Harvey Milk

SPECIAL: Ghosts of Homoween


› marke@sfbg.com

When I was a little gurl growing up in Detroit, my ma used to spin an enchanting yarn about her downtown All Hallow’s Eves as a child in the ’50s. “We’d go out trick-or-treating in the early evening, me and your aunts, in our gypsy dresses pieced together from faded handkerchiefs,” she’d intone every year about this time.

“But we’d have to be home by the stroke of dark. That was when the men dressed as women would come out. There would be men dancing with men, women wearing cotton pants and button-down shirts. There would be a lot of screaming and carrying on. We used to watch them through the lacy window coverings in our bedroom, scared into laughing.”

You can imagine what such a tale of gaily marching ghouls and goblins did to an impressionable homosexual like myself. My mind swam with visions of drag queen sugar plums and wild-dyke Roy Rogerses, bell-bottomed sailor suits and sequins dripping from well-groomed mustaches. “Would there be men dressed as the Supremes?” I’d excitedly beg Ma to tell. “Would they do the mashed potato?” Oh, how I would have loved to slip the latch on those lace-veiled portals and join in their spirited parade!

For many a gay back in the day, Halloween was Pride before Pride existed, the one time they had implicit permission to show out in all their invert finery and let loose. Under the code of mid-20th-century gay oppression, the holiday was a fine time for gays to publicly congregate and whoop it up, embodying civilization’s nightmare and driving the children inside. It worked both ways: the gays at least had one high holy day for themselves, which happened to belong to the devil. And the hushed tales of it served to arouse the soon-to-be-overly-curious like me.


Halloween in the Castro began unofficially in the ’80s, when crowds attracted by the exotic window displays at Cliff’s Variety hardware store grew large enough to warrant a street closing. Grandpa Ernie DeBaca, the legendary owner of Cliff’s, drove a flatbed truck and started an annual Halloween kids’ party in the newly emerging gay neighborhood.

Soon, in a symbolic reenactment of Stonewall or the Harvey Milk riots, the gays “took the street” on an annual basis, forcing the cops to give up trying to regulate the party, and the event mushroomed into the wild, potentially dangerous — and gay-diluted — bacchanal of today.

But before the Castro exploded, back in the ’70s, the gays of San Francisco would throw on their best Barbara Stanwyck and hit up Polk Street to let it all hang out, gayngsta-style. Those were the glory days of the bathhouse generation, and whenever I want to project myself back into them, I visit amateur historian Uncle Donald’s Web site, www.thecastro.net. Therein lies an archive of Uncle Donald’s photos of the 1976 Polk Halloween scene, as well as a spotty but fascinating diary of gay Halloween celebrations from the disco era to 2003. It’s a treasure trove of artifacts and impressions — and perhaps an elegy to the seemingly endangered high holy day.

“Back then there were two outfits: drag queen and drag queen’s escort. You either wore a ball gown or black tie,” the husky-voiced 65-year-old says over the phone. “It was such a magical time. I don’t think of Halloween as a gay-only tradition, but there was a glorious, creative spirit, a feeling of freedom and community. It was something special.”


Does that spirit still exist? For years Halloween was the one night us gays didn’t have to be afraid. And now the gays of the Castro want to do away with Halloween because it scares them. Weird. “It’s become a zoo, but it’s great to see the young people still partying,” says Donald when I ask him about Halloween in the Castro today.

But none of my young gay friends like to party in the Castro, and not just because they fear getting bashed by out-of-towners. “There’s no inspiration to be found there. Everyone just wants to dress up as celebrities and stand around. Or else it’s for more uptight gay men to do drag and feel ‘wild,’” says fashion designer Allán Herrera, 23. “Private parties are more fun, but everyone just ends up in the Castro because the alternatives cost $50.”

Hunter Hargraves, 23, a drag performer, agrees. “You can dress up anytime you want in San Francisco, so I think the feeling of Halloween as a gay freedom day no longer applies,” he explains. “I have a lot of respect for what it was, but now it’s just one day among many.” Another friend, Brion, 17, says, “Halloween is for getting fucked up and checking out other high schools.”

So maybe the venerated spirit of Homoween has moved on from the Castro, just like it took flight from Polk Street two decades ago. The question, of course, is “to where”? In an age of gay mainstreaming, when the notion of community has been rapidly decentralized, diffused across a spectrum of tastes and miniagendas, maybe the purpose of a gay high holy day has evaporated into the ethosphere, like real-time cruising or leather bars.

Or maybe it’s just been mischievously internalized. As my 25-year-old roommate said the other day, trying on plaid hot pants and naughty-schoolboy accessories, “For Halloween, I just want to dress like a slut and get laid.”

That sounds plenty gay to me.

SF Opera under the glass


› a&eletters@sfbg.com
There is no lack of world-class talent in the upcoming fall season, but as far as the portentous tenants in the Civic Center are concerned, the new season’s repertoire stands out as an exercise in artistic tepidness. Perhaps still traumatized by the Bush economy’s brutal impact upon the arts, the San Francisco Opera and Symphony and other big Bay Area arts presenters are taking few chances. Projects with even the subtlest hints of experimentation this season — such as the SF Symphony’s multimedia production of Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights — are being served to the public in carefully marketed packages, brandishing favorite performers with tried-and-true creative teams that have been thoroughly tested over the years.
So as the curtains go up next week, the best performance to watch may well be the one that is taking place offstage: David Gockley, the SF Opera’s new general director, heads his first full season as the top choice for the job. With the company’s somewhat contentious regime change (Pamela Rosenberg vacated the lead post last season), Gockley knows that his every move is being scrutinized by the opera world.
Rosenberg was the only woman leading a major American opera company during her tenure at the SF Opera, boldly introducing on the War Memorial stage the US premieres of major contemporary works such as Olivier Messiaen’s massive St. Francis of Assisi, György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, and the world premiere of John Adams’s Dr. Atomic. Even while facing the funding challenges of a deflated economy, Rosenberg chose to focus the company’s resources on creating the daring, provocative concept-driven productions that are common in Europe. Instead of squandering her production budgets on expensive star singers, Rosenberg brought a fertile artistic sensibility to the company that was wholly fresh and exciting.
Yet the lack of recognizable marquee names combined with the high level of abstraction in her productions displeased the opera’s more conservative, traditional constituencies. Typically, the anti-Rosenberg camp was made up of Metropolitan Opera–jealous patrons and the shrill, mercilessly critical traditionalists who prefer museumlike productions — the kind of stagings populated with ornate period costuming and opulent sets that are often mere vanity vehicles to glorify star singers. So, faced with the criticism of diva-starved patrons and the prospect of having to devote an enormous portion of her time on the job to fundraising, Rosenberg chose not to renew her five-year contract with the SF Opera when it expired.
Attempting to find a less polarizing replacement, the SF Opera’s search committee came up with Gockley, the highly respected former general director of Houston Grand Opera. Chief among Gockley’s strengths is the rapport he has with top talent in the field, paired with a proven ability to entice them into high-profile collaborations.
“I would like to pursue a policy of bringing more of the most prominent stars back to San Francisco, similar to the kind that the public enjoyed during the [Kurt Herbert] Adler and [Terence] McEwen years,” Gockley said in a phone interview last week. “People expect that of a great international company — to provide the big personalities and the most glamorous performers.”
Yes, the divas are back, though certainly not in the abundance suggested by the opera’s tacky marketing campaign launched during the summer season. But what could be the rationale behind the extreme conservatism of SF Opera’s 2006–07 season, in which the most modern entry is Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier (1911) and the production rosters are populated by stalwart traditionalists such as Michael Yeargan, Thierry Bosquet, and John Conklin? “This year is not mine,” Gockley pointed out, indicating that it was planned by his predecessor before his arrival.
Not unlike Rosenberg, in Houston, Gockley was also known as an innovator and risk taker. In the heart of Bush country, he ushered in Adams’s Nixon in China, a momentous premiere in the history of American opera. A few years later, his controversial commission of Stewart Wallace and Michael Korie’s Harvey Milk was picketed by the religious right.
So what does he have in store for those who actually like more daring theatrical statements?
“Nothing this year,” he said dryly. “But we have already announced a world premiere by Philip Glass [an opera based on the Civil War battle of Appomattox] for next season and will announce the new season in January. Much as I did in Houston, we will have a blend of some core and peripheral repertory work, new works, and premieres — done with great singers and great musical and theatrical values.”
In all fairness, Gockley has the difficult job of being all things to all people during this transitional phase. Of course, this is only the beginning, and before he has the buy-in from all the locals, this former Texan will still have much to prove. SFBG
Philharmonia Baroque and Cal Performances join forces to present Purcell’s 1691 dramatic masterpiece in a new, fully choreographed staging by Mark Morris. The original cast from the production’s UK premiere is featured. (Sept. 30–Oct. 7. 510-642-9988, www.calperfs.berkeley.edu)
More than any so-called diva, violinist Hilary Hahn provides compelling evidence of the divine with her mesmerizing gifts. Appearing with the SF Symphony, Hahn is the soloist in the rarely heard Violin Concerto by Eric Wolfgang Korngold, a composer of forbidden music during the Nazi era. (Dec. 6–8. 415-864-6000, www.sfsymphony.org)
Soprano Christine Brewer’s rendition of Isolde’s orgasmic, transcendent “Liebestod” at the end of this five-hour opera will be well worth the wait, while iconoclast David Hockney’s colorful sets will be mere icing on the cake. Thomas Moser sings Tristan, and Donald Runnicles conducts. (Oct. 5–27. 415-864-3330, www.sfopera.com)
In the rarest of opportunities, the brilliant British composer and pianist Thomas Ades pays a visit to San Francisco to play a recital of his music at Herbst Theatre. Ades created a sensation when, as a fresh-faced 23-year-old composer, he premiered his opera Powder Her Face (containing the now-infamous fellatio scene) in Britain in 1995. (Dec. 9. 415-392-2545, www.performances.org)

Commissioner Haaland


By Tim Redmond

Not much daily press on this, but Robert Haaland, longtime LGBT and labor activist, is headed for a seat on the Board of Appeals. The San Francisco Sentinel story focuses on the triumph for the TG community and notes that this was the seat that Harvey Milk once held. But this is also excellent news for the overall progressive community, particularly for land-use activists: The Board of Appeals is a powerful body that deals with demolition permits, building permits, event permits, club permits and more. Robert will be a good vote.

Ballot-box alliance


› gwschulz@sfbg.com

Maggie Agnew knows more about gun violence than anyone should ever have to know. Three of her children have been murdered since 1986, all of them during altercations that involved guns.

The church she attends has done all it can to help her and other parents of homicide victims. But not everyone attends church, she says. More needs to be done.

That’s why she along with three other women affected by the city’s epidemic of violence has signed her name to Proposition A, a June ballot measure authored by Sup. Chris Daly.

Prop. A would allocate $10 million a year for homicide-prevention services from the city’s General Fund for each of the next three years.

It would also create a survivors’ fund in the District Attorney’s Office to assist with burial expenses and counseling.

Agnew says that it’s a good start.

"There are so many parents who are like me; they can barely have a funeral and bury their children," Agnew told the Guardian recently. "You’re left with big bills, heartache, and pain. If you don’t have support, you’re out in the cold."

The Prop. A campaign is about more than just the relatively modest $10 million. Progressives and communities of color have begun to build an alliance around the measure that hasn’t always existed in the past which is a polite way of referring to the left’s sometime failure to address problems afflicting minority communities.

The San Francisco Peoples’ Organization, PowerPAC, and two past presidents of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club have appeared as supporters in election literature, along with Agnew, Betty Cooper, Kechette Walls Powell, and Mattie Scott, four women who have lost relatives to homicide. The effort began earlier this year as the board debated making supplemental appropriations from surplus budget money for similar support services after the city’s homicide rate approached the triple digits.

Sharen Hewitt, director of the Community Leadership Academy Emergency Response project, said the alliance is a small step in the right direction.

"It ain’t been no lovefest," she said frankly. "I am a progressive, as you know. But my community has been dropping dead in the street, and we’ve been focused on bike lanes…. We came together with a struggle."

Hewitt said the proposition allows for a considerable amount of flexibility: Money will go to the neighborhoods most affected by homicide, not simply those presumed to be in the most need. Overall, she said, the city has relied too much on the police, and the symptoms of violence, such as poverty, still need to be addressed.

"We have to be candid with each other, so we can form a real progressive agenda and not leave anyone behind," Hewitt said.

Prop. A is not without its critics. Sups. Sean Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier, and Jake McGoldrick and Mayor Gavin Newsom all oppose it.

San Francisco is already struggling to abide by a charter mandate that requires the city to maintain a force of at least 1,971 police officers at all times, critics complain. Newsom and his allies on the board believe hiring new cops is more important than what the ballot measure proposes.

Elsbernd told us he’s also opposed to Prop. A because it locks in yet more budget requirements, when supplemental appropriations could be used to keep control in the hands of board members.

"My concern is it’s a set-aside," he said. "It binds the hands of the executive and legislative branches…. This is ballot-box budgeting."

Money from Prop. A would target areas with high rates of violence by focusing services on job creation and workforce training, conflict resolution, substance abuse and mental health treatment, and probation and witness relocation services. The measure would also form an 11-member community planning council charged with drafting and revising an annual homicide-prevention plan.

PowerPAC president Steve Phillips agrees with the other Prop. A proponents that the police approach hasn’t been sufficient, and says progressives and minorities need to show more allied leadership to promote better answers.

"There’s been an epidemic of violence that the city’s been unable to address," he said. "We wanted to give money to those communities most impacted by violence." SFBG

28 years later


If you live in or truly love San Francisco, you’ve seen The Times of Harvey Milk. Rob Epstein’s 1984 movie is one of the best nonfiction features ever made. It’s also one of the greatest movies about this city. Only time will tell whether Stanley Nelson’s new documentary, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple, is a work of similar importance, but the fact that I’m even mentioning it in the same context as Epstein’s movie says something about the reserved precision of its journalistic reasoning and the overwhelming emotional force of its finale.

Of course, there is another reason to connect Jonestown and The Times of Harvey Milk. The murder of Supervisor Milk and Mayor George Moscone by Dan White took place 10 days after the deaths of Jim Jones, Congressman Leo Ryan, and more than 900 members of Jones’s Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana, on November 18, 1978. One tragedy claimed the life of a man who was already a civil rights hero, while the other led mainstream media and true crime sources to portray a human being as a monster. Just as Epstein’s movie profoundly humanizes Milk, Nelson’s movie digs beneath stereotypes of pure evil to reveal a different Jones than the one used to sell quickie television and paperback biographies.

Twenty-eight years later, the tragedy in Guyana and the Milk-Moscone murders still have an effect on San Francisco politics: In very different ways, they represent the death of progressive, district-based local activism and its afterlife. (Garrett Scott, codirector of the superb documentaries Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story and Occupation: Dreamland, was in the early stages of making a movie about the two events and their relationship to SF politics when he died earlier this year.) It seemed appropriate to have New York native Nelson discuss his movie with a contemporary political figure whose knowledge of local history runs deep. On the eve of Jonestown’s screenings at this year’s San Francisco International Film Festival, former San Francisco mayoral candidate Matt Gonzalez agreed to interview Nelson about the roads leading to the cataclysmic events of 1978 and the roads leading away from it.

MATT GONZALEZ I want to start by saying I had a typical impression of Jim Jones as a cult leader whose message was a hustle to get people into his church so he could take advantage of them when they were vulnerable. The thing that jumped out immediately to me in this film was that the fundamental part of his message throughout his ministry was this idea of racial integration and equality. The main component was there at the beginning, and in a place like Indiana, when Indianapolis was a Ku Klux Klan stronghold. It made me rethink and see him as someone who exhibited a certain genuineness and courage at that time.

Did that surprise you about him?

STANLEY NELSON The depth of his commitment surprised me. During one of the anniversaries of the deaths in Guyana, I heard some Peoples Temple members talking about it on [the radio]. I started thinking, “This involved over 900 people all these people weren’t crazy. So what was it that drove them to the church?”

Research made me realize that there was something much deeper going on and that this was a real political movement for a lot of the time the church was in existence.

MG Jones had been a member of a human rights commission out in Indiana. That also underscores a very self-conscious relationship between his church and what was happening in society.

SN Yes. [In the film] there’s that incredible audiotape when he’s giving his own history, where he talks about how his father didn’t want to let a black kid in his house. Jim Jones says, “I won’t come in either,” and he doesn’t see his father for years after that.

I don’t think it was a hustle at all, I think it was something he truly did believe in. Jim Jones was a very complicated individual. Everybody’s complicated there are no simple people but Jim Jones was much more complicated than most of us.

MG How hard was it to find folks in Indiana who knew Jones?

SN It was hard. But Lynn [Jones’s hometown] was very small, and we were able to find one person who could lead us to others. One thing that’s amazing when you do research is that you can go to high schools and grade schools, and they still have yearbooks. You find people’s names, use the phone book, and just start calling.

MG Over time, Peoples Temple gets a financial foundation because its members give their property to Jones. He’s then able to set up communal living arrangements. But when he’s in Indiana, if I’m to understand correctly, he’s selling monkeys door to door or something like that.

Was his message about communal living a part of the hustle, or do you think that was also a belief that he genuinely held?

SN I think he genuinely believed it. That component really came out of Ukiah, in Redwood Valley, where they [Peoples Temple] had this farm. People actually did travel with him from Indiana [in 1965], so how were they going to live when they’d sold their houses? They could live communally.

One thing that I found fascinating is that the older people who lived in these communal houses got better treatment than they ever could have gotten from the state or welfare or Social Security, because not only were they housed and fed, they were also loved. All of a sudden they had this family the old people were revered in Peoples Temple.

MG Would you say those two components racial integration and property held in common were the cornerstone of his preaching?

SN I think they were a big part, but it was also more than just racial integration. There was a sense that “we have this power that none of us has as individuals.” This was a time when a lot of people were smoking dope and dropping out, but Peoples Temple members were active. They saw themselves as activists; they saw themselves changing the world with the church as a tool.

MG In 1971 Richard Hongisto was elected sheriff of San Francisco, and it was a very liberal campaign. [George] Moscone was elected mayor in ’75, and we know Peoples Temple played a part in that. Hongisto’s election was an early sign of growing liberal strength in San Francisco, enough so that you can look at the Moscone victory and not simply say, “Peoples Temple caused this to happen.” But there’s no question given how close the election was that they played a major role. How do you see their political impact then?

SN Peoples Temple was part of the mainstream politics of the Bay Area. I’m from New York. I had no idea that Jim Jones was head of the Housing Commission in San Francisco or that politicians came to Peoples Temple events and gave incredible speeches praising Jim Jones. That was something I discovered while making the film.

It’s part of the history of Peoples Temple, but it was also like a birthday caketimes-12 to the politicians. The politicians didn’t look too far behind this gift horse, because [Peoples Temple] was highly organized. People did what Jim Jones said. At one point they had 13 buses. They’d fill up the buses and

MG a politician could have an instant press conference.

SN Just one phone call and Jim Jones could come with buses. You’d have 500 people at your march.

MG Do you get a sense that what happened in Jonestown reverberates politically today? The players then aren’t necessarily in politics. Jackie Speier still is, but Moscone, Willie Brown, and others are not holding political office. Still, do you see any aftereffects?

SN I’m not sure on a local level, but one thing I think it did was help kill the idea of communes in this country [at a time] when there was a strong movement saying, “Let’s live together; let’s live on the land; let’s pool our resources.” All of a sudden that was associated with “look at what happened in Guyana.”

MG As I understand it, there are about five survivors who were there when the massacre took place.

SN There were about five people actually there [who survived], and of those, there are, to my knowledge, three left alive. Two of them are in the film.

MG People closely associated with Peoples Temple spoke to you and revealed some, I would think, very difficult, personal stories about sexual assault or the use of authority to express dominance. Was it difficult to get people to talk honestly?

SN It was surprisingly easy for us to get people to talk honestly. Time has passed. Partly because of a play [Berkeley Rep’s The People’s Temple] that was produced here in the Bay Area, I think people understood that maybe we were ready to hear a different version of the story that was much deeper.

MG In the film you see that Jones is abusing prescription drugs and probably has a mounting paranoia that’s associated with some mental condition. Is there a sense that he changed while he was in San Francisco, or was Peoples Temple headed toward this sort of cultlike finality from its inception?

SN We interviewed people who knew Jim Jones when he was a kid, and they talk about the fact that he was not normal even as a six- or seven-year-old boy. But I think that his behavior did get more extreme as time went on. He had this incredible power within the church, and he was this warped individual, and the combination affected his behavior. In the end, when they [Peoples Temple members] are isolated in the jungle, that’s [a reflection of] who he is.

MG Tell me about the wealth of material you have. There is film footage of a healing that is rather dramatic and recordings of his various sermons.

SN Going in, I had no idea that there was so much film footage. But we found a guy in LA who had shot in Peoples Temple over two days using three cameras and 16-millimeter film and had lit the whole church. His footage is just incredibly beautiful. The healing service, Jim Jones preaching, and the congregation singing and dancing are all part of that. He’d sold off bits and pieces to places like NBC, but we came along at a time when he felt that the film he wanted to make would never get made, so he agreed to sell us some footage.

We found members of Peoples Temple who had footage that had never been seen before. There are actually shots from the plane of them going down [to Guyana] you can hear Jim Jones describing what he’s going to do and shots of Jones cutting through the jungle with machetes.

Also, we were working very closely with the California Historical Society library, which has a Peoples Temple collection.

MG There was a recent book [Dear People: Remembering Jonestown] that compiled some of that material.

SN Also, Jim Jones recorded himself and his sermons at Peoples Temple. They actually audio-recorded the night of the suicides. As the people are dying, Jim Jones is encouraging them to drink the poison. There are audiotapes of the children and the women and men screaming and dying.

MG As a filmmaker going into a project like this, are you trying to present the truth? Are you trying to present an alternative reading of what happened? Are you trying to warn people?

SN I’m not trying to warn people or tell an alternative history, although obviously what we did turns out to be an alternative history. I was just trying to tell this incredible story and tell it with as much honesty as I can. Everybody in the film had a part to play in Peoples Temple. We really wanted it to be a film told in the voices of the people who lived through it.

MG In my notes I have a reference to the various CIA-related theories [about what happened in Guyana]. You don’t pick that up in the film, and I wonder if you might say something about that.

SN There are different theories that Jim Jones was a CIA agent and this was all a scary mind-control experiment. You know, we found nothing to back that up, and it just didn’t make sense for us to go down that road.

MG As I understand it, a lot of these theories stem from [the fact] that the government withheld documents related to Jonestown. I guess Congressman [Leo] Ryan had a bill pending, the Hughes-Ryan amendment, that would have required that CIA covert operations be disclosed to Congress before those operations could be engaged in. You didn’t find anything related to that?

SN No, we didn’t find any hard evidence. I’m trying to operate as a filmmaker and also as a journalist.

MG So you had access to material

SN and we just didn’t find it [evidence].

MG I’d be interested in seeing what the original accounts were like in the local press in San Francisco during the time of Guyana and the Milk-Moscone murders. There was probably a sense of how Moscone’s opponents might use his ties to the Peoples Temple for political purposes.

SN One reason for the article in [the magazine] New West that first exposed Jim Jones and called for an investigation of Peoples Temple was to discredit Moscone. Part of the media follow-up was that “here is someone that Moscone supported.” So that was already happening around a year before the deaths in Guyana.

MG There are folks who find objectionable the idea of referring to the deaths as mass suicides. Did you reach a conclusion about that?

SN The film has no narration, so we didn’t refer to that other than in a title card at the end that I think calls it the largest mass murder-suicide in history. It’s impossible to say exactly what went on that day, but it is very clear that the kids something like 250 people who were under 18 were all murdered.

It was something we struggled with: “What do we call it: suicide or murder?” I think by the end of the film you feel that it’s kind of both at the same time.

MG If Jim Jones had died in Guyana prior to Ryan’s visit, is your sense in talking to the survivors or those associated with the church that this is a project that would have sustained itself?

SN I just don’t know.

MG You don’t want to engage in a bit of speculative history?

SN I think they had a real problem in sustaining themselves. They were growing food, but they were bringing in food too. Financially there was a burden.

One fascinating thing about that day is that there weren’t a lot of people who left with Congressman Ryan less than 20 people. It was more Jim Jones’s insanity, him thinking that 20 people leaving is devastating [that led to the massacre].

MG Other than the sermons, are there other records of his thoughts? Are there tracts and manifestos?

SN There are some things that he wrote. He didn’t write a definitive book of his philosophies, but there is a piece in which he picks apart fallacies in the Bible.

MG On the one hand, Jones could be critical of the contradictions in the Bible, and on the other, he could pick out the parts that were useful to him.

SN One thing that everybody said was that Jim Jones knew the Bible he wasn’t just talking off of the top of his head. He was incredibly smart, prepared, and cunning.

MG What did you learn from making the film?

SN It’s a film I’m glad to be finished with. All films are hard to make, but it really took a lot out of me. We’ve only had two screenings, and both times afterward there was a kind of shocked silence. One was for the members of Peoples Temple and their friends to let them be the first to see it.

MG How it was received?

SN The Peoples Temple members loved the film. We screened the film in a small theater, and we had a reception outside. The Peoples Temple members who were there with their families just stayed in the theater for about 15 minutes talking among themselves. It made me a little nervous [laughs]. But when they came out they all said they loved the film and felt it was a powerful way of telling their story — a story that hadn’t been told that way at all.


April 29, 6:15 p.m.; April 30, 7 p.m.; May 1, 7 p.m.; May 2, 4:30 p.m.

Part of the San Francisco International Film Festival

Various venues

Call (925) 866-9559 for tickets and (415) 561-5000 for more information.


Street fairs and fall festivals


IF YOU’VE been wondering where all the headline acts and theater companies go in that long gloomy stretch before the fall season, take a look at some of the entertainment featured in the following fairs and harvest festivals. Not only do Bay Area late-summer and autumn celebrations provide space for artists, craftpeople and nonprofit organizations to peddle their wares, many feature performers like Maxine Howard, Modern Jazz Quartet, the Asian American Dance Collective and many, many more. In part two of our third annual guide to Bay Area street fairs, we’ve listed TK celebrations from the beginning of August through October. Unless otherwise noted, the fairs — and the entertainment — are free. For more information, or in case you’d like to participate, call the telephone number listed at the end of each festival description.

August 1-2

Nihonmachi Street Fair The streets of Japantown come to life with live entertainment, food booths, arts and crafts and games. Headliners on Saturday include the top-40 group Desire, while Sunday features jazz recording artist Deems Tsutakawa. On both days, Spirit of Polynesia, the Asian American Dance Collective and the Chinatown Lion Dance Collective perform ethnic dances. The event also features Children’s World, with activities and arts and crafts designed especially for two-to 12-year-olds. 11 am-5 pm in Japantown, Post and Buchanan, SF. 922-8700.

Aug 7-???


August 7-9

ACC Craft Fair From custom-made saddles and porcelain lamps to cedarwood desks and ornamental jewelry, this fair highlights the distinctive work of 300 artists from across the nation, including 75 from Northern California. All of the artists are chosen on the basis of integrity of design and excellence of execution, and the show’s organizers say they hope to elevate crafts into a major industry and an important art form. Adults, $4; children under 12 free. Fri., 11 am-8 pm; Sat., 11 am-6 pm; Sun., 11 am-5 pm. Fort Mason Center, Piers 2 and 3, Bay and Laguna, SF. 526-5073.

August 15

Reggae Explosion, ’87 Presented in the style and tradition of Jamaica’s famous annual Sun Splash concert, this event features Haitian art, Caribbean crafts and Jamaican cuisine, as well as dance, poetry, raffles and prizes. Musical artists include the internationally known Don Carlos and his Freedom Fighters Band, Strictly Roots and the sweet steel drums of Val Serrant. $8 in advance; $10 at the door. 1-11 pm, Fort Mason Center, Pier 3. Sponsored by the Western Addition Cultural Center. 921-7976.

August 22-23

Palo Alto Celebrates the Arts Festival Wine tasting and dancing in the streets will bring even more sunshine to Palo Alto’s University Avenue. Wares include high-quality ceramics and pottery ranging from dinnerware and stoneware as well as paintings, prints and one-of-a-kind furniture to decorate and distinguish the home. 10 am-6 pm, University Ave., Palo Alto. Sponsored by the Downtown Palo Alto Arts Fair Committee. 346-4446.

August 22-September 27

The Renaissance Pleasure Fairs A large grove of live oaks provides the setting for spirited pageants and merry parades that attempt to recreate a 16th-century Elizabethan country village. The Northern California Renaissance Fair is an autumn harvest festival, with music and dancing, hearty foods and rare hand-made crafts. Queen Elizabeth and her court are among the more than 1,000 costumed entertainers. Visitors are encouraged to arrive in period dress and join the fun. Adults, $10.50; seniors, $8.50; children under 12 free. Weekends and Labor Day, 10 am-6 pm. Located at the Blackpoint Forest in Novato, Hwy 37 to the Blackpoint exit. Sponsored by the Living History Center. 620-0433.

August 27-30

San Francisco Fair and International Exposition This year’s fair has an international flavor with its theme “San Francisco: Gateway to the Pacific.” San Francisco’s sister cities of Manila, Osaka, Shanghai, Sydney, Taipei and Hong Kong each have their own pavilion, to exhibit the individuality and heritage of each city and country, and highlight San Francisco’s thriving relationship with her sister cities. The fair also features a wine pavilion, a San Francisco history exhibit and, of course, the famous contest program, featuring such past favorites as the “Financial District Strut,” the “Impossible Parking Space Race,” the winners of the Bay Guardian Cartoon Contest and new additions including the “SF Safe Sex Button,” and “Freeways to Nowhere.” Adults, $5; seniors, $3; youth aged 5-15, $2; children under 5, free. Aug. 27th is “Youth Day” (all youth 15 and under admitted free); Aug. 28th is “Senior Day” (seniors admitted for $1.50). 11 am-9 pm, Civic Auditorium, Brooks Hall, Civic Center Plaza, SF. 557-8758.

September 4-6

122nd Annual Scottish Gathering and Games Come join 40,000 Scots for three days of music, dancing, food and contests. Highlights include the Highland Dancing Championships and the Caber Tossing Championship (a caber is a log the size of a telephone pole tossed end-over-end for accuracy). More than 50 clans are expected to set up tents and display their family tartans and coats of arms. Tickets for the Friday night Musical Pageant and Twilight Tattoo are $5 grandstand; $6 box seat, 8 pm, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Sat. and Sun., adults, $11 one day, $16 both days; youth 11-16, $6 each day; seniors, $5 each day; children under 11, free. Sponsored by the Caledonian Club of San Francisco. 897-4442.

September 5-6

A la Carte, a la Park Here’s your chance to picnic with more than 60 top Bay Area restaurants — De Paula’s, Firehouse Bar-B-Q, Vanessi’s Nob Hill and Hunan, among others — presenting their specialties at special prices to benefit the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival’s Free-Shakespeare-In-The-Park program. Sample the great cuisines of the world while enjoying a series of classical and jazz performances and samplings from the drama of William Shakespeare. $2.50 voluntary donations encouraged. 11 am-6 pm, in Golden Gate Park’s Sharon Meadow on JFK Drive across from McClaren Lodge, SF. 441-4422.

September 5-7

Concord Fall Fest This fourth annual Labor Day weekend festival, held in Todos Santos Park, features grape stomps, chili cook-offs and a 10K run. Less energetic fairgoers can enjoy an open-air marketplace of arts and crafts, food booths and live music. 10 am-6 pm, Concord (take Willow Pass Road exit from 689). Sponsored by the Concord Chamber of Commerce. 346-4446.

September 5-7

Sausalito Art Festival One of Northern California’s largest outdoor fine arts exhibitions, the 35th annual art festival is held along the beautiful Sausalito waterfront. More than 100 artists and craftsmen from around the world exhibit a total of 4,000 works of art. A variety of non-stop entertainment will be provided, along with 26 international food booths. Festivities begin Friday night, Sept. 4th, with fireworks and a black-tie party. The Breakers to Bay run begins along the Pacific at Fort Cronkhite in Marin at 8:30 am (register by August 18th). Adults, $3; children 6-12, $2; under 6, free. 10 am-6 pm, Bridgeway and Litho, Sausalito. Sponsored by the Sausalito Chamber of Commerce. 332-0505.

September 7

Arts Explosion This Labor Day festival celebrates the end of summer with a bang (fireworks) and launches the fall arts season. Complementing the showcase of outstanding Bay Area musicians and dance companies will be original performance works; “art by the yard” and a sculpture “glue booth” for children of all ages; an “Arts Row” with a variety of opportunities to interact with local arts organizations. Children under 12 free; adults, $1. 11 am-9 pm, Estuary Park on Embarcadero West, Oakl. Sponsored by the Oakland Festival of the Arts. 444-5588.

September 12-13

Russian River Jazz Festival Bring your suntan lotion, beach chairs, blankets and swimsuits, and swing to the sounds of the legendary Nancy Wilson, Maynard Ferguson and High Voltage, the Wayne Shorter Quintet and a host of others. This year, the festival features two stages set at the river’s edge, with a spectacular backdrop of redwood-covered mountains. Food and crafts will also be available. $23 single day; $42 for both days. Located at Midway Beach near Guerneville. (707) 887-1502.

September 12-13

15th Annual San Francisco Blues Festival The oldest ongoing blues festival in the U.S. offers two days of performances by blues greats from around the country, an unmatched view of the Bay and a superb array of New Orleans and Louisiana cuisine. Saturday’s music lineup includes Johnny Winter, Lonnie Brooks and Oakland’s own Maxine Howard, and on Sunday Roomful of Blues, Albert Collins and Memphis Slim play. $10 in advance; $12 at the door; $16 for a special two-day ticket available in advance only. Noon-6 pm at the Great Meadow, Fort Mason Center, Marina at Laguna, SF. 826-6837.

September 13

24th Street Merchants’ Cultural Festival The 24th Street Fair celebrates Latin American Independence as well as creating a community gathering for artists, residents and merchants. Visitors can enjoy Latin American food and arts and crafts with a Latin theme. A plethora of information booths provides literature on community activities and five stages continuous entertainment by local groups. 11 am-6 pm, 24th St. from South Van Ness to Potrero, SF. Sponsored by the Mission Economic and Cultural Association. 826-1401.

September 18-20

30th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival Monterey Jazz Festival swings again, this year featuring more than 25 superstars, including Ray Charles, The Modern Jazz Quartet, B.B. King, Toshiko Akiyoshi, Etta James and Bobby McFerrin. The event also features food and merchandise booths, and the sponsor, MCI Communications, offers visitors the opportunity to call anywhere in the U.S. free of charge. Although the main stage events are sold out, grounds admissions tickets are still available and allow the bearer access to the outdoor Garden Stage and the indoor Nightclub, which host many of the headliners. $15 a day. Fri., 5 pm-midnight; Sat., noon-midnight; Sun., noon-10 pm. 775-2021.

September 19-20

Mill Valley Festival More than 100 artists, selected by a jury, exhibit their wares at this arts-and-crafts fair set in a beautiful redwood grove. Food, continuous on-stage entertainment and activities for children make this one of the premiere fine arts festivals in the country. Voluntary donations requested. 10 am-6 pm, Old Mill Park, Throckmorton and Old Mill, Mill Valley. 381-0525.

September 19-20

Pan-Pacific Exposition Art and Wine Festival This city-wide festival is held on the site of the 1915 World’s Fair. Horse-drawn carriages and vintage cars transport visitors to the glories of bygone days as the festival celebrates the highlights of San Francisco history. Enjoy ragtime music, a historic fashion show and pennyfarthing bicycle races. Several wine gardens offer premium wines from select California vineyards. 10 am-6 pm, Marina Green, Lyon and Marina, across from the Palace of Fine Arts, SF. Sponsored by the San Francisco Council of District Merchants. 346-4446.

September 20

Folsom: Dimension IV! Now in its fourth year, this fair has established itself as the “End of Summer” celebration. Staged on the equinox of 1987, the fair again features the mascot “Megahood,” who breathes fire and smoke over the crowds. Entertainment includes the Folsom All Stars, the Zasu Pitts Memorial Orchestra and Viola Wills. Expect high-energy performances and technological innovations and one of the most diverse display of local artistry and crafts. The fair is a benefit for the San Francisco Aids Emergency fund and the South of Market Community Association. 11 am-7 pm, Folsom between 7th and 12th St., SF. Sponsored by Budweiser Corporation. 863-8579.

September 26-27

The Pacific Coast Fog Fest Visitors to the Pacific coastline are treated to historical and humorous displays at the Fog Fest. Diners may feast on seafood and of course fogcutters are the featured cocktails. Vintage cars, arts, crafts, continuous entertainment and fog-calling contests make this a welcome new Bay Area event. 10 am-6 pm. Located on Palmetto Ave., between Shoreview and Santa Rosa in Pacifica, Hwy 1 to Paloma exit. Sponsored by the City of Pacifica. 346-4446.

October 2-4

Fiesta Italiana A weekend family event, this year’s fair promises to be the “Besta Festa.” The celebration of Italian-American culture features Italian cooking demonstrations, wine tasting and grape stomping. Mayor Dianne Feinstein is scheduled to cut the pasta ribbon to open the ceremonies, Sergio Franchi will headline with two shows a day and the Italian design Ford Concept Car is on display. Fireworks are scheduled for the end of each day. Adults $8; children $1.50; Seniors and disabled $5 (free from noon-6 pm on the 2nd). Noon-midnight, noon-10 pm on Sun. Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf, Shed A and C, SF. Sponsors include Pepsi, Ford Motor Co., Budweiser, Sony, Lucky Stores, EFS Savings and the Port of San Francisco. 673-3782.

October 4th

Castro Street Fair Started in the back room of Harvey Milk’s camera store in 1974, this neighborhood fair has become a city-wide event. Musicians, bellydancers and jugglers appear with prom queens, urban cowboys, visitors from outer space and the Gay Freedom Day Marching Band and Twirling Corps. A variety of music, comedy acts and more than 200 arts and crafts displays are also scheduled. Castro between Market and 19th, SF. Sponsored by the Castro Street Fair. 346-2640.

October 9-25

Harvest Festival For three weekends, the nation’s largest touring festival of handmade crafts, fine art, music, theater and cooking transforms Brooks Hall into a colorful 19th-century village. The event features bluegrass and country bands, continuous stage entertainment, jugglers, acrobats and wandering minstrels, as well as the hundreds of unique shops that line the walkways. Center Stage headliners include Riders in the Sky, and the famed musical comedians the Brass Band, winners of the top prize at the Edinburgh, Scotland Performing Arts Festival. Adults $5; children 6-11, $2.50; children under 6, free. Fri., noon-10 pm; Sat., 10 am-10 pm; Sun., 10 am-7 pm, Brooks Hall, Civic Center. 974-4000.

October 10-11

Art and All That Jazz on Fillmore A second-year revival in remembrance of Fillmore Street’s heyday of music, known in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s for its hot jazz and blues clubs. Two days to celebrate San Francisco’s jazz roots with fine arts, fine food and fine wine in outdoor cafes. 10 am-6 pm, Fillmore between Post and Clay, SF. Sponsored by the Fillmore Street Merchants’ Association, the Pacific Heights Homeowners’ and Merchants’ Association. 346-4446.

October 11

Montclair Village Fair The winding streets of Montclair Village provide a charming locale for this neighborhood fair, where 50 artisans sell crafts and local schools, business and nonprofit organizations sell food. This year’s fair has a circus theme, with strolling flutists and meandering mimes helping to create a carefree atmosphere. A pancake breakfast kicks things off and is followed by hayrides in Montclair park. 11 am-5 pm, LaSalle at Mountain, Oakl. Sponsored by the Montclair Business Association. 339-1000.

October 17-18

Half Moon Bay Art and Pumpkin Festival Artists and craftspeople from across the United States display wares in more than 250 booths and all-day entertainment features blue grass to rock-and-roll at this “something for everyone” festival. As you might expect, pumpkin goodies abound and the fair kicks off with two pie-eating contests. Other events include a Pumpkin Festival Run and a pumpkin-carving contest. 10 am-5 pm, Main Street in Downtown Half Moon Bay. Sponsored by the Coastside Chamber of Commerce. 726-5202. *