Friday, January 29, 2010

The Big 40 is Coming to San Francisco Pride

Imani Brown, Joshua Smith, Brendan Behan, Lisa Williams, Amy Anner, Jamie Fountain, Nikki Calma, Amy Andre, Troy Coleman, and Sydni Peeler.

The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee presented a Town Hall meeting on Jan. 27, 2010, at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. A room full of supporters, committee members, staff, volunteers, and lot of new faces heard speakers discuss the upcoming big year 40 of SF’s Pride events.

Board VP Nikki Calma, who is also known as Tita Aida — the Queen of the Shangri La Club and the API Wellness Center, served as MC. She spoke about the Stonewall Riot in Greenwich Village on June 27, 1969 — which marked the end of June as the annual weekend to celebrate Pride in San Francisco — with wry commentaries on the cultural fluxes of the succeeding eras. New executive director Amy Andre and board member Troy Coleman spoke about Pride’s anniversary and then deputy executive director Brendan Behan spoke eloquently for most of the rest of the meeting and he even encouraged a Q&A.

Behan placed an emphasis on the importance of volunteers, and he surprised the crowd with the fact that over 1,000 are needed to present the annual parade and celebration, and also for events through the year. And he spoke with palpable pleasure about the community partners that are the non-profit groups that sell beverages and work the entrance gates at Pride for contributions that have returned over $1.6 million for those groups.

One of the highpoints of the event was the news about a fabulous upcoming benefit kickoff for the Pride anniversary that will include dancing, entertainment, and an auction. And a special new Pride cocktail will be introduced in an ecstatic rite at the bar.

The yearly Pride Parade and Celebration are monumental events that draw a wildly diverse multitude of over a million people and tens of millions of dollars to San Francisco businesses. The Pride Committee deserves lavish credit for their time and efforts.

[Photo caption: 1/27/2010 — The Pride Town Hall Meeting at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. Discussions included the 40th anniversary of San Francisco LGBT Pride and volunteer recruitment and benefits. Staff Imani Brown, board member Joshua Smith, deputy executive director Brendan Behan, board secretary Lisa Williams, staff Amy Anner, board member Jamie Fountain, board VP Nikki Calma, executive director Amy Andre, and staff Troy Coleman and Sydni Peeler.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Primal Benefit at the Powerhouse

Contestants Jeremy Sanders, J.R. Gabbard and Steve Rezentes

A crush of primal, handsome men with lots of exposed tattooed skin, bulging muscles, and panther-like stances and movements welcomed the kick off for the 2011 Bare Chest Calendar at the Powerhouse bar in San Francisco on Jan. 21, 2010. The high-tension contest was a benefit for the AIDS Emergency Fund (AEF) and the Positive Resource Center (PRC). The AEF provides financial assistance to people disabled by HIV/AIDS, and the PRC provides comprehensive benefit counseling to the same individuals.

Contestants Jeremy Sanders, J.R. Gabbard and Steve Rezentes

The Powerhouse is well known as a prime location for charity fundraisers, and stunning and generous manager Scott Peterson takes a strong interest to help out non-profits. Fantasy-men bartenders Jose Guevara, Michael Vega, and Carlton Paul worked shirtless, quickly, and with a smile. The stiff drinks provoked the guests to grab each other and kiss passionately, engaging in what would be seen as foreplay in some states.

PRC executive director Brett Andrews met and greeted in the throng, and the AEF’s Christian Dumais was on hand to supervise James Poole and other raffle volunteers. Representatives from sponsor Miller Beer and five alert judges were introduced and thanked by master MC Thom Grant. Photographers Bill Weaver and Rich Stadtmiller feverishly stalked the hunks, and the hunted included a shirtless "Pearls Over Shanghai" star Steven Satyricon, Grand Duke Oliver, and actor/composer Tom Orr.

Photographer Rich Stadtmiller and actor Steven Satyricon

The mass of cruisers jumped to attention and the loud, raucous conversations evaporated when the three desirable contestants were introduced. Redhead Jeremy Sanders, studly J.R. Gabbard, and earthy Steve Rezentes, who won the contest, presented themselves as guys who would make the maximum effort to sell the chest calendars and work events relentlessly to raise $100,000 this year with the other calendar men for the two beneficiaries. The contest is geared to be a leather event, and the symbol of the calendar men is a leather vest worn by the winners on parade floats, fair booths, and at bars fundraisers. And the vest is the essence of fetish date bait, and hot guys paw at them obsessively, hoping to get lucky.

A climax of the event was MC Grant announced that more than $1,300 had been raised at the teeming bacchanal, and there was a thunderous applause.

Contest winner Steve Rezentes

More photos can be seen at

Friday, January 22, 2010

Physical and Mental Literary Exercises at the Library

Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Marvin K. White, and Jaime Cortez

Writer Marvin K. White hosted a writers’ workshop at the main branch of the San Francisco Public Library on Jan. 20, 2010. Most of the audience had seen a flyer advertising an “LGBT African American Writers Series,” but everyone stayed to get involved with the hands-on event. Others saw the writing workshop on a “be my friend” website and had anticipated the honing of their skills. The goal of published writers White, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, and Jaime Cortez was to enhance guests’ literary abilities through physical and mental exercises.

Lucy Jane Bledsoe writes novels for adults and children. Her interests include Antarctic kayaking and backpacking in the Rockies. She has written four novels for adults and five for children, and has received multiple awards.

Jaime Cortez produces graphic novels about immigration, AIDS, and gun violence. He is well-known for his HIV/AIDS prevention outreach work. His novel is about a transgender Cuban immigrant in a new culture.

Marvin K. White is the author of two poetry collections. He is also a performer, playwright, and visual artist. He is a dedicated and loved community arts organizer.

Karen Sundheim, of the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center, introduced host White, and he kicked off the event by stating that the evening was about the practice of writing. He said that guests should not despair if they felt the creative process was not flowing on the paper. He then led the guests through some exuberant standing aerobics exercises and asked them to write ideas inside and outside a circle on a piece of paper, all to clear their heads. A charged bonding ritual followed, as guests read what they had written. Bledsoe quipped that she called it speed writing.

Then White let it be known that he felt that the library was not seen as an LGBT space, and that the event was a claiming of queer space. Cortez had written “wounding, healing, and revelation” on a blackboard to explain his writing process.

Provocative author Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, a personal guest of White, spoke about his book “Santo de la Pata Alzada: Poems from the Queer/Xicano/Positive Pen.” Audience members happily mingled and enjoyed the rush of literary creativity.

The event was sponsored by the James C. Hormel Gay & Lesbian Center and the African American Center at the San Francisco Public Library.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Funny Mondays Comes Out for Haiti

Lisa Geduldig, Natasha Muse, Tony Koester, Yayne Abeda, Casy Ley and Marga Gomez

MC Tony Koester greeted a sold-out crowd that filled every seat in the club, with guests lined up against the back wall, at the Stand Up for Haiti: A Comedy Series for Haiti Earthquake Relief  held on Jan. 18, 2010, at the Deco Lounge in San Francisco. Monday is the usual night for Funny Mondays at the high sexual tension Tenderloin hang out, and Koester creatively advertised the evening comedy show for an earthquake relief event and packed in the donors.

Besides Koester’s brand of sharp humor, there were short sets by Marga Gomez, Yayne Abeda, Casey Ley, Natasha Muse, and Lisa Geduldig. Gomez drew astonished laughter when she said Barack Obama’s name and then assumed a prayerful position, as if he is a godlike deity.

Koester did a rant about straight guys who come into the gay community and take bartender jobs, and then are offended when a gay guy sees their sexy outfits and gets close. A prime example of a straight faux pas was when a non-gay performer at the benefit brought three non-paying “groupies” who made so much noise in the bar that they drowned out the beautifully miked sound by DJ Lambchop.

Over $100 was raised when waiter Eric took off his shirt, and some guys wanted to see sultry comic Casey Ley shirtless also.

It was announced at the finale that over $1,200 had been raised for the suffering Haitians. Jeff Cotter from the Rainbow World Fund was there to accept the much needed money. The fund works with CARE, which is on the ground in Haiti to provide help immediately. Rainbow World Fund is all about LGBT people responding to world need.

The next highly anticipated Stand Up for Haiti will be on Jan. 25, and will feature comics Mary Van Note, Chris Burns, Ronn Vigh, Veronica Porras, Sam Wilcke, Conrad Roth, Justin Simpson and Tony Koester.

Deco Lounge
510 Larkin St (@ Turk)
San Francisco

Donations to Rainbow World Fund can be made at

[Photo caption: 1/18/2010 — Stand Up for Haiti: A Comedy Series for Haiti Earthquake Relief at the Deco Lounge in San Francisco. Comics Lisa Geduldig, Natasha Muse, MC Tony Koester, Yayne Abeda, Casy Ley, and Marga Gomez presented a fantastic show with outrageous humor for a packed room in the Tenderloin.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Center of Sodomy in the Haight Celebrates

Joey Cain and Maher Sabry

An effervescent, barefoot Joey Cain individually welcomed each of over 100 guests to the 30-year anniversary of the 501 Ashbury Gay Collective in San Francisco on Jan. 17, 2010. He carefully eyed their potluck offerings and cautiously warned about the possibility of “difficult people” joining the throng.

The collective has been a center of altruistic and caring activism in the Haight district that has promoted and enhanced the San Francisco Pride Committee, Bound Together Anarchist Bookstore, gay Middle-Eastern culture, and the Radical Faeries. It has also been a source of charity fundraising for those groups and for queer homeless youth and HIV/AIDS charities.

This has been possible because of the wonderment that is rent control. Joey Cain has lived at the collective for 30 years, filmmaker Maher Sabry has lived there 7 years, alluring Joey Paxman is a one-year resident, and Pesto has lived there 17 years.

Sabry’s film “All My Life,” is a triumphant story on celluloid about gay men in Egypt, with their pleasures and terrors blatantly displayed in a realistic fashion. The movie is a popular Middle-Eastern LGBT addition to festivals in the U.S. and overseas.

Culture, politics, personalities, and dazzling biblical sex at 501 Ashbury was talked about at the party late into the late evening by activists David Smith, Larrybob Roberts, Tab Buckner, Marty, Ric LeBlanc, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Cleve Jones, and others.

[Photo caption: 1/17/2009 — The 501 Ashbury Gay Collective 30th Anniversary Party. Activist Joey Cain and filmmaker Maher Sabry
greeted over 100 guests who celebrated the long-time charity fundraising center for AIDS, the Radical Faeries, and queer homeless youth.]

Monday, January 18, 2010

Religion vs. Sexual Orientation with a Shot of Hypocrisy

Filmmaker Parvez Sharma with Rev. Lea Brown

More than 100 mostly white gay men squeezed into San Francisco’s historic Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in the Castro for a screening of "A Jihad For Love" on Jan. 16, 2010. The film is a breathtaking, landmark documentary about some religious Muslims who are lesbian and gay, and who are balancing their religion and their sexual orientation. Or as director Parvez Sharma put it without much subtlety, “It is about who you fuck and where you pray,” which drew nervous laughter from the throng.

MCC Church has been at its 150 Eureka Street building for 40 years, and the screening is the first of a series of events to mark that anniversary in 2010. The building was built over a creek with an originally questionable foundation, and when a wall shifted a while back the congregation had to evacuate to the San Francisco LGBT Community Center. An extreme rental situation brought the congregation back to 150 Eureka after a building reinforcement.

Numerous church members long for a new building at its present location — the site of notable historic community events including the welcome of gay Cuban refugees in 1980, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence fundraising bingo games. Multiple joinings and later marriages of same-sex couples, and also too many celebrations of life happened in the MCC Church sanctuary. A food program and sleeping areas for queer youth, meetings space for LGBT Democrats, and outreach to the Buddhist, leather, and recovery communities were and are some of the projects of the church.

Rev. Lea Brown welcomed the audience to the screening, and spoke warmly about MCC Church as a place for free spirituality
and as a center of love in the Castro for 40 years. The well-attended screening was the first of a series of events in 2010 to
celebrate the anniversary. More anniversary events are listed at

Filmmaker Sharma spoke about the film’s popularity worldwide and that 8 million people have seen it in a year. Copies have been shown at secret screenings in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and in other countries where it would not be allowed to be shown in public. And these are countries where brave gay Muslims have been arrested for attending same-sex marriage ceremonies and parties.

One of the most surprising moments of the evening was when
Sharma spoke about two wild gay parties that he enjoyed in Tehran that he said outdid anything he had seen in San Francisco or New York City, where he lives. Sharma spoke about the hypocrisy that exists in homophobic societies in the Middle East, where lesbians and gays are persecuted but there is rampant, secret, same-sex coupling occurring among straight-identified people.

Muslim lesbians and gay men were introduced in the film in several countries, and they spoke intensely about their lives. Arrests and trials, whippings, public humiliation, rape, and death were a fact of life for them if they were exposed in their native countries. A remarkable feature of the film was the on-film meeting of the lesbians and gays with fundamentalist religious leaders. The shocking responses of the leaders to questions about the compatibility of Islam and homosexuality is enough reason to check out this admirable documentary.

Another example of the hospitality extended by the church was a bountiful Lebanese buffet provided by Ilyas Iliya. The evening ended with conversation and cruisy glances over the Middle-Eastern cuisine and one-on-one discussions with the filmmaker.

For more information on "A Jihad for Love," visit

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

QComedy at Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory: The New Queer Decade Starts With a Bang

Nick Leonard, Clam Lynch, Maggie Dunn, Lisa Geduldig, Ben McCoy and Khalil Sullivan

The new queer decade stated off with an entertainment bang when QComedy’s producer and MC for the last 10 years, Nick Leonard, presented an extravaganza of a show on Jan. 4, 2010 at Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory. Leonard expanded the usage of the word “comedy” into a new dimension with the inclusion of a performance artist, a musician, and spoken word performers in the spectacle. But Leonard works in unusual brain-twists in the comic arenas of standup, improv, and sketch, and much of his material is unpredictable. He is endearing in his self-deprecation, though there are audience members with a serious pant-on for his handsome bear-ness. And one of his finest moments was to use his sarcastic dry with on yuppies in their haunts during an anti-gentrification march through the Mission with his then-partner Larrybob Roberts.

Spoken word artist and headliner Ben McCoy was a delight in many ways. McCoy toured with Sister Spit, the talented all-girl group of novelists, zine-stars, spoken word types, fashionistas, and activists who have provided some of the best shows across the U.S. and abroad. McCoy does not identify as either male or female, and wears women’s attire and makeup, and resembled a tasteful Middle-European princess in a black dress, pearls, and tiara. Then there was the hilarious account of the high-tension family party where nothing was said about McCoy’s appearance by the adults — something that happens all too often to gender-benders.

Singer Khalil Sullivan spread his uplifting enthusiasm through the audience with the powerful surge of his two original songs Take Me Down and Peace of Mind. He also sang Between the Bars by Elliott Smith and Scarborough Fair by Simon and Garfunkel, with a clear melodious voice. And he gave the gift of song before the show started, as the audience was squeezing into a packed event. Sullivan has written an operetta and composed music for drama productions, and he has a transcendent talent for going full-tilt when he is singing with a beat and then he is lyrical when singing a ballad. His warm generous nature was extended to the throng when he offered free CD’s.

Performance artist Clam Lynch was a tour de force of crazed self-help lunacy. His presentation began with him in 1D in an instructional video, and then him in 3D as he invited the audience to join him on an adventure to achieve happiness. He outdid the Mormons with his striped sacred underwear with an added phallic watering accessory, and a front row guest eagerly helped with the cutting-edge satire of feel-good gurus. There was widespread wonderment as to whether this scene was enacted when he worked with Roseanne Barr and on Nickelodeon.

Comic Maggie Dolan has been with QComedy since the beginning, and she is a host of Lipstick Lounge and is on display in the new distinctive Handjob Nail Salon in the Castro. She described the business as an inventive lesbian party that provides a public service. Marga Gomez, who was a show guest, has emoted about how femme the Los Angeles lesbians are when they treat her like a man since she does not routinely use the services of a salon like Handjob.

Lisa Geduldig was the other comic in the show, and her East Coast humor is distinctive but not universal. She is known as the producer who brought manic performer Charo to San Francisco for some successful concerts, and she also produces Funny Girlz and Kung Pao Kosher Comedy shows. Geduldig drew smiles when she said that she gets her news from Facebook and when she talked about the crotch bomber and the 72 virgins he expected to deflower.

Spoken word artist Tara Jepsen was a surprise guest when she appeared to have a suspenseful, lively conversation on stage with author/spoken word type/sex worker activist Kirk Read. Jepsen has also been on tour with Sister Spit, and she and Read related their offbeat views on Read’s recent weekend antics at a silent retreat.

There is a rising displeasure with bait-and-switch by performers who appear shirtless or even naked in their publicity and then are covered up on stage, and a fully clothed Read ran right into it at Mama Calizo’s. One disappointed fan saw Read shirtless on the QComedy flyer and expected more, especially since he and a naked activist at the other side of the room had seen Read perform naked — which they said enhanced the stage moments immeasurably. Read is well known as a novelist, an organizer of a gay men’s health conference with the late Eric Rofes, a consultant to help sex workers with their physical and mental health, and as one of the few gay men to graduate from San Francisco Sex Information classes.

Coordinator Nick Leonard deserves much credit for being able to present such a rich tapestry of talent, and the audience’s applause for each act showed their appreciation.

The QComedy Showcase repeats every first Monday.
Mama Calizo's Voice Factory
1519 Mission Street (@ 11th St.)
San Francisco, CA
COST: $8–$16 Sliding Scale, NOTAFLOF

[Photo caption: 1/4/10 — QComedy host and comic Nick Leonard with performance artist Clam Lynch, comics Maggie Dunn and Lisa Geduldig, spoken word artist Ben McCoy and singer/songwriter Khalil Sullivan.]

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Lesbian Latina Comedy Spectacle

Lesbian Latina Marga Gomez reached a new height in her career as an edgy comic at her New Year’s Eve show at the Victoria Theater in San Francisco. The event was presented by Theatre Rhinoceros, and Theatre Rhino’s artistic director John Fisher was the bouncing, twirling MC who clearly enjoyed himself on stage between acts.

Theatre Rhinoceros is the oldest LGBT theater organization in the world, and this journalist has covered their shows since the beginning at the Black & Blue South-of-Market gay bar.

Three funny comics warmed up the crowd for Gomez, and extraordinary DJ and sound man Mark O’Brien provided excellent-quality music and the best directed speakers for the Victoria Theater. His kinky black vinyl jumpsuit drew lots of attention and some wisecracks from Gomez.

New Yorker Ben Lerman was disarmingly wholesome-looking until he cut loose with an online sex song while playing a ukulele. Transgender stand-up comedian Natasha Muse impersonated some mouth-breathers who have asked her personal questions, to a devastating effect. Very gay David Hawkins was hilarious with his expressive body language.

Headliner Gomez sauntered onto the stage to waves of applause, and the approximately 60% female/40% male crowd showered her with affection for just about every joke and observation in the show. Her joy is obvious and her enthusiasm is contagious. She poured on the emotion and concern for a headless family of manikins that she had seen in a Banana Republic window, and she related them to the headless masseurs in the back of the Bay Area Reporter. And she praised the San Francisco Bay Times and Bay Area Reporter for covering news with an LGBT angle.

The denizens of certain Mission neighborhood cafes admire Gomez for her satirical demand to be the head of a group of Latinas and Latinos who do not speak Spanish. And a high point of her show was her expressing her pride in hearing about a Latina Supreme Court Justice. And then in true Marga fashion she spoke about falling for Fox TV propaganda in expecting a stereotypical Latina display before a congressional committee. She brought up provocative questions about cheating on her partner while dreaming of a ménage with two film stars and how important it is to take long-haired lovers’ sex signals seriously. And she spoke out boldly against Crunch Gym Pilates princesses, ageism, Walgreen’s sweat pants, and marijuana virgins.

Gomez’s career took off in the early 80s at the Valencia Rose and this journalist spotted her then as a quirky and unique talent. Whoopie Goldberg also performed there before "The Color Purple" was released. Speaking out for leftist politics and against racism while wrapping it all up in a wry recognition of humanity — and a need to MC at small and gigantic LGBT Pride events — has made Gomez an icon and a treasure.

There was a surprise faux Midnight celebration at 7:39 PM with Gomez and her co-stars, and then the 7:00 crowd cleared out to make room for the eager 9:00 audience.

The show was spectacular and Gomez’s fans will be scanning the internet for news of her next show at

[Photo captions: 12/31/2009 — Comic Marga Gomez at her New Year's Eve show at the Victoria Theater in San Francisco. Several hilarious high points included Gomez's pride about a Latina Supreme Court Justice, and she joked about stereotypes seen on Fox News. A huge crowd roared at the edgy relationship and political humor.]