We like our gay bars like we like our women -- rough around the edges and with as little cover as possible. With its bordello-esque atmosphere and cheap drinks, it's no surprise that The Stud, one of the city's oldest gay bars, still reigns supreme.
The great thing about living in San Francisco is you never run out of things to do. I'm not just talking about Fleet Week and America's Cup type things -- what really makes a city interesting are the nooks and crannies. It's those little morsels of culture that you couldn't find anywhere else, and we've got one coming up soon with the Rock 'N' Roll Carnival, presented by Broke-Ass Stuart, Tricycle Records, and Public Works.
The most exciting and innovative circus in the Bay Area isn't coming from Cirque du Soleil, Ringling Bros., or any of the big schools. It's hiding out in an underground training location called The Royal Russian Kung Fu Circus Training Academy of Heaven Mountain by a few, and Sons of Cayuga, by everyone else. The pair responsible claim to have the highest skill level of any local circus in their shows (true), and disdain advertising, claiming that, "when you make mazes for people they try to find the end of the maze."
The first in an occasional series on life as a performer in San Francisco.
So, you've practiced those pirouettes, mastered your handstand, or finally beaten that hula hoop into submission, and it's time to get out there and strut your stuff. Maybe you've signed up for backstage, or stared endlessly at that Cirque Du Soleil open call poster at the dance studio? Auditioning can be a harrowing experience for a veteran, and downright terrifying for a beginner. Here are seven tips to help get you through:
1. Have your shit together
You don't want to be that guy running in at the last minute drenched in sweat, clothes flailing, cellphone ringing, with no headshot, no resume, and no clue. Go to bed early, set an alarm, be on time, and always, always, know what you're auditioning for.
The "Queen of Porn," Jenna Jameson, will make her very first appearance in San Francisco, to help ring in Gold Club's eighth anniversary on Thursday, August 2.
Arrive early to the Boxcar's production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and stay late. Director Nick Olivero has both expanded and condensed the groundbreaking rock-musical, and in all the right places. Don't worry; the mutilated genitalia that gives the show its name is still intact -- that is to say, it suffers no more slicing and dicing than the script requires.
The musical, with a book by John Cameron Mitchell and music and lyrics by Stephen Trask, follows Hedwig (née Hansel), who wants to escape his East Berlin home by marrying Luther (Reggie D. White), an American. But to get married, not only must he pretend to be female; he must also undergo a full physical exam and thus a sex-change operation. But as the song "Angry Inch" recounts, the operation goes horrifically awry: "When I woke up from the operation ... I was left with a one inch mound of flesh where my penis used to be, where my vagina never was." In other words, Hansel went "six inches forward, five inches back," and what was left made him Hedwig.
Going away parties mean a lot of things: a fresh start, sad goodbyes, and reflecting on all the wacky stuff that's happened in the place you're leaving. Cabaret performer Carly Ozard is having a going away party this week (she's moving to New York), but it won't be a downer -- rather, it will have just about every person she's worked with in the past six years who's important to her, and they'll all perform. We sat down with her to talk music, her love for animals, and her passion for bringing awareness to HIV/AIDS. Co-hosted by Ozard and Mrs. Trauma Flintstone, the event is also a benefit for PAWS -- Pets Are Wonderful Support -- an organization dedicated to bringing animal companionship to those battling long-term illnesses. The event is called Accentuate the PAWSitive!, and it takes place Tuesday (Feb. 28) at the DNA Lounge.
San Franciscans are serious about partying. We've been to a lot of fancy dress events, and a lot of events that weren't "fancy dress" per se, but which were treated as such, apparently just for kicks. But the Vau de Vire Society's Edwardian Ball last weekend inspired the most spectacular -- and thoroughly thought-out and executed -- costumery we've ever seen donned by so many people in one place. The playboy mansion would blush at the amount of cleavage on display, blossoming over a whale graveyard's worth of boned corsets, and framed in taffeta, lace, and feathers. Men wore top hats and fedoras and multiple-piece suits. The Edward Gorey theme inspired more macabre features such as white contact lenses and cadaver-glam makeup. A striking and slightly confusing element was the pervasion of steampunk -- goggles everywhere, leather hip holsters, and jewelry made of old watch parts.
People dressed to party like it was 1909, and many also had the dances down. This was most apparent in the earlier portion of the night, when the ballroom floor wasn't filled to capacity, and many couples took advantage of the free space to perform elaborate and antiquated ballroom moves while the rest of us gawked enviously and wondered whether Arthur Murray's still existed. One couple danced an energetic skipping jig around the floor in circles; later that night they huffed through an escalatingly tempo'd Lindy to the honky-tonk trio in the basement. Many couples waltzed, most in a traditional box step, but one intrepid male couple swung a fearsome Viennese -- fearsome in that both parties executed complete 180 degree turns with every measure without spiraling into the wallflowers or crashing and rolling into inadvertent flagrante delicto on the dance floor.
I admit I am disproportionately delighted by parties with costume themes, and there were some glorious vintage and vintage-inspired get-ups at this Litquake event on Thursday. Yvonne Michelle Cordoba (and friend?) performed lovely quasiburlesque and belly dance at intervals.A problem was that the entertainment emphasis of the night was on the readings (popular contemporary authors reading the works of the lost-generation greats). Cellspace is cavernous, and its sound system inadequate for the readings to have been audible to anyone farther than four rows back. Except for Alan Black's bellowing from James Joyce, most of the readings simply didn't register (through no fault of the readers themselves).
Because poor acoustics and absinthe brain-soakage made hearing or comprehending the readings impossible, my friends and I went upstairs to watch "blue films," modern pornography's quaint ancestor. Certain elements haven't changed much in the past 90 years -- same risible plots, same dead-eyed self-loathing. Of course there's more hair, more fat, more sag, more lace bonnets, and more layers of clothing (that the men must pause their boners for longer than is possible without chemical aid) to remove.
Historic queer icon, art world catalyst, and Bay Area native Gertrude Stein is enjoying posthumous adulation for her role in modern art history. SFMOMA's current exhibit showcases her (and her family's) game-changing art collection in "The Steins Collect," and the Contemporary Jewish Museum shows art and archival materials by and about the woman herself in "Gertrude Stein: Five Stories." Litquake furthers the flattery through the aspect of the avant-garde thinker's life that most appeals to any San Franciscan's aesthete/hedonist mix: the salon. Writer and performer (and SF Weekly contributor) Tara Jepsen channels Stein on Thursday night to host Cabaret Bastille, a celebration of Left Bank Bohemia with literary readings, fancy cocktails, "blue films" (classy vintage porn), exotic dancing, and live music.