Queer Open Mic at the 3 Dollar Bill Cafe

I finally made it last Friday night to the Queer Open Mic at the 3 Dollar Bill Cafe in San Francisco’s LGBT Community Center. MCs Cindy Emch and Sherilyn Connelly opened up the night goofing around with the mic. Someone had sent Cindy some amazing branchy, antlery sticks (maybe madrone twigs?) made into pencils, with the graphite perfectly inset, and the package had come anonymously to be delivered at the event. This made my night, even though I didn’t get an antlery stick pencil – it was so sweet and perfect.
amy at queer open mic

I devoured some delicious french toast and licked the syrup off the plate, feeling very glad that the 3 Dollar Bill had hot food. Read on for the details of the spoken word performances:

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During the first half of the open mic we heard from Barbara, or Priestess Barbara, on guitar, singing “My Favorite Mistake”. Charlie Ballard hit us with some standup comedy that… well… he was very sweet but where I finally started laughing really hard was when he was like “Was that misongynist?!” and Lori Selke shot me a look because I was *just* secretly thinking “Oh, it’s *that* sort of gay man joke about lesbians”. Then some of the lesbian jokes got me cracking up, but mostly because they were dated and lame jokes about women in flannel shirts and mullets, and it was funny to have them busted out on such a not-that crowd full of women. Maybe that was the point and I was missing a level of irony. Then Steven Schwartz read a poem about being Siva-like and stomping and destroying and being Big; a sort of warning poem. Being me, and gossipy, I know the backstory. Giovanna Capone read some flash fiction and then showed us a copy of What I Want From You: Voices of East Bay Lesbian Poets, where she had some work published recently.

Michael something from Pirate Cat Radio read something about supermodels that just left me cold. Lori Selke read some hot smutty hypnotic poetry that had a lot of shiny knives in it. Pangaea then regaled us with memoir, but I confess by that point I was just having an extended aesthetic experience staring at her outfit, which was pink, sparkly, outrageous, and included a pink tail.

Then Gina De Vries read some amazing smut, or erotica, or porn, or a short story, or whatever you want to call that sort of thing. It was shinily well-written, tight, & with cool subtlety about femme/butch power dynamics, flirting, and sex. The excerpt she read from a memoir-ish essay about fashion, her grandma, the 90s riot grrl movement, and growing up queer and punk in San Francisco, also rocked.

gina reading at qom

During the second half of the open mic we heard from Luna Maia, then me (my first time at this open mic, and I flubbed it a bit from exhaustion and un-practice, but people liked my chat-room poem anyway). John (also his first time at the reading and I didn’t catch his full name) read a good piece called “Blasphemy By Comparison”. Sabrina then read from one of her zines about her first Pride march in New York City. “I knew Pride was corporate, but wasn’t prepared for Macy’s to celebrate my gayness or whatever.” I enjoyed her scary-sharp dry wit. Shiny goth goddess and MC Sherilyn wound up the evening with a piece about fashion, thrifting, clothes, body image, and being “tall like a supermodel”, a comment that tall transwomen often get from tiny cute little genetic girls who don’t quite realize that supermodels have their clothes custom made for them.

Then really the highlight of the evening (other than Gina’s reading) was Amy, who didn’t hang with us clique-whores in the front of the room; a big amazing butch woman with manly blond hair and an eyebrow ring, sort of break-your-heart-cornfield-motorcycle-midwesterny, singing and playing the guitar. Now I’m not the hugest fan of the lesbian folk song genre (despite being able to sing many Alix Dobkin songs from memory), but Amy blew me away completely with her tight complicated guitar, her even tighter and more beautiful lyrics, in a sad song caled “Long Gone”, all focused intensity. (I flashed back to a 1989 Phranc concert; but better than that.) Then she walked out before I could catch her and demand more of her music, so I was all sad. Elvis had left the building. Cindy yelled across the room for her to please, please, please, come back. “I’ll think about it.” That’s the sort of thing that *should* happen at an open mic.

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