Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Week of Wonderful Events: Erotic Films, Art Auctions, Anita Bryant, and a Leather Brunch

Lady Bear and Hugz Bunny

The 5th Annual Good Vibrations Indie Erotic Film Festival began with a bang on Sept. 23. Uninhibited entertainers wearing very little clothing danced and pranced at the Castro Theatre mezzanine before the erotic films were screened. Some of the Castro’s habitually naked guys were there, but were not recognized with their clothes on. The VIP party of over 100 people was overwhelmingly female, and the fashions ranged from glamor to fetish.

Peaches Christ

The film judging was unusual even by San Francisco film festival standards. Drag filmmaker and midnight movie icon Peaches Christ appeared on stage wearing a bizarre Spanish outfit, and she was joined by Lady Bear in bright yellow and black and Hugz Bunny in scarlet. They situated themselves on stage in movie set chairs before a crowd of over 600 and announced that they were to be “the judging bitches” and then Good Vibration’s Carol Queen was introduced as the “nice judge.” Each of the twelve films was screened and then the lights were switched back on the stage for the judges’ comments, which ranged from wanting to commit oral sex acts on film actors to announcements of an after party at the Lookout. Gay men savored the multiple male-on-male sex acts, including impossible fantasy positions in “The Filth Element” that included Seattle’s Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

While the films were being screened there was a benefit for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) and the Imperial Council of San Francisco at Trigger Lounge. The Imperial Council’s Empress XXX Donna Sachet hosted the soirée with NGLTF’s Sydney Andrews, Russell Raybal, and David Alexander. An appearance by primal Julian Marshburn reminded everyone that our community also has its sexy champion fundraisers who draw the affluent donors.

Art for AIDS benefit for the UCSF AIDS Health Project

The Art for AIDS benefit for the UCSF AIDS Health Project was held at the Galleria on Sept. 24. While auctioneer Patrick Walsh worked the stage, a silent auction continued around the edges of the vast room. The Castro was represented among the artists by Greg Cassin, who again used a religious theme in his work, and there was a nude male torso drawing by Ytaelana Lopez. The female nudes were subtle, except for a beach photograph by Jock Sturges. There was a popular moist cake passed around on the first floor and the VIP mezzanine’s culinary highpoint was the dim sum of Chef Marc Passetti of the famous Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel.

Art for AIDS benefit for the UCSF AIDS Health Project

In contrast to the careful nudes and self censorship by LGBT artists and photographers at the Art for AIDS show, the San Francisco Leather Daddies and Boys presented their erotic art auction on the same evening at the Eagle Tavern. The drawings, paintings, and photographs displayed a panorama of extreme sex acts and kinky fetishes. Master auctioneer Tom Rodgers worked the mostly leather-clad crowd mercilessly to raise funds for Visual AID. Greatly missed Scott O’Hara was spotted performing auto-erotically on a signed poster, and the works of Hun and Rex were also auctioned. Visual AID’s executive director Julie Blankenship mixed comfortably with leather daddies Tom Rodgers, Patrick Batt, Steve Gaynes, and Glen Tanking to present the twelfth annual auction to benefit people with illnesses and disabilities who want to continue their art creation.

Auctioneer Tom Rodgers

Visual AID volunteer Spike Lomibao with executive director Julie Blankenship

New Conservatory Theatre celebrated the opening of “Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins” on Sept. 25 with champagne, mimosas, and delicious San Francisco-style cheesecake. The cast and directing by Dennis Lickteig was excellent, and it is a complex and emotional story telling of coming out during the Viet Nam War era. Michael Doppe was a standout as the erratic gay country boy and Marie O’Donnell beautifully handled a transformation from homophobic to caring mother. Tom Orr and David Bicha shocked, surprised, and pleased the after show reception guests with songs from their “Dirty Little Showtunes” show which opens Dec. 3.

New Conservatory Theatre executive director Ed Decker, impressive star Michael Doppe, and Marie O'Donnell, who superbly played his mother

Donna Sachet presented her annual Pre-Folsom Street Fair brunch on Sept. 26 at her Imperial Palace. And again it was a mass turnout of the Leather/S&M fetish elite. Women and men title-holders, leather daddies, leather boys, and the people vital to Sachet’s charity functions stopped by for a gourmet brunch and luscious berry-laden cheesecake. Hunky bartenders at the open bar and efficient chefs served the guests the sustenance they would need for walking the SOMA blocks. The sexual tension level shot up every time someone unzipped their leather pants or chaps and yanked them off or pulled off their rubber hip boots to expose a leather jockstrap. Many of the men felt more exposed than usual but the 90 degree heat demanded some stripping. The house party ended as a migration of impertinent bare buttocks paraded down Castro Street.

Sexy Drew with sexy Donna Sachet

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Conversations at the Museum of the African Diaspora: Past Pain and the Difficult Path to Future Empowerment

Ericka Huggins and Ronald K. Porter

The 25th Anniversary Conversations Across Generations “Stirring the Waters, Fanning the Flames” was the first event of the silver anniversary speaker series of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Historical Society (GLBTHS). It was partnered with the Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD) in a comfortably cool room on a scorching hot day at MOAD’s Mission and 3rd street location on Sept. 25.

One of San Francisco’s newest museum, the Museum of the African Diaspora traces all of humankind’s origins to Africa through that continent’s culture, art, and history. The diaspora of Africans was powerfully and painfully displayed on a slave trade map on the wall behind the speakers on stage.

Presenter Ronald K. Porter exclaimed his pleasure that the majority of the 60-plus person audience were people of color. Porter is a University of California at Berkeley doctoral candidate in social and cultural studies in education. He was in conversation with acclaimed activist, former political prisoner, and author Ericka Huggins, who was a leader of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and currently is an educator who teaches at three schools.

Ronald K. Porter

Porter began the discussion relating a conversation with his cousin that shocked him because his relative could not conceive of an openly-gay African-American leader like Bayard Rustin who worked with Martin Luther King. Both he and Huggins spoke about the deliberate suppression of information about the activism of both African Americans and LGBTs throughout history, especially when the activists are queer and people of color.

Porter spoke emotionally of reading through the archived personal papers of a deceased Black author and discovering that gay love letters had been removed. A desperate need for family respectability had ruined the preservation of a valuable historical resource, and he said that 1920’s magazines with gay themed articles by famed authors such as Langston Hughes were suppressed.

Ericka Huggins

Huggins strongly expressed her view that the BPP not only invented the first charter schools, but also provided food, education, legal assistance, and help for prisoners and parolees. She mentioned that there was and still is a misinformation campaign about the BPP and its ability to give empowerment to people with lower incomes and to challenge the abuses of law enforcement. She also mentioned that she was an open lesbian in the BPP and there were other lesbians also, but that she did not know of any gay men.

This journalist spoke with Huggins after the Q&A about an Oakland Gay Liberation Front meeting that he attended in the early 1970s that was visited by Black Panther Party members who invited the gays to the upcoming BPP convention in Washington, D.C. The BPP’s 19-year-old office manager outed himself at that meeting, much to the surprise of everyone.

Racism in the LGBT community and homophobia in the African-American community was discussed during the Q&A. Huggins said that it will be difficult and uncomfortable for people to join together to talk about racism and homophobia to make changes, but that it has to be done. She hoped that young people would make that effort. She also spoke about the courage of the first inter-racially married couples fighting for legality and she related her disappointment about the unappreciated accomplishments of women of color such as Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Angela Davis, and Dolores Huerta.

Porter has known Huggins for five years and when they first met he asked if she could connect him with other Black gay men, and now that he has met many of them in the Bay Area he still feels that he would be involved in more of a community on the East Coast. There was a disagreement between Porter and Huggins about which LGBT couples wanted to be married, and Porter’s experience was that lower-income queer couples did not seek marriage vows. And Porter needed to assure an audience member that he did not feel that Black people were so damaged that there was no hope in the future for them.

The centerpiece of the event was a back and forth discussion about Huey P. Newton’s memo to the BPP that homosexuals had been discriminated against and that it was unfair. Huggins said that there had been talk about LGBTs before Newton’s memo, but that its issuance was still monumental. Newton evidently wanted sexuality to be talked about and that memo can be seen as an extension of Black revolutionaries’ feeling of solidarity with other oppressed people during the Viet Nam War era.

The GLBTHS’ executive director Paul Boneberg was introduced to the throng just before they mobbed Huggins and Porter to express their admiration and support for their activism.

The GLBTHS is presenting their annual Masked Ball Gala on Oct. 28. See for information.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Castro Country Club Benefit: A Triple Helping of Leslie Jordan for a Good Cause

Crispin Hollings, Leslie Jordan and Terry Beswick

More than 150 supporters of the Castro Country Club converged on Everett Middle School in San Francisco on Sept. 19 to view the film “Sordid Lives” and enjoy an appearance by talented, openly-gay stage, film, and TV star Leslie Jordan, who has been performing all week at the Rrazz Room at the Hotel Nikko.

The event was a fundraiser for the Castro Country Club’s “Save the Steps” campaign, necessitated by the building’s impending sale. The mentioned steps are in front of the club and are a major center for socializing and cruising in the Castro neighborhood, continuing the tradition of local gay street culture that started in the early 70s.

The club has been a safe haven for people in recovery for addictions for over 27 years and it saves lives. Fundraising chairs Crispin Hollings and Terry Beswick have been working to raise more than $80,000 and they hoped to break the $100,000 barrier on Sunday evening.

The show started when Hollings introduced California State Senator Mark Leno. Leno began a subtle fundraising drive when he confided to the audience that he was increasing the amount of money of his own pledge.

The screening of the "Sordid Lives" overcame its lighting and sound limitations with its outrageous, picaresque, country characters. Like with the TV show “Mama’s Family,” the mostly citified and non-Southern audience member was laughing along with the characters as each loony situation unfolded. Jordan's performance is a must-see, and he has a genius for intuitively interacting with other actors.

The movie covered uncomfortable territory for many with dysfunctional families, and the all too familiar modern folk tale of the handsome country boy who moves to the big city, loses his accent, gets into show business, and then comes home to come out — even as family members feverishly try to change the subject. The audience laughed through much of the film and yelled out and screamed at some of writer Del Shore’s best comedic material.

Leslie Jordan

Hollings then introduced Jordan and there was a well-earned standing ovation. His stage show was hilarious, XXX-rated, obsessively revealing, and its viewpoints and experiences had a deliciously funny but caustic edge.

Leslie Jordan

The show ended with another standing ovation, a Q&A, and a VIP party at Home Restaurant. Jordan was warm and gracious as guests inched up to him to express their admiration and join him for photographs. Unlike most VIP parties where wine and cocktails are furiously being imbibed before the open bar closes, the restaurant staff did a fine job of continually filling glasses with ice water and iced tea. Home presented their quality buffet of macaroni & cheese, burgers, and incredible fudge brownies — and guests lined up for seconds.

The event was a triple helping of Leslie Jordan and he mentioned that his link with the club is a past addiction problem.

For more information about the Castro Country Club and its fundraising drive, visit

Crispin Hollings, Leslie Jordan and Terry Beswick

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Three Queer Cultural Events in Three Hours: A San Francisco Artgasm

Larry-bob Roberts, Michelle Tea and V. Vale

Three uniquely San Francisco queer events happened in three hours on Wednesday Sept. 15. The Radar Reading Series, the Fringe Festival, and Smack Dab all presented events for large crowds, with special appeal for LGBT audiences. It was an artgasm and a pleasure for people who feel deprived of public culture that has creative intellect.

The first event of the evening was an unusually rich literary happening at the San Francisco Main Library. Hostess Michelle Tea has presented her Radar Reading Series for over six years, and she has conquered one of the major obstacles of audience participation by bribing questions out of the throng with gourmet cookies during the Q&A. Pungent chocolate confections from Tartine Bakery were an immediate lure for interaction. Eileen Myles, Larry-bob Roberts, Gina Gold, and V. Vale were the featured authors, and each had a revelatory form of work that drew the audience into the moment while they read.

Michelle Tea and Larry-bob Roberts

Eileen Myles is considered a cult figure of fiction and non-fiction works. Her book “The Importance of Being Iceland” delves into that country’s art, poetry, and not-so-hidden queer identity. She was on a book tour and the audience was happy that she could be in San Francisco.

Larry-bob Roberts introduced his new book “The International Homosexual Conspiracy” which is a collection of his rants and raves about our bizarre modern culture and clever LGBT adaptations to it. It is bound to be waved from pulpits at rapturous, fundamentalist tent shows. Yoko Ono fans and Björk crazies were shredded during his presentation and Judy Garland worshippers were degraded.

Gina Gold is a controversial improv performer who has few boundaries about her personal sex life and her stripping career. Who knew that guys wearing just sneakers and Nixon masks pleasure themselves while watching the dancers perform?

V. Vale tried writing but he discovered that interviewing is his forte. He screened a couple unusual face-to-face encounters for the library audience, including one with a lesbian body-modification pioneer.

Ryan Hayes as Walt Whitman

For the second event of the evening, a couple dozen curious people gathered at the new plaza at 17th and Market Street in the Castro to see Ryan Hayes perform his one-man show "Boys Together Clinging: The Gay Poetry of Walt Whitman." Academics in the audience were electrified — here was the physical manifestation of Whitman in his twenties, shouting out his homoerotic "Calamus" poems 150 years after they were written. Hayes jumped up on a footlocker to wildly gesture and then ambled into the crowd to hold the hand of a young man and speak emotionally of men joining together while eye-locking his new fan. His show was one of the better parts of the San Francisco Fringe Festival.

Marvin K. White

The final cultural event was the monthly Smack Dab open mic at Magnet, with Oakland author Marvin K. White as the featured performer. White is an arts event coordinator and former member of Pomo Afro Homos, the breakthrough queer African-American stage show. White read stridently from his work, increasing the tempo and cadence of his voice with a climax of his popular poem “I Want to Make Black History With You” which is a manifestation of two black men complementing and bonding on an extremely intense level. He received loud sustained applause and it was the perfect finale to a bountiful night.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Commemoration of 9/11 at Harvey Milk Plaza: The Show Tolerance Not Hate Rally

Activist Kelly Hart

A small but enthusiastic group of activists marked the nine years since the terrorist attacks on 9/11 on the evening of Sept. 11 at Harvey Milk Plaza in the Castro for a "Show Tolerance and Not Hate Rally." Coordinator and MC Kelly Hart emotionally began the event as the audience crowded around him in the rapidly fading light. Even a succession of his jokes did not lessen Hart’s intensity, and he is the kind of narrowly focused and driven marriage activist that has made it possible for marriage equality to be successful as a mass movement.

Activist Kelly Hart

Hart is the founder of POZ Activist Network, he is a member of the AIDS Care Planning Council, he was a chapter leader for Marriage Equality USA, he was on the San Francisco Pride Board, and he is active in the “Do I Look Illegal?” opposition to the Arizona racial profiling law.

The first speaker was Rev. Karen Oliveto from Glide Memorial Methodist Church and the Pacific School of Religion. She is on the Glide ministry team that provides health services, job training, affordable housing, and nearly a million free meals a year.

Rev. Roland Stringfellow

The Rev. Roland Stringfellow, Director of Ministerial Outreach from the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry from the Pacific School of Religion spoke next. He works to have political activists join with people of faith to do outreach to misguided religious people to alleviate the demonization of LGBT citizens.

Activist Jack Fertig

Jack Fertig of Muslims for Progressive Values and Al-Fatiha (an international organization for LGBT Muslims) spoke with his characteristic sarcastic tone to point out that the fringe Christian pastors such as Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, and Fred Phelps of Topeka, Kansas, help LGBT’s by linking their extremist remarks with the hate speech of religious figures who say they love LGBTs, but condemn same-sex coupling, and denigrate marriage and job equality.

Activist Andrea Shorter

Andrea Shorter, who is the Deputy Director of Marriage and Coalitions at Equality California, also spoke. She pointed out that the rally was at Harvey Milk Plaza, and that Milk stood for tolerance, diversity, and most of all hope. Shorter is the president of the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women.

There were discussions later nearby about why more people did not join the throng on Sept. 11 and ENDA rally on Sept. 9. The statement from many has been that this is a post-activism era where even the most avid rally and protest participants — college students — are not to be seen. They are spotted shopping and buying and selling online, and increasingly getting in touch with their bodies on bicycles and in yoga classes. This is also evident among the mass of LGBT’s who used to show up in large numbers for the various events but are now on eBay on their phones and showing off new bikes and yoga mats on the streets.

The media reported that sex workers, massage therapists, and psychiatrists saw a huge increase in clients after 9/11, and that could explain where a lot of people have found themselves. Submerging oneself in extra hours of sex, body manipulation, and tranquilizers could take the edge off of a need to get out into the plazas to protest.

There also were comments that people feel less safe now on Castro Street, due to recent published reports of horrific crimes and vandalism. The lack of a police presence is the first thing that some tourists say about the area, besides the sewer smell coming from the Walgreens parking lot. The only obvious on-the-street deterrent since the death of the Patrol Special’s Jane Warner is the armed guard in front of Bank of America and an occasional patrol car.

Event speakers Jack Fertig, Rev. Karen Oliveto, Rev. Roland Stringfellow, Kelly Hart and Andrea Shorter

The anniversary of 9/11 brought out feelings of sorrow and helplessness in some people discussing the day later in cafés. Alternative publications said that TV commentator Dan Rather crying on David Letterman’s show after 9/11 was more about a wealthy, privileged person feeling fear for the first time, something that poor people feel every day in their dangerous neighborhoods and at their dangerous jobs. That fear may have had something to do with 9/11 rally attendance.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Labor Day Weekend Fun in the Castro and SOMA: Parties, Barbecues and Election Drama

Jake Berkowitz and Naomi Akers at the St. James Infirmary beer bust at the Eagle Tavern

There were multiple festive parties and barbecues — and election drama unique to San Francisco — during the Labor Day holiday weekend in San Francisco's Castro and South of Market (SOMA) neighborhoods.

Drag icon Cookie Dough hosted a "New Whoreleans or Bust" pre-Big Easy party at the Lookout in the Castro on Sept. 2 to benefit the performers who wanted to join the more affluent Trannyshack drag stars in New Orleans. A big raucous crowd dived into the Jell-O shots being sold by Mercy Fuque and enjoyed Lady Bear and Holy McGrail’s lip-synched songs. The raffle prizes were erotica-themed and a bartender sauntering through the bar in just overalls and sneakers added to the excitement. Trannyshack’s Heklina and Bearracuda’s Rentecca (“The Filthiest Person Alive”) will be at future New Whoreleans Thursday parties. Cookie Dough, to the delight of her punk and millennium clone fans, is running full throttle for Grand Duchess.

Hostess Cookie Dough and Mercy Fuque

Lime’s marvelous hors d’oeuvres and champagne set the mood for former San Francisco Emperor John Weber’s birthday party on Sept. 4, and Weber warmly greeted his guests as they swarmed into the lounge. Delicious mini-burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches joined distinctive deviled eggs on the bar and were matched well to inventive cocktails.

The drama of two elections converged at Weber’s party: the Grand Ducal Court charity organization is having their election on Sept. 18 and the San Francisco District 8 city supervisor election is Nov. 2.

Rebecca Prozan, Christopher Humphries, John Weber and Jason Husted

Grand Duke candidate Jason Husted and Grand Duchess candidate Ana Mae Coxxx were subtle as they worked the room. Husted is young and eager to please and is glowing with a new romance with Christopher Humphries, who also is a champion charity fundraiser. District 8 city supervisor candidates Rebecca Prozan and Rafael Mandelman introduced themselves in the chic space and agreed to pose together for photographs with the birthday guy.

Weber and some of his guests lip-synched and danced through the lounge for the pleasure of his friends and the thrilled young straight couples in the back. Then the throng paraded down Market Street from Lime for the second half of the party at Greg Bronstein’s other popular lounge, Trigger.

The San Francisco Leather Daddy’s Boy Contest was on stage at the Eagle on Sept. 4 with a large happy audience, and sexy Powerhouse manager Scott Peterson was a friendly but demanding judge. Hunky Adam Schwenk won and he thanked everyone profusely.

The first of two packed beer busts at the Eagle Tavern occurred on Sept. 5 when the St. James Infirmary sex worker clinic hosted the kind of beer and soda spectacle that has made the Eagle infamous worldwide. The St. James Infirmary takes care of sex workers’ medical needs and empowers them by letting them know that people care about their lives.

Derrick Hanson and Todd Quackenbush at the Eagle Tavern

Hundreds of primal men surged around each other, cruising, touching and making contact, with some women acquaintances looking on. A bountiful comfort food buffet was presented with sausages, hot dogs and fried chicken. Raffle prizes included a three-day weekend at the Russian River Resort in Guerneville.

Sultry erotic-film star Derrick Hanson and Todd Quackenbush sold raffle tickets and Sister maeJoy Bee withU and Becky Dukes joined clinic executive director Naomi Akers and tempting Jake Berkowitz to welcome people to the sex-charged event for a good cause. District 8 city supervisor candidate Rafael Mandelman showed up with a group of young energetic supporters to educate undecided voters.

Candidate Rafael Mandelman (second from left) with campaign supporters

On Labor Day, Sept. 6, Barbecue Master Dan worked the grill at the Eagle. Adventurous single horndogs and lover tag-teams had their last chance before the holiday weekend was over to meet up with guys they communicated with on Grindr and hookup websites.