Alt. Fun.

Nightlife’s Other Options

by Jim Provenzano

Bearded muscle bears cavort in pink tutus. Mustached twinks wrestle while coated in lube. Local authors verbally joust in bars. These are a few of our favorite new things.

San Francisco, known for its alternative scene, may occasionally suffer from hipster overload, and anything trendy does attract them. But no matter what style your jeans  (skinny, saggy or Mom), many standard venues are only too happy to host unusual fun events. And anyone, no matter their style, is welcome.

Rocket Collective DJs

Like a Rocket
For a taste of the playa without the dust, Rocket Collective’s monthly dance parties at The Rickshaw Stop blend costume-friendly ambiance with ear-friendly grooves. The love child of the hunky DJ quartet Mat dos Santos, David Sternesky, Trevor Sigler, and Brian Maier, since January, Rocket has shared a cartoonish Soviet-space-age camp derived from the guys’ Burning Man camp, Astropups.

According to Sternesky, Rocket aims “to promote alternative queer dance floor culture in San Francisco and on-playa.” The Rocket parties feature special artistic decor from the guest beneficiary camps every month, which Sternesky described as “Jetsons meets Scooby Doo.”

Amid the house/techno mix, friendly guys and some women danced while others hang back by the bar. In the upstairs lounge, patrons enjoyed the balcony view as a neon-winged bear cub served fresh-made waffles.

Other venues where the quartet spins include Bearracuda, Joe (at The Lookout), Booty Call (Q Bar), and even at Berkeley’s Steamworks bath house.

So, why bring the playa out of the desert?

“With Burning Man’s ticketing situation, we feel like it is more important than ever to create an accessible environment in the city where creative queers of all types can mingle, dance, and express themselves,” said Sternesky. “While nothing can replace the totally immersive experience of being on-playa, we hope that our party succeeds in bringing a taste of The Burn right into the heart of San Francisco every month.”

The Rocket guys hold their events at the Rickshaw Stop for a lot of reasons, said Sternesky. “It’s a great space with amazing sound and friendly staff. It’s convenient to public transit, and it has a stage for live performers.” The mezzanine level also affords space for art installations and a little oasis away from the dance floor.

The mezzanine view of Rocket at The Rickshaw Stop. photo: Georg Lester

Sternesky noted that despite hosting many live music nights, and the women’s night Cockblock party for six years, the Rickshaw Stop has been somewhat “’off the gaydar’ for many gay male club-goers in San Francisco,” he said. “We’re thrilled to help solidify its spot on that particular map. Establishing a reputation in a space without a built-in crowd of regulars is creatively liberating. The audience comes without preconceived notions about what the venue is like.” will lead you to each DJ’s site. The May 26 Rocket at the Rickshaw Stop, 155 Fell St, benefits the Sun Guardians.  Rocket Collective also spins at Bearracuda, Saturday May 19, at Holy Cow, 1535 Folsom St. $6-$8.

Literary Death Match

To the Death!
With events now branching out all over the planet, Literary Death Match has become more than a trend. It’s also more than a literary reading (not that there’s anything wrong with that). It’s more like a reading on steroids and two shots of Jagermeister. Writers and storytellers compete to tell the wildest, most entertaining or fantastic tale of the night. The judges are often literary stars themselves and pull no punches in their American Idol-esque critiques. Altogether, it’s fun with words, and booze.

Literary Death Match next invades the Elbo Room, Friday May 11, with Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore, author Michael David Lukas and Dublin poet Sarah Marie Friffin. Among the judges is Lambda Literary Award winner Rakesh Satyal (author of the must-read Blue Boy). $7-$10. 647 Valencia St. $7-$10. 552-7788.

Go Deep! Lube Wrestling at El Rio. photo: Georg Lester

Madly, Deeply
On a particularly unusual night in April, the night of a reported 750 lightning strikes amid a torrential rainstorm, a bevy of cute men got wet in a different way, by getting lubed up in a cordoned-off baby pool.

Under the auspices of the eclectic and decidedly old school stylings hearkening back to Vaudeville days, Go Deep! Lube Wrestling is the latest event spun into being by the Bohemian Brethren. Known for their Boylesque male dance troupe, the group’s co-creator Maximus Barnaby shared how the women’s edition of Go Deep, having already gained an ardent fandom with its Red Hots Burlesque performances, decided to include a men’s version on alternate nights (first Thursdays), and let the Brethren produce it.

Six years ago, Barnaby and his brother brought dancing, singing, stripping cuties together to provide saucy Weimer Era-styled live entertainment to nightclubs.

With his theatre training, and a grant to create a vaudeville circus show based on his experiences in Berlin, Barnaby also studied at San Francisco’s Circus Center, then found opportunities, he said, “to pull together my friends and showcase them onstage.”

The six-guy collective has visited a few cities, but has yet to officially tour. Locally, they always get a great reaction.

“Audiences want performers who have an actual skill,” said Barnaby. “We’ve been honing our craft for years, be it contortionism or juggling chainsaws. It’s not just entertainment. San Francisco is so appreciative of anything that diverges from mainstream culture. And we like audience participation.”

SF Boylesque

Well, maybe not in juggling chainsaws, but lube wrestling participants are selected volunteers. “There’s a thrill about being alive and participating, a risk of the chance of engagement,” said Barnaby of the events, and his troupe’s other gigs. “There’s a chance of failure; everyone’s holding their breath with anticipation. It’s just this ethereal moment that’s created, that can’t be recreated after the moment that brings them together.”

The April night of the great lightning is a great example. “It was just spectacular!” said Barnaby. “I have a terror of doing shows in the rain, but people still came.”

Fortunately, their show wasn’t outside on the patio, but others enjoyed the thrill of being doused and potentially electrocuted outside while hunks slipped and slid in a lubey baby pool indoors.

Other preferred venues for the troupe’s more formal shows include vintage theatres and nightclubs with a sense of retro style, like the Palace of Fine Arts, or Bimbo’s. “We like venues that architecturally were the crème de la creme.”

The Bohemian Brethren can be seen monthly at Go Deep: For The Boys May 10 and June 14, at the Hayes Valley Follies (at Marlena’s, 488 Hayes St.) May 26 and June 23, and at Bootie at DNA Lounge (375 11th St.) on May 26.

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