"War is over, if you want it." That's the Nam-era message John Lennon and Yoko Ono took on tour more than 30 years ago. Local filmmaker and festival producer Marc Huestis recently found himself contemplating the meaning of these words -- then pulled together an evening-long gala called "War Is Over," possibly the highest-profile peace-promoting event of the year. "After the war ended, the anti-war movement evaporated as quickly as Saddam's army," says Huestis. "But I think people are still troubled by what's going on." The war is clearly not finished, he adds. "I don't see how people can be like it's case closed, door shut."
Huestis is especially troubled by the flak outspoken politically left artists have been receiving lately. He created "War Is Over" as a safe platform for those performers to voice their concerns without being marginalized or deemed unpatriotic. Unsurprisingly, the event headliner is brassy supermodel of socially conscious comedy Janeane Garofalo. (In celebration of the comedienne's brave political stances, which have sometimes come at the expense of her career, Tom Ammiano's office has officially declared July 18 "Janeane Garofalo Day.") Other talent on deck includes actor Hector Elizondo, comic Will Durst, and the Youth Speaks Slam Poets. One of the most anticipated segments is a reading of the first scene of Tony Kushner's new play, Only We Who Guard the Mystery Shall Be Unhappy. In it, Laura Bush reads to dead Iraqi children. "The play is intellectually challenging and dense," says Huestis. "It's reflective more than anything. It's not a didactic or one-dimensional piece." "War Is Over," he adds, isn't meant to be some artsy version of a rally. "I'm so sick of people shouting at each other," says Huestis. "We've been through so much, and this is a moment to sit and gather up all the energy and reflect." Make peace at 7:30 p.m. at the Castro Theatre, 429 Castro (near Market), S.F. Tickets are $27.50-60; call 863-0611.
-- Karen Macklin
Style That Stands the Test of Time
Cutting her teeth inside Andy Warhol's Factory -- while using superstar socialite Edie Sedgwick and the Velvet Underground's John Cale as wire hangers -- designer Betsey Johnson has weathered everything from hippie-'60s couture to today's cocaine-laced electroclash revival. And the city is fortunate to have her work featured on the runway at "Catwalk: A San Francisco Fashion Series." In addition to the fashions of Johnson, the show presents other independent and local designers with aesthetic aplomb. So throw up your dinner of lemon wedges and suck in your tummy -- the style starts at 8 p.m. at 111 Minna (at Second Street), S.F. Tickets are $10-15; call 974-1719 or visit www.mysterygirlproductions.com.
-- Brock Keeling
One look at the Kinsey Sicks' dossier will have you convinced you've accidentally stumbled across ad copy for a does-it-all miracle product: It's a drag show, it's a comedy routine, it's a pitch-perfect doo-wop performance! But the work of the group billed as "America's Favorite Dragapella Beauty Shop Quartet" defies categorization. What other act combines tight harmonies from golden-throated male singers in extravagant 1950s drag with wicked queer-friendly asides? After a run of performances across the country, the local boys return home for a gig at the Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness (at Grove), S.F. The concert starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $20-32; call 392-4400 or visit www.herbsttheatre.com.
-- Joyce Slaton
Open About It
If you already know what kind of place Mona's was, you'll definitely want to hear author Nan Alamilla Boyd talk about Wide Open Town: A History of Queer San Francisco to 1965. And if you didn't know there was a male-impersonator bar on Broadway in the 1940s, well, you should. Boyd's book explores how the tourist trade at places like Mona's -- and other forces, including a 1964 Life magazine spread -- contributed to making our city the out and proud place it is now. The reading and discussion begins at 7:30 p.m. at A Different Light Bookstore, 489 Castro (at 18th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 431-0891 or visit www.adlbooks.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser