Thursday, January 27, 2011
Tammy Faye Bakker Messner’s and Jim Bakker's son Jay introduced his new book "Fall to Grace" at Borders Bookstore near San Francisco’s Union Square on Jan. 24, and almost every seat was filled by eager fans and curious book fanciers.
Jay Bakker is the charming and dynamic minister of the Revolution Church based in Brooklyn, New York, after its move there from other American cities. Some LGBT fans of his mother were there to exchange stories about how much she meant to them in overcoming adversity, and others were there to thank him for basing his message on nonjudgmental inclusiveness. Bakker revealed that he joins Mel White’s Soul Force to visit conservative religious schools to dialogue with students and faculty because he feels that the current extreme antagonism against LGBT rights must be dealt with by ongoing communication.
Bakker’s family scandal erupted when he was a pre-teen. He turned to alcohol and drugs to deaden the pain and then cleaned himself up and began to serve the ignored and despised when he founded the Revolution ministry.
Bakker was entertaining when he spoke about seeking to discuss inclusion with major evangelical ministers all over the country. He even believes enough in liberal goals to conduct a gay marriage. Bakker is against mixing politics with religion because he thinks subjects such as abortion and homosexuality are too divisive to discuss civilly with a religious aspect attached to them.
His publicity photograph resembles the close-up portrait style of artist David Hockney. Bakker said that he has been mistaken for a young bear and that he has attracted primal gay bears. In reality he is a gay ally who has a tattooed-and-pierced punk look and thinks he has Marlon Brando’s mystique from the film "The Wild One."
Borders Union Square is a huge, handsome four-story book palace with someone reading or computing in every lounge chair. Seattle’s Best has a café in the store and two attractive, cruising young men at a front table could have also been seen at the Castro’s Café Flore.
Sales Manager Jason Jeffries introduced Bakker with the fine sound system and he encouraged the guests to join in on the Q&A and to buy a signed book.
The Evangelical Network’s Ed Ness, who is gay, had a crew with him to interview Bakker, and they spoke about their experiences at the recent Marriage Equality rally on the San Francisco federal courthouse steps.
The bookstore audience gave Bakker a loud, enthusiastic reception and made it clear that his practice of welcoming and offering unconditional love to a subculture of people rejected elsewhere because of their appearance and personal lives struck a chord with them. There was a long line to buy books and Bakker was generous with his time when he spoke to each person even though he was exhausted after a long book tour that ended in San Francisco.
The biggest news in 23 years for Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) happened on Jan. 22 in San Francisco's Mission district. An enormous white edifice took supporters’ breath away when they approached the grand opening party, and many stopped and stared while thinking of the previous seven less-suitable locations of the organization. Lots of dogs on leashes were also eager guests at the event, and treats for them and for the cats who no one dared to bring, were provided.
The food and other pet supplies are housed in a huge warehouse space and smiling food bank manager Prado Gomez was at the counter. There also is an inviting clinic treatment space and multiple offices, Striking enormous cat paintings by Chuck Bierwirth adorn the walls. An anxious dog owner said that the artwork was too cat-sided, but he was coolly chastised for complaining about an event that was so canine-dominated.
PAWS executive director John Lipp received sustained boisterous applause for his vision and leadership and he in turn complimented the volunteers who made the move to the new space and the continuation of PAWS possible. CA State Senator Mark Leno brought a proclamation. Former District 8 City Supervisor Bevan Dufty and current District 9 City Supervisor David Campos had a good-natured verbal duel about the PAWS headquarters moving from the Castro to the Mission.
Lipp spoke with enthusiasm to guests about the cost-saving that the new location afforded so that direct services for clients and pets will be possible. Some clients were tearful when they described how PAWS had enriched their lives with a pet and with support by delivering pet food after they had become physically challenged. The PAWS blog has similar touching stories.
Thousands of people have volunteered and received services form this organization in a city appropriately named for Saint Francis of Assisi, the lover and caregiver of animals. The next 23 years of PAWS are guaranteed to be even better at the exceptional new location.
PAWS is located in San Francisco at 3170 23rd St.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Black leather in San Francisco's Hayes Valley? That was a question that drew curious regulars and new customers to Marlena’s popular drag bar to check out the tenth Mr. Hayes Valley Leather Contest on Jan. 22.
A swarm of leathermen, and some women, squeezed into the watering hole that usually is known for a mix of LGBT locals, their friends, and tourists in casual barhopping wear. The high energy of the leather aficionados created a beguiling, sexually-tense atmosphere over Hayes Valley.
Marlena’s has been open for 21 years and its namesake Marlena — who is a philanthropist, a former San Francisco Empress, and a leatherman — has fashioned an environment that welcomes the diversity of the newly rejuvenated neighborhood.
The bar is also known for its glorification of the Imperial Court of San Francisco with its magnificent wall displays of artwork, photographs, and jewelry of one of the leading charities in the United States.
Seven years ago, Ray Tilton and Sandy "Mama" Reinhardt suggested to Marlena that a leather contest would enhance the bar, raise much-needed funds, and bring new thrills to the neighborhood.
This year’s impressive winner was J.B. Kern, who is single and serious about S&M sex. He enjoys the hospitality of Marlena’s exciting bartenders and their stiff, quickly served cocktails.
Jay Harcourt (Mr. Hayes Valley Leather 2005), J.B. Kern (Mr. Hayes Valley Leather 2011), Sean Kline (Mr. Hayes Valley Leather 2006), Rik Lopes (2011 runner-up), and host Marlena
Runner-up Rik Lopes, and the other stimulating contestants Lex King and Kelly Rivera Hart drew guys close to them on the crowded sidewalk after the contest finale. Striking Hart is as aggressive in his leather life as he is in his political activism and he did not hesitate to make a primal invitation to the newly chosen Kern, mentioning his king-size bed.
The panel of demanding judges included former Mr. Hayes Valley Leather Sean Kline, Mr. SF Leather Lance Holman, former Miss SF Leather Queen Cougar, former Mr. SF Leather Ray Tilton (who had two man pups growling at his feet), and Leather Daddy Jason Ladd. Lenny Broberg, a former International Mr. Leather, did another fine job of MC’ing.
High-quality leather hats, belts, and other well-crafted items were available from Paul Johnson of Off Ramp Leathers at the back of Marlena’s doomed smoking lounge. Johnson generously provided the contest with their winner’s leather patch, which is traditionally attached to a leather jacket or vest.
The beneficiary of this year's event was Magnet. Beguiling redheaded stud Jay Harcourt, a board member at Magnet and a former Mr. Hayes Valley Leather, was thankful for the $500 that was raised. Harcourt’s quote from the 2009 contest still rings true: “The title holders are a group of friends that has become a family, and there is a change in their lives for the better because we work together on fundraising. And it comes from the top down from Marlena, who has made a commitment to the community to help out Magnet and improve peoples’ lives.” Magnet is the medical and cultural center of the Castro and serves over 9,000 men a year.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
The Bay Area is a central location for people who appreciate German high culture which celebrates high-quality cinema, art, music, theater, science, and philosophy. The first year of the German Gems Film Festival in 2010 was a success, so much admired festival coordinator Ingrid Eggers moved forward for a weekend of new German cinema at the Castro Theatre from Jan. 14–16. The films drew large crowds that made clear their approval for the German films, and intelligent questions were a welcome challenge to the filmmakers during the Q&A’s.
Eggers is the former Goethe Institut (the German cultural center that is in cities worldwide) powerhouse who founded the Berlin and Beyond Film Festival and she has a fine eye for the best movies that she views on her travels to Germany.
The opening night feature was “Mahler on the Couch” which is an unusual film that portrays two monumental intellectual giants of the last century — psychiatrist Sigmund Freud and composer Gustav Mahler — when Mahler sought Freud’s help to deal with his brilliant, adulterous wife.
The Castro Theatre’s mezzanine was the site of the opening night party where again Walzwerk — the German restaurant that serves East German cuisine with camp overtones — offered taste treats. There was also vodka and caviar, and surprisingly, pizza. Guests could wonder how far Bavaria extends into Italy to produce German pizza.
Director and producer Bjoern Richie Lob, who is a German river surfer, showed up with his film “Keep Surfing” and a huge red surf board. His sport could spread from Munich to American rivers after they check out his unique movie.
Transcendental Meditation was examined in David Sieveking’s film “David Wants to Fly.” The filmmaker revealed that though the process works to relax and alter consciousness for some people, there are alternatives. Tech scientist and inventor Mitch Altman was one of the audience members who asked Sieveking probing questions about his movie during the Q&A.
Charming and handsome music composer Sami Hammi fielded questions about the closing night film “Mountain Blood (Bergblut),” which he scored. The film is a stupendous costume drama about the hopeless fight for Tyrolean independence in the early 19th century.
Gay men were thankful for views of the splendor of attractive lead actor Wolfgang Menardi’s body, though he did not shower under a waterfall. The film belonged to the women, led by actress Ina Birkenfeld who played a difficult role with ease.
Stunning Tyrolean mountains, woods, and waterfalls were a vivid treasure of “Mountain Blood” and the production values of every part of the film were first class. The shocker of the evening was when it was revealed that this is filmmaker Philipp J. Pamer's first film and that it was his graduation project!
Karen Larsen and her crew members from Larsen Associates, Leo Wong and Ani Klose, wrangled the media and got fine results for their work. There was sustained applause throughout the festival for coordinator Eggers, and also for her generosity when she invited everyone to the last screening for free.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Hosts John Weber and Donald Cooper presented a wondrous charity tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. at Trigger in San Francisco on Jan. 15 that brought out the best of the LGBT community and its supporters. Trigger is one of the few bars or lounges in the Castro that features employees who are both attractive and friendly, and that is because owner Greg Bronstein would not have it any other way.
Event founder Weber not only spoke inspirationally, he also sang with conviction as he does throughout the year — and most notably on the back of a moving truck at Sandy "Mama" Reinhardt’s annual Leather Walk. He was joined by entertainers Cockatelia, Jason Brock, reigning Emperor Stephen Dorsey, Saybeline, and Frankie, among others.
The event was entitled “The Power of One” and it was the third and most successful production for charity. Each guest was persuaded to contribute money, a day of volunteer work, and non-perishable food for the needy.
The event was sponsored by HandsOn Bay Area, John Weber and Our Love, and Stop AIDS Project. Greatly admired Stop AIDS Project executive director Kyriell Noon was there to meet and greet, but he did not sing to the multitude.
The beneficiaries included Our Love, the SF LGBTQ Speakers Bureau, and the San Francisco Food Bank.
Sylvester Awards were given to Kyriell Noon, Bevan Dufty, and Bebe Sweetbriar.
Co-host Weber summed up the feeling of many at the party with remarks about the need to reach out to LGBT youth to help them deal with bullying issues and build their self-esteem. The charities that the event benefited can help to reach that goal.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Four new supervisors, the equivalent of city council members in other locales, were sworn in at San Francisco City Hall on Jan. 8 with low key ceremony and with some emotion. Scott Wiener, Jane Kim, Malia Cohen, Carmen Chu, and Mike Farrell were sworn in for four-year terms.
The first to speak in the grand Manchurian mahogany-paneled supervisors’ chambers was Mike Farrell, who said that he is a product of the Marina and that he had washed dishes on Chestnut Street. Pouting supporters of his effervescent opponent Janet Reilly were seen throughout the building. Reilly had expected to win with a coalition of conservative, moderate, and progressive voters, but she was another victim of ranked choice voting.
Jane Kim said that she was overwhelmed by the gathering of activists who helped her — all gazing at her — and she teared up. She spoke about starting out as a community organizer (like Barack Obama) in Chinatown, and that her goal is positive change. She also said that her forays into District 6’s environs made it obvious that though the district is diverse, its citizens want the same things.
Scott Wiener, who is one of two openly gay members of the board, thanked his aunt Leah for being a role model when she came out in the 1960’s, before “Will and Grace,” “Rosie O’Donnell,” and “Glee.” Wiener also thanked his parents, who live in the charming beach town of Margate, next door to Atlantic City, New Jersey. State Senator Mark Leno was thanked for mentoring him, and it was Leno who was heckled at the Wiener election night party at Harvey’s on Nov. 2 when he said and repeated that Wiener supports rent control. Conservative anti-renter guests made their views clear in the crush of mostly older gay white men who listened to Leno’s and Wiener’s comments on the stage.
Wiener made a point at the Saturday ceremonies of thanking his predecessors Bevan Dufty, Mark Leno, Harry Britt, and Harvey Milk, and he thanked his former boss City Attorney Dennis Herrera. Wiener ended his remarks by saying that though their politics are different, the made over board has common ground to work on transportation, pension and retirement reform, and job creation legislation.
Malia Cohen spoke emotionally about her encounter with Mayor Dianne Feinstein speaking to her school class when she was 16 about dedicating oneself to public service. Cohen said that she hoped that a woman would someday be board president and mayor again, and she said that she will encourage African Americans and Latinos to seek public office. The sight of some of her election opponents at City Hall led to her laughing remarks about “What a heck of a race it was” to run against 21 people, and she welcomed them to continue the dialogue for the betterment of District 10.
Carmen Chu said that she was thankful for not having an election opponent, and she thanked her staff and volunteers for feeding her after the ten-hour meeting that chose an interim mayor. Her parents were thanked for showing her what hard work was in their restaurant where Chu said that she ate a lot of egg rolls.
Supervisor Sean Elsbernd had hoped to be elected board president, but David Chiu was easily re-elected. Chiu asked the board to work together as a team.
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi declared that the board of supervisors “Is the most charming local government in the United States.” He said that all of the board has the best intentions and a love for the city of San Francisco, and that the board has led the nation in civil rights, the environment, and other issues.
Supervisor Wiener invited his constituents to a reception at his office after the swearing-in, where his family met his friends and supporters, and gay attorney Paul Henderson campaigned for district attorney from room to room. Fusion Lounge impresario Michael Costa was also there, advising Reese Isbel, who is running for co-chair of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club. Isbel, an aide to State Senator Mark Leno, joined Leno aide Anna Damiani to congratulate Wiener. Wiener welcomed his enthusiastic guests, and he was toasted with wine and sparkling cider.
There has been media musings that the new board will be less progressive than the last one, but surprises may be looming. Wiener was severely criticized for not being “tough enough” in his support for the Sit/Lie legislation by Castro District merchants, and both Kim’s and Cohen’s inside supporters alluded to their possible swerve to the left on certain issues.
Marga Gomez sold out two New Year’s Eve Comedy Spectacular shows to benefit Theatre Rhinoceros at the Victoria Theatre in the Mission on Dec. 31. She cleverly asked first for gays, then lesbians, and then bisexuals to applaud. Then she tailored her humor to match the audience’s majority of lesbians, and she told a series of intense vagina jokes.
The media was lavishly praised from the stage for its successful promotion, and Gomez had a lot to with it — with her hilarious responses to writers’ questions. One example was that she said that she had a rough 2010, spending three months on Facebook.
There are few hosts in the Bay Area as exuberant as John Fisher, who was also the show’s producer. His enthusiasm helped to dissipate the audible disappointment that occurred when he announced that opening act Casey Ley’s flight to San Francisco was blocked by a blizzard. Ley’s fine comedy is matched by his cute smile and uninhibited material.
Filipino-American comic Nico Santos was the last minute replacement for Ley, and he gave a lower energy array of jokes to the 7PM show than he gave to the 9PM show. He did receive loud laughs for his description of a Filipino Christmas cake that someone had scrawled “Happy Birthday Jesus” next to the candles.
The middle act was transsexual comic Natasha Muse who quickly mentioned the disparaging titles that have been attached to her that include: Lady Boy, She Male, and Shim. She said that she prefers to be called Natasha, which drew some laughs and clapping. Muse said that people find transsexuals interesting, especially right after they have had sex with her, and that a film favorite of hers is “300” which she said is gay porn masquerading as an historical movie.
Marga Gomez began her set by announcing that it was her 10th and final New Year’s Eve benefit for Theater Rhinoceros, and that she was “quitting at her sexual peak.” Her fantasy for the next New Year’s Eve is to be immersed in a bubble bath with young women twins.
Gomez was full of surprises, and she did not criticize Sarah Palin for her mindless reactionary politics and her denial of evolution (she speaks often of seeing a human footprint inside of a dinosaur’s at a creationist roadside “museum”), her gun-craziness, or her annoying sarcastic tone of voice when belittling liberals, but she savaged her for her spending $200,000 on campaign clothing.
Gomez’s continuing assault on the digital takeover of our lives manifested itself in this show when she thanked iconic entertainer and charity fundraiser Juanita More for her beautiful mailed holiday card, and trashed the sending of emailed greetings. And she delved into social commentary when she described the trendy gay party guys who have dumped their non-dancing lesbian friends, including Gomez, for straight women who have the same male body part interests and mood elevation tastes.
Then she introduced the event’s DJ who calls himself O’DJ, and pointed out that he volunteers his fine services for numerous non-profits. DJ O’DJ usually causes the most primal male lust because of his good looks and magnetism, but at this show his faux fur hat and vest that showed off his arms, and the sprayed-on silver pants caused a lust mixed with confusion.
Gomez has come a long way from her early shows at the Valencia Rose and Josie’s Juice Joint, where this journalist enjoyed her humor, and she will be starring in multiple future performances. Check out her website at margagomez.com.
Comics Casey Ley, Marga Gomez, and Natasha Muse promoting their New Years Eve Spectacular on Castro Street on December 18
Sunday, January 09, 2011
The Blackbird Bar was the intense vortex for the volunteers, staff, and supporters of San Francisco Supervisor District 8 candidate Rafael Mandelman on Jan. 6.
A crush of earthy under 30 year olds made up the majority of the party that consumed over one third of the space, with no one more than two feet away from each other, and all speaking heatedly about the recent campaign. By contrast the rest of the bar was full of other young people speaking quietly over cocktails in mostly male/female couples seated in the usual six foot distancing.
Carole Migden, of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, was excitedly speaking with the young politicos, and bisexual activist Maggi Rubenstein spoke to Matt Dorsey from the City Attorney’s office about his endorsements.
Popular restaurant La Méditerranée catered the soirée and a large box of Noe Valley Bakery’s excellent fruit rugelach pastry was emptied within minutes.
Mandelman emotionally thanked his campaign staff that included Stephany Ashley, Nathan Albee, Tim Durning, and Mitchell Lester. There was a cascade of applause for them from the throng.
Mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez defeated Gavin Newsom in the Castro District, but the extent of progressive ideology in the other District 8 neighborhoods in 2010 is still a subject of study. There were many activists that assumed that Mandelman would win and that he just had to get the district’s supposed majority of progressive voters to the polling stations.
Mandelman spoke loudly from a table top about Scott Wiener, the winner in the race, who began with a 20 point lead that was narrowed to five percent by election day. Mandelman said that he only lost Noe Valley by 250 votes, but it was pointed out that he had been the president of the Noe Valley Democratic Club, which should have given him a power base for victory.
Mandleman also spoke about Wiener’s greater name recognition and visibilty. While Mandelman had been elected to the Democratic Central Committee and serves as its vice chair, Wiener had been its chair, a co-chair of the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, a rescuer of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center while on its board, a president of the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association, a board member and honoree of the Human Rights Campaign, and a founder of the neighborhood self-defense organization Castro Community on Patrol.
Mandleman and his workers also were chastised for low-key campaigning by experienced political operatives such as Cleve Jones, while Wieners’ campaigners did not flinch from interrupting café and bar patrons to make a pitch. Neighbors of Mandelman said that they were not aware of his run for office, there was a scarcity of posted campaign signs and ironing board volunteers, and at one debate when every candidate spoke about job creation, Mandelman spoke about helping the homeless, which discouraged his more pragmatic fans.
Wiener campaign consultant David Latterman spoke fervently and often about Wiener as an unusual moderate candidate who actually was a neighborhood denizen, in contrast to such candidates as an Alioto who ran against board president David Chiu. And the progressive swarm of hundreds of activists that elected four of their kind to the previous board did not materialize in the numbers needed to sweep Mandelman into City Hall.
There will be future studies by political analysts to determine if negative mailers by the nurses’ union and tenant groups who favored Mandelman and negative mailers from the Wiener campaign helped or hurt their candidates, and the question of money, its sources and its usage will also be an obvious question for dissection.
There was a key moment at Mandleman’s bar event when a clipboard appeared. It was not the usual sign-up sheet for a street fair booth. The top of the page said District 8 Democratic Club, a new organization. This should send a cold chill down the necks of the district’s conservatives when they realize that Mandelman has doubled the size of his power base, and that his supporters are not joining the current post-activist trend.
Mandelman was demonized by his opponents’ fringes as another fanatical Fidel Castro who planned a radical left Havana-by-the-Bay, and now they will be agitated to learn that he continues to rally his supporters for future political action.
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
Hosts Jason Husted and Cookie Dough with contestants Sadisha Shimmers, Jazzmine Diamond-Leggz and Marco X. Middlesex
There was big, festive New Year’s Day opening for what San
Francisco’s LGBT community is known for — its generosity for charity fundraising.
The Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco’s Royal Baby Contest filled the quasi-blue collar Edge Bar in the Castro on Jan. 1 with glamorous drag queens that included Paloma Volare, Miso Hornay, Landa Lakes, and host Grand Duchess Cookie Dough. Handsomely attired San Jose Emperor Casey Jones, Royal Daddy George Langford and his Daddies Boy Eric Lopez (who is a favorite at the Deco Lounge), John Weber, and host Grand Duke Jason Husted casually displayed their overt masculinity.
Classy blonde Chanel of Reno caused a red and blonde danger flag warning when she slid into the bar wearing a tailored red leather suit, and she may not know that that look is taken in San Francisco. Chanel seemed uncomfortable, as if to imply that her usual party space is an exclusive VIP lounge of an upscale restaurant.
Shadisha Shimmers, Jazzmine Diamond-Leggz, and Marco X. Middlesex competed for the two Royal Baby titles. They impressed the hosts and audience so much that they were all chosen — as Royal Triplets!
The beneficiaries of the event were LYRIC and the Grand Ducal Council, which has several charities that it supports. The amount raised was $1,276.
Bubbly and lusted-after Valentin Aguirre from LYRIC was hugged throughout the party and thanked for attending. There was a lot of primal distraction until sexy uncovered barback Michael put his T-shirt on. Cute bartender Gavin and earthy bartender Mike served the thirsty crowd all afternoon with a smile.
The Edge’s Gary Virginia greeted guests and extended his usual high level of hospitality to the regulars and benefit party crowd.
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