Saturday, July 03, 2010

The Frameline Volunteer Appreciation Party: An Exuberant Spectacle to Thank Volunteers

Volunteers Star Dust and Gordie Nathan with Frameline board chair Thomas Matson.

In a city not known for its warmth, there were magic moments of surprise when Thomas Matson, the effervescent Board Chair of Frameline's San Francisco Int'l LGBT Film Festival, greeted and thanked each of the volunteers as they arrived at the Stud Bar on June 30.

Frameline hosted the volunteer appreciation party to honor the hardworking women and men who checked passes, guarded VIP seating, took tickets, cleaned up theaters between screenings, and even found themselves immersed in guests’ personal lives. Former lovers had to be separated with mini-arbitration, overzealous fans had to be pried from anxious filmmakers, and public bacchanals had to be discouraged. Festival films such as "The Consul of Sodom," with its explicit scenes, were bound to inspire acts of lust.

It was repeated enthusiastically by Matson throughout the evening that the festival could not operate without the efforts of its volunteers. Frameline knows how to treat volunteers, unlike some non-profits that make last-second emergency calls for help or have to turn away helpers from events that they've overbooked with volunteers. That expertise is thanks to Volunteer Coordinator Lares Feliciano. Another great asset is long-time press volunteer Ninfa Dawson who helps out with the festival’s public relations expert Karen Larsen.

The Stud Bar was known as a venue for artist Jerome Caja to dance on boxes to benefit ACT UP Classic during the 1990s and was the frenzied drag showcase for Heklina’s Trannyshack in the new millennium. The Stud's bartenders went out of their way at the party to generously serve free drinks.

Frameline Executive Director K.C. Price, Festival Director Jennifer Morris, and Sponsorship Associate Philip Walker worked their way through the crush, and Administration and Operations Director Desiree Buford wrangled the Fuzio pasta buffet for the multitude. Volunteer Coordinator Lares Feliciano joyously announced the raffle winners with Sam Berliner and Mariana Lopez, and then they cranked up the excitement for the highly-charged and competitive T-shirt contest.

Volunteers Dustin Smith and Jana Barber dancing during the T-shirt contest.

Sleek duo Jana Barber and Visual AID’s Dustin Smith ran away with the prize, with their carefully shredded shirts featuring lots of provocative skin peeking through the holes. They danced up a storm with their friend Conor Callahan and the other contestants and the prize was awarded by audience applause.

Volunteers Dustin Smith and Jana Barber at the instant that they won the T-shirt contest.

Notable annual volunteers included Star Dust, Raj Schnachtel, Ed Lim, James Poole, David del Rosario, and Gordie Nathan, who drank, ate, and casually checked each other out.

There was a exquisitely tasteful gift for each of the 150-plus guests — the soundtrack for the film "A Single Man" wrapped in a Frameline muscle shirt. It was agreed that the party was the kind of event that will be a fond memory to bring volunteers back to the festival for next year’s movie experiences.

Filmmaker Bern Boyle founded the festival as an all-volunteer organization 34 years ago, and the necessity of adding a paid bureaucracy to present a ten-day event has not diminished the thrill of seeing new LGBT movies with other film lovers.