Category Archives: theater

Dawn Of The Dykes

It was 2007 and I was about to graduate from college with a B.A. in hand. I actually skipped the traditional cap and gown for a 50s inspired red and white polka dot dress and a pair of sunglasses but that would happen a few months down the line from one of the biggest collegiate staged queer shows in the country. The “Queer Fashion Show” had actually started out when some gay men decided to host a fashion show to show off their designs. Well, one thing led to another and soon the it became a blowout extravaganza with a cast exceeding 100 and an array of dance, film, song, spoken word, skits, and maybe one fashion entry a year. It was where you wanted to be if you were out in the redwoods of Santa Cruz.

I had been part of previous casts. I danced in a queer retelling of “The Taming Of The Shrew” rebranded as “The Taming Of The Gay” in which a homophobic king reigns over the land with “gaygents” who always entered and danced to Prodigy monitored the kingdom for gay activity, including that of the young prince. In a stunning turn of events, one of the “gaygents” was actually the superheo (and director and choreographer of the piece) SUPERGAY who leads a team of rainbow clad freedom operatives to take on the gaygents, free the prince, and then marry him in a double ceremony with his lesbian sister.

I was also in a piece titled “Drag King Divas” where a huge gender queer cast performed in ruffled tux shirts, oversized bowties, and superfag dance steps to Motown hits. For my time on the catwalk I went to FU Tattoo and got myself a corset piercing by Pat Blackstorm who was a great piercer and willing to work with my weird situation. Another project was about body image and I was in a cast split into those of nearly naked and covered in trashbags thrown out onto the catwalk and ripped out of the bags to be shamed for our obvious flaws and adorned with giant signs before we revolt and tear everything up in an act of self-love and teamwork. That piece was the subject of a parody the following year which was a source of needed humor.

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Lenny Bruce

(With drum and cymbal accompaniment)

To is a preposition.
To is a preposition
Come is a verb.
To is a preposition.
Come is a verb.
To is a preposition
Come is a verb, the verb intransitive.
To come.
To come.
I’ve heard these two words my whole adult life, and as a
kid when they thought I was sleeping.
To come.
To come.
It’s been like a big drum solo.
Did you come?
Did you come?
Good
Did you come good?
Did you come good?
Did you come good?
Did you come good?
Did you come good?
Did you come good?
Did you come good?
I come better with you, sweetheart, than anyone in the
whole goddamned world.
I really came so good.
I really came so good ’cause I love you.
I really came so good.
I come better with you, sweetheart, than anyone in the
whole world.
I really came so good.
So good.
But don’t come in me.
Don’t come in me.
Don’t come in me, me, me, me, me.
Don’t come in me, me, me, me.
Don’t come in me.
Don’t come in me, me, me.
Don’t come in me, me, me.
I can’t come.
‘Cause you don’t love me, that’s why you can’t come.
I love you, I just can’t come; that’s my hand-up, I can’t
come when I’m loaded, all right?
‘Cause you don’t love me. Just what the hell is the matter
with you?
What has that got to do with loving? I just can’t come.

Lenny Bruce was a comedian, a social critic, and a strip show emcee. He attacked hypocrisy  and was arrested and challenged for the words he dared to say out loud. Namely, he was challenged for saying, “cocksucker” and “to come” on a stage with a mixed audience. He performed “to come” at The Jazz Workshop in San Francisco 1961 and faced yet another obscenity trial. He died in 1966, tragically, at the age of 40.

His essay, “The People of the State of California vs. Lenny Bruce” is an except from his book How To Talk Dirty And Influence People and originally published in Playboy Magazine in 1965.

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Upcoming events!

My Bawdy Debut from January, 2011

In case you didn’t know, I can tell a pretty dirty story. Make sure you come out to see me with Bawdy Storytelling this Thursday, October 20 for sex FAIL! You don’t want to miss one of these tales of sexual trainwrecks and when you’re here you won’t be able to tear yourself away from watching. I’m excited to perform at The Uptown and hopefully I have some good performance karma from the last time I took the stage there in nothing but pasties, a thong, and some rope.

If you miss me on Thursday, come out to MASQUEROTICA on Sat, October 22 in San Francisco. On this night of thrills, chills, and excitement for adults only I will be reigning as the vampire queen in my village of sex and death. This is the first annual Masquerotica and we’re glad to have a new event to fill the gap at the Exotic Erotic managed to create over the years. Costumes are mandatory for all attendees and if you’re lacking we will have emergency stylists ready to help you be a part of the fun. The stages are full of all kinds of mind blowing entertainment. I can certainly promise that the Vampire Village will be one of dark delights indeed.

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Pearls Over Shanghai II


This is the actual review, for those who care enough to follow.

Directed by Russell Blackwood
Musical Direction by Richard “Scrumbly” Koldewyn

Held Over! Weekends Through September 20th!
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM
Sundays at 7:00 PM

At the Hypnodrome, 575 10th Street, San Francisco

$30 General Admission
$69 “Shock Box” Seat for 2
Buy Tickets Online

Oddly enough (note the sarcasm), I come from a theatre background. I have been onstage, backstage, hanging lights from unstable ladders, and chasing child actors around backstage and kept in their costumes and the very first time I saw a ThrillPeddlers production, my jaw was hanging the entire time. Surely I though, they couldn’t do it again. Especially not with a musical because I tend to be difficult to please in that arena. But the ThrillPeddlers never cease to amaze me. When my friend Thomas Roche called their previous show Audacious Artifacts “the best time damn time he had at the theater” I had the exact same sentiment. The cast, the crew, and the production staff always put on a show that you remember for its character, color, laughter, and its power.

First things first: this is not a show for the politically correct crowd. It is a revival of the famed show by the Cockettes who never wasted their time on the notion of being P.C. It’s an imaginary version of Shanghai in the 1930s where three American girls could come seeking fame and fortune in a city full of randy sailors, an empress with the most impressive costume I’ve ever seen, and prostitutes that sing, dance, and praise the power of the soothing drug opium. Leave your ideas of time, place, history, and race at the door and enjoy the glitz and glamor of the theater of the fantastic. 

The show mixes pros, Cockette founders and veterans, along with newcomers who all give their very best to the production. My biggest wish is that they were selling copies of the soundtrack at the door no matter how poor the quality might be due to limited resources. I can’t get some of those catchy tunes out of my head and I saw the show well over a month ago. The singing isn’t always top of the line Broadway style heart breaking music, but it is always enough to get your feet stomping and drive up a desire to sing along with the actors. 

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for anyone who can bring glamor and glitz to the disreputable among our various societies because people are people, no matter what their profession, trade, style, or vice of choice and Pearls does just that. Our heros are whores, our champions are standard “Andrews Sisters” style women, and the leader of the pack spends evenings cruising for some fun in whatever form it may come. Russel Blackwood absolutely outdoes himself in a character that makes Auntie Mame look like some sort of evil stepmother. 

If you can, get yourself a private box for the show. Aside from a completely unique theater experience (believe me, everyone will look at you with envy as you stride into your private seating box) but you’ll get the added benefit of a particular scene in the show that will make your cozy seat for two worth every penny.

There is a reason that this show has been extended. It’s so that you can go see it for yourself, and you should. I know that I’ll be back at least one more time to catch a classic. 

For more info on the history of the show and my interest in it, please see: this post here by me. 

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Pearls Over Shanghai: Part I


Pearls Over Shanghai Revival! Photo by David Allen

This is a two part series because the more I wrote about the show, the more I realized how connected I felt to it. Part I is not a review of the show itself. It has some history, lots of opinion, and more nostalgia than necessary. So to prevent boredom, I put it in two parts. If you’re really good and read all the way to the bottom, I promise you that I’ll show you my tits. Is it a deal? Good!

I recently had the pleasure of seeing Pearls Over Shanghai at the Hypnodrome in San Francisco. If you’re in the Bay Area now, then go by and see the show yesterday. If you won’t be for awhile, well the physical space alone is worth checking out and the troupe always puts together a great show. Keep an eye open for “Blue Nights” when you get free extra content done for the love of performance and your entertainment.

Pearls Over Shanghai has a special place in my heart for reasons that include a bit of back story. Way back at the start of my undergrad I flipped through the course listings and was pleased to find a class called “Queer Theater” with Doug Holsclaw of Theater Rhinoceros fame.The course was, “A survey of queer dramatic literature and performance that looks at the social, political and artistic significance of this emerging theatrical genre. A great place to explore different kinds of art, ideas and people.”

Things would never again be the same.

I knew it would be a great class. I enjoyed theater as an audience member, stage actor, stage manager, and late night reveler taking advantage of a big space with friends. Parties in theaters are always a bit hectic and usually have hilarious results. I was also queer identified. Clearly this was a perfect class for me, especially since it started after noon. One day during a very long lecture on the San Francisco queer theater scene we got to see parts of the Cockettes documentary and The AIDS Show first performed by Theater Rhinoceros in 1984. I remember that we saw both on the same day because I was in tears by the end.

The Cockettes had all of these amazing ideas and energy. The color was explosive, the references were rich, and their power was provocative. As the clips rolled all I could think about was how much I wanted “that.” Although it felt close to home in many ways, it was intangible and so completely linked to the context from whence it came. Then there was the melancholy of watching something made purely out of beauty and lust and drugs when you know the end of the story.

As time slipped from the sexual revolution of the 60s to the disco fever of the 70s the cold water shower of the 80s was harsh and unforgiving. The unfortunate link between the two shows wasn’t just geographical. Many members of the Cockettes have sadly passed on from the effects of AIDS. Theater Rhinoceros was making art when the floor started to fall out beneath the feet of San Franciscans, New Yorkers, and Los Angelinos alike. The party had just ended and people were dying left and right. Without a rapid response from the government, the fight had to come from somewhere and the artistic communities answered the call.

The AIDS show had opened one month before I was born. I sat on my seat outting dates together. Just as I was getting ready to enter the world people were leaving it far too soon. I also believe that they were handing me vital information for myself and for others. I’ve always had fairy godmothers helping me with a glass slipper here, a condom there, and the steel to fight the good fight and to do it with flair. My generation is the first to have the word AIDS in their vocabulary for their entire life.


Hibiscus of the Cockettes and Angels of Light

I’m not spiritual, I’m not religious, I’m a diehard athiest. Even so I left the class wandering a little more aimlessly that day trying to find a sign or some notice about what I was going to do with my life. I felt like there was this huge burden of debt on my back. Everything I had planned seemed ill fitting and not becomming of my nature, but where could an answer be?

A quick glance to my left gave me the answer in a sign that read: APPLY NOW TO BE AN HIV TEST COUNSELOR. It just so happens that it was the very last day that they were accepting applications. I raced through the essay questions, I pulled out a few favors to get letters of recommendation, and I dropped the whole package off five minutes before closing. I was called in for an interview and I was in a cold sweat while two veteran test counselors played good cop/bad cop with me. They tested my authenticity, my motivation, and what I could bring to the program. I was accepted as a volunteer at first, but before long I was running the whole program. Let me tell you no one plays a game of good test counselor/bad test counselor better than I do.


Pearls Over Shanghai Revival! Photo by David Allen

The average burnout rate of an HIV tester is 2 years. I left college and I tried to work a few different jobs but I went right back into the thing I loved the most. I have 5 years of testing and counseling under my belt and I have no intentions of stopping any time soon. I sit down with a stranger and I collect their stories and their fears. I also do so with the creative free spirit of the Cockettes who were so wrapped up in the drives of the mind and their lust they forgot the very political nature of their work. I try to bring the world of artistic obscenity into the world of harm reduction. I try to find a balance.

I have looked up to so many people in my path to become who I am. I found them among the queers, trannies, junkies, and whores. Each and everyone one of my fairy godmothers has told me a secret of the universe. Dome have driven me a little nuts at time, some are no longer physically present in this world, many others now depend on me for the basic banal aspects of life, but I have so much love for each and everyone of my teachers.

For the record, feathers and glitter mixed with the dramatic tone of a silver screen actress are much better ways to learn about the world than stodgy robes in a classroom. I was thrilled to hear that there was a revival of a show that is very much a part of my heart and my life and moreover it was being played at my favorite theater and very easily accessible by public transit.


I promised tits! Here they are! wiredpussy.com

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In the Next Room (The Vibrator Play)

I recently saw a showing of In The Next Room (or the vibrator play) at the Berkeley Rep. The theater was kind enough to offer discounts to all the local sex positive organizations such as SFSI and the Center for Sex and Culture. All the world may be a stage and the men and women merely players, but sometimes it is entirely necessary to visit the theater and get some culture from those who make a profession out of the art.

The play revolves around the Victorian treatment of hysteria by means of orgasmic release. It’s hard for me to argue with the notion as I tend to self-treat my stress in the same method. The show is not just about new electric devices changing the world but also the lack of intimacy we may experience in our own relationships. The show takes place in the home of a physician and his wife and the medical office he has set up in the next room and is about the way their interactions with patients shape their lives.

I enjoyed it, of course. I was pretty much sold after hearing that it would Victorians, corsets, vibrators, and Edison v. Tesla dialogue. That isn’t to say that there weren’t some themes that didn’t sit well with me. By the end of the show, the gory aftermath of heartbreak is all over the stage and one couple bravely attempt to connect away from the room and away from the electric device to simply enjoy one another’s body. It was a beautiful scene to watch but I was left wondering what it implied about the rest of us who do use devices for our sexual pleasure. Is love with electricity any less pure?
I was left wondering if the point of that end message was to simply repeat the message that intimacy is all one truly needs for good sex or if it was reinforcing it. I know that it sounds like I’m being a semantic asshole here but there is a shade of difference that goes a long way for me. Case in point, I’m rarely a glossy magazine reader and yet airports will tend to result in a few mindless purchases. It’s hard for me to get absorbed in a quality novel when I’m on an airplane so I’ll take my free pass, thank you very much. I grabbed a copy of Maxim and perused an article on how to convince your girlfriend to add toys into the bedroom mix. I was really saddened to see that they actively encouraged readers to avoid the Hitachi as it might cause a girlfriend to eschew sex without it. I champion it as the greatest sex toy ever invented, myself. It’s the one thing I hope washes up next to me, fully functioning of course, if I’m ever stranged on a desert island. But there is that notion that sex without tool should be good enough still alive and well even in an article about trying to bring tools into the bedroom.

At any rate, if you’re in the Bay Area, it’s worth checking out for sure. I certainly had a lot of fun watching the show and I need some more people to go see it so that my quotes don’t fall on deaf ears. 3 minutes! It never takes any more than 3 minutes!

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