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  • Most Animated Museum

    Cartoon Art Museum

    To the uninitiated, the Cartoon Art Museum has a musty ring to it, pointing toward Hanna-Barbera cels and Krazy Kat. It does have that, but it far from ignores the new tribes of graphic novelists and young comics artists who continually reinvent the form for new generations. Like any great museum, it doesn't ignore the city that surrounds it. Over the past year, the Small Press Spotlight, featuring exhibits that highlight innovators in alternative and small-press comics, has welcomed locals... More >>

  • Best Comedian

    W. Kamau Bell

    Comedian W. Kamau Bell finds himself buffeted, even more than most of us, by those great fartlike gusts of technological wind, aka anonymous Internet comments. After he popped a short version of his great show, The W. Kamau Bell Curve, on YouTube, Bell found himself the target of some confused people. One: "White on black racism essentially no longer exists in America." Another: "I liked it better when coloreds were well groomed and polite like Flip Wilson and Sammy Davis.... More >>

  • Best New Drag Show


    While the drag mainstays in town are well established at this point, a few new festive freak shows have popped up in the last year with the ambition to provide San Francisco with even more fluidly gendered, three-minute onstage histrionics. While a handful fizzled out after a whirl or two, humble start-up Cocktailgate spent the year building a larger audience and a more expansive roster of local performers. Occurring every Sunday at the unusually reasonable hour of 9 p.m. (or... More >>

  • Best Flamenco Show

    Carola Zertuche and Theatre Flamenco, Thursdays at Peña Pachamama

    The magic (yes, magic) begins with the venue: Peña Pachamama, a Latin-American restaurant with small tables doused in low red-tinted lighting like a quaint Bolivian valentine. Order dinner and sangria early, because when the musicians step onto the tiny stage and the dancers take to the wood floor at 8:30, you'll be entranced for the next two hours. The weekly show, which has a $10 cover charge, is led by Carola Zertuche, an ever-intense and inspired dancer who toured Spain... More >>

  • Best New Art Gallery


    If you're a fan of street art and its roots and offshoots, chances are you already know about Fecal Face. A more West Coast–oriented version of the Wooster Collective, has long dished out the good stuff on artists, galleries, events, and art news. In February, its well-connected folks opened a physical space dedicated to their favorite impresarios. The debut show featured artists Maya Hayuk, Jeremy Fish, Kyle Ranson, Tara Foley, Andrew Schoultz, and Hilary Pecis — all of whom... More >>

  • Best Nomadic Art Gallery

    Southern Exposure Gallery

    Every city needs a small gallery with a big brain. The ambitious Southern Exposure has long fostered S.F.'s geeky art scene, specializing in institutional critique and participatory projects. Last year, after a temporary layover at Mission and 25th streets, the artist-run gallery found itself homeless. Rather than curling up in a cardboard box, however, Southern Exposure collaborated with other galleries and organizations on public art projects such as panel discussions and audio walking tours. In September, it found a temporary... More >>

  • Best Store as Art Project

    Frankenart Mart

    Open the door to Frankenart, and you walk into another dimension — one where commerce becomes conceptual, art is for everybody, and you may find yourself talking to a cat who has occupied your chair. Every four months or so, owner Leslie Henslee establishes a theme and then asks people to make art about it. Over those months, the tiny 200-square-foot storefront she occupies in the Inner Richmond fills with contributions. Artists can sell their work on consignment, or trade... More >>

  • Best Rockin' Art Gallery

    Queen's Nails Projects

    The four-year-old Queen's Nails Annex is a hurricane, a monsoon, a swarm of locusts. Hey, it just might be the second coming. It's also an edgy, funkadelic gallery in the Mission conveniently located next to Queen's Nails (hence the folks at this gallery simply add "annex" to their name and — poof! — they're able to ride their neighbor's sign). With the guidance of its directors Mike Bianco, Julio Cesar Morales, and Brian Storts, Annex shows revel in everything from... More >>

  • Best Dance Performance/Troupe

    Fresh Meat Productions

    Thank goodness for choreographers like Sean Dorsey, who make movement accessible without ever dumbing it down for audiences. Dorsey is the artistic director of Fresh Meat Productions, a company that does away with weird multimedia flourishes, showy couture, and the abstract headiness of modern dance — instead choosing to pare down performances to their most basic components: pure emotion and a riveting narrative framework. Fresh Meat is cutting edge precisely because it doesn't try to be. The company was founded... More >>

  • Best Theater Company

    foolsFURY Theater

    The dramaturges, artists, and professional rabble-rousers of foolsFURY make supporting the arts feel like a truly commendable personal responsibility. The company, cobbled together in 1998 and helmed by artistic director Ben Yalom, specializes in pieces that break creative boundaries and get actors up, off their asses, and sometimes (literally) bouncing off walls. The performances take physical theater and all its myriad aspects — from clowning to dance — to a whole new level, because these aren't works that are merely... More >>

  • Best Bonus Theater Experience

    The Hypnodrome

    Grand Guignol is French for "what people watched before horror movies existed." Before electricity brought us Evil Dead 2, obviously some folks had to figure out how to make that kind of thing happen onstage, and they did, and it was about as popular as slasher flicks are today. Described by one Yelper as "a series of vignettes that follow a shit your pants/boner/shit your pants/boner sequence," the art form has its own dedicated theater space, the Hypnodrome, here in... More >>

  • Best Local Filmmaker

    Amanda Micheli

    From the very beginning, when Amanda Micheli's college doc about women's rodeo, Just for the Ride, scored a national PBS broadcast and a Student Academy Award, it was apparent she was a filmmaker to keep an eye on. It wasn't just her talent that set her apart, but also her resolve to spotlight women whose stories never get told. Consider Micheli's years-in-production crowd-pleaser Double Dare, a raucous, poignant portrait of stuntwomen Jeannie Epper and Zoë Bell. (Add it to your... More >>

  • Best Public Art

    Art on Market Street's Kiosk Poster Series

    Locals rarely use a city kiosk on a busy street, figuring that it contains all sort of information that they already know, like the path of the streetcar that they're waiting to catch. But starting last November, they could have gleamed some vital information about new projects: a zip line that zoomed commuters across the bay ("Zero to 85 mph in 4.6 seconds"), a football stadium that grew crops (Candlestick Farms), library BART cars, and MUNI of Tomorrow, which consisted... More >>

  • Best Karaoke

    Jack's Club

    The best karaoke joints are the ones where almost nobody is good. They're places where not only do mediocre singers sparkle, but also where everybody feels comfortable getting involved. That's pretty much the M.O. at Jack's Club, a divey bar near the border of the Mission and Potrero Hill, on Thursday nights. At the corner of the bar, the effortlessly sexy DJ Purple plays backup saxophone to a wide selection of oldies, '80s, classic rock, hip-hop, and recent favorites. There... More >>

  • Best Jukebox

    Lucky 13

    Jukeboxes, like everything music-related, are in flux. Some of us prefer the old-fashioned kind, with 45 rpm vinyl records visible through the curved plate glass, but most working boxes these days are digitized, sanitized, and smeared with tech-macho graphics that might have been cool for a minute at the tail end of the Faith No More "punk funk" 1990s. At Lucky 13, the jukebox is no beauty queen, boasting a nondescript CD-changer aesthetic. But, you're already screaming, "It's the music... More >>

  • Best Place to See Live Music

    Great American Music Hall

    The mother lode of all San Francisco music venues is none other than the Great American Music Hall, which was a bordello in a previous life. You can tell bands truly love to play here — it has a reputation for treating musicians well and actually feeding them. With its gilded mirrors, ornate cornices, and a pre-show "dinner" available to showgoers — wild mushroom and goat cheese tamale, anyone? — this joint is not only the best venue in a... More >>

  • Best MC/Rapper

    San Quinn

    Quincy Brooks looked to the notorious San Quentin prison for his clever, locally influenced rap moniker. At 30, he isn't quite as old-school as that penitentiary, but he has been an instrumental part of the Bay Area rap scene for so long that his young son Lil Quinn is now on his way to following in his footsteps. Quinn senior has had little exposure in the mainstream hip-hop world even after six solo albums (and several more group efforts and... More >>

  • Best Local Lil' Indie Band That Could


    If you're looking for San Francisco's next Rogue Wave or Two Gallants, or at least the next-likely band to make an impact outside the 580-split, no need to look farther than our own Dodos. A duo comprising guitarist Meric Long and drummer Logan Kroeber, their sound is infectious enough to keep this bird's buzz alive. Word is the Dodos will be playing the Pitchfork Music Fest this summer in Chicago — but don't let Pitchfork's stamp of approval discourage or... More >>

  • Best Internet DJ

    Ted Leibowitz, Bagel Radio

    These days, music fans have way too many people clamoring for their attention. MP3 blogs, Pandora, and weekly newspapers (oops!) all tug at listeners' elbows, insisting their opinions are the most reliable. That's why it's nice to have someone you can trust, like Ted Leibowitz of local Internet station BAGeL Radio. For the last four years, Leibowitz has been broadcasting from his S.F. home, carefully selecting the best in current and old-school guitar-driven rock. He occasionally peppers his shows with... More >>

  • Best Commercial Radio DJ

    Chuy Gomez, KMEL

    Jesus "Chuy" Gomez began his career in Bay Area radio in the early '90s as a morning sidekick for Mancow. But Chuy (aka "Chu-Dog") was never meant to stay in the background, as longtime listeners of KMEL will attest; he has been a solo personality there for more than a decade. Chuy in the Morning has the requisite zaniness a program in its time slot requires. But Gomez' show also features arguably some of the best music played on the... More >>

  • Best Classical Music Jam

    Papa Toby's Revolution Cafe

    Every Sunday night around 9, this laid-back Mission hangout transforms into a haven for classical music, as professional and amateur Bay Area musicians come together and play whatever strikes their fancy. Sometimes it'll be a piece a string quartet has worked on together before, but it's just as likely that a violinist will have sheet music for a concerto and will scrounge up a couple of others from the crowd to give it a whirl. Most of the musicians know... More >>

  • Best Crazed Gypsy Brass Band Dance Party

    Kafana Balkan

    Yes, this occasional Kafana Balkan party is pretty much the only crazed Gypsy brass band dance party in town, but that doesn't make it any less special. Where else can you find hundreds of swarthy men with dangling moustaches and pork-pie hats dancing with slinky ladies in diaphanous dresses and hot-pink hair? (Okay, besides a Joanna Newsom show.) Kafana Balkan also offers live, horn-driven mayhem from the likes of Brass Menazeri and Edessa, as well as everything from Balkan hip-hop... More >>

  • Best New Dance Club Genre


    Over the last few years, San Francisco's club scene has been infiltrated by styles from around the globe, with DJs going nuts for Brazilian baile funk, Indian bhangra, and British grime. The latest club craze is electro-cumbia, an adaptation of a centuries-old traditional form of music prevalent throughout South America. Most notably made in Argentina, electro-cumbia isn't sweet and acoustic like its predecessor. Instead, the new tracks owe as much to raunchy Miami bass and minimalist Detroit electro as Latin... More >>

  • Best New Gay Club Night

    The Bar on Church

    Hard-working drag den mother Juanita More has thrown her fair share of parties in recent years, but none quite so reliably photographed as "Booty Call," which began happening every Wednesday last fall. The rollicking club night includes a backroom photo studio where attendees can pose in a new set every week and have their portraits taken, only to have them appear on MySpace days later. The appeal of a party with a built-in profile picture, along with attractive music and... More >>

  • Best Dance Club


    Many of San Francisco's nightclubs have a gimmick; something that a venue is known for. That can be a good thing, but all too often it makes a place predictable. Mezzanine is a spot that is thankfully hard to pigeonhole, and the crowd varies widely depending on the night, giving it a chameleonic quality. To hip-hop fans, it's often a packed-to-the-gills sweatbox that's the only place to see national artists who might not have otherwise stopped here. To electronic music... More >>

  • Best Flash Mob

    FlashDance, put on by Amandeep Jawa

    Step one: E-mail to get on the list. Step two: Await message with the 411 for the next roving street dance party. Step three: Show up and boogie while onlookers wonder what the heck is going on, or just stop asking questions and join in themselves. Started around two years ago by a Silicon Valley software engineer (the rare kind who actually can whip out the moves on the dancefloor) who lives in the Mission and can be spotted... More >>

  • Best DJ Web Site

    Dr. Toast's Amazing World of Toast

    If Web sites were cars, some DJs would own tricked-out street racers, loud and flashy machines with zooming custom graphics and embedded Shockwave music blasters. Others seem content to ride public transportation, i.e., MySpace. But for sheer personal expression, Dr. Toast's Amazing World of Toast is the idiosyncratic art car: a cheap generic chassis (in this case, a lo-fi WordPress blog format) upon which personal quirks are given free rein. And Dr. Toast's favorite quirk is, naturally, toast. Thus in... More >>

  • Best New Pickup Scene

    Eye-Gazing Parties

    Back in 2005, Michael Ellsberg grew tired of having the same old conversations when meeting people in bars. So he invented the Eye-Gazing Party — a singles event much like speed dating, only without the talking. At the shindigs, men and women take turns gazing into each other's eyes for two minutes at a time, followed by a break in which they mack heavily on whomever they felt chemistry with. After finding success in New York City (Elle called eye-gazing... More >>

  • Best Feminist Peep Show

    Lusty Lady Theatre

    In this category, there's just no competition. Literally. The Lusty Lady, a unionized North Beach strip joint, remains the only gig in town that allows you to walk into a dark booth, cough up a dollar, and watch live, Suicide Girls-style dancers fuck themselves with dildos. You don't even have to feel guilty about it, because these business-savvy strippers, who bought the club from its former owners in 2003, are getting paid as much as $27 an hour and sharing... More >>

  • Best Occasion to Pretend You're on Vacation

    Aloha Festival

    If you're chary of time-honored local events like the Folsom Street Fair, the Pacific Islanders' Cultural Association's annual event might seem pretty desirable compared to San Francisco's more outlandish revelry-making. Now in its 14th year, the Aloha Festival is all about clean, family-friendly fun. Besides, it's great to see the Presidio transformed into an island paradise, complete with leis, ocean outriggers, and lilting ukulele tunes. Despite the tourist-choked crowds, the two-day festival draws plenty of Hawaiian transplants thirsty for some... More >>

  • Best Public TV Show

    Check, Please! Bay Area

    Check, Please! Bay Area takes a page from blogs and offers restaurant reviews by regular diners, poorly trained palates and all. Each episode finds three locals sampling one another's favorite restaurants, and part of the fun is watching them dismantle these favorites. Not everyone gets along, especially when it comes to MSG in Chinatown. Another good part is witnessing the regular Joes marvel about their affairs with high-end dining, eating Kobe beef, and negotiating the cheese course. The show, now... More >>

  • Best New Reading Series

    The Rebel Reading Series

    What's better than sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll? How about readings devoted to those topics? Since its inception in June 2007, the quarterly Rebel Reading Series has attempted to be "a nonserious reading series for serious writers," as co-founder Whitney Phaneuf puts it. For the events, Phaneuf and her pals April Kilcrease and Stephanie Pullen — who met in a Mills College creative nonfiction class — pair highly respected local authors like Beth Lisick and Stephen Elliott with lesser-known... More >>

  • Best Intellectual Use of a Soapbox

    Bernal Bubbles

    The Laundromat is not typically a highly intellectual environment. The thrum of the washers and the hum of the dryers could lull even Einstein into a snooze. On the first Saturday of every month, however, Bernal Bubbles transforms into a mini lecture hall, full of listeners eager to learn about art, culture, science, and other high-falutin' topics. Artist and owner Ray Beldner began his aptly named Soapbox Lecture Series in February 2007, and has since featured notables such as Leonard... More >>

  • Best Place to Virtually Meet a Famous Author

    Red Room

    Why do so many wannabe writers sign up for MFA programs? Because they want to schmooze with authors. Instead, they could just sign up for a new social network dedicated to hooking up lovers of literature. Founder Ivory Madison became known for her writing workshops, held in the "red room" of the historic San Francisco Archbishop's Mansion. Last year, she launched the virtual version of Red Room. Using her excellent connections to get some big-name authors to blog, including Amy... More >>

  • Best S&M/Political Lit Guy

    Stephen Elliott

    Stephen Elliott may be a man whose girlfriend comes to the city and beats him up, but the confessional author has another, less sweaty side: He's a fierce political animal, presiding over the Progressive Reading Series to benefit progressive candidates. In 2006 it raised more than $50,000 for the midterm elections, and this year it's taking aim at our upcoming races. So what kind of lineup does a writer with an S&M bent, a bad childhood, and a flourishing reputation... More >>

  • Best Small Press

    Manic D Press

    Indie-lit may well be the only publishing culture in San Francisco, but Manic D Press has a distinctly DIY approach to bookmaking that would make even the most cynical, caffeine-soaked experimental writer hum with approval. Manic D is the brainchild of Jennifer Joseph, a publisher who since 1984 has sought to cover a wide swathe of weirdness. The titles are generally riotous and self-explanatory, like Good Advice for Young Trendy People of All Ages, The Civil Disobedience Handbook, or In... More >>

  • Best New Book by a Zinester

    Erick Lyle's On the Lower Frequencies

    Once upon a time, there was a punk hero who made a zine. He called himself Iggy Scam. He called the zine Scam. Both Scams became famous in the homeless train-hopper artist world. Time went by, and, weathering the dot-com boom, the dot-com bust, and the Care Not Cash billboards of the mid-double-oughts, Iggy changed his name and wrote a book. On the Lower Frequencies: A Secret History of the City is a nonfiction chronicle of now-Erick Lyle's work with... More >>

  • Best Free Print Music Magazine

    West Coast Performer

    Three words: Good scene reports. If you're like us, they're mostly what you look for in a rock music magazine. Although West Coast Performer is only semilocal, and it's technically a musician's trade publication, it has good scene reports from Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, and here. Unlike most other (totally heroic in this day and space-age, by the way) print music magazines, Performer is genuinely multigenre; the editors and writers have great taste. It's distributed free in bars and... More >>

  • Best Neighborhood Rag

    The Loin's Mouth

    Most people have probably never set eyes on one of those banal, district-specific newspapers that supposedly provide indifferent city dwellers with a bird's-eye view of their hood, but The Loin's Mouth is the kind of rag you just want to devour. Next time you're schlepping unsuspecting tourists across town to prove to them that the most delectable hole-in-the-wall eateries happen to be in the Tenderloin, pick up this delightful, semiquarterly zine from a bookstore or seedy bar. Far from giving... More >>

  • Four Great Music Fests

    Coachella gets all the hype when it comes to California music festivals, but there are plenty of excellent offerings much closer to home. The best of these is, of course, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, because it's free and filled with big names. But since we've noted that one elsewhere in our recommendations, here are four other favorites well worth the admission price. Treasure Island Music Festival This is only the second year for the big festival on the little island,... More >>

  • Four Great Film Festivals

    San Francisco hosts an eye-popping, jaw-dropping 40 film festivals every year, plus another dozen or so touring series. The homegrown bashes serve every slice of the ethnic, sexual, political, and film genre spectrum. Here are the four that plug most directly into the city's fragmented psyche. SF IndieFest IndieFest is a ramshackle mix of intimate point-of-view documentaries and sub-Sundance, off-the-radar features. The February fest attracts a young, adventurous crowd on the prowl for discoveries and more than a little... More >>

  • Best Party Bands

    Dance parties are great, there's no doubt. But sometimes a DJ just doesn't emit enough energy all by himself. Sometimes you need the boost that only a live group can deliver. Luckily, a bunch of fun party bands has sprung up in town over the past few years — groups who know how to rock out without alienating the dancefloor. These are four of the best. Wallpaper They started out as a goof, a nutty way for Eric Frederick to... More >>

  • Readers' Poll Winners

    Best Comic Artist Steve Leialoha Best Comedian/Comedy Troupe BATS Improv Best Writer Broke-Ass Stuart, aka Stuart Schuffman Best Local Rock Band/Musician ArnoCorps Best Cover Band Zoo Station Best Music Radio Station KFOG, 104.5 Best Local Hip-Hop Act The Coup Best Radio DJ Dave Morey Best Place to See Live Music Great American Music Hall Best Indie Music Label Om Records Best Movie Theater The Castro Theatre Best Theater Company American Conservatory Theater Best Stage Actor/Actress Paige Rogers (Cutting Ball Theater)... More >>

  • Best Artist

    Michael Arcega

    Known — and collected — for punning relentlessly in the face of bigotry and despair, Michael Arcega is a very intelligent, very talented goofball. Among his works are a series of “drawings” he made by gluing hair onto white paper. Each meticulous, detailed image is titled for maximum wordplay: Disast-hair, Hairly (a motorbike). Elsewhere he conflated cockroaches, military vehicles, and neon signage to create Tanks a Lot, 300-inch-long wooden tanks infesting a bathroom plus a sign reading “This Toilet Is... More >>

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