Head First

Head First: Explosive Sexual Healing hurts so … good?


I’ve got a lot of repressed issues, and I came to San Francisco to try to get them resolved. But I never imagined a possible solution to my problems would be to have some guy finger me while his wife does reiki over my naked body and I scream bloody murder. 

But this kind of thing is an option in the Bay Area, and it’s called Explosive Sexual Healing (ESH). The practice uses things like pain, pleasure, breath work, spiritual alchemy, vocal therapy, and g-spot massage to access emotions and trauma stored in the body. The idea is that once these deep-rooted issues are discovered, they can be dealt with and ideally released. 

ESH isn’t more than a few years old and there are only a few practitioners in California. I did a session with Becky and Cory Center — a husband and wife team that got married four months after meeting each other. When they met, Cory had been released on probation from having been in prison for bank robbery for three years, and Becky was transitioning from her life as a math teacher to a spiritual healer. They met at Landmark Forum, they clicked, and now they’re ESH practitioners. 

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think this practice was weird. But would that stop me from trying it? No way. I was down to sexually explode.

When I arrived at their home office in Alameda, I sat with them at a table in their entryway and we started the Awakening Session — which involved an alchemical card reading by Cory. He pulled out three cards that he drew himself with marker, laid them on the table in front of me, and told me of my past, present, and future. The reading was pretty accurate, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the detailed form I filled out earlier about my personal history and future desires could have aided in his fortune telling.

Next, they gave me a description about what to expect in the session — explaining that there would be both pain AND pleasure. They asked me about what I wanted healed, and I said that I wanted to stop feeling guilty for feeling satisfied with my accomplishments. I also said I wanted to feel like my brain was just as valuable as my body. They then asked me to come up “affirmations,” which were positive statements that I’d like recited during ESH that would reprogram my brain to think the way I want it to.

“They should be as simple as what a child would say,” Cory said. “As long as they ring true for you.”

So after a lot of back and forth, we came up with the basic statements: “I am free,” “I am wanted,” “I am desired,” “I am important.” These are all nice things to think about, but I thought they were a bit too vague to mend anything specific going on in my head.

Next, they led me into their living room where there was a massage table, psychedelic music, and a blue and green peacock painting above the fireplace. I kept my clothes on and lied on the table.

They taught me how to do what they call “the big draw” — which involved me breathing in and out really fast, tightening my body up into a vertical crunch, then relaxing back onto the table. 

After that, I flipped over onto my stomach.

They told me to relax and breathe while Becky did reiki over my body. 

“Something is telling me you’re ready, Krissy,” Becky said. “That doesn’t have to mean anything to you. Just know it’s saying ‘You’re ready. You’re ready.’” 

When I was finally good and relaxed, Cory started to knead his hands into my muscles — and not in an “Ahh that feels good” way, but in an “I’m gonna leave marks” way. I knew there was going to be pain, I just underestimated how much. I clenched my jaw. They made it clear that I could tell them to stop touching me whenever I wanted to, but I wanted to commit to the experience, so I hung in there.

They told me to scream, but I’m not much of a yeller when something hurts — I’m more of a grunter. I let out a few shouts that weren’t quite to their satisfaction. Becky told me to scream louder, so I did until my throat hurt.

After the process went on for many minutes, my body started reacting to the heat, the pain, and the screaming. I felt like the table was vibrating, and my hands kept cramping up into fists from all the stimulation. Becky told me to kick my legs and pound my hands into the table to get the tingles out. It was both terrifying and embarrassing. But what could I do? I wanted my hands to stop cramping. So I kicked around like a child having a tantrum until my fingers relaxed. 

Finally the pain part was over, and I flipped over onto my back. They blindfolded me, then ran their hands over my body and crotch to top off all that pain with a little pleasure. Then they told me it was time for me to go reflect on my own.

They sent me off for a dinner break. I ate a sandwich and sat on the steps of a building outside — feeling really confused and a little lost. I didn’t think it was responsible of them to leave me alone like that for an hour after such an emotional beating. But I was willing to believe it was a part of their strange methods, and I let it slide.

When I got back, I talked to them about feelings and thoughts that were coming up for me – like how I felt kind of high and had trouble writing in my notebook on account of loopy-ness. 

Soon, I stripped naked and was back on the table, face down. 

“Ow, shit,” I said as Cory shoved his elbow hard into my ass muscles. 

“How would you rate your pain right now?” he asked. 

“Ugh, an eight?” I said. 

“Well, your voice is at a three.”

Becky told me to scream as loud as I could. So I sucked in a deep breath and screamed. 

“Your scream is coming from your throat right now,” she said. “Do it from your belly.” 

Becky told me to match her volume, and she started screaming. So we were both wailing while Cory pressed hard into every part of me he could find — even the inside of my crack.

“Who do you want to speak to?” Becky asked.

I said nothing at first because I had no idea.

“Who? It can be anyone,” she said.

“Men?” I was really guessing. 

She told me to shout what I wanted to say to them. Fortunately, I had let go of my shame much earlier on in the session, so I started yelling shit.


The point of this part of the session is to find physical pain held in the body and then release it. And as weird as it was, when I screamed like a banshee and cussed at dudes, the pain actually did stop in my ass — even though Cory was digging into it with his elbow. 

“We moved the pain right out,” he said, a satisfied tone in his voice. 

It was time for the pleasure part.

I got up to take a piss, then returned and lied down on my back, exhausted as fuck. I was blindfolded again and Cory slipped and slid his fingers over my sweat drenched body.

“Finally,” I thought. “Time for an orgasm.”

I was wrong.

It was actually time to endure a 10 minute tease session, where I was getting fingered and brought to the brink of orgasm without being allowed to come. And on top of that, they made me say my affirmations while I was trying to get off. So I was screaming, “I am free!” and “I am wanted!” at the top of my lungs while trying to focus on having an orgasm. Finally, I had one, and it was pretty good (definitely juicy). But then it was time for another 10 minutes of teasing, and they brought me right up to the brink of coming, and then stopped me. I did the “big draw” and collapsed back onto the table. They left me alone for a bit.

After awhile, I slowly sat up, feeling like I’d just slept for three days and like I weighed an extra 30 pounds. 

I went back to the entryway and sat down at the table with them. They were kind and checked in with me and my emotions. I felt high, tired, but weirdly alert, confused, and at the same time, relaxed. I was in glass case of emotion.

A few days later Cory called me for a follow-up to check in on me. The two of them recognized that ESH can be jarring, and they were there to make sure I was okay — which I appreciated.

I think the intensity of sensation during the session induced heightened states of awareness which led me to have deep thoughts. Did those deep thoughts help me to stop feeling guilty about being satisfied with my accomplishments? No. Do I feel like my brain is just as valuable as my body? No. But to be fair, to fully heal, you’re supposed to do six sessions, not just one.

ESH could potentially open someone’s mind to new things, and I could see how it would be helpful to a person stuck in a mental or emotional rut. But I don’t think I’d go back for another rendezvous any time soon. I think I prefer a healing experience with more sex and less explosion.

Where are all the vanilla sexuality events?


I moved to the Bay Area this year with the intention of diving head first into kinky chaos. As far as repressed small town chicks go, I guess you could say I’m a daredevil. When I expressed my desire for sexploration to the locals, they had helpful suggestions ranging from fucking a sybian to getting hung from ceilings with rope.

And even though all that sounds fun (a little porny, but fun), I couldn’t help but notice people weren’t concerned with easing me into things. (Where’s the foreplay, guys?) And in all the excitement surrounding sexual possibility, I realized I hadn’t explored good old-fashioned, vanilla sexuality. So I decided to find an event that covered the basics of sexual energy and human connection. Easy right? Actually, no.

It’s surprisingly difficult to find a sex gathering in the Bay Area that doesn’t involve kink, fetish, or some sort of spiritual sex magic. I searched for weeks, and just when I’d about given up hope, I discovered sex educator Elisabeth Bolaza’s SexyHuman Workshop. It was advertised as a singles event, but it wasn’t a matchmaking mixer, and it was the first gathering I’d seen where people weren’t expected to learn how to meditate, grope, or fuck each other.

Like me, Bolaza is a transplant to SF; she moved here from a somewhat conservative town in southern California four years ago. Even though she adores the sex community here, she’s noticed that wild events dominate the scene. She thinks “alternative” events are awesome, but recognizes that most people don’t relate to sexuality that way. If people don’t understand the lure of sex parties or BDSM, they can feel like disempowered prudes in SF’s hyper-sexual community.

“In the Bay Area, there’s a lot of sexuality work being done. For more private folks, it’s a little bit scary,” Bolaza said. “So I’m trying to bring people into that conversation in a way that feels safe.”

So I went to the SexyHuman Workshop with the intention of taking a breather from my outrageous sexploits and getting back to basics.

The workshop was held at The Hub in Oakland — a creative alliance-esque place where you can rent meeting rooms and collaborate with artists. The room where the workshop was taking place had sexy ambiance, with deep blue walls, soft lighting, and a snack table with figs and chocolate covered gummy bears. 

There were less than 20 people in attendance — partly because this was the first SexyHuman event ever and also because Bolaza was cautious and didn’t want to overwhelm anyone with a crowd. The attendees were diverse in both gender and race, but all of them looked equally uncomfortable. Many of them had never been to something like this before despite the fact that they were natives.

To start, Bolaza asked everyone to share why they were there. A 23-year-old copywriter expressed her desire to learn what she wants from sexuality in general. A lady with long brown hair asked how it’s even possible to fit sexuality into her life when she’s so busy. An older gentleman revealed that he’d just gotten out of 22-year marriage and didn’t know what it was like to be sexual outside of a relationship. And a 20-something guy said he wanted to stop being a “love retard” and actually pick up on erotic energy from women when he meets them. 

None of these people seemed like they were ready to try bondage or attend an Intro to Tantra class. They just wanted to learn what sexuality meant for them.

At the beginning, Bolaza got a few eye rolls when she told everyone to pretend to hold imaginary balls of energy in their hands and share them with the people next to them  —  but she was quickly forgiven for that hippie moment when she started her lecture.

Bolaza was wise to the discomfort of her audience and kept the language concise and to the point. She borrowed ideas from ancient philosophies, but kept the words tailored to the everyman and taught the basics.

She talked about how extra stimulation and intensity aren’t actually the keys to orgasm, no matter how much our culture and city may hype up whacky sex positions and fancy vibrators. She explained that men come off creepy when they hit on women because they haven’t learned to connect their minds with their crotches. She even talked about how it’s okay to be attracted to someone, even if the feeling isn’t reciprocated.

All of these ideas may seem obvious to some, but in the discussions that followed, people admitted to never thinking about these things. The workshop only touched the tip of sexuality, and the topics may seem banal to sexual veterans. But to those in attendance, these ideas were brand new — even to those who’ve lived here all their lives. If natives don’t know this stuff, then there’s a need for this kind of education.

I’m not saying that SF doesn’t offer ANY vanilla events outside of speed dating (I’m sure they exist) — but I definitely had trouble finding them. The SF sex culture is so appealing to outsiders like me because it’s supposed to have a space for everyone. Either newbie sex events need better advertising or SF needs to make room for the sexually tame. Let’s add some vanilla to that swirl.


Head First runs on the SFBG Sex SF blog every Thursday. Readers can contact Krissy and view her previous work at www.krissyeliot.com.


Head First: On “dysfunction,” freaking out, and my huge, THC-fueled orgasms


I have very little experience with marijuana — mostly because I’m from a small, East Coast town where such a substance is referred to as “the Devil’s lettuce.”  So when Mathew Gerson, founder and inventor of the THC lube, Foria, offered me the opportunity to test out his new product, I was intrigued. 

Foria is supposed to enhance female sexual pleasure. I’ve personally never had issues with orgasms (I can hump a chair and come), but I was interested to see how some oil could make them feel even better. So I decided to try it.

Foria is THC and coconut oil mixed together. The THC functions as an aphrodisiac that relaxes you, and the coconut oil smells nice and helps to keep the PH balanced in your vagina. On Foria’s website, the product is advertised as an “all-natural plant-based medicinal.” When I asked Gerson about what inspired him to create Foria, he said that 49 percent of women in American culture report some kind of sexual disorder, and he wanted to lend a hand (or two fingers, if you will).

There aren’t sufficient facts to prove that female sexual displeasure is a physical malady, even though medical companies have been trying to sell women bullshit medication for decades (see the documentary Orgasm Inc. for the details on that heinous scheme). I think that if women have problems with arousal, the dysfunction lies in the failings of society (i.e. “pussy pounding” in mainstream porn, religious slut-shaming, etc.) and not in their physical bodies.

When I questioned Gerson on the terminology, he said: “I’m not a scientist or a physician. I use [dysfunction] hesitantly. It’s more about dissatisfaction,” said Gerson. “[The word] ‘dissatisfaction’ feels better because it’s more addressable directly, without medical intervention. If you’re dissatisfied, you feel more empowered to do something about it, but if you’ve got a dysfunction, then you feel like you have to go see an expert.”

So the language is sticky. It’s a new company. He’s a nice enough guy. I decided to let it slide… into my crotch.

The first time I tried Foria, I followed the directions to a T. I spread eagled on my bed, applied the smallest suggested dose (four sprays), massaged the Foria into my crotch, and waited 30 minutes for the THC to soak in. Then, I masturbated for 20 whole minutes and… nothing happened. Well, nothing different than usual, anyway.

The second time I tried it, I used six sprays, then masturbated for 20 minutes and… nothing happened. I even squirted four spritzes into my mouth to see if it would take the edge off. I didn’t feel any different and didn’t orgasm any harder. 

I sent Gerson a text to tell him that the Foria bottle was faulty, to which he replied: “Expectations create residual stress in the body that actually inhibit plant medicine from doing its thing.” 

So if I was thinking or worrying too much about orgasm, then Foria would have no effect? Isn’t this product for women who are worried about or can’t have orgasms? 

I was convinced the bottle was shoddy. So in my confident bout of ignorance, I sprayed the highest dose of Foria (8 sprays) into my mouth, convinced it would have no effect.

Let me take a moment to offer you some advice: If you’re a small town chick with little to no experience with drugs of any kind, DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES  spray 16 mg of THC into your mouth when you’re alone in your house on a Tuesday afternoon. 


Because you will panic and call your ex-girlfriend who you haven’t spoken to in years and she won’t be in the mood to walk you through a bad high. You will open all of the drawers and cabinets in your house and trip over them in your daze. You will try to eat fruit salad, but because you’re so high, the watermelon will taste like rubbing alcohol. You will freak out and let your brain trick you into thinking you’re having a heart attack (you’re not). And you will keep telling yourself that no one has ever died from pot until you stick your finger down your throat and puke for 10 minutes.

So, yeah, the bottle wasn’t faulty. Hindsight’s a dick, isn’t it? I decided to give the Foria one more go. 

The next night, I sprayed on the oil, waited a whole hour, and then my boyfriend and I had sex. Really, really good sex. And finally… something happened. 

I had a super long orgasm. It lasted around 45 seconds, when usually my orgasms last about 10-15. My boyfriend’s wrist and tongue started cramping. When I finally stopped coming, my abs hurt and I was so out of breath that I told my boyfriend to wait a couple minutes before continuing. So we took a break, and then we did it again. And again. And again. And then I was so tired from having orgasms that I thought I would pass out.

The third try was a charm. 

I believe that all women can have fully functioning orgasmic vaginas with nothing but patience, a loving partner, and a map of the clitoris. But since Foria actually worked for me (eventually) to produce longer orgasms, then I can only imagine how it would help to enhance the sexual experience of someone who can’t come at all. I don’t think that women should permanently rely on a substance to get them off, but I see no reason why Foria can’t be used as a tool to help women begin to connect with their bodies.

Plus, giving people the opportunity to get high off pussy encourages the act of cunnilingus — and Lord knows society needs more practice with that.

Head First


HEAD FIRST I never liked anything in my ass until I spent a couple hours with Charlie Glickman. I met him at a party in Oakland while I was complaining about 20-something guys and their tendency to try to spear my anus with their dicks. Having spent most of my life in suburban America, I was only exposed to boys who had nothing but Internet porn and impatience, so even though I’d been interested in trying butt stuff, I never had the opportunity. I was close to giving up hope.

So in a small huddle of party goers, I voiced my desperation for someone who knew how to touch an asshole. I needed an expert. A hero.

“You know I wrote a book on that, right?” Glickman chimed in, holding his paper plate of vegetable kabobs out in front of him. He had a confident grin. So a few weeks later, I gave him the chance to back it up.

I didn’t know there were such things as sexological bodyworkers. But apparently, there are people certified by the state of California to stick their fingers inside of you and figure out why you can’t come as hard as you’d like. Glickman is one of those people. Don’t get it twisted, though: body workers are like private tutors for people who want to have better sex and experience more pleasure in their bodies. Their aim is to teach. They’re not prostitutes.

A few weeks post-party, I was sitting in his office, which is a small room with a window, a couch, and a massage table draped in a white sheet. Before I arrived I’d spoken on the phone with him about what to expect during the session and had filled out an intake form about my sexual history. We sat on the couch and talked about how we could do anal massage for relaxation only, but we could also do an erotic massage (with orgasms), if I so chose. And I did indeed choose.

He took my hand. It was time to practice consent.

“Tell me to take my hands off you,” Glickman said.

So I did. Then I told him to put them back. This was his way of showing me I had control over what happened in the session. I wasn’t worried.

He instructed me to sit on the massage table and told me he was going to teach me to breathe through my ass, which meant pushing out with my butt hole.

“I want you to try to kiss the table with your anus when you inhale,” Glickman said. He breathed in and out with me as my asshole made out with the table’s surface. My body relaxed with each breath of my badonk.

I took off my clothes and lied face down on the massage table, wondering if he saw the pimple next to my nipple. I shrugged. This guy probably gets poop on his gloves. My zit is the least of his worries.

If you think it’s strange that I’d put myself in such a compromising position after having so many bad experiences in the past, I don’t blame you. It’s not like I forgot the burning sensation of many a helmet head diving into my foxhole. So why risk putting myself through more misery?

Though some may see my tenacious try-try again attitude as ignorant, I’d like to see my curiosity not as something to kill the cat, but something to nurture the sex kitten within. If all the women who had endured some kind of sexual abuse just closed their legs and asses up for good, the human race would probably be doomed. The world needs brave ladies.

Plus, I came to San Francisco to try the things that small Maryland towns can’t offer. I came here to do the things other women don’t have the courage to try. I came here to be the ray of sexual hope in the dark hole that is this universe.

So there I was, ass out on the table, ready to take one for humanity.

Glickman rubbed me down with some coconut oil and massaged me a bit before putting on a pair of purple, non-latex gloves. He asked me if it was okay if he touched my ass. I gave him an “Mhm.”

Glickman ran his finger around the outside of my asshole for awhile to get my ass to relax, explaining that the external sphincter muscles were the ones I could control. After asking if I was ready, he started to rub the inside, telling me that he was touching the internal sphincter muscles, which I had no control over.

“Is that why this feels like I’m taking a shit?” I asked.

“It can mimic that sensation,” he replied.

The littlest movement of his finger created huge waves of feeling in my butt. Sometimes, without warning, my ass would clamp down defensively on his finger like a bear trap. The idea that dudes just wanted to immediately cram their dicks into that tiny hole became even more unbelievable as Glickman moved his finger inside of me. I wanted to smack all those dumb 20-somethings upside their heads. Like, what the fuck, guys?

We did the relaxing anal massage for awhile, and Glickman asked me if I wanted the session to get erotic. I was down. So I flipped over onto my back.

He handed me a mirror and I held it between my legs so he could show me what he was doing. He did things that no man or woman had ever done to me, and he taught me to do them to myself. (By the way, there’s this particular way of rubbing the insides of the outer labia that makes your crotch freak out in a good way. FREAK…OUT!)

All of it felt so good that before I knew it, I was ready for a finger all the way in my ass. Then there were fingers in my vagina. Then there were fingers on my clitoris. Then there were TWO fingers in my ass. It felt like there were fingers everywhere. “How many fingers does this guy have?” I thought, as I had a bunch of big, sweaty orgasms.

When the session was over, he left me to bask in the aftermath of coming a lot. I slowly sat up and stared through the back window at a few construction dudes throwing lumber into a truck in the parking lot below. I felt completely relaxed and grounded in my body. My hands and feet tingled. I got up to take a piss.

So now I know that I can have an orgasm with something in my ass, but only when someone is stimulating my cooch. (The clitoris will always be the MVP.) Ass play isn’t a hopeless venture, but any guys who try to rip me a new one certainly are.

As I slinked out of the bathroom and curled up on the couch, Glickman said I looked like a cat who’d eaten something delicious. I nodded and smiled, and he had a look of pride, like he’d saved a stray in need. He proved that fingers in the ass ain’t bad — I took two for humanity.

You can read Krissy Eliot’s Head First column every Thursday on the Guardian’s Sex SF blog (www.sfbg.com/sexsf) and read her past work at www.krissyeliot.com.

New SFBG columnist dives into SF sex culture head first


[Editor’s Note: The Bay Guardian welcomes and presents our new sex columnist, Krissy Eliot, whose columns you can find here every Thursday and in our print edition on an occasional basis, including in next week’s Sex Issue. Enjoy.]

I moved to the Bay Area seven months ago to escape my repressed, small town life on the East Coast and learn what it’s like to live in a sexually liberated culture. I intended to bump elbows and uglies with sex educators and activists and get a job writing about those experiences. I fantasized about becoming a sexual avenger for the oppressed millennial women being churned out of the small towns in America. I came here to make a difference.

And I’ve gotten off to a good start.

I’ve had a stranger stroke my clitoris at an orgasmic meditation conference, attended a lesbian sex party, shared a sexy tale on stage at Bawdy Storytelling, experimented with THC lube, and gone to a cuddle therapy session (and these are just some of my adventures). 

These activities may seem normal to a born and bred San Franciscan, but this place is like another dimension for me.

I lived in rural Maryland for most of my life. Unlike SF, we didn’t have orgasmic meditation or diverse lifestyles. We had churches, liquor stores, and a Wal Mart. I lived in a suburban area that was surrounded by farmland (I’ll never forget the acrid stench of cow poop every morning as I rode the bus through the winding country roads of my youth, Walkman clutched in my sweaty teen fingers).

There were about five black people in my high school, one Asian person, and two lesbians (who were basically the school pariahs). The rest of the students were hillbillies, stoners who loathed hillbillies, or members of the marching band. And no matter what group you belonged to, there was a 99 percent chance that you had conservative, religious parents who believed sex out of wedlock made you a heathen. (Reading the Scarlet Letter in 10th grade reinforced these life lessons). I was no exception to the status quo — with a God-fearing mother and a socially suicidal spot in the marching band’s color guard squad. 

I had no sexual prospects.

That’s not to say I didn’t experiment as a little kid. My girl friends and I were licking each other’s vulvas in my parents’ basement when I was 7 years old — cuddled together on pillows inside forts my older brother built with his Mickey Mouse blankets. I think I realized sex acts were condemned when my brother told my parents that I’d flashed my coochie at his friends. I remember hiding at the top of the stairs, tears running down my cheeks, shaking — as I was called down to the living room where my father was seated on a chair, waiting to bend me over his knee. 

For me, SF is such a strange place not because of the abundance of sex, but because of the blasé attitudes towards it. 

A popular local host and MC told me that none of my ideas on sex would shock anyone because the locals here have “seen and heard it all” and plenty of people in SF already write about sex. An editor of a local newspaper told me that I couldn’t possibly “out sex” anyone in my writing. And while I was sitting in the corner of a bohemian tea party in the city, I rattled off my desire for coital adventure to some hippie who told me that I “possess a curiosity and perspective on sex that most San Franciscans don’t.”

It seems that the sex scene in SF has taken on air of cockiness. A “we’re the big dogs” point of view. And since I’m a small town pup, it seems people expect me to earn my place in the pack, conform, and fade into the background.

I’m not trying to forge new ground with a freakier sex act (it might literally kill me with the shit San Franciscans do), and I’m certainly not calling myself a sexpert. I’m just want to filter a culture through a fresh lens. Why do the people of SF seem to think this isn’t valuable? Has America’s fabled sexual utopia grown into an old dog unwilling to learn new tricks? Or more importantly — new perspectives?

The fact that the people here seem so jaded makes me wonder if there’s an entirely different sexual dysfunction here — one of boredom or arrogance. Have I escaped one oppressive place to fall victim to another? Has living in a sexually charged bubble over the years caused the locals to be less open to the ideas of outsiders?

I guess I’ll find out.


Readers can contact Krissy and view her previous work at www.krissyeliot.com.

Our Weekly Picks



Dita Von Teese

With a seductive and sexy nod to the past, modern pin-up and burlesque queen Dita Von Teese has been at the forefront of reviving a nearly lost art form for two decades now. Bringing back the sense of classic style and glamour of the golden days of Hollywood and meshing it with the tantalizing teasing of the old-time burlesque circuit, Von Teese returns to the city this week with her “Burlesque: Strip, Strip, Hooray!” show, a live revue featuring not only her own titillating talents, but a host of other performers as well, including Dirty Martini, Catherine D’Lish, and Lada Nikolska from the legendary “Crazy Horse Paris.”

(Sean McCourt)

Through Fri/28, 7:30pm, $40


1805 Geary, SF

(415) 346-6000


“Harvey Milk 2013”

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, the world’s first chorus comprised of openly gay men, had its first unofficial public performance at a candlelight vigil for Harvey Milk. The group has since become known for its dazzling holiday concerts, but its historical origins mean it’s fitting that — as part of its 35th anniversary celebration — SFGMC is presenting the world premiere of I Am Harvey Milk. Starring its composer Andrew Lippa as Milk, with guest soprano Laura Benanti, this blend of theater and choral works traces the courageous life of the slain politician, with accompaniment by the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony. (Cheryl Eddy)

Wed/26-Fri/28, 8pm, $25-60

Nourse Theatre

201-299 Hayes, SF




Clay Shirky

“I’m trying to figure out what difference communications technologies makes to society,” Clay Shirky remarked in a 2011 interview. “What is it about the Internet, what is it about mobile phones, applications built on top of them, that changes how we behave.” The New York University professor has become one of the world’s foremost authorities on gauging how technology has shifted social action. His 2010 book Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age outlined how web tools have provided new opportunities for creation in place of consumption, pointing out dynamics such as self-publication and charitable crowdfunding. Shirky has championed government transparency in recent editorials exploring the high-profile leaks of US surveillance programs. (Kevin Lee)

6:30 p.m., $20 (member, $12; students $7)

Commonwealth Club

595 Market, SF

(415) 597-6700




Tommy Davidson

Comedian Tommy Davidson might be offensive, but his keen observations about the absurdity of our daily lives and his animated delivery guarantee laughs. His ability to comment on situations that arise in all walks of life ensures everyone has something to chuckle about through his bits. Known for his roles in the ’90s hit sketch show In Living Color, films like Strictly Business (and OK, Juwanna Mann) and most recently in the spotlight for his character Cream Corn on Adult Swim’s cartoon Black Dynamite, Davidson tours pretty infrequently, so catch him while you can — likely offering fresh takes on old habits. (Hillary Smith)

8pm and 10pm, $24-26


1330 Fillmore, SF

(415) 655-5600




Y La Bamba

Indie-folk rocker group Y La Bamba has been steadily building a fan base over the past couple of years, earning high praise from NPR and loaning songs to television programs such as Bones. The Portland-based band’s hauntingly rich and ethereal sound is propelled by singer-songwriter Luzelena Mendoza, whose vocals float and weave tales above Latin-inspired rhythms and unique backing vocals. Its latest full-length album, last year’s Court The Stormwas produced by Los Lobos member Steve Berlin, and an excellent EP, Oh February was released this January. (McCourt)

9pm, $12–$15


777 Valencia, SF

(415) 551-5157




Japanther lets everything go in its performances. Punk is its staple, and the group is known for fuzzy overtones and generally sloppy delivery. All this culminates into weird, disorienting live shows. But whether the band drops five Ramones covers on you or blasts into its own songs (likely off newest album, Eat Like Lisa Act Like Bart) with a raw, unpredictable energy, it will be fun. Keep an eye out for the duo’s signature telephone microphones and the more-often-than-not shirtless bat-shit drummer. (Smith)

With Defiance, Ohio, Psilovision

9pm, $12

Bottom of the Hill

1233 17th St., SF

(415) 626-4455




San Francisco FrontRunners Pride Run

For folks who love to sweat, there’s no better way to celebrate Pride than with veteran LGBT running club the San Francisco FrontRunners, who’ve hosted this event for over three decades. Choose the 5K or the 10K by asking yourself “How many times do I want to haul ass up that hilly stretch of Golden Gate Park’s JFK Drive?” — but remember, the emphasis here is mos def on fun. Sure, some speed demons do turn out (last year’s 5K winner clocked in at just over 18 minutes), but casual joggers are also in effect, as are Pink Saturday-themed athletic ensembles. Upbeat DJs and tasty food at the finish line add to the festive atmosphere. (Eddy)

9am, $40

Golden Gate Park (near Metson and Middle Dr. West), SF



In A Daughter’s Eyes

Two women, two very different circumstances: the first, the daughter of a Black Panther sentenced to death for killing an Oakland cop; the second, the daughter of the slain man. Locked in a room together, how will the women negotiate their differences — and is there any chance of forgiveness and healing? Brava! For Women in the Arts and Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience present award-winning playwright A. Zell Williams’s In A Daughter’s Eyes in its West Coast debut; though it features just one location and only two characters, expect a powerful, intense story, guided by the sure hand of veteran director Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe. (Eddy)

Through July 14

Previews Thu/27-Fri/28, 8pm; opens Sat/29, 8pm; runs Thu-Sat, 8pm; Sun, 3pm, $15

Brava Theater Center

2781 24th St, SF



The Juan MacLean (DJ Set)

After years of producing quality electro-disco-club music for DFA Records (home to legendary sometimes-retired LCD Soundsystem), DJ and producer the Juan MacLean (stage name for John Maclean) has leapt head first into a stripped-down, nu-house sound. With vocalist and longtime collaborator Nancy Whang, MacLean released the cool, classy “You Are My Destiny” this March, completing a shift that may have taken root as far back as 2011 with his Peach Melba side project. Transitions are standard practice for the former hardcore guitarist turned electronic music artist, who has collaborated with LCD Soundsystem, !!!, and Holy Ghost! and remixed Yoko Ono and Stevie Nicks. In the midst of a relentless international tour schedule, MacLean signaled his return to dance music prominence earlier this month with a set on BBC Radio 1’s prestigious Essential Mix program. (Lee)

With Kim Ann Foxman, Blacksheep

9pm, $10–$20


101 Sixth St., SF

(415) 284-9774




Deltron 3030

If you’ve lived in SF for at least a year, then you probably know about Stern Grove’s awesomely free and diverse ongoing music festival. But if not, this summer-long (June 16-Aug.18) series offers the community a chance to get outside and enjoy nature while picnicking with live musical accompaniment. The beautiful, towering eucalyptus trees, redwoods, and grassy meadows provide the best possible settings for a summer music festival. This Sunday’s lineup features dance hip-hip super group Deltron 3030. Rapping about evil corporate Goliaths and space battles, often alongside an orchestral band, Deltron 3030’s performance is anything but typical. The festival itself is always worth checking out, but the group makes this Sunday’s show one of the highlights of summer. (Smith)

2pm, free

Stern Grove

19th Avenue and Sloat, SF



“Science On Screen: The Science of Baseball”

Hey, batter! There are very few Bay Area residents who don’t have an opinion on which baseball team to root for (default consensus: “L.A. sucks”), but there’s more to the game than trash talk and World Series trophies. Indeed, there’s some pretty serious science behind all those curve balls and home runs, and who better to break it down than the Exploratorium’s David Barker and Linda Shore? (Check out the museum’s clever and educational “Science of Baseball” site at exploratorium.edu/baseball.) Using clips from documentaries and Hollywood films, the duo gets into the nitty-gritty of baseball’s complex biomechanics — so the next time you watch Hunter Pence step up to the plate, you’ll be able to spot the physics behind his hitting prowess. (Eddy)

7pm, $12

Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center

1118 Fourth St, San Rafael




Pure Bathing Culture

Listen to Portland, Oreg.-via-Brooklyn duo Pure Bathing Culture’s ethereal, synth-laced cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams,” and you’ll likely tumble into a web search hole, digging out other soundscape-y Fleetwood Mac covers to quench your newfound obsession (likely finding that PBC’s is still tops). Crawl out of the hole and face your new favorite, Pure Bathing Culture, head on by grabbing a hold of 2012’s self-titled EP, an ode to dreamy 1980s pop produced by Richard Swift. Then note influences like Talk Talk and Cocteau Twins expanding on recently released tracks off upcoming debut full-length, Moon Tides. Band members guitarist Daniel Hindman and keyboardist Sarah Versprille have contributed in the past to records by Foxygen and Damien Jurado, but together as Pure Bathing Culture, they form a loosely wound union of shimmering guitars, twinkling synths, and delicate vocals, twisting along a well-worn path. (Emily Savage)

With Cocktails, Cannons and Clouds, CoolGreg

9pm, free

Brick and Mortar Music Hall

1710 Mission, SF

(415) 800-8782



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Heads Up: 7 must-see concerts this week


Pride Week is upon us y’all, and with those excited, proud, rainbow-waving masses, come awesome live acts, DJs, bands, you know the drill by now; there are official shows, tangential nights, and underground events (check out Mykki Blanco at Mezzanine, or Magic Mouth with THEESatisfaction at Hard French Hearts Los Homos). Many more Pride listings will be in the paper this week.

And of course, there’s also some unrelated live rock‘n’roll you should be checking out right now as well, including two doubled-headlined shows of high-quality locals; there’s the Warm Soda/Midnite Snaxxx night at Brick and Mortar, along with the White Barons/Wild Eyes SF shakedown at Bender’s. Plus, Deltron 3030 plays the free summer series at Stern Grove this weekend.

There’s plenty to do and see in San Francisco at the moment, so buckle up. An aside: I’d also recommend Austra at the Independent Wed/26, debuting its new album Olympia; the show is sold out but I know you creative types have ways around this.

Here are your must-see Bay Area concerts this week/end:

Warm Soda and Midnite Snaxxx
This should make for a fizzy summer combo: both local to Oakland and full of vigor, Warm Soda’s glistening ‘80s pop will be matched in this Brick and Mortar lineup to Midnite Snaxxx’s leather-jacket-babe rock‘n’roll bubblegum smash. The results should be explosive, like a shaking up a two-liter bottle of cola and showering those around you with its sticky sweetness. Plus, it’s your last chance to see Warm Soda this summer — the group’s about to head out on its first European tour.
With Primitive Hearts, the Wild Ones
Thu/26, 9pm, $8
Brick and Mortar
1710 Mission, SF

Mykki Blanco
The self-described “Acid Punk Rapper” behind debut mixtape Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss brings his global nightlife pulse to San Francisco this week, (once again — when he performed here last year, Marke B. called Blanco a “Dark and fierce queer rapper from the future”). The hyperreal, multifaceted rapper is a supporter of underground arts and a rather busy one; he’s written books, recorded albums, posed as a fashion muse, and served as a nightclub dignitary, once telling Interview mag: “I didn’t plan for it, but everyday in the morning, for extra energy, I drink a raw garlic smoothie with fruit. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by working hard. To have this be the beginning of my career and receive this much positive support — I cannot waste a fucking minute, and I’d be a fool to waste a minute.”
Thu/27, 9pm, $15
444 Jessie, SF

Y La Bamba
“Indie-folk rocker group Y La Bamba has been steadily building a fan base over the past couple of years, earning high praise from NPR and loaning songs to television programs such as Bones. The Portland-based band’s hauntingly rich and ethereal sound is propelled by singer-songwriter Luzelena Mendoza, whose vocals float and weave tales above Latin-inspired rhythms and unique backing vocals. Its latest full-length album, last year’s Court The Stormwas produced by Los Lobos member Steve Berlin, and an excellent EP, Oh February was released this January.” — Sean McCourt
Fri/28, 9pm, $12–$15
777 Valencia, SF
(415) 551-5157

The Juan MacLean (DJ Set)
“After years of producing quality electro-disco-club music for DFA Records (home to legendary sometimes-retired LCD Soundsystem), DJ and producer the Juan MacLean (stage name for John Maclean) has leapt head first into a stripped-down, nu-house sound. With vocalist and longtime collaborator Nancy Whang, MacLean released the cool, classy “You Are My Destiny” this March, completing a shift that may have taken root as far back as 2011 with his Peach Melba side project. Transitions are standard practice for the former hardcore guitarist turned electronic music artist, who has collaborated with LCD Soundsystem, !!!, and Holy Ghost! and remixed Yoko Ono and Stevie Nicks. In the midst of a relentless international tour schedule, MacLean signaled his return to dance music prominence earlier this month with a set on BBC Radio 1’s prestigious Essential Mix program.” — Kevin Lee
With Kim Ann Foxman, Blacksheep
Sat/29, 9pm, $10–<\d>$20
101 Sixth St., SF
(415) 284-9774

The White Barons and Wild Eyes SF
Some background: local Southern fried rock group (“by way of Atlanta, Jakarta, and two Midwest podunk towns”) the White Barons includes members of Thee Merry Widows, Winter Teeth, and Whiskey Dick Darryls, and SF’s Wild Eyes recently opened for King Khan and BBQ Show at Slim’s. This Bender’s show is a party for a few things: it’s the birthday of Bender’s doorperson and Subliminal SF booker Mikey Madfes, it’s a split seven-inch release celebration for the White Barons and Wild Eyes, and lastly, there’s a band vs. band chili cook-off (if you buy a record, you’ll get a chili sample). So you know it’s going to be a messy mix of raucous rock’n’roll and tender cooked meats.
Sat/29, 10pm, $5
Bender’s Bar and Grill
806 S. Van Ness, SF

Deltron 3030
“If you’ve lived in SF for at least a year, then you probably know about Stern Grove’s awesomely free and diverse ongoing music festival. But if not, this summer-long (June 16-Aug.18) series offers the community a chance to get outside and enjoy nature while picnicking with live musical accompaniment. This Sunday’s lineup features dance hip-hip super group Deltron 3030. Rapping about evil corporate Goliaths and space battles, often alongside an orchestral band, Deltron 3030’s performance is anything but typical.” — Hillary Smith
Sun/30, 2pm, free
Stern Grove
19th Avenue and Sloat, SF

Magic Mouth
To get a taste of the soulful energy Magic Mouth exudes, check the YouTube video “MAGIC MOUTH LIVE: MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS,” (below); it’s like watching James Brown front a garage-punk band. The lively Portland, Ore. queer soul-punk quartet will play Hard French Hearts Los Homos (an event described by DJ Carnita as “an intergalactic Pride Party for all the gayliens who love to dance in outer space”), opening up for THEESatisfaction.
Sun/30, 4-11pm, $20
3140 Mission, SF

Live Shots: Goldfrapp, Fox Theater, 06/26/2010


Shiny, sparkling, blinged-out: Slick electro-pop and disco revivalists Goldfrapp absolutely bedazzled us on Saturday. Talk about the perfect mix of wind machines and ’70s sexiness. With new album Head First, the duo clearly hasn’t lost its melodic luster or surreal grooves. The packed Fox was ready to dance, and Goldfrapp delivered. Did I mention the high levels of shiny spandex? Yea, that was hella hot.

Carbs rebound: ahoy gourmet donuts


See you latte: Lemon and thyme and vanilla bean donuts with caffeine side. All photos by Kimberly Chun.

Remember turn-of-the-century Atkins? Remember pushing that bread basket away and diving head first into a slab of sirloin? Well, maybe those nutty notions are ready to go the way of cut-glass Jello salad and all-pineapple diets. Carbs are back – big time. Proof: the line forming every morning – much earlier than you’d expect – at Dynamo Donuts and Coffee at 2760 24th St., San Francisco.

It’s those little niblets of fried batter that are making it happen. Personally, I’ve been waiting for the donut revival to hit any moment: few treats can beat a piping hot wad of cake dough covered in sugar or glaze or whatever, as the ideal desert. Add in the lovely, imaginative, only-in-Ess-Eff flavor combos at Dynamo Donut and you’ve got a hit. Enough of a hit that the line gently wound out of the almost brand new little stand on two separate weekday morns.

So far I’ve tried the lemon-thyme donut, the apricot honey-stuffed and iced number, the spiced chocolate, the salted caramel with fleur de sel, and the vanilla bean, all priced at $2 to $2.50. The lemon-thyme is bedecked with glaze, but the petite flecks of lemon and herb still peek out from their cakey home. The spiced chocolate was complex and amazing – my fave and worth the extra 50 cents. I even dug the apricot – I, who otherwise despise ‘cots. All appear to be low on the grease factor, and amazingly not too sweet despite the thick swathe of frosting and the liberal amounts of sugar coating the top and bottom of each donut. More, please.

P.S. I can’t wait to try the maple-glazed apple and bacon number, though I’ve no clue when that comes around next. Better to keep it a surprise. And word has it the current three flavors – which often sell out early – will soon expand to seven.

Mon.-Sat., 7 a.m.-5 p.m.
2760 24th St. at Hampshire, SF
(415) 920-1978