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The underbelly of San Francisco's bar scene

THURS 6/24

What is a dive bar, anyway? Is it a run-down place with sticky floors and lewd graffiti in the bathrooms? A dark, edgy hangout for the disreputable drunk? Or just a joint with a jukebox, a pool table, and (in the case of a certain hangout that bills itself as "your dive") the faint smell of cat pee?

Whatever your definition, there are some fundamentals: It must serve cheap booze, it cannot have a theme or fancy in-house cocktails, and the bartenders must be fair but surly. You shouldn't have to dress up or wait in line to get in. The thing is, a truly great dive bar is hard to find. Fortunately, here comes SF Weekly contributor (and former calendar editor) Todd Dayton to the rescue. His new book, San Francisco's Best Dive Bars: Drinking and Diving in the City by the Bay, has just been released, and we feel sure it'll be the definitive pub crawl handbook for those in the know. Dayton reads at 7 p.m. at Get Lost Travel Books, 1825 Market (at Guerrero), S.F. Admission is free; call 437-0529 or visit
-- Lori Selke

Sin Is In

SAT 6/26

Sexual mores have degenerated to the point where I'm not sure it's wise to call an event the "Sinner's Ball." You say "sinner" to me these days, and instead of picturing buxom broads gyrating in garter belts, I'm thinking the party's going to be loaded with Satanists, or shoplifters, or, I dunno, people planning to vote for Ralph Nader or something. But of course this "fetish multimedia play party" features the kind of user-friendly smut that locals typically go wild over: onstage BDSM demos from cruel mistresses, dark-and-sultry dance floor beats from Die J! Mars (best known for his turntable gigs at the Black & Blue Ball) and Netik (a regular at the DNA Lounge's monthly goth club "MEAT"), kinky video art and photography, and a "dungeon playspace" presided over by a friendly dominatrix. Partygoers are advised to wear something fetching and naughty (no street clothes allowed) and join the filthy goings-on starting at 9:30 p.m. at the Rawhide, 280 Seventh St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10; call 621-1197.
-- Joyce Slaton

Doing Bette Davis One Better
The Rhino's take on All About Eve

THURS 6/24

"Fasten your seat belts -- it's going to be a bumpy night. " If that line sounds familiar, it's because Bette Davis first gave it life in the 1950 flick All About Eve. Nominated for more awards than you can shake an Oscar at and stuffed with wink-wink, nudge-nudge dialogue, this classic film tells the story of a young Broadway ingénue named Eve Harrington, who wiggles her way into the life of famous older actress Margo Channing. The clever Eve starts off as Margo's personal assistant, but slowly begins to infiltrate the diva's social circles, meddling in her business and stooping to back-stabbing measures in order to ensure her own success. With the help of a catty theater critic, Eve also gains accolades as Margo's understudy, and the mild contest soon becomes a down-and-dirty competition with lies and rumors spreading faster than the West Nile virus.

Now we've got Theatre Rhinoceros staging the original uncut screenplay written by Joseph Mankiewicz (which contains scenes later edited out of the film). Though we'll miss the cold ferocity of Davis, her legendary Margo is in good hands with Matthew Martin. Martin is well prepared for the role -- in fact, he played Bette Davis in last season's Christmas With the Crawfords. Despite the drag, the Rhino production isn't meant to be campy, says director John Fisher: "We're taking this classic text and doing it as a real play. ... We're trying to do a very faithful production." Awe About Eve opens tonight at 8 (and runs through July 18) at Theatre Rhinoceros, 2926 16th St. (at South Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $15-25; call 861-5079 or visit
-- Karen Macklin

Be Mine, Epstein

FRI 6/25

At the "Pride Concert: All You Need Is Love," the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band celebrate the underappreciated gay Beatles manager Brian Epstein with an outburst of Fab Four tunes. Shunned by the music community and the conservative mainstream in the 1960s, Epstein still helmed the world's most famous band. Sing along starting at 8 p.m. at Mission High School, 3750 18th St. (at Dolores), S.F. Admission is $10-40; call 865-3650 or visit
-- Hiya Swanhuyser


SUN 6/27

Old salts are already polishing up their hooked hands for 826 Valencia's "Pirate Party," a feast of maritime yuks like peg leg races, a Best Dressed Pirate competition, staring contests, and shouting matches. Join Ol' Chumbucket and Cap'n Slappy as they read from their guide to pirate slang at 7 p.m. at 826 Valencia (at 19th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 642-5905 or visit
-- Joyce Slaton


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