Molly Freedenberg

Dirty Words on the bus


By Molly Freedenberg


I’ve recently realized that Ellen Sussman’s Dirty Words: An Encyclopedia of Sex (Bloomsbury, 2008) was a strange (good? bad?) choice as the first book I would read on the bus during my first month of car-free living in San Francisco. And not simply because the subject matter of an anthology of essays inspired by words like “cunt,” “fuck,” and “dirty sanchez” might have the potential to turn me on, which could either lead to embarrassingly obvious physical symptoms (flushed cheeks, unusual frequency of crossing and uncrossing legs), or simply the frustrating reality of wanting to do something (get off) somewhere I can’t (the bus).

No, the main issue, I discovered, is the chapter heads. Each new section starts with the word in question, big and bold and impossible to miss. CUM! HAND JOB! VAGINAL EJACULATION! It’s as though the designers wanted its visual impression to say, “Hey! Look at me! I’m a dirty book!”

NIN/JA online


By Molly Freedenberg

Good news, Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction fans! The bands justlaunched a special website to promote this summer’s joint tour (also with Street Sweeper), charmingly called NIN/JA and even more charmingly offering free downloads of previously unreleased songs, as well as an audio player featuring NIN and JA classics.

The show comes to Shoreline May 22. I can’t wait! (And neither can my inner angsty teenager.)

Trent Reznor at Coachella in 2005. I saw that show. And yes, I cried like a baby. Join me May 22 and watch it happen again.

Hollis update: Safe and sound in San Francisco


The Guardian continues to follow the condition of local dancer and activist Hollis Hawthorne, who was in a serious motorcycle accident in India and is in a coma. By Molly Freedenberg

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One of my favorites: Hollis getting ready for the Cheese Puffs’ big show opening for Richard Cheese at Bimbo’s last year. The Derailleurs had their first big show immediately afterwards.

Wow! There have been lots of changes since we last updated about Hollis. For those who haven’t been keeping up with the Hollis blogs, she’s home! As in: settled into a private room at our very own St. Luke’s, right here in the Mission. Her room is decorated with photos of her and her friends, including a giant poster at the foot of her bed featuring Hollis, Eliza (who’s maintaining the friendsofhollis blog), and their mutual friend Shannon (who helped co-found the Sprockettes with Eliza before she co-founded the Derailleurs with Hollis). Her mom, Diane, is still in town and spending nearly every second of every day at her side (with a sadly dinky blanket, I must add.) Hollis also is getting tons of visitors – so many that Eliza is working on posting an online schedule for reference and planning.

Hollis is still in a coma, but her condition continues to improve slooooowly. (Contrary to what soap operas would have us believe, the process of coming out of a coma is incredibly gradual.) She is making verbal sounds, which we can hear thanks to a small purple device attached to her tracheotomy tube that helps air flow over her vocal chords (instead of right out the tube). She occasionally opens both eyes, which seem to be tracking (though not exactly seeing). And some friends report that Hollis is responding to them directly – whether turning her head towards a book being read to her, or seeming to play thumb wars with Eliza. As of yesterday, she also seemed to be relaxing – letting go of the curled-up tension she’s had on her right side (especially her hand and arm) since the accident.

Confessions: My favorite accidental porn


By Molly Freedenberg

While catching up on the last season of the L Word last night, I was reminded that I’m not that into porn. Thing is, I do get turned on by media – photos, stories, movies – just rarely media that’s meant explicitly, or exclusively, to excite me sexually. Call it a girl thing. Call it a woeful lack of porn geared towards my particular interests. Whatever you call it, it doesn’t bother me – primarily because there are so many other places (besides actual, you know, life) I find sensual stimulation. Here are some of my favorites:

1. The L Word

It’s been awhile since I’ve watched this Showtime series about ridiculously attractive, femme-y lesbians in L.A. But as I watched the steamy tango (real, not euphemistic) between Bette and Tina in the second-to-last episode of the series, I was reminded of how sexy I used to find all the girl-on-girl action that punctuated every episode. I didn’t even realize how much until I tried to watch it with my Mom. Both uncomfortable, we turned it off halfway through. “I think I’d rather watch this … uh, alone,” she said. My inner embarrassed teenager and I couldn’t have agreed more.

Just one example: Shane and Carmen. (Please ignore the cheesy music.)

Bacon: The other other white meme


By Molly Freedenberg

Last night, I slept with bacon. Or rather, I soaked up my whiskey and beer with a big fat bacon sandwich — slices of crisp, thick-cut pork piled between two sides of a cheese bagel — and then drifted off to sleep immersed (thanks to the bedroom’s proximity to the kitchen) in the smell of fried pig.

This has been happening a lot more often than it used to – and not just because I finally kicked that pesky eating disorder and discovered that bacon (and french fries, and pizza, and just about everything else) really does taste better than rice cakes dipped in mustard. It’s also because everyone around me seems to be eating bacon. Talking about bacon. Talking about art about bacon.

It’s got me wondering: When and how, exactly, did bacon become such a big friggin’ deal?

Baconstache: where two ironic trends collide. Photo courtesy of

Hot sex events this week: April 1-7


Compiled by Molly Freedenberg

Will U and U be my Valentine? Learn how to ask at Negotiating Successful Threesomes.


>> Clothes-On Sex! Resurrecting the Art of Frottage
Indulge your inner teenager and recapture those days of long, carefree make-out sessions – the days before “The Sex” started to overshadow everything. Sex and relationship educators Nellie Wilson and Reid Mihalko host this fun, informative, sassy, and arousing class on outtercourse.

Thu/2, 7-9:30, $30
Center for Sex and Culture
1519 Mission, SF.


>> 91/2 Years Behind the Green Door
Simone Corday reads and signs her memoir about her first-hand experiences stripping at the Mitchell Brothers’ O’Farrell Theater, the place Hunter S. Thompson referred to as “the Carnegie Hall of public sex.”

Fri/3, 7pm, free
Good Vibrations
603 Valencia, SF.


>> Negotiating Successful Threesomes
Is three company or a crowd? Do it right and three’s just a downright good time. Reid Mihalko helps those interested in M-F-M, F-M-F, F^3, M^3, or any combination of three consenting adults figure out techniques, common mistakes, and how to negotiate boundaries with live demonstrations and lots of laughs.

Sat/4, 7-10pm, $30
Center for Sex and Culture
1519 Mission, SF.

Hollis update: Straight from the source


The Guardian continues to follow the condition of local dancer and activist Hollis Hawthorne, who was in a serious motorcycle accident in India and is in a coma.

Just thought folks would be interested in the text message I just received from Eliza Strack, who’s maintaining

“Hollis is being admitted to Stanford right now! Her color looks good and her eyes are slightly open despite being in a coma. About2meet w harrison&diane.”

Woot woot!

A multitude of friends took photos with this sign at Gold Rush.

Hollis Update: Gold for our (open-eyed!) girl


The Guardian continues to follow the condition of local dancer and activist Hollis Hawthorne, who was in a serious motorcycle accident in India and is in a coma.

Miracles do happen! Hollis is doing better than expected. Though still not responding to commands, she is opening both eyes and squeezing the hands of her mom and boyfriend. She’s also been moved to a private room while her family works with several airlines to try to get her home. More info here.

Meanwhile, friends and family have raised $75,500 as of Monday. Almost halfway there! And we’ve been blown away by the support we’ve gotten for tomorrow’s Gold Rush fundraiser at Slim’s. It’s truly going to be a spectacular night – one we only wish Hollis could be present for.

Highlights? Extra Action Marching Band, who Hollis danced to just hours before she left for India last month; A raffle for two Burning Man tickets or two tickets to Teatro Zinzanni; An art auction curated by Will Chase, also known as the man at the helm of Jack Rabbit Speaks; Bohemian Carnival favorites Gooferman; performances by both of the dance troupes Hollis helped found; Live auction by Chicken John; and so much more… Pre-purchase your tickets at and get there early, because this is going to be one fantastic, and PACKED, show.


Hollis update: Fundraiser March 12 , plus improvement!


The Guardian continues to follow the condition of local dancer and activist Hollis Hawthorne, who was in a serious motorcycle accident in India and is in a coma.

By Molly Freedenberg

More news from the front lines!

First off, the interwebs are all atwitter about how much Hollis is improving. According to”, Hollis opened an eye for the first time today. And according to the doctor quoted in a story in the Indian paper, The Hindu (which is published by a friend of Guardian publisher Bruce Brugmann), she may even be back to her normal self (which, lucky for all of us, is not “normal” at all) within the next six months.

The other good news? We have an amazing fundraiser planned for next Thursday. Thanks to generous help from Extra Action Marching Band, Slim’s, Robert Levy of 12 Galaxies, Will Chase, and a whole slew of fantastic, fun-loving people, we’ve organized (in under a week!) the following for March 12…


Hollis Update: $40K and counting!


The Guardian continues to follow the condition of local dancer and activist Hollis Hawthorne, who was in a serious motorcycle accident in India and is in a coma.

Things are still dire for Hollis in India. She’s still in a coma. She still needs to come home. And her family still doesn’t have the money to bring her here.

Hollis and Harrison, the man who saved her life, at the beginning of their trip.

But there is good news. For starters, Hollis’ condition has improved. She’s breathing completely on her own, the swelling in her face has gone down, and apparently she’s indicating that she can feel pain – all good signs. If she continues getting better, she may even be able to come home on a commercial flight (with oxygen tanks and attendants).

Call for help: SF artist in coma in India


By Molly Freedenberg


My dear friend Hollis Hawthorne, a major force in the San Francisco art and bicycle scene, is in critical condition in India. The 31-year-old dancer, artist, and activist was in a tragic motorcycle accident near Pondicherry last Tuesday, February 24, which left her with severe head injuries and in a coma. As of today, she is at Apollo Hospital in Chennai and still unconscious, though she’s finally breathing on her own. Her prognosis is still unknown.

(For the full dramatic story, including heartbreaking details of how her boyfriend kept her alive for 30 minutes doing CPR, and the freak occurrence that rendered her motorcycle helmet useless, check out the blog For updates on her health status, check out Donations can be collected at both sites.)

Hollis is known in San Francisco as co-founder of the Bay Area Derailleurs , an all-female bicycle dance troupe whose purpose is bike activism and female empowerment; founding member of the Cheese Puffs, a tap-dancing burlesque troupe who’ve performed at Hubba Hubba Revue, BootieSF, and for the Guardian at Maker Faire and the DeYoung Museum; member of Burning Man Organization’s DPW; and as a part of Ron Turner’s Last Gasp operation. Her community of friends, family and collaborators also extends to the Sprockettes in Portland, Oregon; Chicken John; the Yard Dogs Roadshow; Extra Action Marching Band; Cyclecide Bike Rodeo; ArtSF; promoters and owners of 1015 Folsom, the Independent, Rickshaw Stop; Los Angeles performance troupe Lucent Dossier (who starred in a Panic at the Disco video on MTV); and many more art, fashion, and activism groups. She is vibrant, creative, inspiring, and passionate – as are the communities she’s a part of.

Bad Sex makes good reading


By Molly Freedenberg

What’s the worst thing about waiting two hours in the airport for a delayed flight after a long weekend of drinking and subsequent hanging over? Almost everything.

The one redeeming thing? My extra two hours at O’Hare, without a convenient outlet for plugging in my computer, gave me the chance to finish Bad Sex: We Did It, So You Won’t Have To” (Chronicle, 2008), a collection of essays by contributors about funny, embarrassing, ill-advised, and just plain silly sex encounters.


The book, like Nerve itself, is charming, hip (but not trying too hard), entertaining, and extremely readable. It’s also refreshingly multi-generational, containing stories from recent college grads and middle-aged divorcees alike.

Highlights: Monica Drake’s “The Splatter Artist,” about a lover who can’t keep his fluids to himself; David Amsden’s “The Incomplete Triangle,” in which a man discovers the pitfalls of dating a bisexual woman (read: it does not guarantee you a threesome); and Porochista Khakpour’s “The 20-Year-Old Virgin,” which is about small liberal art school culture as much as it is about the boyfriend who believed intercourse was “commercial, pedestrian, and perfunctory.” Though there are some stories too crazy to believe (see the one on vampirism by Kevin Keck), and some about sex so bad it hurts (see “On the Rebound,”), most of these tales are about sex that’s less obviously bad but rather awkward, strange or disappointing in the way most of us have experience less-than-stellar sex. What these it-could-happen-to-me confessions lose in titillation they certainly gain back in relatability and humor.

Stars (at Shindig) 69


By Molly Freedenberg


Sure, we’ve mentioned Shindig 69 once before, but we think a party honoring the go-go-inspired sexiness of the ’60s is worth mentioning again. (After all, without the history of go-go dancers, how would we all know what to do with those raised platforms in dance clubs? You know, the ones you need seven shots of tequila to even get near …)

The highlight of this event, which serves as both pre-V-Day celebration and a fundraiser for the Keep a Breast Foundation, is surely the Devil-Ettes. For nearly a decade, this gaggle of dancing girls has been delighting audiences with their synchronized moves, short skirts, long boots, and cheeky cuteness. This time ’round, they’re joined by ubiquitous MC, singer, and burlesque performer Kitten on the Keys, as well as Kiki Bomb, Kellita, The Riff Ditties Orchestra, and The Cement Gardens – plus DJs from Bardot a Go Go, Teenage Dance Craze, and Tiki Oasis.

Put on your Pucci mini, or polish your mod mane, and head on over for some good dancin’ and an even better cause.

Shindig 69
Feb. 12, 8:30pm, $10
Rickshaw Stop
155 Fell, SF.

Also check out more Valentine’s Day events at

Pillow fight!


By Molly Freedenberg

Lesbians do it in bed.

It seems everyone has a pillow fight fantasy. For some, it’s along the lines of the slumber party/adolescent masturbation material variety. For the brilliant cacophonists who started the annual Valentine’s Day pillow fight in Justin Herman Plaza, it’s more flash mob than skin flick. But don’t think that takes any of the sexiness out of it.

Oh, no.

In fact, there are few things more exciting, more cathartic, and just plain fun than hundreds of strangers hitting each other with soft things in the name of love. So grab your pals and your pillows and head to the Embarcadero on Saturday. Just remember: hide your bedding the best you can on the way there, and don’t start swingin’ til the clock hits six.

Hittin’ it in 2008.

(Like public wackiness a la Santacon and the Pillow Fight? Start planning now for The Brides of March on March 14.)

Pillow Fight
Feb. 14, 6pm, free
Justin Herman Plaza, SF

Check out more Valentine’s Day events at

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By Molly Freedenberg

Photo (and shirt) by

Thanks to my geeky roommate, I’ve discovered my favorite new time-waster: the Binary-to-Text translator.

And yes, it’s just what it sounds like it is. Using the same format as classic online translators, which convert a block of text in one language into a block of text in another, Binary-to-Text converts words or phrases (in any language, it seems) into a series of 1s and 0s – and everyday people into super-nerds.

Shop Local contest winner


By Molly Freedenberg


It’s finally time! We’re announcing the winner to our Shop Local contest, in which we challenged readers to send us stories about how they spent at least $100 at locally-owned and operated businesses during the 2008 holiday season. We received so many fantastic entries, we extended the deadline way beyond Christmas day. But lucky for you, we’re publishing some of our favorites just in time for Valentine’s Day. When getting gifts for that special someone, don’t forget to send the local economy a bit of love too!

(And by the way, for those inspired to continue the shop local initiative throughout the year, please keep in mind that the plan is not only to buy things near your home, but from businesses that are based in San Francisco. The Starbucks or Target on the corner may be nearby, but they ain’t local. Now, commence your shopping.)

First up, our contest winner etristan, who will receive $500 in gift certificates to local businesses. We like this entry because the writer took shopping local to a fantastically micro level, keeping cash not only within San Francisco but within the writer’s own neighborhood. Plus, we like all the specific ideas for creative gifts.

Too slick for the Suicide Girls?


By Molly Freedenberg

Speaking (still) of Suicide Girls, those lovely ladies of alt erotica have published a new book (Suicide Girls: Beauty Redefined, 2008). This one’s big and glossy and pretty, with full page photos of select girls organized by location.


I can’t deny that it’s attractive coffee table material for the yuppie punk. Intro pages look very art-booky with their big, bold type; and the nudie photos are uncomplicated with text or information (other than the model’s Suicide Girls moniker). It’s certainly more sleek and sophisticated than the first book (SuicideGirls, 2004).

But that’s why I like the first book better.

Get in bed with the Suicide Girls


By Molly Freedenberg

All Benni wants for Valentine’s Day is you … and another tattoo.

The first Suicide Girls event I attended was a prom several years ago, before SGs became minor celebrities, appearing on Real Sex and in Dave Grohl’s video and touring the country with Warped Tour or their own burlesque show. It was held at some dive bar near the Tenderloin, the kind of place where you drink cheap beer and don’t want to put your jacket on the ground. My how things have changed. Now, the alt pin-up site will co-host an event at the swanky Supperclub for Valentine’s Day. The event promises to be interesting eye candy for casual observers and hardcore SG fans alike, as not only will tattooed and Manic Panic-ed sexpots be in attendance, but performing aerial tissu and go-go dancing. And since SGs also have come a long way since their original underwhelming live performances — thanks to an influx of models who also are talented performers, as well as better stage management and choreography — chances are the shows will be worth seeing for more reasons than just witnessing your online masturbation material come alive. (Though that’s as good a reason to go as any.)

Feb. 14, 7:30pm-2am, $100
Love is Hell (in Bed)
657 Harrison, SF
(415) 348-0900

Valentine’s Day events


Click here to see all Valentine’s Day listings on one page


Black Valentine Masquerade Club Mighty, 119 Utah; Feb. 13, 10pm-3am, $15. Sunset Promotions and Blasthaus present this all-out party extravaganza, featuring UNKLE’s leading man James Lavelle, Evil Nine, and revelers dressed in dastardly dark costumes.

Bootie — A Special Valentine’s Party DNA Lounge, 375 11th St.; Feb. 14, 10pm, $12. Celebrate the holiday mash-up style with DJ Freddy, King of Pants, twisted love songs by house band Smash-Up Derby, and a midnight mashup show by Valentine.

CockBlock Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell; 861-2011, Feb. 14, 10pm, $7 . Get your Valentine’s groove on at this queer dance party for lezzies, queers, lovers, and friends, featuring DJ Nuxx.

Date and Dash Noc Noc, 557 Haight; Feb. 14, 8pm, $35 (free to first 20 people). Speed-dating with a Lower Haight twist. RSVP for red drinks, trendy beats, and a faux auction.

I Heart the Utah Hotel Utah Saloon, 500 Fourth St.; 546-6300, Feb. 14, 9pm, $8. Celebrate the kind of love that lasts — that between a bar and 100 years’ worth of patrons — with oyster shooters, champagne, a costume contest, and live music by El Capitan and Let’s Make Something.

Love on Wheels Dating Game Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell; 861-2011, Feb. 13, 6-9pm, free for SFBC members. Join this dating game exclusively for two-wheelers, where bike bachelors and bachelorettes quiz a panel of three cyclists to select their date — and then roll to hip local spots.

Milonga de Amor Ferry Building; 990-8135. Feb. 13, 5:30-8pm, free. Celebrate V-Day, sensuous tango, and slow food.

Sexy Tour of SF Strip Clubs for Singles or Couples (510) 291-9779, Feb. 13, 6-10pm, $99/person or $190/couple, includes entry to all clubs, two drinks, and full-course dinner. Peek into a world of fantasy, glamour, and intrigue with the safety of a fun group and a guide whose expertise is leading women and couples.

Shindig 69 Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell; 861-2011, Thurs/12, 8:30pm, $10. Start your weekend off with a tribute to the sexy ’60s, featuring The Devil-Ettes, Kitten on the Keys, and DJs from Bardot a Go Go and Teenage Dance Craze — all to benefit the Keep a Breast Foundation.

Supperclub Suicide Girls Afterparty Supperclub, 657 Harrison; 348-0900, Feb. 14, 7:30pm, $100 for dinner and party. Have someone you’re trying to get in bed? Invite them to share a four course menu, bottle of champagne, and special afterparty with Suicide Girls.

Thousand Faces Misera-Ball OmniCircus, 550 Natoma; 701-0686, Feb. 14, 8pm, $10. Celebrate the lovelorn with a multifaceted performance and afterparty. Special discounts for the lonely.

Valentine Art and Wine Tasting Party for Singles The Artists Alley, 863 Mission; Feb. 13, 7:30pm, $20–$30. Sample appetizers and a fabulous selection of wines from California and around the world at one of SF’s premier art galleries, co-sponsored by the Society of Single Professionals.

Valentine’s Day BikeAbout San Francisco Zoo, Sloat at 47th St.; 753-7236, Feb. 14, 8:30-11am, $25–$30. Woo at the Zoo too rich for your blood? Bring your bike and your sweetie for a leisurely, guided pedal around the zoo followed by a continental breakfast. Discount for tandem cyclists!

Valentine’s Day Poetry Luchadores Sub-mission, 2183 Mission; 863-6303, Feb. 14, 7pm, $20 to fight, $10 to watch. Your favorite revolutionary poets, poverty scholars, mediamakers, and cultural workers at POOR Magazine mash up poetry, gender, and wrestling for their second annual Battle of ALL of the sexes.

Valentine’s Eve for Singles Orson, 508 Fourth St.; 777-1508, Feb. 13, 5:45pm-closing, price varies. Choose your own adventure (and price range) at Orson by attending either the Cupid’s Arrow Dinner Party four-course meal or Aphrodisiac Dessert After Party, with dancing for all starting at 10pm.

Woo at the Zoo San Francisco Zoo, Sloat at 47th St.; 753-7236, Sat/7, 6pm; Sun/8, 12pm; Feb. 14, 12pm & 6pm; $75. Enjoy the 20th annual zoo sex tour with Jane Tollini, featuring new animals, new positions, and new kinky information — plus brunch or dinner.


Charles Chocolates Tasting J Vineyards and Winery, 11447 Old Redwood Hwy, Healdsburg; (707) 431-3646, Sat/7, 12:30-3pm, $20. Join the premium artisan chocolatier for a special Valentine’s Day-themed chocolate and wine tasting at J Vineyards.

Family Valentine’s Play Party River of Light Massage & Healing Arts, 256 Shoreline, Mill Valley; (415) 846-8181, Feb. 14, 10am-12pm, $10–<\d>$20. Enjoy heartfelt family fun, sensory games, movement, laughter, and drama with your extended family.

Progressive Dinner for Single Women and Men Ristorante Don Giovanni, 235 Castro, Mt. View; (510) 233-9700, Sat/7, 7pm, free for newcomers. Find your Valentine among the 20 other singles enjoying a three-course meal.

Sweetheart of the Year Dinner Point San Pablo Yacht Club, 700 W. Cutting, Richmond; (510) 232-1102, Feb. 12, 6:30pm, $35. Honor Pat Dornan at the First United Methodist Church of Richmond’s fun-filled evening of memories and laughter.

Valentine’s Dance 707 W. Hornet, Pier 3, Alameda; (510) 521-8448, Feb. 14, 8pm, $40–$75. Don your best ’40s or ’50s attire and dance to jazz and big-band classics aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet.


Dating, Marriage, Dating Farley’s, 1315 18th St.; Feb. 14, 7:30pm, donations welcome. Get hopped up on coffee while previewing Liz Grant’s new love-and-romance themed stand-up comedy show.

Love Bites Pop Rocks: LGCSF Sings Top-40 Hits of Bitterness and Betrayal Women’s Building, 3543 18th St.; 1-800-838-3006, Fri/6, Sat/7, adults-only show Feb. 13, 8pm, $15–$30. Cupid takes a well-deserved beating when the Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco presents its sixth annual Valentine’s Day cabaret and musical extravaganza.

Mortified: Doomed Valentine’s Show Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St.;, Feb. 12, Feb. 13, 8pm, $12–$15. Share the pain, awkwardness, and bad poetry associated with love as performers read from their teen-angst artifacts.

Origins of Love with John Cameron Mitchell Victoria Theatre, 2961 16th St.; 863-0611, Fri/13-Sun/15, times vary, $25. Shortbus and Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator John Cameron presents a romantic potpourri of song, prose, poetry, and film, including a rare chance to hear Mitchell sing selections from Hedwig.

Sexy Valentine’s Erotica Reading Good Vibrations Polk Street Gallery, 1620 Polk; 345-0400, Fri/6, 6:30pm, free. Enjoy a glass of wine while talented group of local writers read their sexy short stories, frisky flash fiction, passionate poems, and hot haikus.

Spookshow A Go-Go Kimo’s, 1351 Polk; 885-1535, It’s a Valentine’s Day massacre with performances by Dottie Lux, Alotta Boutte, Kitten on the Keys, Lady Satan, Ruby White, and DJ Miz Margo, and films by Val Killmore and Shadow Circus.

Sweet Cookbook Reading and Eating Red Hill Books, 401 Cortland; www.dogearedbooks/redhill. Feb. 13, 7pm, free. Red Hill welcomes chef Mani Niall to read from his new book Sweet!: From Agave Nectar to Turbinado, as well as share some of his treats.


Hearts Gathering King Middle School Auditorium, 1781 Rose, Berk.; Feb. 14, 8pm, $15–$20. Enjoy an evening of poetry and music with Diane di Prima, Michael McClure, California Poet Laureate Carol Muske-Dukes, U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, and former Poet Laureate Al Young performing with bassist Dan Robbins.


I Love You Because … Design Guild Gallery, 427 Bryant; Feb. 14, 8pm, $10. Celebrate V-Day at the closing party for photographer and TransportedSF visionary Alexander Warnow’s collaborative photo project exploring why people love who they do. (You can also view the photos at the gallery Wed.-Sat., 12-6pm, starting Feb. 5.)

Love Sick II Muse Studios, 224 Sixth St.; Feb. 14, 7pm, $15–$20. Find flirty fashions and lascivious lingerie at this trunk-and-runway show featuring Hide & Seek Lingerie, Ape’ritif Lingerie, Miss Velvet Cream, and more. A portion of proceeds from tickets and kissing booth benefit The Riley Center, a local domestic violence shelter.


Cooking Crush for Singles Crushpad Winery, 2573 Third St.; 1-888-907-2665, Feb. 12, 6:30-9pm, $95. Singles in their 30s and 40s are invited to mix and mingle as they tour the winery, share a nibble and a glass of wine, and pair up for cooking lessons.

The Origins of Love and Love’s Expression Exploratorium, 3601 Lyon; 561-0360, Feb. 14, 2pm, with museum admission. Dr. Thomas Lewis offers a Darwinian twist on modern romance, exploring the psychobiology behind human intimacy.

Valentine’s Aphrodisiac Chef Joe’s Culinary Salon, 16 a/b Sanchez; 626-4379, Feb. 14, 11am-1:30pm, $75. Join expert (and hilarious) Chef Joe for a course in cooking food that’ll get you in the mood, including oyster’s mignonette, asparagus in puff pastry, and chocolate fondue.


Sound Healing for Relationships and Interpersonal Communication Tian Gong International Foundation, 830 Bancroft, Lotus Room 114, Berk.; (510) 883-1920, Feb. 13, 7-8:30pm, $5–$10. Get ready for reutf8g at this qigong practice dedicated to energetically healing relationships, including Celestial Song and Love Activations for soul-to-soul communication.

Revolutionary Love Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, UC Berkeley campus, Berk.; Explore the foundations of self-love with workshops, music, dancing, discussion, and a keynote address by Cherrie Moraga during the 24th Empowering Women of Color Conference.

Valentine’s Day at Habitot Children’s Museum 2065 Kittredge, Berk.; (510) 647-1111, Mon/9-Feb. 14, regular admission. Young children can create heart-themed art for loved ones. Visitors who bring craft supplies get free adult admission.

Wholeness Thru Relationship Center for Transformative Change, 2584 Martin Luther King Jr., Berk.; (510) 549-3733, Feb. 14, 7am-4pm, $35–$50. Invite a friend, ally, or someone with whom you’re having a hard time to this daylong workshop about developing relationships with yourself, your loved ones, and your community.

Check out more Valentine’s Day events listings on our SEX SF blog.

>>More G-Spot: The Guardian Guide to love and lust

Ask not what SF can do for you …



It’s been a depressing decade for progressives. In fact, it seems our inability to fight the Bush administration and its misadventures in Iraq and elsewhere left us with the symptoms of a kind of collective Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: disillusioned, disappointed, and tired. That is, until Barack Obama’s election woke us up with a little thing called Hope™.

Now that we have all this energy, though, where should we direct it? How, on an individual level, can we support the Obama administration in making real change? Michelle Obama started to answer this question when she announced the Call to Service, asking Americans to devote time to neighborhood organizations and causes on Jan. 19 and beyond, via

We’d like to add to the discussion by highlighting some local groups, causes, and nonprofits who could use year-round help.


Perhaps the best way to use your renewed political energy is putting it toward a cause you care about. For example, if you’re worried about how this year’s massive budget deficit might devastate healthcare in San Francisco, you might want to get involved with Coalition to Save Public Health (415-848-3611 ext. 3628, Also check out nonprofits and grassroots groups working towards marriage equality, energy reform, or whatever pet issue you’re passionate about.


An even more direct way to be involved in local government is to volunteer inside City Hall, particularly with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors (1 Carlton B. Goodlett, SF. 415-554-5184, Every supervisor has two aides, who in turn rely on donated labor to maintain the busy officials’ schedules and duties. To get involved, visit the Web site and fill out an application specifying your skills, availability, and preferred supervisors. Keep in mind four current supervisors once worked as staff or interns in these same offices, so this is a great way to get into politics while helping our government run more efficiently. It’s win-win.


Though SF might seem like a bicycle-friendly city, we’ve still got a lot of work to do, from promoting the bike as primary transportation to representing bicycle interests in local government and city planning. If you’re a fellow velo-fanatic, give your time to the Bicycle Coalition (995 Market, SF. 415-431-BIKE, Check the Web site to volunteer in the office, at Volunteer Nights, with bike valet parking, or with outreach.


It’s easy to forget how important beautiful, open spaces are to a community until you don’t have them. But just imagine how different the Mission would be without Dolores Park, or the Lower Haight without Duboce. Support the maintenance, beautification, and continued improvement of these and other green spaces by volunteering with the Neighborhood Parks Council (451 Hayes, F. 415-621-3260, The Council welcomes everything from one-time feedback or participation in a scheduled work day to longer-term internships for youth 16-23 years old, and everything in between.


One of our favorite recent-ish developments on the Interwebs is the proliferation of Web sites connecting philanthropic types to specific causes — especially two SF-based organizations who work specifically with volunteers. Check out Chinatown-based for a list of specific opportunities and a chance to upload your volunteer résumé — great for medium- to long-term volunteering — or former Best of the Bay winner One Brick (, which hosts an event calendar of upcoming volunteer events — great for one-time, short-term, and short-notice involvement.

Most important, we’d like to point out that community service, though incredibly important, is only one way to address our society’s ills. "It can be a Band-Aid approach to systemic problems," said Sup. Chris Daly. What we really need, he said, is "to demand more from elected leaders, for people to put themselves forward and take control of political institutions. There’s no greater service than keeping elected leaders accountable to the people they serve."

True dat.

Get class-y



Want to take your career in a new direction? Increase the skills you already have? Use your unemployment check for something fun and educational? We’ve chosen just a handful of interesting classes to occupy your time and, perhaps, to serve as a more cost-effective (and beneficial) alternative to the massively expensive dinner-and-bar outing.


This multilevel class teaches a modern version of the ancient harvest dance from the state of Punjab in northwestern India. Incorporating hip-hop, dancehall, and drum ‘n’ bass influences of modern DJs, this accessible dance form reflects the diversity of the Indian diaspora.

Mondays, 6:30–8 p.m. $12 drop-in.

Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., SF. (415) 826-4441,


More "alt" than strictly "goth," the whole point of this class is to teach basic partner dancing moves to fun, unconventional music. Don’t expect to learn traditional swing, but do expect a rockin’ good time with a room full of people looking for the same. (And you’ll leave at least looking like you know how to swing.)

Tuesdays, 7–8 p.m. $5 drop-in.

Fat City, 314 11th St., SF.


You’ll learn everything you need to know to climb glaciers (or gym walls) in this in-depth, four-week introductory course, including belay and basic safety techniques, bouldering, climbing technology, and more. It’s not cheap, but the fee includes harness and shoe rentals for class nights, gym access for one month, and — should you decide to join the gym — a discount on membership.

Wednesdays, 7 p.m. $129 for four weeks.

Planet Granite, 924 Old Mason, SF. (415) 692-3434,


Explore this exciting, nuanced genre with instructor and published writer Josh Mohr. You’ll learn to use all the elements of narrative construction while creating powerful stories containing only a few hundred words. Mohr promises lots of freedom, experimentation, and play.

Jan. 24, 10 a.m.–4 p.m., $110

Writing Salon, 720 York, SF. (415) 609-2468,


Are you intimidated by the bicycle boys’ club? Want a supportive place to learn more about your ride? Bike Kitchen’s monthly clinic devoted to women, transfolks, genderqueers, and femmes is one of our favorite offerings from the all-volunteer collective. Also check out Basic Tune-up classes in February, and BK’s new locale in March!

Jan. 26, 6:30–9:30 p.m. Free.

Bike Kitchen, 1256 Mission, SF.


Spend an informative, enjoyable evening with Chef Joe Wittenbrook in his charming Duboce Triangle studio as you learn approachable menus that work well for those on a budget. Or, even better, schedule a private class for you and four friends.

Jan. 27 (and every Tuesday through April), 6–9 p.m. $95.

Chef Joe’s Culinary Salon, 16a/b Sanchez, SF.


Elaine Chu shows students how to make an impressive hardcover, origami-style book with folded pages that can be filled with images and text. In class, you’ll paint your own covers using vibrantly colored inks, as well as learn to attach ribbon ties.

Jan. 27, 6:30-9:30 p.m. $55 plus $10 materials.

SF Center for the Book, 300 De Haro, SF. (415) 565-0545,


Learn to work with stretch fabrics while making these painfully cute tops for tots, all while supporting the new effort by former Stitch Lounge favorites Kelly Williams and Hannah McDevitt. Great gifts for new moms and their winter spawn!

Jan. 31, noon–3 p.m. $62

Craft Haven Collective, 520 Hampshire, SF.


Create simple herbal remedies for the common winter bug while learning about basic actions of plants and how they work in combination. You’ll leave with a jar or each remedy, plus handouts and recipes.

Jan. 31, 10 a.m.–noon. $15.

Garden for the Environment, Seventh Ave. at Lawton, SF. (415) 731-5627,


You live in California! It’s time to learn how to surf! In Adventure Out’s two-day clinic, you’ll learn basic technique, safety and etiquette, ocean awareness, and balance. All gear included!

Feb. 7–8, 9 a.m.–noon, $170.

Linda Mar Beach, Pacifica.


Think there’s no way you could be a fire-eater? Think again. The art of putting (and putting out) fire in your mouth, running it along your skin, and executing other advanced tricks is easier than it seems. In this entry-level class, you’ll make two torches to take home and practice with. And don’t worry, you’ll learn fire safety before any flames touch your skin.

Feb. 28–Mar. 1, 3:30–5:30 p.m. $85.

The Crucible, 1260 Seventh St., Oakl. (510) 444-0919,


There’s no better time for learning how to fund your art than now. Let Root Division’s executive director, Michelle Mansour, guide you through researching and applying for grant funding, including understanding lingo, addressing application criteria, preparing work samples, and editing.

March 16 & 30, 7–9 p.m. $30

Root Division, 3175 17th St., SF. *

Confessions: DIY sex toys


Discussion of VICE mag piece, plus what i used to use as a teen

It’s never too late


My dad was a fan of last-minute shopping. As in: he’d go to the mall on Christmas Eve an hour before closing and park in the red zone. Though it drove my mom crazy, it seemed to work for dad — thanks in equal parts to his ability to manage anxiety (he didn’t seem to have any) and the one-stop-shop-iness of the mall experience.

But what if you’ve slacked on your shopping this year and you want to shop locally? Whether your idea of "last-minute" is a week before Santa comes or Christmas morning before the kids wake up, here are some shopping ideas that’ll help make your last-minute mad dash less, well, maddening.


Delisa Sage is as much curator as owner of this charming Potrero Hill shop, which features a mix of vintage and locally-made items with a focus on female designers and hand-made objects. From clocks to cameras and jewelry to housewares, you just might find something for everyone here.

1345 18th, SF. (415) 282-4401,


These sister stores are an ideal stop when shopping for kids and their parents. Owner Elizabeth Leu carefully chooses toys, clothing, stationery, and books that are stylish, environmentally friendly, and often made by local designers. Both stores have extended holiday hours, and if you sign up for the mailing list, you’ll get a coupon for 20 percent off.

540 and 508 Hayes, SF. (415) 565-0508, and


Focusing on unusual styles from small-production shoe companies, Delirious is an ideal stop for your shoe-loving friends and family. Plus, owner Amy Boe has stocked up on socks, tights, bags, and slippers for holiday gifts and stocking stuffers.

317 Connecticut, SF. (415) 641-4086,


Come for eco-consciousness, stay for style and selection. Spring always has a variety of gorgeously designed tableware, candles, bath and body products, linens, and often children’s dolls, all sustainable and non-toxic. Think hippie values with Dwell aesthetics.

2162 Polk, SF. (415) 673-2065,


If there are any holes in your gift list, you can surely fill ’em here. Cards, hats, gloves, jewelry, tchotchkes, home décor, joke gifts … you name it, Therapy carries it — and the Mission District favorite is open Christmas Eve.

541 Valencia, SF. (415) 621-5902,


Fun, funky, and oh-so-cute, this tiny store is chock-full of winsome delights, from wooden mustaches to Russian doll–style stackable bowls. Though usually closed on Mondays, they’ll stay open Dec. 23 for last-minute shoppers.

855 Valencia, SF. (415) 671-5384,


An easy hop, skip, and a jaywalk across from Curiosity Shoppe is this weird and wacky favorite where rare stones and plants are as easy to find as taxidermied animals. Plus, they’re open Christmas Eve!

824 Valencia, SF. (415) 824-1872,


Sure, beer is a niche gift. But there’s no better place to find a unique, imported, hard-to-find brew than this delightful basement shop. Plus, you can drink while you shop.

1168 Folsom, SF. (415) 503-1033,


Stuck at home with the kids? In bed with the flu? Sometimes shopping online is your only option. But if you’re going to do it, why not shop an SF-based business? The Branch warehouse on Van Ness Street is stuffed floor-to-ceiling with sustainable, adorable gifts, including toys, furniture, housewares, and clothing. Order by Dec. 19 to send gifts by Christmas. Or, if you’re later, simply send a card with a photo of what you’re buying so your giftee knows you weren’t that late.

(415) 626-1012,


What could be easier than a gift certificate, or more welcome than a massage? Purchase an affordable session ($65–$130) with Potrero Hill-based Jennifer Bryce ahead of tiem and let your giftee make an appointment. Bryce is trained in Swedish, shiatsu, hot stone, deep tissue, and many more massage styles, so everybody (and every body) should benefit from her touch.

(415) 215-6205,


When it’s the idea of a gift that’s more important to you than the object itself, why not donate to your favorite cause — or that of your loved one — in your giftee’s name? is an interesting option for those who want to know exactly where their money is going. On this site, teachers ask for classroom materials and donors choose which projects to support. Check out the main site at or City Editor Steven T. Jones’ personal choices at Support two-wheeled travel by giving to the Bike Kitchen (, a do-it-yourself resource run by volunteers, or the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition (, an alliance promoting the bike for everyday transportation. Other organizations we like are Western Regional Advocacy Project (, which seeks to expose and eliminate root causes of civil and human rights abuses; Coalition on Homelessness (, which initiates program and policy changes to promote social justice and create exits from poverty; and Nature in the City (, which seeks to restore wildlife and connect urbanites with the nature where they live. And perhaps the cause closest to our hearts this season is overturning Proposition 8. There’s been some controversy over which of the big marriage equality organizations or smaller grassroots efforts have the tools and resources to affect change, so choose carefully when donating. We like the 10-year-old Equality California ( Other organizations we trust to support equal marriage rights, as well as other issues of importance to the LGBT community, are the National Center for Lesbian Rights ( and Horizons Foundation (

Need even more ideas? Check out the special deals on the SF Convention and Visitors Bureau site, Also see our staff gift lists on our Pixel Vision blog and our 2008 Holiday Guide. And don’t forget to let us know how you spent your money locally this year at, where you’ll enter to win $500 in gift certificates to local businesses.