Celebrate six years of independent, progressive journalism with 48 Hills, May 2 at the lovely Oasis nightclub in SoMa! We’ll be announcing some very special guests (and celebrating a belated International Workers’ Day). Good food, drinks, entertainment, and a great crowd.
Get your tickets now and let’s keep Bay Area independent media alive. We’re growing and covering more issues thanks to your support—now let’s party!
SIXTH ANNUAL 48 HILLS SPRING GALA May 2, 6pm-9pm Oasis 298 11th Street, SF. Tickets here!
Nancy Tom Chan doesn’t take days off. Instead, the founder of the 57-year-old Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory in Chinatown can be found hand-folding fortunes into freshly made cookies under a giant mural of herself doing the same. Visitors also see her climbing step-ladders to pour batter into her proprietary old-school iron machines, which move 48 little iron skillets through a flame-powered system to create her uniquely light cookies. She’s the only one who knows the recipe.
“Only her,” said her son Kevin Chan from a small room under the shop displaying local Chinese art paintings made by fingers. “She’s been here her whole life. She will get sick if she doesn’t work or if she doesn’t have something to do. She feels sick when she just sits at home. That’s her soul, that’s her heart there.
“Can you imagine a lady who’s done cookies for almost 50 years with no days off, spending every day there?” he asked. “She doesn’t want a day off because she thinks that if she takes a day off the visitors and the people who come by don’t have cookies to taste. Can you imagine if we were closed the one day and you came over here, you’d be disappointed because the only day you are in San Francisco I’m closed.”
Tourists with Boudin bags seem to know about this place, but locals shouldn’t overlook how high quality the Chan Family’s product is, with a texture that newer and more efficient machines can’t produce. There’s even excellent chocolate dipped options. The company can produce large or small custom orders within a few days, and if you’re ordering in quantities of 100, you can choose up to three messages. Kevin said that people have commissioned everything from a parent telling their kid to clean their room to marriage proposals.
The factory got a wave of both local and international attention recently when a March 4 BBC News article revealed that rent had gone way up, from $1,400 to $5,750 in just three years, a perfect symbol of San Francisco greed in 2019. Local outlets ran with the angle that the future is threatened, but Kevin feels like the article made him look like he was only complaining about himself.
“It was a misunderstanding,” Kevin told 48hills. “BBC didn’t really understand what I was talking about. I just told them that we had tough times. Not me, us! We means us in the city, and a lot of people are having tough times. If I have tough times other people have it even worse; that’s what I’m trying to emphasize. And they made it sound like I am having a tough time. I mean, I do have a tough time but that’s not exactly what I meant. I’m still here. People say that I’m closing and it’s just not fair.”
The family is committed to continue to promote this unique slice of Chinese culture in San Francisco, although Kevin does credit the sometimes-contested origin version that fortune cookies were created by Makoto Hagiwara from the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco.
“The cookie was invented in San Francisco by the Japanese, I’m not opposing that. They were,” he said. “But the Chinese were the ones who perfected it. The Chinese were the ones who made the machines, and the Chinese were the ones who made the real fortune cookie. At that time the Japanese made them for fun, like a little waffle pancake, but they didn’t make them popular and they didn’t form them the way we are forming them right now. But they still get the credit for it, and they should. The fortune cookie was an American invention in San Francisco.
“If you go to China and ask for a fortune cookie they will look at you like you’re a fool. ‘What are you talking about?’”
The Chans are touched by the outpouring of customer love and support following the story.
“One of my clients even sent me a $250 check just to support me,” Kevin revealed. “I took the check but I wouldn’t cash it because it’s from the human heart. I’m going to frame it and leave it in the shop. I even brought some cookies to her house last night after I got the check. It’s not the money, it’s the people, it’s heart to heart. They love my cookies and they love my shop, so I’ve got to love them back.”
A blow has been dealt to San Francisco, and we are positive that we did not give our consent. SoMa’s very special corner for freaks and sluts, the venerable Center for Sex and Culture, is closing after years of scrabbling about to make South of Market rent via orgy door covers, small grants, and the occasional fiscal scholarship.
The Center, for those who knew it in one or all of its pop-up or four brick and mortar incarnations since 1994, was some kind of high water cultural mark for human sexuality. Founded by partners Drs. Carol Queen and Robert Morgan Lawrence in the early ‘90s, sex nerds could count on it for workshops, lectures, play parties, art exhibitions. Taboos were broken, revelations were reached — and it was fun. Community was made at CSC.
In the midst of our sorrow over its departure, we contacted Queen to regail us with the cultural center’s history, and also to look ahead at what is next for sex positivity in the Bay.
Happily, she had some good news for us — Center for Sex and Culture in exile, anyone?
48 HILLSWhat are some of the ways that San Francisco’s expression of its sexuality has shifted since 1994, when the Center began operations?
CAROL QUEEN First I should clarify that we didn’t open in ’94; we began the process of brainstorming the Center in ’94, and we received our non-profit status in 2000 (from CA) and 2001 (feds). We opened our first public space in 2004, though we had done pop-ups before that, most notably running the bisexual party “Bi and For the People” (our contribution to the Bay Area’s long history of bisexual puns) at the opening weekend of the LGBT Center, whatever year that was [editor’s note: 2002].
The entities that influenced us, besides many forebears and heroes in the sex/gender communities, were 848 Community Space (now morphed into CounterPULSE), where we used to do our “Queen of Heaven” pansexual play parties and where I often performed in the ’90s; The Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, from which Robert and I both have degrees and which is the quintessential sex hoarders’ paradise; and of course Good Vibrations, where I’ve worked since 1990 and which is a fantastic laboratory (and ongoing resource) for sex-positivity for people across the sex/gender spectrums. And we talked and talked about doing a project like this, ’til finally an angel gave us a few thousand bucks and said, “Shut up and do it!”
SF in the ’90s and early aughts was full of sex community-building and creativity. So many elements of the community that existed then are gone: the Lusty Lady (my other alma mater), the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, many of the regular sex and culture event nights at bars, many of the clubs that hosted play parties. And of course many in that cohort have moved on and aged, and new groups, spaces, and organizations have stepped in. I think the scene has consolidated somewhat, and I feel like it’s smaller in some ways. This makes sense in that, if nothing else, it’s harder to start something up now, at least if you want it to have a physical location. The Bay Area is full of not just a new generation, but a new cohort of people who came from much more conservative places and did not come for the sex and art communities — for the most part — but for the “Silicon Valley slid up to SF and took root in mid-Market” cultural shift we’re living through now.
Additionally (maybe this is just me being a sex geek) but I feel like then, the history of our communities’ generation was much more present to us. Our elders still lived among us, or had very recently died. People in the scene today, in many cases, arrived after that era and don’t have their feet wet in our history in the same way. And internet history gives you a lot of information from the past 20 years; people don’t understand how much thinner that info is from past decades, because we have been trained to believe that it’s ALL online. It isn’t, and the consolidation of online knowledge is itself a filter that shifts perspective. It’s my feeling that things are more conservative now in certain ways.
Also, publishing was a huge part of all this. Mostly-Bay Area-based sex zines and small presses helped change the world! And publishing has changed SO MUCH.
48 HILLSDid you imagine back then that CSC would be around up until 2019? Do you feel like your goals with opening the Center have been fulfilled?
CAROL QUEEN I think Robert and I imagined that it would still be open into the far future, BUT that it would have outgrown its scrappy little roots and become a “real” non-profit, you know, that gets grants and has at least one paid staff member, and we could retire from being the day-to-day administrators. When we were close to the point that we might have paid an admin person at least half-time, the rent started going up. So that dream didn’t really pan out, and as economic pressure increased, it’s been increasingly challenging to function as an all-volunteer space. (I am not suggesting at all that our volunteers aren’t fabulous! Just that it’s a lot to keep on track.)
Goals fulfilled: Absolutely, especially in terms of the SF of the relatively recent past (before lots of our base left and lots of newcomers arrived.) We collected amazing materials documenting sexuality communities; created awesome events of every kind; and served as a community center of sorts. It has been the greatest adventure, bringing together so many interesting people. When I was a kid living in the sticks in Oregon, I assure you that if you’d told me about a fraction of what CSC would do and be, my head would have exploded.
48 HILLSName something important you learned at the Center for Sex and Culture.
CAROL QUEEN I brought a lot of sexual philosophy and values with me to CSC that I learned elsewhere, and one of the elements that flavored CSC as it developed was my strong focus (as a bisexual/bi+/pansexual and sex-positive person) that *all* consensual sexualities should have a place at CSC. This is one of the through-lines of my whole life and work. But it ‘s not how everybody rolls! And it was maybe the most surprising thing when I began to hear “Oh, I’ve heard of that place, but it’s for lesbians, right?” from gay men; “Isn’t that a straight swinger’s club?” from queer women; “That place is just for gays, isn’t it?” from hetero people. I interpret this as: It is REALLY unusual to try to put everyone together this way, and when people in one or another “identity silo” see others who are different from themselves, they assume that means they are excluded.
This just reinforces my own politics about this diversity/inclusion situation around sex and gender, BTW, but also helps me understand why it’s not common and can be fraught.
48 HILLSWhat percentage of CSC’s funds were coming from private donations?
CAROL QUEEN This fluctuated from year to year, but least a third came from donations, and the rest was a mix of mostly small grants, a bit of income from fiscal sponsorships, and income from our own gigs and from space use fees paid by others who used CSC for their own events. (We have roughly 20 regular-ish space users, plus one-offs.) Over the past two years we have also received a couple of bequests.
48 HILLSWhat are both of your plans for a post-CSC world? New projects?
CAROL QUEEN My personal plans: Direct less-distracted attention to Good Vibrations. They have been very kind about my penchant for spinning plates on sticks. I have a new book of essays brewing, a memoir eventually, and a project I’m working on with my partner Robert Morgan Lawrence.
Also, ”CSC in exile”. Eventually, much more web-based content, including oral histories and conversations about sexuality communities and history. Maybe some more publishing. Pop-up events from time to time. The group of volunteers who have made CSC possible will mostly still be involved to some extent; more people are likely to join in as we create the new virtual projects. There’s even been some discussion about re-opening a space. But we don’t have enough human power at this time to do that. Part of the story of CSC’s closing is the raised rents and changed cultural times of SF. But part is trying to do a project of this magnitude with an all-volunteer crew, and it is a LOT.
48 HILLS Where can people go if they are looking for sex-positive community now? Are there any emergent projects that are Bay Area-accessible you’d like to hype?
CAROL QUEEN Honestly I’m the wrong person to ask! 20 years ago I could have told you about every little project. I have had my head so to the ground lately — But I do know that Wicked Grounds has some exciting growth planned, although I’m not sure if they’ve announced it yet.
48 HILLSTips for people looking to start a physical space that uplifts sex culture?
CAROL QUEEN Think of your mission and all the building blocks it’ll require, and make sure you have people who can tackle those, and want to. Figure out how you’re going to reach your community. In CSC’s case, so many people have left town, and new folk here aren’t all familiar with the “San Francisco values” that brought us together in a space like CSC — so communicating with newcomers has been a very uphill battle. Many aren’t interested, but also we don’t know how to successfully reach them. PR is such an important element, and digital means this is always shifting. You can’t count on social media platforms for sure, as Tumblr and FB so recently illustrated.
Also figure out your financial base. For-profit? Non-profit? Fiscally sponsored? In our experience grants have been hard to find, and fundraising is a really huge undertaking. Part of the joy of CSC has been the mission-driven, grassroots element. We could really do anything we chose because of how diverse our project was. But more focus might have helped us message better, who knows? And “hey kids, let’s put on a show!” is great fun, but then there’s the part where you have to make sure the bills are paid, and that level of admin can really use someone who knows what they’re doing.
Also: “sex-positive” doesn’t imply “wheeeee! SEX!” so much as it is a philosophy that respects sex/gender diversity and calls out sex-negative messages. And I would always recommend that people get clear about this, because it helps clarify mission. I’m available for consultation. 😉
A monkey got off everybody’s back in Santa Clara yesterday. The 49ers, against all expectations, finally beat the Seattle Seahawks after 10 straight losses. They flipped the Thanksgiving spread! Whiner fans remember all too well the infamous 2014 Thanksgiving Day defeat to the Seahags, because of the turkey and dressing spread at the 50-yard line, right on top of the 49ers logo, set up by NBC with Michele Tafoya chatting it up with Russell Wilson and the hated Richard Sherman (now a 49er! they love him!), and Sherman gnawing on a turkey leg. It’s been gnawing at 49er faithful ever since. I watched that game, and honestly was stunned that nobody came out of the 49er locker room and flipped the table. I sure would have. It would have been great theater, as well.
Those of you in an East Coast bubble, the Seahawks and the 49ers is a juicy rivalry, and yesterday was massive for the 49er psyche. They celebrated like they’d won a playoff game. And it might as well have been for this team with a season of dashed expectations.
49er practice squad QB Nick Mullens has another solid game, and the 49er defense turns in the second straight game of tough D. The Seahawks were playing for their chance to clinch a playoff berth, but instead came up with 148 yards of negative yardage on 14 penalties.
Whiners fall out of first place tie with Arizona, and now have four 5-9 teams barking at their heels.
DOORMAT DIVISION WEEK 14
NFC W-L PF PA DIFF
Arizona 3-11 192 367 -175
Santa Clara 4-10 301 373 -72
Tampa Bay 5-9 344 403 -59
Detroit 5-9 284 333 -49
NY Giants 5-9 307 348 -41
Atlanta 5-9 356 381 -25
AFC W-L PF PA DIFF
Oakland 3-11 260 418 -158
Jacksonville 4-10 225 289 -64
NY Jets 4-10 292 359 -67
Buffalo 5-9 215 333 -118
Cincinnati 6-8 337 413 -76
GIANTS 0, TITANS 17
After two straight wins, and faced with the possibility of becoming relevant outside of the Basement, the Giants turn the Flounder Factor up to 11 and drop a goose egg on the unsuspecting Titans, who must muster on in the terrible vortex of playoff aspirations.
BROWNS 17, BRONCOS 16
The Blank Helmets scrape out yet another victory, this time against a dubious opponent who consistently make dubious coaching decisions that seem really…what can I say? The Brown Bombers ooze to 6-7-1, and eliminate any chance of their spending the winter in the Basement, where 10 losses is the pre-requisite. GOOD GOD, they could end up with a winning record. But let us not be hasty, as a guy named Treebeard once said. Fill your pipe with Southfarthing leaf, and ruminate on the magical thinking of another Brownie victory over the Bengals next week. A sweep on Cincy hasn’t happened since cheese was invented.
LIONS 13, BILLS 14
No stiff is too boring to make more of a stiff for the Lions this season. Even when your opponent appears to be wearing red pajamas, and sipping hot cocoa, the Lions can find a way to lose, so matter how low the score. Fourteen first downs, seven punts, and another day at the Freezer in Buffalo results in the Pajama Men winning their 5th game. Both squads now 5-9, and teetering on the TEN CLUB membership. Two weeks to go. Who can achieve greatness?
CARDINALS 14, FALCONS 40
The Cardinals, that’s who. Greatness awaits this collection of self-inflicted wounds and miscues that masquerades as a football club. The Moldy Carpet is there for the taking.
Breathe deep, the gathering gloom (cough what’s that smell?)
Watch lights fade from every room (hey Marge, the TV is broken)
Bedsitter people look back and lament (if only we’d played better on 50 or so snaps, we woulda won)
Another day useless energy is spent (do we really have to play this game?)
Yes, they did, and they thrashed the Falcons, a team in major tailspin mode, and spun them right back to thinking they are achieving victory and greatness! The Crudinals didn’t score until it was safely 40-0, and no one was looking. Seven punts, seven sacks, six geese a laying this egg, five golden opportunities completely bungled, four mis-called plays, three french fries (cold), two cigarettes and the Moldy Carpet on the wall.
UNDERDOG OF THE WEEK!
BAGUARS 13, REDSKINKS 16
The invisible man, Josh Johnson, got his first ever win in the NFL, after seven years of waiting for another chance. Josh! You won! And who else but the Baguars could provide the opportunity. Take it and run, Washington footballers!! Jacksonville does it again in front of their slack-jawed home fans. What a slide, what a debacle, and they still have a shot at winning the Doormat AFC. Wow.
CHARADERS 16, BUNGLES 30
What do you do when the worst defense against the run, and rather suspect defense all around comes to town? You do the football limbo and see just how low you can go. Rushing yards for the Oakland Tankers: 68, with 1 first down by the run. Thirtenn total first downs. Five sacks by a team that can’t sack groceries (boy was that original), and two lost fumbles. 3-11 and looking like Doormat Champions. The Kairse O’ Chucky lives on…right on the sidelines. Very unique curse.
BUCS 12, RAVEN-POES 20
The Bucs are still coming on hard, checking in with yesterday’s low in first downs, 12, tied with Miami, and assiduously avoiding the end zone after the opening TD, sticking to field goals, and sticking the Ravens with a win. 5-9 and in the hunt, but let’s be realistic. Nobody will catch the Cardinals now. Not even if they wear Barney pajamas and helmets that look like gummy bears. Don’t tell the University of Oregon’s uniform designers I said that. Please.
THE TEN CLUB
So, far only a select few, but the Jags got there this week, as did the Jetskis.
And a veritable flotilla of 5-9 teams, teetering out on the patio, trying to survive another night by the dying embers of the grill. Buck up! There’s another game to play next week!
Three and 10?3-10!?? With just three weeks to go in the run to the Moldy Carpet trophy, the worst our gridiron losers can offer is a possible 3-13 record. The Raiders and the 49ers both won yesterday, right after the local rag, the SF Chronicle, chronicled how their combined 4-20 record had a shot at being the worst of all time in the Bay Area. It still does at 6-20, but they have to lose all their remaining games. Should they both win again, horrors, the worst the Doormat Division can get is 4-12, which hasn’t happened since 2003, when the Giants, the Cardinals and the Chargers all went 4-12. Clearly, teams just aren’t bad enough this season. Where’s the tragedy, the pathos, the misery?
DOORMAT DIVISION WEEK 14
NFC W-L PF PA DIFF
Santa Clara 3-10 275 350 -75
Arizona 3-10 178 327 -149
Atlanta 4-9 316 367 -51
NY Giants 5-8 307 331 -24
Tampa Bay 5-8 332 383 -51
Detroit 5-8 271 319 -48
AFC W-L PF PA DIFF
Oakland 3-10 244 388 -144
Jacksonville 4-9 212 273 -61
NY Jets 4-9 270 330 -60
Buffalo 4-9 201 320 -119
Cleveland 5-7-1 292 397 -90
FALCONS 20, PACKERS 34
The Failcons just keep on losing, five straight now, climbing into a solid third place in the Doormat NFC with a complete game of non-competitiveness. Losing to the Packers takes some effort these days. You can’t just waltz out there and get creamed. Falcons five-game skid started with a loss to the Browns (28-16), the kind of loss that starts losing streaks- losing to what you think is the worst team in football. But guess what? It’s YOU.
Packers win first game under new coach. Packers will now fire the head coach every week until they lose a game. Then, they’ll fire the GM.
BAGUARS 9, TITANS 30
Doormat Perfection: The Bags scored their first points on a safety (muffed punt by the Titans), took the ensuing punt-off and drove to the Titans 4-yard line, where they killed the motor, and left the pigskin on the 1 for the Titans. On the next play, Titans RB Derrick Henry galloped 99 yards for a touchdown.
And we’re done here.
GIANTS 40, REDSKINS 16
Break up the Giants! Winners of two straight, the Giants, at 5-8 have a mathematical shot at the playoffs, however difficult that math may be. The Skinnies, without Alex Smith, have Doormat Finish gleaming on their team bus. Basement All-Star March Sanchez started at QB for Washbag, and guided the team to: punt, punt, punt, pick-six, punt, punt, interception (resulted in TD in 3 plays), punt, punt, punt, somebody stop this.
QB Josh Johnson- remember him from Tampa Bay?- came in and ruined the shutout, bagging two TDs in the 4th quarter. Redskinks (6-7), losers of four straight and a clear shot at 10 losses, have to contend with the plummeting Baguars next week. Be there.
BILLS 23, JETS 27
The Bills and Jets split their season series, keeping a cordial relationship going out on the Basement patio, burning a weenie, dumpster diving in the alley, and sharing the last stale can of Busch Light. Not that the Jets didn’t try to lose this one. After their halftime brainstorm (ow!) the Jets deftly fumbled the kickoff, planting the Bills firmly at the Jets 13-yard line. The Bills saw through that, and killed the ‘momentum’ and escaped with a FG, keeping the Jets within a TD (20-13). The Nyets countered with an interception, but the Bills refused to take the bait, and punted. The Jetskis couldn’t stop the downhill effect, and scored a TD, but promptly got the Bills downfield, only to be thwarted when the Bills shanked a field goal attempt. 20-20. One more Jets three-and-out produced a grinder drive for the Bills and they got a 3-point boot hung on their necks. 23-20, Bills. With the game clock dwindling down,the Jets then got guided masterfully down the field, with the golden play the 37-yard bomb by Jets QB Sam Darnold (darn old what?) to the Bills 4. Bills burn a time out contesting the completion. It takes four tries, but the Bills get the Jets into the end zone ozone. Bills finish up with long bomb interception by Josh Allen. Jet and Bills tied at 4-9 and still have a shot at winning the Moldy Carpet.
49ers 20, BRONCOS 14
I don’t know…Broncos coach Vance Joseph just looks unhappy. Like he has no friends. He needs to work on his grouchy look. Just doesn’t look ‘coacherly.’
The Greg Kittle Show, brought to you buy a clueless defensive strategy and execution by the Bronco defense, came up four yards short of the all-time record for a TE receiving yards. ALL IN THE FIRST HALF. 49ers botch getting Kittle just one more five-yard reception.
Broncos off-sides specialist Von Miller stacked up THREE of them yesterday. Not to worry, the 49ers tackles practiced for it all week, complete with the ‘whoa there’ effect after the refs blow the whistle.
For 3-10, the Whiners looked like a defensive brick wall yesterday. With top Bronco receiver Emmanuel Sanders sidelined, the Whinos played man-to-man tight D, bumping the young Bronco receivers at the line of scrimmage on every play. It worked and nobody gets fired this week.
RAIDERS 24, STEELERS 21
Holy Crap, the Raiders won a game. Pittsburgh QB Ben Rothlisberger had to leave the game with an owie, and that tilted the whole field. Ben’s pretty hefty. Great game that brought back some memories of the incredible rivalry these two teams have had over the years.
CARDINALS 3, LIONS 17
STIFF OF THE WEEK: If they’d just lost at least one game to the 49ers, the Cards would be a shoo-in for the Moldy Carpet trophy. As it is, they still look promising. Tied at 3-10 now with the Whiners, the Cards brought home the misery yesterday with a meagre field goal and a pick-six that decided the whole thing. Lions got a TD chipped in in the 4th quarter to round out the ‘scoring.’ Lions at 5-8 and teetering on respectability. They go to Buffalo next week, so watch out. Cards should lose all three remaining games: Falcons (no gimme), Rams and Seahags.
BROWNS 26, PANTHERS 20
Pretty soon, we won’t have to write about the Brownies anymore. Winning yet again with some late heroics, the Blanks have thrown more footballs into the stands after a touchdown than any other team this season. Guys, I know it’s new to you, but it really is a regular part of football.
aaaAAAAAAnd That’s the View From the Basement!!!!!
More than a decade ago, filmmaker and photographer Leo Herrera ventured into the GLBT Historical Society Archives to record one of its most sacred relics: the suit Milk wore when he was shot to death. The bullet holes and blood stains remain. Herrera turned the images into a luminous, haunting 2008 short film, which was overplayed with Milk’s famous “last will and testament” recording, predicting his assassination.
Below are a selection of images from Herrera’s session, as well as an excerpt from interview I did with him about the project 10 years ago, reprinted here from the Bay Guardian. (Herrera is currently working on a film called Fathers, which asks the intriguing question: What if AIDS never happened?)
As one of our leading democratic socialists posted today on Facebook, echoing a surprisingly excellent 2017 essay in the Bold Italic: “One of the last pieces of legislation that Harvey Milk was working on before his assassination was an anti-speculation ordinance that, if it had been implemented, would have radically changed the direction of SF’s ongoing redevelopment by punitively taxing real estate transfers made for the purpose of house-flipping, often leading to the mass eviction of longtime tenants that is all too common a tactic in today’s affordability crisis. But it never came to be; the text of the proposed ordinance was not even known until recently. In any case, gentrification is here, and simply implementing the tax now would be far too little, too late; San Francisco has become a hotbed for speculators, developers, and their attendant profiteering.
Leo Hererra: “Basically I went to the 2004 “Saint Harvey: The Life and Afterlife of a Modern Gay Martyr” exhbit at the GLBT Historical Society and saw the suit for the first time with my brother Allan and my mother. I was completely floored not only by the way the suit was exhibited but also by the humble surroundings of the Historical Society itself. I approached them and told them that I wanted to work with them in any capacity that they needed, and they let me know that they could use a lot of help, especially from people my age. I told them I wanted to do a series of images based on gay culture and they arranged for me to shoot whatever I wanted.
Allan and I arrived and shot a lot of the relics that they have there, and I finally got the balls to ask them to shoot the suit.
Soooo, imagine Allan and I opening up the box and there it was. The whole thing is really scary because the box had all of what he was wearing the night of his assassination, including his socks and tie. I shot some images but they weren’t coming out right, and our hands were shaking the whole time. Finally I told Allan that if we were going to do this right, we better not be afraid to touch it and we finally picked it up. And flakes of gore came off of it because it’s so bloody and gory and they fell on our arms and it went downhill from there, but I remember feeling this really intense creativity and really the spirit of gay culture in many ways.
We laid the suit on top of a light box and the bullet holes from the shots that went through his back shone through, we also put a lamp behind where his heard would be, and did all sorts of arty shit. The funny part was, I really didn’t relate to the images as I shot them and didn’t understand them because I was using a very different aesthetic. I put the images away for a couple of years and when I pulled them out, I realized that the aesthetic of the images was really something more sophisticated than I was used to at the time and that it really matched what I was working with now, they were somehow more mature. So in a way, I had shot the images to be used four years after the fact. It was all real arty hipster shit.”
SHOP LOCAL ‘Tis the season to go shopping. (At least it will get you out of the house if you need to escape any Trump-voting family members at T-Day). From Black Friday to Cyber Monday—and hey, why not support your favorite independent media site for #GivingTuesday?—it’s a hamster wheel of sacred capitalism. HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean you can’t support local artists, crafters, and businesses to show your seasonal affection, without clicking that Bezos Behemoth that shall remain nameless herein.
This Saturday isShop Small day, so you’ll see lots of encouragement to dip into local businesses and snag some goodies. Here are some picks:
Three fun gatherings this weekend showcase local indie delights: 48 Hills sponsor the SF Etsy Holiday Emporium (Sat/24 + Sun/25) fills Pier 35 with more than 200 designers and crafters from the eponymous website, plus giveaways, refreshments, holiday cheer, demonstrations, and more. More info here.
Meanwhile, in the Tenderloin, a couple dozen of our cutest shops are representing at the Phoenix Hotel for PARADISE Vintage Fair, “San Francisco’s first ever collective show of brick and mortar vintage retail shops” for the holidays. There’s a preview party Fri/23, 6pm-9pm, whose $10 ticket price benefits GLIDE Memorial. The main event is Sat/24, 11am-7pm, and it’s free. The stores are setting up in the hotel rooms on the bottom floor (cool!); browse selections from Vacation, Down at Lulu’s, Mod Lit Books, Groove Merchant, and more. More info here.
Also rad? The Bayview Makers Mashup Market(Sat/24, 11am-4pm, free) at Public Glass, “highlighting 30 local makers in an interactive and dynamic holiday marketplace on Small Business Saturday. The event will feature craft demonstrations, food and beverage samples, and a range of vendors from ceramics to soap makers and more.” More info here.
THIS JUST IN: Looking for some fabulous holiday centerpieces, or just a fragrant token of seasonal affection? The Flower Lady, aka Danhi, who sells lovely flowers from her spot at 439 Cortland, is having a Holiday Flower sale extravaganza, Wed/21-Fri/23. Sweet! Click here for more info.
What would possess one of the designers of the iPhone, a celebrated tech pioneer, to launch an art gallery in Lower Haight, focused on mostly local funk, hip-hop, and R&B musicians ?
“I wanted to find a way to sustain the culture of my neighborhood that was being lost somehow due to the tech industry—that I was once a part of.” Freddy Anzures, owner of Family Affair Gallery on Haight Street, said in a recent interview. “It was a way of using what I had learned from my career in tech to give back to a scene I’ve loved and been a part of for so long.”
Anzures’ gallery—a small, cleanly-designed, vibe-y space—opened with a bang in June with a show of early Prince photos by Robert Whitman, taken when the Purple One was recording his debut album at Sausalito’s Record Plant Studios. (The opening party was a banger that filled the street with fans.) That set the tone for following shows—paintings of Michael Jackson and striking photos of Eric B. and Rakim by Drew Carolan—that have celebrated the visual culture of black music, often with a local angle.
The current Family Affair show is titled “Freaks of the Industry: Bay Area Hip-Hop Shot by B+” (through November 17) and is my favorite yet. Leveraging his history with Wax Poetics, Anzures secured some ’90s-era photos of Bay Area hip-hop legends shot by photographer B+, who apparently got everyone in his sights. Panoramas of poses by The Coup, Latyrx, E-40, DJ Shadow, Invisbl Skratch Piklz, Dan the Automator, Digital Underground’s Shock G, Kool Keith, Souls of Mischief, the Hieroglyphics crew, Too $hort, Del Tha Funky Homosapien, and more line the walls. At the back is a huge, tiled-canvas version of the indelible cover of Shadow’s “Endtroducing…” For anyone who’s followed the scene, it’s both a celebration of history, and a reminder of one of the Bay Area’s recent musical golden ages, which now seems out of reach.
Anzures grew up in Maryland outside of DC and moved to the Bay Area in 1999. “It was the height of the first dot com rush,” he said. “I worked for Frogdesign, the firm that Steve Jobs hired to design the look and feel of Apple computers in the ‘80s. I was there for five years, and throughout the time that I was there, there was always this desire to be part of something outside of work. It wasn’t so much that I was feeling unfulfilled at work, I just didn’t want to be doing only one thing. While I was moving on in my tech career to eventually be on the team that designed the iPhone, I was going to a lot of shows and seeing this whole other exciting part of the Bay Area, and I wanted to be part of that somehow.”
His curiosity led him to Haight Street record store Groove Merchant, a 21-year-old staple for jazz, hip-hop, rare groove, and global soul music fans, but also accessible for newcomers to the scene. “[Groove Merchant owner] Chris Veltri makes it easy for people to discover the vinyl culture out here, and I could tell right away, too, that we had a similar kind of visual sense, with vintage art and design magazines and how he curates the look of the shop.” The two bonded over a stack of Straight No Chaser underground music magazines from the UK, and Anzures started designing flyers for various parties around town, often working out of the back of Groove Merchant. And then—in a pretty meteoric rise—ended up becoming the creative director for the bible of deeply-researched features about black music history and culture, Wax Poetics Magazine.
All while he was still working full-time as a tech product designer in Cupertino, of course, because hey why not? “I was basically working a double life for 14 years, getting up at 4am to work on Wax Poetics, and then going down to Cupertino for my other job,” Anzures said. He left Apple in February—which caused a bit of a stir in the design world—because he felt the culture had changed after Jobs’ death, and he was ready to move on.
“I had absolutely no intention of opening a gallery or anything of that sort,” he said. But when the storefront next to Groove Merchant which formerly housed the plant store Cove opened up, he decided to take a chance.
“I had always thought about doing something to continue to help support the record store and continue the culture of the neighborhood, and I was fortunate enough to have worked in the tech world to invest some funds. For me it was almost course correcting. Things kind of clicked in this new direction. I mean, I’ve never done this sort of thing before. I’m not hip to art galleries. But I am very sensitive to how tech has changed the city. And a lot of people naturally tend to be upset about that, but aren’t in a position to do anything about it. It becomes really frustrating.
“As a Filipino-American, I’m also really aware of the amount of people who look like me who have been forced to leave the city based on the tech stuff. Groove Merchant and Wax Poetics both feature music mostly by people of color. And the exodus has really just affected the fabric of the city in a way that what was once so common here, especially in the Lower Haight and the Fillmore, in terms of culture and music and just the way things look—it’s just really different. I want to do what I can to celebrate what was here and keep that spirit and community around this culture alive as much as I can.” (Family Affair has been distributing ‘Lower Hate’ window signs to local businesses and residents, as a counter to some of the country’s recent discriminatory policies.)
Opening and operating a gallery that doesn’t represent high-end artists is a risk, but Anzures says he’s enjoying learning about the business and starting something unique. He also told me about some incredible upcoming shows planned at Family Affair, although I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Let’s just say that he’s finding a way to meld old-school celebration with the contemporary indie scene, and keeping things colorful.
“Family Affair’s name came from the classic Sly and the Family Stone song,” Anzures said. “And music and art in the Bay Area is such a family business really, it takes everybody coming together and supporting each other to create so many legends and great music. I’m hoping we’re continuing that in this environment.”
FREAKS OF THE INDUSTRY: BAY AREA HIP-HOP SHOT BY B+ Through November 17 Family Affair, SF. More info here.
Tunkl says she wrote these lists every day when working on the book, creating a kind of ritual for herself in response to her own fear of death. Rituals have power, she says.
“We put energy into them and invest into them, like every morning you get up and have your coffee in this specific place,” she said. “It’s important around death and emotional work to carve out space and consistency.”
Tunkl, who also created a Pre-Apocalyspe Co-Counseling Handbook and a divination book and card deck, Origins & Endings, is doing a free workshop at Adobe Books focused on “coming to terms with mortality and embracing ourselves as future corpses.”
These workshops are part of her performance series, Parting Practice: Rituals for Endings and Failure, inviting participants to explore their fears and experiences of death, dying, and haunting. The workshop session “incorporate methods of psychoanalysis, cognitive therapy, sound therapy, Buddhist meditation, somatic practices and humor as a tool for healing.”
Tunkl has done these both in groups and one-on-one, and she was looking for a place for another group one. A friend and someone who’d curated her work suggested Adobe Books.
“I was trying to find spaces to do these kinds of workshops that don’t have kind of a sterile vibe,” Tunkl said. “Galleries can feel kind of white- wallish. I did a bookstore before, and it was cool.”
It’s logistically a little harder to do this kind of thing with a group, Tunkl says. For example, the ghost meditation where she covers the participant with a sheet? She won’t be doing that. She plans to have some discussion in pairs and with the group and maybe going off individually to create rituals.
And while group settings for immensely personal subject matter can take a lot of energy, Tunkl says, it’s totally worth doing.
“The reason I’ve always wanted to make art is to be with another human and watch a new light turn on for them or them think about something in a new way,” she said. “It takes presence and investment, but the payback of getting to witness that is amazing.”
PARTING PRACTICE: RITUALS FOR ENDINGS AND FAILURE Sat/3, 6pm-8pm Adobe Books, San Francisco More information here.
Anything from the darkly hilarious mind of our very own drag Mistress of the Twisted, Peaches Christ, is worth a peek at—preferably through your shivering fingers. But when I heard she was taking over the Mint for a giant, immersive haunted house experience, I had to know more. Despite my mighty trepidations!
“Terror Vault” (through November 3), written by and starring Peaches, co-created with David Flower, and part of new production team Into the Night, brings Peaches’ trademark theatricality and love of classic spook-craft to the Mint’s basement vaults. It’s full of can’t-fail frights, but also some escape room delights, and all populated by local actors who you may recognize from previous Peaches productions—or not, since they’ve transformed into mutilated zombies, satanic nuns, toddler creeps, and more.
I spoke with Peaches about the excitement of haunting the Mint—and some of the terrifying secrets it holds. Beware!
48 HILLSI love that this is a fully immersive narrative horror experience. The theatricality is so you! What were some of the influences you drew on for writing and creating the experience?
PEACHES CHRIST Once I knew we were partnering with [venue management company] Non Plus Ultra and could actually stage the show at the old San Francisco Mint, I knew that the show had to be site-specific. The production value of The Mint itself is so incredible, especially the old vaults below, so I began researching the history of the building and discovered some creepy facts along the way that helped inspire the alternate history narrative for the show. I also really collaborated with David Flower, the co-creator, because even though I was writing the script and he was the production designer, we had to really be on the same page to know it could all be executed correctly. Once we’d come up with the concept that The Mint was once used as a secret prison, the influences really came from old horror movies and San Francisco history.
48HHaving your way with the Mint seems like a surreal dream—or a fabulous nightmare. Did you run into any ghosts while you were putting this together?
PC That building is definitely haunted. I have no doubt about that. There were times I was there on a weekend and was assuming I was by myself, but would hear voices, doors would slam and when I would go to investigate I wouldn’t find anything. Most of us agree that the vaults are surprisingly the least active and it gets scarier the higher up you go. There’s an attic—it’s terrifying.
48HYou’re working with a crack team of ghouls and goblins both behind and in the scenes. Is this the team you’ve usually worked with?
PC This is the first time I’ve partnered with David Flower: He’s a professional haunt producer I met in Provincetown about a year ago. And Non Plus Ultra activates otherwise shuttered buildings on behalf of the city. A big part of what they do is refurbish these spaces that would otherwise be closed, making them available for private rentals, as well as providing public-facing events and activities. So our partnership fit in perfectly with their charge. Once the three of us formed this new immersive theatre production company called “Into The Dark,” we knew our first project had to be a Halloween offering. For “Terror Vault”, we were able to hire many of my regular crew members, casts, and artists to help create the attraction. Most of them are now simultaneously getting started on the work for “Troop Beverly Heels”—our next big Castro Theatre show starring Trixie Mattel happening Nov. 17th. I hope that shameless plug felt natural!
48HI know you can’t give away too much, but how would you describe the wild ride of Terror Vault? What makes it unique from anything we’ve seen before? I’ve heard there’s some of your signature satanic flirtations…
PC Well, I think the biggest thing that makes it unique to me is that the audience becomes fully engaged in the story. Unlike some other haunts where you passively make your way through while things jump out at you and scenes happen, this is a story and the story is about a tour group attending a “Spooky Mint Tour” wherein things go horribly wrong and all hell breaks loose. As characters in this story you are engaged to make decisions, take action, and be involved while you try to survive. And yes, of course, it’s all highly Satanic!