Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Superb Week in San Francisco: Honoring Latino Heritage, a Harvest Banquet, and a Beer Bust

John Marez, Juan Dávila, Benjamin Bratt, and Erick Arguello

It was a superb week in San Francisco starting with honoring
Latinos and Latinas at City Hall, a Castro Country Club Harvest Banquet, and ending with a Leather Alliance Beer Bust.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom honored community leaders and organizations with Latino Heritage Awards at City Hall on Oct. 12. Numerous LGBT community members were honored, including Barbara García, Deputy Director of Health at the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH). She was recently named to succeed Mitch Katz, a gay man, as Director of the SFDPH. Lesbian Latina Dr. Sandra Hernández was also honored. She held the same job as Katz and García during some of the most torturous years of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. She is now the CEO of the San Francisco Foundation. This is her week for well-deserved recognition since she also was honored with a Shanti Project trophy on Oct. 13.

Juan Mendoza, John Marez, Alfredo Pedroza, Micheal Nava, and Miguel Bustos

There was noticeable excitement in the air that could only mean a major movie star. Actor Benjamin Bratt was honored with his brother writer/director Peter Bratt for their film La Mission — a story that deals with the Latino Mission and gay Castro scenes and does not exploit or degrade either experience. GLAAD’s John Marez and Aguilas’ Erick Argeullo and stunning Juan Dávila managed to stop Benjamin Bratt for a group photograph. Juan Mendoza, Alfredo Pedroza, Miguel Bustos, and Marez posed with Michael Nava, a gay Latino candidate for judge, while enjoying the entertainment at the crowded event in the City Hall rotunda.

Michael Brandon, Jodi Goldstein, and Terry Beswick

The Castro Country Club filled a room at the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church on Oct. 16 with more than 150 people for their Harvest Festival Banquet benefit. Controversy was averted when it was made clear that no rent was paid for the space. The Castro Country Club is a refuge for people seeking sobriety. It has occupied a building on 18th Street near Castro Street since 1983. The building is to be sold and the Keep the Steps in the Castro campaign — named for the club’s outside steps which are notorious for sunning and cruising — is underway to raise money for a down payment on the building.

The club saves lives and testimonials throughout the evening made its importance clear. Keep the Steps in the Castro campaign co-chair Terry Beswick worked with event coordinator Robbie Martin and silent auction organizer Jodi Goldstein to hopefully bring the building fund to the $100,000 mark.

The dinner was well executed by chef Jimmy Jardine, except for excessive pepper on the pepper steak. The waiters were excellently drilled by Maître d’ Frank G to outdo cater waiter acrobatic routines seen on "Will and Grace." The three-layer chocolate mousse truffle torte with wild berry compote was delicious and briefly distracted diners from staring at honored guest Michael Brandon, who is a champion charity fundraiser and provocative erotic film star and stage performer.

Robbie Martin, Billie Bertran, Ivy Drip, Terry Beswick, and Maître d’ Frank G

The other celebrity guest, Stu Smith, also a charity event fundraiser, enjoyed the company of his hunky partner Dave Earl. Speaker Billie Bertran was personally revealing and then gave a $500 check to Beswick, which drew applause.

DJ Robbie Martin spoke about his recovery and welcomed the San Francisco District 8 City Supervisor candidates, joking that they were seated far apart to avoid a food fight. At that point a table mate exclaimed, “It is the dirtiest campaign I have ever seen!” Candidate Rebecca Prozan worked the room and Scott Wiener made sure that he was seen smiling. Rafael Mandelman stayed for dinner with a group of supporters and campaign workers.

Impossibly cute and talented lyric pianist Paoi Ernest played his interpretations of Top 40 hits, and he actually calmed some of the more obviously agitated diners. The evening’s enigmatic MC Ivy Drip table-hopped and encouraged contributions to the club at the successful dinner, which drew to a close after multiple double non-alcoholic Sangría fizzes.

Leland Carina, Melissa Kennedy, Mirae Bouysson, and Kate McKinley

The San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance staged a beer bust at the Eagle Tavern on Oct. 17 with the handicap of a morning rain. Seattle and Portland denizens laugh heartily at Bay Area party types who do not go out on a rainy day, but it is a fact that even a morning sprinkle will depress attendance at events all day and evening. The San Francisco girls of Leather worked the grill and food line, and President Leland Carina, VP Kate McKinley, and members Melissa Kennedy and Mirae Bouysson represented their club well. Ms Tracey Wolf of The Exiles joined The Defenders’ Jim Remer, Alameda County Leather Corps’ Mark Ingram, and Independent Jim Sullivan at the front door, greeting guests and receiving their beer bust contributions. The Eagles’ bartender and resident Leather Daddy Gary Kenyon came from behind the bar to give the crew a pep talk and the men had a chance to check him out.

The Alliance is a coalition of twelve leather, motorcycle, and fetish organizations that enjoy the bonding and camaraderie that comes with being with others who are fulfilled by volunteering. President Dahn Van Laarz, who is a primal leatherman who wears only a heavy neck chain and black leather shorts and boots to demand attention as he coordinates SOMA fair booths, intuitively draws the best out of the Alliance members.

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