Sister Dana sez, “As we went to press before the election results were announced, Sister Dana is now either popping champagne corks for the glorious victory of President Hillary Clinton or packing a U-Haul for his new life in Canada.”
NOCHE DE AMBIENTE was a VIP Reception with the GLBT HISTORICAL SOCIETY Board of Directors and staff at their newest exhibition, “NOCHE DE AMBIENTE: LATINX LIFE FROM THE 1970S TO THE 1990S” at the GLBT History Museum, 4127 18th Street. For decades, Spanish speakers in many parts of the Western Hemisphere have recognized the word ambiente—literally meaning “atmosphere” or “environment”—as a coded reference. Queer Latinas and Latinos have used the word to identify themselves, their distinctive cultures, and their spirit of resistance. The term is at the heart of a new exhibition that debuted October 28 at the GLBT History Museum. The show opens a window into the meanings of “ambiente” as reflected in Latino drag performance and LGBTQ and AIDS activism in San Francisco from the 1970s into the 1990s. Curated by JULIANA DELGADO LOPERA AND ÁNGEL RAFAEL “RALPH” VÁZQUEZCONCEPCIÓN, the exhibition brings together documents, images, and videos from the GLBT Historical Society’s archives as well as materials contributed by community members. At the reception, Lopera and Vazquez treated us to a lively pre-presentation salsa dance exhibition. “Growing up in Puerto Rico, the word ‘ambiente’ was familiar; I heard it a lot when I was a kid in the ‘80s,” said Vázquez-Concepción. “Later I came to understand the shielding effect it has. Like a spell, it turns the space it refers to into Latinx queer domain.” Delgado Lopera first learned the word from the woman she sees as her queer mother, Adela Vázquez, who told Lopera stories that opened an underground world of queer Latinidad invisible to the public eye. Through Vázquez she met many queer Latinas and Latinos active during the 1980s and 1990s, some of whom formed her chosen family. “I’m committed to the unearthing and preservation of their stories because they’re part of me, they created openings for me to exist,” Lopera said.
Executive Director Terry Beswick welcomed us and announced there are just four years left on the lease at the Castro museum, prompting “Vision 2020” as the program to expand into a world-class museum space. To kick off Vision2020, he said they are launching a $75,000 year-end fundraising drive with a $30,000 matching challenge from three exceptional donors: Al Baum, Elisabeth Cornu, and the Excelerate Foundation. “Thanks to their generosity, new donations or increased gifts from previous donors that we receive by the end of 2016 will be matched dollar for dollar,” he said. All donations are tax-deductible. Beswick said this exhibition was but “a teaser” of what could have occurred in a larger venue to display the massive amount of Latinx queer culture—past and present. He also thanked Nucha Empanadas for sponsoring the opening of Noche de Ambiente with a delicious array of fresh-baked empanadas! Yum! As a very special presentation, the illustrious veteran Latinx drag queen, Adela Vázquez, appeared decked out in full-length black sequined gown, red glittered roses in her black feathered wig, pearls, and high heels of death to sing live. She tore up the floor with singing, dancing, and emoting. Sister Dana congratulated congratulated her later when she dressed down in less flamboyant drag, saying in what little I still retain in Spanish from being the Spanish Club president in high school, “Buena, muy bonita, and besos from Hermana Dana!” She responded, winking and lifting her wine glass while sending air smooches.
Several of the 81 pieces stand out for me: the 1975 handwritten letter from Mayor-Elect George Moscone to gay activist Professor George Raya; a 1978 nude photo of AIDS activist Roberto Jesus “Bob” Vargas (1954–1997); a 1986 photo of The Tropical Heat Wave Silver Peacock Grand Duchess XIV Lola Lust; detail from a brochure for Proyecto ContraSIDA Por Vida; a 1990 photo of a group of Latinx drag performers and members of the trans community in the Castro during Pride, with Adela Vasquez in the center; and the 1991 San Francisco Examiner news clippings of Latinx AIDS activists occupying INS HQ protesting the exclusion of HIV-positive immigrants and visitors. The final framed window (number 82) concludes in calligraphy, “La historia continua!” This amazing exhibition continues through February 2017 at the GLBT History Museum.
PROJECT INFORM held their annual fundraiser, “EVENING OF HOPE – A NIGHT OF LIFESAVING FASHION” in the Green Room at the San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center. This is always San Francisco’s most unique party complete with cocktails, culinary delights, and clever condom couture. All proceeds from the event went to fight HIV and hepatitis C in the U.S.—supporting individuals to make informed choices about their health. Project Inform is a national nonprofit that supports thousands of individuals and families each year. Donna Sachet was the live auctioneer (and joked with me that the Green Room really should have tried to match her green gown). This year’s entertainment included Jason Brock belting out the Tina Turner classic, “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” and the Billy Joel number that shot Brock to stardom on America’s Got Talent, “New York State of Mind”—accompanied on piano by Dee Spencer—along with DJ Christopher B. spinning tunes. Executive Director Dana Van Gorder (whom I lovingly kid as being another “DanaVan” to my first two names of my Sister Name) spoke of the progress of Project Inform in the process to end HIV and Hepatitis C. He presented the Thomas M. Kelley Leadership Award to three board members who will be leaving soon: Vice President Fred Dillon, Brenden Shucart, and Christopher Esposito. Nine designers put together some truly incredible couture designed partially or fully out of condoms and condom packages: Borris Powell, Rickie Lee, Jose Lopez, Ellie MJ, Jared Auckland, Sandra Raya, Amanda Carrillo, Charlie B., and Hector Manuel. Van Gorder said he was grateful for nine years of service, and gave deep appreciation to Michael Armentrout, PI’s brand new Development Director, Philip Walker, Development Manager, and Emily Mariko-Sanders, Operations and Program Manager. I simply have to point out the creative table decorations of jars of buttons, spools of thread, and a tape measure wrapped around a candle. So totally thematic!
I had the privilege of joining over a dozen fans of the extraordinary comic MARGA GOMEZ at the Castro ARTSAVESLIVES gallery for her rehearsal of her upcoming off-Broadway one woman show, “LATIN STANDARDS.” This multi-media show features stories about her talented Latin performer father and later on, stories and video from Esta Noche gay nightclub in the Mission—especially during the closing night. Congratz, Marga!
One of the biggest cult sci-fi sensations got a drag makeover just in time for Halloween. D’Arcy Drollinger presented “BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER LIVE!” at Oasis nightclub. Based on the popular 90’s supernatural television series known for its groundbreaking themes, smart quips, and indie-rock score, Buffy the Vampire Slayer LIVE! was a loving tribute and high-camp parody of the characters and situations that so deeply affected a generation. Adapted and directed by D’Arcy Drollinger, it featured Michael Phillis (as Buffy), Kim Burly, Melanie Marshall, Flynn DeMarco, Adam Roy, John Paul Gonzalez, Laura LeBleu, Sergio Lobito, Sue Casa, Laundra Tyme, and D’Arcy Drollinger as the Master. D’Arcy’s productions are always fully freakin’ fantastic!
GRAND DUKE PETER “UPHORIA” GRIGGS AND GRAND DUCHESS MIGITTE NIELSON in conjunction with THE GRAND DUCAL COUNCIL OF SAN FRANCISCO held their INVESTITURE at Oasis nightclub, where they introduced their new court: The Royal House of the Beautiful Butterfly and the Penguin of Peace! The theme was “BACK TO THE 80’s” – “From Prom to Punk.” The Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco, Inc., is a predominantly gay 501(c)(3) nonprofit fund raising organization. Formed in 1973 as a more camp-oriented response to San Francisco’s Imperial Court System by H.L. Perry, who reigned as the Court’s Grand Duchess I, the Grand Ducal Council raises money for a wide array of charity organizations through large annual costume balls and various other, smaller fund raisers throughout the year. We love them! In the late 1980’s, a group of gay guys came together in San Francisco and founded “MAX.” The name did not mean anything—they just wanted something that sounded masculine. The group was founded as a social club for gay men (and their friends) where they could meet, connect, and have fun together. Its purpose was to help people make friends and to bring joy into life during the darkest years of the AIDS Crisis. Today they are putting together a new “MAX 2.0” and giving it a test run for 6 months to see if people want to get onboard. Membership is free. To help make this experiment fly, email MAX 2.0 Chair: phil@askphilwalker. com I was unable to attend this November MAX TGIF event at the City Club, but I heard I got a shout out anyway. The next TGIF is on December 2, 5 to 8 pm. Let’s do this!
SISTER DANA SEZ, “ASSUMING THE AWFUL TRUMPOCALYPSE & TRUMPMAGEDDON HAVEN’T HAPPENED, HERE ARE SOME FUN HAPPENINGS!”
Between October 2014 and June 2015, THE ROYAL BRITISH COMEDY THEATRE has staged all 12 episodes of Seasons One and Two of the Brit hit, “ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: LIVE!” under clever Christian Heppinstall’s direction. And now RCBT brings British TV’s most stylish dysfunctional family back in two exciting episodes this fall in “ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: LIVE! – SEASON THREE” with two episodes, “SEX” and “SMALL OPENING” live on stage at The Exit Theatre, 156 Eddy Street, now through November 19, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, 8 pm. Starring ZsaZsa Lufthansa as Patsy, Terry McLaughlin as Edina, Dene Larson as Saffy, Raya Light as Bubble, Lisa Appleyard as Justin and Christopher, Ginorma Desmond as David, Sarah and Edina 2, and Ryan Engstrom as Gran. Also starring Steven Sparrow, Lisa Darter and Hilda Roe. Sister Dana sez, “If you miss this, it’s boo-hoo, so sad, squish squish, sweetiedarlings!” rbct.us
CASTRO STREET ARTSAVESLIVES STUDIO AND GALLERY presents the “NOVEMBER SHOW OF ARTISTS & PERFORMERS” at 518 Castro Street on November 11, 6–9:30 pm. Some of the artists include: LiamPeters, Bonita Cohn, Joel Hoyer, Martin Freeman, David York, Chuck Drees , Bill Bowers, Kate Rosenberger, Celia, Scarlet Astrid, Frank Pietronigro, Ed Terpening, Wes Loesch, J-Wo, and Cystal Karmanov. Performers include: Lynnee Breedlove, Scarlet Astrid, Ash Fisher, Kristine Wilson, and more! As always, free wine, beer, water, and food provided, courtesy of gallery owner/artist Thomasina De Maio. It’s a no-commission gallery, and all proceeds go to the artists.
Create the queer sports fantasy you could never have dreamed of back in high school. COMFORT & JOY presents TOUCH:BASE, a C&J spin on a sports-themed shtick. Comfort & Joy is a welcoming community that advances queer values globally and at Burning Man by building community and creating spaces celebrating art and creative expression. This is not your typical masc4masc gear party. They’re building a league of their own and queering an institution, so slap some sequins on a jockstrap and dust a little glitter on your shoulder pads. Faggotry is fair play and revelry is requisite. Decor worthy of an opening ceremony will be provided by head coach Chickpea and a team of local artists. At 11:30 pm, Oakland’s very own Beatrix LaHaine, Creator and Priestess of the Tragic Queendom, will flex her incredible entertainment skills and present a halftime show of pumped up proportions. Saturday, November 12, 10 pm–5 am, Nov 12 at Club Six, 60 6th Street.
The 2016 SAN FRANCISCO TRANSGENDER FILM FESTIVAL will take place at the Roxie Theater, 3125 16th Street, November 10–13. The San Francisco Transgender Film Festival was founded in 1997 as North America’s first transgender film festival. They exhibit groundbreaking, provocative, outrageous, courageous, moving, and innovative works that show the complexity of lives lived on the transgender spectrum. For info and program schedule, visit sftff.org
On Saturday, November 12, join THE RUBBER WOMEN OF SAN FRANCISCO and WAGZ PACK at ARTSAVES LIVES, 518 Castro Street, 8:30–11:30 pm for a formal fundraiser benefitting both clubs, celebrating the arts and abundant talent within the Leather Community. Starting with a Spanish dinner, guests will be seated “parlour style” to enjoy classical dance, music, literature, and cinema all performed or produced by folks within the Leather community. Complimentary wine and beer will be served by hooded butlers, collared service submissives, and sissy maids. After the entertainment concludes, enjoy dessert and a panel style discussion with all of the artists where friendly questions are encouraged. Dress Code: Formal Leather and Fetishwear. Rubber encouraged. Black tie optional. eventbrite.com/e/rubber-salon-tickets
PEACHES CHRIST PRODUCTIONS presents “SHEETLEJUICE,” an all-new, all-drag theatrical parody of everyone’s favorite ghost with the most, now featuring everyone’s favorite queen of mean! Starring Bianca Del Rio as Sheetlejuice, Peaches Christ as Lydia, and many, many more of your SF-drag favorites. Don’t miss the World Premiere of Peaches’ latest movie send-up, taken from the wild and unabashed cult film Beetlejuice, starring Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Geena Davis, Alec Baldwin, Jeffrey Jones and Catharine O’Hara. The live show will precede a screening of the 1988 film—all at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro Street, November 19, 3 and 8 pm. peacheschrist.com
The Drag Kings are taking over the stage at Oasis, 298 Eleventh Street in “STAR TREK LIVE! “D’Arcy Drollinger’s send-up of the classic Star Trek episode, MIRROR MIRROR, runs November 17–December 10, Wednesdays, Thursdays at 8 pm; Fridays, Saturdays at 7 pm. This “only in San Francisco” gender-bending farce of one of America’s most beloved sci-fi TV shows plays as a Limited Engagement—only 14 performances. Sfoasis.com
“FOTOHOTO” is a sexy photo series now on the gallery walls of STRUT, the 470 Castro Street gaybi- trans men’s health and well-being center. The made-up word gets its title from the Spanish words “foto” and “joto” which translate to “photo” and “faggot” respectively. The artist, FABIAN ECHEVARRIA, says, “Growing up knowing, forgetting, and relearning Spanish has given me a unique experience as a gay Latinx man. There were instances in my life that I was shamed by others for not speaking Spanish fluently, not being dark enough, not straight enough, not Mexican enough, and being too gay. There is a constant pressure in this society to chase the projection of an ideal. The intention of HOTO with an ‘H’ is an acknowledgement of the off-center, nonstandard, ‘un-lable-able’ aspects of queer Latino men living in the U.S., while also embracing our intercultural differences, shortcomings, and our journey of learning. I want FOTOHOTO to be a reminder of the beauty of ourselves and the perfect ‘imperfections’ that make us who we are.” The incurable romantic that Sister Dana is, I really enjoy the “Besos Set of Four” (“besos” translating to “kisses”) of four different gay male couples kissing, as well as “The Throuple” of three gay men snuggling on a couch. At the reception for FOTOHOTO, San Francisco AIDS Foundation Community Organizer Baruch Porras-Hernandez introduced Echevarria, who brought up about a dozen of his handsome models for a photo-op. Fabian said he was grateful to Strut for helping him get onto the Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, as a way for people who do not have HIV but who are at substantial risk. strutsf.org
Sister Dana sez, “What is happening lately with this weird fad of men attending Agay formal affairs dressed in formal attire, but rolling up the pants cuffs to reveal bare ankles and feet without socks in shoes?! Ew.”