Feel the pulse!
by Mark Mardon
The gay pulse is throbbing in the Bay Area, practically ready to burst! So many festivals, so little time! Once we were starved for queer culture, now it's everywhere around us, constantly seducing us. With the National Queer Arts Festival going full-steam ahead, with Frameline30 looming, with the Pride Parade and Celebration just a hair's-breadth away, with drag queens and/or leather people in nearly every bar raising the bar on fundraising standards, with testosterone-driven drag kings flexing their muscles as they enjoy the limelight, with dykes and trannies ready to undertake their own marches, the scene is unbelievably dynamic!
Last weekend I attended the National Queer Arts Festival event devoted to "GuyWriters " ( www.guywriters.org), a budding group of gay Bay Area writers that shows tremendous promise. The event, titled "Men on Men: Connecting with the Masculine," introduced us to a solid batch of local gay writers, all of whom read well-crafted, personal works, rendered in styles from soft-spoken to dramatic. Held on the fourth floor of the SF LGBT Community Center, and moderated by intense young African American poet Anthony Williams, the event also brought out two of my literary heroes, acclaimed writers Justin Chin and Marvin K. White . It was their star power that brought me out to the show, but I'd have been easily satisfied with the talented GuyWriters crew alone. I got a kick out of Andrew Demcak, a nelly versifier who took us into the closet in "Other World" and did back-to-back numbers on Matthew Shepard and Brokeback Mountain, pointedly making the connection. Veteran performer Donald Curry was a huge hit with a lively, hilarious, catty excerpt from "Sex and Mayhem," his one-man show, the next installment to play at New Conservatory Theatre Center. Young, fetching, tousle-haired poet Jay Siegel, fresh from the Midwest, read "When I Still Liked Girls," about his high-school girlfriend, and "Dorm Room," about having a crush on a college roommate, and it took me back . . . way back! Matthew Graham Smith impressed with an excerpt from a play, in production at Jon Sims Center, involving two friends getting drunk and missing high school, presenting a sorry, soggy picture! Lewis Anther 's piece about illegal, underground gay love in Bombay took us into that steamy, nerve-wracking atmosphere. Still, the highlights of the night for me came first when Chin read, almost mumbling into the mic, his fierce, witty, highly atmospheric prose taking me into his personal story, which has long fascinated his devoted fans, and then when White, joined by all the others, led off the "world premiere" of "Swisher Suite," a choreo-poem in which all the readers took parts, as though they were verbal Rockettes, taking turns tossing out the words, batting them back and forth, taking center stage with them, and rousing the crowd with choreographed verbal high kicking. It was an unforgettable moment in the San Francisco poetry scene. For more on the National Queer Arts Festival, check out http://www.queerculturalcenter.org/.
I wish to object in the strongest terms to Mark Mardon’s (Feel the Pulse! 6/15/2006) description of me at the GuyWriters National Queer Arts Festival event at the SF LGBT Community Center. Mr. Mardon refers to me as a “nelly versifier”- I wish to point out to Mr. Mardon that I was, without a doubt, the butchest thing in Gucci in the entire room.
ex-Rat Catcher and poet-at-large