Whether promoting a "scorching drama of the most un-talked-about subject of our time" (1961's Victim) or trumpeting the "strange loves ... of those who live and love but can never marry!" (1953's Glen or Glenda), the marketing campaigns designed to push queer movies have been anything but subtle. You'd think that these posters would have been banned. Instead, they were savored -- first by filmgoers who enjoyed teasing meaning from the provocative text and images, and later by collectors like film historian Jenni Olson, who appreciates them as much for their historic relevance as for their camp value.
Olson uses selections from her new volume, The Queer Movie Poster Book, and her DVD collection of vintage movie trailers, Homo Promo, to outline a short history of queer film in her lecture "Queer Movie Marketing Mania." Hear it at 2 p.m. in the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room of the Main Library, 100 Larkin (at Grove), S.F. The talk is part of "The Queer Movie Poster Exhibition," on display through Nov. 18 in the Main Library's James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center, and at the Harvey Milk Branch Library (3555 16th St.). Admission to the lecture and exhibits is free; call 557-4400 or visit www.sfpl.org.
-- Gretchen Lee
Wok This Way
Chinese cooking unmasked
Even with the most authentic recipe, a careful technique, and quality ingredients, somehow the stir-fries I make at home don't taste anything like the ones in Chinese restaurants. Is the secret MSG? Nay, says author/chef Grace Young -- the magic ingredient is wok hay, the ineffable, ethereal flavor that only skillful cooking in an old-fashioned iron cauldron can impart. Young's latest book, The Breath of the Wok, is a moving, mouthwatering look into the history and use of the venerable Asian skillet, with side trips to Chinese kitchens where the wok still reigns, as well as a sweet description (with recipes!) of an intergenerational family cook-off. Young holds forth at "The Art of Cooking With a Wok," a lecture at 2 p.m. at the Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin (at McAllister), S.F. Admission is free with museum entrance, free-$10; call 581-3500 or visit www.asianart.org.
-- Joyce Slaton
Dirty tricks on the comics page
Unlike the Man of Steel they created, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were nebbishes with less luck than talent. Though Superman would make billions for DC Comics, Siegel and Shuster sold their rights to the character for a mere $130. Another comics legend, Bob Kane, is known worldwide as the originator of Batman -- but the fact that he stole sole credit for his renowned character from another artist is classified information. Author Gerard Jonesexposes these stories and more as he reads from Men of Tomorrow: Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book at 7 p.m. at Cover to Cover, 1307 Castro (at 24th Street), S.F. Admission is free; call 282-8080.
-- Joyce Slaton
Do yourself a favor: Don't miss the guilelessly amazing paintings of Ben Aronson. A student of Philip Guston, Aronson uses large brush strokes to detail street scenes with surprising clarity, including some fantastic San Francisco vistas. His artist's reception begins at 5:30 p.m. (and his eponymous show continues through Nov. 20) at the Jenkins Johnson Gallery, 464 Sutter (at Powell), S.F. Admission is free; call 677-0770 or visit www.jenkinsjohnsongallery.com.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser