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    Sister Dana sez, “April showers bring MayFlowers, but who wants a bunch of oppressive Puritan immigrants sailing on ships coming to our shores?!”

    By Sister Dana Van Iquity

    Sister Dana sez, “April showers bring MayFlowers, but who wants a bunch of oppressive Puritan immigrants sailing on ships coming to our shores?!”

    The monthly CASTRO ART WALK gave us art aficionados a lovely evening (despite the rain) to soak in (sorry about the pun) the talent on display all over the Castro district. Alas, Kitten on the Keys had been scheduled to perform in Jane Warner Plaza, but had to cancel due to her distaste for electrocution on keyboards. Participating venues included Art Attack SF, 2358 Market Street Suite 1; Spark Arts, 4229 18th Street; Local Take, 3979 17th Street; Skin on Market, 2299 Market Street; The Artist’s Gallery, 4406 18th Street Suite A; Norden Living, 3618 17th Street; 440 Castro, 440 Castro Street (duh); Ruby’s Clay Studio & Gallery, 552A Noe Street for the POTtery heads; Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties, 2324B Market Street; Blackbird Bar, 2124 Market Street; Brewcade, 2200 Market Street; and The Apothecarium, 2029 Market Street. I give the addresses, because most of these venues will be displaying the art—whatever is left over after sales—all month long. I especially encourage visits to Art Attack SF with “Into the Wild,” a rotating group exhibition of works by 47 California-based artists inspired by nature, sharing a connection to nature via subject matter or materials used in appreciation of Earth Month. I really enjoyed Local Take with lots of animals portrayed. And I strongly suggest a visit to Spark Arts with the poetic genius of Barbara Piper nailed next to the beautiful paintings entitled “Gate of Destiny” by Ronit Hendel showing a journey of struggle to find a form of expression in a new country. Hendel moved to San Francisco in 2016 to be with the love of her life. She had always lived in Israel and had not yet been in the situation where English was the main language. That night, we were treated to music by the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts band. So, to sum it all up: bravo for the April Castro Art Walk!

    STRUT, the gay/bi men’s health and social wellbeing center in the Castro, is now exhibiting the art of DANYOL LEON, a San Francisco-based, multidisciplinary, Latinx artist who has been active in the Bay Area arts community for over 15 years. His saccharine, pop-influenced mixed media art utilizes bright colors and cartoon-like figures to explore intersectional identity and the inconsistencies in our social fabric. His exhibition is punnily entitled IT’S ALL IN THE JEANS and will be on display all April at 470 Castro Street. His artist statement is quite illustrative: “As we move through life, so many of us restrain our sense of selves to fit a mask. We want to be just like everyone else, and in doing so go unnoticed. That mask, while often metaphorical to represent gender norms, racial norms, class norms, is a very particular experience for people of size. Fitting a mask, obfuscating one’s true self by avoiding certain clothes, styles, and situations for fear of rejection, is a survival tactic for larger folks. We do it to avoid pain, and to avoid the gaze of judgment from others, and from themselves. Rarely do I see large men in art pieces, and certainly not connected to gender fluidity or pleasure.” He continues, “We are told from a very young age that our bodies have betrayed us, that we carry the fat gene, and that our lives will be a struggle. We are covered up and desexualized to be a piece of the background. It’s my experience that in life, large men are contained to the background, and told that they won’t be admired—especially if you’re also a person of color, transgender, shorter, of femme.” He says his work offers a different perspective as “a celebration of large, beautiful male bodies exploring their size, their genders, and their relationship to pleasure without any barriers—genetic, or otherwise.” At the reception on April 6, Community Organizer Baruch Porras-Hernandez introduced the artist, so afterwards I was able to approach Leon to admire his work. He then suggested that moi and some of the other brave Sisters should pose nude for his next project. Yaaassss, Queeen!!! But getting back to the display that will be showing all month, I must say that my fave was “Jacket Required” in a very loose and sexy interpretation of a jacket; followed by number 2 preference, “Black Tie Affair,” complete with actual ties pasted on; and third place was “Toe on Point,” appealing to the ballet diva deep in me. If you like these pieces, please do contact danyolleon@gmail.com and check out strutsf.org

    OPENHOUSE held their annual SPRING FLING celebration at the Ritz-Carlton with a delicious brunch and a program honoring LGBTQ older people and those fighting to keep them central in our lives and our community. As Openhouse’s biggest fundraising event of the year, monies raised through Spring Fling are critical to providing and expanding quality programs and services for LGBTQ seniors. Members of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus opened the event with rousing gay anthems. 2018 honorees included Kate Kendell and Cecilia C Chung, both having dedicated their careers to fight with unwavering strength to better the lives of our community. After brunch they brought back the Tea Dance, hosted by DJs Sergio Fedasz and Steve Fabus of longtime San Francisco disco/dance club institution Go BANG! Also recognized were city nightlife and activism champions Donna Personna and Collette LeGrande. Executive Director Karyn Skultety spoke of how just a year ago they opened the first LGBTQ-welcoming senior affordable housing in the Bay Area—along with a permanent headquarters. Since that time, they have supported the development of an incredible group of residents (68% of whom identify as SLBTQ, and 57% from communities of color). And 100% have engaged in Openhouse programs and services in the first year. They call these folks GenOUT. She pointed out the need to address the startling fact that over 30% of seniors in San Francisco are living in poverty—a number that has dramatically increased in the past four years. Skultety concluded, “We ask you to believe in the power that comes from the experiences of a generation of activists who had to fight to come out, and now fight to stay out as they age!”  

    Zounds! Me thinketh this musical, HEAD OVER HEELS, truly slayeth! Forsooth! Imagine a musical featuring the many delightful songs of THE GO-GO’S with the setting back in Elizabethan times and most of the dialogue in Shakespearean iambic pentameter! It concerns a royal family that must prevent an oracle’s prophecy of doom. In order to save their beloved kingdom, the family embarks on a wild and wacky journey loaded with mistaken identities, jealous lovers, sexual awakening, same-sex love, binary sexuality, scandal, and self-discovery, where everything (and everyone) is not quite what it seems. Let’s just say it’s the gayest play since La Cage aux Folles. The principal cast features Andrew Durand (Spring Awakening), Taylor Iman Jones (Groundhog Day), Jeremy Kushnier (Cirque du Soleil Paramour), Bonnie Milligan (Kinky Boots tour; Broadway debut), Peppermint (RuPaul’s Drag Race; and the first trans-woman actress to create a principal role on Broadway), Tom Alan Robbins (The Lion King, original cast), Alexandra Socha (Spring Awakening), and Rachel York(Disaster!). Seventeen of The Go-Go’s iconic hit songs include “We Got the Beat,” “Get Up and Go,” “Cool Jerk,” “Vacation,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Lust to Love,” “Head Over Heels,” and Belinda Carlisle’s solo hits “Mad About You” and “Heaven is a Place on Earth.” Heaven is this musical! The fun runs at the Curran, 445 Geary Street, through May 6. sfcurran.com

    We attended a lovely reception featuring Bay Area artists and their take on “NITE LIFE” at the office of Senator Scott Wiener at 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 14800. Curated by Joseph Abbati, these artists came from all different backgrounds, ages, sexual orientations, countries of origin, races, and artistic styles. They represented all of the incredible diversity of the San Francisco Bay, and their pieces were just as diverse. The artists included Torrey Spoerer, Diane Heron, Catherine Gutierrez, Nathalie Fabri, Rikki List, Billy Douglas, Chad Berwald, E. Wendell Shinn, Susan West, ENTROPY, aka Bianca Nandzik, Jeffrey Yip, Deirdre Weinberg, Tim Armstrong, Chloe Meyer, Athena Kim, Stephanie Peek, Suzanne Engelberg, Dyanna Dimick, Nick Aitken, Judy Joy Jones, Nancy Calef, Scott Fin, Ole Johnson, Myke Reilly, and Joseph Abbati. One of my favorite series is by Nick Aitken, glossy photos entitled “URBAN JUNGLE,” depicting naked men painted to resemble “a climbing leopard,” “a sleeping tiger,” “a tricky cheetah,” “a white tiger,” “a giraffe,” and “a zebra”—all on the prowl midnight in the SoMa. Truly representing Night Life is a hardwood, glass, resin, acrylic, and LED assembled “Pulse” by OLE, a lot of dots that light up, blink, and change patters. “Night Owl” appeals to the night owl in me with a mixed media piece by Rikki List of guy and gal owls drinking and dancing while a huge clock runs backwards, counterclockwise. And you can’t have nightlife without drag queens, so Joseph Abbati provides a series of DQs including TurleenCarnie Asada, Pollo Del Mar, and Grace Towers. Senator Wiener proudly brought to the front the artists who are participating all month long. He noted that San Francisco is “such a natural place for artists to be inspired by.” He said his office never looked better and always impresses his guests. He mentioned his bill in Sacramento to allow bars and dance clubs to stay open until 4 am, encouraging much more nightlife.

    The SF LGBT CENTER presented SOIREE 2018 at Terra Gallery, 511 Harrison Street, for an extraordinary evening celebrating community. The mission of the SF LGBT Center is to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources, and each other to achieve the vision of a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBT people and our allies. When visitors arrive at the Center, they find free services like career counseling, job fairs, computer lab, social activities, mentorships, youth meals, daycare, various workshops, and much more. Here they can connect with other LGBT people and organize to secure our equal rights. The Center is truly the heart, home and hands of the San Francisco LGBT community. Together at Soiree, we helped to uplift the impact of their work, raise funds to expand their programs and services, and highlight their newly remodeled building, which breathes new life into their physical space and creates a sustainable home for future generations to come. Senator Mark Leno (who was heavily involved in the very beginning of the creation of the Community Center) and Senator Scott Wiener lauded the Center. Emmy award-winning CBS-TV & KCBS Host Liam Mayclem came back as Benefit Auctioneer. Event Co-chairs were Michelle King and Steve Schessler. Executive Director Rebecca Rolfe spoke about the renovation of the building and also addressed the plight of so many homeless queer youth in the City and how the Center was trying to help out. Juanita MORE! returned as Entertainment Director with a fabulous lineup of singers, dancers, half-naked hunks, and drag queens galore. A good time was had by all!

    Sister Dana sez, “Earth Day is April 22. Be sure to love your Mother Earth. And while you’re at it, check out these earthly delights held right here on planet Earth!”

    Donna Sachet is back. After 25 years of presenting Donna Sachet’s “SONGS OF THE SEASON,” which ended in December 2017, Donna is teaming up with RICHMOND/ERMET AID FOUNDATION (REAF) to present a brand new event, SONGS FOR NO REASON, a big gay comedy extravaganza featuring stand-up comedy and musical comedy. This outrageous evening of fun and merriment will benefit Positive Resource Center and REAF. The show is at The Russian Center of San Francisco, 2450 Sutter Street (between Divisadero and Broderick Streets) on Friday, April 20, 8 pm. Performers include Donna Sachet, Bruce Vilanch, Ronn Vigh, Kim Nalley, Shawn Ryan, Brian Kent, Kitty Tipata and Jessica Coker. reaf-sf.org  

    BOYS IN TROUBLE is having its World Premiere: Thursday–Saturday April 19–21 at Z Space, 450 Florida Street at 17th Street. This dance exhibition hits the stage as America grapples with toxic masculinity, the Trans revolution, and renewed attacks on trans and LGBTQ rights. In turns powerful, explosive, devastatingly honest, humorous and sexy, it offers an urgent and timely examination of American masculinity’s deep roots in Trouble. SEAN DORSEY DANCE’s award-winning, multi-generational ensemble performs these athletic dances with gusto—moving seamlessly between full-throttle dancing, live speaking, and intimate storytelling. zspace.org/boys-in-trouble

    KREWE DE KINQUE is a social charitable club founded in 2004 that raises awareness and funds in the spirit of Mardi Gras in San Francisco. Join Queen XV Miss Chief and King XV Gooch of Krewe de Kinque as we host our monthly $10 Beer/Soda Bust at the EDGE, 4149 18th Street in the Castro. Win fabulous raffle prizes. Support our fundraising efforts and buy Jell-o shots for your friends. We’ll have some of the best Drag and Live entertainers in the City. This is an open show with tips going to our next beneficiary via our Bal Masque Fund. Tell ’em Queen VII Sister Dana sent ya!

    MEGABYTES! THE MUSICAL is a world premiere musical comedy revue playing now through May 5 at Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter Street. Two performances, Fridays and Saturdays, 8 pm. The show takes a humorous look at how we navigate technology in our lives. It’s about the frustrations, anxieties, annoyances, and occasional joys we encounter as we all struggle to cope with the frustrating challenges created by technology. megabytesthemusical.com

    DINING OUT FOR LIFE SAN FRANCISCO is a day-long fundraising event where the San Francisco restaurant community invites you to join the fight against AIDS. On Tuesday, April 24, dine out at a participating restaurant and 25% or more of your bill will be donated to support the free, local HIV prevention and care services that SAN FRANCISCO AIDS FOUNDATION provides to more than 25,000 people each year. For more info and to see which eatery offers this fundraiser see doflsf.org/participating-restaurants

    LYRIC is turning 30 and they want to celebrate with you! Join them for a night of community and LYRIC youth creativity. The theme is UNITY IS RESILIENCE. LYRIC’s 30th anniversary party is Thursday, April 26, 5:30 to 7:30 pm at their headquarters, 127 Collingwood Street. Please RSVP to the LYRIC ANNUAL OPEN HOUSE event page, facebook.com/events/1636579716461578

    THEATRE RHINOCEROS presents THEATRE RHINO FUNDRAISER at Beaux, 2344 Market Street, on April 28, 3–6 pm with gorgeous guys, great raffle prizes, superb entertainment, and gourmet Jell-o shots. It will be a fun-filled afternoon of beer busting and celebrating to help support Theatre Rhinoceros. therhino.org

    Sister Dana sez, “My newest hero in the ongoing anti-Trump campaign is former FBI Director James Comey with his new book, ‘A Higher Loyalty,’ where he calls the presidency a ‘forest fire’ doing serious damage to the country’s norms and traditions, and says T-rump is ‘unethical and untethered to the truth.’ Bravo!”