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.”
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
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.
MORE OF THE STUD’S HISTORY REVEALED
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.
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 Gaga, Gwen Stefani, RuPaul, Charo, Debora Iyall, Mary Wilson and Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters. The club ran weekly from 1996 to 2008.
PARTY RADAR It seems like the bad news just keeps coming for nightlife this month — Beatbox and Mighty closing, The Stud facing a huge rent increase, Cafe Flore put up for for sale, DaDa Art Bar currently blocked from moving into a new space after its lease expired…
But if we all just calm down, grab a cocktail, and a look at things from a different angle (not to mention actually prepare to do something), things might not be so bad. These latest blows to nightlife are also exposing some flaws in the SF nightlife system that need correcting. Let’s get to it.
Beatbox and Mighty are July casualties — they’re both spaces that have hosted some incredible events (I think I should probably be paying rent at Mighty for all the nights I’ve spent there), but despite the caliber of events neither could ever shake the feeling of being big black boxes for rent. In any case, the closures seem amicable, the owners of both felt it was time to move on. Beatbox actually officially closed July 2 after the club was sold (sad to lose another gay space, especially for dancing until 10am on New Year’s Day), and the fate of the space is unknown.
Mighty is slated to become something called the Great Northern (with the same owners as Monarch, which I love, so more good things in store). Hoping for an update on all of this — more news soon.
The Stud swept up the last news cycle with news of its closure-threatening rent increase — even propelling a drag queen onto the Chronicle’s from page — and that the current owner has offered the club for sale, intending to retire. The SOS: Save our Stud! co-op of workers and club kids who banded together to try to buy the business is still making progress — you can help by actually going to the Stud and spending money there! — and Supervisors Jane Kim, Scott Wiener, and David Campos have been working to find a sustainable solution. (Full disclosure: I’ve been asked to become part of the SOS co-op.) Kim is handling the negotiations — and she’s pretty effective when it comes to developers (see her work with keeping the Eagle alive).
Whatever one may think of Wiener, he has often been a champion of gay nightlife in the city, penning a great account of why local spots like the Stud matter — and sharing a few naughty moments from his youthful days there with me over the phone. I’ll keep those between us (relax), but he also told me that some changes may be needed to current policy to protect places like the Stud. Currently nightlife along the 11th Street corridor has extra protections, but the Western Soma development plan is pushing new clubs south of Harrison Street. That’s pretty far. There’s all kinds of things happening regarding nightlife on the urban planning level right now, I’ll do my best to keep y’all apprised.
Cafe Flore, our only really “European”-feeling bar and occasional club in the Castro, announced that it, too, was up for sale — not because of an increase in rent, but because the current consortium of owners (many longtime fixtures of the community) have run out of money to make necessary improvements to the space. Flore has threatened to close before, and I would feel much sadder about the current owners’ predicament if one of them hadn’t cited our living wage law and Healthy SF insurance provisions as reasons it’s “become hard to do business in SF” — the usual conservative straw men. But I do love the place and the people who work there. One of the owners, JD Petras, also owns the property, and wants to keep the business in the local nightlife family. Anyone got $500k to keep a Castro landmark alive?
There is huge potential for DaDa Art Bar, and the city’s nightlife scene, if it can move in with the legendary Mechanics’ Institute (MI) cultural center in the Tenderloin, bringing its happy hour verve, entertainment permit, liquor license, and love for emerging artists to a space three times its size. It was all set to do this after its 10-year lease on its downtown space ran out in June — until the move came up against, surprise, complaints from a couple neighbors.
DaDa owner Timothy Landregan tells me, “We received two protests on the license transfer in March 2016. Both are residents of the Ritz Carlton Club and Residences at 690 Market Street, about a block from the Mechanics’ Institute. They opposed the location transfer because of noise and concentration of bars in the area. We have meet with them, along with MI and the police department a few times during the transfer process and we offered to curb our hours during the week to accommodate any concerns. Unfortunately, we are at an impasse.”
“We have hosted artists from around the world, focusing on emerging talent,” Landregan continued. “Our existing space is small with a capacity of 50 people so moving to MI, where our size and capacity will triple, we will be able to host larger events and do multiple shows at once. MI, which hosts literary events frequently, will have a bar and cafe to continue the event and we are very excited about the partnership. In the 10 years at DaDa on Second Street we have had exactly zero incidences on noise complaints or issues requiring a police response. When we met with Ritz Carlton folks in May, the main protestant, who I will not name, opened our Yelp page and pulled out photos of some of our guests and showed it around the room, proclaiming ‘this is what we do not want in the neighborhood.'” Good grief!
“There is a hearing today (July 14, Room 250, 2:30pm) before the Neighborhood Services and Public Safety committee of the board of supervisors,” Landregan told me. “It will be chaired by Aaron Peskin with supervisors Avalos and Campos. They will hear the presentations by both DaDa and our supporters and Ritz Carlton residences and their attorneys. The meeting is open to the public. We are expected a good turnout of artists and our supporters to speak on DaDa’s behalf. Anyone is welcome to attend; making a speech is not required.”
Stop by if you can to help expand nightlife’s options — DaDa has grand dreams, and how cool is bringing art and cocktails to the already awesome Mechanic’s Institute? ” I’ll keep you updated on how things turn out.
Finally, a bit of really bad news: beloved DJ Boglaka Griffin March— part of the Soundpieces crew, which has hosted adventurous-bass events for a decade, and who has played practically everywhere — was involved in a serious car accident a couple days ago on his way to the big Bass Coast festival in British Columbia. “He is doing OK,” Soundpieces partner Adriana Sparkuhl told me, “He had really bad whiplash and has had neck probs before so it was really scary for him.” Bogl’s still being treated in Canada, and if you’d like to donate to help cover his expenses, the PayPal addy is [email protected] Plus! Go out to the special Soundpieces party on Saturday at Monarch with awesome UK DJ Amy Becker! Get well soon, Bogl.
OK NOW let’s get to this weekend’s parties.
FRIDAY JULY 15
BARDOT A GO GO Oui! Oui! Oui! This fantastique annual post-Bastille Day bash is back. “Come celebrate France’s national holiday with the best in decadent ’60s French pop from Brigitte Bardot, Serge Gainsbourg, Jacques Dutronc, Francoise Hardy, and many many more! Called Best Substitute for a Parisian Disco’ by the Bay Guardian, “Bardot a Go Go” celebrates its 18th year. Plus! other International garage/soul/bubblegum sounds, featuring Bardot’s founding DJs Brother Grimm, Pink Frankenstein, and the Cali Kid. There will also be the usual fun drink specials and groovy ’60s French videos. And free ’60s hairstyling by Peter Thomas Hair Design from 9-11 pm.” Fri/15, 9pm-2am, $10. Rickshaw Stop, SF. Tickets and more info here.
MIKE WILL MADE IT Trap City, our little SF miracle of clapping booties and deep drops, is turning four — and bringing out the big guns. Mike Will Made It has been behind a lot of the music on your radio these past couple years, mostly the very good stuff, and he brings his underground-to-mainstream chops to the Trap table. Fri/11, 10pm, $25. 1015 Folsom, SF. Tickets and more info here.
tINI Hurry for Tini! One of Berlin’s biggest techno DJ (who also has a degree in house), she was at the forefront of the post-minimal movement while still keeping things pretty minimal, yet warm and welcoming. Fri/11, 10pm, $15-$20. Monarch, SF. Tickets and more info here.
SWAGGER LIKE US Look out! This erotic whirlwind creativity is back from New York to liven up (as if that were any more possible) the biggest queer hip-hop party in the Bay. With DJs DavO and Andre. Fri/15, 10pm-3am, $10-$12. Oasis, SF. Tickets and more info here.
JOEY ARIAS AND SHERRY VINE Two gender-bending performance legends hit the Oasis stage with a new show “Looking Back To The Future,” featuring classics, new filthy parodies from Sherry, Joey channeling Billie Holiday, scintillating duets, and more. Fri/15, 7pm (also Sat/16 at 9pm), $25-$35. Oasis, SF. Tickets and more info here.
SATURDAY JULY 16
WICKED 25 The seminal rave crew — mixing baggy Brit beats with chunky SF house and giving it all a pastoral, shamanistic sheen (no one forgets those all-night Full Moon beach parties under the Golden Gate Bridge) — celebrates a quarter century, sweet Jesus. Luckily Thomas, Jeno, Markie, and Garth still all going strong and will tear the roof off Mighty, in one of the final parties in that venue. Sat/16, 9pm-5am, $25 at the door. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF. More info here.
SHUFFLE CO-OP: LAZARE HOCHE “For our July edition The Shuffle Co-Op wlll be making its first appearance at Public Works in the infamous upstairs Loft with French House maestro Lazare Hoche! One third of the group MANDAR, Lazare Hoche has been steadily on the rise with his soulful, classic style mixed in with modular grit. Perfect for a jacking dancefloor for those looking for a swingy and sexy night (and morning). We’re keeping it simple with an extended headliner set and upfront support by TSC residents Petko Nikolov and Alex Lin.” Sat/16, 9pm-3:30am, $10 advance. Public Works, SF. Tickets and more info here.
AFTER HOURS AT THE CONSERVATORY: JOYRIDE! “JOYRIDE, San Francisco’s newest live storytelling adventure, is taking over the Orchid Pavilion at the Conservatory of Flowers. The theme of the moonlit night is storytelling itself and the tradition of warning young children and adults alike through the sharing of proverbs and fairy tales. From Aesop to Confucius, Shakespeare to Silverstein, stories threaded with morality have helped shape the human experience. Come early and enjoy rousing libations as you stroll amidst the lush greenery of the Conservatory’s tropical galleries. Enjoy provisions from local food trucks, and snap souvenir selfies at our victorian fable vignette as harpist Garyan Wong sets the mood for a night of storied enchantment and thrilling tales.” Sat/16, 6:30pm, $20. Conservatory of Flower, SF. Tickets and more info here.
AMY BECKER As mentioned above, the Soundpieces crew could use our support, and they’re making it easy by bringing in yet another bass DJ phenom, the UK’s Amy Becker. At only 21 years old Amy Becker has stormed her way through the past few years, displaying a unique ability to mix genres, while expressing an impeccable selection of everything from garage and grime to hip hop and footwork to UK funky and bassline.” Sat/16, 10pm-3am, $13-$18. Tickets and more info here.
SUNDAY JULY 17
DAYTIME REALNESS Who doesn’t like drag shows and dancing in the daylight? Especially if there’s eclectic music from DJs Stanley Frank and Tom Temprano. Oh yeah, and some queen named Heklina hosts. Watch out! Sun/17, 2pm-8pm, $10. El Rio, SF. More info here.
DISCO DADDY Our big daddy of disco, DJ Bus Station John, may be camped out in the woods this weekend, but he has excellent guests filling in for him at his packed old school gay disco party: DJs Steve Fabus and Kenneth Kemp. Grab your poppers and come on down. Sun/17, 7pm-2am, $5. The Eagle, SF. More info here.
DISCO CABANA And/or get your disco (and much more) fix earlier, with the wild and colorful KSA Disco Katz crew. This month’s theme: All That Glitters is Black and Gold — so the suggested dress code is black and gold, naturally. Sun/17, 1pm-10pm, $7. natoma Cabana, SF. Tickets and more info here.
If you’re taking a walk through a San Francisco park, or along the waterfront, going to a restaurant, or even walking along the streets these days and you see a group of twenty-somethings glued to their phones, running, and yelling something about catching an “Eevee,” you’re not alone.
It’s the new thing: In just the past few days, a game called Pokémon Go has taken over San Francisco.
Weird, creepy, fun, whatever, it’s here: Along the waterfront this afternoon, more than 50 people were playing. We found at least 20 more on Bernal Hill.
Pokémon Go, at a glance, is just a new trending game in the app store. But then you download it, and realize why you can no longer walk 20 feet without bumping into someone trying to catch a Pokémon.
If you don’t understand Pokémon, you missed part of modern childhood: The books, the movies, the games, the gear were a part of millions of people’s lives, and half the nerds in the country count Pokémon as part of their defining experiences.
But the new app has turned it into a whole new experience.
When you open up the game, you become a customizable avatar walking on a map of the area you are in. That’s right — the game uses your gps location to transform your house, and street, and city into a world full of Pokémon.
You can walk through the city streets and catch a number of Pokémon, or if you’re like me, and completely delighted at realizing your childhood dream of being a Pokémon trainer, you can go to the park or beach, where there are hordes.
The game also incorporates Pokémon gyms, used for battling. The gyms are located at certain libraries, rec centers, and parks. These aren’t very interesting, though, and the actual battling is pretty stupid. All it involves is tapping your screen furiously until one Pokémon emerges victorious. The fun part is actually catching the Pokémon.
As I was walking along the short stretch of the embarcadero from the YMCA to the ferry building today I saw at least 50 or 60 people walking around trying to catch water Pokémon. (Water Pokémon, of course, only appear in the game near bodies of water such as beaches, piers, lakes, and so in.)
One woman looking for water Pokémon in Wyoming found a dead body. But no worries – she’s going to be back at the river tomorrow looking for more (Pokémon, that is.)
I continued my Pokémon journey on Bernal hill, near my house. While I was up there, I saw at least 20 people wandering around with their phones in front of them, clearly playing the game, so I stopped one of them and asked about his interest. His name was David, and like me he grew up playing the original Pokémon games. He is 26, and he told me that he got his fist Pokémon game 16 years ago, when he was 10.
Then I ran into a group of male, white, mid-twenties software engineers — Casey, Evan, Pat, and Nick. They all remained fixated on their phones through the entire interview, and one even stopped mid-sentence to shout, “Oh, an Eevee!”
When I asked what appealed to them most about the game, Evan told me that it “gets him off the couch.” Pat went even further: “It’s all I’ve ever wanted,” he said.
I personally wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but I can tell you that from the perspective of someone who grew up on Pokémon, this is one of the greatest things that technology has ever produced. Right up there with google, microwaves, and cat videos.
So PSA to all nerds, hipsters, techies, and Pokémon enthusiasts; unless you’re catching something absolutely legendary, it might be a good idea to take a look around once and a while to make sure no one’s about to rob your $600 phone — and more importantly, your Pokémon.
Pokémon Go was downloaded 50,000 times in the first 24 hours, and over a million more times since then. It has become so popular, in fact, that people on Facebook are describing downtown Santa Cruz as looking like a zombie apocalypse, with everyone so focused on their phones and walking that they have completely lost touch with reality.
As I was walking around catching Pokémon with my friend on Bernal Hill, I saw a man so focused on the game that he slipped and fell on the dirt. Somehow I think this guy missed the warning at the beginning of the game telling players to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
Meanwhile, I’m off to the Prospect St. stairs to challenge the local gym leader with my dope fucking Ninetales.
ON STAGE San Francisco is a town that has always enjoyed its culture served with a heavy dose of social critique. That may be why the SF Mime Troupe, now heading into its 57th season with the July 2 opening night of Schooled, has been able to become such an institution.
Every year, thousands head to Bay Area parks to check out the group’s newest 100 percent free, al fresco production. In 2015, the cast explored police brutality and civil rights incursions through Freedomland.
This year, amid pleas for a Trump send-up, the Troupe decided instead to tackle social problems at the root. As you may have guessed, Schooled is a (“musical comedy!” director Michael Gene Sullivan is quick to remind) look at our troubled educational system.
Schooled open July 2 and 3 in Cedar Rose Park in Berkeley and then transfers to Dolores Park on San Francisco for its legendary July 4 show, before touring other outdoor spots throughout the summer.
The Mime Troupe has roots that go back to 1957, to the Actor’s Workshop where a young mime and actor named R.G. Davis developed a political pantomime project.
In 1965, a multi-racial cast including Davis took a risk and staged A Ministrel Show, or Civil Rights in a Cracker Barrel. It proved to be so popular that the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) helped the group to tour the anti-racist production around the U.S. Ever since, the group has made a diverse crew and cast a priority, instituting official affirmative action hiring practices in 1974.
Edgy annual productions were rolled out. Funding rose and fell, depending on the federal government’s attitude towards the radical arts. Multiple programs to involve young people in the theater’s work were rolled out that continue to this day.
Right now the Troupe is riding high. Soon its Mission District facilities will get a major expansion that includes a black box theater.
That means that the group’s season will be extended into the winter, plus it will be able to produce more intimate shows that perhaps wouldn’t play well to al fresco crowds. Not to mention take in other companies who may have lost their physical theater to another round of evictions.
On the brink of Schooled and a new, year-round future in fighting the man onstage, a few of the SF Mime Troupe’s key figures answered a few questions from 48 Hills. They told us about what it means to be an enduring radical institution in a city changing as rapidly as ours.
48 HILLSHow did the Troupe hit upon the education theme this year?
MICHAEL GENE SULLIVAN (CO-WRITER AND DIRECTOR OF SCHOOLED) Last year’s show Freedomland was about the systemic violence of the police directed at black men in America, and that got us thinking about how much we’ve backslid in this country regarding civil rights. How did that happen? In part it’s from a lack of basic education — making sure history is taught and valued, making sure students know the events, politics, and policies that that got us where we are. Many school districts don’t teach about political oppression in the United States because the factual events make conservatives and reactionaries uncomfortable. How many years before Occupy Wall Street is wiped from history?
At the same time our audience were saying we had to address the rise of Donald Trump. But we realized that these two issues were linked. The rise of Trump is due in no small part to a lack of basic understanding of democracy on the part of his followers. Again, education is one of the keys to actual change in this country.
An intro to the Mime Troupe, including scenes from 2015 production Freedomland, which examined surveillance culture and race-based police brutality.
48 HILLSWere schoolkids/parents consulted on the plot?
MICHAEL GENE SULLIVAN Most people don’t know that the Troupe has two school programs — the Youth Theatre Project, in which we invite students from underserved communities around SF to come to our studio to study different aspects of play creation, and the Young California Writer’s Project, where we send one of our playwrights into a school for 10 weeks to mentor students in writing plays on issues about which they feel strongly. These two programs give us contact with teachers, students, administrators, and parents across San Francisco, and were a tremendous asset in creating this show. In addition my wife (Mime Troupe actress Velina Brown) and I have a son in public school in SF, as do Troupers Keiko Shimosato-Carriero and Michael Carreiro. So that helps!
48 HILLSBlake, what’s your favorite part about your role on the team?
BLAKE MORE (COSTUME DESIGNER) Everything! As a designer, the collective process is different than what we are used to. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone’s opinion shapes the final outcome. It really is collaborative, and sometimes this can be a bit overwhelming for someone who is used to working with all the other variables pretty much in place. Here, things are not “set” but instead in flux all the time — even up to opening day in the park — so we have to stay open and willing to change, knowing most of the time it is for the better. I love this dynamic work environment as it keeps my ideas moving and keeps the feeling fresh and alive. You definitely have to be a creative control freak and simultaneously relinquish all control to work with the mime troupe! Koans abound here!
48 HILLSBlake, name the biggest wardrobe fail that’s happened on stage under your watch.
BLAKE MORE I haven’t had any Super Bowl-worthy disasters. Perhaps the biggest wardrobe fail I experienced was the time the director rejected a look I was really proud of — you know, he killed my darling. This happened in 2012, when we were doing The Greater Good. There was an ‘80s flashback musical number, and I put everyone in khakis, polo shirts and penny loafers … men, women, polo colors of the rainbow. I was going to make a spoof logo for each, but in dress rehearsal it was clear that the director hated it, and well, i had to start all over. In truth, every single time I saw that scene for the rest of the summer, I felt little pings of resentment, cause I still think that iconic preppy look worked better with the song!
48 HILLSMichael, you’ve been a Mime Troupe actor since 1988. How has the group evolved over the decades?
MICHAEL GENE SULLIVAN That’s a tough question. When I came to the Troupe it was already a collectively-run, professional, multi-generational, multi-ethnic, gender-balanced, family-friendly theater fighting for social and economic justice, performing free theater in underserved communities. So when it comes to being diverse in leadership the Troupe was leading the way a long time ago.
I guess the biggest change has been the drying up of funding, and what it has meant to the collective. We’ve been forced to become much leaner, and the collective has had to fill in whenever and wherever needed. Despite this. we’ll still refuse to be the “AT&T/ Oracle/Facebook/McDonald’s/ fill-in-the-Bank Mime Troupe” because we feel corporate funding imperils the integrity of theater, which should be the entertaining, passionate voice bravely speaking truth to power.
48 HILLSWhat will the expanded brick and mortar space mean for the Troupe?
MICHAEL GENE SULLIVAN Basically it will mean we can more easily share our space with the community, and it give us a space to try new things. There are so many smaller, more dramatic shows the Troupe would love to perform or create, and which are not right for the parks. For example, years ago I wrote a stage adaptation of Orwell’s 1984. It’s wrong for the parks, but other companies have performed it across Europe, Central and South America, Australia, Asia, and next year maybe in Ukraine and Turkey. But the Troupe can’t do it because it’s an intimate, indoor show. So there’s that. Also, since space in SF has become so ridiculously expensive we could become a space for other homeless theaters and community groups. At a time when the City has lost so much we want to be able to support those organizations and theaters that are hanging on in the city they love, giving them a place to voice the arts and passions overlooked and ignored by the new aristocracy.
48 HILLSHow do you see the Troupe’s role in the San Francisco of 2016?
MICHAEL GENE SULLIVAN The Mime Troupe has always been democratic socialism in action, and that will always be needed. We are here to point up the contradictions of capitalism, and what better place to do that than in a city that on the one hand prides itself on inclusion, while on the other pushes all but the economic elite out of town? A city with a rich history of unionism, but where a union wage isn’t enough for a studio apartment? This is a city that trumpets diversity while becoming less and less diverse, a city famed for the creation of music, art, and drama, but where musician, artists, and actors are evicted to make room for the latest wave of overworked tech workers?
BLAKE MORE I first saw the Troupe in 1990; it was “Rats” at Golden Gate Park. I was just walking by and was immediately captured. I stopped, sat down, laughed, wanted to cry, felt discouraged, felt encouraged, and in the end, put money in the bucket. It stuck with me, you know. So when I heard about the summer workshop in 2001, I jumped on it. I never left, because I saw the relevancy of this work. I do not want to be one of those frogs that gets boiled alive because I didn’t notice the water was getting hotter.
SAN FRANCISCO MIME TROUPE PRESENTS SCHOOLED Opening weekend: July 2-4, 2pm, free July 2 and 3: Cedar Rose Park, Berkeley. July 4: Dolores Park, SF. More info here.
ALL EARS Why July? This month seems especially full of experimental, experiential, and just plain extra-lovely live music, much of it contemporary. SF has this kind of thing all year round of course, from last month’s Switchboard Festival at Brava Theater to the stunning (and almost impossible to get into) Soundbox. But for those looking to step into a warm womb of acoustical hijinks in this wintry month, here’s a brief guide. (For more great adventurous listening, check out the Lab, the Center for New Music, SFJazz, and the SF Conservatory of Music.)
SOUNDWAVE FESTIVAL (THROUGH THE SUMMER) This biennial festival blows most others out of the water, both in length — it runs throughout the summer and sometimes beyond — and depth. This year there’s a sonic-architectural takeover of Fort Mason (check it out until July 10), a “Subliminal Cities” club night at the Cal Academy of Sciences, “Sounding Bodies” and “Invisible Fortress at Grace Cathedral, and the really cool AudiBus which takes you on a tour of the city, but sonically. Check out the full program here.
sfSOUND FESTIVAL (JULY 8-10) This is the annual freak out for contemporary music lovers (well, one of them anyway) — and if the massive interest in the SFSound organization’s Tape Music Festival earlier this year is any indication, you might want to get there early all three days to snag a seat (or bring an inflatable). Held in the gorgeous Gray Area space (the former Grand Cinema in the Mission), the sfSound Fest takes as its theme “[NOTATIONS | ORIENTATIONS ]” — “A three-concert celebration of 20th and 21st century music covering a wide range of graphical notation performed by some of the most passionate interpreters of such music in the Bay Area.” There are dozens of performances of works by tons of forward-thinking (and literal-notating) composers, including Earl Browne, Paulin Olivieros, Steve Reich, Morton Feldman, and more. Check out more here.
I went to this last year and it was one of the truly loveliest things I’ve encountered. And so simple: place 12 pianos throughout the 55-acre SF Botanical Gardens grounds, and allow whoever wants to to play them. The result? Professional duets, kids goofing around, flush-faced adults reliving the anxiety and joy of their childhood recital years, groups of enraptured listeners strewn at the bases of large trees. More info here.
PHONO DEL SOL (JULY 9) The city’s chillest annual musical festival — hey, some local people are actually playing! — might be bursting at the seams this year with great talent, including The She’s, Hot Flash Geat Wave, Chairlift, Adam Vida, Alvvays, and many more. Also: skateboarding! Food! Sunshine (we hope!). All held in Potrero del Sol Park, natch. Check out more about the fest here.
UNSEEN (JULY 23 AND BIWEEKLY) This insanely clever series by our very own 48 Hills web developer Matt Fisher pairs up local live visual projection artists with live musicmakers — and there is a real thirst for that, if recent sold-out happenings are any indication. The inspired pairings take the Gray Area building into other acoustic-visual dimensions. July 23 sees guests Wobbly,
Bill Thibault, Kerry Laitala, and Cyrus Tabar. More info here.
DRUMMER’S SECRET HANDSHAKE #2, (July 20) Secrets! There is an awesome new experimental music series happening in the Upper Haigh, deep within the Red Victorian. Here’s the scoop for the July edition: Drummer’s Secret Handshake #2 (percussionist performing an action entitled “Economimesis”), John Krausbauer and David Kendall (wondrous washes of noise), and Danishta Rivero (“It’s no longer a question of whether you’re a brain in a jar, but what qualia is the jar made of and is the brain yours alone? Danishta Rivero pokes pitch dark fun at these questions, probing an actual jar filled with CSF and surrounding lightforms. Using multivalent circuits and specialized contractions of the laryngopharynx, Rivero agitates rods of Corti, gypsum, superior temporal gyrus, glass, epidermis, and concrete in stochastic sympathy. If during her performance you remain unaware of any jar, continue to row row row, gently.) How heady, how rad. Check out more info here.
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.
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!
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 MonAmour, 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.
WEDNESDAY JUNE 22
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.
THURSDAY JUNE 23
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.
“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.
FRIDAY JUNE 24
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.
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.
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.
SATURDAY JUNE 25
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.
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 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.
SUNDAY JUNE 26
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.
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.
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.
Opening night film Sara Jordenö’s Kiki is a glorious, feel-good extravaganza that kicks off the festival at The Castro, Thursday, June 16, 7PM. With a direct clothesline connecting it to Jennie Livingston’s Paris Is Burning(1990), Kiki showcases the modern New York voguing ballroom scene. These queensare not only “unapologetically flamboyant” — these fierce ladiesare deeply involved in the political subculture of the youth-of-color LGBTQ community.
While you may find yourself dancing in your seat as these brave and bodacious babes take on the many struggles of harassment by the police, high suicide rates, and homelessness, director Jordenö is flawless at examining other political hurdles of this explosive modern age.
Clea DuVall’s The Intervention, which made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival this year, has just about the perfect blend of maladjusted 30-somethings. Showcasing an all-star cast of indie actors including DuVall, Natasha Lyonne, Alia Shawkat, Cobie Smulders, Melanie Lynskey, Jason Ritter and Ben Schwartz, this enjoyable exploration of four couples on a getaway weekend has quite a few magical meltdown moments.
As each character is forced to confront their own relationship reality, a powerful kind of unity seems to occur. Though the film feels like a Showtime TV show (a good thing?), it’s an impressive directorial debut that oddly has the power to stick with you days later. Screens at The Castro, Saturday, June 18, 9:15PM. Special guests attending: director/Actor Clea DuVall and actor Natasha Lyonne.
Winner of the NEXT Audience Award at Sundance, Kerem Sanga’s First Girl I Loved is a sincere look at the difficulties of not just coming of age in the social media millennium, but finding a safe space within your own friends and family as well. This truly is a film to root for, starring Dylan Gelula (Xanthippe from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) and Brianna Hildebrand (Negasonic Teenage Warhead from Deadpool),as two SoCal High School girls who find solace in each other’s oppositeness. Showcasing awkward silences, unbearable fears and contemporary conversations, this clunky yet heartfelt tale has the power to surprise you — especially with its unique editing and its clever Easter eggs (like texting Nick Drake songs to one another via YouTube). This movie perfectly remembers what it was like to fall in love for the first time. Do not miss it at The Castro, Sunday, June 19, 6:30PM. Special guests attending: director Kerem Sanga and lead actor Dylan Gelula.
Madonna’s “Blond Ambition” tour and her landmark documentary Truth or Dare(1991) celebrate their 25th Anniversaries this year. Both are stunningly explored by Ester Gould/Reijer Zwaan’s Strike a Pose, which is one of the most revealing documentaries I have seen in years. Do your best NOT TO READ ANY SPOiLERS about the film’s slew of surprises.
Like the diva’s shockingly raw documentary, Strike A Pose goes even deeper into her back-up dancers’ lives, exposing the tricky pitfalls of the fight for fame and the ramifications that every artist must confront at some point in their life. A special shout out must go to directors Gould and Zwaan’s onion-like structure, delivering pop-culture nostalgia, heart-wrenching history lessons, and detailed memoirs that should connect with audiences on the purest levels. screens at The Castro, Saturday, June 25, 8:30PM. Special guests attending: dancers Luis Camacho, Oliver Crumes III, Salim Gauwloos, Kevin Stea, Sue Trupin, Carlton Wilborn.
Taking a look back on the monumental “Queer Year” of 1977 is going to be one helluva celebration at The Roxie, Sunday, June 19, 6:15PM. In fact this vibrant history lesson Flashback 1977: Frameline’s Founding Year is an important and perhaps mandatory experience to the thousands of new Bay Area residents who make up our progressive neighborhoods. From nationwide protests of Anita Bryant to Harvey Milk being elected, this look back at 1977 is filled with rare 8MM shorts and a panel discussion hosted by special guests Director Marc Huestis (Miracle on Sunset Boulevard) and Director Lauretta Molitor (Zeitgeist 1977), culminating with Arthur Bressan’s landmark and rarely screened, panorama documentary Gay USA(1977). In fact, many of the pioneering questions and confusions in Bressan’s film ring even truer today and may be the perfect bridge for the young and old, past and present, and most importantly, the flight towards the imminent future.
Finally, for those who are always looking for offbeat characters, check out the loving tribute to independent film consultant Bob Hawk entitled Film Hawk. It plays like a DIY version of Richard Press’ documentary Bill Cunningham New York (2010) and screens at The Castro, Saturday, June 18, 3:30PM. Directors Tai Parquet & JJ Garvine deliver an extremely considerate (if not too much so) love letter to the man behind the Indie-stry.
Beginning with his work on Rob Epstein’s Oscar winning documentary The Life and Times of Harvey Milk(1984), Film Hawk includes important interviews with some of his disciples like Barbara Hammer (Nitrate Kisses, 1992) and Kimberly Reed (Prodigal Sons, 2008). But nothing can prepare you for the poignantly moving moments with Indie superstar Kevin Smith (Clerks, 1994).
In fact, Hawk has affected hundreds if not thousands of people within the Independent Film community over the years including my own. Meeting him and annually running into him at the Sundance Film Festival for over 20 years now, it has never ceased to inspire me as an avid movie watcher. He is a genuine cine-maniac and someone who truly “lives for cinema.” Bob Hawk will be attending the screening in person.
The festival’s most exciting gala is the World Premiere of Michael Lannan’s Looking: Series Finale. After HBO’s devastating decision to cancel one of the most subtle and underrated TV series of this new golden age, news of this feature film conclusion somehow softened the blow.
With Andrew Haigh directing again (Weekend, 45 Years), this priceless time-capsule of our transitional Bay Area will finally get the ambiguous ending that each of its two seasons painstakingly, paved the road for. Do not take this show for granted.
It will be remembered decades from now. Advance tix are sold out but Rush Tix will be available at the door, day-of.) Screens at The Castro, Sunday, June 26, 7:00PM.Special Guests attending: Director Andrew Haigh, Producer/Writer Michael Lannan, Actor Russell Tovey (Kevin), Actor Murray Bartlett (Dom!), Actor Jonathan Groff (Patrick!)
40TH ANNUAL FRAMELINE FILM FESTIVAL
June 16-26, various venues
SF and Oakland More info at www.frameline.org.
Jesse Hawthorne Ficks is the Film History Coordinator at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and curates/hosts the MiDNiTES FOR MANiACS series at the Castro and Roxie Theater. He also writes film festival reviews for 48hills and Fandor.
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) 48hills.org.
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: