hit’N Run Lover’ while cruising to the soundtrack of the gay ’70s & early ’80s at this special Pride edition, a seven-hour(!) marathon priced at just $5 all night, ‘perfect for both party hoppers and party paupers!'” Sun/26, 7pm-2am, $5. Eagle, SF. More info here.

Mighty Real Poolside Party This one’s for the soulful grown folks who still know how to party better than anyone else. DJ David Harness anchors a day of dancing and cocktails, with the Sugar Girl Squad aka Ultra Nate and Lisa moody from Baltimore taking over the decks. Sunny tunes for sunshine people. Sun/26, noon-7pm, $50-$60. Phoenix Hotel, SF. Tickets and more info here  

Honey Soundsystem Pride One of our best techno exports, Avalon Emerson, returns to her hometown, spinning with Chicago’s awesome Shaun J. Wright to whip the steadfast Honey crowd in shape. I just traveled to Detroit to see the Honey Soundsytem boys play the Movement electronic festival, and they are sharper, and gayer, than ever. Dancey-time. Sun/26, 9pm-4am, $15-$20. Public Works, SF. Tickets and more info here.

Electroluxx Sunday Mass Pride Cuddle puddles! Silent disco! Tons of art! An unusual location! And, most important for a dance party, a great lineup, starting at the top (or the bottom, considering the bass quotient) with Dirtybird Records’ Worthy, plus Sergio, MicahTron, Keith Kraft, and many more. (And with a zillion visual artists involved, you’ll have more to look at than just a ton of cuties.) Sun/26, 8pm, $15-$30. The Chapel, SF. Tickets and more info here.  

Annual Pride “Pool Party” This is sweet, and a great respite from Pride when you really just wasn’t to sit on a roof deck and have a few cocktails. Oasis, whose location used to have a pool, brings in a little inflatable one and everyone dips their toes in. Poolwear and floaties encouraged, of course. Sneaky’s BBQ and killer Bloody Marys are served. Sun/26, 1pm-6pm, free. Oasis, SF. More info here

Luther Vandross Tribute Night Why not round off your Pride with the sweet kids of Sweater Funk paying tribute to that (secretively, alas) gay R&B teddy bear, Luther Vandross. Who’s ready for some sex grooves? Sun/26, 10pm-2am, $5. Elbo Room, SF. More info here.  


Mr. David gives us definitive SF style

Mr. David, the ma'am, the myth, the legend. Photo: Caitlin Donohue

Mr. David, also known as Glamamore, is widely honored as the drag matriarch of San Francisco. That title is a big deal in a performance community as internationally influential as that of SF, but it hardly sums up his contributions to a vast family of gender artists.

For proof, you may look to the de Young Museum on Fri/13, when Mr. David will send over 200 dresses down the runway that he made for his best known drag daughter Juanita More. Mr. David has been a seamstress since 1978, and is responsible for some of SF’s most glamour-fantastical looks over the past decades.

Mr. David, the ma'am, the myth, the legend. Photo: Caitlin Donohue
Mr. David, the ma’am, the myth, the legend. Photo: Caitlin Donohue

Mother and daughter estimate that what will be shown on Friday is a mere 10 percent of the looks that Mr. David has crafted for Juanita, a promoter, DJ, philanthropist and cookbook author, over the years.

Those familiar with queer nightlife in the city have met Mr. David. You can find him at the bar bantering with staff, or on the sidewalk out in front, smoke curling from one of the cigarettes that give him the gravelly voice of an old Hollywood star. Mr. David does much of his socializing in boy drag — less prep time involved so that he can better give an endless parade of club kids the floor to confide in him, ask him for advice, beg him for clothes.

Nightlife desperately needs, and seldom has, elders like these.

And then there is the matter of the SF aesthetic. Juanita More is among the most influential promoters in town, and her signature glamorous look has become the gold standard for many baby drags looking to snatch some perfection out of a world that can often be too crass, too boring, in the year 2016. Mr. David’s looks on her are proof that you need not hew to society’s norms to become an icon — really the only way to do that is reject them.

I remember standing at the foot of the stage watching Glamamore perform for the first time and realized I was finally seeing real drag,” remembered Juanita in an interview with 48 Hills. It was the 1980s, New York City, the glory days of the BoyBar Beauties. “During his performance I knew that I would someday be connected to him.” 24 years ago, Glamamore put his offspring in drag one night before Halloween. “It happened and it hasn’t stopped,” said Juanita.

Photo: MOREBoy Isaac
Mr. David (l) and his drag offspring Juanita More. Photo: MOREBoy Isaac

It’s hardly a stretch to say that this runway show represents the very best of what the Bay has to offer; creativity born out of love not profit, queer excellence, and the tight bonds of chosen family.

Mr. David’s effect on the drag community is huge,” said Juanita. “He is respected immensely as both a performer and couturier. The love he has of his craft shines through in everything he does.”

Having tried many times over the past years, I can tell you that Mr. David is impossible to get a scheduled interview with — impossible! But luckily this time Juanita (who often serves as mom’s PR liaison, among other helper roles) volunteered to sit him down and administer the questions for 48 Hills.

48 HILLS Can you estimate how many people you’ve made custom designs for? 

MR. DAVID I’ve had some kind of worldwide business in fashion since 1978. It feels like I’ve been sewing a dress a day since then.

48 HILLS How many looks will be sent down the runway at the de Young?

MR. DAVID There will be an easy 200 pieces shown at the de Young — which is really only about 10 percent of what I’ve made for Juanita.

48 HILLS Where on earth are all these garments stored?

MR. DAVID Most of them are stored primarily in a storage unit in SOMA. They are housed in clear plastic bins by color — except for some of the more delicate organzas.

48 HILLS I know SO many people who would love a dress from you but you are so b u s y. I know you don’t choose your clients based on how much money they can pay — how do you choose who gets frocked by Mr. David?

MR. DAVID It’s never about the money — never has been. It’s like choosing a lover. There has to be some kind of turn-on or connection.

Juanita and Mr. David at the former's weekly party that ran for years, Booty Call Wednesdays. Photo: Shot in the City for Booty Call Wednesdays
Juanita and Mr. David at the former’s weekly party that ran for years, Booty Call Wednesdays. Photo: Shot in the City for Booty Call Wednesdays

48 HILLS How did you start making clothes? When? Where? Who taught you?

MR. DAVID I started sewing at three years old. Then I started going to a specialized school that allowed it’s students to find their artistic outlet. One day they saw me sewing and from then on — let me sew! My mother was fully supportive and even egged me on.

48 HILLS Describe your process for creating a look for a performer. Do you make patterns? Are they always the ones to come to YOU with an idea, or are you ever like I must put this look on this body.

MR. DAVID My clients are my main inspiration. When we work together it is usually a symbiotic relationship — someone will come to me and say “I need to look like a hotdog” and I’m totally okay with that. It’s rare that I push my own specifics on someone. It’s always a union. Every so often I’ll come up with an idea for an outfit but then never find the right person to wear it. And I’ve never liked making stuff for hangers. Which is why you won’t see my stuff in a store.

48 HILLS What’s it been like for you, seeing this drag boom? The art form is so popular now, what effect do you think the squadrons of baby drags have had on how drag is practiced and, maybe most importantly, its role in society?

MR. DAVID First off, drag plays an important role in our world. I get excited when I see the fledglings within my own personal circle express their creativity and eagerness to strive for excellence. I think drag is simply a part of life — I mean it dates back 40,000 years. So whether we like it or not, it’s here.

48 HILLS What constitutes good style, in your opinion?

MR. DAVID Mmmmmm. It’s a combination of daring and paying attention.

Fri/13, 7:30pm, free
de Young Museum
More info here.

Join us for the third annual 48 Hills Gala!

The view from the Starlight Room, site of the 48 Hills Gala

You are cordially invited to the third annual

Thursday, April 21, 2016, 6pm-9pm
at The Starlight Room
on the 21st Floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel
450 Powell Street, San Francisco
(Tickets will also be available at the door)

Facebook invite here.

Cocktails! Food! Music! Networking! Special guests! More to be announced! All at the beautiful Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in downtown San Francisco.

The view from the Starlight Room
The view from the Starlight Room

We’ve made it three years! And we’re expanding, growing, and establishing ourselves as a critical part of the local media, culture, and political scene. Join us for this special fundraising gala to ensure the important work of 48 Hills — the only independent, local, daily news and culture website in the Bay Area — continues.

Independent Media Super Hero $1,000
Proud, Outspoken Sponsor $500
48 Hills Fellow Traveler $250
Comrade-in-Truth $100
Event Attendee $50
Low Income/Student $35

To purchase tickets, please use the donation tool at and include the appropriate amount. We’ll send you a confirmation, and your name will be held at the door of the Starlight Room.

When we launched in 2013, we knew we were breaking new ground. There were very few digital daily newspapers in the country; nobody was trying to create a progressive alternative to the established dailies, entirely on the web – as a community-funded nonprofit.

We had to ask: Would the San Francisco community support this idea? Could we actually start with nothing and build a serious, respected, news outlet? Would this model be part of the future of journalism?

The answer in 2016 is a resounding yes. We have broken scores of major stories. We have covered people, politics, and events that nobody else would touch. We have pushed politicians, investigated misconduct and corruption — and turned into a must-read for the people who care about politics and culture in this city.

So on April 21, we celebrate our third year — with a gala party and fundraiser at the fabulous Starlight Room. Drinks and light food will be served.

We need your support to continue out work. This operation survives largely on contributions from people like you. If you like what we’re doing, and you believe in independent, fearless news media, please join us April 21. And if you can’t make it, please help us with a tax-deductible contribution.

Journalism is in trouble in America. The New York Times recently reported that investigative reporting, so critical to holding the powerful accountable, is dying as traditional news outlets cut their budgets. But Public Editor Margaret Sullivan wrote that is part of the solution and quoted Tim Redmond saying that “Democracy can’t function without somebody holding the power structure accountable.”

We do this work for you and for all of San Francisco and the Bay Area. Please help us keep it going.

Tim Redmond, editor and Marke B., publisher

The San Francisco hipster is dead, y’all :/

"Bye Felicias." From X24's "Hipster Apocalypse" video

The impending closure of Boogaloos is the (locally sourced, hand-wrought) nail in the neon coffin of a once inescapable lifestyle caricature.

48 Hills: Hipster Apocalypse
“Bye Felicias.”
From X24’s “Hipster Apocalypse” video

By Marke B.

SEPTEMBER 1, 2015 — If you’re still blaming the tumultuous cultural changes San Francisco has been undergoing on “hipsters,” you might need to stop and readjust your neon shutter shades. Like the marginalized communities it was blamed for displacing, the once-overwhelming hipster onslaught has now in turn been over-run by Ivy League business school marketing grads, violently jogging ex-cheerleaders from the Midwest, Bonobos-sporting former frat bros, and Baby Bjorned global arrivistes who have absolutely no idea who Allen Ginsberg or Ariel Pink is, let alone Keyboard Cat.

Goodbye hand-knit beer cozies, tacky Christmas sweaters worn in July, and Three Wolf Moon tees; hello Under Armour gym socks, nude hose, and Lululemon sports bras.

This weekend’s announced closing of Mission hipster landmark brunch spot Boogaloos, due to “whacked out” rent, may be the final (locally-smelted, hand-wrought) nail in the (reclaimed old-growth redwood with vintage silk lining) coffin of a hipster cultural stratum previously defined by indie irony, fitted flannels, large-print t-shirts, small-scale free-range production techniques, twirly mustaches, PBR ‘n burrito burps, Frankensteined fixes, post-punk hip-hop retro-disco garage rock blog house, Web 1.0 MS Paint design aesthetics, and Hipster Runoff.

Not even a robust gap-year trust fund can withstand the skyrocketing rents here. And who can afford anymore to launch a Malian-Icelandic fusion food truck, organic Ayahuasca pop-up, or hand-printed line of Zombie Hannah Montana jeggings? Only bored Google wives have resources for that now, and they’re too busy with toddler yoga. I seriously waited on Valencia Street for three hours last week before I spotted a single acid-wash romper. There were pleated chinos at Zeitgeist. Elbo Room is closing. Hipster’s dead, y’all.

Party Radar: Super Bowl Survival Edition

PARTY RADAR Hi, I’m a professional San Francisco nightlife writer, and I want to slit my delicate, ladylike wrists in a fit of melodramatic pique. Yes, yes, the homeless are being herded, the skyscrapers defaced, our streets are clogged, and our tax money is being wasted. But you wanna know the worst thing about the Super Bowl plopping its nacho-stained Walmart sweatpants down on our fair city? The horrific “official parties.” They are so awful!


Look, when Coldplay is your halftime act it can only go downhill from there, but I didn’t think it could go this far down. We are entering a bottomless pit of tacky that literally gouges my eyeballs into black holes of abhorrence with each successive Facebook invitation. My Bizarro World favorite so far? The 2016 Maxim Party, “in a class all its own as the #1 most sought after event. Maxim is creating a premium ultra lounge featuring: concert sound, theatrical lighting & effects, full LED video walls and risers for exclusive VIP Tables on different levels.”

GUYS THEY ARE GONNA HAVE TABLES ON DIFFERENT LEVELS! Where will the innovation end? VIP tables (on different levels!) run you $85000 – $25000. Oh, and Paul McCartney might be there. Thanks for ruining everything! (If you want your soul to be even more sucked out, check out this list.)

Will SF nightlife ever recover from this deluge of douchery, which we’ve fought so hard for years to fend off? Of course we will. Although, hey, I’m running off to Detroit next week to help my friend start an underground after-hours in an abandoned strip club. Priorities!

Here are a few festive, diverse, welcoming, affordable, and at least slightly subversive parties at which to weather out the football madness in the next two weeks. OH! And for more great parties don’t forget to check out BIG WEEK, which I’m constantly updating with the coolest events 4u.

FOURTH ANNUAL SUPER SHADY FISH BOWL This may be the only gay Super Bowl-related event I can possible condone, because how can anyone pass up “Penalty jello shots, 10.00 Beer/Soda Bust, GO-GO Guppy Jocks, Puppy Play, Go-Go Guppy TwerqOFF, Guppy bondage demos” and all kinds of other things I barely know what they are — but anyway, home run! It’s all a benefit for AIDS Housing Alliance. Sun/31, 3:30pm-7pm, free but buy some charitable raffle tickets! The Edge, SF. More info here.

DISCO DADDY Many of us may be flocking back to and polishing up our Grindr and Tinder profiles to see just what kind of trade is flooding the city for the Big Game — but let’s face it, there won’t be much “there” there. Why not hit up Bus Station John’s manly-man gay discotheque tribute at the Eagle for a shot of testosterone (with a shot of Cerrone). Sun/31, 7pm-2am, $5. SF Eagle. More info here

DERRICK CARTER The master of Chicago boogie house comes to light up Audio with glowing smiles. Yes you’ll have to wade through the 11th Street crowds, but the superior audio system at Audio (there’s a reason for the name) will erase any baller vibes. Fri/5, 9:30pm-2am, $10. Audio, SF. Tickets and more info here.     

STRANGELOVE 11TH ANNIVERSARY The monthly staple of dark ’80s and synth-goth dance floor delirium teams up with another of our most venerable to-dos, Bondage-A-Go-Go, to celebrate its lucky 11th. “An eclectic mix of industrial, pop, electro, rock, glam, and metal, plus hot bondage go-gos.” Fri/5, 9pm-3am, $5-$8. Cat Club, SF. More info here.  

POLYGLAMOROUS There will probably be hot, scruffy gay guys with sequined football shoulder pads on at this monthly techno throwdown, which mixes a Burning Man vibe with queer aural adventurousness. This is the first birthday party, with DJs Nark, Mark O’Brien, Sailor Saturn, Kenneth Kemp, and M*J*R in two rooms. Fri/5, 9pm-late, $7-$10. Oasis, SF. Tickets and more info here.   

SOME THING: NINA SIMONE Pretty much as far as you can get from bloodthirsty spectacle (although who knows?), the talented, art-damaged drag queens of weekly club Some Thing will be getting funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter in tribute the outspoken Miss Simone. If their recent Erykah Badu tribute is any indication, this will be a transportive diva experience. Fri/5, 10pm-late, $7. The Stud, SF. More info here

KAFANA BALKAN NINTH ANNIVERSARY The years have whirled by for this, one of my favorite parties of all time. Dancing, singing, stomping, twirling, and all manner of activity to the enchanting and wild Balkan beats of DJ Zeljko. For this anniversary, the party features mindblowing Roma clarinetist Ismail Lumanovski, who performs internationally and leads the New York Gypsy All-Stars, as well as the Inspector Gadje Brass Band and dancer Elizabeth Strong. Sat/6, 9pm-2am, $18-$20. Rickshaw Stop, SF. Tickets and more info here

LIGHTS DOWN LOW FIRST ANNUAL SUPER BOWL PARTY One of our finest rave crews throwing a sports ball party? Oh you know it’s all gotta be ironic. Those smiley-faced kings of acid, Richie Panic and Corey Sizemore, are giving you something “away from the frenzied hoards of out of towners, air bnbers, and jocks? It’s a face off!” With special guest DJ Vin Sol. Love it. Sat/6, 10pm-3am, $5-$10. Monarch, SF. Tickets and more info here.

PUSH THE FEELING My favorite indie dance monthly is coming around again, this time with special guests the X-Ray’s, who make “lo-fi electronic tracks with an experimental folk-tinged bent.” You heard them in David Fincher’s movie Social Network — they provided the soundtrack. Cool stuff with a great, chill crowd. Sat/6, 9pm-2am, $6. Underground SF. More info here

GO BANG! Debaucherous disco with an equally decadent crowd at this sparkling monthly party, now in its seventh year of “Atomic Dancefloor Disco Action.” Special guests Derek Pavone and Andy Trice join residents Steve Fabus, Prince Wolf, and Sergio Fedasz for all-night fun. Sat/6, 9pm-3am, $10. The Stud, SF. More info here

SURE THING Very cool techno crew bring in Japanese house legend Soichi Terada and fantastic, prolific (like way prolific) remixer and producer Justin Strauss, who is awesome. Sat/6, 10pm-4am, $10-$15. F8, SF. Tickets and more info here. 

CLUB LEISURE: BOWIE EDITION The tributes to the Goblin King continue apace, but with one of our very best rock vinyl selectors at the helm, DJ Omar, this installment of the popular Brit-centered monthly party will be a doozy. Sat/6, 10pm-3am, $10. Cat Club, SF. More info here

POWERBLOUSE Every month, drag legends Juanita MORE! and Glamamore invite one lucky person to the stage of the Powerhouse for a full-fantasy drag makeover. “Watch as they use all of their sacred drag queen powers to tuck, tape, shape, glue and staple this person together. When the vision is complete they will push the newbie onto the stage for their first ever live lip-sync performance! The magic mascara wand will be casting spells!” This month’s blossom? Powerhouse Bar manager Scott Peterson. Benefitting AIDS Housing Alliance. Sat/6, 10pm, $5. Powerhouse, SF. More info here.  

SUE-PER BOWL SUNDAY Look, if you’re gonna watch the Super Bowl, you might as well watch it at a bar with a bunch of crazy drag queens. (Including hostess Sue Casa.) Sun/7, 2pm, free. Oasis, SF. More info here


Mexico City: The fallacy of ‘cheap’

The Pino Suárez 'pacas' were closed last month after decades of providing Mexico City residents with secondhand clothes. Photo by Caitlin Donohue

MEXICO CITY, MEX. — The massive secondhand clothes market that lies on the edge of Mercado de Pino Suárez in the Centro Histórico neighborhood of Mexico City was shut down by the cops last month. Official reports say 240 tons of clothes were seized from the vendors, who hawked everything from high heels to parkas to rainbows of swimwear in the market’s deceptively chaotic aisles.

I mourned at the news — in the year and a half that I’ve lived here I’ve only bought clothes at Pino Suárez, at other outdoor markets, and from my local designer friends whose generosity knows no bounds. (The city is the nation’s undisputed fashion hub and a million thanks to my couturier friends who have hooked it up with their ostentatious, fresh designs.)

The first time I went to bin dive Pino Suárez I couldn’t stop saying to my friend: “Everything is soo cheap!”

Once I found a reversible JLo for Target jacket for 70 pesos (about $3.80 USD) at the pacas, as the stands were referred to. One side was satin, the other fake fur. Both sides were mauve. The market was where I went for denim when my friend Uriel Urban agreed to distress the crap out of some jean shorts for my trip back to SF for Folsom Street Fair 2015. Pino Suárez had stands that focused on military surplus and winter coats, but a lot of the wares were separated only by gender and age, shirts and pants gloriously jumbled into bins that seemed intimidating to the casual shopper.

DF officials say the market, and a similar section of Mercado de Lagunilla to the north, were shut down because they posed a threat to public space. While it’s true that the Pino Suárez pacas did sprawl all over sidewalks, it’s hard to say if anyone minded. Certainly the neighborhood doesn’t attract the same street traffic as the city’s main square, the Zócalo, where ambulatory vendors were banned years ago. The Pino Suárez closure has also been related to reported fights that broke out recently among shoppers and patrol officers, allegedly three on Three Kings’ Day (Jan. 6, traditionally the day when Mexican children receive their Christmas gifts) alone.

The alt scene was sad about it. “Without any option for relocation, a site that for many years has been a “must stop” for alternative fashion has been lost with this ‘recovery of public space,'” wrote fashion magazine iD’s Mexico website.

This was a common sentiment among my peers. So I know I wasn’t the only one who felt actress Lorena Barquet’s subsequent Facebook rant hit disturbingly close to home. Translation below [sic]:

Yesterday they seized tons of clothes in Mercado de Lagunilla y Mercado de Pino Suárez … rehabilitation of public space … #surewhynot. Hundreds of people without work and other hundreds of people who went there to buy clothes at accessible prices to dress families of 3, 4 kids and in “i-D” the only thing that occurred to them to write was that it was a big loss for alternative fashion??? Really?? Oh poor micro bourgeoisie 😉 one less place to buy clothes. I love Pino Suarez and I love expression through wardrobe but these kinds of cheap articles only make them seem so insensitive and far away from reality and so disconnected from the people that really make this country every day and
Not just three neighborhoods
Beautiful people escaping in a fashion

That three neighborhood line kills me. Mexico City has over 2,000 colonias, and most of the gringos I know (I stay off of expat message boards and try to limit my exposure because who moves here to speak English?) rarely leave the central area. Maybe to say three neighborhoods is unfair, but to say that most of us stick to 15 colonias is pretty accurate. When you come to visit — which you will because of the emerging art market, or because the New York Times just put Mexico City on top of its beautifully designed “52 Places to Go in 2016” list — you too will stay in those 15 neighborhoods except for the day you take a shuttle to take photos on the steps of Teotihuacán on the metro area’s northern outskirts.

As the dollar soars, Mexico City residents are forced to rethink their financial standing. Photo by Caitlin Donohue
As the dollar soars, Mexico City residents are forced to rethink their financial standing. Photo by Caitlin Donohue

The minimum wage in Mexico is 70.10 pesos, or $3.84. A day. For context. You can’t buy even used JLo at that rate.

None of this is to say that I’m rich these days, by the standards of anyone in Gringolandia reading this. Right as the peso hit a historic low against the dollar, I took an editorship at a DF newspaper that pays me just enough to afford those rents that my United States friend squeal are SOOOO CHEAP!!! when they visit.

“There is no more exciting place to eat,” raved the NYT in that gorgeous, moneyed listicle. But then, most people from here are not checking out Pujol and Fonda Mayora like the newspaper of record recommends. Lunch can definitely be two 12 peso fried quesadillas from the street stall, satisfyingly greasy and super satisfying provided they doesn’t result in gastroenteritis. (Then you go with the rice, oatmeal and antibiotics diet for five days.)

And the rent! Nothing like San Francisco! So true, but when I decided it was time to move on from my 2,700 pesos a month for a room in up and coming Colonia Juárez, I found that my landlord wanted nearly double that amount for a room in a unit in the same building. Blame it on the street art-adorned food court that just moved into the neighborhood (it features a full bar and organic coffee.) Blame it on people like me.

I don’t want to be a beautiful person escaping in a fashion (Bubble). But undeniably I do, and always will, have options my Mexican friends and family and peers don’t. If I hit harder times I could move back to the States and get a communications job at a nonprofit, like most of my old co-workers have done. My parents also kick in when they’re able, though I have yet to ask them for a credit card and I shudder to think what that conversation would entail. My mom mainly wants me to go back to grad school and maybe to stop accepting full time jobs that pay US $7,000 a year.

I think that’s what’s hard to remember about people from rich countries living in or visiting countries that aren’t rich; you may be dealing with the same crushing rush hours on the metro and interminable bureaucratic processes for everything from getting your work papers to renting an apartment, but you’re never going to be truly integrated into the community as long as you know you could always reach out to your homeland when the going gets really rough. O sea, the shitty exchange rate fucks me up like everyone else here, but I’m making a choice, for now, to let it fuck me up, to live here, to resist the hypocritical safety of the dollar.

Now that I’m making pesos, when someone from home tells me they’re visiting Mexico City a part of me braces for the cultural whiplash from American standards. Dinners that are “just” $30, apartments that are “only” $600 a month. Stuff abroad is cheap when you live in a colonial superpower. Trust me, people from the United States are not working any harder — CNN says that Mexicans on average work 519 more hours a year than people in the United States, and receive one-fifth the salary.

Mexico City art week kicks off today, and since a lot of art people will be visiting the city from Europe and the United States and Canada, I feel compelled to leave some advice as a fellow transplant. I don’t care if you’re an artist, it is gauche to refer to yourself as “poor” here. Keep price conversions into dollars, krones, or whatever your local currency is to yourself. For the love of Gaia, quit squealing about how cheeeeeeap!! things are. Think about why you they are cheap to you — learning a little about the history of the Mexico and the significant, oppressive role the U.S. has played in it will help with this. And should techies shove you out of your own neighborhood and you find yourself living here, try to keep those expat boho dreams from blocking your view of what life here is like for everyone else.