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Monday, July 11, 2016

Pithy Remarks: "Not a Lemon," a Citrus-Themed Art Show at Alite Outpost

Posted By on Mon, Jul 11, 2016 at 7:30 PM

PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
A bag of lemons is almost like currency in the Bay Area, Alicia Dornadic says. "My grandparents had a lemon tree. We would pick them and squeeze them, and coworkers bring them to work. So many people have lemon stories."

It's this idea of a happy, if somewhat banal fruit — the flavor of ordinary cough drops, the scent of household cleaning supplies — that inspired her to mount Not a Lemon, an art show at the Scott Ellsworth Gallery inside the outdoor goods retailer Alite Outpost's Mission location. The gallery space is tiny, but Dornadic managed to include 50 works, mostly by local artists. (Local in this case encompasses the East Bay and South Bay, which Dornadic, as a San Mateo resident wanted to include, and which are definitely regions more hospitable to happy citrus groves.
PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane

PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
While many of the works are quite straightforward exercises in sunny shades of yellow, others go farther. T. Garrett Eaton's forlorn painting of a lemon on a shelf takes the subject matter of a still life and imbues it with an Edward Hopper pathos. An image of two beefy, pierced African-American men sipping the same pitcher of icy lemonade through straws has undeniable erotic undertones but could plausibly be read as ordinary male bonding. Perhaps the cleverest image is Sara Myrup Diamond's photograph of a Buddha's hand with manicured tips appended to its citron fingers and the title Eightfold Pith (a reference to Buddhism's Eightfold Path).

Initially, Dornadic had planned on showing 25 or so pieces, it inevitably expanded when people told her that such-and-such wrote a book on lemons, or had done work that was impossible to exclude, curatorially speaking. (There is also work by an artist named Jenny Lemons.)

Dornadic has done shows based around a simple premise before. The most thematically similar effort was Strike Away, a show she put together with Courtney Cerruti at Paxton Gate Curiosity for Kids last spring that consisted solely of art made out of matchboxes and matchsticks. It was much larger than Not a Lemon, with 500 pieces by 250 artists mounted on foamcore. (Dornadic called it "insanity," but in a happy sense.)
PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
"I like themed exhibits, because I think when you give artists a couple rules, and they really know how to push them and break them, they do this amazing work that they would never do," she says. "So many people come up to me and say 'Thank you for giving me a homework assignment.'"

Apart from the lemon theme — the name "Not a Lemon" pays homage to Magritte's Surrealist image of a pipe, The Treachery of Images, with its playfully profound caption "Ceci n'est pas un pipe," or "This is not a pipe" — the only stipulation was size. (But even then, Dornadic was relaxed about policing anyone's artistic license.)

One drawing, of a chubby gerbil, takes the Surrealist nod to its logical endpoint. "This is not a lemon," the caption beneath the rodent reads. "He just looks sour."

Not a Lemon, through Aug. 14, at the Scott Ellsworth Gallery, in Alite Outpost, 3376 18th St., 415-626-1526.



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Thursday, July 7, 2016

Drink Your (Expired?) Juice at Stale Magnolias

Posted By on Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 4:30 PM

Jef Valentine, Marilynn Fowler and - Robert Molossi - JAMES JORDAN
  • James Jordan
  • Jef Valentine, Marilynn Fowler andRobert Molossi

One of the more quotable films of the late '80s, Steel Magnolias has a cast that feels like a once-per-century cosmic alignment: Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Olympia Dukakis, Shirley MacLaine, Darryl Hannah, and doomed diabetic daughter Julia Roberts (along with Tom Skerritt, Dylan McDermott, Sam Shepard, and an armadillo-shaped red velvet cake with grayish icing that doesn't survive).

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Anachronisms and Mysterious Strangers in The Rules, at the Sandbox Series

Posted By on Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Old friends Mehr (Amy Lizardo), Julia (Karen Offereins) and Ana (Sarah Moser) catch up. - KEN LEVIN
  • Ken Levin
  • Old friends Mehr (Amy Lizardo), Julia (Karen Offereins) and Ana (Sarah Moser) catch up.
Dipika Guha’s play The Rules unearths a buried tome only to respond to it with a psychologically incoherent corrective. Over two million people bought a copy of The Rules, one of a series of New Age books that Americans went feverish over in the 1990s. This particular leaflet of self-help blather prescribed behavior for romantically challenged women. For reasons that continue to baffle, readers swallowed gems like these: “16. Don't Tell Him What to Do” and “20. Be Honest but Mysterious.” (This must have been the genesis behind shows like The Bachelor.) The authors’ thesis statement suggests that marriage is a magical state of nirvana that must be attained by any means necessary. Otherwise, the fate of the damned awaits you: spinsterhood.

The television series Sex and the City, which aired from 1998 to 2004, captured a similar sentiment in the zeitgeist. At the start of every episode, Carrie Bradshaw, the show’s protagonist, asked some variation on the theme, “What do men want from women?” and “Do women want to provide it?” But by the time the show arrived at its ending, the characters had evolved beyond questions like that, slamming their Manolo Blahnik heels through the spines of books like The Rules. Those old roles were not only out of place but positively antediluvian when Girls, that show’s spiritual heir, began its run in 2012.

Now in 2016, The Rules only manages to feel like a curiosity, something dusty brought down from an untended attic. The set is the most intriguing aspect of the staging here. Rows of women’s clothing — blouses, skirts, sweaters, dresses — hang from the rafters. With beams of fluorescent lights flickering on and off, all the empty garments suggest a host of ghostly bodies, a sisterhood of silent witnesses. The Laura Ashley collection is represented in a range of the palest pastels. This open-faced closet contains the solid material for a workable metaphor: how women present themselves to the world, what they conceal and what they show, the private self conflicted with her public twin. 
Valmont (Johnny Moreno) and Ana (Sarah Moser) dance. - KEN LEVIN
  • Ken Levin
  • Valmont (Johnny Moreno) and Ana (Sarah Moser) dance.

These scattershot ideas, like many others presented in The Rules, are promising at first but remain undeveloped. The plot follows three college friends who encounter and are seduced by the same man, Valmont. In case you’re unsure if he’ll turn out to be a cad or not, the playwright underlines his moral center by naming him after the villain from Dangerous Liaisons. If he had a more innocuous name like Fred, the audience could still have detected his dishonorable intentions the second he opened his mouth.

And when Johnny Moreno as Valmont does begin to speak, the director lets him down. Moreno shapes his vocal performance the way that Van Heflin did, as if he’s performing in a 1950s melodrama, giving a hard sell to phrases that are empty of emotion or meaning. There isn’t a character attached to this unctuous voice. Valmont’s breathy tones indicate a fatuousness, yes, but an impassioned desirability? No. But this lack of characterization, the main fault of the play, lies within the script itself.

The women refer to Valmont as a “mysterious stranger” who fits each of their individual fantasies of the ideal man. In The Witches of Eastwick, whose blueprint of seduction and betrayal The Rules follows, not only do we believe in the bonds of their female friendship but we also understand why they’re tempted by the same man. Neither is the case in this play. The exchanges between this imaginary man and Ana, Julia and Mehr aren’t believable. The bigger problem, though, is that neither are the conversations between these old college friends.
Julia (Karen Offereins), Ana (Sarah Moser), and Mehr (Amy Lizardo) share their excitement over Ana’s second date. - KEN LEVIN
  • Ken Levin
  • Julia (Karen Offereins), Ana (Sarah Moser), and Mehr (Amy Lizardo) share their excitement over Ana’s second date.
There’s nothing easy, casual or intimate about the way they talk with each other. Sharing a bottle of wine over stilted anecdotes does not qualify as shorthand for friendship. Ana, a teacher, is misconceived; she’s meant to be childish, a barely grown up girl. Sarah Moser conveys Ana’s abstracted petulance and self-absorption with a feigned gaiety and giggle. She says more than once of Valmont, “He gets me.” But so little of her character is revealed that it’s unclear what exactly he’s getting. Since he too appears to be a phantasm, the playwright has constructed a hall of mirrors wherein reflections of reflections are speaking to figures made of glass but never meeting face to face.

Each successive scene ends in an abrupt concussion subtracting narrative sense from the whole. Mehr once had an abusive relationship and she can’t finish things. Why? Julia repeats a phrase about her happy marriage and her reasonable divorce. What exactly preceded her ex-husband’s affair? The Rules is heavy on telling and a featherweight when it comes to showing. The monologues are just that: singular speeches that don’t relate or connect to one another. The playwright may have comprehensible motivations and backstories in the mind but none of them stand up and walk onto the stage.

The play doesn’t offer a rhetorical counterpoint to the original book. This story about the initial rush and sad decline of romance only makes two things clear: Mr. Right is a construct of the imagination and Prince Charming exists in a fairy tale. But it neglects something experiential: when you live with someone every day, year after year, the fantasy and the real slowly merge over time. Two people in love make up the rules of their lives together. They either add new pages to it or burn the damn thing to ash. But nobody else, not even best-selling authors, writes it for them.  

The Rules, through July 16, at San Francisco Playhouse Sandbox Series, The Creativity Theater, 221 Fourth St., 415-677-9596.


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Friday, July 1, 2016

Do You Want to Ride Around San Francisco in Ecto-1 Today or Tomorrow?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 1, 2016 at 12:00 PM

img_3960.jpg
OK, normally, SF Weekly has a severe allergic reaction to anything that even suggests shilling for corporations — but nobody likes a joyless scold, so while we're not going to tell you to use any ride-sharing services this weekend, we will say that you should keep an eye out for a replica of the Ghostbusters' Ecto-1, which will be shuttling Lyft riders around town in anticipation of the reboot, which hits theaters July 14.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Studying Latino History with John Leguizamo

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 12:30 PM

John Leguizamo in rehearsal for Latin History for Morons. Photographed at New 42nd Street Studios. - PHOTO: JOAN MARCUS/BERKELEY REPERTORY THEATRE
  • Photo: Joan Marcus/Berkeley Repertory Theatre
  • John Leguizamo in rehearsal for Latin History for Morons. Photographed at New 42nd Street Studios.
When actor, writer, and comedian John Leguizamo started doing research on the history of Latinos in the United States — inspired by wanting to be able to answer questions his then eighth grade son might ask — one surprising thing he learned about was the number of Latino soldiers.

“We were involved in every war this country ever had — that really bugged me out,” he said. “And the numbers — 20,000 in the Civil War, and then 4,000 in World War I, but 500,000 in World War II, 170,000 in Vietnam. And in no World War II movie do you see a Latin person.”

Leguizamo, who was born in Colombia and grew up in Queens, also learned that 32 percent of Latinos drop out of school. He thinks a lot of that has to do with the textbooks.

“When I was growing up, there was not one Latin hero in history, literature in philosophy,” he said. “We get no credit, and I think it’s a bit of a purposeful dis-inclusion.”

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

HBO's Looking: The Movie: The Cast Lost its Heart in San Francisco

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 1:00 PM


Just two and a half years after appearing at HBO's Looking premiere at S.F.'s Castro Theatre, the cast of the cancelled show reunited at the legendary movie palace for one last hurrah. - ACT OUT PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIM NORRENA
  • ACT OUT Photography by Jim Norrena
  • Just two and a half years after appearing at HBO's Looking premiere at S.F.'s Castro Theatre, the cast of the cancelled show reunited at the legendary movie palace for one last hurrah.

On Sunday, June 26, Framline40, the San Francisco International Lesbian and Gay film festival, wrapped with a blue carpet premiere for HBO's Looking: The Movie at The Castro Theatre.  SF Weekly caught up with the cast ahead of the film finale, which closes out the two-season series about three best friends (Jonathan Groff, Frankie J. Alvarez, and Murray Bartlett) living the gay dream in San Francisco, to discuss their emotional exit from the show — and the city.   

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Boys to Men in Master Harold at the Aurora

Posted By on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Hally (r. Andrew Humann) chats with Willie (l. Adrian Roberts) after school while Sam (c. L. Peter Callender) prepares his lunch in Aurora Theatre Company’s Master Harold…and the boys - DAVID ALLEN
  • David Allen
  • Hally (r. Andrew Humann) chats with Willie (l. Adrian Roberts) after school while Sam (c. L. Peter Callender) prepares his lunch in Aurora Theatre Company’s Master Harold…and the boys
Enacted in 1950, The Population Registration Act in South Africa classified its citizens by their race. It was the legislative foundation on which apartheid — the policy of racial segregation — was officially built. It’s not a coincidence that Athol Fugard set his play “Master Harold"...and the boys in the same year. First produced in 1982, apartheid was still twelve years away from being repealed. Those politics of racism that separated blacks from whites inform the relationships between the play’s three characters. The atmosphere in the room is slowly poisoned by them.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Madonna's Ex-Dancers Dare to be Truthful in Strike a Pose

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 2:00 PM

[Left to right] Former Madonna dancers and stars of Strike a Pose: Oliver Crumes III,  Salim Gauwloos, Kevin Stea, Carlton Wilborn, and Luis Camacho once tap danced around certain truths. - ACT OUT PHOTOGRAPHY BY JIM NORRENA
  • ACT OUT Photography by Jim Norrena
  • [Left to right] Former Madonna dancers and stars of Strike a Pose: Oliver Crumes III, Salim Gauwloos, Kevin Stea, Carlton Wilborn, and Luis Camacho once tap danced around certain truths.
Madonna's feature-length rockumentary Truth or Dare spotlighted many of the Queen of Pop's sexy song-and-dance numbers from her 1990 Blond Ambition Tour. But it was what director Alek Keshishian captured offstage that truly curled mainstream America's toes and almost garnered the film an X rating. For the seven male dancers — six gay and one straight — that made up Madonna's dance troupe, however, certain truths were still too shocking to reveal.  It took 25 years, but today they're ready to tell all in a new documentary about the truths behind Truth or Dare, entitled Strike a Pose.  

SF Weekly
 caught up with the band of "brothers," Luis Camacho, Salim Gauwloos, Kevin Stea, Carlton Wilborn, and Oliver Crumes III, between a Macy's in-store appearance and their film's Frameline premiere on June 25, about the secrets that they didn't dare expose. 

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Confessions of a 42-Year-Old Pride Virgin

Posted By on Mon, Jun 27, 2016 at 1:15 PM

tamara1.jpeg
I was born in San Francisco, but it took me 42 years to go to the Pride Parade. That’s really because I am small and have big claustrophobic tendencies, which is ironic since I’ve reviewed arena concerts and festivals professionally for decades. When I’m off the clock, though, I’m usually not trying to be in a gargantuan group of people.

But then, straight out of the blue, Trojan brand condoms invited me to ride on their float this year. I still wasn’t sure I wanted to go, but floating by people instead of getting squished among them did sound like the ideal way to experience the event. I took my decision to Facebook, where it was instantly made for me.

“Let’s rock the cock float!” my friends said.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

I AM YOUR QUEEN: Heklina

Posted By on Fri, Jun 24, 2016 at 12:00 PM

HEKLINA
  • Heklina
Welcome to the final installment of I AM YOUR QUEEN, a nightmarish pageant of beauty offset with the occasional glimmer of nightmarish spectacle. We conclude this Pride Month series by handing the microphone to a genuine legend, even by the standards of San Francisco drag: Heklina.

On a recent drag cruise to Mexico with Peaches Christ, Heklina took a detour down memory lane (which in this case was a dimly lit alley full of night terrors).

"One of the stops was Cabo, and I took a taxi to visit San Jose Del Cabo, the little town where I got in drag for the hell of it one night, way back in 1996, a few months before I started Trannyshack," she said. "We — Timmy Spence, Jordan L'Moore, and myself — went out in drag that night, and were subsequently arrested and terrorized by the local police. It was very Priscilla meets Midnight Express. We were strip-searched, had all of our money taken away from us, and the next day fled to the airport and got the fuck out of there. It made the S.F. papers and everything!"

"It was great to go back," she added. "The little jail is still there, and the town looks so cute in the daylight!"

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