Wednesday, June 25, 2014

TMI Questions: Happy Pride Month 2014!

Dressed for our fist Pride
in San Jose, 2003.
1. Tell me about your first Pride.
2. What did that first Pride mean to you?
Our first Pride celebration and Parade happened a year after we both came out together about 11 years ago. We both had recently finished the drama of divorces from our wives and bought a new place and moved in together. That first summer saw us attend our first 2 pride parades. The first was in San Jose, CA. San Jose may be the 10th largest city in the USA, but its LGBT presence is totally small town compared to the city one-hour north, San Francisco. There were more people marching in the parade then watching it.  The second Pride we attended that year was San Francisco’s, the largest in the country.
I find attending a small Pride celebration to be a more joyous and merry event. It seems at a smaller event everyone is more out going and willing to reach out to other LGBT participants. The larger festivals are more about a big party celebration. They tend to be more commercial and with heavy corporate participation.

Reykjavik Gay Pride 2008.
3. How many different Prides have you been to?
We have been to a half dozen Pride celebrations both big and small. We even marched in several of them together. Our younger kids even marched in both the San Jose and San Francisco parades with us a couple of times.
- San Jose Pride: we marched several times with a Jewish social group and with the Baylands Frontrunners.
- San Francisco Pride: over a half dozen times marching with several different groups: Congregation Sha'ar Zahav-the gay synagogue, Queer University Employees of Stanford, and San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. We will be marching again with SFGMC this year.
New York City LGBT Pride March in 2009.
Reykjavík Gay Pride Festival and Parade in Iceland in 2008.
- Montreal, Canada Pride festival, unfortunately we missed the parade in 2012.
- Guerneville, CA; Sonoma County Pride. Attended at the beginning of this June.
NYC Pride Parade 2009

Eddie ready for SF Pride Parade several years ago.

4. Do you fly the Pride Flag and/or stick it to anything?
Ed with Gilbert Baker, creator of the
LGBT Rainbow Flag.
Absolutely. All the time. We have even met Gilbert Baker, the San Francisco artist that created the LGBT Rainbow Flag back in 1978. The first pride flag flew at the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade on June 25, 1978.

5. Do you still celebrate Pride? What does it mean to you now?
Yes we do. In fact, we will be staying in San Francisco the whole Pride weekend and are planning to march with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus in the parade.

6. Does Pride need improving? If so, what changes would you make?
Pride doesn’t need improving. It and its participants change as time goes on to reflect what is happening in the gay community and its relationship with society at large. Originally Pride was a protest march. Today it is more of a celebration of how far LGBT rights have come.

7. How do you give back?
When ever possible, we support gay business especially when we travel. We also support various local and national LGBT nonprofit organizations. We also have sponsored friends when they have done the AIDS walks or bike rides down the California coast.

What kind of trouble or embarrassing moment have you had during Pride?
In the 2005 we were marching and carrying the Queer University Employees of Stanford banner in the San Francisco Pride Parade when we were almost kicked out of the parade. The San Francisco Chronicle society columnist, Leah Garchik, reported the follow:

"The Stanford Marching Band, which runs this way and that instead of marching in precision formation, got kicked out of the Pride parade for slowing down the action. The band wasn't a registered participant, but marched along with several gay and lesbian groups from Stanford. Ed J., who with his husband, Eddie R., was with a Queer University Employees at Stanford contingent marching near the band, says a parade monitor with a "cold, hard heart," warned the musicians three times, then called in security to barricade the street and force them out of the lineup. The monitor must have been a Cal grad, says Jones, noting the irony of tight control of a parade about freedom.
The band's Michael Priest said the band has issued an apology to parade organizers, and is hoping that time heals this wound. "We hope to be back next year."

After a brief standoff, the band yielded. The parade route was now safe for the Pride march to continue. This was so absurd and bizarre. The band has a history of being controversial, outrageous, and sometime offensive. But they weren’t that at the Pride Parade. They were just being exuberant and enthusiastic. Meanwhile, our employee group with the banner was allowed to continue on to the end of the parade route.
SF City Hall is ready for Pride 2014

Monday, June 23, 2014

Don’t miss the hottest, funniest, 'gay-est' show to be offered this Pride season.

DAZZLE, What you get when 250 gay men (including my husband Eddie) are joined on stage with Tony Award winner Laura Benanti.
It’s Broadway, SF Gay Men’s Chorus way, in the most fabulous Broadway revue ever!
Dates:  Wed., Thurs. & Fri., June 25, 26 & 27 at 8pm Nourse Theatre, 275 Hayes St, San Francisco 
Don't wake up Saturday morning totally bummed out that you missed it!

--> 250 men in high hats & tails (and plenty of glitter and glitz), singing and dancing on stage.
--> Laura Benanti (Tony award winner for "Gypsy," star of NBC's "Sound of Music," currently rave-reviewed in "Happy Fella").
--> Composers: Rogers & Hammerstein, Sondheim, Hamlisch, Bernstein, Lauper (as in Cyndi), Lippa & more.
--> "South Pacific," "West Side Story," "Les Miz," "Sound of Music," "Carousel," “Rent,” “Sunday in the Park with George,” "Kinky Boots," "Book of Mormon," "Avenue Q," "Next to Normal" & more.
--> Classics you grew up with.  Shows you saw (or wanted to see) last year.
--> And intermingled throughout the concert will be hilarious, costumed snippets from "Forbidden  Broadway" by members of the Chorus (Putin singing about Gay Pride in Moscow, 50-year-old Annie trying a come-back, Chita & Rita in a hen-fight on who was the better Maria, etc.).

Go to or to
For Wed. or Thurs. night, type in the code BROADWAY for 10% off.
Or go to for half-price balcony seats.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Theatre Obit: San Jose Repertory Theatre, 1980-2014

Me and my son at the
opening of the new
Rep theatre in 1997
San Jose Repertory Theatre closed their doors and declared bankruptcy last week. The fully professional, equity theatre has been having financial problems for years. They lost almost half of their subscribers in the last 8 years and burned through a 2 million dollar bailout from the city.

I am very saddened by the theatre’s demise. It feels like I have lost a relative or friend. I worked at the Rep twice in my career for a total of 12 years. The first was beginning in its third season in 1983 for seven years. Then again I worked there in 1995 for five more years. During this second stint, I help plan and move the company into the new theatre space that the city had built for them. I left the company in 2000.

Standing in front of the new gift shop
in 1997
I was fortunate and blessed to have numerous jobs at the theatre: marketing, box office, business office, systems manager, facilities and front of house operations. Two of the most interesting and fun opportunities I had was setting up in the new theatre and running the bar/concessions stand and a performing arts gift shop called "Curtain Call at the Rep".

San Jose always has had a hard time supporting cultural arts. The San Jose Symphony Orchestra folded in 2001; San Jose Civic Light Opera/American Musical Theatre of San Jose closed suddenly in 2008. Both organizations had been around since the 1930’s.  Most of the current arts groups, especially the performing ones, struggle with donations and financial stability. But all the blame can’t be placed on the lack of cultural support from the community. Eddie and I believe that the theatre made several serious missteps in the last 20 years that lead to its demise.

1) Development & Donations: Back in the go-go 90s, the Rep cultivated a slew of corporate sponsorships and donations. But their individual gift giving was just average. When the dot-com bust came and the 9/11 downturn arrived, corporate giving dried up practically overnight. And they had not cultivated enough high-giving individual donors to help see them through.  Local theatres that have made an emphasis on individual giving that has help them through lean times include TheatreWorks, San Francisco Playhouse, ACT, and Berkeley Rep.

The Rep auditorium
2) Programing & Play Selection: While San Jose is the 10th largest city in the US and 3rd largest in California, it is relatively conservative and perceives itself as a practical, mid-size town. The last two artistic directors continued to program plays that alienated their audience. Instead of selecting broadly appealing shows that would have local support, they presented edgier and more experimental productions that would probably be more successful in communities like Berkeley and San Francisco. Local theatre companies that have successfully programed more broad-based, appealing shows include TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, Aurora Theatre Company in Berkeley and Marin Theatre Company. Each of these theatres presents classic shows as well as compelling new works that reflected and enhanced their audience as well as the local community.

San Jose Rep lobby
3) Edifice complex: In 1997, the Rep moved into a brand new, architectural landmark theatre space that was built by the City of San Jose and with some theatre funds. While the rent to the City was only a $1 a year, the maintenance, upkeep and running the facility was the theatre company’s obligation. They were on the hook to pay all the expenses. The company had a very hard time financially managing the complex facility. The theatre not only had the auditorium but administrative offices and some shop spaces. And it still had to rent a separate facility to house the scene shop. It was the classic money pit the sucked up cash and resources.

Hopefully a new theatre group will emerge and find a way to survive the San Jose arts dilemma.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Father’s Day 2014

Checking out the World Music Festival in downtown
Palo Alto on Father's Day.
We had a full house this weekend for Father’s Day. Four of the six kids spent Saturday and Sunday with us. A fifth one came over on Sunday and prepared a BBQ lunch for all. Unfortunately the oldest son couldn’t be with us because he was traveling on business. It was a fun weekend.

Five of our six kids mugging for the camera.

Ed in the middle.

Eddie in the middle.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Beach Blanket Babylon Celebrates 40th

Eddie is the 3rd man on the left.
For the second time in 2 weeks Eddie was at San Francisco City Hall to sing in the great rotunda with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. This time it was to help celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Beach Blanket Babylon. This was special for him since he has seen BBB about 25 times through the years including their 13th Bar Mitzvah Anniversary party. It is a show not to miss whether you are local or visiting San Francisco.

In case you are unfamiliar with BBB: Steve Silver's Beach Blanket Babylon is America's longest-running musical revue. The show began its run in 1974, at Club Savoy Tivoli and has since moved to the larger Club Fugazi in the North Beach district of San Francisco.

The show was created by Steve Silver (1944-1995) and continues under the direction of his widow, Jo Schuman Silver, with frequent changes and spoofs of pop and political culture. Performers wear disproportionately large hats/wigs and gaudy costumes while performing satirical renditions of popular songs. 

Beach Blanket Babylon follows Snow White as she takes a fast-paced journey around the world in search of her “Prince Charming”. Along the way she encounters a large group of figures from popular culture, who together perform satirical songs. Figures lampooned include politicians and political figures from the San Francisco, California and U.S. governments, film and television stars, famous singers and athletes, and others who have been in the news. Also present are long-running characters such as Glinda the Good Witch, Mr. Peanut, Louis XIV, Oprah Winfrey, James Brown, Tina Turner, Carmen Miranda, Elvis Presley, a band of dancing French Poodles, and Snow White's tour guide, a female narrator who takes on several incarnations from an Italian pizza lady to a cowgirl. (Wikipedia)

Saturday, June 07, 2014

A Small Town Pride in Guerneville, CA

One Gay -->
We decided to celebrate my completing 3 of my 6 months chemotherapy regiment by taking a short, local 3-day vacation. This was going to be the first getaway since I started my chemo cycle. We had to cancel previously planned vacations to NYC and a month long summer hiking trip to England and Wales.

With a little research of local vacation spots, my husband discovered that Guerneville, up on the Russian River, north of San Francisco was hosting Sonoma County Pride (May 30-June1).  We booked a room at the R3 Hotel, a gay and lesbian hotel just off the main drag in Guerneville. This fun resort has simple, clean rooms around a pool, sundeck, garden and bar. It also has a nice onsite restaurant for dinner (5pm-9pm).

Tom Orr
We had Friday night dinner at the restaurant and then went next door to Buck’s River Mill Dinner Theater to see Tom Orr’s first show in Guerneville since moving there the first of the year. Tom Orr is an incredibility talented actor and cabaret performer.  He is probably best known for his award winning show “Dirty Little Showtunes,” a Bay Area Critics Circle Award multi-winner. That night he presented “Best Little Orr House in Guerneville!” It was hilarious.

Tora Hymen
The weather the whole weekend was gorgeous, sunny and in the high 70s- low 80s. We spent all day Saturday sitting on the sun deck around the pool. A DJ played while we read and enjoyed the view of all the sexy men around and in the pool. That night we were back to Buck’s to see a local drag show featuring Tora Hymen and her Backwoods Barbies. The headliner was Pandora Boxx from RuPaul’s Drag Race. The local drag queens were fantastic while Pandora Boxx must have had a bad night because she really bombed. Her performance was a big disappointment and second rate compared to the local queens.
Pandora Boxx

Sunday morning found us at the local MCC pancake breakfast fundraiser at the Odd Fellows Hall. Pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, coffee, juice and cut fruit. From there we scouted out a viewing location along the 3-block parade route through downtown Guerneville. The 45-minute parade was fabulously gay: Rainbow floats, bedazzled drag queens, dykes on bikes, speedo bois, a marching band and a DJ lead street dance at the end. Later that afternoon found us back at the pool at the R3 Hotel enjoying the sights and listening to the music.

Street dance party after the pride parade.

A few more shots of charming Guerneville.
Bucks River Mill Dinner Theatre, across from R3 Hotel

Flying the Pride flag

Quaint downtown Guerneville

Guys around the R3 Hotel pool

Canoes at Johnson's Beach in Guerneville

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