The American Gandhi A black, homosexual pacifist during the McCarthy era ... can you say "wrong place, wrong time"?! Bayard Rustin was the American Gandhi: He fought racism, militarism, and nuclear war at a time when all were at their peak power. He sang the blues, helped organize the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and actively pursued equality for all. Local artist groups Thick Description, Pomo Afro Homos, and New Langton Arts present Brian Freeman's meditation on Rustin, Civil Sex. You'd think that an exploration of black masculinity, and black gay history would be a direct route to political overload, but Civil Sex's premiere in Washington, D.C., proved otherwise. Freeman researched Rustin via friends, lovers, and colleagues, making the play personal and political, as the title suggests. Civil Sex previews at 8:30 p.m. (opening night is Friday, Nov. 7; the show continues through Nov. 30) at the Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd Street), S.F. Admission is $18-22; call 641-0235.
Orff the Wall In 1958, Michael Smuin was in the S.F. Opera production of Carmina Burana and has been in love with it since. So what has he done? Started his own ballet corps and revived Carmina. Carl Orff, who wrote Carmina, set it to the medieval poems of 13th-century Bavarian monks -- with timpanis and the whole bit. Smuin's interpretation fills the dance with sexual and primal urgings -- it is the '90s, after all. The program will begin with Smuin's 1982 work Stravinsky Piano Pieces, accompanied by pianist Roy Bogas. Carmina Burana opens at 8 p.m. (performances continue through Nov. 16) in the Cowell Theater, Fort Mason Center, Marina & Buchanan, S.F. Admission is $25-30; call 441-3687.
Lucky 13 The Film Arts Festival of Independent Cinema is 13 years old this year! "Independent film is the punk rock of the '90s," fest director Mark Taylor quotes fanzine writer Greta Snider; this year's edition, about 80 films and videos, has something for everyone: women, young Asian filmmakers, disabled athletes, queers, families ... you name it. Screenings are at the Castro and Roxie theaters, the S.F. Public Library, the Lab, and Four Walls. Opening night's "In Glorious Black and White" is a collection of short stories written in celluloid: the pupil of her hand in the palm of her eye, Chekhov's Gun, and AIDS drama Don't Run, Johnny are a couple of the local picks. Land of the Sea is the late show tonight, and if you can manage to stay up on a school night you can cut a rug with the El Camino Cha Cha Orchestra at the International Center Ballroom. The festival runs through Nov. 9 -- all day, every day. "In Glorious Black and White" starts at 7 p.m. at the Castro Theater, 429 Castro (at Market), $8-10; Land of the Sea starts at 9:30 p.m. at the Castro, $6-7; the Opening Night Party starts at 9:30 p.m. at the International Center Ballroom, 50 Oak (at Van Ness), $15-20. Call 552-FILM for a complete schedule of events.
Tequila T'kill'ya Bill Romo, president of the Herradura Estate Distillery in Guadalajara, is bringing his tequila to town for a tastin'. Aficionados should come early to hear Romo's informal talk on the legend of tequila-making (accompanied by appetizers). The Left at Albuquerque executive chef will also prepare a five-course Tequila Tasters' Dinner, featuring corn tamales in a lobster habanero stew and lamb en mole, and, of course, five different tequila cocktails. Tasting starts at 5 p.m. at Left at Albuquerque, 2140 Union (at Webster), S.F. Tasting is free, dinner is $35; call 749-6700 for reservations.
Race Matters Stick a bunch of college students in some racial awareness workshops, force them to bare their true feelings on race and prejudice, and what do you get? Local filmmaker Frances Reid's documentary Skin Deep. Pull them back together with people like black studies professor Dr. Laura Head, Asian-American studies lecturer Robert Fung, and other race-relation scholars, and what do you get? Some serious dissecting of Americans' racial attitudes. Director Reid followed students from around the country into their workshops, their dorms, and their homes to see how and why they think the way they do. Tonight's screening of Skin Deep will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmaker, the subjects, and the scholars. Screening is at 7 p.m. in SFSU's Knuth Hall, 1600 Holloway (at Cardenas), S.F. Admission is free; call 553-2382 to reserve a seat.
Sales Force Buy, sell, trade, hawk, steal, give away ... just show me the money. Money equals commercialism, which brings us to advertising, the "poetry of America." Are advertising ideas really poetry, or manipulation? Thinking, Ltd., Malachy Walsh's new play, is about one scribe's struggle with writer's block and her desperate attempt to convince people that advertising is good for the world. Walsh himself has worked for ad agencies around the country and no doubt is able to shed some light on the minds that create things like "Got Milk?" Thinking, Ltd. opens at 8 p.m. (and continues through Nov. 22) at Venue 9, 252 Ninth St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $5-10; call 273-1890.
Bouncy Bouncy New Jersey's Bouncing Souls avoid '90s punk-lite with feet firmly planted in the old school. For the past eight years, the foursome have stayed consistent with a sound that's played in true punk form -- loud, fast, and a big fuck-all to harmony. In spite of a recent label change from B.Y.O. Records to Epitaph, their new self-titled release, chock-full of gritty East Coast punk rock, doesn't disappoint. Sharing the bill are New York's Pietasters, who recently released a full-length effort on Epitaph's subsidiary, Hellcat. The seven-piece ska outfit have a tight horn section that makes showing up a little early well worth it. Mustard Plug open the show at 8 p.m. at Slim's, 333 11th St. (at Folsom), S.F. Admission is $10.50; call 552-0333.