BIG WEEK + PARTY RADAR This week I’m combining both my events columns in a mad scientist experiment. (My underground lab is full of freshly bloomed red camellias, artsy Japanese umbrellas, Courrege go-go boots, and Spiders from Mars).
This is mostly because I already published a Party Radar this week that documents all the wonderful Bowie tributes going on. But also because over this long MLK weekend we here at 48 Hills are going to upgrade our website (so we may be offline for a day or two starting Friday) — and I thought it best to just get everything out there at once. We’re crazy like that!
So without further ado, here’s what to do. <Mad scientist evil laugh>
Sketchfest, Tape Music Festival, Bowie Birthday Bash, Movement Arts Festival, Project Nunway, Mochi Pounding, Star Trek Live…
By Marke B.
BIG WEEK Sketchfest! Sketchfest! Sketchfest! Is there any sweeter word in the English language? Of course there is, but from the short and the sassy to the live and the loud, this year’s 15th annual comedy bonanza (Thu/7-January 24) will fill the city’s venues with Teen Witches, Prince tributes, comic legends, and up-and-coming yuksters.
There is literally and comedically a ton more, including our own PianoFight kids in a wacky showcase. Also: I had the unexpected pleasure of catching Princess, the Prince tribute act that includes SNL’s Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum, last year at the Regency Ballroom, and it was incredible — it went way beyond merely parodying the Purple One and into actually dazzling musical territory. Nothing sketchy here, check them out if you can.
Danger: Diabolik, Unsilent Night, Blind Boys of Alabama, Katabatik, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Kitka, Mariachi El Bronx, more. Plus: snowy otters!
BIG WEEK Yes, yes, it’s holiday time — full of ankle-popping ice rinks, hapless tree lightings, obnoxiously tipsy singalongs, “handsy” step-uncles, overexposed “Nutcrackers,” far too many ugly sweater parties, and a bunch of Generation X people trying to imitate that silly Peanuts characters dance.
Let’s admit it, the holidays are really only good for one thing, and one thing only. (Besides the annual Radical Faerie solstice orgy, of course). And that one thing is: otters.
Also! “Treat-stuffed stockings, festive trees, and gift-wrapped toys”! Gah, so delightful. Why no tiny otter menorah, though? Even though Hanukkah is over, nothing says “diverse holiday vibes” more than an otter in a yarmulke.
Golden Girls, Alternative Tentacles, Man Candy, Heron Oblivion, Jingletown Art Walk, and more this week. By Marke B.
GOLDEN GIRLS: THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES This one’s gonna be hilarious yet bittersweet — the golden quartet of drag queens who embody everybody’s favorite TV residents of Miami is missing one perennial favorite: Cookie Dough, the ultimate Sophia, passed away earlier this year. But she would be tickled pink — and dive right into drag heaven cheesecake — to know that the legendary Holotta Tymes (of groundbreaking SF drag club Finocchio’s) is stepping into her orthopedic shoes. Matthew Martin, D’Arcy Drollinger, and Heklina round out the feisty foursome, in this reenactment of key holiday episodes. Get your tickets quick! Thu/3-December 20, Thu-Sat at 8pm, Sun at 7pm, $25. Victoria Theatre. Tickets and more info here.
THE HORSE’S ASS AND FRIENDS Awesome playwright Megan Cohen and director Ellery Schaar team up with theatrical friends for “a painfully funny night of postmodern vaudeville that finds the ticklish spots between feminism, love, and shadows.” This includes “a pair of conjoined twins with one major dilemma, a pageant of the seasons complete with snowflake operetta and a shadow puppet show about death and monsters. And for a grand finale, Cohen saddles up history’s greatest half-human, half-equine metaphor for a ride through power dynamics and carrots.” Neeeeeigh. Thu/3-December 19, Thu-Sat at 8pm, $10-$30. Tickets and more info here.
>>> THEATRE FLAMENCO’S AD LIBITUM: OR HOW I FREED MYSELF FROM MY CHAINS I absolutely adore flamenco, the ancient dramatic dancing tradition of Spain. (You bet I’ve spent time in the late-night bars of Seville, and there’s a Peskin-high stack of flamenco guitar records next to my turntable). Luckily, San Francisco is a hotbed of flamenco companies — and surely one of the best, here and nationally, is Carola Zertuche’s Theatre Flamenco.
This year’s big show, “Ad Libitum” promises to as eye-popping and foot-stomping as ever: Spanish flamenco superstar Andrés Marín shoots passionate sparks with Zertuche and guest dancer Cristina Hall. As always, the live music is integral, with singer José Valencia, guitarist Salvador Gutiérrez and percusionist Daniel Suarez as special guests. An incredible weekend of sound and movement. Fri/20-Sun/22, Cowell Theatre, Fort Mason, SF. Tickets and more info here.
>>> KINDNESS Especially as we approach Thanksgiving, I think we could all do with a little Kindness. And that’s just what that infamous, often pantsless lovefest called the Lights Down Low party has in store this Saturday, in a benefit for the LGBT Center.
DEAD MAN’S PARTY RADAR Hey-O, fellow Halloweeners, it’s time for our city’s favorite civic holiday, the one with so many parties I often just want to crawl back into my coffin and wait for after-hours tricks and treats. (Or maybe just sleep until Day of the Dead on Monday night). But there’s just too much great stuff happening.
Wha’cha gonna be this year? Toilet Paper Mummy? Zombie Ron Conway? Internet Outrage? Laid-Off Twitter Employee? Sexy Aaron Peskin? Sexy Airbnb logo? The Ellis Act? And more importantly, wha’cha gonna do?
You could go HUGE, with enormous parties at Kink.com HQ The Armory or Pier 70’s carnivalesque Ghost Ship. You could pack yourself like an unholy sardine into the sidewalks of the Castro District. (Unofficially, of course, since Halloween is all but banned from those streets). You could even pub hop through the Marina — now that might truly be the ultimate terror!
Or you could look over these terror-iffic Halloween events, delivered direct from my steaming Hello Kitty cauldron of leftover cheap wigs, nauseating-smelling Halloween Store “Scream” masks, and discount three-pound bags of Baby Ruths from the Walgreen’s last year. I’ve concocted such a magical agenda for you!
BIG WEEK One of the more surprising things I’ve fallen in love with since I moved to San Francisco has been Hawaiian culture — especially its traditional dancing. Our climes our so much cooler than those of the Islands, but SF’s Hawaiian community is no less passionate about the gorgeous and powerful moves of hula.
As always, hula is a lot more complex and historical than American pop culture would have you believe — stringed instruments came to Hawaii in the late 1800s, but it still took a while for the familiar ukulele-and-grass-skirt scenario that we all know so well to develop. Hula is also an ever-developing form, and many of our local hula companies/schools (halau) take the dance in surprising new directions.
The most groundbreaking — indeed, sometimes controversial — of these is the incredible Na Lei Hulu I Ka Wekiu, which is putting on its 30th Anniversary hula show, “Kanakolu,” this weekend and next (Sat/17 and Sat/24, 8pm, Sun/18 and Sun/25, 3pm, $35-$45. Palace of Fine Arts, SF.)
These dances and dancers are spectacular. What’s more, director Patrick Makuakāne really digs into the ancient (drum-heavy, primal) and expands into the contemporary. You want techno hula? Gospel? Disco with drag queens? How about a little New Wave? You’ll find it here. Two of the coolest things I’ve ever seen were an entire Na Lei Hulu show on the history of Hawaiian newspapers, and a jaw-dropping number that incorporated tribal house anthem “Love and Happiness.”
BIG WEEK The vast tsunami of words and acts that is Litquake 2015 washes over the city Oct. 9-17 — and as always, there are too many cool, quirky, crazy, and just plain important literary events to take in. I want to eat the whole thing!
The great ‘Quake officially kicks off this year Fri/9 with “The Devil’s Acre,” an insanely neato-looking tribute to 19th century San Francisco, which doubles as “the official book launch for Drinking the Devil’s Acre, Duggan McDonnell’s illustrated history of cocktails from the wild and wicked saloons of the Barbary Coast. With sea shanty singers from the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, a rarely seen archival slideshow, and a special appearance by Emperor Norton himself. Costumes are encouraged!”
There’s a zillion other things after that: Eric Bogosian reads about the Armenian Genocide, a production of Romeo and Juliet by African American teens, star-spangled reading fiestas featuring everyone from Michelle Tea to Daniel Handler, and, of course, one of my favorite things ever: Litcrawl on Sat/17, the “world’s largest literary pub crawl” along Valencia, which brings 101 readings to bars, bookstores, galleries, even the Mission Police Station. As the Litquake folks put it, “Get drunk on words!”
This year’s fest has some heavy hitters, including Emmylou Harris, Ry Cooder, Steve Earle, Boz Scaggs, and Los Lobos, but there’s also tons of new names, experimental get-togethers (a tribute to Big Star’s 3rd album), and folksy family fun (Conor Oberst’s takeover of one stage with his friends). It really does put many of our other, over-programmed, hella-expensive festivals in a generic light.
A particularly cool highlight of the fest: Tons and tons of Bay Area school kids will attend on Friday morning as part of Daniel Pearl Day, celebrating the murdered journalist’s love of music and helping “to help spread a message of hope and unity.” Let the fiddles fiddle and the banjos ring!
BIG WEEK I just returned from Berlin, where I finally attended Folsom Europe, the spin-off Continental version of our own Folsom Street Fair (happening this Sunday). It ran a few blocks down the traditionally gay Schoeneberg district, brimmed with of tents you could buy actual alcohol at (hurray!), and overflowed with friendly if Germanically reserved faces.
It was also, to be honest, kind of boring. And there’s a surprising reason why.
While we here in the Bay Area have eliminated almost all of our sex clubs, backrooms, and bathhouses, they still thrive in Berlin. And I mean thrive. From the world’s most notorious gay sex club — Lab.Oratory, a Boschian labyrinth of writhing limbs that takes up the entire basement of an abandoned power plant, and where the bars sell personal-sized cans of Crisco — to the swankiest all-night bathhouse I’d even been to at 4am on a Tuesday, Der Boiler (not to mention the dozens of backrooms in bars all over the city, some of them available for straight couples), there was a whole lotta somethin’ somethin’ going on. After a while, it all felt kind of civically dutiful.
Why then bother with having sex in public — or even getting a little kinky? In fact, the city government specifically decreed that because there was so much sex allowed in bars and clubs, that there could definitely be none outdoors. That put a damper on everything: no kissing, only one whipping, hardly any women (extra boring!), even the fisting aficionado tents advertising upcoming events like Fistival 2016 and casual meetup Fist and Chips hardly had any edge when it came to presentation. Nudity was gasped at, affection deflected. Instead, Folsom Europe was like a large costume party, with manly men strutting about in their favorite outfits — Prussian generals, SWAT teams, and Motocross racers were favorite themes — often in matching packs of three or four.