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Gay Adult Film Studio Founder Pens Open Letter To AHF's Michael Weinstein on PrEP

Peter Acworth

Peter Acworth, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based porn studio Kink-dot-com, has joined the crowd of people expressing their dissatisfaction with AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Michael Weinstein and his campaign against PrEP as a tool for HIV prevention, as well as his fixation on attacking the adult film industry. In an open letter hosted on his own site, Acworth says,

You have spent valuable donor money battling the adult video production community for many years as what appears to be your priority. This dates back to lawsuits you filed against AIM (the much cherished performer-created testing facility and database) which eventually put them out of business, to your lobbying efforts with Cal/OSHA, to numerous complaints you have filed against my and other production companies, to Measure B which mandates condoms in LA, to various bills you have sponsored with Assemblymember Isadore Hall, and on-going PR attacks on the industry.

If the current direction continues, I believe it to be inevitable that what remains of the adult video industry will leave the state. Worse, I believe the safety protocols the industry already has in place will become jeopardized.

[...]

Lastly, I know you have mixed feelings about PrEP, the new medical regimen that can help prevent HIV transmission. It’s not well-understood yet by performers, but I believe we owe it to the communities we serve to evaluate this on its merits. The fact is, none of the performers you bring to your press conferences would have been protected had AB1576 been passed ten years ago, because no California condom law is going to protect performers during their personal lives, or shooting on unregulated sets overseas.


The Hot Cop of Castro Street: PHOTOS

Hot_cop

San Francisco's finest.

One more, AFTER THE JUMP...

Photos by Mark Abramson, who writes:

19th & Castro cop on bike up-date: He was still there when I was on my way home from the gym. I told him the picture I took of him this morning was too dark. "Oh, was I?" he regretfully asked, as if it were his fault. "Do you mind if I take a couple more?" "Sure!" he grinned and gave me a thumbs-up! I suspect he goes to the Eagle on Sundays when he's off work.

Continue reading "The Hot Cop of Castro Street: PHOTOS" »


Emma Donoghue’s ‘Frog Music’: Book Review

BY GARTH GREENWELL

On September 14, 1876, as San Francisco suffered under the twin plagues of record-breaking heat and an epidemic of smallpox, a young woman was shot dead through the window of a rented room at a railway station just outside of the city. Her name was Jenny Bonnet, well-known to the police for the crime of wearing men’s clothes, a predilection for which she was arrested numerous times. With her was a 24-year-old French burlesque performer and prostitute, Blanche Beunon.

Frog MusicEmma Donohue’s new novel, her first since her international bestseller, Room, takes these facts as the basis for an historical fiction that is less a mystery—Blanche is convinced through most of the book that she knows who killed her friend—than a portrait of these two characters and, even more successfully, of the time and city in which they live.

Jenny Bonnet is a wonderful creation, seemingly determined to live life on her own terms, with a recklessness that looks very much like freedom. “Jenny’s an odd kind of woman,” Blanche thinks, “part boy, part clown, part animal. An original, accountable to no one, bound by no ties, who cocks her hat as she pleases….” In her self-reliance and refusal to be bound, as well as in her flashes of compassion, she could almost be a fully grown, female Huckleberry Finn.

Blanche, Donohue’s protagonist and our guide through the world of the book, is somewhat less easy to love. She’s famous for her shows at the House of Mirrors, the bordello where she’s known as “The Lively Flea” for a particularly popular routine, and she’s wonderfully unapologetic for her appetite for sex: even if her partner is a paying client, “Men are tools Blanche uses for her satisfaction.” She lives with her lover and pimp, Arthur Deneve, a man whose apparent charm gives way, over the course of the book, to shocking brutality.

Blanche is also a mother, though not a particularly good one. She and Arthur have arranged for their child’s care at what they believe to be a farm outside the city, where the country air will be good for his health; instead, as Blanche discovers to her horror, he has been kept in a terrible, dank home for unwanted children. Blanche’s desire to find her child, and guilt over what she has done—she knows that she was relieved to be free of the burden of an infant, and that she was blithely unconcerned about his fate—are the primary motivations for her actions after Jenny’s death.

Killing off your most appealing character is a remarkable risk for a novelist. But Jenny doesn’t disappear from the book after her murder; instead, the book adopts an odd, occasionally cumbersome strategy, dividing into two interwoven strands. The first follows Blanche through the days immediately following the shooting; the second tells the story of her friendship with Jenny, beginning a month before the opening scene and moving toward what we know to be the friendship’s inevitable end.

The novel becomes enormously poignant as it nears its end, when we see the friendship between Blanche and Jenny blossoming in unexpected ways even as we know Jenny’s death is nearing. And Blanche becomes an ever-more appealing character as we see how she has been changed by that friendship, moving toward a future more open to possibility because of the ways in which Jenny challenged Blanche’s assumptions about her own life. Though Blanche claims to have no talent for friendship, she comes to realize that Jenny “is the friend Blanche has been waiting a quarter of a century for without even knowing it.”

DonoghueFor all its human drama, the real protagonist of Frog Music is the city that enlivens every page. Donoghue’s San Francisco of the 1870s is a rich, vibrant, unpredictable place, equal parts Wild West and cosmopolitan city, full of casinos and saloons and immigrants of all kinds, many of them transient. “As if the City’s just a mouth, swallowing them whole,” Jenny observes, “and the rest of America’s the belly where they end up.” It’s also a place of music, and the book is full of songs, many of them from Blanche’s native France—one meaning of Donoghue’s title—but others distinctly American, whether the minstrel songs of Stephen Foster or Black spirituals.

Donoghue’s San Francisco is finally a frontier town, a place where boundaries are at once starkly drawn and constantly shifting: lines of race, class, gender, sexuality, all are fiercely asserted and yet repeatedly crossed. As we learn more about her past in the book’s final chapters, it’s clear that in Jenny Bonnet, Donoghue has created a thoroughly human embodiment of our impulse to cross all lines.

Previous reviews...
Tatamkhulu Afrika’s ‘Bitter Eden’
Rabih Alameddine’s ‘An Unnecessary Woman’
Edmund White’s ‘Inside a Pearl: My Years in Paris’
Randall Mann’s ‘Straight Razor’

Garth Greenwell is the author of Mitko, which won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for both the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award and a Lambda Award. His new novel, What Belongs to You, is forthcoming from Faber/FSG in May 2015. He lives in Iowa City, where he is an Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.


This Year's GaymerX Convention Is The Last One as Costs Skyrocket in San Francisco

GaymerX2 banner

Last year San Francisco played host to GaymerX, an LGBT-targeted video game convention where queer gamers of all stripes could geek out in a safe space over their favorite hobby without having to put up with the homophobia that runs rampant in video game culture. The con was such a success that it will be coming back this year as GaymerX2.

Darren_youngUnfortunately, it will be the last as the cost of running the convention in San Francisco is just too high. Said the event's founder Matt Conn in an interview with Polygon,

We decided that we could no longer continue as a convention as the price of running a yearly convention downtown in San Francisco was just too high — we weren’t able to get the corporate sponsorship that we needed to make it something sustainable, and we were racking up huge amounts of debt to put this years con on.

The con intends to go out with a bang. It has moved to the San Francisco Intercontinental Hotel - a much larger venue than last year's Hotel Kabuki - and will be hosting guests such as activist Mattie Brice, game designer David Gaider, and out WWE performer Fred Rosser, aka Darren Young (pictured).


The Golden Age of Hustlers: VIDEO

Hustler

Justin Vivian Bond and co-directors Silas Howard and Erin Greenwell present their (crowdfunded) remake of "Golden Age of Hustlers", written by SF punk chanteuse Bambi Lake, which "captures the 1970's gay hustler scenes of pre-HIV/AIDS era on Polk St in San Francisco from an insider's experience."

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

StudThe HuffPost has an interview with the directors.

Says Howard:

I'm obsessed with the idea of queer and trans lineage and how the past and future can live in the same room. Perhaps it's in part due to coming of age in the midst of loss from AIDS, that I feel a kinship to the mentors gone too soon. Though Bambi wrote the song in the early '90s, in a community of "misfit" queers, sex workers, transsexuals, queers and punks, it speaks to a modern time in that many of us still look for places where all parts of ourselves can find home. I'm grateful to Justin Vivian Bond for carrying Bambi Lake's legacy forward, allowing us access to learn from Bambi as a performer and a punk transsexual icon of an older generation, who prevailed and created art that represented an experience of living outside the "mainstream." I think of the music video as a kind of love letter from our past to the next generation.

Continue reading "The Golden Age of Hustlers: VIDEO" »


Tyler Clementi's Story to Be Told by SF Gay Men's Chorus in Musical Suite

On March 25th, the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus will premiere a series of songs, "Tyler's Suite," celebrating the life of Tyler Clementi (right). The college student was himself a musician before his suicide in 2010, which in turn prompted a great deal of national discussion surrounding the issue of LGBT youth and bullying.

ClementiThe musical piece will be comprised of multiple movements written by some of today's great composers, including Stephen Schwartz, and is being presented as part of a larger performance titled "Luster: An American Songbook."

BroadwayWorld.com reports:

"As a soundtrack of American life during the time of the Great Depression and two world wars, the American Songbook consists of timeless music that translated positive values and an optimistic spirit," says [Artistic Director Dr. Timothy] Seelig. "The Chorus continues that tradition, presenting a new set of songs by today's premier American composers, offering hope and bringing to light the important cultural issues of today through the story of Tyler Clementi."

...

With the help of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, SFGMC commissioned a musical work that will add eight new songs to the soundtrack that is the American Songbook of the 21st century, honoring the memory of a beloved son, brother and friend. "Tyler's Suite" creates a new story of inclusion, dignity and acceptance for other youth and their families, through a musical experience that inspires community, activism and compassion. The story is one of hope and encouragement to families everywhere.

Other composers involved in the project include "John Bucchino, Ann Hampton Callaway, Craig Carnelia, John Corigliano, Nolan Gasser, Jake Heggie, Lance Horne, and Pamela Stewart." The piece will also be performed by gay men's choruses in Chicago, Los Angeles, NYC, San Diego, Dallas, and Seattle.

Visit the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus website for tickets and more information.


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