Bare Breasts, Nuns, and Sonny Bono
Insomniacs, swing-shift workers, and speed tweakers are long familiar with the late-night Sunday movie program on KOFY-TV 20, a drunken melee that features local bands and is hosted by station owner James Gabbert. Because the perpetually grinning Gabbert recently sold his station for millions, a week ago Tuesday marked the taping of his last-ever Halloween show. On hand to celebrate the holiday were the goth band Galaxxy Chamber, saloon owner Johnny Love, a big-breasted stripper named Monica, prostitution activist Margo St. James (dressed as Sonny Bono), assorted hangers-on, and a Catholic nun. The merry bunch congregated around the faux bar constructed at the station's studios. (Much to everyone's chagrin, beer was served for only exactly one hour.)
Gabbert may be retiring, but he hasn't lost his gift for warming up his studio audience:
"Hello, James Gabbert is in the building but he's not ready yet, and he's asked me to come out and warm up the crowd for him. Certain rules you need to know. Number 1: What day is it? That's right, it's Sunday. Sunday, October 26th. Number 2: Here is where I sit. This is my chair. This is the camera. If you walk across between my chair and the camera, you WILL be thrown out or killed.
"Number 3: It's not a morgue. Smile. Look like you're having fun."
Chitchat ensued. Gabbert yakked with St. James (promoting her upcoming Hookers' Ball event Halloween night at the Maritime Hall), Love, and Monica the stripper, who couldn't help but smush Love's face between her breasts. After a commercial break, Gabbert decided it would be a grand idea to have Monica streak topless in front of the camera.
"Margo," he ordered, "you come and stand with me, and we'll be talking, and Monica will run by without her top on. Are you ready? Wait a minute." Gabbert paused.
"Get the nun over here."
The action continued, Gabbert smiling away, a Catholic nun on one arm, Margo St. James aka Sonny Bono on the other, as a topless Monica bounced past, to the delight of last weekend's wee-hours viewing audience.
One eyewitness reported that St. James/Bono drank four beers during the taping, but the consummate pro never once drifted out of camera frame. As for ever-grinning Gabbert: "His dental work is frightening!"
Bring It on Home
The Palace of Fine Arts comedy show "Comics Come Home," scheduled for Nov. 1, is said to feature comedians who live or have lived in San Francisco, which would make sense, given the title of the event. Among the headliners are Johnny Steele, Marc Maron, Bobcat Goldthwait, Tom Rhodes, Blaine Capatch, Greg Behrendt, Patton Oswalt, Margaret Cho, and Mary Lynn Raskub; Janeane Garofalo and David Cross also are scheduled,
even though neither has actually lived here. But who's checking back addresses, really? Proceeds from the sold-out performance (being taped for Comedy Central) go toward the American Cancer Society, a favorite charitable cause of Denis Leary, who has built his career upon this premise: "Fuck you, I smoke cigarettes!"
The extreme nature of the rental situation in the city is evidenced by this cafe flier, posted by a young woman named Stacy: "My [drawing of a cat's face] and I really need a room! I can pay up to $400/mo, but would prefer less. I am a 24-yr-old vegetarian non-smoker but...I DON'T CARE WHETHER YOU SMOKE, EAT, OR WHETHER YOU COLLECT SLUGS OR HAVE A PET LLAMA. THERE MUST BE SOMEWHERE OUT THERE."
While the rest of the country was wringing its hands over the World Series and the slide in the stock market, the art-for-art's-sake Mission District was showing off more than usual. Giant cockroaches played didgeridoos on street corners, clowns marched down sidewalks banging on drums, people with their bodies painted blue dashed in and out of bars, and UFO fans milled about in front of Artists' Television Access, taking a smoke break before the screening of L.A. filmmaker Ralph Coon's excellent documentary Whispers From Space.
In the midst of the action, San Francisco fetish photographer Eric Kroll stood in the Therapy retail store, surrounded by vintage furniture, kitsch refrigerator magnets, and women in skintight rubber dresses. "We showed 960 photos, without putting one on the wall!" he said proudly.
The photos under discussion: 8x10 glossies shot over several years of a career built on convincing young women to pose in items from his extensive collection of fetish clothing. The event: "Twelve Women, Twelve Boxes," a combination book-signing and fetish fan geek-out.
Twelve young women lounged on sofas wearing crazy push-up corsets, latex dresses, and heels so precariously high that one girl actually fell off her own shoes in front of Therapy's doorway. Salivating customers paid $1 each for the privilege of sitting in front of each model as she leafed through a box of Kroll's photographs. Beside each woman a white plastic egg timer ticked off two minutes, a rude reminder of the chronological real world. Proceeds went to the Haight Ashbury Free Clinics' HIV testing program.
Kroll's newest book from the Taschen publishing house, Beauty Parade, pales in comparison to his latest adventure -- getting chased out of Moscow by police after a location shoot with New York fetish photographer Richard Kern suddenly turned sour. "It's all on my Web site," said Kroll, flicking out a business card.