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  • Best Sideshow

    Ross Mirkarimi

    If it hadn't been for the shitshow San Francisco sheriff Ross Mirkarimi created when he beat his wife last year, then public nudists would have definitely won this category. Alas, Mirkarimi's ascension to sheriff, followed by the bruise he gave his wife, the restraining order from his kid, his suspension from office, his admission of guilt (sort of), a few tears shed, and a standoff with Mayor Ed Lee created a sideshow bigger than any penis you'd ever spot in... More >>

  • Best Clown Hair

    George Gascon

    Duh! Everyone has talked about District Attorney George Gascon's bedhead since he moved to San Francisco in 2009. His trademark tuft could easily be mistaken for the hair stylings of a man who just doesn't own a brush. But we know better. If this city is a circus, than Gascon's crazy cowlick is a wig worn only under the big top.... More >>

  • Best Disappearing Act

    Gavin Newsom

    We imagine that in college, Gavin Newsom was chief of the Cherokee fade – you know, when someone drinks too much and leaves a party without saying goodbye to anyone. The former mayor, known for dashing away to Hawaii unbeknownst to his staff, then dashed away from his job as mayor to take up the position as the state Lieutenant Governor in Sacramento, where he reportedly often dashes off to God knows where.... More >>

  • Best Political Clowns

    Public Nudists on Jane Warner Plaza

    The naked people almost didn't win this category until one day a few of them got dressed and went to City Hall for a meeting. When we got a glimpse of the nudists' fashion (looks like they robbed everyone on the Love Boat), we finally understood why clothing just didn't seem like a viable option for them. Now we're stumped. What's worse: a naked clown or a group of naturists in mismatched Goodwill clothing?... More >>

  • Best Circus Stilt Walker

    Scott Wiener

    What are the advantages to being a really, really tall city supervisor – specifically a 6-foot-7 supervisor? Well, aside from maybe getting a larger chair to sit in for those marathon supervisor meetings, you become an official contender for the SF Weekly Best of Contest. Such is the case with Supervisor Scott Wiener, whose loftiness, both physically and legislatively, has made him stand above all the other city supes this year. It definitely wasn't his larger-than-life personality that made him... More >>

  • Best City Hall Magician

    Rose Pak

    If anyone can work (black) magic at City Hall, it's obviously Rose Pak, the guileful Columbia journalism school grad and former Chronicle reporter who, by means of hocus pocus, got Ed Lee elected mayor in 2011, whether he really liked it or not. The profane Pak never misses a chance to be the wizard behind the curtain, and she never misses a chance to have a drink with Willie Brown, her other political half – mostly keeping to herself until... More >>

  • Best Planned Freak Show

    Sword Swallowers

    If you have a natural proclivity to swallow sharp objects, in particular knives, why not just join the circus? Everyone enjoys a good freak show, and in San Francisco, the only challenge is to be freakier than the person next to you. After living in the Bay Area for more than 10 years, this was the first year we had the pleasure to observe natural sword swallowers. You know, the people who spend their Saturday afternoon proving they have a... More >>

  • Best Place for 40somethings to Find Love

    Marina Blvd. Safeway

    The script for finding love can grow stale. Prowling the bars can eventually feel like a juvenile exercise and trolling online dating sites can eventually feel forced. By a certain age, the whole process may seem more hassle than social, especially as the climb up the professional mountain hogs the evenings and weekends. Enter the Safeway in the Marina. A place of serendipity, comfort, and check-out lines. Where spontaneous interaction on a Tuesday night or Sunday afternoon can feel like... More >>

  • Best Svengali of Animation

    Brendan Hay

    This prolific writer ditched a sweet gig as headline producer at The Daily Show for the Best Coast, and he hasn't looked back. His writing credits include The Simpsons, and Robot Chicken, which earned him an Emmy nod in 2011. And before that power-hungry mouse outgrew the Presidio and invaded Skywalker Ranch in Marin, Hay was the head writer of Lucasfilm Animation's new comedy, Star Wars Detours. But there's no rest for the svengali of animation. His graphic novel, Rascal... More >>

  • Best "Running Away to the Circus" Dream Realized

    Bart Shepherd

    The director of the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences was just 6 years old when he became an aquarium hobbyist, and spent his childhood in Chesapeake Bay exploring wild salt marshes and coastal habitats. And as an adult, the focus of Bart Shepherd's days hasn't changed: Now he manages the living collection, develops exhibitions, and cultivates its coral reef programs. He can often be found swimming inside the tank, but his diving duties on the museum's behalf... More >>

  • Best Actual Circus Performer in a Dramatic Role

    Ben Johnson as Lucky in Marin Theatre Company's Waiting for Godot

    As Samuel Beckett's slave character, the Ringling Bros.-trained performer made every breath have the force of a locomotive lurching forward. In motion, he seemed to stretch and slacken his body. Johnson cleverly suggested that such is the weight of the world in this play; it makes man devolve from primate to serpent. Each time Johnson got up after being whipped down, standing and balancing was a discovery, as if he truly were new to the species. Yet when Johnson spoke... More >>

  • Best Ringmaster of Bay Area Theater

    Stuart Bousel

    To say that producer, director, playwright, and occasional actor Stuart Bousel runs a three-ring circus would be an understatement. It's more like 20-ring. Whether taming rowdy bar audiences at SF Theater Pub or corralling the Greek gods at the SF Olympians festival, Bousel leads the indie theater scene with a jolly, leonine roar, a crackling wit, and graduate school-level preshow speeches. He's the kind of artist who gets an idea for a show one month and is producing it at... More >>

  • Best Amateur Political Theater

    Public Comment at the Board of Supervisors

    When the sane people file out of the Tuesday night San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting at City Hall, public comment begins and the real show starts. A bookish Gary Busey-type decries the "corporate rape" of the public library. A man who looks like the Unabomber takes the microphone to deliver a freeform poem on "dictatorial democracy." The next guy up, who comes each week to get musical about whatever is on his mind, sings his thoughts on equal pay... More >>

  • Best-Placed Director

    Evan Jackson Leong

    Evan Jackson Leong didn't just get interested in basketball phenom Jeremy Lin when Lin came off the bench for the New York Knicks in February 2012, scoring like a madman and sparking Linsanity. Leong, a sixth-generation Chinese American and San Francisco native, heard about the Palo Alto native when he was playing basketball at Harvard. Leong, an MTV producer, caught by Lin's story and ability to dunk, wanted to make a documentary about the Asian-American basketball star, but Lin needed... More >>

  • Best Artist/Activist Working with Prisoners

    Rhodessa Jones

    The daughter of migrant workers, Rhodessa Jones has always been drawn to what she calls "outsider art." She found her calling in working with women on the inside, and Jones founded the Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women, doing theater and storytelling with women in prison. Jones went into prison to teach aerobics, but found the inmates resistant and lethargic. So, she started forming circles where the women could talk with one another about their lives. Jones herself did a... More >>

  • Best Classical Theater Mentor

    L. Peter Callender

    When L. Peter Callender was asked to take over as artistic director for the African-American Shakespeare Company, he didn't hesitate. The company's mission — classics with color — was exactly what Callender wanted to do. The Trinidad-born actor and director trained at Julliard, and in London and Japan. He has performed almost 30 Shakespeare plays, most of Shaw, along with plenty of Ibsen and Oscar Wilde. At the African-American Shakespeare Company, he's adding American classics to the Shakespeare and fairy... More >>

  • Best Bearded Lady

    Trangela Lansbury

    They might be ostracized as singular freaks on Coney Island, but bearded lady competition has been stiff in San Francisco for decades. Just ask the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, long the standard bearers of fashionable facial hair. So it would have to take quite the striking beauty to divert from the default, but Trangela Lansbury has ingenue written all over her sparkly whiskers. Lansbury, who was born Diego Gómez, is more than just a pretty face, identifying as an Art... More >>

  • Best Political Quote

    John Avalos

    What's the opposite of smooth sailing? Unsmooth sailing? Whatever it is, the America's Cup has experienced it. If nothing else, the incredible shrinking regatta inspired this year's best political quote. When it became clear that private fund-raisers would not meet their goals, leaving the city in the lurch, Avalos exclaimed, "All the members of the Board of Supervisors were fucking played." This was the quote heard 'round the world: In a Le Monde piece regarding the Cup, Avalos' profane utterance... More >>

  • Best Amateur Historian

    Woody LaBounty

    The self-described "Big History Guy" — he is 6-foot-5 — is the executive director of the Western Neighborhoods Project and the keeper of the mesmerizing If ever there were a more surefire way for a history-minded San Franciscan to blow an afternoon perusing amazing old photos and reading insightful essays than visiting this site, we haven't found it yet. LaBounty is also the author of Carville-by-the-Sea, a history of the days when folks lived in former streetcars at the... More >>

  • Best Place to Watch Salespeople Hustle for Customers

    Wooden benches on Market and Jones

    You've come to the right place. This is Market Street and Jones Street, San Francisco's booming open-air black-market bazaar. Whaddya need? There's a guy wheeling around a bike, another holding a laptop wrapped in a paper bag. One man's got a picnic blanket covered in VHS tapes and ratty hats, and a woman's got a plastic bag full of DVDs of '90s action films. Hungry? That group of women has some food, from the pantry, piled inside their carts. Nervous?... More >>

  • Best "Believe It or Not" Attraction

    Jarrett Jack's sneaker collection

    There are people who like sneakers. Then there are sneakerheads. Then there are sneakerheads with lots of disposable income. And then there's Jarret Jack. When Jarrett Jack joined the Golden State Warriors, he brought with him to the Bay a raging inferno's worth of sneaker heat — more than 1,500 pairs of it. It is a collection impressive even by "MTV Cribs" standards. Cement III's, and Bred IV's, and Bin VII's, and Concord XI's, and pretty much every other relevant... More >>

  • Best Place For A Work Nap

    Public Roof Deck at One Kearny

    Public privileges extend to private places and spaces, and this holds true even in the august halls of finance and business in the city's downtown. Sprinkled throughout the Financial District are courtyards, seating areas and other public spaces that exist – purely and truly – for your benefit and enjoyment. All this lovely deck, our favorite publicly-owned private space, requires for entry is a second with the security guard, who asks you to sign in for the privilege of traveling... More >>

  • Best Potentially Plausible Buried Treasure Story

    The Grecian Statues at Sutro Heights Park

    A Gold Rush swindler and a Gilded Age builder (who built a private Muni), Adolph Sutro is responsible for shaping much of the city's west side — and there may yet be some evidence buried beneath the footpaths where his clifftop mansion once stood. Fine classical-inspired Adonises, Artemises and others — copies of the originals seen in Europe — lined the parapet of Sutro's manse. But now all but two are gone. Legend says they were removed during World War... More >>

  • Best Place to Check Out an Algae Chandelier In a Seismically Retrofit Pier Building


    Sure, phytoplankton can be pretty boring, what with being so incredibly small they're invisible to the naked eye. But when millions of them are stuffed together into gorgeous, illuminated overhead tanks, you'll take a bigger interest in the things. The brand new incarnation of Frank Oppenheimer's 44-year-old Exploratorium on Piers 15-17 boasts 600-plus exhibits and installations, including notable favorites like the Fog Bridge, the Toilet Drinking Fountain, and the Tree Experience, which shows off the split-open remains of a 250-year-old... More >>

  • Best Place To Feel Like You're Inside Instagram

    Scribe Winery's "Tasting Knoll"

    Most wineries have tasting rooms, but Sonoma's Scribe Winery, run by handsome and charismatic brothers Andrew and Adam Mariani, doesn't have anything so pedestrian. You call ahead to make an appointment for the "tasting knoll" instead. The legend of the thirtysomething Mariani brothers precedes them: They live in a crumbling hacienda (formerly a hideout for bootleggers) on the property with a rotating cast of artist friends, and throw elaborate dinner parties that often involve produce from their garden and pizza... More >>

  • Best Place to Get Lost

    Land's End

    It's easy to escape the urban hullabaloo. But with a little more effort on the Lands End hike – over 100 stairs, to be precise – it's possible to find a place where on a foggy day not even Marin County across the water can be seen from a stretch of sand tucked in between cliffs west of the Golden Gate. Perhaps you'll see a few fishermen above on Eagle's Point, or some hardy tourists perched on a massive rock... More >>

  • Best Place to Get Lost

    Land's End

    It's easy to escape the urban hullabaloo. But with a little more effort on the Lands End hike – over 100 stairs, to be precise – it's possible to find a place where on a foggy day not even Marin County across the water can be seen from a stretch of sand tucked in between cliffs west of the Golden Gate. Perhaps you'll see a few fishermen above on Eagle's Point, or some hardy tourists perched on a massive rock... More >>

  • Best Local Twitter Accounts

    By Mike Billings Certain celebrities, and maybe even your own friends, provide comedic relief through their Twitter accounts. But for a real dose of San Francisco-style humor on the social media network, you should follow these accounts. Marina Girl @MarinaGirlsSays Description: This account is an amalgamation of everything stereotypical anyone could dream up about the Marina. Picture a single woman, wearing yoga pants while sipping a latte at brunch while discussing her previous night out bar hopping and the... More >>

  • Best Housing Metaphor

    Golden Gate Park

    Spring revealed yet another of life's mysteries as a mysterious, tiny door, expertly crafted, appeared in a tree in Golden Gate Park's Concourse. Whether art project or public statement or another sad escapee from UCSF's Super-Intelligent Squirrel Development Lab, the door attracted national attention before it got filled with trash, at which point the city intervened, citing (as always) some permitting thing. Officials removed the door, which caused a public outcry. The city then re-installed another door, this one far... More >>

  • Best Sex Educators

    By Clarisse Thorn Interested in sex? You're in luck, because you live in the sex education capital of the USA. There are so many sex educators crammed into San Francisco that we couldn't possibly call anyone the "best." But below, you're invited to discover five sexy teachers who give real good ed. Prostate Player Charlie Glickman One of the best sex and gender blogs on the Internet belongs to Dr. Charlie Glickman, who spent 16 years at feminist... More >>

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