Last night my friend D and I donned our blue and pink wigs and went to California Academy of Science’s Pride NightLife event. We got to use the staff entrance with the drag queens and were asked, “Are you ladies on the list?” It kind of made me giddy. I wondered why I didn’t go to “Such and Such Day at the Such and Such Museum” events more often. As I waited on line to have a sea cucumber excrete in my hand, I remembered why I don’t usually go to such things. They are crowded as fuck. Fun fact: When a sea cucumber gets stressed, it eviscerates its own organs only to regrow them later.
I wasn’t about to go sea cucumber but I was annoyed about spending a couple waiting everywhere. The spicy margaritas with the peppers that made my lips numb were worth the wait, however. We got some free rainbow sunglasses and spent an inordinate amount of time trying to take a selfie with fish.
Heklina’s show was great. Her legs and ability to strut in high heels made me jealous. When I met her afterward, I was star struck. I’m working on a story for The Bold Italic about female urination devices so I used a urinal in the men’s bathroom. Nobody cared. I ate McDonald’s afterward and felt very guilty. San Francisco is confusing.
“In light of the events that happened in Orlando, this year’s Pride theme is extremely appropriate. I know it might sound trivial, but if we can’t have fun at Pride, then terror wins.”
One of San Francisco’s most well-known drag queens, Heklina, certainly knows who’s hosting the best parties on Pride weekend. What better source for Pride veterans and newbies alike to get the hookup from? This week, I sat down with her to pick the brain under that fabulous wig — and to hear her picks for the best Pride party options for any and every stripe.
Thao Nguyen of the band Thao and the Get Down Stay Down has some daddy issues. Her song Astonished Man off the recently released A Man Alive album was inspired by Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Gilead. The song is about forgiveness, forgiving her father for being a tumultuous yet charismatic presence in her childhood and eventually abandoning her family. She sings, “you don’t look for me but I will look for you.” The astonished man is astonished by the love and forgiveness he is offered despite his bad actions.
Some friends and I went to see Thao and the Get Down Stay Down on Saturday night at The Fillmore in San Francisco and it was a great show (thanks H). A Man Alive is a tumultuous yet charismatic album. It’s noisy. She’s hollering and stomping like St.Vincent. If you like to dance you should listen. Also listen to her Song Exploder podcast.
I live in downtown Berkeley next door to a men’s shelter. Every morning after breakfast some of the men come outside, stand around on the sidewalk, and talk. I usually pass them twice, once on my way to or from the gym and again on my way to work. One of the men is named Kieran.
I work four blocks from my apartment and once my boss compared my neighborhood after dark to the Tenderloin is San Francisco. Yes, there are a lot of encampments but it’s not the Loin. I am afraid to walk by myself alone at night in the Tenderloin. Actually, I’m terrified. I’ve never been afraid in Berkeley.
I feel like the homeless population has a lot better things to do than harm me. Also, there are not many mentally ill homeless people in Berkeley that I’ve encountered. The worst thing anyone has ever yelled at me on the street is, “Anorexic bitch!” I kind of liked it.
Kieran talks to all the women who pass by him. Sometimes he walks beside or behind me. Sometimes his buddies tell him to shut up and sometimes they join in. He doesn’t whisper as I pass. He recites the same script with vigor every day.
Kieran: Keep smiling sweetheart. You are very pretty. I like what you have on. I’m telling you that if he doesn’t marry you he’s a fool and it’s a damn shame.
Sometimes Kieran talks about his twin sister Keira. Sometimes he asks me my name or if I forgot something (when I pass by him more than once). I once heard him ask about the daughter of a woman who works in a government building. It was the girl’s birthday. Kieran is predictable but today he changed the script.
Kieran’s script change freaked me out a little bit. He said, “I probably won’t kidnap you but I’d like it if you’d spend some time with me.” I don’t feel particularly comfortable being sized up multiple times a day by Kieran. Mentioning kidnapping as I was turning the lock on my apartment building wasn’t cool. I guess I should move to Walnut Creek. No fucking way! He did say that he wasn’t going to do it. Probably.
I haven’t been dancing IN YEARS. My friend L told me at WeWork’s new member brunch yesterday (hey croissant breakfast sandwiches) that she wanted to go. I was intrigued. Nobody seemed to know where to go dancing outside of San Francisco. I remembered that my friend N likes to go dancing and gave her a call. She was in.
She chose Era Art Bar and Lounge in Oakland’s Uptown. I decided that dancing was an occasion for kohl eye makeup (fail) and my highest heels. I love being 5’11”(success, then later fail). N responsibly drove us there in the rain. We picked up her fucking amazing sister T and got a spot right in front of the club! I believe that good parking comes from returning your shopping cart at the grocery store to the corral in front of the store (not the lot corral and definitely not wedged between spots or worse).
We first went for drinks at a new place called Small Wonder, formerly the Loring Cafe. T said it looked like different people had decorated different parts of the bar. We were in a quiet corner on vintage couches kind of crammed in next to a big round vintage wood table with mismatched everything (chairs, plates, napkin rings etc.). The bartender was very talented. N and T had sidecars (he gave us the extra in a couple of small glasses) and L and I had the signature cocktail. My friend S (the hottest person in the Coast Guard), L’s new dude person, and his random (at first I thought he had just come over to hit on S) friend joined us.
Era was super cozy and the DJ was great. I woohooed when he played Rihanna’s Work. I danced. I thought I couldn’t dance. There wasn’t much room to move so I swayed about sexily. It was very ambitious of me to try this in very high heels. At one point I fell on my ass. My friends know that despite growing up a jock, I’m terribly uncoordinated. T took me upstairs and convinced me that everyone could care less that I fell. Then we got back to it and danced until the lights came on.
I had a lot of fun. Nobody touched me inappropriately. Nobody kept trying to hit on me after I ignored him the first time. I met a lot of N and T’s amazing friends. I saw my friend K and her boyfriend briefly on the dance floor. Someone bought me a glass of champagne. My friend’s shared their water with me. I used to be too something for dancing. Judgmental? Grumpy? Fucking afraid? In fact, if I guy mentions dancing on their Bumble profile I usually swipe left. Other than my sore tailbone today, it was great! It feels so good to be a positive fearless yes sayer. Always swipe right on dancing.
Ivy Room’s grand reopening is tonight starting at 9. Ivy Room is one of the many wonders of San Pablo Avenue and the oldest Albany neighborhood bars. It’s been a dive bar, a lounge, upscale cocktail bar and now in its latest incarnation a locals bar/club/music venue. San Francisco’s Face the Giant us headlining.
I’ve always loved Ivy Room’s neon sign. It’s beckoned to me since I first moved to the Bay Area and yet I’ve never been inside. I hear there will be cozy booths, a good stage and sound system, and prohibition era fixtures. It’s less than a 10 minute walk away from Plan B-ing it at Albany Bowl with its new and improved glow in the dark light show.
We are absolutely spoiled by great places to drink great beer in the East Bay. I haven’t been to Faction in Alameda yet, but if there’s outdoor beer drinking to be had in Oakland or Berkeley, I’ve been there. Westbrae has never been a favorite.
Westbrae is for dogs and kids. If there were a beer garden in Noe Valley in San Francisco (Valley Tavern sort of counts?), it would be just like Westbrae. I went there in the glorious Saturday weather to meet my good ex turned dear friend P. He likes to ride the Ohlone Greenway. It was packed but I’m a professional swooper inner and seat snatcher. I got us a spot at a picnic table while he grabbed some beers.
There are good things about Westbrae. The beer selection is excellent. I loved my Dry Dock Brewing Apricot Blonde and loved his Altamont Hopwash IPA even more. The Brazil Café truck makes delicious food. P and I could hear what each other were saying. Not everyone was young, tattooed, and pierced.
I had a great time and could have stayed all afternoon if it hadn’t been sexy getting ready time. Westbrae Biergarten is no longer my runner up for the beer garden I like the least.