Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Amazing Week of Events: Jazz Piano, Homosexual Conspiracy, Debate Tension, and Savage Drag Comedy

Jazz pianist Tim Styles

It was an amazing week of jazz piano in a satellite café, a homosexual conspiracy book event, a supervisor election debate with much tension, and a savage drag comedy show.

Jazz pianist Tim Styles played the first of his two October nights at the Caffe Trieste on Market Street near Gough on Oct. 6. He played lively renditions of 30’s and 40’s hits for an attentive audience and was dressed as if he stepped out of a movie of that period. His future performances can be found at caffetriestedowntown.com. The Caffe Trieste on Market is a satellite of the famous iconic Caffe Trieste on Vallejo Street in North Beach that has inspired artists, poets, writers, composers, and politicos with its atmosphere and fine coffee for half a century. Poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, singers Tony Bennett and Chris Isaak, civil rights attorney Angela Alioto, and this journalist (since 1969) are regulars.

Sandra O. Noshi-Di'n't, comedy impresario Nick Leonard and author Larry-bob Roberts

Larry-bob Roberts introduced his book The International Homosexual Conspiracy at Modern Times Bookstore in the Mission on Oct. 7, and it was more than a compilation of his rants and raves from his holytitclamps.com website. It is a series of striking observations about mass taste and culture, and then a narrowing down into the depths and heights of queer tastes and behavior. Personal revelations from the all important source of the sfqueer.com events calendar also touch knowingly onto the reader, and there were nods of recognition at Roberts’ remarks. While much of the book relates to the unfortunate in “Annoying Personality Disorder” and “Anonymous (online) Cowards” but there is also the effervescent “Reasons to Live” section which exalts in: “The joy of love reciprocated. Fresh bread. An orgasm, whether self-administered or with the help of a friend. The pleasure of having created. A deep massage. These are a few of my favorite things.”

Scott Wiener, Rafael Mandelman and Bill Hemenger

The latest in a long series of San Francisco District 8 City Supervisor debates occurred on Oct. 8 at the Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy in the Castro. The unique feature was that the theme was for the candidates to describe how they related to the values and views of Harvey Milk. Milk had been the supervisor of much of what is now District 8, and his progressive views were more in line with his successor Harry Britt and current candidate Rafael Mandelman, and distant politically on many issues from present District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty and the three moderate candidates at the debate.

Three of the district’s neighborhoods are packed with mostly progressive voters, so if the progressive machine that placed four supervisor winners in the last election — including two in mostly conservative districts — get out the vote, Mandelman would win. This progressive machine election strategy was explained by candidate Scott Wiener’s consultant at a post-election political meeting. It would explain Mandelman’s buoyant optimism.

Candidate Scott Wiener has been tagged as dour but he managed to make a clever joke when he mentioned that no one wanted to answer the debate question about window displays of stores selling adult sexual items in the Castro. Wiener has enjoyed a beehive of activity in his campaign office and the endorsements of moderate newspapers and some right-wing organizations, but some of his support is based on an intense fear of a Mandelman victory.

Candidate Rebecca Prozan knows that she could do a good job as a supervisor, but seems frustrated that there are so many obstacles in her way. A secret poll or two place her in third place, but the polling is just a few hundred people with land line phones. She has the experience of working for Mayor Willie Brown and Supervisor Bevan Dufty and knows how to serve constituents.

Candidate Bill Hemenger reflected on his business background and agreed with Wiener on many of the issues discussed at the debate, including approval of the sidewalk sit/lie legislation.

The tension high point of the event was when Mandelman was asked if another candidate should not be supervisor. He said no. When Prozan was asked the same question at another debate she said that Mandelman should not be supervisor, which drew gasps mostly because of the geniality that had reigned and also because ranked choice voting leads candidates to at least pretend to be friendly to get second and third votes that could elect them in a close race.

Miss Coco Peru, Jackie Beat and Heklina

The Drag Queens of Comedy show at the Castro Theatre on Oct. 9 could have been more appropriately titled “The Un-PC Drag Comedy Show.” It was spectacular and there was some comedy, but there also was some racist "humor" from producer and performer Sasha Soprano, Shangela flaunted a stole made from three animals, and most of the jokes were caustic and aimed at small targets.

New York City’s Lady Bunny easily took the lead as the show’s star, and she received a sustained standing ovation for her explicit and sometimes shocking lip-syncing to her own versions of pop hits.

The other professional entertainer, Miss Coco Peru, hit heavily into political humor when she belted out that there was “marriage equality in Spain because they do not have Mormons there,” and that “the Mormons avoid coffee because it may sharpen their minds.”

Trannyshack producer Heklina of San Francisco had some glamorous moments during a screened montage and Jackie Beat heightened the savagery of the jokes.

There was a thrill that a lot of the audience felt with the “forbidden” comments from the stage, that they knew that they could not get away with much of what was said. Drag star Divine could have inspired much of the show with her outrageous screen and stage antics, and who can forget her in "Female Trouble" asking a crowd “Who wants to die for art?!” and then shooting a gun at them before they could answer or run out the door.

The drag stars greeted guests, cruised, and merchandised in the lobby afterwards, and there was an after party at Trigger, which was a great finale to an amazing week.

DJ Pinky Ring, show star Lady Bunny, and Puntanesca selling T-shirts, DVDs, and photo books in the lobby

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