There are myriad ways to celebrate Pride Month, and, amazingly, not all of them involve nude boys, butt cheeks, and leather. If you're looking for an induction into this month's slightly more highbrow festivities — or a supplement to the slightly more lowbrow ones — don't miss the “QBall Performance and Visual Arts Gala and Dance Party” that kicks off the eighth annual National Queer Arts Festival. This year's fest is as colorful a conglomeration as ever of visual and performance art, film, comedy, and everything in between. The gala marks the opening of three art exhibits: “War on Labels,” a photo and video show about pigeonholing and stigmas; “Fresh Meat in the Gallery,” an exploration of transgender issues by members of glam rock/aerial dance cabaret Fresh Meat; and “Many Dykes, Two Photographers,” a photographic retrospective of San Francisco Dyke Marches. DJ Trilce mixes and photographer Lynnly Labovitz takes portraits, so looking hot is of the essence. The gala starts at 6 p.m. at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market (at Octavia), S.F. Admission is free (donations suggested); call 864-4124 or visit www.queerculturalcenter.org.
— Karen Macklin
Fashion for Here
Vernay Gallaread's fire-engine red corset is spangled with sequins and studded with felt appliqués, and looks as if it were molded from the shimmering surface of a fantastical burning pond during a multicolored rainstorm. It's also made of electrical tape. This daring garment is one of many innovative designs at “Wear to Go,” an exhibit of one-of-a-kind pieces of clothing made by the folks at Creativity Explored. Hitting the runway with art is new for the members of this group, who got some basic training in fashion design from Leigh Anne Martin. She didn't want to hinder the artists with too many notions of practicality, since the show is more focused on expression than on market value. As a result, she writes in a recent e-mail, “About half is wearable and half is not.” We're not sure which half Dolores del Rosario's skirt with a coffee-filter ruffle fits into, but it sounds gorgeous. The opening reception is on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Creativity Explored, 3245 16th St. (at Guerrero), S.F. Admission is free; call 863-2108 or visit www.creativityexplored.org.
— Hiya Swanhuyser
San Francisco needs it
Blood and guts populate (Yet) Another Hole in the Head, the indie film fest that trades in horror, sci fi, and fantasy. But along with the usual zombie movies and a handful of Japanese shockers, there are some surprises, notably Cl.one by Jason J. Tomaric, this year's “It cost what?!” DIY darling. The $25,000 movie, which took six years to make, isn't distinguished by its writing or acting — the quality of both is questionable — but by the 24-year-old filmmaker's sheer chutzpah: Cl.oneis a sci-fi blockbuster with flying cars, explosions, laser weaponry, and 22nd-century sets, all of which could pass muster on UPN. Shot in Cleveland and edited in a basement, the film includes an astonishing 3,000 costumed extras, 48 locations (including a cathedral and a nuclear power plant), and 650 digital effects, centered around a tangled post-World War III plot about infertile humans and cloning. The main character, however, is clearly the budget, which sustains the picture long after you tire of the wooden acting; you can't help but marvel at Tomaric's feat. It's a testament to both the possibilities of low-budget filmmaking and the obstinacy of that genre's last true obstacle — getting around the Screen Actors Guild.
The festival kicks off Thursday (and continues through June 9) with “The Rock & Roll Horror Show,” featuring a screening of Vampire Circus and music by the Formaldebrides, Godz of Rock, the Hellbillies, and DJs from Church of Elvis. The launch party starts at 8 p.m. at the Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell (at Van Ness), S.F. Admission is $10; call 863-1087 or visit www.holehead.org.
— Michael Leaverton
Any artist known for his work in the medium of pickled pumpkins is probably worth seeing, but Jonathan Laib (here showing mixed-media collages) isn't the only reason to recommend the exhibition “Associative Realms.” Leslie Baum's delicate paintings, Ruby Sky Stiler's sculpture, and canvases by locals Jon-Paul Villegas and Jim Gaylord all deserve your attention. The opening reception begins Thursday, June 2, at 5:30 p.m. at the Gregory Lind Gallery, 49 Geary (at Kearny), Fifth Floor, S.F. Admission is free; call 296-9661 or visit www.gregorylindgallery.com.
— Hiya Swanhuyser
Having been obsessed by 50 Foot Wave's Kristin Hersh since the early days of Throwing Muses, I'm happy to see that she (like me) is still in touch with her inner tormented teenager. Twenty years later, her songs veer between childlike wonder and raw fury. The Golden Republic opens at 9:30 p.m. at Café Du Nord, 2170 Market (at Sanchez), S.F. Admission is $12; call 861-5016 or visit www.cafedunord.com.
— Jane Tunks