the tenderloin has a long tradition of drag performers. i attended the first annual miss gay northern california pageant last night (on a free ticket no less – i recorded a song for one of the contestants to sing to and she bought me ticket as payment!). it was fabulous, to say the least. it was held in a club i’d never been to before in the seediest part of the TL. it was like stepping into the 70s . . . light-up dance floor! i wish i had pictures but my poor little camera just wasn’t cooperating, not to mention i got my drink stolen when i put it down to try to take some photos. oh, people. really?
the tenderloin/SOMA drag scene in san francisco has such a unique energy and style, more punk than showqueen, more stand-up goofy than elegant. i’ve loved being a spectator.
i left the pageant early to head to the cinch saloon. ah, the cinch – i knew i’d be writing about it sooner or later. the cinch where i met you, alexander, and where i met so many of the people in the fabulous SF drag scene. it was all quite by accident really. the cinch technically isn’t in the tenderloin, but being that i consider it my local bar, it might as well be.
the thing that surprises most people on their first visit to the cinch is how huge it is. from the outside, it looks like a tiny hole-in-the-wall, and it is somewhat narrow, but it goes on and on and on, all the way back to an outdoor patio (which unfortunately they have had to start closing at 10PM due to noise complaints).
for years there was an epic drag show every friday night at midnight called “charlie horse” hosted by the most amazing queen, anna conda. televisions were smashed, fires were set onstage in trashcans, the audience was sprayed with blood, glitter, and all manner of other junk . . . oh wow those night were epic. every rule was broken and eventually the bar had to contend with angry neighbors and various city bureaus. anna finally, in frustration, just shut the night down. i sent her a note at that time trying to describe how much those shows and that scene had meant to me; they had provided me family and friends when i had none, and it had been the first time in my life that i was a part of a “scene” from the beginning, watched it get big, then have to watch it ultimately get to big for its own good.
but anna didn’t go down without a fight; anna (or rather her alter ego glendon) is running for san francisco supervisor (that’s our equivalent of city council) with the following platform:
citywide rent control
a more vibrant south of market & tenderloin
create safe & affordable housing
keep muni running
tax non-medical cannabis
promote arts, culture & nightlife
well . . . i don’t know if she has a chance, but it’s nice to know there’s a local politician out there who cares about issues that matter to me.
anyway, the new friday night at the cinch is a show called “chickstrip” hosted by juanita fajita. it’s a crazy amateur male strip contest where the winner gets $100. the contestants are a mix of exhibitionists and guys that really need $100 for reasons i’ll leave to your imagination. when i walked in last night and headed for the men’s room, juanita pointed at me and announced into the microphone “oh i’ve seen you naked!” nothing like making an entrance, eh?
yes, another epic night, stretching from one edge of the ‘hood to the other. drag queens, strippers, and booze . . . isn’t that what friday nights should always be about?