Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Grand 40th Pride Weekend in San Francisco

Mikes on Bikes getting ready to ride in the Parade.

The build-up to the annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade on June 27 was a series of events that included film screenings, parties, marches, a concert, stage shows, a brunch and a breakfast.

"Deep Red," an Israeli short screened at the Castro Theatre on June 24, was about a thieving pair of hustlers who were almost likable, and they were so handsome and earthy that it was distracting. It was matched with "Gently," a joyous outburst of celluloid that had what a lot of film viewers value highly — unpredictability. Writer/director Rikki Beadle-Blair achieved the almost impossible goal of an original coming-out script.

Writer/director Rikki Beadle-Blair at the Castro Theatre.

For the party types, June 24 at the Clift Hotel was heaven on earth. The Pride Committee’s media party was on the mezzanine, and PR consultant Mark Rhoades’ Pride extravaganza was nearby in the famous Redwood Room.

Cheer SF members Ryan Allen, Nguyen Win Pham, and Anthony Alston with their Grand Marshal trophy.

The Parade grand marshals received their trophies at the Pride Committee party. Recipients included:
Philanthropist James Hormel — Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal
Lieut. Zoe Dunning (DADT-repeal activist) — Celebrity Grand Marshal
Pam Peniston (Queer Cultural Center) — Heritage of Pride Award
Kim Corsaro (SF Bay Times) — Heritage of Pride Award
and Cheer SF — Organizational Community Grand Marshal.

Ruth Herring and her partner Pam Peniston with Peniston's state proclamation and Grand Marshal trophy.

The party at some level alleviated the concern over the cancellation of the rainbow flag-raising reception at City Hall that was blamed on lack of assertiveness and resourcefulness. The annual event is the first opportunity to promote Pride events in the daily papers and on TV.

Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal James Hormel, his partner Michael Nguyen, host Mark Rhoades, and Seth Kilbourn at Rhoades' Pride party.

Hormel made his way to Rhoades’ party with his partner Michael Nguyen, who is a new member of the library commission. Wilkes Bashford held court in one corner, and non-profit executive directors and political candidates worked the crush of swells heavily.

Kenya Fister and Landa Lakes at the Brush Arbor Gurlz show.

The Trans March in Dolores Park preceded the Pride Concert at nearby Mission High School on June 25. The concert had some ultra eye-catching numbers, and the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco’s stage histrionics and revealing outfits surprised and thrilled the audience. The LGBT Native Americans presented one of their most outrageous drag shows yet with their Brush Arbor Gurlz on stage at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, before a throng of Indians and friends.

Donna Sachet and Gary Virginia again made it clear why they are among our community’s most accomplished hosts and fundraisers with their 12th Annual Pride Brunch held at the Hotel Whitcomb on June 26. A happy sold-out crowd table-hopped, cruised, and provided much needed help to the beneficiary, the Positive Resource Center.

Dancers at the Pride Celebration's International Stage on Saturday.

The Pride Celebration on Saturday at the Civic Center was a chance to see and meet the booth organizations and the goods and service providers without the crush on Sunday of one million people coming and going. Magic moments like the sight of sleek lst Gear underwear models and a chance to meet and photograph them were certainly crowd-pleasers.

Jeff and Justin promoting sexy lst Gear men's underwear at the Pride Celebration on Saturday.

The Dyke March, some of the most fun was at the end of the procession.

The Dyke March appeared to be way over 5,000 women in a partly political and partly social procession of assertive female dominance on the streets of the Mission. While mostly lesbians, many straight women were able to be free of the men in their lives for an evening The Dykes on Bikes and Sistah Boom enhanced the march.

Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence manning the gates at Pink Saturday.

Pink Saturday in the Castro, which was hosted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to benefit their 26 charities, drew a large crowd and a large number of them engaged the theme and wore pink clothing. The evening was marred by a tragic murder that was the result evidently of people bringing outside conflicts to the Castro.

San Francisco Assessor Phil Ting, openly-gay Treasurer Jose Cisnersos, openly-gay Supervisor David Campos, Supervisors Shawn Elsbernd, Sophie Maxwell, Carmen Chu, and David Chiu at the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club Breakfast.

Pride Day on Sunday was kicked off by the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club breakfast at Yank Sing Restaurant. Gourmet Philz Coffee and dim sum were a terrific treat at 8:00 AM and the massed elected and appointed officials enjoyed meeting and greeting each other and their constituents.

State Senator Mark Leno's sister Jamie Zimron gives a salute as the Dykes on Bikes lead off the Pride Parade.

The Pride Parade was the biggest ever, and this journalist has been to every Pride celebration since the lesbian and gay love-in in Golden Gate Park in 1970, so each late June event can be compared.

The Backstreet Boys headlining at the Pride Celebration Main Stage.

Few stage entertainers have worked up a Pride audience to the level that the Backstreet Boys did this year. Their performance, along with the Pride VIP Party at City Hall, and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s and State Senator Mark Leno’s parties for supporters were high points of the day.

Colorful guests at the VIP Pride Party at City Hall.

Unfortunately a large squad of police were needed to quell a riot near the Main Library at the end of the celebration. There is an annual teen riot at the California State Fair, and hopefully this kind of physical vandalism will not become a tradition on Pride Day.

The Pride Committee deserves a lot of credit for all of their time and effort for the last couple months to make the events a success.

The view of the Pride Celebration in the Civic Center Plaza from Tom Ammiano's office.

More photos can be seen at

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Frameline Film Festival Week Two: Remarkable Shorts and an Unusual Documentary

Colorful film fans Vincent Costa and Burl Willes outside the Roxie Theater

There were no protests of Israeli shorts at Frameline's San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival as there had been on opening night outside the Castro Theatre. And the freedom of LGBT’s in Israel was expressed on the screen for all to see.

Back on June 17 pro-Palestinian protesters who objected to Frameline receiving support from the Israeli consulate loudly shouted and loudly chanted along with drums. The pro-Israeli counter-protesters engaged passers-by in conversations about the Israeli soldiers who were attacked with weapons when they boarded a ship violating the Gaza blockade. And the lesbians from the Jewish Community Federation and Congregation Sha’ar Zahav spoke earnestly to passersby about how they and locals could be open about their orientation in Israel, but not in Gaza or the West Bank.

The Experimentals shorts shown at the Roxie Theater on June 26 was cleverly hosted by Rodney Austin. Austin was the lead singer of Pearl Necklace, a notorious band with a sexually-explicit name and lyrics. The huge show of his punked-out artwork at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts rivaled the wall space of Andy Warhol displays.

Mic Sweney, filmmaker Rudy Lemcke, and Beth Pickens

Included in "The Experimentals" shorts was filmmaker Rudy Lemcke’s mesmerizing and astute "Gay Pool Party" which expertly switched from footage of a gay male pool party to street protests and vignettes of police beatings. Considering that the party footage appears to pre-date the Stonewall Riots in New York and the Tavern Guild incident in San Francisco, it is likely the cavorting men faced frightening police and thug harassment, and worse, when they left the relative safety in numbers seen on the video, which was loaned by the GLBT Historical Society. It was an era when gay men were hunted.

Lemcke’s earlier film, "Where the Buffalo Roam," inter-cut video of endangered buffalo with San Francisco ACT UP members at their die-in protests in the 1990s. The footage of mountains of buffalo skulls was even more chilling when the viewers realized that most of the ACT UP protesters lying in the streets were only in their 20s and the majority were dead from AIDS within a few years.

Filmmakers Matthew Mishory and Edward Singletary

Another remarkable short film included in "The Experimentals" was "Delphinium: A Childhood Portrait of Derek Jarman," a tribute to English experimental filmmaker Derek Jarman, who is still unequaled for his creative genius in the use of homo-eroticism, symbolism, and unexpectedly intense imagery. Director Matthew Mishory and producer Edward Singletary spoke eloquently about their admiration for the deceased Jarman, and it was a wondrous revelation for their fans when they declared during the Q&A that the short would evolve to become a feature film.

A stunning scene of the young Jarman convincing a groundskeeper to strip naked and pose as St. Sebastian with bloodied arrows and an expression of anguish tops all fine art paintings and film footage of that subject — and not just because there was no customary, clinging loin cloth. The subject of St. Sebastian in painting has been the first awareness for huge numbers of gay men of their sexual orientation for hundreds of years, so its primal power in the film cannot be underestimated.

Filmmakers Mattilde Bernstein Sycamore and Gina Carducci

Also part of "The Experimentals" was "All That Sheltering Emptiness" by directors Mattilde Bernstein Sycamore and Gina Carducci. Their shocking and heartrending short is a seven-minute compression of Bernstein’s books and readings, with all of the horror of parental sexual abuse and its aftermath.

Artist and singer Camille O’Grady and filmmaker Robert Oppel

Robert Opel was the San Francisco erotic gallery owner and photographer who streaked at the Academy Awards, and his nephew Robert Oppel created an incredible and unusual feature-length documentary about him, "Uncle Bob," shown June 26 at the Roxie Theater, in which the nephew channels his uncle in a performance that makes for a new type of documentary art form. He satirizes public appearances, talk shows, performance art, and huge celebrity egos and their compulsively exposed personal lives, and he is on screen doing it naked. This journalist knew Opel the gallery owner and the film captures his creativity, generous party-hosting, and promotion of artists and photographers. Opel would be proud of his nephew the filmmaker.

When filmmaker Bern Boyle founded what was to become the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival 34 years ago, he could not have anticipated this year’s ten-day festival that grew from his and some friends’ videos listed on a single mimeographed piece of paper. But the thrill of new movies in an LGBT festival has not subsided.

An adoring fan with filmmaker Mattilde Bernstein Sycamore

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Black Coalition on AIDS Soirée at Rasselas: A Fulfilling and Enjoyable Benefit Party

Michael Huff, James Loyce, Dian Hanson, Sophie Maxwell, Herman Storey, and Perry Lang

The Black Coalition on AIDS topped themselves on June 23 with their Soulful Summer Soirée, an informative, fulfilling event in a beautiful setting. They chose Rasselas Jazz Club & Restaurant in the center of the revived jazz center of San Francisco’s Fillmore District, a traditionally welcoming African American area. The Ricardo Scales Quartet provided soft jazz and popular hits throughout the evening, creating a pleasant mood to accompany the taste treats and cocktails.

The Ricardo Scales Quartet

Executive Director James Loyce welcomed the guests, and Board VP Dian Harrison MC’ed the event, which was a benefit for The Coalition and an opportunity to socialize and compare experiences in the fight
against HIV/AIDS.

Black Coalition on AIDS Executive Director James Loyce

Each of the honorees has been a strong advocate for wellness and health in the African American community.

Michael Huff, Director of the African American Health Disparities Project, has been brilliant in pointing out how Black people have been short-changed and then made sure funding was provided.

Honoree Sophie Maxwell, a City Supervisor, also has sought to close the gap in health funding, and she has worked with the Black Coalition on AIDS to do so.

Volunteer of the Year honoree Herman Storey has struggled to ensure that people with HIV and AIDS receive support and he has done so since The Coalition was founded over 24 years ago with Bart Casimir, who attended the event, and city supervisor aide Brandy Moore. Moore is the much-missed, legendary AIDS activist who realized that the government, non-profits, democratic clubs, churches, and citizens of San Francisco were not concerned with mounting deaths from the new disease among Black gay men. He energized his boss, Supervisor Doris Ward, and then-California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, to create financing for information and treatment for the African American community. This journalist knew Moore well, and there is general agreement that few activists could be as persuasive and accomplished as he was.

The harrowing 2010 statistics for African Americans and HIV/AIDS in San Francisco was eloquently spoken about by Perry Lang, The Coalition’s Director of Wellness and Public Advocacy, and the infection rates are way out of proportion to the population. It was clear to the guests that a lot more has to be done to close the health care money gap, make more information available and especially to women, and to reach out to institutions that are resisting change — a situation that endangers their members.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Crude Awakening Oil Wrestling for Gulf Spill Relief

Faeries Oliver, Zak, Jamison, (name deleted per request), Abel Diego, and Kyle

Sexual tension and stares met the antics of Radical Faerie guys who wrestled in Wesson oil (the favorite for college orgies worldwide) on a sidewalk mattress at the Tower Records site in the Castro near Café Flore on June 20.

Oliver, Zak, Jamison, Abel Diego, and Kyle joined more than a dozen others to furiously tangle with each other to benefit the Florida Wild Mammal Association.

Petroleum globs are now reaching Florida’s Panhandle, which makes the happy writhing of studs for charity appropriate and praiseworthy. The event was sponsored by Comfort and Joy and Nomenus, the faerie core group. Checking them out online and also their faerie sanctuaries at Short Mountain in Tennessee and Wolf Creek in Oregon will give an understanding of the group’s philosophy and views of reality.

While the guys who wrestled are not in any way the full range of faeries — who are aged from late teens to mid-80s, from short haired and reserved to earthy and wildly hirsute — it was a fine display and promotion for a way of life and thinking that is outside the mass of gay life.

The wrestling was just one event in a series that are happening during the Faetopia Festival being held upstairs at the former Tower Record site from Monday, June 21 through Saturday, June 26. Utopian yoga is on for Thursday with one of San Francisco’s most impressive teachers Stuart Siegel, also known as Yoga Daddy, and sex-positive yoga by Ian Waisler and Jerry is occurring on Friday.

Performance art, workshops, cinema, and local artists’ work in the commercial space is an example of how creativity can be shared.
The week’s wonderful, fulfilling events can be checked out at, and the event is also sponsored by the hard-working charmers at Café Flore.

Faetopia Festival
(Inside the old Castro Tower Records space)
2278 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114

To view more photos from the event, visit

Monday, June 21, 2010

The San Francisco LGBT Community Center’s Pride Party: A Fifth Anniversary Blowout on Four Floors

Sisters flank the Academy of Art's David Lynam and Sue Rowley, and The Center's Rebecca Rolfe

The Academy of Art University sponsored the San Francisco LGBT Community Center’s fifth annual Pride Party on June 19 — and they supported The Center in a big way. Sue Rowley, the Academy’s Executive Vice President of Education and International Admissions/Services, resoundingly spoke about her honor to speak at the celebration.

More than 100 guests at the roof deck margarita soirée listened avidly as Rowley mentioned that her girlfriend liked the word "elated" to sum up her joy in joining the tradition of diversity of San Francisco Pride and among the Academy’s students from over 100 countries. Rowley said that diversity makes some people uncomfortable and scares others, but that it is necessary for good changes to happen. She stated that the Academy stands with the LGBT community as neighbors and with a shared vision that people of all cultures and backgrounds should be given the opportunity for their contributions, artistic and otherwise, to be made to society. And she encouraged the community to reach out to the Academy for support in the future.

DJ Christopher Berini

The sound and music at the soirée was excellent thanks to DJ Christopher Berini, who is blonde and handsome and wholesome-looking in a field where that look stands out.

Hunky filmmaker David Lynam joined Rowley to represent the Academy of Art. His short film "Gay People's Court: Fashion Beat Down" was shown recently at the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival.

Preceding Rowley’s talk at the event was The Center’s Executive Director Rebecca Rolfe, and the party’s co-chair Wes Freas and board chair Debbie Chau also spoke to the multitude who had mobbed the margarita bars.

Bob Michitarian, Paul and friend

Aaron and Taylor manning the Taylor’s Tonics booth

Aaron Dolson, who is well-known as the guy who mounts the fine Tingel Tangel shows at Café du Nord, was manning a Taylor’s Tonics soda booth at the event. "Strong flavors" as a description for these tonics does not even come close, and the caffeine level had one stud saying that he was going to drink a couple cupfuls and take a guy he spotted up the street to Beck’s Motor Lodge.

Jessica Ridge, Erin Smith, and Jerime Black

Jessica Ridge, Erin Smith, and Jerime Black were pouring at the Barefoot Wine & Bubbly booth and sharing a rainbow feather boa. Barefoot is celebrating 20 years of support with San Francisco Pride and their continuing generosity was appreciated on Saturday afternoon.

A couple of the friendly margarita booth workers

Comic Marga Gomez was the headliner of the entertainers, and she was again a big stage success. Unfortunately the Rainbow Room’s heat again turned some guests around at the door, so they missed the performances. The food, the raffles, and the open bars made for a successful fifth anniversary for The Center.

Sue Rowley, Rebecca Rolfe and David Lynam

More photos can be seen at

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tenderloin Health’s Early Summer Sunset Cruise: A Cruise on the Bay for a Good Cause

Andy Chen and David L. Fernandez of Tenderloin Health with honorees Barbara Garcia and Amy Lyons

There was a beautiful sunset on San Francisco Bay for the guests on this year’s Tenderloin Health cruise near the Golden Gate Bridge on June 17. The Chardonnay Commodore glided across the water and then returned for a below deck ceremony, and it was an exciting change from past year’s penthouse soirées.

Tenderloin Health provides housing and social services to the Tenderloin District’s homeless, poor, and vulnerable residents with respect and compassion.

Host Geoffrey Grier showing his soap promoting the San Francisco Recovery Theatre

Host Geoffrey Grier expertly explained each speaker’s impact on Tenderloin Health’s clients and new executive director David L. Fernandez elaborated on the fine work of the staff and volunteers of the agency. Board chair Andy Chen elaborated on the need for additional funding considering the present financial situation. Poet Mark Myers, a client, read from his work and spoke about his future social work classes at City College, thanks to Tenderloin Health. Avantika Nath, a San Francisco Department of Public Health dentist spoke expansively about overcoming distrust of the clients and being able to help them at the agency office, instead of at an unfamiliar site.

Honoree Barbara Garcia is San Francisco’s Deputy Director of Health, and she oversees community programs and over 2,000 employees who work tirelessly to try to alleviate the ravages of homelessness and poverty. Amy Lyons accepted the honorary sculpture for the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, a charitable organization that supports improvement in the quality of life.

Avantika Nath and Zareh Amirkhanian

Though docked, the ship rocked during the ceremonies, so that honorees had to hold onto the microphone tightly for support, which drew knowing laughter from the guests who held onto each other.

Your American Original Eric Ward

Your American Original Eric Ward provided the songs and music with his combo toward the end of the evening as guests checked out the silent auction, and it evoked Las Vegas’ top lounge performances. His CD is an incredible collection of highly professional sounds and rhythms that is recommended.

There was a rush for the finale of the auction and then careful departures with assistance from the ship’s crew for those who enjoyed their wine, and there was all-around agreement that Tenderloin Health outdid themselves this year to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

Troy Brunet and John Kiltinen

The Frameline Festival’s First Dramatic Week: Stunning Celluloid, a Protest, and Parties

Cindy Lu, Ben Wilson, Kitty Buick, and Marianne Falkner celebrate the opening of Frameline 34

Frameline 34, this year's San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, presents some of the best quality celluloid treats in years. The range of films screened for the press before the festival revealed some that should be seen even if there is a crush. And if they are missed they should be seen in theaters when shown commercially.

The opening night film "The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister" had something to offer for a wide range of tastes. Revelations included lesbian and contemporary women’s sexuality without apology in Regency era England, women living free from the domination of men, and a country setting instead of the usual stuffy London environment of British period pieces.

Frameline executive director K.C. Price, "The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister" producer L. Mark Bentley, actress Maxine Peake, director James Kent, producer R. Nick Kent, and Frameline festival director Jennifer Morris

The filmmakers and star were charming and generous with their time in the pre-show Green Room setting, in contrast with the anti-Israel protesters outside. They chanted loudly and pounded on drums and seemed uninterested in explaining their viewpoints, though they had some flyers to hand out.

Anti-Israel protesters outside the Castro Theatre

On the other side of the street barriers lesbians from the Jewish Community Federation and Congregation Sha'ar Zahav engaged passersby in conversations that included media reports about the Turkish radical group on one Gaza blockade-running ship who attacked Israeli soldiers with lethal weapons. And they explained that Israel is the only Middle-Eastern country with an openly LGBT military and government officials, and that LGBT Americans and locals must hide their orientations in Gaza and the West Bank.

Pro-Israel protesters outside the Castro Theatre

Frameline’s opening night party was in Golden Gate Park at the San Francisco Botanical Garden Society. Considering the multiple complaints about the "obscure location" and the buffet fare, a lot of patrons found their way out there and many went back for seconds of Fuzio pork sliders.

The Regency theme was engaged by wondrously costumed models from Dark Garden Apparel, and "Baby Jane?" star J. Conrad Frank was the striking fashion statement for the party and most of San Francisco that night.

"Baby Jane?" director John Lore, film fan Jim Oswald, and "Baby Jane?" star J. Conrad Frank

The "Curious Thing" short films were all very good and one was brilliant with its treatment of the perennial problem of straight and gay best friends veering emotionally toward a relationship crisis. This year’s "Fun in Girls’ Shorts" were more satisfying than the men’s program and the international men’s shorts. "The Golden Pin" Asian shorts were realistic, true-to-life experiences brought masterfully to the screen.

Of all the documentary films, "Uncle Bob" was the most innovative. Where else could a film subject’s relative be seen baring his emotions and body continually and with such power, and also channel someone so convincingly? This journalist knew Robert Opel, the subject, well and he would have been proud of his nephew’s creation.

"Children of God, "The Consul of Sodom," and "The String" are spellbinding, beautifully crafted films about gay men who will not accept a hidden, down-low position. Amazingly, "The String" is from Tunisia — not known to be a gay-friendly country.

Director Cheryl Dunye has done it again with her amazing, multi-layered and textured "The Owls." She guided a large diverse cast in one of the festival’s most unusual tableaus.

"8: The Mormon Proposition" is sure to unleash another spasm of hatred toward the Latter Day Saints — as guests packed into a house party in the film’s honor at the home of attorney Dave Tsai agreed.

When creative genius Bern Boyle founded what was to become the Frameline Festival 34 years ago, he could not have imagined the huge crowds and dozens of films, which is a world of difference from him and his friends’ videos listed on a single mimeographed page of paper. But the excitement then is echoed now, just immensely larger.