Marke B.



"You sound like such an old fogey when you go on about ‘the club kids.’ And how you do go on," hissed a perfectly middle-aged acquaintance sporting a ginormous fun-fur cap with big floppy ears sewn on. Oof. It was bad enough I was frittering my nightlife away at yet another no-host-bar art opening while half my friends were at the GayVN Awards (the "Oscars of gay porn") in LA, another bunch were rocking out at South by Southwest in Austin, and the rest were sunning their itchy waxes in Miami at the Winter Music Conference. But old fogey? What the heck’s a fogey? Isn’t it a talking rooster?

My first fightin’ instinct was to read the poor queer back so far she’d need a history book just to take a shit. "And you use Raid for hair spray, byotch," leapt to my quivering lips. But my yawp was too stuffed full of free hors d’oeuvres to get barbaric, and besides, she had a little point.

Mmm … this Belgian endive–smoked crab salad canapé is delicious.

Whether owing to political parallels, restless scene malaise, or just a primal yearning for glamour, the kids who scraped their way into Bush I–era seminotoriety using only the power of platforms and a killer makeup kit have somehow staged a resurgence. (Whatever else it was, the last decade of club life was decidedly unglamorous. Big pants, little purses, and sideways haircuts on everyone is not glamorous, peeps.) So many sort of famous freaks are squeaking out of the woodwork, it’s like Night of the Living Drugged or something.

"We’re baaack!" squeals the outright leader of SF’s club kid renaissance, Astroboy Jim. "If you’re gonna bring ’80s music back, you better make room for the club kids with it." Already his Endup monthly Revolutionary has shipped in the likes of Lady Miss Kier, Amanda Le Pore, Cazwell, Corey Sleazemore, and Tommy Sunshine (that licentious LA messy-mess with a bullhorn, Alexis Arquette, predictably flaked), and it certainly helps that his resident DJ is old-skool Manhattan heartthrob Keoki, who — owing to a 1993 Club USA Tour incident involving two seven-foot-tall drag queens, an unmarked white van, and a supermarket snack tray — will always be known affectionately to me as "baloney fingers." Don’t ask.

But it isn’t all tired-smile retread — Astroboy’s made room for supastars of a more modern ilk as well. This weekend’s Revolutionary is cohosted by Jeffree Star, a mesmerizing creature who owes his outsize fame wholly to the Internet, specifically MySpace. Microsoft can make you famous! With five million profile views a month, this "living mannequin" is second only to that other fabulous fame-for-fame’s-sake strumpet Tila Tequila, featured this month on the cover of one-handed frat-boy mag Stuff, who clocks in at eight million. Many of you are raising your whoop-de-do eyebrows right now. Would that Jeffree had eyebrows left to raise with you! He’s a gorgeous little sprite, and already his fame’s had a dark side. A couple weeks ago some haters hacked into his profile and spewed violently sickening homophobic bit barf all over it, forcing Jeffree to alert the FBI and pull a Salman Rushdie, hiding out at an undisclosed location. She’s wanted! SF is the only safe place for Jeffree’s curiously immobile face, it seems.

Also at Revolutionary this week, red-hot ‘twixt-vixen Miss Guy, best known for fronting gender-thrash legends the Toilet Boys (and backing everybody else), will rock the wobbly tables, providing a vital link from late-’80s VIP hoo-ha through late-’90s nihilistic indoor pyrotechnics to the virtual fabulism of the present. Viva los kidz, because we sure as hell ain’t going away yet. *


With Jeffree Star and DJs Miss Guy and Keoki, Sat/1

First Saturdays, 10 p.m.–6 a.m.

The Endup

401 Sixth St., SF

$20 ($15 before midnight)

(415) 646-0999

Mystic ore


The roiling ghosts of mercury-tainted miners. Petrified Keebler elves. An entrance to Fingal’s Cave. The One Ring. These are the sorts of magical things any sensible, perhaps slightly stoned backpacker (or Rush fan) could hope to find in a glaciated valley called Mineral King, whose jagged dogwood- and spruce-steeped slopes lie at the southern tip of Sequoia National Park, in the Sierras. Marmots drunk on antifreeze are not. Nor, surely, is a squeaky gaggle of buxom, bleached-blond suburbanite moms gathered in a spirit circle for Sunday Campfire Worship, singing "He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands" and wiping $10 chicken salad sandwiches off their kids’ faces. Yet somehow, on a recent camping trip, the pickled vermin and swaying kumbaya-yas seemed to tie in perfectly with the region’s fool’s gold mythology.

 The sense of accomplishment once you turn off the "main" Mineral King road and into the region itself is overwhelming. Lone, half-starved prospectors in the 1870s used to journey for weeks to reach this ore-rich spot, and you can’t help admiring their greed. The valley now encompasses a loose collection of scattered campgrounds, half-constructed lodges, and broad-chested ranger stations covering 12,600 acres. The campgrounds are first-come, first pitch and, despite the torture of arrival, can fill up quickly with Gwen Stefani-blasting family reunions and that most ubiquitous of modern campground-dwellers, the Loud Nirvana Fan with Acoustic Guitar.

 Hiking is the main draw of Mineral King, and the hiking bible for the area, touted at all the local bookstores, is Day Hiking Sequoia, by Steve Sorensen. Do not buy this book. Although it tells you a lot about the area’s history, after five hours of wrestling with its skeletal mapping system, we eventually just gave up and got lost. (The best bet is to check in at the ranger stations and ask for more detailed directions.) We never made it to the fabled Mosquito Lakes or the treacherous Timber Gap, but we lunched under Mosquito Creek waterfalls, rolled in a zillion wildflowers, sniffed bear droppings on rounded slate outcrops, and picked up Casey, a pale monarch butterfly who hitched with us a couple miles. Most important, we went a whole day without seeing other people. It was heaven.

 Silver City has also undergone a recent plague of cable-chewing marmots, addicted to antifreeze highs. Visitors everywhere are warned ("Warning: Marmots!") to check under their hoods before driving off, potentially transferring dozens of tipsy little mammals out of their natural habitat and into the wilds of Metropolitan Los Angeles. Alas, we saw no neon-lipped marmots, nor entrances to Fingal’s Cave. But Mineral King was still a mythic trip.

Trip planner

Silver City Resort, on Mineral King Road, three miles west of the main ranger station. Open Memorial Day through October. 1-805-528-0730

Cruisin’ for a bruisin’


EVER SINCE THAT fateful day on the family farm when our stud calf Beauregard threw me from his back and rammed me several times against a large oak, giving me one heck of a concussion, I knew I was destined to become a leather queen. I was only 11 at the time, and the options were few for actual experience, but dammit — if I couldn’t have the sex, then at least I’d have the outfits. “And what are you?” my innocent neighbors would ask when they opened their doors at Halloween. “I’m Freddie Mercury!” I’d reply with a wiggle of my little homemade chaps (Hefty bags and duct tape) for emphasis. And then they’d give me candy.

Nowadays everyone’s got to have at least one kinky fetish on their sexual resume — thanks, Madonna — yet often the men, women, and “other” of that twisted tribe known as the Leather Community still get a bad rap, especially among young gay club patrons. Part of this is fear, of course: Doesn’t all that pain hurt a little? And part of it is shame: The leather generation that came of age in the ’70s and ’80s has had to shoulder not just the burdens of age and rejection, but also a ridiculous cross between jealousy for living through the hedonistic homo heyday and blame for AIDS. And then, of course, there’s the primal terror of turning into one of those old men with cottage-cheese buttocks and a basketball belly who strut around the Eagle wearing nothing but rainbow flip-flops and a leash.

Oh sure, we’ll let them take us home and spank us on weeknights, but when we see them at the disco, we just shudder and throw shade.

In response, it seems, the leather queens closed ranks. No longer feeling welcome, they became a kind of secret society in the ’90s. Once-omnipresent social institutions like the Imperial Court of San Francisco and the Rainbow Motorcycle Club went underground ��� and, sadly, saw their profiles dwindle. Tight-knit contingents like Mama’s Family and the Men of Discipline sprang up, with their unique rituals and dress codes, shunning the clubs in favor of charity Golden Gate potlucks, cabaret fundraisers, and converted-garage play parties promoting safe-sex awareness. (Leatherfolk are all about the benefits, these days.) The sash circuit moved to the suburbs. Half the community morphed into bears. Even the dawn of the Internet connection only increased the generation gap.

But as the first Arab American leather hip-hop disco clubkid muppet queer San Francisco Drummer Boy 2001 (runner-up), I feel it’s my deep responsibility and honorable duty to reprazent my peeps in the hide. If there’s one thing my leather dad (love you, Ray) taught me, it’s respect, and if there’s another, it’s how to keep from passing out after hanging upside-down for 40 minutes. It’s time for all this nonsense to stop. This year may have seen three more local leather haunts — Loading Dock, My Place, and Club Rendez-Vous — close to become upscale, straight-type martini lounges; the baths are still outlawed; and creepy tweekers have invaded the sex clubs; but the leather lifestyle is still brilliant and vital, bouncing back up through the queer underground and swelling its ranks with curious alternaqueers and radical faeries, who fetishize being open-minded.

Today, the only places the whole queer community can come together regularly are our precious few leather bars. Daddy’s, Aunt Charlie’s, Marlena’s, and The Eagle have all undergone recent renaissances, fueled by a combo of renegade young promoters, indulgent owners, and a healthy new lust for the underground. Where else can beef and chicken meet? Not to mention old punks, baby dykes, hustlers, drag queens, bull daggers, grandpas, gymbots, ex-clones, Aberzombies, club kids, A-gays, bikers, circuit boiz, transgendered hotties, Log Cabin Republicans, and the odd closeted TV anchorman. It seems the more the mainstream media bleaches out our filthy abominations, the more we return to our fruitful past, when lust was the glue that held us together, and abomination was a kind of gang handshake. We may be more diverse than ever, but leather’s still our common ground.

Daddy’s. Daily, 9 a.m.-2 a.m., 440 Castro, SF. (415) 621-8732,

Marlena’s. Mon.-Fri., 3 p.m.-2 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon-2 a.m., 488 Hayes, SF. (415) 864-6672.

Aunt Charlie’s. Mon.-Fri., noon-2 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-2 a.m., 133 Turk, SF. (415) 441-2922,

The Eagle Tavern. Daily, noon-2 a.m., 398 12th St., SF. (415) 626-0880,

E-mail Marke B. at