Sister Dana Sez: Words of Wisdumb From a Fun Nun

sisterdanaBy Sister Dana Van Iquity

Sister Dana sez, “The latest polling on the U.S. Senate races is not good. Repugnicans need 6 seats to take control, and they’re easily within striking distance of pulling it off. If that happens, we can kiss the rest of Obama’s second term goodbye. To say nothing of the mid-terms.”

MARC HUESTIS PRODUCTIONS presented PUTTING ON THE RITZ, a gala celebration of Tony, Grammy, Emmy, Oscar winner RITA MORENO live in person at the Castro Theatre. The evening was a fundraiser for LET’S KICK ASS (AIDS Survivor Syndrome), a grassroots movement of long-term
survivors.

Capping the evening was a rare screening of Terrence McNally’s hilarious 1976 comedy, The Ritz, a screwball farce taking place in a gay bathhouse. Moreno had recreated her Tony winning performance on stage as lovable, kooky Googie Gomez, queen of the baths – with her purposely off-key singing “Everything’s Coming Up Roses.” Hysterical! The studly Castro ushers appropriately wore nothing but white towels.

Prior to the movie, and before Ms Moreno’s appearance, Huestis had gathered film clips from Moreno’s career in musical dance – showing her expertise in such movies as Pagan Love Song (1950), The Toast of New Orleans (1950), Latin Lovers (1953), Garden of Evil (1954), The Vagabond King (1956), Popi (1969), her Oscar winning roles in The King and I (1956), and West Side Story (1961), as well as dramatic roles in This Rebel Breed (1960), Summer and Smoke (1961), The Night of the Following Day (1963), and as sexy “penis whisperer” in Carnal Knowledge (1971). She also won an Emmy for TV appearances on The Electric Company and The Muppet Show. She was the Jewish mama in TV’s Happily Divorced (2011-2013). She won the coveted Life Achievement Award from Screen Actors Guild this year at age 82, where she dropped an F-bomb on national TV.

Upstairs in the mezzanine, Moreno was kind enough to take photos of attendees and gave me a small interview in which I was surprised to discover The Ritz was not filmed in an actual bathhouse, but was an elaborate movie set. She told me, “It was great fun filming with a fantastic cast and a very, very funny script.” She laughed when I confessed to her that the very first time I ever saw The Ritz, I was in an actual gay bathhouse wearing only a towel. On stage was our hostess, Bathhouse Betty (played gorgeously by D’arcy Drollinger) revealing stories of being friends with Googie Gomez, and telling off-color jokes originally told by Sophie Tucker. Betty brought tap-happy Matthew Martin to dance and lip-synch superbly to “Putting on the Ritz.”

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Dennis McMillan and Rita Moreno. PHOTO BY STEVEN UNDERHILL

Huestis interviewed Moreno, where she told many an amusing anecdote and commented on her self-titled memoir, saying she wrote it to empower women and anyone who considered themselves an outsider, to “not effing give up!” She swore like a sailor but was always a lady. The book is also a tell-all about Hollywood over the years, and how difficult it was back then for a Latina actor to get a good part. She had “interesting” things to say about genius producer, director, choreographer Jerome Robbins as “a very mean, sadistic, self-loathing Jewish closeted homosexual (but never cruel to Moreno). She also told tales about her “rival,” Chita Rivera, and the drunken Joan Crawford. Finally, Moreno gifted us with a side-splitting song in her deliciously broken English Googie voice.

KREWE DE KINQUE, a Mardi Gras themed social and charitable organization, held our annual MARDI GRAS PARTY BUS & BAR CRAWL on Fat Tuesday (the translation of Mardi Gras from French language). A busload of revelers met at The Mix in the Castro to cocktail and jump onto the bus. Included on the bus were current reigning Emperor JP Soto and Empress Misty Blue, as well as several former KdK kings and queens and all our friends. We had Jell-O shots and beers on the bus, along with delicious N’awlins Creole cuisine. First stop was Trax in the Haight, where Queen VIII Garza performed “Don’t Tell Mama” and “I Don’t Care If the Sun Don’t Shine,” and King VII John Weber sang “Disco Inferno” and burned that muthah down, and then “Treasure” by Bruno Mars! Then off to 3300 Club. At the Edge, way past midnight, we held a Second Line Parade, gleefully marching around the joint, led by original founder and King I Gary Virginia. With the help of that party bus, we truly “Let the Good Times Roll!”

CALAMUS FELLOWSHIP held a new experimental event, SERVICE, a Beer Bacchanal and Revolutionary Faggot Worship Service, at the legendary 14th Street House, in the spirit of those beer busts famously orchestrated by the FEYBOY COLLECTIVE. Money donated went to Calamus, the faerie fellowship of the Bay. “We hold sexuality, playfulness, and community as sacred – now we want to see what alchemizes from their mixing,” said organizer Feyboy Kyle. “We’re flipping the idea of sex and celebration as sin. How will you choose to service your fellows?

First we gathered on the top floor for an abundant feast of “fruits for the fruits.” Then we went downstairs to the ritual room where Topsoil led us in meditation, having us ask: “What does queer spirituality mean to us?” and other inner examinations. We learned the meaning of “worship” is to “hold worthy.” Sam aka Dr. Manifesto led us in relaxation and body awareness exercises. Then Ed helped us give neck massages and eventually full body massages to changing partners. After that, the beer bust bacchanal began. Calamus hopes to regularly host these enlightening queer spirituality events. Check out feyboy.com.

MOMENTUM, the Annual Leadership Celebration by OUT & EQUAL was held at the Bently Reserve. Selisse Berry, founder and chief executive officer of Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, noted momentum towards achieving LGBTQ equality is building like never before. We can now be married in 17 states and in 18 countries around the world. But we can also be fired for being queer in 29 states. Our work is far from over.

We honored plaintiffs Kris Perry and Sandy Stier for their successful challenge to Proposition 8. Their case went all the way to the Supreme Court and resulted in a landmark victory for California. Their courage, and the courage of Edie Windsor in challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, forever changed the landscape of marriage equality in the United States. Berry concluded, “Out & Equal will continue to work tirelessly until everyone is judged by the work they do, and never by their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Emcee comic Kate Clinton and jazz vocalist Paula West entertained us. Note: the 2014 OUT&EQUAL WORKPLACE SUMMIT is November 3 – 6 in San Francisco. outandequal.org.

PEACHES CHRIST PRODUCTIONS proudly presented a ‘90s-inspired pre-show of hysterical, hilarious proportions, GET A CLUE, written and directed by Peaches Christ, with the super-talented Willam (of Nip/Tuck and RuPaul’s Drag Race fame) as Cher, to screen in the Castro Theater and celebrate in honor of the ‘90s Amy Heckerling’s CLUELESS. WhatEVAR! Joining Peaches and Willam Belli on stage for the show were several of EssEff’s brightest drag stars, including Becky Motorlodge, Lady Bear, Peggy L’eggs, and special guest Mahlae Balenciaga as Dionne. As the fractured movie motto goes: “Wigs, Fake Boobs, Padding. Is there a problem here?!” As if. Absolutely not! Flawless!

CUMMING UP!

LUSTER, AN AMERICAN SONGBOOK is the latest concert by the SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS as a celebration of 20th Century American music, featuring accomplished jazz vocalist/songwriter Ann Hampton Callaway (see interview on page 22), the iconic songs of Arlen, Berlin, Ellington, Gershwin, Porter, Rodgers & Hart, Waller, and the world premiere of the new choral work, Tyler’s Suite. The concert is March 25 and 26, 8pm in Davies Symphony Hall. sfgmc.org.

THEATRE RHINOCEROS presents THE HABIT OF ART, A Very British Comedy by Alan Bennett (The History Boys)
directed by John Fisher in this Bay Area premiere – 14 performances only, March 27 – April 13, Wednesdays – Saturdays, 8pm and Sundays, 3pm at Z Below Theatre, 470 Florida, between 17th & 18th Streets. TheRhino.org.

Get ready to laugh your a$$ off when RICHMOND/ERMET AIDS FOUNDATION presents THE BIG GAY COMEDY SHOW, an evening of outrageous stand up and musical comedy, April 13, 7;30pm, Marines’ Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter Street, with comics Bruce Vilanch, Shawn Ryan, Shann Carr, Marga Gomez, Ali Fame Mafi, Katya Smirnoff-Sky, Kitty Tapata, and B.O.O.B.S! It’s a fundraiser for Bay Area AIDS organizations. Info and tix: (415) 273-1620. helpisontheway.org.

The art of ROLANDO B. ROSLER is on display all March in Magnet’s art gallery. Rosler’s work with pastels is amazing. His love for colors, the lines, the actions of creating a piece of work with just a small piece of chalk or pastel never ceases to delight. Rosler is a member of the Gay Men’s Sketch group in San Francisco. His show is entitled HEADS & FIGURES, with 30 gorgeous pieces to showcase at Magnet, the 18th and Castro Street social wellbeing and health hub.

PORNUCOPIA: flick pick for the week is INTO DARKNESS, RagingStallion.com.

Teaser: THE SISTERS OF PERPETUAL INDULGENCE will hold our 35th Anniversary Easter in Golden Gate Park, THE EMERALD JUBILEE, A “TRIP” TO OZ on Sunday 4/20, 12 noon; Children’s Easter, 10am. Dolores Park is being renovated, so we’re having our party in Hellman Hollow (formerly Speedway Meadow). More details next issue.

PEARLS OVER SHANGHAI returns to the Hypnodrome courtesy of the THRILLPEDDLERS. Opens Thursday March 27, 8pm. San Francisco’s longest-running Cockettes “all singing, all dancing, all cardboard” musical hit is back for a fifth anniversary revival production. It’s a comic mock-operetta about white slavery, opium dens, and miscegenation set in the colorful world of 1937 Shanghai. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8pm, 575 10th Street. 800 – (838-3006). thrillpeddlers.com.

Sister Dana sez, “Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has refused to delay the food stamp cuts, which makes it all the more urgent that states – including California – take immediate action to reverse the awful food stamp cuts passed by Congress last month. Sorry, RepubliCAN’Ts, but poor people need to eat.”