Because being gay is something to celebrate, I attended WE CELEBRATE!, the opening of the 34th season of THE LESBIAN/GAY CHORUS OF SAN FRANCISCO (LGCSF), the nation’s oldest self-identified LGBTQ mixed chorus. This was a glorious classical concert under the direction of William Sauerland honoring the lives of Matthew Shepard and Harvey Milk through the work of living composers David Conte and Jack Curtis Dubowsky. Both worked closely with the choruses in preparation for this concert. This performance featured the choirs of Lick-Wilmerding High School and the University of San Francisco alongside LGCSF. Held at First Unitarian Universalist Church, the show included six songs of joyful celebration, including “Jubilante Deo” by Benjamin Britten and “Celebration from Standing Stone” by Paul McCartney. “Elegischer Gesang” by Beethoven featured the lyrics, “Let no eye shed tears for the spirit’s heavenly homecoming.”
Also a celebration is the latest version of CIRQUE DU SOLEIL with AMALUNA under the blue-and-yellow Big Top at AT&T Park. Directed by Tony award-winning Broadway director Diane Paulus, Amaluna had its world-premiere in Montreal in April 2012 and is now touring North America. Info and tix are available at cirquedusoleil.com. Amaluna invites the audience to a mysterious island governed by goddesses and guided by the cycles of the moon. Their queen, Prospera, directs her daughter’s coming-of-age ceremony in a rite that honors femininity, renewal, rebirth, and balance – which marks the passing of these insights and values from one generation to the next. This celebration of womanhood (with 75% female performers) features a giant bowl of water in which sensual swimmers immerse themselves, flickering fire, and a springboard for acrobats to leap high into the air. There are awesome aerialists, clever contortionists, gravity-defying pole workers, serious spinners, and breathtaking balance acts. Prehistoric creatures roam among fair damsels and bare-chested beefcake. There are even two female clowns. The costumes are elaborate and the music is astounding. The title means “mother” and “moon,” evoking both the mother-daughter relationship and the idea of goddess and protector of the planet. Amaluna is also the name of the mysterious island where this magical story unfolds. Go visit it!
Celebrating queer heroes was the second annual BOLD AWARDS at the LGBT Community Center, raising over $18,000. “We honor individuals who embody the mission of the Center through acts of kindness, inspirational thought, and bold actions,” said Executive Director Rebecca Rolfe. This year’s Vanguard Award went to the institutional partners who helped start the Center’s Trans Employment Program (TEEI). In collaboration with the trans community, these awardees started TEEI in 2007 to address the high rates of unemployment and discrimination impacting transgender people in San Francisco. Today, these services are being replicated throughout the country and helping thousands of trans and gender non-conforming people get back to work in safe and equal workplaces. Vanguard Awardees were Bevan Dufty, Cecilia Chung, Kate Howard, Tony Lugo, and Abby Snay. Also honored were Bertie Brouhard with Good Neighbor Award, presented by State Farm; Loren Brown with Community Spirit Award, presented by Grass Roots Gay Rights/West (GRGR/West), producers of “REAL BAD” Folsom Fair dance fundraisers; and Special Recognition to both Inaugural Center Youth Council for helping to expand services for homeless youth at the Center and to Leadership Circle Members for their investment in the Center.
PEACHES CHRIST PRODUCTIONS presented the classic ‘80s comedy NINE TO FIVE starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton, along with the world premiere of the live, stage-show WORK! at the Castro Theatre, which starred the fabulous Peaches Christ doing Fonda’s role, EssEff legend Heklina doing Lily, and Rupaul’s Drag Race/Rupaul’s Drag U sensation, Pandora Boxx doing Dolly. The show opened with a chorus line of workers dancing their asses off to the movie theme song. The three “ladies” took on their sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot boss at the company, ConDRAGulations, in fine style. This original, written by Joshua Grannell, also featured Manuel Caneri in the Dabney Coleman role as Mister Fart, Midnight Mass Players’ original cast-member Jen Taher (“Troll Girl”) as Roz Queef, San Francisco’s most flawed and tragic drag queen Martiny as Margaret Foster-Child, a secretary who likes the booze, and D’Arcy Drollinger as the hot Latina who got fired, who also led the chorus line in a Work number a la Britney’s “Work, Bitch,” and ended with Pandora doing Dolly doing “Best Little Whorehouse” with the whore-us line dancing along. There was even the fantasy scene with Heklina dressed as Snow White, murdering the bad boss with rat poison while cartoony forest animals danced about in an anti-Disney number. Fierce!
The Board of Directors of FOLSOM STREET EVENTS announced charitable giving in the amount of $358,779 at The Armory, home of Kink.com. Demetri Moshoyannis, Executive Director, said, “Given the ongoing struggles in the middle class economy, we feel that this check is an impressive feat. This year’s amount is equivalent to nearly $1,000 per day for a full year. Not quite, but close.” This demonstrates the strength and spirit of the leather/fetish community. The vast share of this check will support 17 major and supporting beneficiaries, including AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Frameline, PAWS, Queer Cultural Center, Castro Country Club, SF LGBT Center, and many others. Combined, they are supporting nearly 75 great charities in San Francisco and around the nation.
After years of unprecedented abuse of Senate rules by the Repugnicans, Senator Reid followed the petition signed by 285,402 Americans and pulled the trigger on the “Reid Rule” – reforming the filibuster so that the President can finally appoint judges, cabinet members, and other executive-level positions without obstruction. Take THAT, you blustery filibuster!!!
WE WERE HERE, David Weissman’s Emmy-nominated documentary about the coming of AIDS to San Francisco will make a triumphant return to the Castro Theatre for WORLD AIDS DAY for one show only on Sunday, December 1, 7pm. This will be the first time the documentary has played at the Castro since the film’s two hugely successful week-long runs in 2011.
20TH ANNUAL WORLD AIDS DAY OBSERVANCE is December 1st, 11:30am -1:30pm (program begins at noon sharp) in National AIDS Memorial Grove, Golden Gate Park. Honoring Phill Wilson, President & CEO, Black AIDS Institute, and others. Free event, open to the public. aidsmemorial.org.
HONORING OUR EXPERIENCE is a retreat for positive and negative gay men of the “AIDS generation,” facilitated by Gregg Cassin and friends. The gathering is Friday, December 6 – Sunday, December 8, Saratoga Springs Retreat Center, 10243 Saratoga Springs Road, Upper Lake, CA. Questions about retreat? GreggCassinAMM@gmail.com or call (707) 275-9503.
ACADEMY OF FRIENDS (AoF) has it annual holiday reception sponsored by Gump’s and Cave to Cellar Wines at the downtown San Francisco retail institution, Gump’s. AoF will feature an after work happy hour with drinks and bites. Tickets are $20 per person at aofsf.eventbrite.com. Funds raised help support Bay Area HIV/AIDS services. December 4th, 6:30-8:30pm at 135 Post Street. At this event, AoF will also give you an update on the 2014 Gala Oscar Party, “Return to the Emerald City” in March. academyoffriends.org.
Even though I hate to break my personal rule of NOT talking about Christmas until AFTER Thanksgiving, I need to let y’all know the annual CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING at the Castro & 18th Street Bank of America is December 2nd, 6-7pm. Should we expect Sarah Palin to come rant about the liberals’ WAR ON CHRISTMAS?!
And while we’re breaking Xmas rules, I just want to mention the upcoming annual all-drag GOLDEN GIRLS LIVE coming to Victoria Theatre, December 5th – 22nd, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 7pm. I will write more in the December 5th Bay Times, once I’ve seen this holidaze treat.
Season’s greetings from DONNA SACHET’S SONGS OF THE SEASON on December 2nd and 3rd, 8pm, Starlight Room at Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 450 Powell. Donna’s 21st annual festive celebration benefiting AIDS EMERGENCY FUND is always delightful. songsoftheseason.net.
Pornucopia: this week’s flick pick is a tie between Magnetism from hardfriction.com and Plays Together from falconstudios.com.
Sister Dana sez, “Be sure to honor WORLD AIDS DAY in your own way, because AIDS is far from over!”