Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Getting Drunk With: Brontez Purnell 

Wednesday, Dec 9 2015
Comments (1)

Brontez Purnell has a hole in his jeans.

I've gotten many pairs of pants patched up in the crotch, which wears out quickly when you bike a lot. Although I know Purnell is a cyclist, too, he says that's not what caused it.

"It's for easy access," he says without hesitation. "I don't have any morals or a future."

We're sitting in Martuni's, the cabaret bar on Valencia and Market, where we established at the outset that we're going to order "girly drinks." Purnell, a choreographer, frontman for the Younger Lovers, author of the zine Fag School and the novella Johnny Would You Love Me (if My Dick Were Bigger), mulls over the possibility of a Sex on the Beach. He hesitates because bartenders get mad whenever he orders the blended version.

"I'm like, 'Just make my goddamn drink.' I don't know what a Sex on the Beach is."

"Vodka, peach Schnapps, orange juice, and cran," I say.

"That's not hard to make!" he says. "Why are people so angry?"

Purnell orders a Peach Fuzz instead and asks the bartender for some popcorn, but the machine is broken. She says we can go to Safeway and bring some back as long as it doesn't have a strong aroma. He's not interested in that Plan B, so we agree to eat nothing at all and get irresponsibly intoxicated, quickly.

I notice that Purnell has a flip phone. It's almost stunning to behold, like an artifact from a pre-Columbian civilization. I'm so taken aback that I ask if it's a Motorola Razr, which I remember being the "it" phone before Apple got into the game. (It's a Kyocera.)

"Everyone always asks that!" he says.

Now that he's gotten a $40,000 Media Work Fund grant to make an experimental documentary about Ed Mock, a gay black San Francisco choreographer who died in 1986, Purnell has been getting lots of passive-aggressive shade about how he won't ever make it in the industry brandishing mid-aughts technology during meetings.

"I was like, 'Whatever!' But the day I have to go to Sprint to change it, it's going to be a fucking mess. Fuck 'em! I'm sick of people telling you what to do. You ever feel like the world is trying to take away everything you love?"

Purnell's punk cred goes deeper than that. He's lived in East Bay warehouses for many years, including one stretch in a place owned by a gay ex-Marine who was a roadie for Green Day. It was also a punk venue where someone had reconfigured a vintage Coke machine to sell beers for 75 cents.

Around 2006, he lived around the block from Martuni's. These days, San Francisco disappoints Purnell because there's no possibility of a hidden neighborhood full of young people doing interesting things. After a recent visit to Chicago, he considered moving there, but a candid talk with a friend persuaded him otherwise.

"I was really digging it. I went to this house party and it was sick as fuck, but it's like seven months of hibernating. You don't see anybody. You just sit in the house and read and gain weight."

Purnell claims he's begun to lose interest in going out now that he's 33 and everyone in the bars seems hypnotized by their phones, but he laments that if you're involved in art forms that "are not related to nightlife, it will go unnoticed." He wants to establish a writers' group, but not one that meets every month and assigns homework — one that meets in concentrated bursts, a couple times a year.

"Go somewhere where there's alcohol and talk about what you're doing," he says. "Maybe you share something and maybe you don't. But it's not like a study group: Make the meeting 45 minutes, and then just get drunk. The Beats never talked, they just got drunk together, and their style formed. But they're kind of stuck-up, white bitches."

By the time we finish our third drinks — a French Martini for him and a Cosmo for me — he's interrogating me about the padlocked collar that I wear, which signifies my relationship status with an older, dominant guy.

"I want to wear one and have it represent my college loan debt," he says. "That shit wasn't fucking worth it. It took 12 years for me to get a dance degree."

At this point, we've barely discussed his band, his solo record, or Since I Laid My Burden Down..., the novel he's releasing next year on City Lights Books' Sister Spit imprint. We pretty much talk exclusively about his sex life, even when I prod him for details of the Younger Lovers' recent tour of the Pacific Northwest or their forthcoming swing through Europe. (He is single, thinks he's too picky, and spent almost the entirety of Folsom Street Fair weekend at Steamworks, the sex club in Berkeley.)

"I've heard the guys would love me in Germany," he says. "They like black guys, but it's always these Mandingo types. I have body fat, and my voice is very musical. I'm just not the archetype, so when they say they like black guys, it's not me. But I will wiggle the fuck in there! Someone's gonna love me."

Tags:

About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Bio:
Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

 

Comments are closed.

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"