Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bring It: Many glittery blessings

This might sound more Grinchy than glittery, but for me, the holidays are more of a ritual of survival than celebration.

Somehow, the sparkle of the season just doesn’t do it for me when the weather outside is frightful, and the constant temptation of sugar cookies and egg nog wreaks havoc on my circuit starvation diet.

Growing up Jewish certainly doesn’t help me appreciate reindeer games, and when winter and darkness arrive, the call of the disco ball is often overpowered by my inclination to be a bear and hibernate.

But this year is different, much to my surprise. When I recently attended “Light in the Grove” at the National AIDS Memorial Grove - a unique, stunning and solemn gala honoring so many who have given so much to the cause - I was reminded that giving is at the heart of the holidays.

I was also reminded that Christmas (I prefer to think of it as Xmas) is about appreciating our loved ones and counting our blessings, and for this I have Miss Donna Sachet to thank. While her Songs of the Season show benefits my favorite charity, the AIDS Emergency Fund, and while I was so honored to be invited by the empress herself (my personal hero), I really didn’t know how I’d respond to an evening packed with Christmas songs, which generally irritate me no end.

Not surprisingly, Donna stole the show, irreverently adapting the songs to fit her bubbly yet biting wit, and also her personal holiday narrative. Her tales from 18 years (!) of  raising funds for AEF had me all choked up, and helped me get in the spirit, in spite of myself.

Typically, I reserve my holiday spirit for two of my favorite dance parties of the year, and this year I’m no less excited to attend both Black XXXmas on December 18 and Mass on January 2 (both at 1015 Folsom). It’s no secret that I’m a ho ho ho for DJs Abel and Jamie J Sanchez, and that I love nothing more than a leathery overlay to any kind of “traditional” holigay.

Which brings me to another surprise of the season, my very first Xmas tree! Normally I get all agro-environmentalist over the fallen trees that litter Christmastime, but I couldn’t help smiling like a kid on Christmas morning when a tree festooned with leather flags, rainbow tulle and enough disco balls to kill any queen showed up in the living room of my apartment, also known as The Home for Wayward Castro Boys. Thanks to Graig Cooper and Tod Epperson for bringing it!

As this year comes to a close, I’ll actually have some sappy sentiments moving my spirit on the dancefloor, and I’ll be sure to count my many glittery blessings. Getting to be the Original Fag Hag of San Francisco is a gift I never take for granted, and something I live to celebrate all year long.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Bring It: Finding religion on the mat and on the dancefloor

I’m not a religious person, but with seasonal change and holiday rituals, I can’t help but reflect on where and how I find religion in this crazy life.

For me, the circle of life goes from reckless release under the discoball to reprieve and reflection on the yoga mat. When there’s balance between both, bliss is mine. When one or the other is neglected, even glitter can’t make me right.

On the dancefloor, divinity comes from the DJ. On the mat at Gold’s Gym Castro, it comes in the form of a goddess named Maria Stanford. Every Sunday morning she preaches to our gayborhood “church,” encouraging us to set an intention about whatever it is that we hold sacred.

I’m a true believer in what Maria describes as “prana,” or “life force.” It’s exactly what I’m seeking, whether I’m moving my body to the beat or getting grounded in downward dog.

Breathing hard, sweating hard, and manclimbing hard (like I do on the dancefloor) are what remind me that I’m alive and that life is damn good when you live over the rainbow in Oz. The music that moves my spirit is what some would call church music - anthems with a classic gay sound, upbeat and soulful, rooted in disco with vocals almost certainly derived from gospel choirs. My spiritual songs have themes about redemption and salvation.

In yoga, we learn about “energy work,” and everyone in the room can feel the vibe as we soak up the sense of communal connection that Maria inspires. On the dancefloor we refer to a tribal sensibility, with the beat moving us collectively as one, and lately it’s our local DJs – Craig Gaibler and Russ Rich, to be specific – that leave me feeling blessed by their beats.

When the connection is there - when the prana is flowing - it’s magical. A simple smile from the shirtless man on the yoga mat next to yours, or from the shirtless boy at the club who accidentally bumps butts with you, can turn what might otherwise be a mindless workout into a mystical revelation.

I live for these moments, for what DJs call “the nod.” A mutual recognition of the life force we share is the best kind of high, and I’m lucky enough to experience it regularly, with friends and San Framily that inspire me to keep bringing it as hard as I can.

Can I get an amen?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bring It: November 5, 2010: Double Rainbows of Hope

Typically, my multiple personalities veer toward corporate sellout vs. gogo dancer, or leatherman vs. drag queen, but a recent charity event I was so excited to attend had me of two minds in an entirely different way.

All glittered up at Project Inform’s Evening of Hope, I could barely appreciate the condom-coated fashion show that is the party’s signature. I just couldn’t stop thinking about the crisis behind the couture.

The champagne flowed freely, but the sobering message that kicked off the cabaret of Coco Peru made me feel more flat than fizzy. Decades later, we’re still talking about how prevention is the cure when it comes to HIV, and how, until there’s a cure, there’s catastrophe.

The number of new infections is beyond alarming, all these years of education and activism later. Despite our advances in medical science and social policy, the urgency remains. But then there’s the flip side.

AIDS is still rock bottom for bottoms, but when it comes to the fight for gay civil rights, we’re dominating tops, and there is no doubt in my mind that we are winning the war.

I can’t help but think there’s a connection. I suppose hope is born from the darkest places, and if it weren’t for the ferocious and flawless way our community has been forced to rally around our causes, the public dialogue wouldn’t even include phrases like “domestic partnership,” “marriage equality” or “civil union.” The closets would still be overflowing, along with the shame and self-loathing.

So as hopeless I feel sometimes about not even remembering a time before HIV anymore, there are still double rainbows of hope on the horizon.

In all the struggle for salvation from this plague that torments our beloved community, I can see clearly over the double rainbow. among my San Framily and all the righteous organizations that have risen up in arms to fight the good gay fight, what hasn’t yet killed us is making us “bigga, betta, harda, stronga.”

Our ballot initiatives here in San Francisco may earn us the “fruits and nuts” stereotype in the eyes of the rest of our ass-backward country. Yet our San Framilial intimacy with this fight has brought us together in a way that makes us a model to the haters that try to take us down. We’re definitely making progress and change. And quickly.

But just as I get impatient about how damn long I’ve been a sistah in this struggle, I find religion. Dan Savage, you are my savior. I’m holy rolling on your realness. Your keen gay wit and wisdom make you my hero of Alpha Gayness.

“It Gets Better” is the best thing we ever could have asked for. It’s the best possible representation of everything that’s good and right about the gayer and better life we have here in Oz. The message is simple and powerful. It’s one genius idea that delivers perfectly on Harvey Milk’s promise and plea, “You gotta give ‘em hope.” Thank you, Dan Savage, for giving hope to me and millions. Just like that.

I’m just so thankful to be living in the gayest city on earth. Even if enjoying and appreciating all that our beautiful little bubble gives me in return for loving my gays. It’s wearing me out before the holigay season even begins, but we just gotta keep on bringing it as best we can.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bring It: October 22, 2010: Massive Masquerade

The thing about being a circuit whore is that you end up eating your words all the time.

I’m not saying I’m full of…glitter, but just when I think I’m completely jaded, I realize that no, I just happen to live in the Emerald City of Oz. And just like in the movie, when we find ourselves at the end of the yellow brick road, we need green-tinted glasses “to protect us from the city’s brightness and glory.”

When costumes and fantasy and fierce alter-egos are part of your every day, it can be challenging to get geared up for Halloween, especially when it comes at the end of our long and ecstatically exhausting season of street fairs and holigays.

But just when I think I’m over it, I’m surprised again. And just when I think there’s nothing new under the sun, a double rainbow appears.

This year I’m crazy excited about Massive Masquerade at 1015 Folsom on Halloween night. So many of my favorite tricks and treats are coming together at once, I must shut my mouth about how Halloween in San Francisco is dead.

It may not be the mary mayhem the Castro once was, but with Industry and Gus Presents teaming up to deliver DJs Jamie J Sanchez and Russ Rich opening for remix masters The Freemasons, there’s just no way it won’t be absolutely epic.

And I’ll keep the Halloween spirit going into the next weekend, when Nasty: A Filthy Fun-Raiser for the AIDS Emergency Fund returns to The Powerhouse on Friday, November 5.

I thought I left my gothic darkness behind in high school, but my vampyre fetish returned along with True Blood. So please rock your party fangs and join me for “Vampyres Never Get Old” night. Halloween will be over, but I won’t be over it. We’ll celebrate the fact that, in San Francisco, it doesn’t have to be Halloween to dress up and play a part and be undead or glamorous or ridiculous – or all of the above - in the name of pure fun.

It’s actually more fun to bring it “just because.” Halloween or otherwise, there’s no place like home.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Bring It! October 8, 2010: The Circle of Friends

When the party circuit that is my life starts to feels like an amazing race, I take heart in the circle of friends that keeps me running.
Whether you call your circle of friends your posse, tribe, mafia, entourage or San Framily, you know who they are. And while it’s hard to steal away enough time for even the occasional disco nap, it’s important to make enough time to reflect on the people who make up your circle of friends and what they really mean to you.

Together, we go through life’s ups and downs, ins and outs, and all the drama in between. Sometimes we’re there for each other in a big way, and sometimes not as much, but the circle always holds true.

Sometimes the people in your circle of friends make you crazy, but in return, they sometimes let you drive them crazy, too. Sometimes you go crazy together, and then you make everyone around you crazy by reliving those moments again and again.

There’s giggles and tears, hopes and fears, and there’s moments where you question everything and can’t make sense of anything. The nearest and dearest in your circle of friends tell you what you want to hear, and also what you don’t want to hear but need to hear anyways.

Your circle of friends is your reality check. Sometimes it’s comforting, and sometimes it’s confusing, but when you’re living the dream in the land of Oz, it’s priceless.

From the outside, your circle of friends might look like a silly circle jerk, but the reality is more like a sewing circle. By joining forces, we get things done, make a difference and process it all, and along the way we grow up, learn to get by and get better all the time.

In San Francisco, there’s no reason to choose between friends and family. They’re one and the same, and the San Framily model holds together a community that everywhere else in the world is under a microscope, if not under attack.

But San Framily values hold up against anyone’s moral code. In staying true to our selves, we gain the strength to be a force for what’s real and right in the world. When we have room and support to be good to our selves, we can be good to everyone around us, over the rainbow and beyond.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bring It: September 23, 2010: Gay Standard Time

There’s no time like Gay Standard Time, and that’s just another reason why I love my gays so hard. Just as there’s no one way to be gay, there really is no standard “gay time.”

People come out at different ages, and being out has various stages. The gay life cycle can be very different from “average,” but the gays of our lives also have their own special rhythm.

For me and much of San Francisco, the gay calendar year starts some time around the Oscars, Easter, or White Party. It builds momentum through Pride and then picks up pace through to Folsom weekend, which leaves us worn out and weathered.

The season changes somewhere in between Folsom and the Castro Street Fair, and allegedly our downtime begins, just in time for Halloween and then the “traditional” holidays.

I prefer holigays to traditional holidays, so while most people are organizing their Christmas ornaments and ringing in the new year, I’ll be planning group costumes and purchasing swimwear for the Atlantis cruise I’m going on in February.

Gay Standard Time is more like a law of nature than a time zone. There’s no set timeline for our rites of passage, and we’re more likely to mobilize or celebrate around the passage of laws than the passage of time.

Being gay is timeless, an organic and fluid approach to life that can profoundly surprise and delight, at any age. It’s never too late to go to your first circuit party or don drag, and it’s never too soon to become a fundraiser or join the gayby boom. And there’s no time like the present to start appreciating and questioning the legacy we leave by loving our gays, every day and every way.

As another huge year of gay goings on winds down, I’m looking forward to planting the seeds that will blossom come springtime, and to regrouping and recharging every time it’s the right time between now and then.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bring It! August 27, 2010

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and one gay’s night-on-the-town triumph is another’s tragedy.

It’s all relative, and it’s all a matter of perspective, especially when it comes to parties. It’s a subjective search for the perfect “swirl,” and we never know what’s going to make it just right, or when. But when it’s right, it’s SO right, and that’s what keeps us all returning to the dancefloor.

I’m always amazed by how differently people can perceive the same event. What sounds like pots and pans to me moves other circuit boys into a sweaty cardio craze. And when I feel like I’ve just “gone to church,” other boys are in line at the coat check, unable to escape the screaming divas fast enough.

We’re all hoping that tonight’s gonna be a good good night, but even when it’s off for me, I take comfort in knowing that somebody’s on an epic journey. I’m confident that I’ll get mine soon enough, and we all must be, because we just can’t stay away from the discoball. Like gay moths to the flaming flame.

And while we’ve all become experts at critiquing the music, venue and crowd at the parties on our own personal circuits, the experience isn’t really about any of those things nearly as much as it’s about feeling a sense of community.

The dancefloor is my happy hour, and I live for that thumpa thumpa the way a lot of people salivate before their first sip at cocktail time. A sappy theme song comes to mind, from “Cheers,” a show that begins, lives and ends at “the bar.” That concept is so straight, I could never really relate, but now it all makes perfect sense to me.

“Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name,” (even if we all call each other “sweetie” because we just can’t remember. “And you’re always glad you came.” Damn straight, come to think of it!

My friend Hysterica once told me that alcohol is for straight people. The boy bars of the Castro suggest otherwise, but the spirit of that comment rings true.

There’s a lot to toast in our town, which always offers more options to dance it out than a girls knows what to do with, and which more often than not delivers a sweet swirl. I may have Gatorade in hand when I drink “to life,” but the sublime joy of leaving behind life’s daily grind is just as sincere.

Cheers, Queers!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Bring It! August 13, 2010

Reinvention is a gay way of life. We revisit, revitalize and revolutionize. We do it with flair, and with feeling.

As a lifelong professional fag hag, it’s amazing that I’m still rediscovering the joys of being a gay man. Events, personalities and issues that I’ve seen time and again continually offer up pleasant surprises, fueling my passion for loving my gays as hard as I can.

Sundance is a great example. A blast from the past, boys by the bay have fond and frisky memories of bygone summer weekends spent on the Russian River. This time around, Sundance is new and improved, with a party bus that not only delivers us safely to nature’s dancefloor, but that creates an entirely new experience from a time-honored tradition.

Thanks to Past Curfew Productions and JuicyFruitJim Hauck, Sundance is now a woof-packed roadtrip, and getting to the party is nearly as much fun as the party itself. I can’t wait to get on the bus on Sunday, August 15, to celebrate and appreciate the promotion collaboration between Luke Johnstone and Gus Presents that brings us this highlight of the summer.

I’m also looking forward to Industry Local Talent Night on Saturday, August 21. Industry is a party that’s been around for years now, and I’ve watched it evolve into a signature of San Francisco’s dance scene. But that doesn’t mean it’s predictable. One month you’ll get circuit superstars like DJs Abel or Tony Moran, and another you’ll get the very best of our up-and-coming homegrown DJ talent.

I’m excited to perform in between DJs Russ Rich and James Torres, to a song remixed by DJ Jamie J Sanchez. I get to do hairography with my best boo Joanna Parks, and the ridiculously sexy Race Cooper. That a girl like me gets to play drag diva at a party like this - a favorite among the most hard-core and discerning men of the circuit - is a gift and a delight.

The very next day, I’ll be dancing it out in the AIDS Memorial Grove with DJ Christopher B at Flagging in the Park. I fell in love with this 15-year-old event when I went for the first time last month, to hear another great local talent, DJ Craig Gaibler. The vision of so many flaggers expressing themselves through such a purely gay art form, in such a poignant and lush venue, and while raising money for charity, was sublime. Big props to Xavier Caylor for producing this beautiful and life-affirming memorial.

And then there’s our ongoing battle to reinvent the tired and troubled institution of marriage. The smart and sassy NOH8 campaign played a huge part in repealing a measure that made discrimination the law, and I’m proud that San Francisco, the rightful gay capital of the United States, is the only locality involved in bringing this important battle to the Supreme Court. Most of all, I’m excited to see my gays revitalize and revolutionize marriage by doing it better than it’s ever been done before.

Ain’t that always the gay way?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bring It! July 30, 2010

As I struggle with one starvation diet after another trying to stay in step with the Castro’s seemingly endless supply of smooth and svelte circuit boys, I wonder if it isn’t time for me to go beyond being a mere Goldilocks and become a full-on bear.

Just like my drag mothers taught me everything I know about how to act like you’ve got the biggest balls in the room, I’ve learned important life lessons from my bear daddies. Internalizing hate and shame isn’t cute, and conforming for the sake of fitting in isn’t sexy.

The bears get a lot of things right when it comes to self-love. Endangered by the homonormative ideal that suggests survival of the fittest, they don’t just survive, they thrive.

I love that the bears have clawed out an accepting and comfortable niche in the gayborhood, adding a whole spectrum of wildlife to our beautiful rainbow. There’s muscle bears and dancing bears and Electronic Music Bears (oh my!), not to mention cubcakes. Subcategories like otters and wolves round out the party, and bear chasers are always welcomed.

Bear is a state of mind. It’s about owning and embracing the sense of self we carry on the inside at least as much as the self we present on the outside. It’s being comfortable in one’s own skin (or fur), and that’s a message our community can never hear enough, which is why bears are among my favorite San Framily mascots.

My bear boys never judge as I try to get by on Tic Tacs and glitter, and they protect me whenever I get grizzly. They cheer me on as I push my way into their bars, or into their territory on the Russian River, like I’m excited to do at Sundance next month.

Best of all, they graciously make room for me as I try to learn from them how to respect my own limitations. Keeping up with bears several times my size and weight has led to personal disaster on more than a few occasions, which keeps me mindful of just how strong and powerful these creatures really are, in addition to being so damned cute and cuddly.

Just something to bear in mind as we celebrate and appreciate those at the top of our gay food chain. Grr!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Bring It! July 16, 2010

It’s a known fact that gays do everything right. Like a law of the universe.

As long as I’m with my gays, I know I’m in the right place. But maybe we make it look too easy to do everything right. A lot of the time, we’re victims of our own success.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Gay Cycle of Success. The one in which the gender-fucking outcasts build themselves a glittery ghetto where they can feel safe and free. Then the fearless fabulosity of it all starts attracting the hipsters and edgy artists. Mainstreaming and gentrification begin. Sooner or later, everyone wants a piece of our puff pastry, and eventually the curious gawkers start acting like they own the place.

Halloween in the Castro comes to mind. What was once a glamorous gayborhood gathering exploded into mindless thuggery, and now it’s just a distant memory. And look what just happened to Pink Saturday. A celebration and affirmation of our community unraveled in the streets, senselessly, and likely will never be the same.

Instead of empowering our community, these events got overpowered, and the loss is palpable.

I hope that’s not the inevitable path of Up Your Alley. Like the street fair itself, I’m getting up there in the years, and I remember when it really was a dirty circle jerk in the alley, with no corporate sponsors or sound stages. It made me proud to be the only girl who would dare show up.

But it’s hard to keep a good thing to ourselves, and building community is ultimately vital and important, even if it’s not always pretty or pure.

I’m doing my best to embrace the political and social victory that results in our beautiful little rituals growing larger than life. And I’m trying not to hate on people who are late to the party. Intention and awareness is what matters, and as much as we love our San Fransexual bubble, acceptance doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

Here’s hoping some of you will still find some nooks and crannies to be extra-obscene at Up Your Alley, keeping it real and showing the rookies how it’s done when it’s done just right.

Here’s where I’ll be bringing it and getting dirty…

Friday, July 16

GhettoDisco with DJs Wayne G, Moto Blanco & Hawthorne
“Hags in the House” night celebrates the Original Fag Hag’s birthday
With Suzan Revah & Joanna Parks as your gogo hags
11pm-11am at Endup, 6th & Harrison Streets, Free before midnight

Saturday, July 17

Art Show: The Works of Keith Gaspari
With interpretive drag performances, installation art and more
5pm-10pm at The Cat Club, 1190 Folsom Street, $5 suggested donation


Wet and Wild with DJs David Harness & Dr. Proctor
Wear your best nautical outfit
1151 Folsom Street, $3 before 10:30/$8 after

Friday, July 23

Full Throttle: A Dark and Sexy Fetish & Fantasy Experience
With DJs Craig Gaibler, Frank Wild, Hawthorne, James Torres & Don Tix
8pm-11am at Endup, 6 & Harrison Streets, $25/$35 or $20 after 2am

Saturday, July 24

Bay of Pigs with DJ Ted Eiel
10pm-4am at 525 Harrison Street, $30

Sunday, July 25

Up Your Alley
11am-6pm, on Dore Alley & Folsom Street
Stop by the REAL BAD booth and get tattooed by hot leathermen!


PLAY T-Dance: Dirty Alley with DJ Joe Gauthreaux
Flirt. Frolic. Dance. (Recommended Gear: Blue Collar Grunge)
5pm-midnight at DNA Lounge, 375 11th Street, $20/$30/$35

Monday, July 12, 2010

Another LGBT hero

From the San Francisco Chronicle Datebook, Sunday July 11, 2010:

In response to Leba Hertz's request in the June 20 Pink for local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender heroes, I'd like to tell you about one of my best friends. Suzan Revah has become a force of nature in San Francisco's LGBT community. From humble beginnings offering a weekly "Cruise Director Alert" e-mail to keep her several hundred closest friends up to date on the best dance venues, drag performances and other LGBT events, Suzan has become a local celebrity who knows how to find - or make - a good time.

Suzan has a penchant for performance, and she makes appearances on a regular basis at dance parties and other venues all over San Francisco, both as a go-go dancer and as a drag persona. Suzan prefers not to think of herself as straight but rather as a gay man trapped in a woman's body. She does her best to prove that assertion to everyone she meets.

Suzan is involved in many community charity efforts and currently produces a monthly fundraiser party for AIDS Emergency Fund called Nasty at the Powerhouse bar South of Market. Suzan is also part of the Real Bad XXII Working Group, supporting the production of the final dance party of Folsom Week, 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at Club 1015, 1015 Folsom St., San Francisco. (Tickets start at $80.) Real Bad is also a fundraiser, earning more than $150,000 annually for nonprofits that will be named later this year.

Suzan also offers support and love to the community through two Web sites: www.originalfaghag.com and www.lovemygays.com.
In San Francisco, given just how big the rainbow is, it may seem a little cliche to say that the LGBT community needs its straight allies, but from my point of view, and that of my many friends who love Suzan as I do, we are immeasurably enriched by her many contributions to our lives and the LGBT community in San Francisco.

Troy Arnold, San Francisco

Friday, June 25, 2010

Bring It! June 25, 2010

My gays are my life support system, and I live to return the favor.

But when supporting good people and good causes takes the form of bar crawling or dancing all night, it’s easy to overlook just how much work that actually involves.

We’re all busy. We’re all overstressed and underpaid. And we all have too much to do and not enough hours in every day to do it, but that’s why it’s so special when your community rallies around you in a show of support.

My dear friend Jeremy Hough recently put it best: “If it’s always going to be this hard, then it better always be this good.”

That sentiment resonates for a lot of us in the gayborhood. There’s always an event, a party, a fundraiser, or a performance involving someone you know and adore, and we always have the best intentions when it comes to being there for the people we love and the things we care about.

Sometimes being so supportive hurts. It takes a toll on our wallets, our sleep, and our laughable attempts at moderation or restraint. And the flip side is the guilt that goes along with not supporting. Damned if we do, and damned if we don’t.

But the truth is, the kind of support we’re asked to show is cake compared to the rest of the world outside the bubble. When you’re gay in San Francisco, you NEVER find yourself saying things like “I don’t really get out much,” or “I’m so bored.”

None of us would be here if it weren’t for wanting to be involved, wanting to be counted, wanting to do things differently. Independence Day takes on a whole new meaning when we appreciate how being gay in San Francisco gives us the freedom to have more fun than we know what to do with.

Ours may not be a support system the rest of the world recognizes or accepts, but the realness is beyond question. Our style of support is also extremely effective, whether we’re elevating drag as an art form, fighting a disease, communing under a disco ball, or demanding equality.

This Independence Day, I’ll be celebrating how utterly dependent I am on my gays. They provide glittery fireworks every day and every way, and offer undying support as I bring it here and there trying to keep it real in the independent nation of San Francisco.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Bring It! June 11, 2010

It’s not easy being gay. Our absolutely fabulous lifestyle requires more time and money than most of us can afford, and there’s a huge amount of pressure to be eternally fierce and flawless.

We live paycheck to paycheck with expenses such as glitter and champagne, and we go from one starvation diet to the next as we try to be Speedo-ready every weekend of the year.

Jet-setting from one dance party to another with no sleep in between can be exhausting. And so can having all the right photos at the ready for the various stages of cruising on Grindr.

Keeping up with all of the fun that goes along with being gay is impossible. You betta work!
When you’re gay in San Francisco, that’s our only real hardship. The Pride holigay has us all running around chasing rainbows, but in most of the rest of the world outside our beautiful bubble, it’s REALLY not easy being gay. There’s secrecy and scorn at best, discrimination and deadly violence at worst.

Even inside the bubble, we feel the government-sanctioned injustice of Proposition 8 and the denial of marriage equality. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell continues to chafe.
You don’t have to get very far outside San Francisco at all to feel and fear the hate thrown at LGBTQQs every day and every way, while we in Oz get to enjoy the comfort of rainbow flags flagrantly lining our city’s main street.

All the more reason why Pride is so important, and why we need to keep fighting the good gay fight that began when a brave and truly fierce drag queen took on the cops at Stonewall, starting our civil rights revolution 40 years ago.

Freedom is ours when our biggest problems as liberated gays are deciding which of all the Pride parties to attend and what to wear, but let’s not lose sight of what it took to get to this moment in history, and how far we still have left to go. 

Being out and proud is my privilege, but it should be your undeniable right, so let’s continue to bring it and bring it hard as we celebrate all the ways it’s great to be gay. Happy Pride!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bring It! May 28, 2010

A word that seems to be buzzing in my ears lately is community. Maybe it’s just the rainbow-fueled kumbaya that sweeps over us every year around Pride – after all, we do live in the gayest city on earth! - but in all sincerity, I’m seeing and feeling community everywhere right now.

Take the Castro County Fair, an event that almost mocks traditional ideas about community, even as it reinvents and improves them. There in the midst of the pie contest and the two-stepping, Kink.com tours departed hourly, a spanking booth made its debut, and a climbing wall was scaled by drag queens in heels.

City Supervisor Bevan Dufty, our future gay mayor, bounced down an inflatable slide with his daughter before heading out to a chili cook-off for charity. I love how San Francisco turns conventional concepts inside out, rebelliously yet respectfully making them our own.

At Nasty, the fun-raiser I host on first Fridays at The Powerhouse, the close quarters make it a bar where everybody knows your name, but there’s an aspect of it that’s more like a church social. It is truly a community gathering, and we just happen to take care of our own by passing around Crisco cans instead of an offering plate.

San Francisco is a small town in all the best ways. We intentionally limit our worldview to the Castro and SOMA. And at some level, we really do know one another just from seeing each other “round the way.” We are all “six degrees of ejaculation” away from one another – it’s funny because it’s true - yet there’s a sense of security that comes from knowing each other so intimately, for better or for worse.

My favorite part of the word community is the last part: unity. Each of us, for our own reasons, has chosen to live inside this beautiful bubble. Collectively, we take pride in knowing that we’re really not like the rest of society. We willfully fear and shun the world beyond our borders, taking comfort in our glittery isolation.

Here in Oz, we have an endless supply of unique, quirky and proudly gay ways to commune with one another. Here’s where I’ll be trying to do just that next…

June 4 – Nasty at The Powerhouse
June 5 – Adonis with DJs Brett Henrichsen & Lee Decker at Club NV
June 6 – Marlena’s Dragathon and Flagging in the Park
June 12 – DJs Manny Lehman and Wayne G at Wonderland, LA Pride

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bring It! May 12, 2010

I love getting twisted with my gays. In fact, the gay “twist” is why I love my gays so damn much. Anything and everything gets that much better when it’s gayer.

Since I was raised by circuit queens under a disco ball, I’m not the kind of girl you’d typically find two-steppin at a county fair. But the Castro County Fair, taking place in the Kink.com Armory on May 23, has me all excited about rockin my cowboy boots and hosting a good old-fashioned Kissing Booth for the AIDS Emergency Fund. (Please come by for a Brokeback-style smooch!) The best part, of course, is that there’s nothing traditional about it. With the gays, charity can be silly, naughty, and worthy all at the same time.

Like when I proudly accept the title of Ms. Heartthrob 2010 at The Eagle on May 27, an honor being bestowed upon me by the Castro Lions. Community service clubs like the Lions are probably pretty tame outside the gaytopia known as San Francisco, but here we’ll be raising money for Lyon-Martin Health Services with a “Big Ass Party” at a leather bar featuring gender-delusional musical entertainment.

And Memorial Day isn’t really a holiday that speaks to me personally, my respect for men in uniform notwithstanding. To my mind, it marks the beginning of summer more than anything, but thanks to the gay twist, it’s now a weekend I look forward to each year.

The holiday once known as “Decoration Day” (now that’s how to sell it to the gays!) kicks off on Friday, May 28, with Gay Day Great America, where I’ll be performing on Heklina’s Trannyshack stage and riding rollercoasters with my drag mama Charisma Glitteratti.

Saturday the 29th, I’ll be dancing it out at Ceremony with DJ Tony Moran (produced in perfect partnership by DJ Luke Johnstone and Gus Presents). And Sunday the 30th I’ll be doing a double-header (also a very gay concept!), at Fresh with DJ Manny Lehman followed by one of my very favorite parties of all, Sanctuary, this time with DJs David Knapp and Luke Johnstone.

Don’t get it twisted. I’m sure straight people think they’re having fun, too. But I say, if there’s a way to make it gay, then BRING IT!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Bring It! April 28, 2010

When people ask me whether I’m gay or straight, the most honest answer I can come up with is that I’m San Fransexual.

I’m a girl who respects the Kinsey scale. I don’t see things as black or white, trying instead to appreciate every color of the rainbow in between.

Like when people ask whether I’m a top or a bottom. Of course I’m versatile, and I’m proud of it. Why choose one or the other, when you can have it all?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my gays, it’s that more is more and less is a bore. Sometimes there aren’t enough days in the week or nights in the weekend to squeeze it all in, but I do my best to be a versatile scene queen. In other words, I get around.

I wonder sometimes, how would I describe myself if I were putting together a personal ad for say, the back pages of this magazine? Circuit boy, for sure. Chaser of leather pigs, for sure. But I’m also a drag queen, a Goldilocks, a charity fag, and just a regular round-the-way Castro girl, among many other things.

This past weekend, for example, I performed with Trannyshack all-stars Raya Light, Precious Moments and Heklina at DNA Lounge. When I finally went to bed that night, I took one pair of false eyelashes off, only to replace them a few hours later with another pair (more butch and natural), for a photo shoot celebrating Nasty, my filthy fun-raiser at The Powerhouse on first Fridays, and the Castro County Fair on May 23, both of which benefit the AIDS Emergency Fund.

I didn’t even have time to change out of my cowboy boots and leathers before running off to the beer bust at Truck. Later that night, I took my problems to the dancefloor at Industry and unintentionally stayed until the sun came up. I slept in and (uncharacteristically) skipped my yoga church at Gold’s Gym, but still managed to spend a few hours sunning with the Speedo set on Boy Beach in Dolores Park, before rushing home for a conference call with my Real Bad brotherhood. And the weekend didn’t even end there, it ended at Fresh, where all of the gay glitterati gather under the discoball.

The beautiful thing is that this was a completely typical weekend in Oz, a slice of life and another chance to appreciate the versatility of my San Framily, which crosses over into every scene all the time.

Except for the straight scene, of course, but I guess everyone’s versatility has limits!

Here’s where I’ll be crossing over and bringing it next:

May 7 – Nasty at The Powerhouse, benefiting AEF (Country/Western night, celebrating the Castro County Fair)
May 8 – Action at Club Ei8ht with DJ Wayne G vs. James Torres, plus dabecy-emb upstairs
May 15 – Industry at Mighty with DJs Joe Gauthreaux and Luke Johnstone (Cherry night for The Disco)
May 16 – Palace with DJ Russ Rich at The CafĂ©

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bring It! April 14, 2010

A huge circuit party weekend like White Party Palm Springs is an opportunity to take the beauty of our San Francisco bubble on the road, a chance to embrace and enforce our gayest groove.

Going on tour with San Framily is an extraordinary and unforgettable adventure. It brings us closer while letting us show the rest of the world’s gays how it’s done here over the rainbow.

Racing between a dozen parties in a single weekend, events unfold in random and rapid episodes, leaving no choice but to let go and go with the flow. That’s when the magic happens, despite the madness, and the song that followed me around the dancefloors of the desert says it best:

“Wait for the release, can ya feel the beat? It’s got me right down in my soul and I’m about to lose control.”

The extreme conditions and controlled chaos of the circuit create moments of inspired connection, moments that wouldn’t or couldn’t happen any other way. It’s these moments that keep us coming back to the ritual and release of the dancefloor, and what makes the circuit so life-affirming and so addicting.

“Release me. Set me free. Let the fire burn in me.”

Circuit weekends make my gay flame burn more brightly. When kindred spirits gather to spill their souls onto the dancefloor, a support system and safety net is being built, beat by beat. The disco brotherhood sets the stage for losing control, and for releasing yourself from the struggles of every day life.

Ultimately, life is about experience, and a circuit party weekend is an overwhelming one. The sweat lodge of sex, surrender, and survival is the best kind of sensory overload, and like with so many other things, gays do it better than anyone, with unmatched scale and style.

The circuit has a long history of making room in our busy, stressful lives for full self-expression and total freedom. As silly and shallow as it might seem to the uninitiated, the community of acceptance and belonging that releases itself under the disco ball refreshes and recharges.

The round-the-clock party puts your stamina and your sanity to the test, but the rewards are priceless. Like when you find yourself in a huddle of kisses with your closest friends while fireworks explode overhead, collectively howling at the moon and even weeping from unspeakable joy.

Before you’ve even washed off the weekend’s glitter, friendships are cemented and plans for the next circuit pilgrimage are made. Reality returns soon enough, but when you follow the yellow brick road back to Oz, you appreciate anew how we keep it real and keep it gay every minute of every day.

There’s a certain sense of security that comes from knowing we left our hearts in San Francisco, where there’s barely a weekend to rest before circuit superstars Ralphi Rosario and Abel, AKA Rosabel, take over Industry on April 24. And the very next day, on April 25, the Perry Twins will take over Fresh. But here in San Francisco we don’t even call that a circuit party, we just call it business as usual. As torn back as I feel after the excesses of the White Party, I still say, BRING IT!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bring It! April 2, 2010

The White Party is a gay pilgrimage of epic proportions, a long-standing ritual that gives gays from all over a chance to play the way we play in San Francisco every single day.

The supersized lineup of talent that convinced me to return to the desert with my Pussy Posse for a third time essentially warmed up right here in Oz. Hometown hero DJ Luke Johnstone kicks off the Palm Springs festivities with the Friday pool party, and thanks to his gift for bringing us the big names, we’re already well-rehearsed for all the heavy hitters who’ll be following him throughout the weekend.

Like DJ Abel, who is spinning at Friday night’s underwear party and was just here less than 2 months ago, tearing it up at Industry. Saturday’s main event is headlined by world-class remixers The Freemasons, who not only made their American debut here in San Francisco a year ago, but who turned it out last weekend at a packed 1015 Folsom.

That San Francisco sneak preview of The White Party was a perfect disco storm, with happy music, nonstop divas and anthems, and a united front of all our favorite fags smiling and dancing their hearts out in the same room. It was my idea of homo heaven.

Every circuit party should be an experience like that, and here in our little bubble by the Bay, we make that our reality, with regularity. That spirit is what I’m hoping to bring to Palm Springs, to share with all the boys who don’t have the luxury of living a year-round gaycation.

Much of the White Party entertainment reads like San Francisco’s greatest hits, with DJs Manny Lehman, Moto Blanco, Wayne G, and Tony Moran serving up our circuit soundtrack. All of them have passed through the gayest city in the world on their way.

What we don’t have in San Francisco is a chance to enjoy all this fun in the sun, which is what makes Palm Springs extra-special. Glitter just doesn’t have the same sparkle in the fog, so I’m especially looking forward to Sunday’s T-dance, where we can soak up the scene from atop the ferris wheel, bounce it out on the blow-up slide, and cheer to fabulous fireworks while Palm Spring’s straight-and-narrows observe us through the fence.

What a great way to celebrate just how happy we are to be gay in every way and every day. Bring it!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bring It! March 19, 2010

One of the best things about traveling the gay dance circuit is getting to represent on behalf of the gayest city in the world.

Whenever I venture to dancefloors beyond the bubble, I consider myself a proud San Francisco ambassador. The response I get reinforces that San Francisco is exactly the right place for a die-hard hag like me to call home, and validates that there really is no place like home, where every minute of every day is hella gay.

On my recent trip to Miami’s Winter Party Festival, I gave a whole new set of boys a taste of San Francisco with my homothusiasm. The flowers in my hair and my excessive glitter expressed the spirit of San Francisco everywhere I went, from the Rough Waters leather event with DJ Ted Eiel, to a drive-by at the Atlantis sailaway party, to owning a section of the afterparty dancefloor with DJ Luke Johnstone to my left and a pack of Brazilians to my right.

My reality check came when my CASTRO hoodie got an unexpected reaction from a Latin boy who warned me that I’d better not wear it in Miami. And here I thought there was only one Castro in the entire world, and that it was covered in rainbow.

One of my favorite moments was in the crowd outside Palace in South Beach. I worked the pushy masses as if they were my personal receiving line, smiling at everyone that bumped into me while observing a stunning cross-section of Miami’s scene-queens.

When two hot muscle daddies passed by, I muttered a sincere WOOF, almost involuntarily. Daddy stopped in his tracks and asked, incredulously, “Did you just WOOF at me?!”

“I sure did, handsome,” I said. Such a queer comment coming from a cocky gay without a cock apparently caught him off guard. Daddy felt compelled to gather his friends around and ask me where I had come from, as often happens when I forget where I am and that not every place is Oz.

But that wasn’t nearly as funny as the tranimal taken aback by the crazy braided ‘do my fab hairstylist Gib fierced me out with before I left for Miami, and the custom-couture Chaps t-shirts I rocked out with my travel trio. Working the rooftop at Club Manor like a runway after sneaking into DJ Manny Lehman’s booth for a cameo, Tranimal turned to me and said, “Where is you from, cuz it ain’t here?!”

San Fran Fucking Cisco, that’s where!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bring It: March 5, 2010

Hi, my name is Suzan Revah and I’m addicted to the circuit. Moving to the thumpa thumpa with my gays until I’m completely lost in the moment, covered in sweat and panting, is my favorite high. It’s an adrenaline charge, a ritualistic release, and apparently I just can’t get enough.

After a lifetime of cruise directing queens toward the disco ball - my drag name isn’t Pushy Bottom for nothing! – my excesses are coming full circle. And when it comes to disco temptation, I’m utterly powerless.

On an Atlantis cruise last year, I met a boy who owns a gay hotel in Miami. “Girl! You HAVE to come for Winter Party!” he said. I giggled politely, knowing there was no way in hell I could afford to get there. But just a few months later, I bought a ticket on Virgin and expanded my circuit frontier.

Supposedly understanding that tradeoffs would be necessary, I then swore I would NOT be attending this year’s White Party Palm Springs because I need to direct my vacation budget (a term I use quite loosely) elsewhere. But then I saw the epic lineup of DJs and the gathering storm of friends making their party plans, and now I’m on my way next month.

My addiction turned to full-on financial irresponsibility when I went from pooh-poohing Atlantis cruises - “How will I ever get to Rio or Sydney if I keep blowing my wad on those floating bathhouses?” – to signing up for the biggest cruise ever one year from now. My addiction has a layaway plan!

It’s always something on the circuit, with constant peer pressure to choose fun over reason. I seriously can’t afford my gay lifestyle, and yet I can’t afford not to. What if the party I skip turns out to be the best one ever?

Oscar Wilde comes to mind: “My only regret in this life are my economies,” he said. Spoken like a true circuit whore, and it’s the perfect rationalization for why I can’t help but bring it to one dancefloor after another, even though I think I can quit anytime.

What does your gay lifestyle say about your addictive personality? Tell me more at www.lovemygays.com.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bring It! February 19, 2010

It’s one thing to love your gays for all the fabulous fun they bring into your life, but it’s another thing entirely to love your gays for being the family you choose for yourself - as opposed to the family you’re born into.

I recently had the chance to host a mixing and mingling of both my “given” family and my chosen San Framily, and it made me fall in love with my gays all over again.

Being an old-school fag hag, there was a time when my gays represented a very intentional departure from the claustrophobic confines of my family. The “Family” we referred to back then as code was a safe haven. My gays provided sanctuary where I could fully express my inner freak and know that, instead of being judged, my differences would be cultivated and celebrated.

I’ve come a long way since then, and am told often that I’m way gayer than most gays. My conventional family has always had a sense of this, since I’ve always run with a gaggle of gays, but it’s only recently that I’ve fully come out.

These days, I live my big gay life loud and proud regardless of context, even if that context is my very traditional Turkish-Jewish upbringing. A visit from my recently widowed mother validated this choice a thousand times over, as I got to witness a beautiful and touching outpouring of support that welcomed her over the rainbow.

The queens truly treated my mother like a queen, and she quickly felt so flattered and comfortable in their presence – and in their bars! - that it was as if she too had been a lifelong fag hag. And she’s 79!

I couldn’t be more grateful and proud of my beloved gays for extending themselves so generously. They refined and redefined the concept of family, bringing swishy sunshine into my mother’s life and embracing her fully in the San Framily fold. It’s an experience I’ll never forget, a priceless perspective on why I love my gays in countless ways.

Please tell me in your own words why you love being gay at www.lovemygays.com, and next time your mom comes to the Castro, let me know so I can cruise direct the glitterized welcome wagon!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Bring It! February 6, 2010

Some people read self-help books, but I seek wisdom in the divas of the dancefloor.

They serve up a message that’s sweepingly simple, yet seemingly specific, thumping a universal theme of self-empowerment to help you rise above it all.

The message that got me recently was a call to action: “Express Yourself.” With Valentine’s Day and the International Bear Rendezvous coming up, I got to thinking about all the ways I get to do just that, living here in Oz.

My big gay Valentine plan includes gogo dancing for my favorite charity (the AIDS Emergency Fund) at a leather bar (Chaps) on Saturday the 13th. I’m flattered by the company I’ll be keeping – Travis Creston, Race Cooper, Julian Marshburn – and they’ll provide “stiff” competition for who can bring in the most tips. I’ll be expressing myself hard to prove I deserve my spot in the lineup, and to win over the leathermen questioning the female on the gogo box.

Earlier that day is a video release party at The Midnight Sun at 3pm. The “First Sight of Red” video by Ejector - my favorite leather, glitter, goth band - is strikingly beautiful, and it paints a gorgeous portrait of gay San Francisco and the overflowing talent that expresses itself inside our bubble.

I’ll start Valentine’s Day worshiping at my “church,” Maria Stanford’s intensely zen yoga class at Gold’s Gym Castro. It’s where I process my messages from the dancefloor among the amazingly fit men that line up mat-to-mat to express themselves. A perfectly San Francisco exercise of enlightenment.

From there I’m going to see Justin Bond’s Closer to You at the Castro Theatre, my idea of family-friendly entertainment for my visiting mother. There will be Carpenters tunes and a 10-piece orchestra, and interludes from The Cockettes, a revival of one of San Francisco’s finest traditions of self-expression.

After hours I’m headed to Sanctuary, a party I never miss. It’ll be extra grrry and furry on IBR weekend, with chunk-house diva Ted Eiel at the decks. Dancing in the man-pit until dawn is my favorite way of all to express my true self, the fag hag who just can’t get enough of loving her gays in so many ways.

Sign up for my weekly email blast, the Cruise Director Alert, at www.originalfaghag.com, then meet me under the discoball to see what wisdom we can gain as we express ourselves.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bring It! January 22, 2010

The Original Fag Hag isn’t for everyone.

I’m often the odd gay man out, on both sides of the fence. I’ll never be fully assimilated into Castro culture (though I’m as fully assimilated as anyone without a penis could be), and I’m not really accepted or acceptable among straight folk, either.

I’m not only fine with this, I live for this, and the people who are nearest and dearest in my life are the ones who really “get it.”

My life story is pretty much “Love me, Love My Gays.” It’s simple, and surprisingly subversive. Explaining it to everyone who asks is the best way I know to become a fully self-actualized gay.

One of my favorite ways to break down barriers and stereotypes is to just put myself out there. Right in the middle of things, exactly where I supposedly don’t belong.

I’m basically a size queen when it comes to the huge pride I take in being part of groups that normally wouldn’t have me. The Real Bad Working Group that puts on this city’s finest leather party of the year is one example. Another is Castro Dads, the gay parenting group I recently joined in my own version of the sitcom Modern Family.

Nasty, my monthly “fun-raiser” for the AIDS Emergency Fund at The Powerhouse, has gone a long way toward helping me earn my Gay Card. Many actual gay men are intimidated by such a notorious leather bar, which is exactly why I was enticed by hosting a party there. And Friday, February 5, is going to be the gayest Nasty yet, with Wrestling Night sponsored by Kink.com’s Naked Kombat.

My mostly-straight boyfriend and my mostly-gay F-buddy will be pinning each other for the cause, and this “Battle for The Nasty Girl” perfectly dramatizes everything I love about being gay. In the words of my friend Michael Smith, the talented photographer who makes the Nasty magic happen on each month’s poster, I just don’t have the same problems as other people.

Damn straight. Or not!

Tell me in your own words why you love being gay at www.lovemygays.com.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bring It: January 8, 2010

Here’s to a new, as-of-yet unglitterized year!

Having survived the mary and gay of the holidaze makes me want to run for the nearest dancefloor, which is hardly a stretch for the Original Fag Hag, but it is one way of answering the question: How did I get so damn gay?

Boys often ask this of me and my fellow fruit-fly-on-the-front-lines-of-fag-haggery, Janine Shiota, and our short answer is because, once you go gay, you just can’t stay away.

Looking ahead at my gayer-than-gay calendar of events for the year, it’s flamingly obvious that the love and support and fabulous fun this community exchanges is more than just a day in the lifestyle, it’s an essential year-round endeavor.

I’ve already got big plans to get my gay on for MLK weekend and President’s Day weekend. Beyond that there’s Winter Party Miami (my first!), Irreverent Easter in Dolores Park (Hunky Jesus!), and then White Party Palm Springs. I thought I could resist the call of the desert this year, but I had to rethink given the white-hot DJs lined up, and then before we know it it’ll be Memorial Day and Pride, and I’ll be so deep in the glitter I won’t know what to do with myself until I can relax and unwind (ha!) on an Atlantis cruise somewhere.

Deep in the homo mix is where I feel most at home and at peace. The inclusive, accepting embrace of the community I lovingly call my San Framily is where I can truly ground myself by losing myself. Whether it’s at the club, or in drag, or in leather, or working for the cause, being so hella gay is the only way I know how to be, and I wouldn't change that for the world.
What gay goings-on are you most looking forward to this year and why? Tell me in your own words at www.lovemygays.com, or just stop by to check out all the many ways Janine and I love our gays.

Let's make this new decade the gayest one yet!