Drama Talk & Drinks: Shocktoberfest 17: Pyramid of Freaks – “Let your freak flag fly”

Halloween season is here! That means it’s time for another year of Thrillpeddlers’ annual Shocktoberfest; a festival of Grand Guignol horror theatre. Shocktoberfest 17: Pyramid of Freaks promises an evening of ‘terror and titillation’, all in the Thrillpeddlers purpose-built horror theatre the Hypnodrome. Never wanting to miss a night of titillating theater, off we went to SOMA for a night of drama talk and drinks.

Pyramid of Freaks

Brittany: I don’t know if I have just been to Burning Man one too many times, or have seen enough Thrillpeddlers shows that I’m a little jaded, but it was so much less shocking than I thought it was going to be. Yes you had some sodomy, some penises, a little bestiality, but it was much more tame than I remember last year’s Shocktoberfest.

Katie: I didn’t see last year’s Halloween show, but I did see another one of their regular season shows, and it was a lot more rated X than this one. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I enjoyed this one either. This time I was just super entertained, even if some of the acting was a little rough around the edges, the vignettes were short and sweet and kept me engaged.

B: So true, they didn’t go too far this time, and I think it made it a stronger show.  It’s so fun how much the audience gets into it too. That’s what I love about every Thrillpeddlers show. It’s not just the actors having fun, the audience is having a blast . It’s easy to forgive some pacing issues, and a few too many scene changes, when everyone is having a great time.

K: It’s a great show to see for Halloween. I’m not a fan of horror movies, and don’t love a lot of gore and blood, but even I still had fun. I did have to look down a couple of times, like when he was ripping people’s hearts out literally, but even during the lights out spook show at the end it never went so far I felt uncomfortably creeped-out. It was just a cool different experience.

B: Thrillpeddlers does a great job creating an experience. From the moment you enter the door of the Hypnodrome and hear the pre-show band playing you feel like you enter a different world.

K: It sounds odd, given the subject matter, but I got this warm and fuzzy feeling about the whole show. It’s such a great community. This free spirited attitude of let your freak flag fly, do what feels good, be in costume, sing, dance, hoot and holler, be whoever you want to be. It makes me happy there’s still a community of avant garde San Francisco artists around to put on a fun night of spooky, bawdy, sexual, twilight zoney, old school San Francisco theater.

The Verdict: Looking for something to do this Halloween? Go see this show! Definitely not for kids, or for your friend who can’t sit through a rated R movie, but a great night of sexy scary fun theater.

The Drama Talk: Thrillpeddlers does a great job creating fun, sick, sexy and twisted worlds. Done in the style of Grand Guignol  Pyramid of Freaks is made up of four vignettes with a black out spookshow finale. Great costumes, cool lights, neat special effects and lots and lots of fake blood make for some memorably spooky scenes. Although there are some strong actors and singers, this show is more about the experience than it is the quality of the performances. While all of the vignettes had some good moments, the second one in the series, The Hellgramite Method, written and adapted for the Thrillpeddlers by William Selby, the original writer of the Twilight Zone episode by the same name, stood out as the one that will give you nightmares. In the same way a haunted house can bring people together, by making you grab your friends hand in terror, Shocktoberfest creates community by letting people share in a ridiculous evening of gory sexy Halloween inspired inappropriateness.

The Drinks: The Hypnodrome isn’t near much, so we decided to go back to the Mission to the Armory Club, to continue the night of spooky sexiness. Katie got the Zombie Princess  and Brittany got the Bawd Rye, and we toasted to San Francisco and the wonderful freaks and artists that still make this city great.

Thrillpeddlers Shocktoberfest 17: Pyramid of Freaks runs until November 19th, with shows Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. Ticket are available on their website and are $30 for general admission or $35 for the front row or one of the specially decorated “Shock Boxes”. There were tickets on Goldstar, which have now sold-out, but it’s worth checking to see if more become available when you go to purchase.


Modern Times just wasn’t made for these times

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Modern Times is closing up shop. Capp Street Crap reports:

Never quite able to regain its footing since it was forced from Valencia Street in 2011, Modern Times Bookstore Collective is set to close next month after 45 years in business.

According to an announcement on the store’s Facebook page, the progressive book store will shut its doors at 2919 24th St. on Nov. 15. having explored “every possible avenue of support to sustain the store since its displacement from Valencia Street in 2011.

Read on. And like maybe get some early Christmas shopping done there real quick?

[Photo by Steve Rhodes]

New Mission Theater marquee, now an enamel pin!


The folks at Mission-based PSA Press (the makers of the Casa Sanchez “Jimmy the Cornman” pin and the Doggie Diner head pin and the It’s-It pin set) continue their tireless efforts to honor the Mission and SF:

The New Mission Theater in SF/CA was built in 1916. This Art Deco masterpiece boasts a 70 foot marquee sign that is a beacon at the heart of the Mission District where PSA Press calls home. In its early life, it showed mostly “B” movies. It is currently the location of our go-to movie theater, Alamo Drafthouse. The sign still stands tall 100 years later.

Limited Edition enamel pin

2 inches

Hard enamel gold metal with 3 color fill and two butterfly clutches on the back to prevent spinning.

Here it is in the wild:

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Get your own here. And see what’s playing tonight at the New Mission Theater here.

SF’s Longest Happy Hour!


HAPPINESS IS THIRTEEN HOUR HAPPY HOURS! Bacon Bloody Mary’s, Irish Coffee, Mexican Coffee, Fresh OJ Mimosa, Pabst…Pops Bar gets your morning going every day at 6am and keeps happy hour going until 7pm! So Rise N Shine, then kick back and unwind, Pops is your official starting point in the Mission. *Please make sure your puppies drink responsibly.

Check out this week’s entertainment line up at Pops Bar:


Drama Talk & Drinks: Hedwig and the Angry Inch “a wild interactive rock concert with heart”

When Hedwig and the Angry Inch was on Broadway in 2014 with Neil Patrick Harris as Hedwig, we had friends who flew to New York just to see it. These aren’t super theatre nerds either, just people who love this show. So when we heard it was coming to SF with Darren Criss and Lena Hall, we knew we needed to see it. Unfortunately for her, Brittany caught a nasty cold and couldn’t make it the night we had tickets. This gave Katie the opportunity to invite her Aunt Deirdre, an actress whom Katie credits for originally instilling in her a love of the theatre, to join her for some Drama Talk and Drinks.

Photo by Joan Marcus

Photo by Joan Marcus

Katie: So, what did you think?

Deirdre: I thought it was unexpected. I have to admit I liked it way more than I even thought I would. The audience participation was great. It was almost more like being at a comedy club than a broadway musical. I loved all the San Francisco references, it made people feel even more part of it. You feel like you aren’t seeing the same show that you would see in Chicago. At first I wasn’t very sold on Lena’s part (Yitzhak), but I loved her by the end and wanted more of her. I thought Darren (Criss) was truly amazing. His physical abilities, vocal abilities, his humor, his timing. Fantastic.

K: Agreed! He (Darren Criss) carried the show so well, but I just couldn’t take my eyes off Yitzhak (Lena Hall). Even though her part isn’t the center of attention, she was fascinating to watch. I also loved the set, especially the use of the scrim that came down during the song “Origin of Love”. The projections of the animations were freaking incredible. I felt like I was watching the most awesome hour-and-a-half music video.

D: The most powerful moment for me was Hedwig’s last song, where he took off the wig and costume. When he was done, and the lights came up, not one person broke the silence, he did it so well. The whole audience was so taken by that moment; we didn’t clap and it was silent for at least 30 seconds and then the guitarist started playing and they started singing again. Such masterful direction. It was an incredibly touching moment to have that huge audience so moved that they couldn’t clap, they just had to be present in the moment. Amazing.

K: This show went by so fast for me and I love that it had no intermission. I want to see this again with Lena Hall as Hedwig!

D: I got it, here is my tagline for you: “It’s a wild interactive rock concert with a heart, and an amazing pair of gold shoes!”

K: Nice! We can use that.

The Verdict: One word “wow”. This show is moving, funny, beautiful. Get your tickets now. This show is worth every penny.

The Drama Talk: Hedwig and the Angry Inch was all around spectacular. From the story, to the actors, to the direction, to the band, to the set and lighting design, it was truly an amazing show. Literally everyone should go see it, because everyone who was in that audience (which was a pretty diverse audience) seemed to have a great time. It’s not your typical Broadway experience. In fact, at times it feels more like a rock concert or a cabaret comedy show, but the ridiculously talented actors, and amazing production totally live up to Broadway quality. Darren Criss’ Hedwig couldn’t be better, and it’s so clear why Lena Hall won the Tony for this. It’s worth every penny, despite the pricey tickets.

The Drinks: We headed up the street a block to another theatrical venue Pianofight, because we didn’t want the theatrical night to end. We had some wine and listened to an accordion playing duo as we beamed about the show.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch runs through October 30th at the Golden Gate Theatre. Tickets range from $50 – $212 and are available through the SHN website. They are doing in-person AND mobile $40 rush tickets, which is pretty cool (Click here for more info). There are also currently some tickets on Goldstar selling for $50-$70.


Drama Talk & Drinks: The Brothers Size “There was a lot of yelling”

We love seeing theater that challenges the norm and we had a feeling that Theatre Rhino’s production of The Brothers Size, which is a play about two brothers, the Louisiana bayou, and West African mythology, would do just that. So we headed to the outskirts of the Financial District to the Eureka Theatre for some Drama Talk & Drinks.

Pictured left to right: Lakeidrick S. Wimberly as Ogun, Gabriel Christian as Oshoosi, and Julian Green as Elegba. Photo by Steven Ho.

Pictured left to right: Lakeidrick S. Wimberly as Ogun, Gabriel Christian as Oshoosi, and Julian Green as Elegba. Photo by Steven Ho.

Katie: I’m dying to hear your thoughts.

Brittany: It’s a cool play. I think it is highly likely that those actors did exactly what they were told to do. It was just so slow and so indulgent. They tried to milk every single second of drama out of the play to the point that it was no longer dramatic.

K:  I feel like I was yelled at. The actors stayed at one level of intensity most of the play, and when that happens it really turns me off.  I feel like I lost a lot of the story, which was a beautiful story.

B: Yeah, there was a lot of yelling. The stakes were so emotionally high the whole time it didn’t give the play anywhere to go. I don’t think they were bad actors, I just think they were not given good direction.

K: There was also a lot of huffing and puffing, a technique that actors often over use to indicate they are frustrated or angry, that really drives me crazy.

B: I did really like the movement and physicality of the actors, they were definitely present and focused. Also, the set and sound design were cool. The two brothers had a really lovely moment at the end where I really felt like wow, you guys really care about each other, I felt that emotional connection. But that was just one moment in what should have been a much more moving play.

K: I agree, so many aspects of this production didn’t hit the mark, so for me it makes the whole production meh.

The Verdict: Beautifully written play. Such a great story, just not told in a way that let us fully take in its glory. However, if you are hungry for a show that isn’t the typical narrative, we would say this piece is worth checking out.

The Drama Talk: We wanted to like this show so badly. A cool play, important themes, diverse actors, and a theater company with a great mission, but this production of The Brother’s Size fell short. While there was some good physical work, and a few touching moments, most of the time the actors were acting so hard that they ended up losing the beautiful language given to them.

The Drinks: Since this piece was set in the bayou, we thought some New Orleans-inspired cocktails would be appropriate. Luckily we found that only 3 blocks away on the embarcadero at Hard Water.

The Brothers Size runs through October 15th at the Eureka Theatre. It’s one hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. Tickets can be purchased through their website and range from $15-$40. Right now there are tickets on Goldstar from $0-17.50.


First Frydays

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Let’s fast forward to the weekend shall we? Pops Bar is happy to introduce a new monthly night to the line up: First Frydays! Local DJs ColdSoggyFries & Mayje bring you the latest and greatest hop hop and R&B in the city. Be sure to hop on Pops this Friday for their residency kick off.

Check out this week’s full entertainment line up at Pops Bar:


Drama Talk & Drinks: The Shipment “Laughter is a place to start”

It’s not often you hear about a hilarious black identity-politics play. So when we heard that Crowded Fire Theater was doing the Bay Area premiere of Korean-American playwright Young Jean Lee’s play, The Shipment, we knew it was time for a night of Drama Talks & Drinks.

William Hartfield and Nican Robinson open Crowded Fire’s THE SHIPMENT with gravity-defying choreography. Photo by Pak Han

William Hartfield and Nican Robinson open Crowded Fire’s THE SHIPMENT.
Photo by Pak Han

Brittany: I thought it was good. The opening was so energetic. From a theater-history standpoint the script was fun too. All the different vignettes were nods to different types of performance, from minstrel shows, to stand-up comedy, to Brecht, to a modern tv show. When viewed together they critiqued the way African Americans have been and are portrayed, but it did so without forcing the audience to sit through a history lesson.

Katie: I liked the different pieces individually, but despite some strong performances, I don’t think it flowed very well between them.

B: You’re right. It took me a minute to get into each piece. Once I got into it, it was great, but those transitions felt abrupt.

K: I constantly felt like I was playing catch-up when a new section began, because you had to get used to a totally different style of theater and different characters. An impressive feat for the actors. There were a lot of layers in there, which made it interesting, but I felt like I was missing a lot. I wish I had read the script first.

B: I do too, it was definitely a smart play. It left me more contemplative than emotionally impacted though. I appreciate that the final piece made the audience confront implicit biases, but I wish there had been a call to action. Laughter is a place to start, but I don’t think it pushed the audience far enough given our current news cycle.

K: Crowded Fire is doing cool new works though, and I appreciate that. It’s important that they’re supporting writers of color, actors of color, directors of color, and bringing in more diverse audiences. This play hit all those marks, and I enjoyed it.

The Verdict: Go see it! It’s an interesting play, with strong performances, and an important message.

The Drama Talk: While some of the messages in this 2009 play may not feel as revolutionary as they did when it originally premiered, it’s still a smart play which reminds us of the long history of racial bias in the media and thereby in our culture. It was an interesting and thought provoking night at the theater.

The Drinks: Crowded Fire’s theater tends to get pretty warm. Warm enough that the night we went they had fans on everyone’s seats.  After the show we needed a refreshing drink to cool us down so we headed up the hill to Bloom’s Saloon for great views and cheap gin and tonics.

The Shipment runs through October 15th at The Thick House theater. Tickets range from $15-30 and can be purchased on the Crowded Fire website.

California Bart pin

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By local funnyman George Chen, this pin celebrates California AND Bart (AND the image was part of the first poster for the first edition of the long-running Mission-based comedy show Cynic Cave). Says George, “it’s 2016 so I made an enamel pin.”

Here’s another look:

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Get yours here.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Interview with Lena Hall of Hedwig and the Angry Inch (aka Katie’s new girl crush)

A rock musical about a genderqueer East German singer named Hedwig is coming to town, and we think you should know about it. If you were a moody aughts theater kid like us, you probably saw the movie Hedwig and the Angry Inch when it came out about 15 years ago:

What is extra exciting about this tour is the leading actors, Darren Criss (made famous by Glee) and Lena Hall (Tony Award Winner for her role in Hedwig and recent guest star on HBO’s Girls), are both San Francisco natives.

Katie was lucky enough to have a phone chat with Lena Hall before she headed to SF to kick-off the tour. We learned that she grew up in the Haight, was raised by parents who were dancers, attended Ruth Asawa School of the Arts in Diamond Heights, is a fierce supporter of arts for young people and is Katie’s new girl crush.

Lena Hall in her Tony Award winning role of Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Lena Hall in her Tony Award winning role of Yitzhak in Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

Katie: How have you seen the arts scene change in San Francisco since you were a kid?

Lena: I feel like the arts scene is very different from when I was growing up, in fact I think it’s a lot less (art) than when I was growing up, which is unfortunate. A lot of it has to do with the rising prices of rent. I grew up in the Haight-Ashbury, Upper Haight, and it used to be so colorful and different. Now it’s starting to lose its soul. Part of what made, and makes, San Francisco so great is that it has so much culture; but that culture is starting to get squandered by money. The arts are what makes the city appealing, the arts are what make a city viable and interesting. I hope there will be the desire to focus on that and emphasize the arts in San Francisco.

K: What is making you excited to perform Hedwig here in San Francisco?

L: I’ve never done a big production in SF, so this will be my first big show home coming. I get to perform the role that I won the Tony Award for, which is really cool, but what is really, really cool is that I get to play Hedwig! It’s like the year of the woman, we are just as badass as the guys are and guess what? I’m doing both roles in the same production, and will do both roles on the same day. I’m so in love with this show, and it’s such an honor and opportunity to play both roles. I’m beyond grateful for it.  I’m just so excited to bring it home and do this in our home town.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch opens next week!  If you want to see some homegrown celebrities rock it in a very San Francisco musical go out and get your tickets now.  Right now there are still tickets on Goldstar for opening night or you can get tickets on the SHN website. Drama Talk & Drinks will be seeing the show and reporting back. If it’s half as great as Lena, it’s going to be fabulous!

*If you want to see Lena make history being the first female to play Hedwig in a major Broadway tour, make sure to go on the following days: Sunday, October 9 at 7pm, Wednesday, October 12 at 8pm, Wednesday, October 19 at 8pm, and Wednesday, October 26 at 8pm.