Best Recurring Graffiti
Are they microphones? Robots? Or badly drawn Boba Fetts? When a new series of tags hit the Mission in February the images confused some people — but anyone who’d ever seen or used a Hitachi Magic Wand immediately got the joke. Arguably the least-sexy of all sex toys, the wand — originally manufactured in Japan as a large, plug-in muscle massager — has for decades been repurposed for more orgasm-inducing areas of the body. It’s old-school, loud, laughably large, and unequivocally awesome — in other words, the perfect subject for a tag. Mystery Hitachi fan-art creator, we bow to you.
Most Outspoken Politician
From scooters to firefighting, election fundraising to emergency call boxes, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who represents Chinatown and North Beach, is short — but he has no shortage of strong opinions. Out of everyone on the Board of Supervisors, he is arguably the most active, drafting affordable housing measures, demanding transparency over election finances, and allegedly helping to form a coup that ousted London Breed from her spot as acting mayor. But legislating is one thing and speaking is another. In the past few months alone Peskin has chewed out firefighters for not attacking a blaze to his liking, criticized “tech bros” for dropping scooters on our streets, and accused tech mogul Ron Conway of being Breed’s “kingmaker.” If there’s a political battle to be waged, you can bet Peskin will be in the middle of it, handing out juicy quotes like candy.
Biggest Mayoral Race Troll
This year’s mayoral race has brought out the worst in a lot of people, not least a former chief of staff to candidate London Breed: Conor Johnston. He became known for his angry text messages and outbursts at community meetings while working for her, and now — despite not being on her campaign’s payroll — he’s once again taken on the task of being her guard dog. Johnston writes daily rage-filled Facebook comments to supporters of Leno and Kim, trolls reporters who criticize his candidate, and pens furious responses to voters on Twitter, presumably in an attempt to win Breed’s adoration so that if she wins, she’ll rehire him for a new role in Room 200.
Best Crashing of a Mayoral Debate
While the polls don’t indicate that Amy Farah-Weiss has any real chance of winning June’s mayoral election, she’s undoubtedly proven herself to be a candidate with fortitude. Despite never having held political office, Farah-Weiss has held her own during mayoral debates — both the ones she was, and was not, invited to. “Stop pulling on my shirt!” she yelled at security as she rushed the stage at the Castro Theatre in March. Amazingly, after some back-and-forth, she was permitted to stay — perhaps because Senator Mark Leno had to back out at the last minute due to an eye injury — and she held her own in front of a crowd of hundreds.
Most Passionate City Hall Speech
Sup. Hillary Ronen, before London Breed was ousted as acting mayor
The Board of Supervisors has several particularly eloquent members, who, when triggered by something they care deeply about, can launch an amazing speech. Choosing this year’s best was not easy — Sup. Malia Cohen delivered a powerful tirade about the failed cleanup at the Hunters Point Shipyard in April — but this award goes to Sup. Hillary Ronen, whose furious and emotional oratory about mayoral candidate London Breed in January is still being cited by the media as a rare moment of transparency during the race. On the day Breed was famously ousted from her seat as Acting Mayor, Ronen called out the “white, rich men, billionaires, in this city who have steered the policies of the past two mayoral administrations, if not more. They got us into this absolute mess we are in today, where poor people and people of color cannot afford to live in this city. … It is absolutely ridiculous and outrageous, and it weighs on me as a supervisor. I can’t sleep at night,” she said. The political musical chairs that followed quickly eclipsed her raw, occasionally tearful words, but her address still goes down as one of the bravest, most passionate speeches we’ve ever witnessed at City Hall.
Hardest-Working Drag Queen
She’s one of the drag queens in residence at the new Hamburger Mary’s in the Castro, which means she also plays hostess and seats people in addition to doing pop-up lip syncs. She hosts a drag brunch on Saturdays at the Lookout called Lips and Lashes. She hosts several regular parties at downtown Oakland’s only gay bar, The Port. She pops up regularly in the mix at Mother at Oasis (Saturdays), as well as playing performer and host at several parties at Beaux, including the Thursday ’90s/aughts-centric My So-Called Night. Carnie Asada is, therefore, the hardest-working drag queen of her generation in San Francisco, with barely a night each week that she isn’t painting her face and prancing around in heels. And henny, she better be making a living with all these gigs, because unlike a lot of queens in these parts, she struts, slays, and works for them bills. A lot.
Most Talented and Uncategorizable Native Cis Male Drag Offspring
Those lucky enough to have seen Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music last September at the Curran understand that he is an artist of the highest caliber, and one who simultaneously embraces the humanizing ethos that “perfection is for assholes.” His epically long, exhaustive style of performance is part of modus operandi as an artist, and the 24-Decade piece is its crowning masterwork. As he has said, “I [want] to put the audience in a situation in which they are under some kind of complicated circumstance and I’m under some sort of complicated circumstance and as a result of falling apart together we’re building bonds.” He found his first inspiration, he says, growing up as a gay boy in Stockton and coming to the first AIDS Walk in San Francisco, as a teenager. The wonder he saw there of collective sorrow combined with collective power and self-expression took root and has driven him as a performer ever since, so in a way he’s originally a San Francisco drag queen, and he has San Francisco to thank for the inspiration that followed — even though he now resides in New York. For those who missed him last year or who couldn’t get enough, he’ll be back later this year at the Curran with a new show — likely a microcosm of the 24-Decade History of Popular Music focused mostly on Christmas music — dubbed Taylor Mac’s Holiday Sauce.
Most Overdue Renaming of Racist Monument
Like the rest of the country in the wake of the deadly white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Va., San Francisco has been cleaning up shop. Supervisor Norman Yee did some reexamining and it turns out, Phelan Avenue commemorates the racist legacy of our former mayor. Though James D. Phelan — who served as the city’s chief executive from 1897-1902 — had a long history of anti-Japanese and -Chinese policies, he is best known for his 1920 Senate reelection campaign promise to “Keep California White.” In April, the City College of San Francisco and its surrounding community voted to rename Phelan Avenue as Frida Kahlo Way — honoring the legacy of the famous Mexican artist instead. Kahlo, who CCSF Chancellor Mark Rocha called a “pioneering feminist artist” who was ahead of her time on questions of social justice, will join her husband Diego Rivera in spirit, whose “Pan American Unity” mural belongs to the campus.
Best BART Station Performer
Commuters pass all sorts of transit musicians during their shuffle home but likely miss the chance to stop and listen. But 23-year-old Kalin Freedman meets them where they’re at — waiting for their train at the Powell Street BART platform. The Richmond resident and Berkeley City College student adds a relaxing element of jazz music to a hectic station with his saxophone and trusty speaker which lights up like a colorful game of Tetris. Freedman has eight years of playing instrumental under his belt, but sticks to covers of jazz and R&B musicians, like Drake and Bryson Tiller. For roughly three days a week during rush hour, Freedman’s live music helps commuters snap out of work mode and begin to unwind.
Juiciest Mayoral Campaign Sabotage
London Breed’s preferred URL, londonformayor.com, redirecting to markleno.com
Long before President of the Board of Supervisors London Breed declared her mayoral candidacy, the obvious and preferred URL for her campaign, LondonBreed.com, was not an option. As early as February, it went from bad to worse — a cybersquatter demanded $100,000 for the domain, which Breed’s campaign did not pay. So instead, it began redirecting to the campaign website of one of her main mayoral competitors, Mark Leno. His campaign insisted it had nothing to do with it, but that didn’t stop Breed’s former campaign adviser, Conor Johnston, from snarkily fueling skepticism about the claim. “We’re thinking of buying hypocrite.org and glasshouses.com and forwarding them to markleno.com too,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle. Both campaigns have seemingly moved on from the spectacle, but the website redirect continues.
Best Political Memes
Upzone the Memes
In the social media-fueled housing debate between upzoning and anti-gentrification evangelists, the statuses that stand out are the crude but brilliant Photoshops of savage YIMBY critic Upzone the Memes. Billing themselves as “a nicer Gay Shame fighting gentrification one meme at a time,” Upzone the Memes gives the condo developers and their BFFs cruel and unusual punishment with crowdsourced satirical memes. Hysterical Photoshopped takedowns of state senator Scott Wiener and pro-development activist Sonja Trauss are posted alongside amusing typos found in poorly proofread election mailers, to create the Thomas Nast political cartoons of our digital era.
Best Rogue Street Artist
You’ve seen the recognizable sidewalk stencils of “San Francisco’s Elusive Graffiti Queen” Eclair Bandersnatch even if you don’t know it. Bandersnatch’s masterful and gender politics-charged sidewalk and wall graffiti etchings delve into economic justice, sexuality, and local politics on a public surface near you. With messages like “Milk Would Have Marched for Manning” and “It’s not My Fault My Mama Dropped Me in a Box of Glitter and I’ve Been Shining Ever Since!,” Eclair Bandersnatch’s rogue graffiti stencils are an uncompromising voice in the ongoing San Francisco resistance.
Best Local Contortionist
Stretching the limits of physical fluidity with performances that include impossible armstands and full-body exotic animal paint, the amazingly bendy Dwoira Galilea (pronounced “Dora”) combines death-defying contortion, trapeze, and aerial stunts and with a healthy twist of theatrical flair. The self-described “Aerialist, Glamour Enthusiast, and Hustle Queen” has been training since the age of nine, and continues to bust out seemingly impossible moves with local troupes like Vau de Vire Society and Wooden Nickel Circus. Galilea’s elaborate hairstyles and wardrobe give the act a surreal bent, as she displays amazing definition in muscles that most of us don’t even know exist.
Best Raunchy Ukelele Performer
The traditionally harmless, innocent ukelele becomes a weapon of patriarchy-smashing destruction in the hands of feminist musical comic Rachel Lark, one of San Francisco’s best, most provocative songwriters who’s not afraid to rhyme “hymen” with (Gloria) “Steinem.” Hailed by Salon as “the poster girl for period sex,” Lark has gained cult-following fame with her regular appearances on Dan Savage’s Savage Lovecast and as the musical entertainment at Bawdy Storytelling. Lark’s latest single “Naughty Bits,” a politically charged takedown of FOSTA-SESTA internet speech restrictions, adds to her lineup of classics like “It’s Hard to Be a Feminist and Still Want Dick,” “Warm, Bloody, and Tender”,” and “I Wanna Lose Five Pounds.” And for a hilarious but depressing read, check out the treasury of ignorant “what men across the country have been saying” comments on the About section of RachelLark.com.
Best Lesbian Dance Party
El Rio, 3158 Mission St., facebook.com/MANGOSF
Since 1996 dykes, queers, and longtime S.F. lesbians have gathered at El Rio for the one and only Mango. After 22 years of booty-shaking music the draw hasn’t lessened in the slightest. April’s event was so crowded with queers there was a one-in, one-out line outside, the wait for a drink at the bar was three people deep, and the dance floor was jam-packed. For one afternoon a month Mango offers a rare affirmation that despite rumors of a queer exodus, S.F.’s still got it. Swing by on the fourth Saturday of the month from 2-8 p.m. and dance it out.