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Friday, May 27, 2016

Justin Sayre's The Meeting*: International Order of Sodomites Returns to Oasis

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge Justin Sayre - RICARDO NELSON
  • Ricardo Nelson
  • Justin Sayre
Performance artist Justin Sayre returns to Oasis on Saturday, May 28, with The Meeting*his acclaimed, ever-evolving show which has run in New York for years. When the curtain rises, audiences are invited to peek in on the monthly meeting of a "secret organization" known as The International Order of Sodomites. 

The Order promotes LGBTQ culture. They also hold fabulous bake sales.

"The Meeting* came out of this premise that a secret gay organization was running everything," Sayre explains. "A behind-the-scenes gay mafia. I'm the chairman."

The Meeting* might just push a few buttons. "What the show allows me to do is to talk about social issues and gay culture, whether or not it's thriving or dying at the moment," Sayre says. "Within that structure it also allows me to take to task the overt bigotry that gays experience as members of the community. I take a serious look in a humorous way at how we treat each other."

Apparently The Meeting* was a hit when Sayre brought it to Oasis last year, and so he's been invited back. The actor tells SF Weekly that the show's current incarnation will push the envelope even further than before.

"I think the show gets deeper and deeper," he tells us. "More personal and fun, more interesting but still committed to a message of gay is Better than OK, it's actually the best. It's a celebration of what it means to me to be queer and here and powerful."

The Meeting*
revives a semi-forgotten bit of gay cruising culture: the hanky code. Gay men of a "certain age" might recall wearing colored hankies in their back pockets as a signpost to let other gay men know if they were tops, bottoms, into golden showers, or if they were looking for something else.

"We've reinstated the hanky codes for your emotional issues." Sayre said, adding that the code is being brought into the digital age.

"The New Hanky Code" is an updated version of the flagging system from the '70s," he said. "You can find out if someone is a top or bottom pretty readily, on your apps and the like. But how great would it be to know if someone had a problem with collectibles or was weird about their mom. It's a hanky code for the modern era."

Sayre's unusual act has caught the attention of many, including culture critic Michael Musto, who describes Sayre as "Oscar Wilde meets Whoopi Goldberg." Sayre loves the comparison — he cites Musto, Wilde, and Goldberg as among his heroes and influences.

"I'm flattered by anything Michael Musto has to say about me — he's a genius," Sayre said. "Wilde is always an influence, his wit still stings with honesty 100 years later. And he's the inspiration behind my only tattoo. But I think the thing people forget is that Wilde was a serious societal critic, he was satirizing the hypocrisy of the society in which he lived and I love and admire that."

Goldberg may have inspired some of Sayre's envelope-pushing humor. "Whoopi is wonderful and especially with her early work, I think she was breaking down barriers and saying things the world had never heard but needed to," he notes. "I think she's great. And I'm more than honored to be even mentioned in the same breath." 
click to enlarge The Gay Agenda album cover - JUSTIN SAYRE/DAN FORTUNE
  • Justin Sayre/Dan Fortune
  • The Gay Agenda album cover
Performing at the Oasis is a semi-homecoming for the Sayre, who loves visiting San Francisco, which he sees as the U.S.'s gayest city. "I love how gay it still is and the warmth and care of the audience," he says. "It's like performing for old friends. And people here seem to think I'm cute, which never hurts. I love the interesting people here, who keep the spirit of bohemian San Francisco alive against all odds and continue to challenge and inspire me to go further."

You can see how far he'll go at the Oasis tomorrow night. But if you can't make the show, you can also check out The Gay Agenda, a new album which is best described as The Meeting's greatest hits. "Taking bits from so many periods of the show, it's a collection of some of our best," he said. "I'm super proud and excited about this being a permanent record of this show that has really changed my life."    

The Meeting* Hosted by Justin Sayre, Saturday, May 28, 7 p.m., $20, at Oasis, 298 11th St., 415-795-3180.

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