Halloween's A Drag!
Hokum Pokem stars (left to right) Peaches Christ, Bob The Drag Queen and Jinkx Monsoon
Photo: Kevin Kauer (Peaches Christ/Jinxx Monsoon), Jose Guzman Colon (Bob The Drag Queen)
Just when you thought Halloween in the Castro couldn’t get any scarier!
Halloween season is upon us, so why not get a jump on things and set the mood early this October 7th, at the Castro Theatre? Peaches Christ, Jinkx Monsoon, and Bob the Drag Queen costar as the bewitched Manderson sisters in Hocum Pokem, their hilarious send up of the Disney classic, Hocus Pocus, which screens directly afterward.
Showtimes are at 3PM and 8PM, and there are Platinum, VIP, and general ticket options. All tickets can be found at email@example.com. Peaches graciously chatted to Castro Courier about Hocum Pokem’s history, cast, and tour.
Wendy: Hocum Pokem is heading to San Francisco’s Castro Theatre after stops in Seattle and Portland. Will this performance be the SF premiere of Hocum Pokem?
Peaches: Actually this is the second time we’ve done it in San Francisco. I changed the title of the show. We did a screening of Hocus Pocus a few years ago at the Castro Theatre, and the show parody was called Coven: Return Of The Manderson Sisters. I changed the name because people didn’t really get what it was a parody of; I [thought] it’s gotta be more like the movie title for people to understand what it is if they just see it in print. Because we’re taking it on the road for the first time, doing it in Seattle and Portland, as well as London and Manchester after San Francisco, I wanted it to be something that kind of beats you over the head with what it actually is, which is a very silly drag parody of the Disney movie Hocus Pocus.
Wendy: You’re well known for your cult film send ups; it’s funny that it’s a Disney film this time. It isn’t usually.
Peaches: No it isn’t, but it was one of those things where, honestly, I’m a little bit older [than] the cult audience for this film. I was in my early twenties when it came out, so I was a little too cool for it. I didn’t get the appeal or value of it until younger friends of mine, over the years, have [asked], “When are you gonna do Hocus Pocus?” I’m like, “That Disney movie, about witches, for kids?” I actually sat and watched it and tried to understand why [there is] this cult, and why do people love it? It is extremely dark and transgressive; they wanna suck the souls out of little children, which is something I can totally get behind! They are three actresses, who for me are this generation’s version of Elvira. These women are doing drag. Bette Midler clearly hung out with many, many gay men and many drag queens in her lifetime, and watched many drag queens impersonate her! Once I recognized the tremendous value the film had I was able to wrap my head around how we should do a drag show of it. I grew up with movies that are nostalgic for me from the ‘80s, because I was a kid in the ‘80s, but kids who grew up in the ‘90s or even the early 2000s have different nostalgia stuff. They’re not as familiar with The Goonies, but they love Hocus Pocus.
Wendy: Right. A whole new world for you to explore and demolish.
Peaches: Exactly! Every decade I have to evolve because the cult [audience] changes over time. Really, for a great cult movie to ripen, it has to be at least a decade old.
Wendy: Hocum Pokem stars yourself, Jinkx Monsoon, and Bob the Drag Queen, from Rupaul’s Drag Race, who was a little bit of a late addition.
Peaches: He was. This character has a funny casting history for us. Usually the same actors will play the same parts for my shows; they kind of claim ownership over them. When we did the show a few years ago, it was BenDeLaCreme who played the Mary [Sanderson] character; it was Jinkx, and myself, and BenDeLaCreme, and the show was a hit. We wanted to do it again. Of course, part of the problem with this movie, as far as scheduling goes, is you really want to do it in the fall, for obvious reasons. There was always this small window where we could compare calendars. This year when I reached out, Ben said, “I have this fantastic opportunity to do a great big Halloween show for one in Seattle! I don’t want to hold you back form doing the show, so you have my blessing and I would encourage you to cast someone else.” That’s where it started. I thought long and hard [about] who would be good in this role and Ginger Minj seemed like the obvious choice. Ginger was all set to do it but was cast in a movie costarring with Jennifer Aniston, so this is a big Hollywood movie. For a while we had to be quiet about the reason, but now it’s out there; it’s in the trades. I of course understood, and would have done the same thing, wish her the best, and am very, very excited for her. When Ginger dropped out I [asked myself], “Who have I worked with recently that can show up, deliver the goods, kick ass, and is really good with comedy?” It was just so obvious that Bob the Drag Queen [would] be my next ask. I asked Bob and she said yes, and that’s how we arrived at this version of the cast.
Wendy: You always encourage people to dress up, and sometimes even have costume contests. Will you be having a costume contest at this event?
Peaches: We aren’t. I hate having to make that decision but what really became clear a few years ago is that, when we would have those contests at the Castro Theatre, because our attendance is so large, the contests took up so much time that we had to cut time out of the play. I have sacrificed the contest so that we can do more performance onstage, have a longer show. What we try to do is to get photographers out into the audience to take pictures of everyone in costume, and really celebrate the costumes. If I did everything I wanna do we’d be there all night long!
Wendy: It sounds like you might just need to have your costume contest on another night!
Peaches: Exactly, exactly. Later in the month I host a bunch of costume contests, most notably the one at the [California] Academy of Sciences; I always co-produce their big Halloween NightLife event on the Thursday before Halloween. Then I co-host the big one at Oasis on Saturday night. If you have an amazing Sanderson sisters costume, you should wear it to Hocum Pokem, and then wear it again the Academy of Sciences, and enter and win the contest.
Wendy:Speaking things to come, you’ll be bringing Sheetlejuice to LA in December, starring yourself, Bianca Del Rio, and a cast of San Francisco’s most loved drag queens.
Peaches: That’s right. It’s a show that premiered here in San Francisco last November. The beauty of being successful in San Francisco is that people all over the country, and the UK, and [elsewhere], have been wanting us to bring out shows to their cities. We can’t go everywhere obviously, but it’s silly that we don’t go to Los Angeles more often because they’re the closest big city to us! We’re partnering with co-producers in Los Angeles who we worked with on an event in the spring, when we did our Baby Jane parody, as part of the FX roll out of the TV show Feud. These producers produced that event, Whatever Happened to Bianca Del Rio? I said to them, “I’ve been looking for good producers to bring us more frequently to Los Angeles.” They said, “We’d love to,” and now we’re hoping that this turns into a regular thing. So much work is put into these shows from so many talented people in San Francisco. Getting to bring these shows to different cities has been such a joy because I get to see my friends’ creations be enjoyed by all these new people, these new audiences who are turned on by it.
Wendy: Yes, and every location, every different audience gives you it’s own unique response, which informs how you proceed as an artist.
Peaches: It’s so true. We do the shows regularly now in Seattle and Portland; we have producers up there. I used to think that Los Angeles would be a tougher audience in a way, like New York is a very tough audience, but I’ve found that LA is actually not that way at all. Audiences there are so excited and so into it. We had the best response down there.
Wendy: You had a very successful run this past summer in Provincetown; you did Grey Gardens and also 5 To 9, which I understand you’re hoping to bring to SF eventually.
Peaches: We’ll see. I have mixed feelings about it because the show is essentially an update of the movie 9 To 5, except the three secretaries are working for Donald Trump in today’s White House. In some ways it’s very satisfying, if you are ever interested in watching three drag queens torture Donald Trump. It really is a perfect allegory with the sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot being Trump instead of Dabney Coleman. We’re looking at 2018, and we’re planning to bring the show to San Francisco and New Orleans, and a few other places. I said to Ryan who wrote the show, and Varla Jean Merman, who costars in it with me, [that] ultimately, if we cannot do this because something has changed, that’s not such a bad thing. All of us agree that if the show has to be cancelled, because it’s no longer relevant, that’s fine with us!
Community Chorus on Tuesday Afternoons
The CMC Castro Older Adult Choir (CMCCOAC ) begins on October 3rd with rehearsals on Tuesdays, from 1:00 – 2:30 pm at the Castro Senior Center located at 110 Diamond Street at 18th Street.
It’s open to anyone older than 55. Music is from the Great American Song Book with favorites by Frank Sinatra to the Beatles and more. Singing with others who love music is a fun way to learn new skills. No experience is needed. For the first time, donations are appreciated.
Here’s what a few previous singers said about their experience:
“I joined because there are Chinese, English and Spanish. One man comes in his electric wheelchair for two hours from the East Bay.” Betty Betchlilni
“I’ve been with it since the beginning. It was an experiment through UCSF to find out why singing is good for seniors. The most fun is Billy (Philadelphia, the director and accompanist). You don’t have to have a musical voice. It’s good energy and pleasant people!” Marvin Lehrman
“Billy Philadelphia wants results, it’s good for us! There is some new music, it’s not intuitive but it’s not like learning a foreign language! The group is diverse and there are some very good voices.” Theda Burke
If you’d like to try it, visit a rehearsal before it begins and talk with Billy, who is usually close to the piano talking to other seniors.
The Castro Chorus Participated in a Landmark Study
María Cora, Coordinator of the Older Adult Choir Program at the Community Music Center (CMC), explained that the CMC Castro Older Adult Choir contributed to an NIH funded landmark study of effects on health and well-being of seniors of singing in a community choir. The results will soon to be released by UCSF and available internationally.
What Makes the Chorus Swing
Photo of Billy Philadelphia, Courtesy of Larry Bouchard
Affordable Housing Projects Should Consider Climate
How public input can positively affect environmental review process
We have just witnessed hurricanes, wildfires, and record-breaking heat, threatening all parts of the United States. Whatever your beliefs about how it is caused, it is clear that something is happening to bring about Climate Change. We must look at all of our choices to find out how we can combat the destruction of our planet. One of these is upholding the policies that are already in place to protect the environment.
For over a year, state and local legislators have been debating and passing new housing legislation to meet the pressing needs of California’s growing population for affordable homes. Yes, it is important to face the state’s affordable housing crisis head-on -- having a decent home for everyone is critical. But as we work to meet that need, it is also important to ensure that the environment is not harmed and that the community has a say in projects that will impact them.
Creating vibrant urban communities requires a strong commitment to protecting the quality of urban life. Some of the features shared by healthy urban communities include convenient public open spaces, parks, playgrounds, and natural “unimproved” spaces. Creating these communities must also involve a commitment to preserving existing affordable housing, preventing displacement of low and moderate income residents, protecting cultural heritage, supporting new affordable housing combined with efficient public transit, and sheltering existing communities from unreasonable economic and physical disruption.
But when there is a lot of pressure for one set of needs — in this case housing — there is the temptation to ignore other needs. There is a tendency to say that ‘just for this project’ it is acceptable for the developer to ignore the need to carefully consider the impact on the environment and the local community.
This is where the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) comes in.
The California Environmental Quality Act was passed in 1970 as part of a national wave of environmental protection legislation. CEQA requires project sponsors to disclose the environmental impacts of their proposed projects to the public, to accept public comments, and then to mitigate those impacts. Moreover, CEQA empowers members of the public to legally challenge the adequacy of the environmental reviews.
The Sierra Club strongly supports the power of the people to participate in the development of regulations, plans, and evaluation criteria at every level of decision-making for their communities. Public input under the environmental review process can actually make projects better!
San Franciscans have a right to know what is going on in their city and to have a say in local planning decisions. Legislation that lets housing projects bypass the CEQA process is not fair to our community, to our environment, nor to the very people for whom it claims to be providing housing. Bypassing environmental review can lead to greater congestion and associated increases in air and water pollution, loss of habitat, and loss of yet more species. New community members who move into the housing will be the ones paying the price of the resulting poor environmental decisions.
Thoughtful city and regional planning with environmental protections is the best way to provide housing for people now and for a planet we can all call home for future generations. In San Francisco, CEQA and environmental review must be a vital part of that planning.
What you can do:
CEQA is being attacked right now in California. Please write to your supervisor, state senator and assemblypersons and ask them to protect CEQA.
Katherine Howard is an open space advocate and member of the Executive Committee, SF Group, Sierra Club. Susan Vaughan is a public transportation advocate and member of the Executive Committee, SF Group, Sierra Club.
Closing the Economic Gap
On October 26, LGBT Center will host a Career Fair at LinkedIn (222 Second Street)
LGBT Center workshops will focus on finance, affordable housing, and employment of those most marginalized
For the month of October SF LGBT Center will host Economic Justice Month (EJM), a program of events highlighting the needs to achieve economic and social justice. With education around affordable housing, trans employment and financial planning, this year’s motto is Equality and Liberation.
“Our communities are at the crosshairs of a hostile White House and Congress that refuse to recognize our worth,” reads a statement by Clair Farley, LGBT Center’s Director of Economic Development. “Transphobia is running rampant across the nation, immigrants are being demonized, and our healthcare is at risk of being taken away,”
During EJM, the Center will focus on economic development for those most marginalized and not serviced in traditional LGBTQ spaces.
At the October 5th launch event, the Center honored translatina activist Isa Noyola for her advocacy against immigrant rights, deportation, and the release of transgender women from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Transgender Law Center (TLC), where Noyola is Director of Programs, has done a lot of work advocating against ICE and advocating for the Stud Collective, a business that brings queer people together around resiliency, creating a continual safe haven in the city.
“We’re continuing to lose those spaces,” Farley says to Castro Courier. “Where do we hang out when all of our bars are closing?”
Farley admits the housing crisis is San Francisco’s number one issue. She notes the Center’s involvement with multiple housing support services, like Below Market Rate (BMR) units which connects people to affordable rentals through a lottery system.
The Center’s financial services team looks at their client’s budget and debt to determine pathways to access these programs and services. Farley encourages innovative thinking around housing, shared living spaces, co-ops, and peer-to-peer financing.
Through Mission Asset Fund, a peer-to-peer lending firm, the Center offers a micro-lending program. The Center also provides navigation to housing programs in the city that have Catholic charities or rental subsidies. Jazzie’s Place in the Mission is the one LGBTQ-specific shelter in San Francisco with only 20 beds.
When TLC published Good Job NOW! in 2006, the first data around the economic health of the trans community, the Center seized an opportunity.
“We saw that as an opportunity to go to Board of Supervisors and say, ‘You have to [offer] services that reflect community needs, jobs, small business developments, and employment services,’” Farley says.
That’s where EJM launched. Through the program’s development, it became clear who has economic accessibility: the people with the most resources.
“People can qualify for down-payment assistance if they make $135,000, but for [most] queer folks, that isn’t a reality,” Farley says.
She feels “a great responsibility being a trans woman in leadership” to give back and get other people into leadership positions. “I think the Castro is a great example of how are [can] think about business,” she adds, noting microenterprises and social enterprises.
Farley is excited to see what happens in the Compton TLGB District, an area of the Tenderloin where trans women of color fought for their rights decades ago.
“The leaders in that work are modeling what a neighborhood could be by putting services front and center,” Farley says. “As that evolves we’ll see amazing businesses lifting up trans and queer businesses throughout the city.”
Despite San Francisco being diverse, Farley adds that trans people still see unemployment rates three-times more than general population. She encourages inclusive employers to reach out and get involved.
“It takes a community effort to address economic disparity,” Farley says. “It’s important to give back and get engaged in mentorship. People are looking for a workplace to be appreciated and recognized.”
On October 26, the Center will host their bi-annual LGBTQ Career Fair at LinkedIn [222 Second Street].
In addition to the one-on-one coaching that helps to create pathways toward safe workplaces, they host networking and hiring events. These events address concerns like which name to put on a resume, how to come out to past references, and salary negotiation.
“Including this event, 3000 people total [are served] throughout the year,” says Farley. “We work one-on-one with 350 people. It’s a very comprehensive program [that promotes] safe and inclusive work spaces, and helps people go into the field feeling like they can make connections.
“This year we’re excited for the first LGBT Financial Planning Day [October 21],” adds Farley. An array of workshops are offered on topics like financial education, the housing crisis, tenants’ rights, managing student debt, as well as events specifically tailored to youth.
Senior-specific financial planning and workshops are offered through a partnership with Open House, an organization the Center has worked with for many years. They will also partner on Access to Housing contracts with the city, connecting the community to rentable BMR housing.
“We’ve had several people come back [to career fairs] as recruiters,” says Farley proudly. “And we have accessibility to track success through one-on-one referrals and navigation of jobs. We place 100 people in jobs every year; the city requires us to track that information. [That’s one way we] hear from folks and get updates.”
Farley says the Center receives calls from people wanting to move to San Francisco from across the country any way they can.
“One trans woman said ‘I don’t have the resources to get there, so I’m gonna walk,’” Farley shares. “[She said,] ‘If I walk 20 miles a day, I’ll get there.’”
It’s not only about talking up how affluent we are — that doesn’t change minds, says Farley. “Do you have affluence and opportunity? How are we giving back to our community?” She believes a shift in the gay-affluence myth is starting. “I think it comes with lifting more voices in the community,” she says. “That’s what makes San Francisco San Francisco.”
Photo courtesy of Canva
Neighborhood History Could Shape Future Construction Projects
Castro at 17th Street, 1944 Photo: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
Susan Detwiler has theoretically paid her Neighborhood Association dues with active involvement in documenting the history of Eureka Valley neighborhood. To a room of over 30 locals, she presented details of historical data that could shape the development of a local historical district.
To identify, record, and evaluate historic and cultural resources, and important development themes of the environment, Eureka Valley Historic Context Statement (HCS) gives context to the built resources and patterns of built environment in the area.
The established evaluative tools provide information needed to make informed planning decisions, prioritize preservation goals, evaluate potential historic resources, and provide a narrative of the community’s history.
“A $59-thousand grant from the Historic Preservation Fund Committee funded the project,” Detwiler began at last week’s Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association meeting. She has been overseeing the HCS since its conception.
“It’s a very abstract thing,” she added. “What do we already have that we want to see preserved? What do we want considered when we build new things?”
Compiled by Elaine B. Stiles in May of 2017, the boundaries of the project were based on historical contexts.
“The study area that we used is based mostly on the outline of Eureka Homestead Association of 1864,” said Detwiler. The 1864 Eureka Homestead Association tract was the namesake of the neighborhood. “Mission Dolores Neighborhood Survey and Market & Octavia Area Plan Historic Resource Survey were taken into consideration. There were parts of Rancho San Miguel included, also.”
Owned by Jose de Jesus Noe, Rancho San Miguel covered one-sixth of San Francisco from 1846 to 1852, encompassing the present-day Noe Valley, Castro, Glen Park, Diamond Heights, and St. Francis Wood.
The New York SoapCompany works on Diamond Street in 1896 Photo: California Historical Society
The HCS encompasses all or a portion of twenty‐nine city blocks roughly bounded by 16th, Market, and 17th streets on the north, Sanchez and Church streets on the east, 20th and 21st streets on the south, and Douglass Street on the west.
HCS documents the patterns of development and physical fabric of the district from pre-European settlement through the mid-1970s.
“Through field work, [architecture historian] Stiles identifies context in neighborhoods, developments beginning with Native American and then Mexicans, Europeans, early land uses, agriculture and industry,” she said, adding that the introduction of transportation made a “big difference in residential, civic and religious development.”
In the late nineteenth century, “Eureka Valley went from a rural fringe area of agricultural and industrial production to one of the city’s burgeoning streetcar suburbs,” said Detwiler.
“There used to be a saloon right down the street from me, too” she said, laughing. “And speaking of drinking, brewing and bottling were very common. 552 Noe Street is associated with Kirby and Phoenix Brewery.”
Opened in 1904, Phoenix Brewery closed two years later in 1906. According to U.S. historical brewery website OldBrewry.com, any short-lived, pre-Prohibition brewery item or collectible is likely to be valuable and desirable to collectors. OldBrewry.com lists San Francisco as having an impressive 83 breweries.
“This is an exciting time because SF Planning has money [for] surveys,” Detwiler said. “That’s when you go through the neighborhood house by house and look for significant buildings. [The HCS] will help guide the survey and create a framework for evaluating the significance of properties in this unique neighborhood.”
Creating a historic district “has rigorous standards,” said Detwiler, and HCS has identified some details that could be considered, like Fernando Nelson houses.
Nelson was a pioneer builder whose quality construction set a standard of excellence and affordability that drew hundreds of families to an emerging neighborhood in the early 20th century that’s now known as Richmond District.
“If the people who lived in those [Nelson] houses wanted to create a historic district, this document would give them the framework to show why it qualifies,” said Detwiler.
“This was a very lively neighborhood with a rich history and some buildings are still around,” she added, noting earthquake shacks on 300 Cumberland Street, the Twin Peaks tunnel, and the infrastructure of staircases.
“Social and political life of Eureka Valley centered around churches, improvement projects, clubs and bars,” she said. “Where Zapata’s Taqueria used to be on Collingwood Street was [their] defacto City Hall. There’s where all the dances and meetings took place.”
The HCS will undergo a community review period and more surveys are needed to determine the possibilities of any historic districts, said Detwiler. SF Planning Commission hearings may be in October and if it gets adopted, it would then would go to the California Office of Historic Preservation.
The full Eureka Valley HCS is available SFPlanning.org and Susan Detwiler can be contacted at
(Originally published in Bay Area Reporter, October 5th)
Rodeo Rides into the Cow Palace
Dust off your hats, and get your spurs on! The Wild, Wild, West returns to the Bay Area as the annual Grand National Rodeo, Livestock Exposition and Horse Show opens at the Cow Palace next week. Now in its 71st year, the Grand National Rodeo will celebrate the time-honored tradition of America’s West by presenting the best of the best in the competitive sport of rodeo.
The two-weekend event, October 13-14 and 20-21, is presented by the Cow Palace in partnership with the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association), and produced by Cotton Rosser and the Flying U Rodeo Co. which has produced the event for the past 48 years. The Grand National Rodeo features traditional rodeo events including bareback riding, steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie-down roping, bull riding and barrel racing.
During the livestock exposition, real farm equipment and animals are on site with interactive displays to learn about how food is grown. Exhibitors will show cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and rabbits, along with photography and fine art inspired by agriculture and western lifestyle.
Other highlights include:
• Western marketplace (open daily from 2 pm – 11 pm)
• Classic Western BBQ with down-home comfort food
• Nightly LIVE music by Buck Nickels & Loose Change Band, and
Chad Bushnell (9:30pm – 11pm)
• Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association show (7:30pm – 9pm)
• Equestrian competitions
• “Tough Enough to Wear Pink” day (in support of breast cancer awareness month)
• Military Day (GNR partners with organizations that provide services for Veterans)
• Mechanical bull rides and more!
Ticket prices are $24 for adults Dress Circle, $44 for Box Seats and $14 for children and seniors, and can be purchased online at www.grandnationalrodeo.com or in-person at the box office. Although tickets must be purchased for the Grand National Rodeo in the main arena, the Livestock Exposition, Horse Show, Interactive Agricultural Area, and Marketplace are FREE and open to the public. For more details visitwww.cowpalace.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415-414-4100.
The Cow Palace is located at 2600 Geneva Avenue, in Daly City.