Tranny Get Your Fun

Colorful parties, curious panel discussions, and lots and lots of movies

Transsexuals are more than just fodder for Hilary Swank's Academy Award-winning turn in Boys Don't Cry (or fodder for the chicks-with-dicks advertisements found in the back of your filthiest porn magazines -- not that I'd know anything about those). This year's Tranny Fest promises to smash antiquated definitions of gender into smithereens, then mosaic those shards into four cutting-edge nights of colorful parties, curious panel discussions, a cabaret to outdo Cabaret, and a film festival finale.

The festivities jump-start Wednesday with "Pedal to the Metal Schmooze Fest." Sticking with the idea of trannies as forward-thinking avant-garders, the organizers have chosen "Full Throttle" as this event's theme, demanding that attendees don their coolest hot rod, trucker chic, or drag racing threads. (I'm thinking about that too-tight yellow jumpsuit Kill Bill's Uma Thurman poured herself into.) Held at one of San Francisco's best tranny and lesbian bars, the infamous Lexington Club, the evening features the sounds of DJ Flea on a fun ride through the world of gender-twisting deviance.

A panel discussion on Thursday boasts a number of high-profile transgender activists, including Johnnie Pratt, who represents -- I kid you not, folks -- People in Search of Safe Restrooms (PISSR), an advocacy group striving for gender-free bathrooms. And as funny as that acronym sounds (some of us never get too old to chuckle at potty humor), it illustrates just one of the obstacles that transgender people face in the course of their day-to-day lives. On the less serious side, the "Hot Rods and Hot Pants Cabaret" follows on Friday night, with a glittery burlesque show featuring Tranny Fest co-founder Sean Dorsey, women's dance troupe Diamond Daggers, and the Transcendence Gospel Choir, just to name a few.

Tranny Fest Co-Directors Christopher Lee, 
Shawna Virago, and Al Austin.
Jenn Millus
Tranny Fest Co-Directors Christopher Lee, Shawna Virago, and Al Austin.

Details

Kickoff party starts at 7 p.m. Nov. 12 (and the festival continues at various locations through Saturday)

Admission is free

820-3223

www.trannyfest.com

Lexington Club, 3464 19th St. (at Valencia), S.F.

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The film and video climax of the festival showcases cinema ranging from the family-oriented to the pornographic, the hilarious to the gut-wrenching. More than 30 short movies are scheduled -- 26 of them making their debuts. One key flick hits close to San Francisco's lavender picket fence: Isn't It Obvious? eulogizes Newark's 17-year-old Gwen Araujo. After revealing her biologically male body, the angular beauty (who could have understudied for supermodel Gisele Bundchen) made headlines last year when she fell victim to a brutal hate crime resulting in her murder. A few other noteworthy works include Hollywood Operation, a celebrity spoof of the obnoxious and noisy Milton Bradley surgery game; and Hot Load, a blue movie involving strap-ons, skin, and sex. Very hot.

From Virginia Woolf's Orlando to Neil Jordan's The Crying Game to San Francisco's own long-running "Trannyshack" drag revue, gender switcheroo has provided provocative and popular entertainment for years. Men who look like women, women who dress like men, preop, postop, butch, femme, drag -- all of these hot-button constructs will be celebrated rather than simply delegated to the back pages of fetish magazines and alternative weeklies.

 
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