Our weekly picks

Pub date December 15, 2009



Free Form Film Series: "Awesome and Painful"

The folks from Lost Media Archive and the FFFF (Free Form Film Festival) have a Christmas treat for y’all: a screening of the "universally loathed" Star Wars Holiday Special. Before that, six dudes from various parts of the U.S. will treat viewers to experimental videos. With titles like Hulk Smash, Cakestain! and Polygon Sun, it’s likely — well, very likely (I did some interweb research) — that these videos are of the laffy taffy, low-tech, seizure-inducing variety. While this might suggest everything jejune and sarcastic, I would also qualify that suggest with smartly so. (Spencer Young)

8 p.m., $6

Artists’ Television Access

992 Valencia, SF

(415) 824-3890




Kenneth Anger: Restored Prints

Not one to dabble so much as drench himself in the occult, Kenneth Anger has been dubbed a weirdo. Committed to the underground, his short films are weird, too, but in an interesting and entertaining kind of way as opposed to creepy and cloying. Two of the Anger movies showing tonight — Scorpio Rising (1960) and Kustom Kar Kommandos (1964) — worship handsome James Dean-type men and their equally handsome machines through serene, phantasmagoric pans across shiny engines, belt buckles, and bulging biceps, all queerly contrasted with 1960s pop. The other two films on the program, Fireworks (1947) and Rabbit’s Moon (1950/1971) are equally hunky-dory. Also, the 82-year-old weirdo might be in attendance. (Young)

7 p.m., $7–$10

Phyllis Wattis Theater

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 Third St., SF

(415) 357-4000



Popscene Holiday Gala with Mike Relm

‘Tis the season for video mashups. The holidays always make me want to break out the TV Carnage DVDs — nothing says gift quite like John Ritter making horrified faces to Rosie O’Donnell’s performance in Riding the Bus With My Sister (2005). Mike Relm is one of SF’s chief video turntablists, with a resume that includes Mike Patton’s Peeping Tom project. He won my heart by naming his debut DVD Clown Alley, after the defunct semi-North Beach burger dive known to inspire the Guardian’s own Marke B. to break into song. He makes the scene at Popscene’s festive gala. (Johnny Ray Huston)

With DJ Sharp

10 p.m.–2 a.m., $5–$10

330 Ritch

330 Ritch, SF

(415) 541-9574




Hubba Hubba Revue’s Chrismanukkah

Hubba Hubba Revue is big in England. Word of the SF burlesque troupe’s shenanigans had reached my burlesexual friend Lou Lou, who knows about tassel-twirling because, back in Blighty, she’s a "maid" who flounces about the stage between acts cleaning up the dancers’ tossed underthings. Lou Lou was convinced "the maid" was a universal feature of burlesque shows, and was surprised to learn that in the Hubba Hubba Revue, her role is played by a man-monkey named Zip the What-Is-It, bald but for a tuft of hair on his crown. Things are different here. But they do have lovely ladies stripping all retro-like and enough shiny bells and whistles to keep even the burlesque-shy (does such a person exist?) jaw-dropped and fancy free. The troupe’s holiday celebration promises peace and goodwill to (wo)man, and performances by Bunny Pistol, Professor Shimmy, and Meshugga Beach Party, a Jewish folk surf jam experience. (Caitlin Donohue)

9 p.m., $12–$15

DNA Lounge

375 11th St., SF

(415) 626-1409




Glam Gender Release Party

You can never have too much drag for the holidays. Or can you? No, no you can’t — especially if your stocking is not only filled with enough bird seed to size you up to a triple-D cup, but also with the ravishing new book Glam Gender, a glossy to-die-for tome self-published by photographer Marianne Larochelle and art director-stylist-drag legend Jose Guzman Colon, a.k.a. Putanesca. Contained within is an encyclopedia of the most well-known local drag queens of the past decade, including many no longer with us. The project, with punchy bios written by paparazzi punk Bill Picture, was "such a beautiful thing to work on," Putanesca told me. "It’s a real community celebration, and also a bit insane." Freshly released, the book will be available — along with glorious prints and most of the queens themselves — at zany Victorian wonderland Finn’s Funhouse. Watch your dress. (Marke B.)

6–10 p.m., free

Finn’s Funhouse

814 Grove, SF



Super Adventure Club

Up-sides to cold weather: the dependable absence of mosquitoes, eggnog, layers of $4 Goodwill sweaters that nicely camouflage Christmas cookie bulge, and socially acceptable hibernation. Wait, scratch that last one — you’re going out. You’ll wanna brave those arctic winds for multitasking duo Jake Woods and Michael Winger, who combine their strange genius to form Super Adventure Club, a band you could like for the name alone, but don’t have to because their punchy riffs on everything from German "üntz" music to French love songs deliver a restorative kick to the circulation system. I straight up challenge you to get through their set — or that of headliners Diego’s Umbrella — without jumping about like a crazy person. You’ve got a tough first step past the front welcome mat, but know — just know — that your winter woes are about to melt like a square snowflake in funky town. (Donohue)

With Diego’s Umbrella and How To Win at Life

9 p.m., $8

Elbo Room

(415) 552-7788

647 Valencia, SF




Renegade Craft Fair

December mall jaunts tend to induce claustrophobia, Santa terrors, and unpredictable, Manchurian Candidate-style reactions to all those cheery Christmas carols. Avoid the commercial hustle at the Renegade Craft Fair, founded in 2003 in Chicago — where a Renegade Handmade store remains open year-round — and now a multicity phenomenon. SF’s version opens shop just in time for the last-minute gift scramble, with more than 150 local DIY denizens (who had to apply to participate, so you won’t have to sift though sub-par crap) offering up all manner of bow-worthy ideas: fabric goods, silkscreened art, jewelry, accoutrements for babies, housewares, toys, stationary, and more. (Cheryl Eddy)

Through Sun/20

11 a.m.–7 p.m., free

Herbst Pavilion, Fort Mason Center

Marina at Laguna, SF



Trannyshack Star Search

The queen, apparently, is not dead. Beloved and be-loathed trash-drag emporium Trannyshack glitter-axed its weekly operations at the Stud last year. But like the chunky-jewelried zombie ass-slave Mrs. Roper hostess that she is, Heklina rises from the ash heap of Manhunt addiction to bring back the Trannyshack Star Search competition, thirsty for new blood to fill her ghoulish needs. She’ll be joined onstage by the wonderfully horrific Peaches Christ to oversee performances by "special" guest judges Sherry Vine and Kembra Pfahler of the Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. Hoku Mama, Putanesca, Princess Kennedy, and Anjie Myma also judge the 10 hopefuls, and DJ Omar glam-sluts up the crowd, if that’s even more possible. (Marke B.)

10 p.m.–3 a.m., $15–$20

DNA Lounge

(415) 626-1409

375 11th St., SF



Circus Ignite!

Does it seem like circus is everywhere? It’s true. And that’s not just in local venues, mainstream media, and fashion. Circus groups are taking their clowning, juggling, stilting, and acrobatics out of American cities and into under-served communities across the world. They’re entertaining, educating, inspiring self-esteem, and fostering cross-cultural communication in communities affected by natural disaster, dislocations, and military conflicts. One such group is Dreamtime Circus, a fantastic organization that launched with a trip to India last year and plans to spend next spring in Peru. Help support the cause by attending this weekend’s fundraiser, featuring DJs, a silent auction, and performances. (Molly Freedenberg)

9 p.m.–4 a.m., $12–$20


314 11th St, SF

(415) 552-2100



Carols in the Caves

Candlelight. Cave acoustics. Ancient instruments playing age-old carols. And you as part of the angel choir. Could there be anything more classically festive than Carols in the Caves? The brainchild of percussionist/musician the Improvisator (a.k.a. David Auerbach), this tradition has been delighting audiences for 24 years in a variety of caves and wine cellars around the Bay Area. This time Auerbach brings his dulcimers, flutists, drums, and bells to Hans Fahden Vineyards, a gorgeous property on a ridge above Calistoga that features panoramic views of Mount Saint Helena. Buy your tickets, save some extra cash to purchase wine, and get ready to settle in to a sound spa for the mind. (Freedenberg)

2 p.m. (also Sun/20), $45

Hans Fahden Vineyards

4855 Petrified Forest, Calistoga

(707) 224-4222



The Birds

So … 500,000 European starlings did an air show in Bodega Bay, I mean Sacramento, this past week. Video evidence is flying across the Internet. It’s official, a real-life version of The Birds (1963) can’t be far off. Of all of Hitchcock’s classics, this is the one best served by the big screen. If you’ve only seen it on TV, you don’t know it. Out of your gilded cages, Melanie Daniels fans, and into the Castro to fend off angry beaks with your impeccably manicured hands. (Huston)

2:30 and 7 p.m. (double feature with Notorious), $7.50–$10

Castro Theatre

429 Castro, SF

(415) 621-6120




Brian Setzer Orchestra

Brian Setzer has made a long-lasting career of resurrecting musical styles from the past with his formidable talents. He first came to fame as leader of the Stray Cats, energizing traditional rockabilly with his scorching guitar skills. He then went on to revamp swing and the classic big band sound of the 1930s and ’40s with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, whose hits included a cover of Louis Prima’s "Jump Jive An’ Wail." Tonight’s stop here in SF is part of Setzer’s seventh annual "Christmas Rocks!" tour, featuring revved-up versions of timeless holiday songs like "Jingle Bells" and "White Christmas," as well as selections from his own hit discography.(Sean McCourt)

8 p.m., $55–$69.50

The Warfield

982 Market, SF

(415) 775-7722




Taravat Talepasand: "Situation Critical"

Bay Area artist Taravat Talepasand’s explorations of cultural mores in Iran and America manifest as everything from motorcycles to graphite drawings. Her second show at Marx and Zavaterro casts a sharp eye at xenophobia and assorted manias circa-1979, among other things. "Situation Critical" should be worth a visit simply to see the nightmarish Disney-esque painting Ayatollah Land. (Huston)

10:30 a.m.–5 p.m., free

Marx and Zavattero

77 Geary, second floor, SF

(415) 627-9111