Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Its a Drag


Me and Pollo Del Mar
The weekend was full one and Orlando came down from the Desert/Forest of Anderson for a second week in a row because of a commitment I made to Pollo Del Mar to be a judge for the Miss San Francisco Gold Rush Contest held at The Triple Crown this past Saturday. Pollo and I met last year through mutual friends after her performance as Rose in The Golden Girls at Lazy Bear last year. We have been chatting briefly on Facebook nearly every week since then. If you have never met Pollo- you should. As some of you know, I only like nice Drag Queens. Pollo definitely qualifies as a nice lady. She is a Grande Duchess on the of the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco and along with another Grand Duchess, Landa Lakes, they produced/hosted the contest. Pollo also writes a column for the Bay Times. Maybe if I work real hard on this blog I can grow up into a columnist someday. She quipped about me being the only guy at the Judges table but rethought that and correctly lumped me in with the assortment of queens there. I wholeheartedly agreed.
Me and the Ladies Judges table

Roma waves to her fans
I was in very good company with the judges. A little weary from the night before but none-the-less larger-than-life Heklina is local Drag Queen Legend who put Trannyshack on the National Map-as one of THE SF nightclubs to be at. She’s been doing it for years and still works just as hard out there promoting the bejesus out of Trannyshack as well as her own constantly growing celebrity. ( Thanks for the slice of Pizza Heckles) Sister Roma from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence arrived in her impeccable brightly colored garb. Roma has also made a name for herself as a columnist and writes for Gloss Magazine. She is Art Director for Hot House entertainment. Another interesting fact is that Roma’s involvement with The Sisters goes as far back as 1987. She is an aficionado of all things in porn circles….or so I am told. There was some banter about Heklina giving her head but I had too many Skyys at the time to recall what was said. Also serving as judge was the Bodacious Bay Area Court Lady Cranberry (a faux Drag queen btw) who has hosted many East Bay events. Lady Cranberry and I know each other from our quiet respectful day jobs, but it had been a while and I had fun with asking her if she remembered me. She eventually remembered much to my relief because honey…P.A.does NOT want to be forgettable. I have a co-worker who was insane about a show Lady C hosted in the East Bay, so I have an idea she is pretty darned good at what she does. I also made a new friend at the judges table, Miss GAPA Feroshe Beyonsoy. I guess she is Blasian but I couldn’t tell. Make up ya know. Good company all and funny ladies. I expected funny commentary but who the hell had time to comment with all the scoring we had to do! We were handed an intimidating packet to rate the contestants. The TEN contestants were just introducing themselves but Ms Beyonsoy and I figured we were supposed to be scoring right away, so we began jotting down numbers on The Creative Dress segment. We were wrong. I kept glancing over and Roma and Heklina wondering why they weren’t writing anything down. I felt like a kid cheating on a test! In the end Ms Beyonsoy and I ended up scribbling out some of our numbers and putting in the new ones related to the Creative Dress Segment. In my case –I didn’t change them too much. Last January and November ,when I held my little contest for Bearlesque – I didn’t create a score card and basically asked the judges to confer and pick a winner. It was obvious from the get go that the MISS SFGR contest would require such elaborate scoring cuz these girls were all very good. I wondered if someone would go back there and grab a calculator and sum them up. It seemed like quite a bunch of numbers to tally and compare. I was very interested in the process in the event that I wanted to run a pageant someday.
The WINNER Rotissary
Miss P
Creative Dress involved just that. Sure there was the occasional evening gown but the ladies picked outfits directly related to their personas. Memorable ones were LayBelline in her pregnancy, and Rotissary Ethnicity Jackson Houston Ross’ gown of KFC buckets with a big greasy belly that she casually swiped a drumstick across from time to time as she chatted with the audience. An extremely large round drag queen named Miss P wore a horrifying but memorable nighty where the tampon neglected to work. I was at once fascinated and disgusted…. She made everyone wail in horror when she yanked a reddened tampon out and licked it sensuously. I laughed very hard. If it’s inappropriate I will love it. There were some contestants who had quite the vociferous fan base there. I was deafened by Anyanka Emerson’s group stationed directly behind me. Anyanka was interesting and pretty in a sort of chaotic way but she wasn’t as tightly focused as most of the other girls. I thought that Anyanka was the Ar-teeste of the group. Her name wasn’t funny and she didn’t necessarily go for the jokes. Still she had something that compelled you to watch her. She was the only drag artist who sang with her own voice. I figured –give her time-if she can whip a group like that up into a frenzy then I imagine the drag scene will be seeing more of her. I was developing a little crush on LayBelline and I spent a lot of time wondering what she looked like out of face…I raced home to confirm on facebook that there was indeed a cute boy under all that drag.

I should mention that there was a mind blowing performance at the beginning by guest artist Mahlae. I felt like I had finally got to see that Janet Jackson Concert I always missed. As Pollo said, that girl set the bar for the evening. Roma leaned over and confirmed that all the contestants should aspire to be that good. Her energy and look were fiercely hypnotizing. Did you ever notice that boys in high heels move more deftly than (bio) girls in high heels? That thought struck me as I saw her whip her long legs about at light speed. I was absolutely entertained by every contestant. The choice for winner was NOT going to be easy. It’s been a while since I went to a drag show and I think Drag shows must’ve improved because all of these girls had amazing numbers with back up dancers and really awe inspiring moves. Rotissary E. J H R was our Queen for the night. She sobbed appropriately as her big pink eyelashes fluttered about. They had a little trouble getting that crown on there but she held on to it.
Pollo and Landa made a good team and I was so impressed as Pollo handled everything with so much ease and wit. If you don’t know about the Castro Country Club –you should. This is a place where the gals and guys with substance abuse issues of any sort can go get help and make new friends and form a healthier support systems. I raise my glass to them..oops. I was impressed with how easily Pollo handled one little question answer session with a contestant. It was a multiple choice question. If you had a choice between a romantic evening date on the beach, or an exciting cruise on the Italian Riviera, or a night with a rock star –which would you choose? Of course I wrote the verbose question and Pollo teased me for it. “Hey I’m a writer now!”, I yelled . She nodded at me and turned to the contestant who answered that she would choose the Rock Star because she could party with the rest of them and stay out all night long and dance and sing and she did Tina and..-wait!? What was that? Heklina and Roma and I glanced at each other in surprise. Pollo let the contestant calmly finish the question and gently asked, “ Could you elaborate on what you meant by doing Tina? “ The contestant looked at Pollo in surprise and said, “Well Turner of course” Big sighs and laughs from the crowd. I wondered how Pollo knew that and wondered if that was somehow rehearsed? How could it be since the question was randomly drawn from a basket? When I was making Lunch for Orlando the next day he told me that he knew that the contestant meant Tina Turner and not the drug. I turned away from him so he couldn’t see me roll my eyes. Right! This from the guy who watched Basket ball all the time. How the hell could he know that when he barely knew who Julie Newmar was?
So Rotissary Ethnicity Jackson Houston-Ross took the title that night, proving that above all, people like to laugh. You go Girl!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Pink Saturday in Peril

Pink Saturday is held on the night of the Dyke March before the big San Francisco Pride celebration. I never found the year Pink Saturday began, but it apparently originated in the early 1970s right along with the Parade. It was a big Gay Castro Block party back in the day. Now it has morphed into a different event marred with violence and mob mentality behavior. For the last few years, yours truly has noticed that the BIG GAY neighborhood party becomes ground zero for thousands of open-minded poorly behaved heterosexual adolescents to drink in the streets. They run up and hug us and slur how glad they are that we are Gay.  Some homosexuals and dykes, (who live outside of San Francisco) are mistaken and think that it is a party for Gays and Lesbians.  This year’s Pink Saturday convened and the intoxicated tweens and teens invaded en masse very early in the evening. They came in a giant swirl, like a crazed current in the ocean to ogle and party their brains out. Mature, Zaftig  male nudists didn’t disappoint the kids and gave them a show as they strutted down the streets being hugged and shrieked at. I observed this as I tensely waited in a very long line into the Castro movie theater.  Orlando and I had bought tickets to the movie Bear City, one of the Frameline GLBT offerings, this year. I was looking forward to the film but I remembered the last two Pink Saturdays and was regretting the location. Other than the enjoyable Dyke March, I had lost interest in Pink Saturday. However I noticed that Orlando seemed to be looking forward to it so I told him and my best gal pal Drew that we could participate in the festivities.
The  Dyke March by the way  has always been on Pink Saturday - the only time every lesbian in the city can be seen at one time.  Usually they are tough to find in large groups. In other parts of the world it’s different.  I remember in Vermont, you can find them in communes in the Northeast Kingdom and they would occasionally come out in the Spring to procreate with drunk heterosexual men to repopulate the commune. In San Francisco they are a lot harder to find. Being a Gay boy and getting into one of their parties is really a badge of honor for me but I was a pretty hardcore dyke-tyke back in the mid 90s so I knew how to wrangle it. You gotta be careful though. The angry looking baby dykes with the Justin Bieber haircuts can be real hazardous with their skewed sense of reality. They have terrible mood swings and rarely understand anything that’s being said to them and perceive almost all forms of communication as a threat. Try to avoid them at all costs.

As Orlando and I stood in line I marveled at all the straight little boys and girls screaming and dancing in the streets. Was this what we all wanted? I can’t imagine this is what we had in mind. Once Pink Saturdays were teeming with Lesbians and Gays all hugging and drinking and singing. I have fond memories of climbing a telephone pole on 18th and Market and singing Madonna’s “Celebration” at the top of my lungs while leaning down and playing tonsil hockey with a Nubian God freshly plucked from the throng below. ( I liked chocolate a lot.)  Another  Pink Saturday I remember doing the Macarena with roughly 200 other homosexuals. Those were the days. 
Eventually we got into the movie theater and I was in full Bay Area Cub mode. I was decked out in my vest and leather hat. It was wonderful to see the entire Castro theater filled with Bears and Cubs of all sizes and ages.  I waved to Bearlesque co-stars and BOSF members and settled in to watch the movie. The movie wasn’t perfect but knowing just how hard it is to put something like that together, I tried not to be too critical. Still I felt myself get irritated. It niggled me that the cute child like cub claimed to like big heavy hairy guys but ended up with a svelte muscle Daddy at the end. Another problem was that the heaviest character, an older movie/show queen , who was considering lap band weight reduction to lose weight and make him more desirable in the job market. He had a VERY hot Latin chaser boyfriend ( –no problem there…hehehe I assure you. ) However, his hot Latin boyfriend didn’t want him to get the lap band operation because he claimed the operation wasn’t necessary because it was onlyfor people whose weight issues affected their health. This bugged me for a number of reasons. Clearly the guy had some health issues due to his age and knee pain. It also sent the message that the Hot Latin loved him primarily for his size and not who he was.  Seems like an old Bear message that we don’t need to perpetuate. It’s kind of a reverse acceptance thing and comes off like Bears should be punished for making healthy choices. I’d hazard a guess that the character (relax.. NOT the actor) would’ve benefitted from the surgery. It certainly would’ve been a more interesting story if he HAD gone through the surgery and the Hot Latin guy came back to him regardless.  All in all there were some very funny moments and regardless of my bitchings, I would advise that you rent it. Much of it was enjoyable.  It did generate a lot of discussion and I turned to Drew and told him the issues I had with it-eager to dissect it. Drew’s eyes flew wide and hands went flat in the air. “Hey!” he indignantly huffed, “Don’t Blame me! It wasn’t my idea that you saw this!”  Oh boy…Here we go. The very thing I feared. Drew was in a highly sensitized state due to the end of festival funk. I somehow thought this would be different this year given his cheeriness of late.  I resisted the urge to clip him upside the head to avoid Armageddon. I shut my mouth and we started to head out the theater in into the melee.
There was a  mini-rave going on just outside the door. Oblivious and scantily clad 20 somethings wriggled to a deafening beat. Drew and Orlando and I tried to stay together by grabbing a section of each other’s coats. When we came through Drew clapped his hands like a happy little girl and said enthusiastically, “ Hooray! I just went to my first rave!”  I was relieved to see that his mood had improved but mine was souring by the minute. The street was wall to wall youth. I couldn’t see a middle-aged guy to save my life that is except the old fat naked guys reveling that they could walk among all these teenagers and not get arrested. Hell they were virtually celebrities! Finding a place to have a drink or two was impossible. The bars were sensibly seeing a huge cash opportunity and were providing tiny 4 oz drinks in plastic cups for 5 and 6 dollars. There was no room to hang out in any of them. It occurred to me that the Bar that was once called The Men’s Room near the 7/11 on 18th could sometimes net a drink in an actual glass and it’s actual price. We marched off squeezing through the kids down 18th street. We managed to squeeze in but there was constant pushing and shoving. Drew gamely strode in seemingly unaffected by the crowds. What the hell was going on? Drew hated crowds almost as much as I did. He will fairly glow with irritation if a straight couple started making out in a Gay Bar and he was being calm. We could barely hear each other as we chatted about small subjects. Drew’s eyes kept scanning the horizon not looking at us that much. Orlando was uncharacteristically tolerant of all the shoving going on around him. He looked vaguely irritated but seemed to be letting it slide. I was getting cruised to death by a guy I had met on line about 2 years ago. He was more than a little lit and couldn’t grasp my eye signals that “I WASN’T AVAILABLE …at least not at THAT moment” Then with some sudden flash of realization that it dawned on me he was GAY!!! There was another Gay man out here in this melee with us! Still…it would’ve complicated things if I gestured for him to come over, given my unfriendly mood so I kept clear of him. After a bit we found a seat at the bar which was miraculous. A pretty blonde Co-ed and her boyfriend elbowed their way next to Orlando and she cheerfully and drunkenly extended her salutations to Orlando. I watched with apprehension wondering what he would do. “Gimme High Five!” she cheered at him! Kind of like asking your dog to Gimme your Paw. Orlando offered her a pinky looking away at her and whatever common sense she had kicked in and she curbed herself  from pressing for more . She tried to satisfy herself with merely bumping her hand against his pinky. Smart move Girly ! She muttered to her boyfriend, “ Well at least he gave me his pinky..” Drew once again scanned an unseen horizon not catching what had happened. What the HELL was he looking for?  I was not having fun. We couldn’t hear each other. I didn’t want make friends with a sorority girl. I didn’t want to spend $35 to catch a buzz. I wanted to go home. I looked balefully at Drew and Orlando. Drew was “sipping” his drink and held out his drink with a faux imperious look indicating he was not finished. I mentally groused about how long it would take to get home given that cabs would be impossible around here and the public transportation would be a nightmare. Drew was infuriating me with his casual attitude. Orlando was doing this laid back air as well that was rankling me. Both of them had immersed themselves in an environment that neither of them particularly liked and it was annoyingly bewildering to me. My Pink Saturday was gone. Who were all these children and why were they here? I wanted to kick each little drunken brat as we headed back up to 18th and Castro. Drew informed us he was going to stay out a little longer. I was Aghast! “What the hell for?”  I yipped. He looked at me like I had asked why the sun sets at night. “Because…Its Pink Saturday.” I wanted to scream at him. Why the hell was he so content to hang out at this East LA  high school dance for Christ sake? Couldn’t he see that there wasn’t a homosexual for miles? After listening to Orlando belly ache about all the little girls who inhabit the Bar back in Redding why wasn’t he bitching about the teenybopper parade shrieking by us every 15 seconds??? The Lando Bear is at maximum contentment when surrounded by big furry masculine men by the 100s-not teenaged girls!  I felt my blood pressure rise. Couldn’t they see? Pink Saturday was DEAD! I stopped them and said, “You two are BOTH Hypocrites!!!” Both of their large eyes and large mouths flew open in a rather simultaneously comic fashion so that I briefly forgot my rage. I am not sure why I was in such a swivet but it could be that it was in the air. Just a few minutes ago around the corner from us this event occurred.
(6/27) — 19:34 PDT — SAN FRANCISCO — “A late night shooting in San Francisco’s Castro District during the city’s “Pink Saturday” celebration claimed the life of a 19-year-old man and left two others with non-life threatening injuries, police said.The dead man was identified Sunday morning as Stephen Powell, according to the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s Office. Two other victims, a male and a female, were struck by gunfire in the legs and are expected to survive their injuries. Authorities did not release their names.Witnesses who attended Pink Saturday celebrations in the Castro District described a scene of bedlam after the shooting. Police officers who raced to the sounds of the gunfire encountered a large crowd, some of whom began throwing bottles and other objects after the shooting.“I saw a massive wave of cops with their guns drawn coming to our area,” said Eric Gonzales, who said he was 25 feet away from the shooting suspect. “Then people started screaming and running away so I went back to the ground thinking ‘oh my god this is real.’”The gunman was arrested by police at the scene. The pistol he used was recovered as evidence.Authorities do not believe that the shooting was a hate crime or a random act of violence.”
Ray Tilton
And in other parts of the neighborhood –Ray Tilton-a former San Francisco Leather title holder, was allegedly (I have to say that but trust me he was beaten) by 3 or 4 young GAY men!!! What the hell is happening here? Gay Kids beating up Older Gay Adults??? I will interview Ray about this after the trial and proceedings but Ray has begun Red Saturday in response to the intrusive violence that has struck the Castro. I hope to assist him with his campaign. It’s not just during Pride weekend folks. We see this New Year’s Eve and Halloween too. Stupid Kids with Guns. Getting home was a nightmare as suspected. We had to sneak by a police barrier to board the Muni. They were doing crowd control and forcing everyone out of the Castro. My last vision of Pink Saturday was a dazed and confused teenaged boy standing in front of a slowly advancing police car. His friends pointed and laughed at him.
I propose we Queens move. All Gays everywhere in San Francisco. We have turned the Castro into a popular hang out –now let’s leave and create a NEW Mecca…hmmm I wonder if we can make Kansas City chic?
As a footnote…Orlando and Drew and I like heterosexual women just fine. We are not sexist or heterophobic. Hell -I have been working for straight women for years and apparently Drew has a few that are close friends –But the kids with guns are not welcome in our world and we will not tolerate any violence towards Gays and Lesbians. Imagine what might happen if Orlando and I strolled into the Hard Rock CafĂ© and started making out? What would the Good ole Boys do?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mr. Cranky Pants goes to Pride

The face of Gay Pride today

Heterosexual Teenyboppers reign over Pride -step aside Drag Queens

I'll just have a snack
As the end of June arrives, a proliferation of Rainbow flags start coming up on Market Street here in San Francisco.  Gay Pride had arrived in Bagdad by the Bay. Since 1969 in a bar in New York called Stonewall, when a scrappy bunch of Drag queens and hustlers and a handful of everyday queens told the NYPD to fuck off and stop raiding our bars, we celebrate our Gay Pride on the last weekend in June in various places all across the US and beyond. Since San Francisco is the Mecca we definitely have a standard to uphold. We do Pride up real big. I have done everything that one CAN do for Pride. I have marched, sang, waved from cars and floats, danced, volunteered, poured drinks, drank drinks,  sported rainbow wear, performed and attended just about every event there is. Pride (as the weekend is called now), can be ALOT of fun.

 My boyfriend, Orlando, lives in an area of California that can barely support the business of one Gay bar. There will be no Gay Pride parade in Redding Ca...ever.  I, on the other hand live in this section of the state where everything is Gay 24/7. He accuses me of living in a bubble. Perhaps he is right, and maybe I do take my life here in San Francisco for granted. I can assure you that the preservation techniques that I learned growing up in Vermont are very well intact. It’s doesn’t ring true to me to say I was in the closet, when it seemed everyone around me knew about my sexual orientation before I was really knew myself. I got tired of hearing people say, “ I know.” when I screwed up the courage to say I was Gay. I am cautious or chicken shit depending on my geography. If I take a trip to Millbrae I am unlikely to hold my boyfriend’s hand as we stroll through the nearby Target. Yet despite my internalized homophobia kicking in when I am in a rural place, I informed Orlando that it would be fine if he wanted me to come up to Redding that weekend instead of him driving down to see me. I am a tad burnt out on San Francisco Pride and was perfectly fine missing it. Orlando wasn’t too keen on that, so I decided to make the best of it and stick around town and find some fun things to do. Surely it would be different this year since I was the Bay Area Cub 2010! (In retrospect, I should’ve been out there singing and dancing on the stages and riding in a specially designed cubmobile in the parade- but I didn’t think that far ahead.) There were going to be plenty of Bear events that Orlando and I could attend.

The usual Pink Saturday Crowd-The Blonde was the leader of the pack
I didn’t pack a LOT in to the weekend but we managed to hit some highlights. Friday was our standard meet Drew for cocktails in the Castro. Normally Drew would meet us, but she was in the throes of her Frameline GLBT film fest fix. To say Drew likes film is like saying the Niagra Falls is a cute little waterfall or the Grand Canyon is a crack in the earth. She is voracious in her love for film. She is a virtual Gay and Lesbian film omnivore who consumes the crappy films right along with the good films. She refers to them as “programs” given her penchant using the correct verbiage of whatever milieu she is in. I used to think she was merely being high minded and uppity -but no-that’s just our Drew. I have learned through the years to give her a wide berth during the conclusion of the Film Festival. Her habit after watching roughly 40 or so films-oops programs, (and for the record-she is a he), was her mood turning on a dime and the evening would go rapidly south for anyone within a 5 foot radius of her.  I have tried to analyze this. A lot of it didn’t make sense to me since (s)he had told me that watching 5 films in one day was his (ok Ok we will stick with the male pronouns) idea of nirvana. It could be that attending the whole festival all by yourself could be a bit lonely, since many of us could only catch one film with him during the whole 11 day run. It could be dealing with the crowds-who knows? I just knew I had to always wear a pair of shoes specially designed to walk on egg shells on the remaining weekend of the festival. This year I felt I should really tread lightly. In addition to his hardcore film watching Drew had to deal with a hip problem that had been plagueing him for months now. He is taking steps to get it fixed, but that is a ways off- and for now he limps about alternating grimaces and winces of pain. Drew and I deal with personal discomfort completely differently and how he is dealing with his hip issues have been a source of tension between us. If I had my way she would be doped up on painkillers and take a 7 month sick leave, but she is a good new england girl and is ridiculously responsible and thinks things through...really through....and it takes a while. So I battened down the hatches, because given his painful hip and his usual film festival funk I was sure to get some kind of upbraiding from him. Maybe Orlando could stand in front of me while she  (oops she’s a girl again) inevitably shrieked away at me?  However - Maybe this year would be different. After all -Drew was IN one of the films at the festival! Baby Jane?-a Dragalicious send up of “Whatever happened to Baby Jane?” featured him in a small by memorable role as Jane and Blanche’s father. As it all turned out -I didn’t need to worry about Drew...