Saturday, September 12, 2009

An Outrageous Opening for an Outrageous Film

Actors Rebekah Kochin, Daniel Skelton, and Ryan Adames

The audience at the Roxie Theater was tingling with excitement for the premiere of the third in a series of "Eating Out" gay comedy movies on Sept. 9, 2009, especially because they knew that they were going to meet cast members. "Eating Out 3: All You Can Eat" started out with a bang and the outrageous plot and the shocking and funny scenes continued almost nonstop to the delight of the guests who found themselves at the trendy Mission District venue.

Inventive actress Rebekah Kochan, who starred in all three films, made the boldest statement to the fans of the series with her “If you like cock you will love this film” outburst. And frontal male nudity is an attraction of the films, though surprisingly it is not gratuitous. And she gets some of the most clever lines and she knows how to bend them for more impact.

Handsome lead actor Daniel Skelton drew admiring glances and those were from the audience members who disagreed with some of the film’s characters’ remarks that only heavily muscled guys are attractive. And alluring Ryan Adames played a threatening hunk in the film but he was impossibly cute and friendly off screen at the Roxie, for another magic of the movies twist.

Movie moments that had the audience yelling:
A de-forestation scene that outdoes "The Forty-Year-Old Virgin" by a factor of 10, the aftermath of sex in a speeding car (who hasn’t tried That?), an ejaculatory door-marking, and a straight go-go dancer as a gay love guru. But even with its raunchiness, it is subtle compared to scenes in Todd Stephens' "Another Gay Sequel."

Director Glenn Gaylord announced that the whole cast is gay except for Kochan, which is remarkable that so many gay performers showed up for the parts in Hollywood. Executive Producer (for all three films) Michael Jack Shoel spoke about the making of the film and Producer Kirk Cruz gave a talk about the reality of independent film financing in 2009. He mentioned that there were a couple fine films at the recent Outfest that will not be picked up for distribution, and that the situation will become more difficult in the future. The cast stressed that as many people as possible should see this film in the first weeks to help the overall gay independent film market, and in advance of the Nov. 10 DVD release.

Popular John Waters film star Mink Stole has a wonderful part as the helpful aunt, and effervescent Leslie Jordan of "Sordid Lives" does a great job with the older gay man at the queer center as an advisor part.

There are lessons from the film: Online dating and hookups can become overly complicated as the false identities multiply (This can be overheard daily in the Castro’s cafes as guys meet up for the first time), and check out a room for cell phones that may be filming your sex acts that may end up on the internet.

The cast ended their Roxie appearance with an invitation to the audience to join them at a film party at the Lookout Bar, with Kochan
pointing out which of her co-stars are single and eager to get lucky.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Recognizing Lesbian History in a Movement Dominated by Gay Men

Longtime GLBT Historical Society board member Ruth Mahaney led a tour of the Society’s “Passionate Struggle” exhibit at the corner of 18th and Castro Street in San Francisco on the evening of September 4, 2009, with an emphasis on lesbian history.

Mahaney has served on the society’s board for 21 years, and she joined to assure that women’s activism is recorded, remembered, and preserved. And Mahaney is well qualified to lead the tour since she is a longtime professor of lesbian/gay history at City College of San Francisco.

She spoke a couple times about the acclaimed film “Milk” and how Sean Penn channeled Harvey Milk. She also felt that Milk was more of an accomplished activist than was interpreted for the screen, and that he worked to build coalitions, especially with women. Mahaney felt that the women who Milk worked with could have been better represented in the film.

Ruth Mahaney spoke about the 70s as the beginning of the women’s liberation movement and also the lesbian feminist movement. And she said that if you do not see large groups of women in photographs and films of that period, it is because they were not in the front of marches and rallies. They were there but the men were in the front and their images became the iconic views that are seen in books, posters, and films.

The GLBT Historical Society (GLBTHS) exhibit is in four sections, and Mahaney stopped in front of display cases to describe the photographs, flyers, buttons, and other memorabilia and their place in women’s lives. She spoke about Mona’s bar, a lesbian hangout, and the infamous Black Car bohemian bar, where lesbians also gathered. Jose Sarria, a waiter at the Black Cat, was also an outspoken activist and was the first openly gay person in the U.S. to run for political office. His opera performances drew huge crowds and he also founded the Imperial Court, which is now one of largest U.S. charities.

Mahaney spoke about San Francisco in 1971, when there were 8 lesbian bars and over 90 gay bars. One remarkable lesbian bar was Scott’s Pit, which was near Duboce Park. Women bikers gathered there and were a surprise to the neighbors, especially when fights broke out. And there were also poetry readings at the bar. The Full Moon Coffee House was on 18th Street a few blocks up from Castro Street. For the first time large groups of women without men gathered in Eureka Valley and it amazed both gay men and straight people when they swarmed to Castro Street after an evening of cultural events. Neighbors spoke about an unfortunate split in the group that climaxed with a chair fight, which ended that venue.

The Women’s Building is of monumental importance and its marvelous exterior mural took two years of dedicated work to complete. The Valencia Corridor was lined with women’s businesses, most of which are gone now. Old Wives Tale Bookstore, Artemis Restaurant, Amelia’s Bar and others welcomed women and well-behaved men. Osento bath house was not a sexual hotspot like the men’s baths, but Mahaney said that sex did happen there. Modern Times Bookstore, which survived that era, is a progressive center for book readings and meetings, and Ruth Mahaney is one of the owners.

Groups like The Lesbian Agenda for Action met to diminish racism, with women of different races talking with each other. Donna Hitchens founded the Lesbian Rights Project that evolved into the acclaimed National Center for Lesbian Rights. Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin and their founding of Daughters of Bilitis in the 50’s — the first lesbian organization in the U.S. — was mentioned, and also Lyon and Martin’s continuing activism.

Major breakthroughs were mentioned, like Jo Daly becoming the first lesbian San Francisco Police Commissioner, and the successful No on 6 grassroots campaign to stop fundamentalists from firing lesbian and gay schoolteachers. And the supervisor elections of out lesbians Roberta Achtenberg and Carole Migden also were milestones.

Ruth Mahany spoke about the hunger for women’s poetry that would draw audiences of 300 to the Women’s Building to hear Pat Parker and Judy Grahan, that evolved into the women’s music scene.

Mahaney spoke in detail about women’s sexuality which she feels has not been correctly written about or filmed. She does not think that the 70’s visuals of liberated lesbians running hand-in-hand through fields of flowers is accurate. The affirming burst of energy that is the Dyke March was mentioned with affection, but like other events, were quickly covered in the one-hour overview.

The attentive group that heard Mahaney’s tour were a mixture of local women and tourists, and their questions were answered with details that rounded out the picture of lesbian lives in the exhibit.