Volume 42 Number 39

Newsom’s backwards budget

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EDITORIAL The San Francisco city employee union that represents front-line workers has come up with a remarkable document. It’s an analysis by the city controller, requested through the office of Sup. Aaron Peskin, that shows how many jobs have been added or cut in the past 10 years, broken down by bargaining group.

Since almost all San Francisco employees, including managers, are unionized, and different categories of workers have different unions, the analysis paints a clear picture of where hiring has taken place and where job cuts have hit hardest. It is, in many ways, a snapshot of the budget priorities of Mayor Gavin Newsom. And as Sarah Phelan reported this week on sfbg.com, here’s what it shows:

As direct public services have been hacked up and eliminated, as homeless shelters close and nursing services for elderly shut-ins vanish, the city has hired a whole lot of new high-paid managers.

In fact, in the past decade, the city has added 334 high-level jobs, paying an average of $140,000 a year. That’s a 45 percent jump. Under Newsom’s administration, during tough budget times, 166 new managers have been added. In this year’s budget alone, Newsom is calling for 52 new managers.

Professional and technical jobs increased by 781 positions, a 23 percent rise.

Front-line jobs, on the other hand, have grown by less than 10 percent.

Of course, the city needs managers and technical staff. Some of the new positions are entirely legitimate and justified. But these high-level jobs are also where political cronies are placed, and management jobs in this city have always had a political patronage element. And when the budget is deeply in the red, it doesn’t make sense to lay off the people who are doing the day-to-day work and hire more people to supervise a reduced staff.

Let’s look at the numbers. The total tab for new managers amounts to about $46 million a year. The increase — just the increase — in management positions in this year’s budget would total $7.8 million. That would save a lot of services: Newsom shut down Buster’s Place, the city’s only 24-hour drop-in center for the homeless, to save $300,000. Keeping public health nurses to serve sick seniors would cost only a few hundred thousand more.

The daily newspapers have ignored this story so far, but it’s the blockbuster of the budget season. It shows where the mayor puts his priorities, what he really cares about. He’s got exotic positions like a director of sustainability, in his own office — which is a wonderful idea, but with a budget deficit of more than $300 million, is it really worth $160,000 a year? (Don’t we already have a Department of the Environment?) He’s got people out at the airport who collect six-figure salaries and do very little visible work. And yet he can’t manage to keep basic services for the needy — services that can make the difference between life and death on the streets — from vanishing in a whirlpool of red ink.

Peskin has made some noise about cutting high-end jobs instead of rank-and-file positions, but with the budget coming to a head soon, that ought to be one of the top priorities. In fact, the board’s Budget Committee ought to issue a challenge to the mayor: before another homeless program is cut, before another public health service is eliminated, before another city agency that does on-the-ground work to help low-income people is gutted, Newsom should demonstrate, job by job, why so many $140,000-a-year positions are critical to the city.

The other glaring problem with the budget is that it includes no plans for increased revenue.

Newsom is happy to blame Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for terminating aid to cities, but let’s face it: with Republicans in Sacramento and Washington DC, San Francisco is going to have to solve most of its problems on its own. This is nothing new; Newsom should hardly be shocked by it.

If the mayor wants his budget to be taken seriously, he should immediately announce that he’s supporting Peskin’s two revenue-generating measures on the November ballot and do all that he can to help them pass. Then he can add another $50 million or so to his budget, based on the projected revenue, and save a lot of crucial services that are now facing the ax.

The commissioner’s conflicts

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› gwschulz@sfbg.com

Before the June 5 special meeting of the San Francisco Planning Commission got underway, Michael Antonini had an announcement.

Dressed in a charcoal suit and red-checked tie, with his white hair combed back over his skull, the longtime commissioner disclosed that he was a part owner of a condominium in the eastern neighborhoods, where a years-long rezoning effort is nearly complete. That means Antonini is among the people who could benefit from increased land values due to zoning upgrades.

As a result, Antonini begrudgingly declared that he would have to recuse himself from hearings involving the eastern neighborhoods until the potential conflict is dealt with.

"Hopefully this can be resolved in the next few weeks and I’ll be able to participate at later hearings," Antonini said at the meeting.

But it was a bit late to be complying with the state’s conflict-of-interest laws: Antonini had already actively taken part in meetings in which the plan was discussed. And Antonini also neglected to mention that after he and his son purchased the condo, he voted on two other projects that appear to be within steps of it.

Public records show that Antonini bought the $515,000 condo at 200 Townsend Street in 2003 with his real estate agent son, John. Commissioner Antonini and his wife own a 25 percent stake in the property through a family trust the couple created in 1997. His son holds the majority interest.

Antonini worked hard to play down his stake in the condo at the June 5 meeting. It’s not an investment property, he made clear to the commissioners. There’s no rent generated from it. He’s a mere minority holder in a family trust that controls the condo, and it was purchased as a residence for his son and his wife.

"Because I did not believe our fractional interest in John’s condo represented a conflict, I did not consider reclusing [sic] myself from projects near the condo," Antonini wrote to the Guardian.

But the laws on this are pretty clear. The state’s Political Reform Act of 1974 prohibits public officials from participating in decisions that will have a "foreseeable material financial effect on one or more of his/her economic interests." It also states that any "direct or indirect interest" worth more than $2,000 poses a potential conflict, for which a 25 percent stake in a half-million dollar condo would seem to qualify.

RECUSE ME


Other public officials in similar situations have recused themselves long before the issue became a potential political liability.

Sup. Bevan Dufty bought into a three-unit residential property on Waller Street with two co-tenants in December 2006. He immediately sought advice from the city attorney, who told him he no longer could vote on the Market-Octavia Plan, a series of land-use changes in Hayes Valley, Duboce Triangle, and elsewhere that was similar in scope to the current rezoning efforts in the eastern neighborhoods. The supervisor also couldn’t vote on a major Laguna Street redevelopment project or on legislation making it easier for seniors to convert rental units to condos.

Antonini told us that "only in the last month" did the city attorney warn some officials involved with plans for the eastern neighborhoods that if they held property in the area, there could be a conflict of interest.

"We’ve been working on [the eastern neighborhoods] for the whole six years I’ve been on the planning commission," he said at the meeting. "It’s a little troubling that this issue of conflict is raised now rather than at the very beginning."

The law does make an exception when the economic interests of the "public generally" could also be enhanced by a government decision such as those that have an impact on a large section of the city like the eastern neighborhoods. But the city attorney’s office concluded for now that the condo indeed may pose a conflict. And in the meantime, Antonini told us that the Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento, which helps enforce the state’s Political Reform Act, is being consulted to determine "whether our fractional interest in the condo truly represents a conflict of interest."

The eastern neighborhoods planning process isn’t the only legislation that created a potential conflict for Antonini. The commissioner voted in January 2007 to approve construction of 26 new single-room occupancy units at 25 Lusk Alley, not far from his property at 200 Townsend. The project’s sponsor, Michael Yarne, is a land-use attorney who today works for the mayor’s economic development office. The project was approved, according to meeting minutes.

The project itself relied on a contentious legal loophole in which developers claim their units are "single-room occupancy," a necessity because the area permits residential efficiency hotels where the poor and working-class used to live. Allowing such SRO hotels in areas zoned for light industrial uses enabled the city to preserve some forms of affordable housing. But builders can turn around and lease the opulently large units such as the ones at 25 Lusk, which bear little resemblance to genuine SRO rooms, to well-heeled clients.

"They are allowed where normal residential units are not allowed, because historically SROs were always extremely affordable housing," community organizer Calvin Welch said. "The whole notion of market-rate SROs is a new invention, and that’s why they’re controversial. They’re basically the new version of live-work lofts."

In November 2006, Antonini also voted to approve a liquor license for a new full-service restaurant and wine bar at 216 Townsend, even closer to his son’s condo.

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT


State ethics laws say that a public official has a conflict if his or her property comes within 500 feet of a project the official will be scrutinizing and voting on.

Conservatively measuring from the furthest corners of each property, Google Earth puts both the proposed restaurant and SRO within 500 feet.

Bob Stern, president of the Los Angeles–based Center for Governmental Studies and co-author of the state’s Political Reform Act, said a public official could face $5,000 in civil penalties for each conflict-of-interest violation. But it’s not common for the chronically under-resourced FPPC to go after local officials, he said.

Mayoral spokesperson Nathan Ballard wrote in an e-mail that "we take any allegations of conflicts of interest seriously" but added there is a disagreement over whether the "public generally" exception applied to the eastern neighborhoods and that the City Attorney’s Office was seeking additional input from the FPPC.

As for the two projects he voted on near the condo, Antonini apparently told the mayor’s office he had looked into whether 25 Lusk fell inside 500 feet. "Based on his understanding at the time," Ballard wrote, "they didn’t."

That’s a stretch, at best. The projects are in the same block. We walked them off and found that Antonini would have to be splitting hairs to argue that they are outside the boundary — and even in that case, it would be only by a few feet. The rusty red paint job, black trim, and stylish, outsize windows of 200 Townsend are easily viewable from the backside of 25 Lusk.

"If there is a legitimate argument that they did fall within the 500-foot radius, this should be clarified," Ballard stated. "However, given the relative insignificance of the two projects cited in your e-mail and Antonini’s long-standing reputation as an ethical and hard-working commissioner, we don’t have any reason to believe that he would have knowingly and/or willingly violated the state’s Fair Political Practices Act."

But the Lusk Street project was by no means insignificant. "They are highly regulated," Welch said of SROs. "You cannot convert them to tourist hotels without going through a very long and cumbersome process. They are valued for affordable housing so highly that the city regulates their conversion to tourist uses." So instead, the "corporate suites," as Welch calls them, masquerade as SROs. The project was approved in the end, but two commissioners — Christina Olague and Sugaya Hisashi — voted against it.

Antonini told us that he believes 25 Lusk is more than 500 feet away, and as for the restaurant, planning staff recommended approval.

The commissioner told us, "I was the one who brought public attention to the issue of my possible conflict. I believe it is a small issue when compared to my body of work on behalf of San Francisco over the last six years."

The June 5 meeting where Antonini made the disclosure about his son’s condo was part of a long and detailed process that will determine the fate of vast sections of Potrero Hill, SoMa, the Mission District, and Dogpatch. The official planning process for the targeted 2,200-acre area began back in 2001, and the commissioners could approve new zoning plans next month before sending the proposal to the Board of Supervisors.

For much of San Francisco’s history, the city sections poised for rezoning have been home to light industry and blue-collar jobs. But housing has encroached over the last 15 years, and the planning commission is prepared to allow between 8,000 and 10,000 new units over the next 20 years. That will almost certainly increase the value of land in the area.

Residential developers built thousands of pricey condos in the SoMa District during the 1990s, exploiting another divisive zoning loophole that created waves of animosity across the city and aided in a takeover of the Board of Supervisors by a progressive bloc of candidates.

Live/work lofts, as developers called them, were built in areas zoned for light industrial commercial purposes. Wealthy buyers would ostensibly operate businesses out of their homes or live in them as working artists as the zoning required, but few have complied with the letter or — having found ways to narrowly abide by it — the spirit of the law.

"The city turned its head," housing attorney Sue Hestor said. "We have 3,000 units that are supposed to be occupied by artists and probably 90 percent of them are not occupied by artists at all. It’s blatantly illegal."

Antonini has managed to maintain friendships with local moderate Democrats over the years despite being an elected member of San Francisco’s Republican Party County Central Committee. Willie Brown first appointed him to the powerful planning commission in 2002, and he’s been a reliable vote for developers and other large business interests. Mayor Gavin Newsom reappointed him in 2004 and earlier this year tried to engineer Antonini’s election as president of the commission.

Tie the same-sex knot

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› culture@sfbg.com

For opposite-sex couples, getting married never had to be difficult; it was as simple as a jaunt to City Hall for a marriage license or a flight to Las Vegas for a midnight ceremony.

As of June 17, San Francisco became a worthy competitor for same-sex couples. Since the California Supreme Court ruling legalized same-sex marriages that day, choices for weddings have begun to expand.

Indeed, if you’re in town for Pride Weekend and you feel the urge, the decision to marry may not call for any planning at all. For a spontaneous ceremony, head to the Heart of the Castro Wedding Chapel (4052 18th St., SF; 415-626-7743, www.heartofthecastro.com).

Designed to offer the convenience and accessibility of a Las Vegas–style wedding chapel, the Heart of the Castro was founded by the Rev. Victor Andersen after he learned of the Supreme Court’s ruling.

"Las Vegas was the original inspiration for the chapel, but we’re definitely trying to make it classy and more San Francisco," Andersen said. "But we adopted the convenience aspect of Vegas, and we’re trying to keep it affordable for people who just want a sweet and simple wedding."

The Heart of the Castro already has booked several couples for ceremonies, and Andersen projects that plenty more will arrive during Pride Week, when the chapel will serve couples on a walk-in basis.

"We have a notary on hand for couples who can’t get an appointment at City Hall," Andersen said.

At the Heart of the Castro, the ceremony can take place as soon as the license is issued in as little as 30 minutes. The chapel has two rooms connected by double-doors and can comfortably seat 30 to 40 guests. Andersen says the two rooms will enable simultaneous ceremonies during Pride Week.

Future wedding ceremonies can be as extravagant as couples wish, including costume and theme weddings, and ceremonies in Spanish. "In the future, we will work with couples to plan more elaborate ceremonies," Andersen said. "We encourage couples to take their weddings to a more playful place."

If couples want to take a short drive south, Kate Talbot of California Marriages in San Mateo (www.californiamarriages.com, 650-571-5555) can perform the ceremony and issue a marriage license. No witnesses are required, but couples can bring guests. Talbot, a licensed notary, has been performing weddings for 10 years, and is excited that she is now able to provide same-sex couples with her services.

"I take great pride in making each ceremony really special," said Talbot, who offers a variety of poems and blessings to be read at the couple’s request. "I can reduce everyone to tears if they want, or I can make the ceremony all bang-bang in one stop," she said.

While small ceremonies can be held in her San Mateo home, many couples choose the public Japanese Friendship Garden across the street. For an additional $25, Talbot will go anywhere the couple chooses. "People can come anytime," said Talbot, who can carry out a couple’s nuptials with as little as an hour’s notice. "I can issue the license and perform the ceremony the same day."

Although Marcinho Savant recommends that couples "seriously consider planning" their weddings instead of marrying impulsively, a couple can still show up at City Hall for quickie marriage.

Savant is the senior events coordinator for www.savvyplanners.com, a wedding-planning service that caters to same-sex couples. "In theory, couples can get married instantly," he said. But in practice, that depends on the number of people who have the same idea at the same time.

"The challenge is that there are so many couples trying to do this," Savant said, recalling the enormous crowd at City Hall in 2004 when Mayor Gavin Newsom first legalized same-sex marriage in San Francisco. "It’s completely dependent on the crowd that has amassed."

Theoretically, a ceremony can be scheduled at City Hall 30 minutes after the license is issued, providing that appointments are available. Savant recommends that couples download the marriage license application from City Hall’s Web site to save time waiting in line. "But don’t sign it or else it’s invalid," he advised. "The application needs to be signed on site."

The license is good for 90 days. And, you don’t need a minister or notary; in California, a couple can have a friend or family member perform the ceremony, although the person must acquire a license from City Hall within 60 days of the ceremony.

If a couple decides to take the religious route, many churches and some synagogues are available, although most require some advance notice:

The First Congregational Church of San Francisco, United Church of Christ (1300 Polk, SF; 415-441-8901, www.sanfranciscoucc.org) has been performing same-sex ceremonies for more than 20 years, according to the Rev. Dr. Wilfred Glabach. The church can accommodate religious services with a minister on staff, or couples can have the minister sign their licenses. Couples are also welcome to hire their own officiant.

Swedenborgian Church (3200 Washington, SF; 415-346-6466, www.sfwedding.org) also offers services. Services will be free Wednesday, June 25 and Thursday, June 26.

The Metropolitan Community Church (415-863-4434) of San Francisco has been performing same-sex marriage ceremonies since 1971. The Rev. Lea Brown said that while they are unable to provide a place to hold weddings, they can provide clergy and music. Call for details.

For Jewish couples, Congregation Sherith Israel (415-346-1720) is available for members. And Congregation Sha’ar Zahav (290 Dolores, SF; 415-861-6932, www.shaarzahav.org) will perform ceremonies regardless of membership.

Additional churches conducting ceremonies for same-sex couples are First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco (1187 Franklin, SF; 415-776-4580, www.uusf.org); Interfaith Center at the Presidio (130 Fisher Loop, SF; 415-561-3930, www.interfaith-presidio.org); and Unity Christ Church (2960 Ocean Ave., SF; 415-566-4122, www.unitychristchurch.org).

Volume 42 Number 39 Flip-through Edition

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Ninja binge

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NINJA GAIDEN II

(Tecmo/Microsoft Game Studios; Xbox 360)

GAMER It was 1988 when the original Ninja Gaiden began emptying the coin-purses of arcade addicts with its relentless difficulty and catchy soundtrack. Twenty years and roughly eight installments later, the series should be winning prizes for consistency. In the new Ninja Gaiden II, the player once again takes command of über-ninja Ryu Hayabusa and his trusty Dragon Sword, wading shuriken-first into a merciless onslaught.

The 1989 NES port reputedly introduced cinematic cut-scenes to the console medium, though unfortunately the visual innovation was paired with decidedly lackluster plotting. Nineteen years have elapsed, yet it’s no different this time around: a coalition of malefactors has teamed up to awaken an unspeakably powerful evil, and it’s up to you to stop them.

Despite this creative stagnation, gamers and developers keep coming back to Ninja Gaiden for one thing: the combat system, which has been consistently satisfying and incredibly hard in every version. In 1999 a Tecmo developer named Tomonobu Itagaki marshaled "Team Ninja" and began work on the first modern, 3-D iteration of Ninja Gaiden, which was released on the original Xbox and PlayStation 2 in 2004.

Itagaki’s initial combination of state-of-the-art graphics and unforgiving difficulty resulted in what has been hailed by many as the greatest action game of all time. And while it often makes you want to smash your controller against the wall, mastering the fluid, frenetic combat is eventually quite satisfying. Breaking with longstanding action-game tradition, the number of enemies is precipitously reduced, with a commensurate increase in cunning and deadliness on the part of Ryu’s adversaries. Rather than beating impossible odds with frantic button-mashing, the player is forced to actually get good at the game.

For better or worse, Ninja Gaiden II picks up roughly where its predecessor left off, bringing back familiar weapons and combo attacks as well as Ryu’s traditional enemies in the form of the malevolent Black Spider Ninja Clan. The graphics engine is snazzy and modern, and the health bar system has been made more merciful by Ryu’s ability to automatically regenerate some health after the conclusion of a fight.

One new feature sets the game apart from forerunners: the gore. While the 2004 version made it possible to dispatch enemies with a well-executed decapitation, the sequel ups the dismemberment ante like an amputee fetishist. Even first-time players will find themselves lopping off legs and arms with alacrity. It wouldn’t be Ninja Gaiden without a frustrating catch, however: desperate de-limbed opponents become serious threats as they resort to ever-more-suicidal attacks. Close in on one and hit the Y button, though, and Ryu will perform an "obliteration technique," a choreographed slice-and-dice that precipitates a cinematic camera angle and veritable tidal wave of viscera.

Itagaki has finally caved to an "easy" difficulty level, and beginners or even experienced gamers will be grateful for the "path of the acolyte." Despite this and other sanity-saving measures, like the addition of automatic save points before boss battles, the game can still be enraging. Ranged attackers know where you’re going to be before you do, and the third-person camera remains uncooperative. One boss even explodes after you defeat him, killing you instantly until you figure out the thoroughly asinine solution.

There’s really no point in complaining. Fiendish difficulty will always be the order of the ninja day, and the "game over" screen might as well be replaced by a picture of Itagaki’s smug, stunna-shaded face. By the time you ascend Mount Fuji to do battle with the final boss, however, the sense of accomplishment is huge. For those looking to master the best melee combat modern gaming has to offer, Ninja Gaiden II is the only serious choice. For those looking to acquire a frustration-induced medical condition, it’s also a great option.

Beretta

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› paulr@sfbg.com

Restaurant archaeologists might not have much occasion to use carbon dating, but we do have the space at 1199 Valencia Street as a window into the past, and therein hangs a tale of the city. A decade ago, the occupant was Radio Valencia, a cheerful boho cafe that served art displays, live music, and ecologically sensitive sandwiches. It was, in its faintly grubby coolness, the epitome of the 1990s Mission District. But it closed around the turn of the millennium, first giving way to a Thai restaurant (J.J. Thai Bistro) and then to the Last Supper Club — a nice place and cool in its way, but not at all grubby, just as Valencia Street itself lost much of its jagged urban edge on the way to being the flâneur-friendly promenade we know today.

The Last Supper Club changed hands in 2005, when the original owners, Joe Jack and A.J. Gilbert, bowed out to Ruggero Gadaldi, whose other concerns include Antica Trattoria and Pesce. There is some evidence Gadaldi didn’t like his new restaurant’s name, since earlier this spring he gave the place a makeover and a re-christening. It’s now called Beretta — a name perhaps too redolent of weaponry for some tastes, but less overripe than the other one — and its interior has been given a slick minimalist treatment. The Last Supper Club’s baroque cherubs and fountain are gone, replaced by SoMa-esque black-topped tables, including a large and rather Chaucerian community table in the middle of the dining room, where you might find yourself sitting next to complete strangers with whom you can build some spontaneous social capital.

The menu, meanwhile, is like the love child of SPQR and Pizzeria Delfina. In other words, it hosts a wealth of exquisite small plates — known here by their traditional name, antipasti, since traditionally they’re served before the pasta course — along with salads, risotti, and an impressive list of pizzas. There’s also (in an echo of Gialina) a main course that changes nightly. But for many — if not most — of the tables (not to mention the community table), a pizza is the main event, to judge by the pizzas that seem to come sailing out of the kitchen like Frisbees.

The antipasti divide into vegetable, fish, and meat sections, the last consisting of such usual cured-flesh suspects as prosciutto, mortadella, and soppressata. The vegetable choices are more varied and seasonal. We practically inhaled a plate of bruschetta ($6) — the correct pronunciation, by the way, is "bru-SKATE-ah," not "bru-SHETT-ah" — slathered with a spring-green puree of fresh fava beans and sprinkled with salty-sharp pecorino cheese. And while quarters of artichoke heart ($6), roasted alla romana, are commonly filled with seasoned bread crumbs, they are less commonly spiked, as they are here, with that dynamic duo of spicy Italian-style sausage, hot pepper and fennel seed.

And a tip of the locavore cap to the Monterey Bay sardines ($7), a set of luxuriously plump and oily fish, grilled and plated "en saör," a Venetian technique that combines slivers of white onion and red bell pepper, a generous splash of extra-virgin olive oil, and an equally generous blast of white vinegar.

If white rice strikes you as a little boring, you’ll probably approve of the squid-ink risotto with calamari rings ($13). The briny-sweet flavor is direct, in the best Italian tradition, and the rice grains themselves are cooked nicely al dente — as are the tentacles, for that matter. But it’s the color that commands attention: a purplish-black with a sheen of green, like summer thunderheads billowing over the Mississippi. The color is so profound and unusual as to become tastable.

While the pizzas aren’t precious, they do reflect a thoughtfulness about ingredients. Even more, they remind us that pizza-baking has its subtleties. I was especially pleased to find, when a prosciutto-arugula pie ($14) reached us on its little wire stand, that those two delicate ingredients had been added after the pizza had emerged from the oven, crust abubble with tomato and mozzarella. It would have been simpler to throw everything on at once, but that would have cost the prosciutto and arugula something of their distinctive characters.

Desserts tend heavily toward gelato, and, surprisingly for an Italian restaurant, there is no tiramisù. For those who can’t do without that deathless warhorse, the baba al rum ($8) might do; it consists of spongecake leaves soaked with rum and topped with a cap of simple cream gelato (not even vanilla added as a flavoring, just cream) and a pinch of orange zest looking like bright orange sawdust. Tasty, but plenty of fumes; you would not want to light a match until the bowl had been emptied and cleared and several minutes had passed.

For those who can’t do without chocolate, there’s a dish of chocolate gelato ($7), given textural interest by crumblings of amaretti (the famous almond biscuits) and few squirts of caramel sauce. The sauce cools and becomes chewy on the slopes of the gelato blob, like lava turning to rock on the side of a volcano.

The crowd: familiar-looking. It seemed to me that I’d seen the same group in recent visits to Spork, Dosa, and Range — all of which are within two or three blocks, as the flâneur strolls. Median age I would guess to be in the early 30s; median income, considerably higher. If, like me, you’ve noticed that traffic across the Mission has hugely thickened in the past 10 years and wondered who’s living in all those loft-style buildings that have sprung up as if by magic, the Beretta clientele suggests some answers. Now where did I put my Beretta?

BERETTA

Dinner: nightly, 5:30 p.m.–1 a.m.

Brunch: Sat.–Sun., 10 a.m.–3 p.m.

1199 Valencia, SF

(415) 695-1199

www.berettasf.com

Full bar

AE/DISC/MC/V

Noisy

Wheelchair accessible

Charo gives a pluck

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› culture@sfbg.com

My first exposure to Charo was in a high school–era Christmas gift from my parents, The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste. There she was: strawberry blonde Pebbles hair framing a face that defined pert, a guitar poised scepter-like, and an impressive décolleté shrink-wrapped in enough sequins to cover all of Carnaval.

I think Charo would laugh at being included in such a Who’s Who, which also included Liberace and Chesty Morgan. The singing, dancing, and "cuchi-cuchi!" spouting Castilian sex kitten that pratfalled with the best of 1970s television, the Vegas institution who wound up in that sub-A list purgatory The Surreal Life, is the Charo America knows and loves. But according to this 40-year show biz veteran, the other Charo — a classically trained musician with serious Spanish guitar chops — is just getting warmed up. A Pride celebrity grand marshal, she’ll be riding on a parade float full of Charo look-alike drag queens, followed by a show at the Herbst Theatre.

SFBG How does it feel to be coming back to San Francisco after three years?

CHARO I call it Planet San Francisco because it’s different from everything else in this country. And I am honored and very glad [to be a Pride grand marshal], due to the fact that all my life I have detested oppression, dictatorship, and discrimination. ‘Cuz, you know, my early learning years were under the fear and dictatorship of [Gen. Francisco] Franco. I was surprised when I came to America that people used such titles as black, fag, skinny, Catholic, yellow. None of this exist in my education.

[Being a grand marshal] is also perfect timing because I am introducing my new single, "España Cani," as remixed for the dance clubs! It’s the best thing I have done in my career, and it’s just destined to make people live for 10 minutes and feel the passion of flamenco. That will be playing on the float with my flamenco dancers dancing around, and I will be with several look-alikes.

SFBG Are they going to be the same drag queens you judged at the Trannyshack Charo night back in 2005?

CHARO That was a hot-hot-hot evening! But I think this time they will be different. I think that one is better-looking than I am, and I am pissed off because that means I have to have to put a lot of push-up to have bigger tits. And he’s a 30-year-old boy!

SFBG Your publicist told me that you lost a Charo look-alike contest in Puerto Rico.

CHARO That was the lowest point in my career [laughs]. I made a big mistake since I dressed like a look-alike. I had a big, big wig instead of my natural hairdo, and instead of dancing like me I tried to copy them. The idiot judge said, "Number 3" — which was me — "needs more practice!"

SFBG What can we expect from your new show at the Herbst?

Charo: The show is faaabulous. I am going to play as much [guitar] as the audience can take of the new me. I will do it until they ask me to stop. I am a musician in high heels [laughs]. I even sleep with high heels, in case I have to run and the fire department guys can’t find me. I am 5 feet 3 inches, and I wear heels all the time. But the bottom line is that I am a musician. I am an entertainer number second.

SFBG When you started making TV appearances it was all "cuchi-cuchi!" all the time.

CHARO Yes. When I was on Johnny Carson and he starts talking to me in English, I just kept saying "cuchi-cuchi" to survive. And the rating was so big that I keep coming back. But the TV producer said if you want to play guitar, do it in your own time.

SFBG On a few of the episodes of The Love Boat your character April Lopez plays guitar for the passengers, no?

CHARO I went to producer Mr. [Aaron] Spelling and said, "OK, in this episode can I play a little of the guitar?" And he said, "OK, but don’t be too good. Don’t destroy the character of April, because April is a wetback and she’s not supposed to know so much music."

SFBG It’s just so funny because here’s Madonna trying to play guitar on tour and she’s pretty terrible, but right of out the gate you were a classically trained guitarist who could also write hit dance singles.

CHARO [Laughs]. Yes, Madonna used to be my neighbor. But then she moved to England. I would be very happy — and this is not bragging, because I like Madonna — to say to her how to play the guitar. I think I could help her with "La Ilsa Bonita."

THE RETURN OF CHARO AND HER LAS VEGAS SHOW

Sun/29, 8 p.m., $40–$100

Herbst Theatre

401 Van Ness, SF.

(415) 392-4400, www.koshercomedy.com/charo

The Hot Pink List 2008

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>>ALLAN AND LEO HERRERA



Yes, they’re gay brothers, which is, like, totally hot. But even if they weren’t related, their individual artistic creations would have us on the hook. Heads of HomoChic (www.homochic.com), the new gay mafia collective that combines gallery shows, fashion design, and nightlife craziness into mind boggling events, they’re inspiring the latest generation to revel in its scandalous past. Leo’s photography mixes porn with historical reference to dizzying, stimuutf8g effect. Allan’s costuming and styling brings bathhouse and backroom gay culture to light. Currently the Chihuahua, Mexico-born siblings have pieces in the queer Latino "Maria" show at Galería De La Raza. Leo features pants-raising boy-pics and a video installation centered on Harvey Milk. Allan, whose Money Shots underwear line graces many an alternaqueer’s backside, displays a chandelier made of 2,000 pink condoms.

MARIA

Through July 4

Galería De La Raza

2857 24th St., SF

(415) 827-8009

www.galeriadelaraza.org


>>ANNIE DANGER



Who’s the superbusy M-to-F artist and activist stirring up trouble with the mighty force of a Dirt Devil — the one they call Annie Danger? She’s sketched flora and fauna for environmental manifesto Dam Nation (Soft Skull Press, 2007), appeared as a blackjack-playing nymph in a shit-stirring Greywater Guerillas performance, dressed like a wizard at a recent Gender Pirates party, and just played Pony Boy in a queered-up "Outsiders." Right now at Femina Potens gallery (www.feminapotens.org), you can see her as Sister Wendy, the wimpled PBS art nun, in her video for "Untold Stories: Visual and Performative Expressions of Transwomen." In a rare occurrence, you can meet Annie Danger as herself at the National Queer Arts Festival’s edgy "TransForming Community" spoken word event. Who she’ll be when she MCs Friday’s thrilling Trans March (www.transmarch.org) is anyone’s delightful guess.

TRANSFORMING COMMUNITY

Thurs/26, 7:30 p.m., $8–$15

LGBT Community Center

1800 Market, SF

(415) 865-5555

www.queerculturalcenter.org


>>DEXTER SIMMONS



"I worry not just for fashion, but for the future of television," this multitalented fashion designer, stylist, hair and makeup artist, model, and Oakland native told us with a laugh backstage at the Vans Warped Tour, where he was frantically preparing bands for the stage. "There’s a cheesy aspect creeping in right now because of fashion reality TV that scares me. It looks too easy, and creates too many followers. Wise people want one-of-a-kind, personalized looks. That’s why I love San Francisco," he adds. "It’s small but big — global even — and it likes to take risks." Dexter’s company, FLOC (www.teamflocouture), formed with his best amigo Lauren Rassel, has been taking local runways and nightclubs by fierce, feathery storm since it was formed two years ago, and local rockers like Von Iva and Svelt Street swear by FLOC’s Warriors-inspired designs. Now working as a stylist for SF-based online retail giant Tobi.com, Dexter seems destined for the big time — his designs are penetrating the world and making heads turn a wee bit sharper.


>>CHELSEA STARR



She’s too-too much, this Miss Starr. A genre-straddling DJ and ubiquitous promoter celebrated for her many regular parties (including new weekly Buffet at Pink, a fabulously popular all-female DJ weekly shindig, and Hot Pants, a queer biweekly that draws out the crème de la crème of the city’s thigh-baring night owls), as well as a groundbreaking writer who just toured the country as part of the Sister Spit all-girl spoken word road show, and a fashion designer with her very own eponymous line of eminently wearables — there are just so many ways to love her. This week she’ll find time to spin at umpteen Pride parties, as well as at her very own special Pride edition of Hot Pants. "I’m also a twin, a Gemini, and a cookie monster," Chelsea tells us with a wink.

HOT PANTS

Fri/27, 10 p.m., $5

Cat Club

1190 Folsom, SF

(415) 703-8964

www.myspace.com/hotpantsclub


>>JOSH CHEON



We can’t fib — smarties turn us on. So when we heard that cutie DJ Josh Cheon, host of West ADD Radio’s thuper-queerific "Slave to the Rhythm" program (www.westaddradio.com/slavetotherhythm) held advanced degrees in cell biology, neuroscience, and psychology, we suddenly had to hide our pointiness. An integral member of San Francisco’s gay vinyl-fetishist collective Honey Soundsystem (www.honeysoundsystem.com), Cheon just got back from rocking London’s premiere alternaqueer club, Horsemeat Disco. While his radio show’s name pays homage to Grace Jones, his eclectic sets encompass Candi Staton classics and Detroit Rock City jams. As a featured disc-meister at Bibi, San Francisco’s glorious, charitable party for Middle Eastern and North African queers, he taps his Lebanese roots with Arabian and Persian pop and disco favorites like Fairuz, Googoosh, and Dalida — and some surprise grin-givers from the likes of Boney M.

BIBI

Fri/27, 9 p.m., $20

Pork Store Café

3122 16th St., SF

(415) 626-5523

www.myspace.com/BibiSF


>>MONISTAT



She’s everywhere, lately, this feisty mistress of the night. Trash drag fanatics, glamorous electro freaks, after-hours hipster hot tub revelers — she’s a muse to many, with a sharp tongue and handmade Technicolor outfit for all. Plus, just in general: hot Asian tranny fierceness. "I’m thoroughly inspired by the pigeons in the Civic Center," she tells us. "Also, parties full of beautiful people worshipping me." She’ll be hosting the Asian and Pacific Islander stage at this year’s Pride festivities. But first this plus-size supermodel, trainwrecking DJ, oft-blacklisted performer, and dangerous skateboarder will be throwing a sleazoid party called Body Rock on gay-historic Polk Street "for the musically impaired and fans of a man in a dress, which would be me. I’ve walked through the fire and come out blazing!"

BODY ROCK

Thu/26, 10 p.m., free

Vertigo

1160 Polk, SF

(415) 674-1278

www.myspace.com/monistat7


>>CHRIS PEREZ



Which highly influential SF gallery owner brought John Waters, Todd Oldham, the mayor, and hundreds of sweaty kids together (with a couple kegs) under one roof this spring for photographer Ryan McGinley’s West Coast solo debut? Chris Perez of Ratio 3, whose shows also helped artists score Artforum covers and big time awards. Perez pairs an intuitive talent for identifying a popular hit with innovative curatorial decisions. But his space is no mere white box in the gourmet ghetto: "You’re never just walking down Stevenson," explains this escapee from Catholic school and former San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts volunteer. "Unless you’re hooking up or getting cracked out." Or peeping great art. On Friday, Ratio 3 dresses up as ’90s queer-radical gallery Kiki, for "Kiki: The Proof is in the Pudding," a group tribute to late curator-activist Rick Jacobsen.

KIKI: THE PROOF IS IN THE PUDDING

Fri/27, reception 6–8 p.m., free

Ratio 3

1447 Stevenson, SF

(415) 821-3371

www.ratio3.org


>>HUNTER HARGRAVES



If you think constant AIDS activism is exhausting, try doing it in drag. Stanford grad Hunter heads up StopAIDS (www.stopaids.org) community initiatives by day, and is a board member of diversity-seeking And Castro For All (www.andcastroforall.org), through which fellowships in his name are awarded to young queer activists every year. By night and early morning he becomes Felicia Fellatio, a precariously-heeled tranny who’s single-handedly hauling grunge back onto drag stages — a recent flannel-drenched lipsync of Pearl Jam’s "Jeremy" teared up many a jaded eye — and he DJs queer punk parties like Trans Am (www.myspace.com/transamtheclub) and Revolution, the hot monthly tea dance for HIV-positive men at Club Eight (www.positiveforce-sf.com). Felicia also auditioned for America’s Next Top Model (seriously) but was eliminated when her man hands slapped someone prettier. You can catch Hunter and Felicia, although probably only half of each, at the StopAIDS booth at this year’s Pride celebration.


>>ALICIA MCCARTHY



Hipsters sporting $80 faux-penciled rainbow patterns and glossy-mag ads with jagged color intersections are fronting a style artist Alicia McCarthy helped originate — but she does it a hundred times better. Her current show at Jack Hanley takes off in a dozen different directions from her signature shapes and spectrums in a manner that reflects an honestly fractured identity. Coiled thought forms, a wooden chair facing the backside of a scruffy penguin flying toward a wall of mirrors, and a show-within-the-show by friend Stormy Knight that includes sketches by a parrot named The National Anthem and sculpture by Redbone the dog. McCarthy’s latest exhibition also displays more than a few small works subtly placed where a wall meets the floor, which goes to show that she’s still making some art that only people who pay attention will discover.

ALICIA MCCARTHY

Through Sat/28, free

Jack Hanley Gallery

395 Valencia, SF

(415) 522-1623

www.jackhanley.com


>>MON COUSIN BELGE



Half-naked, goo-spitting art rock in a sling never got so deliciously tawdry. When this San Francisco quartet of self-professed "bunch of fags with vision and bacon cheeseburgers" takes the stage and launches into "Tweaker Bitch" or "Pigdog" off their new album Quelle Horreur (World Famous in SF Records), anything involving titilutf8g revulsion can happen and usually does. Fronted by enigmatic singer Emile, a Belgian addicted to plastic surgery — 39 procedures to date — and leather thongs, Mon Cousin Belge (www.moncousinbelge.com) updates queercore for the ambivalent masses with "deep faggotry jams" and knickers-wetting live performances. Bring a towel to their launch party at Thee Parkside bar in Potrero Hill. You’ll definitely need it — the crowd of cute intel-queers they draw is over-the-top steamy.

QUELLE HORREUR LAUNCH PARTY

Sat/28, 10pm, $6

Parkside

1600 17th St., SF

(415) 503-0393

www.theeparkside.com

The Guardian Queer Issue 2008

The Queer Issue

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In this issue:

>>Scandalous Pride events

>>The Hot Pink List 2008: up-and-comers

>>Where to get married

>>Why not to get married

>>Charo spills the cuchi

>>Superhero tranny flushed into the ’70s

>>Visions of cruising past

>>Queercore makes a comeback

>>Once a riot grrrl, always an artist

>>Fresh Meat still breaks transgender ground

>>Lesbian pregnancy from hell

>>A gay pornocopia

>>The Busy World is Hushed

>>Apichatpong offers filmic bliss

Oh, hai, happy Pridez! Time again to lean back languidly and reflect — not just in your makeup mirror lined with curlicue lavender CFLs, but on where we are as a community. As usual, we straddle an odd queer moment. Yes, legalized same-sex marriage, California-style, is all the rage. Even my radical queer eye teared up when happily balled and chained couples streamed out of City Hall June 17. And you can bet I’ll be on the front lines fighting that awful November ballot initiative, defining marriage as exclusively between one tree and one Mormon.

Some queers want to get married (see "Tie the same-sex knot,"), some don’t ("Down with legitimacy,"). Others, like me, are simply hiding from their boyfriends. It’s yet another great diversity among us. The overall feeling at City Hall, though, besides sheer jubilance, was one of relief more than revolution. Four years ago, during the Winter of Love, rebellion — even talk of secession — crackled in the city’s air. But that scary "M" word, marriage, went the way of The L Word long ago into mainstream territory. Wedding rings were the new septum rings; now they’re just the new freedom rings. "What’s the big deal?" is the whole point.

The weird thing is that right as we’re being carried over the threshold of legal normalization, our outlaw history is roaring back in a big way. Eight years ago, a DJ named Bus Station John set out to highlight gay men’s bathhouse and hi-NRG disco heritage by playing old-school records, many of which he’d amassed from people who’d passed on from AIDS. This was a revelation to the new queer generation, raised with effective HIV meds but led to believe that gay musical history started with Madonna. It was a return of the repressed — an inspiring, AIDS-obscured swath of yesteryear suddenly came to light.

Now you can’t go anywhere without seeing mustaches, aviator glasses, and hipster variations of the clone look. The filming of Gus Van Sant’s Harvey Milk biopic Milk this winter costumed the city in pristine White Riot chic. Wonder of wonders, we even have a brand new SoMa leather bar, Chaps II, named after Miracle Mile’s infamous ’80s watering hole, Chaps — joining the great new retro Truck bar, expanded Hole in the Wall Saloon, Eagle Tavern, and Powerhouse. Take that, Internet! Queercore homeboy innovators Pansy Division ("Queercore, many mornings after,") get canonized with a doc at this year’s Frameline Film Fest. Most intel queers I know are gobbling up Terence Kissack’s recent tome, Free Comrades: Anarchism and Homosexuality in the United States, 1895–1917 from Oakland’s AK Press.

But the past isn’t just for gay men. The Fresh Meat festival has been breaking transgender performance ground since the millennium began ("Rare, medium, well-done,"). Nineties riot grrls are making strong artistic marks ("Heart shaped box," page 49), and I can’t step into a dyke bar lately without being immediately corralled into a Journey sing-along by Runaways look-alikes. The turbo-awesome current exhibition at the GLBT Historical Society (www.glbthistory.org), "Dykes on Bikes: 30 Years at the Forefront," reminds us not only that boobs are still illegal, but that rad women of all shapes and colors have led us from Gay Freedom Day to this week’s Pride. And it’s no surprise that the original Daughters of Bilitis, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, were the first couple to get legally married here, 53 years after starting the first official, highly persecutable, lesbian organization.

As we move seemingly inexorably toward mainstream acceptance, it’s nice to know that the heroes of our struggle, people who did things differently, are still fresh in our minds. This year the Guardian pays tribute to the LGBT underground past and present, and raises a toast to our deliciously shameless future.

› marke@sfbg.com

Pride 2008 events

0

› culture@sfbg.com

ONGOING

Frameline Film Festival Various locations; see Web site for dates and times, www.frameline.org. The humongous citywide queer flick fest is still in full eye-popping effect.

Golden Girls Mama Calizo’s Voice Factory, 1519 Mission, SF; (415) 690-9410, www.voicefactorysf.org. 7 and 9pm, $20. Through Sat/28. Revisit all the "gay" episodes of this classic and tragic sitcom, as performed with panache and pratfalls by gender clowns Heklina, Pollo Del Mar, Cookie Dough, and Matthew Martin.

National Queer Arts Festival Various locations; see Web site for details, www.queerculturalcenter.org. Experience scandalously good spoken word, cabaret, art installations, and so much more as this powerhouse monthlong celebration of queer revelations continues.

THURSDAY 26

PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS

Marriage Is Not Enough: Radical Queers Take Back the Movement New Valencia Hall, 625 Larkin, SF; (415) 864-1278. 7pm, $7 donation. Spread-eagled with one foot in the past and the other in the future, Radical Women host a forum to honor the efforts of drag queens and queers of color in 1969’s Stonewall rebellion and to discuss the docile nature of LGBT leadership in the face of poor and working-class queer issues today.

"Our Message Is Music" First Unitarian Church and Center, 1187 Franklin, SF; (415) 865-2787, www.sfgmc.org. 8pm, $15-$35. The world’s first openly LGBT music ensemble will kick off Pride Week with a range of music from Broadway to light classical. Includes performances by the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band.

Pansy Division Eagle Tavern, 398 12th St., SF; (415) 626-0880, www.pansydivision.com. 9pm, $7. Homoerockit band Pansy Division plays a live set with the handsome help of Glen Meadmore and Winsome Griffles following a screening of the film Pansy Division: Life in a Gay Rock Band.

CLUBS AND PARTIES

Body Rock Vertigo, 1160 Polk, SF; (415) 674-1278. 10pm, free. Incredibly energetic tranny-about-town Monistat hosts a bangin’ electro night for queers and friends featuring San Francisco’s favorite crazy DJ Richie Panic. Expect wet panties.

Cockblock SF Pride Party Minna, 111 Minna, SF; www.cockblocksf.com. 9pm-2am, $5. DJs Nuxx and Zax spin homolicious tunes and put the haters on notice: no cock-blockin’ at this sweaty soiree.

Crib Gay Pride Party Crib, 715 Harrison, SF; (415) 749-2228, www.thecribsf.com. 9:30pm-3am, $10. The hopefully soothing Ms. Monistat (again!) and the irritating — in a fun way — Bobby Trendy set it off at this homolicious megaparty popular among the 18+ set, complete with a Naked Truth body-art fashion show and a T-shirt toss, in case you lose the one you came with in the melee.

The Cruise Pride Party Lexington Club, 3464 19th St, SF; (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com. 9pm-2am, free. Hey, dyke sailor! Hike up your naughty nauticals and wade into this ship of dreams (yes, it’s a theme party) with DJs Rapid Fire and Melissa at the lovely lesbian Lex. Land, ho.

The Tubesteak Connection Aunt Charlie’s, 133 Turk, SF; (415) 441-2922, www.auntcharlieslounge.com. A warm and bubbly tribute to early Italo house, wonderfully obscure disco tunes, and outfits Grace Jones would die for. With DJ Bus Station John.

FRIDAY 27

PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS

Same-Sex Salsa and Latin Ballroom Dance Festival and Competition Magnet, 4122 18th St., SF; (415) 581-1600. www.queerballroom.com. 7pm-12am, free. With $100 awarded to the winner of this fancy-footwork competition, the stakes for this event’s salsa-hot dancing surpass the single bills slipping into thong strings this week.

San Francisco Trans March Dolores Park, Dolores and 18th Sts; (415) 447-2774, www.transmarch.org. 3pm stage, 7pm march; free. Join the transgender community of San Francisco and beyond for a day of live performances, speeches, and not-so-military marching.

CLUBS AND PARTIES

Bibi: We Exist and We Thrive Pork Store Café, 3122 16th St., SF; (415) 626-5523, www.myspace.com/BibiSF. 9pm, $20. The Middle Eastern and North African LGBT community hosts a charitable happy hookah party to native tunes spun by DJs Masood, Josh Cheon, and more.

Bustin’ Out III Trans March Afterparty El Rio, 3158 Mission, SF; 282-3325. 9pm-2am, $5-$50, sliding scale. Strut your stuff at the Transgender Pride March’s official afterparty, featuring sets from DJs Durt, Lil Manila, and giveaways from Good Vibes, AK Press, and more. Proceeds benefit the Trans/Gender Variant in Prison Committee.

Charlie Horse: No Pride No Shame The Cinch, 1723 Polk, SF; (415) 776-4162, www.myspace.com/charliehorsecinch. 10pm, free. Drag disaster Anna Conda presents a bonkers night of rock ‘n’ roll trash drag numbers, plus Juanita Fajita’s iffy "gay food cart" and Portland, Ore.’s Gender Fluids performance troupe.

Cream DNA Lounge, 375 11th St., SF; (415) 626-1409, www.creamsf.com. Two levels of sexy girl energy and a catwalk to scratch your lipstick claws on, plus a Latin lounge with hip-grinding tunes from DJs Carlitos and Chili D.

GIRLPRIDE Faith, 715 Harrison, SF; (415) 647-8258. 8pm-4am, $20. About 2,500 women are expected to join host DJ Page Hodel to celebrate this year’s Pride Weekend, and that’s a whole lotta love.

Hot Pants Cat Club, 1190 Folsom, SF; (415) 703-8964, www.myspace.com/hotpantsclub. 10pm, $5. DJ Chelsea Starr and many others make this alternaqueer dance party a major destination for hot persons of all genders and little trousers.

Mr. Mighty, 119 Utah, SF; (415) 762-0151, wwww.mighty119.com. 10pm-6am, $20. Darling promoters Big Booty, FSLD, Beatboxevents, and Big Top join forces to produce the party premiere of Pride week with DJ Kidd Sysko and Lord Kook spinning alternative techno sounds, and a special deep and dirty set from soulful house god David Harness.

Sweet Beast Transfer, 198 Church, SF; www.myspace.com/beastparty. 10pm-2am, $10. Reanimate your fetish for leather and fur by dressing up as fiercely feral fauna for the petting-zoo of a party. This week, after all, is mating season.

Tranny Fierce Supperclub, 657 Harrison, SF; (415) 348-0900, www.supperclub.com. 8pm dinner, 10pm afterparty. $85 dinner, $15-$25 afterparty. Total ferosh! Project Runway winner Christian Siriano hosts a four-course meal of trash-talking and looking fierce. The afterparty serves up drag nasty from Holy MsGrail, Cassandra Cass, and more.

Uniform and Leather Ball Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market, SF; (415) 777-0333, www.frantix.net. 8pm-midnight, $25 & $40. The men’s men of San Francisco’s Mr. Leather Committee want you to dress to the fetish nines for this huge gathering, featuring men, music, and more shiny boots than you can lick all year. Yes, sirs!

SATURDAY 28

PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS

Dykes on Bikes Fundraiser Eagle Tavern, 398 12th St., SF; (415) 626-0880, www.dykesonbikes.org. Noon. Dykes on Bikes can’t drink and drive: they need your help. A pint for you means a gallon of gas for them. Stop by before heading to the march.

LGBT Pride Celebration Civic Center, Carlton B. Goodlett Place and McCallister, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.sfpride.org. Noon-6pm, free. Celebrate LGBT pride at this free outdoor event featuring DJs, speakers, and live music. This is the first half of the weekend-long celebration sponsored by SF Pride. Also Sun/29.

Pink Triangle Installation Twin Peaks Vista, Twin Peaks Blvd parking area, SF; (415) 247-1100, ext 142, www.thepinktriangle.com. 7-11am, free. Bring a hammer and your work boots and help install the giant pink triangle atop Twin Peaks for everyone to see this Pride Weekend. Stay for the commemoration ceremony at 10:30am to hear Mayor Gavin Newsom and Assemblymember Mark Leno speak.

Pride Brunch Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market, SF; (415) 777-0333, www.positiveresource.org. 11am-2pm, $75-$100. Raise a mimosa toast to this year’s Pride Parade grand marshals with many of the community’s leading activists.

Same-Sex Country, Swing, and Standard Ballroom Dance Festival and Competition Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market, SF; (415) 626-8000, www.queerballroom.com. 6:30-8pm, free. The Queer Jitterbugs get reeling at this one-of-a-kind contest that’ll shine your spurs and get you swingin’ out of your seat.

San Francisco Dyke March Dolores Park, Dolores and 18th Sts, SF; www.dykemarch.org. 7pm, free. Featuring music from the Trykes, Papa Dino, Las Krudas, and more, plus a whole lot of wacky sapphic high jinks.

CLUBS AND PARTIES

Bearracuda Pride Deco, 510 Larkin, SF; (415) 346-2025, www.bearracuda.com/pride. 9pm-3am, $8 before 10pm, $10 after. Hot hairy homos generate serious body static on the dance floor at this big bear get-down.

Bootie Presents The Monster Show DNA Lounge, 375 11th St, SF; (415) 626-1409, www.bootiesf.com. The city’s giant mashup club hosts a drag queen bootleg mix extravaganza, as Cookie Dough and her wild Monster Show crash the Bootie stage.

Colossus 1015 Folsom, SF; (415) 431-1200, www.guspresents.com. 10pm-8am, $40. The beats of mainstream club favorite DJ Manny Lehman throb through the largest and longest, uh &ldots; dance party of Pride week.

Deaf Lesbian Festival Dyke Ball San Francisco LGBT Center, Rainbow Room, 1800 Market, SF; (415) 865-5555, www.dcara.org. 8pm, 440. Feel the music, close your eyes, and dance to the rhythm of your smokin’ partner at the Deaf Lesbian Festival’s first ever Dyke Ball.

Devotion EndUp, 401 Sixth St, SF; (415) 357-0827, www.theendup.com. 9pm, $15. This storied dance party is back with "A Classic Pride." DJs Ruben Mancias and Pete Avila spin all-classic soulful and stripped-down house anthems for a sweaty roomful of those who were there back when.

Dyke March After Affair Minna, 111 Minna, SF; www.diamonddaggers.com. 8pm-11pm, $12-$20 sliding scale. An early-ending party featuring drag queens, burlesque stars, and belly dancers ensures that beauty sleep comes to the next day’s easy riders whose love of bikes and beer rivals that of any Hell’s Angel or fratboy. Or, stick around for Minna’s ’80s night, Barracuda.

Manquake The Gangway, 841 Larkin, SF; (415) 776-6828. 10pm, $5. Disco rareties and bathhouse classics in a perfectly cruisy old-school dive environment with DJ Bus Station John.

PlayBoyz Club Eight, 1151 Folsom, SF; www.clubrimshot.com. 10pm-3am, $10. The stars of legalized gay marriage, Obama’s candidacy, Pride week, and Black Music Month all align for this hip-hop heavy celebration.

Queen Pier 27, SF; www.energy927fm.com. 8pm, $45. Energy 92.7 FM brings back the dynamism of the old-school San Francisco clubs for this Pride dance-off. Chris Cox and Chris Willis headline. Wear your best tear-away sweats and get ready to get down, Party Boy style.

Rebel Girl Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell, SF; wwww.rebelgirlsf.com. 9pm-2am, $12. Rebel Girl brings the noise for this one with go-go dancers, Vixen Creations giveaways, drink specials, and, you know, rebel girls.

SUNDAY 29

PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS

LGBT Pride Celebration Civic Center, Carlton B. Goodlett Place and McCallister, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.sfpride.org. Noon-7pm, free. The celebration hits full stride, with musical performances and more.

LGBT Pride Parade Market at Davis to Market and Eighth Sts, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.sfpride.org. 10:30am-noon, free. With 200-plus dykes on bikes in the lead, this 38th annual parade, with an expected draw of 500,000, is the highlight of the Pride Weekend in the city that defines LGBT culture.

True Colors Tour Greek Theatre, UC Berkeley Campus, Hearst and Gayley Streets, Berk; (510) 809-0100, www.apeconcerts.com. 5pm, $42.50-$125 Cyndi Lauper, The B-52s, Wanda Sykes, The Puppini Sisters, and queer-eyed host Carson Kressley bring it on for human rights and limp wrists.

CLUBS AND PARTIES

Big Top The Transfer, 198 Church, SF; (415) 861-7499, www.myspace.com/joshuajcook. A circus-themed hot mess, with DJs Ladymeat, Saratonin, and Chelsea Starr, plus Heklina’s "best butt munch" contest. Will she find the third ring?

Dykes on Bikes Afterparty Lexington Club, 3464 19th St, SF; (415) 863-2052, www.lexingtonclub.com. 1pm, free. How do they find time to ride with all these parties?

Juanita More! Gay Pride ’08 Bambuddha Lounge, 601 Eddy, SF; (415) 864-3733, www.juanitamore.com. 3pm, $30. Juanita More! hosts this benefit for the Harvey Milk City Hall Memorial, with DJs Robot Hustle and James Glass, and performances by fancy-pants Harlem Shake Burlesque and the Diamond Daggers. Fill ‘er up, baby!

Starbox Harry Denton’s, 450 Powell, SF; (415) 395-8595, www.harrydenton.com. 6pm-midnight, $7 High atop the Sir Francisc Drake Hotel, the swank Harry Denton’s presents DJ Page Hodel’s patented brand of diverse and soulful bacchanalia.

Sundance Saloon Country Pride Hotel Whitcomb, 1231 Market, SF; (415) 626-8000, www.sundancesaloon.org. 6pm-11pm, $5. Hot hot bear husbands on the hoof, line-dancing for the pickin’ at this overalls-and-snakeskin-boots roundup.

Unity Temple, 540 Howard, SF; www.templesf.com. Legendary kiki-hurrah club Fag Fridays rises again with a sure-to-be-smokin’ DJ set from the one and only Frankie Knuckles, the goddess’s gift to deep house freaks and friends.