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Originally uploaded by bovil

More pictures from San Jose Coronation 2009 are up at my flickr

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...about half went into the recycle bin immediately. Doing post-production and tossing out some of the least interesting that still remain. Should have them posted in the next day or three.
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So [ profile] kproche and I went up to SF for their annual coronation ball. We haven't been attending that many imperial court events (because they returns from Costume-Con promotion at them didn't seem to be good, and weren't in the end), so it's been a while since we've seen some of these people. I don't feel like writing up a big review, suffice it to say it was fun, we didn't over-do things, and I'm still exhausted.

On the way home on Sunday, we stopped at the tail-end of Potlatch to visit with folks, and ended up staying for about 4 hours. It was a blast.

I'm processing pics and they will be up on flickr in a few days.
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Well, we survived it.

We skipped Friday night's out-of-town show and went to Renegades for SCCLA bar schmooze and Empress Jackie Best's decade party. Had a good time. Didn't drink too much.

K went to PenWAG meeting Saturday morning. I slept in. Hospitality was a lot of fun; there was a good crowd there.

We got to the Scottish Rite Center just as the doors were opening, and found our table. The center's main ballroom is very nice, and would be a great place to have a big party.

[ profile] gurdymonkey, [ profile] didjiman and [ profile] karisu_sama found us successfully, just in time for the buffet to open. It was a pretty decent little nosh. We also caught up with [ profile] npage1 and the gang from San Francisco.

Show started a half-hour late (not bad by drag standards, but not great). Opening number by "Divas on the Run" was pretty good, but also pretty long. Queen Mother Nicole "The Great" talked a bit; good substance, but she needs a better speechwriter, because it wasn't well articulated. Most of the entertainers were excellent. Show pacing was a bit off, though. Where SF was long but didn't feel it, SJ was long and by 10:30 was feeling really long.

We headed back to our room, invited a few folks by, and chatted and drank for a while. Well, by the time DST kicked in, 5:30am. Gotta stop doing that quite so often. It was fun, but I just can't booze and stay up that late anymore. Maybe after CC we'll recover some energy...

Totally skipped victory brunch and victory show. Had brunch at Original Pancake House, went home, and slept a lot more.

All in all, flawed but fun.
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Richard posted the rest of the SF Coronation photos.

There's some really good stuff in there.
bovil: (Default) Costume-Con ramps up hard.

Unless I'm totally wrong on our calendar.

This weekend was rough, more so because we were still recovering a bit from Gallifrey. Saturday morning we had a CC26 committee meeting, and it went pretty well. That was a good thing.

That was a good thing because we had to drive straight up to San Francisco for SF coronation that night. SF coronation is a relatively early event, with doors opening at 5:00pm. It has to be, because even with the best of efforts it's long.

So a wet and windy drive up to SF got us to WholeFoods at California & Franklin where we picked up our "catering" for our table. Yep, grocery shopping before checking in to the hotel. The schedule was tight.

Fortunately, the hotel was only a block away. Unfortunately, the hotel was the SF Holiday Inn Golden Gate, and more unfortunately, the weather was driving idiots under the canopy, making it difficult to check in. Still, we got in and got our room with time to spare (about an hour to clean up and change).

Time was definitely tight, because the tickets for our table were in K's name, and we had to get the gatelist to the will-call desk before anybody else showed up (in the crappy weather). We did get there (along with a pair of gals from Seattle) in reasonable time. We had [ profile] karisu_sama, [ profile] didjiman, Princess Jennifer, Sarah Dreaming, Tommy & Michelle at our table, along with a pair of last-minute replacements for folks who couldn't show.

We got the table set, and the show started on schedule. The opening number was a bit incoherent; some sort of thing about getting in trouble, going to jail, getting broken out. I didn't really get it.

We walked early (with in-town organizations, instead of with the San Jose court). This was a good thing.

The acts were pretty good. Three candidates for Emperor. Steven's candidate number was better than his attempt last year, but a bit weird. John's candidate number was great. I heard a rumor it was choreographed by Cockatelia, and it looked it. Paul's candidate number was a bit odd, but not bad. Two candidates for Empress. I was apparently looking the wrong direction during one of them. Cher's was a good number, but she had this nude-look showgirl outfit that she should have either been wearing no fake boobs under or bigger fake boobs under. As it was, she looked like a boy.

Alexis Miranda did a big flashy anniversary number. Marcus Hernandez did a short, nice presentation for his 35th anniversary. Steven Rasher had the audience falling out of their chairs, doing "Sexy Back" and entering using a walker.

John and Cher were elected Emperor and Empress, and were crowned before midnight. There are rumblings of concern over John from some locals, but it's not my town, I don't know the details, I don't have to live there.

All in all, it was a great show, and unlike other years (where 6 hours felt like 12), it just breezed by. That may, though, have been because we walked early. [ profile] didjiman got some great photos. I hope that he's going to post some more later.

Afterwards we ran out to Marlena's. A bunch of the Imperial old guard was there. We had a few drinks, walked (most of the way, caught a cab for the last bit) back to the hotel.

After much sleep and breakfast at Mel's, we drove back South. Sunday was an aggressively unproductive day. We hit Costco and TJ's, and that was about it.

I really hope that I'm right and San Jose Coronation is the only big all-weekend event we've got left before CC.
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For the first time in several years, I had no responsibility at San Jose Coronation. K had volunteered to organize flag bearers (so I carried the American flag) and was in Allen's candidate number, so we did have to go to hospitality in the afternoon.

I had a few drinks while K did his rehearsal with Allen and Rachael St. James. Hospitality was rather lightly attended, mostly by people submitting protocol books. Didn't look too good for attendance, but since coronation was in the Odd Fellows Hall, at least it wouldn't be too crowded.

So much for that idea.

Even though hospitality was pretty quiet, everybody showed up for Coronation itself. The room was packed solid and kept getting busier.

Coronation started an hour late, because the folks with the protocol box showed up an hour late.

In spite of the crowd and the delay, the show actually went very well. Long, but well. The MCs breezed through protocol (sometimes a bit too quick for the people getting ready to walk). There were a lot of command performances, but they were, to a one, excellent.

Ava and Allen beat "no" and were crowned Empress 37 and Emperor 37.

Still, I could have done with getting home before midnight.
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It was fun, mind you, but it was also exhausting.

Friday night after work, [ profile] kproche and I drove up to the city and the Sir Francis Drake just in time to make the end of the out-of-town show and the bus run. K isn't reigning anymore, so he wasn't expected to perform there. This made life a lot easier. We caught Chris & LaLa from San Diego, Harmony and Kristoff from Long Beach, and a bunch of freaks from Alameda, and were on our way to the bars of San Francisco.

Stop one was Mr. Lee-Ona's Cocktail Lounge in the Tenderloin, and oy was it cramped. There just isn't enough space in that bar for two bus-loads of drag queens. We did, however, find Emperor John-Richard and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with a cooler loaded with hot dogs and corn dogs to feed the masses, and they were well received. The cheap drinks were also well-received.

Mr. Lee-Ona's was followed by a visit to Divas, a tranny bar in the Polk district managed by Empress Alexis Miranda. Divas always maintains an interesting mix of class and sleaze.

From there we went to Esta Noche in the Mission. Esta Noche is (not surprisingly) a latin bar in a beautiful old building. The Victorian cast plaster trim and arched ceiling over the bar is amazing. It's not really our scene, though, and was incredibly loud.

Finally we made our way to the Castro, to stop at Cafe Flore, a fabulous little restaurant that turns into a strange little nightclub as the evening moves on. This was the beginning of the end, and it began with a Martini. Across the street is Metro City Bar, and we closed out the night there with a few Expanding Cosmos. Rather than take the bus back to the hotel, we caught a cab. The bus and at least one less drink would have been the better part of valor. Still, it was a fun evening.

Saturday began with breakfast at Lori's on Powell and something of a hangover. We made our way to hospitality, printed and filed the protocol book, and then did a run to WholeFoods for our table catering. SF Coronation never has any food, so you've got to bring your own.

We weren't quite ready for a nap when we got back to the hotel, so we did a bit of walking around Union Square, mostly for a stop a the really fabulous Willams-Sonoma store and to hit Crate and Barrel to get a cheapie "stemless" martini glass with an icebowl to sit in (they make great caviar servers). On the way back to the hotel we ran into not only [ profile] shipofools999 and Randy, but also [ profile] laragoth and [ profile] night_x_walker on a fabric shopping trip.

Then we napped.

We did get dressed and to the ball at a reasonable hour. We were joined by Ava & Allen, their neighbors, K's brother Swirly, and Tommy and Michelle. As it turned out, we had tons of food, because everybody brought something.

The set was by master of styrofoam Emperor Ken Barker of Denver, held together with what he calls "oriental re-bar" but you'll find in your grocery store in large packages: bamboo skewers. It was gorgeous and grand.

The court's opening production number was a bit thin, but very pretty; Emperor John-Richard is also a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence (Sister Penny Costal) and the Sisters played a major part in the number. John-Richard and Empress Tiger Lily entered in very opulent Egyptian robes (they had an Egyptian theme, go fig), and the show got started.

We weren't drinking much, but the show was still something of a blur, running over 4 hours. Empress Jose I, the Widow Norton, performed her quad-decade dedication to standing ovation (her voice isn't what it used to be, but she's over 80). Empress 31 Cockatelia did an absolutely mad production number with drums, giant percussion set-pieces and live singing. Candidates Gallilea (with a disco carnival number, "MacArthur Park" in Portuguese I think has left me scarred, how do you say "Someone left the cake out in the rain" in Portuguese anyway?) and Jason Ladd (with more naked flesh on stage than has probably seen since Cockatelia reigned) showed very well.

Finally the last walks came. John-Richard had a fabulous drag performer do a number for him which was followed by he (dressed as Emperor Norton) and a bunch of friends doing gumby mummy square-dancing. It was madder than Tilly, and that's an achievement.

Tiger came out in a huge red embroidered-satin dress with giant crinolines. I don't think we've ever seen Tiger in anything like this, but it was a great dress for her. She was absolutely shattered by this point, but still pulled off a great performance for the crowd.

Gallilea and Jason made their minimum vote, and were both escorted to the stage to be crowned by an assembly of perpetual title-holders led by Empress Remy Martin. Then it was time for congratulations and a ride back to the hotel graciously provided by Tommy and Michelle.

We went to bed. No party for us.

Also no early-morning grave-side visit for us. K isn't reigning or campaigning anymore, so it's not an obligation we had to keep, and the extra time in bed was worth it.

At brunch we sat with Tiger's husband Nathan, a pair of nice guys from Dallas, a pair of folks who worked a lot on Tiger & John's court and Empress Corvette of Boston (who we had been hanging out with much of the weekend). The cemetery bus wasn't too late, the food was better than average, Tiger & John gave out a reasonable number of plaques and awards, and Gallilea and Jason gave their titles and court name ("Traditions and Transitions", I think; say that three times fast while drunk).

Then we came home. Still too exhausted to care about doing other shopping. I also figured out what was wrong with the smell in the car that appeared last week; one of the rubber CV-joint "boots" developed a crack and has been spraying grease all over the catalytic converter and exhaust headers. It's a big crack now, and will have to be dealt with very soon. It's still better to know, though.
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[ profile] kproche and I went to Modesto on Saturday for their coronation. We like Emperor Art and Empress Debbie, and Art had asked K to sing "O Canada" as part of the presentation of colors.

We got up early enough in the morning to make it to the Howard Johnson Express Inn in Ceres, turn in the protocol list and catch up with people in hospitality. We were pleasantly surprised to run into Empress XV Darlene (of Dar's Hideaway); the candidate for Emperor was a good friend of hers. There was a bit of chaos with protocol, Regent Emperor Emmanuel had faxed some updates to the hotel, but they swore that nothing came in. Not surprisingly, after Emmanuel re-faxed his updates they found the other copy.

We did a bit of shopping at the dollar stores (the strip mall at Hatch & Herndon in Ceres has 2 dollar stores and a Big Lots!), a bit of lunch at Jenny's Family Dining (a delightfully strange and excellent restaurant) and a bit of wasting time (Nickelodeon was running a Danny Phantom marathon) before heading to the coronation.

Art & Debbie's theme for this coronation was "Myths and Legends of Centuries Past" and they did a pretty good job with the decor. K ended up singing both "The Star Spangled Banner" and "O Canada" and then our responsibilities were done. K reprised his "Atlas" costume from the SCCLA show, but in iridescent metallic; it was very popular. I bid on a lot of Tom of Finland Foundation items (5 posters, 2 prints and 2 statuettes) and got it. "Big Daddy Mac" Sandy's candidate number was a rendition of She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy with her mobi dolled up like a tractor for her entrance.

There were a few stumbles. They hadn't really rehearsed Art and Debbie's entrance robes being removed, and it was a bit trickier than expected. Art was signing certificates for award recipients as he was giving them on the dais. That was about it, though.

We did a quick run to The Brave Bull. It was hopping, but it was loud, so we headed back to the hotel.

Sunday morning was a quick pack and victory brunch. The food was atrocious, but the presentations were very nice, and Mac's "acceptance speech" was absolutely hysterical. Afterwards we headed back (with a stop in Livermore for a wine-club pickup), and just faded out.
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"Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."

Well, sometimes it feels that way. I must admit my favorite Folsom Street Fair was 1998, when we had the downpour. The sightseers ran from the rain, and the rest of us got on with out business. We watched Blue Period get rained out (a heavily amped punk band in the rain is a bad idea), visited with them backstage (while there still was a backstage), got into the late, lamented My Place ahead of the lines and drank free vodka-cranberry all afternoon with the band.

So we skipped the fair again this year.

Even though we had a hotel room three blocks away.

"What could possess you to want to go into San Francisco Folsom weekend if you're not going to the fair?" you ask.

Well, The Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco decided to move their coronation to the same weekend, and set it at the Ramada Plaza Hotel. Grand Duke Mike Manicotti and Grand Duchess Sophilya Leggz have been absolute darlings when we've met them on the circuit, so we couldn't miss it. Shifting the date was a risky proposition; there are a lot of in-town events the Saturday night before the fair. It made things difficult for some of the local folks, but it did bring in a pretty good visiting crowd.

We were fortunate enough to get in a bit before 1:00pm, and found ourself pulling up behind Empress Felicia and Emperor Courtney of Reno, and Empress Carlotta Solengoodz of Las Vegas. The security guard had just let Courtney and the doorman know that three parking spaces had opened in the hotel parking lot, so we snapped up all the permits quickly.

Hospitality was in the Nob Hill room on the mezzanine level. The Ramada Plaza (a.k.a. the RamIt Inn; it's been host hotel for Drummer contests in the past) is a glorious old post-quake building with high ceilings, beautiful woodwork, and not nearly enough lighting. The Nob Hill room is this small conference room lined with dark paneling and with a few low windows looking out onto Market street; it was packed with visitors.

[ profile] kproche helped Tank (our current Grand Duke of San José) put together protocol, and we waited for [ profile] mishalak, who was walking from a few blocks away, to arrive. We had a drink, and then left to do a bit of shopping at the new Mr. S store.

Yep, they moved, to 8th street and that building with the giant inflatable gorilla on the roof. One day when it's not so busy, I'll ask someone who knows what prompted the move. The new store is really nice. They've got about twice as much floor space and much better displays with a lot more inventory on display. They even have a display model bed from DungeonBeds. The beds are actually really nice, and other than pure mass don't necessarily hint that they're bondage furniture.

Shopping done, we grabbed a quick lunch at the Soma Cafe. It's this fabulous little restaurant near 7th and Folsom. I've not had anything there that isn't great, but their hummus with grilled chicken is fabulous.

Went back to the hotel, M went back to his place to change, and we got ready for the ball.

Mike and Sophilya's ball theme was "A Russian Gypsy Circus Comes to San Francisco." Real mouthful, but a fun idea. Also one that was really easy to dress for. K got tapped to sing "O Canada" again; the Grand Duke of Fresno (who was scheduled to perform) couldn't make it.

In a surprise development, the show actually started on time. The room was still filling as the flags were presented, anthems were sung and the invocation was offered.

Alas, the tech crew wasn't as well organized as the rest of the event staff. There was an ugly hum in the PA system, the MC's microphones were set far too low beyond the level of the backing music, and the spotlight operator was on crack (at least that's my explanation as to why the light was popping all over the place except where it should have been). Madame Steele missed being called as a guest to the dais because she couldn't hear the announcement over the music.

It was also evident after the opening number (put on by the Ducal House of Reno) that the theme was pretty much a throwaway. They put on a nice circus/gypsy theme number, and [ profile] markobellydance did a dance number in the second act, but that was about it. The sets didn't really say "circus" or "gypsy" and neither did the rest of the command performances.

The MCs still did a great job moving the show quickly, until something in the sound system blew in the middle of Taryn Thru-you's command performance. They did get it fixed, and suddenly the sound quality (and the clarity of the MC's mics) got much better. The next time things are that bad I'm going to go up and run the mixer myself; I own the same PA that they were using.

So one act down, and the sound was finally working right. Marko did his number, and while it was great, it was evidence that we weren't going to be so lucky with the spotlight getting sorted out. For some reason the operator decided that flipping the yellow gel in and out would "spice up" the performances. Nobody looks good under a yellow gel, much less a flickering yellow gel.

Madame Steele and David "Diva" LaFever were called up to run the second act and read protocol. Courts walked in Z-A order, so we actually walked second. It was nice getting that out of the way. Steele and David ran protocol very quickly and smoothly.

Mike and Sophilya did their last walks. Both had a very respectable "wall of monarchs" behind them, indicating that they had, indeed, made a good name for themselves on the circuit. Sophilya finished with Lords of Acid's Pussy. Finally a last walk number that's not fraught with meaning and symbolism, except perhaps "I am what I am."

There were no candidates this year for Grand Duke or Grand Duchess, so there was no election. The council named Collette LeGrande-Ashton as Regent Grand Duchess 33 and Rob as Regent Grand Duke 32. Both have done a lot of work (this was the 15th anniversary of Collette's first term as Grand Duchess) and will continue the work being done to revitalize the SF Ducal Council.

Afterwards, K, Marko and I went with Madame Steele and the new regents for a tour of the Ducal Court's home bars in the Tenderloin. We stopped at Aunt Charlie's Lounge to watch a bit of Gina La Divina's Hot Boxx Girls review. Gina is in her early seventies, but you would never know it; she's a seriously fierce queen and has been performing for well over 30 years.

Rob and Collette said we had to go to Mr. Lee-Ona's, so we walked up two blocks. Mr. Lee-Ona isn't with us anymore (we were there last year when, stoned out of his mind, he walked off the front of the stage at Alameda's Ducal Coronation), but his bar is still a nice, bright, clean and civilized little place in the heart of the Tenderloin.

A bit of gab and gossip later we made a final walk up to DECO Lounge and piano bar. DECO has made its home in the former Jezebel's Joint (a dominatrix bar owned by the folks who own the Power Exchange), and you would never know it. It's nice, clean, bright, and (like all the other Tenderloin bars) has eminently reasonable drink prices (by SF standards). We caught the tail end of Houston's set in the piano bar (it's been years since I've been in piano bar) and generally had a fabulous time.

After getting Steele into a cab, K and Marko and I headed over to Mel's Diner at the 5th & Mission Garage for a bite to eat (I would have been a disaster in the morning if we hadn't) and then back to the hotel.

Morning didn't come too early, but it came early. We checked out of the hotel and headed back to find parking near DECO, where victory brunch was being held. We had a drink, they put on a very good feed, and then we headed back home.
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For the last few years [ profile] kproche and I have been attending the GSGRA Bay Area Chapter Regional Rodeo.

Gay Rodeo is suprisingly like any other amateur rodeo, except at the parties at night guys are two-steppin' with guys and they're all line-dancin' to songs that you would never expect to hear in a country bar. I don't think there was a line-dance to Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax but there could have been.

So that sets a certain tone of silliness that, in spite of competition in serious events such as bull riding and barrel racing, permeates the weekend.

K and I were also buckle sponsors this year and last year (overall winner for an event gets a fancy belt-buckle; it's ever so western), so we had invitations to the hospitality suite on Friday night. That, of course, meant that we had to get up to San Francisco and the Cathedral Hill Hotel. By 7:00. On a Friday night. From San Jose. Traffic was not atrocious; we took 280 up and then cut into the city on Delores, but it still took us about an hour and a half. Good thing we both left work at 3:30, because we finally got moving in time to arrive at the Cathedral Hill and check in a bit before 7:00.

The Cathedral Hill (or, as most natives call it, "The old Jack Tar") isn't a dump, but it's definitely an older hotel. It's also not going to be around much longer. The whole block and several surrounding blocks are scheduled for demolition in a little over a year; there's a new Sutter Hospital going up. I wonder if anybody is going to say "Yeah, I'm going in for a triple-bypass at the old Jack Tar."

John Carillo and Doug Graff did a great job with hospitality; John is in the restaurant business and used to work in hotel management, so he knows everybody in the biz in San Francisco. We had cocktails, lamb chops, cheese and little savory pastry hors d'oeuvre waiting in the hospitality suite when we got there. We also found a huge gang of Canadians waiting; the Alberta Rockies Gay Rodeo Association and Team Money-Pennies had sent over a dozen people down to compete and work on the rodeo. The Canadians were a blast all weekend.

After enough hospitality, we headed down to the Friday night dance. It was a lot of fun, but the drink prices were ruinous ($8 for a well gin-and-tonic). I ended up talking for a bit with an Academy of Art film student doing a documentary on gay rodeo, and then we pretty much crashed.

Saturday morning we got up early enough to get to the rodeo well before the grand entrance. This is kind of a big deal; while the hotel and parties are in San Francisco, the rodeo itself is at Driscoll Ranches between San Gregorio and La Honda. It's an hour drive from SF when traffic is good. On the other hand, the drive is worth it; the grounds are beautiful and the facility is superb.

This year's Rodeo Grand Marshall(s) was The Imperial Court of San Francisco, and when they were called up for the grand entrance, Emperor John-Richard hauled K along for the ride in the truck when they were presented. The Cow Palace Cowgirls Precision Drill Team once again returned to perform for the crowd, this year in a rainbow of satin blouses (perhaps they thought they were less likely to get mugged over those than the sequined shirts they wore last year). They are oh-so-fabulous.

We finally got to watch Goat Dressing. Yeah, it's the second year we've sponsored the buckle, and we finally saw it. I'm not going to explain here; check out the gallery.

Pole Bending was pretty cool. No, despite the innuendo-laden name, it's not a camp event, it's a high-speed slalom on a horse. It's "Pole Bending" because, like in skiing, you're fine as long as you don't knock over the markers.

We skipped Steer Riding to go get some food, but made it back in time to watch some Barrel Racing. Like Pole Bending, it's a high-speed skilled race where horse and rider complete a circuit of three barrels without tipping them over. There were some women who turned in really good times in Barrel Racing.

We also watched a bit of Wild Drag, a crazy event that combines Chute Dogging, Steer Riding, and in some cases the worst drag you've ever seen. A cowboy, a cowgirl and a contestant in drag are arrayed in the arena. The cowboy has a halter attached to a steer in the chute, and has to get the steer across a line where the cowgirl is waiting. Once the steer is across that line, both of them can work to get the second line where the "drag" is waiting. She's got to get on the back of the steer and the cowboy and cowgirl have to get the steer back over the second line with the drag still on its back. Risky? Yes. Silly? Very.

After Wild Drag we decided to head back up to the city and get a touch of dinner before the Saturday night dance.

The entertainment team had decided to try something different this year, and it only kind-of worked. In addition to having a country dance in the main ballroom, they had a "high energy" dance and entertainment in the second ballroom. This is apparently a very popular event at the Dallas Gay Rodeo, but response was mixed here. Some folks were looking for the songs & drag show that we've had in the past, but I think the biggest problem is that in San Francisco, if people go to a rodeo they're looking for country; there are plenty of dance clubs in the city that cater to the "high energy" crowd.

Sunday morning we slept in a bit, packed up, and headed back to the rodeo. We caught the grand entrance again, and watched a bit more Barrel Racing before watching the second day's Goat Dressing.

After that we went home. We didn't have a room for Sunday night, and going home to drop off stuff made sense. It also left us a few hours to rest and recover before going back up to SF for the awards ceremony (which didn't start until 9:00pm).

The ceremony actually started on schedule. Well, that would be surprised if we hadn't run into the assistant rodeo director when we stopped for lunch earlier; we were heading home while he was heading north to make sure everything was ready.

Awards were given. When it came time to give out the Goat Dressing awards, we went up and snagged the buckles and waited for names to be called. It was pretty convenient; as it turned out Doug and John won the buckle, so we didn't have to worry about finding the right faces in the crowd of teams who had placed either day. When it was all over, we headed back home for some needed sleep.
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Yeah, Union City.

The Imperial Star Empire of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties had their Coronation Ball on Saturday, at the Crowne Plaza South Oakland in Union City.

Yeah, Union City.

It's possible to get farther south in Alameda County (and farther away from Oakland) than Union City, but Freemont is the only thing between it and Milpitas. Granted, the coronation is there because Hayward (which is much more the center of Alameda Co gay activity) doesn't have any hotels with conference facilities, and Oakland is, well, Oakland.

We really like Empress Niyah and Emperor Ellis, and were really looking forward to seeing how their coronation played out. Their theme was "Beauty and the Freak." Niyah never fails to live up to "Beauty" and, well, Ellis is a skinny black dude who does Marilyn Manson numbers. They had some difficulties together, but they did a great job together.

Once Saturday morning's chaos was over, we headed up to check in and spend some time in hospitality. They were having a busy day, and nearly ran out of alcohol by 2:30. The only irritation was that while hospitality was scheduled to run until 4:00pm, but it closed at 3:00. Well, there wasn't any booze, so it didn't really matter.

We spent a bit of time chatting with Madame Steele in the room before showering and dressing for the show. Coronation included a buffet dinner, so we made sure we got down to the ballroom on time for the doors to open.

Oh, [ profile] kproche was scheduled to sing "O Canada" in the flag ceremony, so that was the other reason we had to be there on-time.

...but we were in Alameda...

At least the bar was open when we got there. 10 minutes after the door was supposed to open.

We ran into Jazmine James and Kiki Monroe, both Empresses of Denver, who were the show MCs. Kiki swore they were going to start at 6:00, even if the doors weren't open and nobody was there. The doors finally did open, but the show didn't start at 6:00 like it was supposed to. One of the ball coordinators (who swore she was going to show up at 5:00) didn't walk in until 6:00, so we didn't get dinner until then.

The show finally did start a bit before 7:00. The sets were great. Coffins, twisted trees, iron candelabras and cobwebs set a nicely gothic scene, and the traditional Crowne Plaza dark red worked in beautifully. Frank Salerno did the Mexican National Anthem as a reading rather than singing it (it's barely singable, perhaps worse than SSB), and Tank sang the US National Anthem. Amazingly, he didn't blow any words (I can count the number of times a singer hasn't blown the words on one hand).

Ellis and Niyah only had 12 seats for guests on the dais (an improvement from last year when entering and exiting 16 guests each act took longer than it did for most courts to walk), and they had quite a few command performers, but not a crazy number. The really cool thing is nearly all of the command performers went with the theme. No "WTF?" performances. OK, that's not true, quite a few were "WTF!!!???" numbers, but in a way that made sense.

First act (in-town stuff) took forever. Not sure why, since there weren't really any in-town organizations walking. Way too long. Second act (when visiting courts were presented) actually went pretty smoothly and pretty quickly. Third act was mostly performances (which would have been better if things were running on schedule), but was marred by aforementioned late ball coordinator shuffling folks back into the ballroom saying the doors were going to lock for crowning before the intermission that preceded act 4... and then repeating that routine for another 15 minutes before the doors locked.

So after all the BS and the doors finally being locked, Joe-Wanna Piece (the former Emperor Alex P) and Christian Dior were crowned Empress (Joe-Wanna) and Emperor (Christian) with apparently a handy number of votes. Then we headed up to the hospitality suite for the victory party, and off to bed.

Brunch the next morning was pretty decent. The Crowne Plaza's banquet room is nice, and their kitchen is pretty good. Ellis and Niyah gave out plaques. Actually, Ellis gave out plaques and candles, Niyah gave out bottles of Cuervo 1800 with engraved panels attached to the back. Christian and Joe-Wanna announced their new titles (I forget) and their new court name (I forget). We finished up and headed home.
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Not a drunk post. Perhaps a slightly inebriated post.

Just got back from "Queens Undercover" (Ava, Allen and a bunch of other folks' show) at King of Clubs. A good show. Not a perfect show, but a good show. There's room for improvement, but the folks involved have a clue.

Mark your calendar for August 19, the next QU show. Come down to Mountain View, join us for a wild evening of debauchery.

Queens Undercover: Drag Remixed
Not your average drag show.
'80s flashback and more!
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Friday was most excellent. I bailed on work early (of course, early turned out to be 4:00, nowhere near as early as I wanted) and [ profile] kproche and I drove up to the city for a relaxed SF Pride weekend.

Friday night's party was the Phoenix Uniform Club's Uniform & Leather Ball. It's the only major pervy event of pride weekend, and it's a blast. Imagine the San Francisco War Memorial (Opera House) Green Room filled with (mostly) men in leather and every sort of uniform imaginable. Add Gail Wilson and City Swing, a hosted bar and a great dinner, and that's the evening. We spent the night chatting, K got in a few dances with Madame Steele, and we had a generally good time.

Afterwards, we hauled off to the Edge to meet up with Empress Donna Sachet. The crowds were insane (The Castro on the Friday night of pride, what do you expect?), but we got in and caught up with a bunch of friends.

We weren't total wrecks on Saturday morning. Learned that lesson. It was a good thing, too, because we had seats at Donna and Gary's Pride Brunch at 11:00am. The Pride Brunch is a strange animal. Originally at Stars, then for a year at the short-lived John Frank (now the home of Home) before finally moving to the Ramada Plaza ballroom, it's a benefit for Positive Resource Center, a San Francisco benefits counseling and employment service for folks living with HIV. Early on, Donna started using her not-inconsiderable political clout to get city officials and parade grand marshals to the brunch, and a few years back it became an official part of the weekend festivities. This year we heard from all of the grand marshals, including Empress I José, Alec Mapa, Ilene Chaiken, Esera Tuaolo, James Hormel and a host of local activists and players in the community.

From there we did a quick walk through Civic Center to check out pride shopping. There was a lot of rainbow tat. We said "hi" to the folks at Utilikilts and to Lex and Joe Phillips, and headed back to the hotel for a nap.

That was basically the end of our pride-related events of the weekend. I've been in the parade, and don't need to again. The crowds are a bit overwhelming, and there was nobody we needed to see that we hadn't already.

Saturday night we went to Espetus for dinner. Espetus is a "rodizio style" Brazillian Churrascaria steakhouse. Basically, cute (mostly) Brazillian guys come around with sword-like skewers loaded with meat and slice off chunks at your table. It's like kebabs on steroids. Because it's "the buffet comes to you" there's a fixed price for the meal; drinks and desserts are extra. It ain't cheap, but the food is excellent (even the skewer loaded down with marinated grilled chicken hearts).

Afterwards we repaired back to the hotel for a drink. The barman at the Hotel Majestic is singlehandedly trying to revive early 20th century cocktail culture, and he's doing a bang-up job. Every Wednesday he offers up a new special of the week; some forgotten classic cocktail that you just can't get anywhere else because nobody stocks the ingredients. Last week's was the Aviation (gin, maraschino liquer and lemon juice), this week's is the Pre-Prohibition Martini (gin, vermouth, orange bitters and a lemon twist).

K wanted to see a movie, so we walked over to the AMC 14 at 1000 Van Ness, a strange monstrosity of stadium theaters grafted on the back of a glorious old Cadillac dealership. It's a bit weird going up 7 floors (yeah, it's escalators, at least) to get to your theater, but it's actually pretty nice.

Movie was Batman Begins. As in "Batman Begins to not suck anymore." By no means great cinema, it was still a fun movie. Only had two problems: A microwave emitter wouldn't work that way, and the car chase was kind of lame. Other than that, a good revival of the Batman franchise.

Oh, and Cillian Murphy was hot, in a kind of psycho-anorexic-goth-boy way.

Sunday morning we got up, went to breakfast at Mel's, did a bit of shopping in J-town, and headed south.

Since we got home early enough, we headed out to Valley Fair mall to pick up some stuff for this week's trip to Calgary. K wanted a new travel pillow (the inflatables are nasty) so I picked up a Brookstone Föm pillow (it's the only one I found that was big enough) and we found a Lewis N. Clark Rëakt pillow for Kevin. We also snagged some more TravelSentry locks.

Is there some sort of IKEA virus floating around that is infecting marketers with umlauts? I need to know.
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Naah, I'm kidding. I love Reno. I just hate how exhausted I am when I get back. The smoke, the altitude and the "nothing ever closes" takes it out of you. It doesn't help that we are still recovering from BayCon.

We drove up Friday night after work for Mikey LaChoy's step-down as Regent Emperor of Northern Nevada. That meant getting in to Reno after midnight. The pass really wasn't bad, it was late enough traffic was thin, but things got tricky once we got to Reno. Coronation was at Harrah's this year, downtown. Reno puts up anti-cruising barriers at night to prevent Virginia Street (and the rest of downtown) from becoming a parking lot. Our AAA Trip-tik didn't mention this. Wouldn't have been so bad, but a vast portion of the downtown area is also under construction (they're running a trench to put the trains that go right through the center of downtown underground). Took an extra 15 minutes to find an alternate route to the hotel that worked.

Fortunately, Reno doesn't close. We got into the hotel, changed and headed to the 1099 Club to catch the tail-end of the San Francisco party. Ran into a bunch of folks, and not just from San Fran. We, not surprisingly, stayed up too late drinking and then went back to the hotel.

After sleeping way-late, we ran down to cash in our change. My bank doesn't have a coin counter, and I don't want to give 10% to Coinstar. I'd much rather have a casino cashier do it for free and give him a tip. Followed that with lunch and then headed to hospitality. Hospitality was in (strangely enough) the hotel's "Hospitality Room." Caught up with more people and then discovered a scheduling discrepancy; the newspaper showed the ball starting at 6:00pm, but the "Official Coronation Weekend Events" posters showed it starting at 7:00. The ball coordinators and the MCs worked out something, and I think everybody was happy.

Of course, we were thinking "7:00" and suddenly found out that we needed to be there for 6:00. This wasn't a coronation we could just be late to; [ profile] kproche was singing "The Star Spangled Banner" and "O Canada" so we had to be on time.

So that timing problem? The solution was (not surprisingly) to hold the ball start until 7:00, but that meant that we actually had a decent-sized audience at the beginning of the ball. Yeah, some folks were still late even then.

K didn't blow any words. "O Canada" is dirt simple to remember; I've only once seen someone blow it, and most of the Canadians who perform it for coronations do the bilingual version that flips between French and English flawlessly. "The Star Spangled Banner," on the other hand, is a torturous piece of poetry set to a popular melody so difficult that in its day trying to sing it ("To Anacreon in Heav'n" was the original version) while drunk (it was written by and for an arts and drinking society, celebrating Anacreon, a famous ancient Greek writer of bawdy poetry and drinking songs) was something of a party game. I can still count the number of coronations where the performer didn't blow the words.

The coronation itself went nicely. Rosie Rotten, The Lovely Suzanne, Courtney St. James and Jackie Best made sure things moved quickly. Candidate for Emperor Courtney Corn (yeah, that's his real name) did a really cool Lion King-based production number, and candidate for Empress Felicia Jewel Halston (her video had her name spelled "Holsten," only one letter off from a holstien) did a serious diva number. Both were superb.

We made it through walks, we made it through commands (fabulous command performances by Empress Kiki Monroe of Denver, Empress LaLa Too of San Diego, Empress Carlotta Stolengoodz of Las Vegas, Empress Jeneu-Wine Beaute of Tacoma and, of course, Empress Taryn Thru-You of Sacramento), we made it through business, and finally got to Mikey's last walk. He stared out by doing "Take this job and shove it!" and proved that he's probably the only emperor on the circuit who could get away with doing that as a last walk number.

When all was said and done, Courtney and Felicia were announced as the new elected monarchs of Reno.

What happened next? Back to The Nine, of course, for the Las Vegas Dam Water (no, not Damned Water, but after a few you might attempt to debate that and find yourself incapable) party. Repeat Friday night, only with more alcohol and more silliness. Shoes were hung from chandeliers, hair was swapped, and Dam Water was flowing like there was a crack in Hoover. And, as on Friday night, we got back to the hotel way too late.

Somehow we made it to Courtney & Felicia's victory brunch (which was mostly composed of Mikey thanking people and giving out awards before handing them the microphone). They told us their full titles. I've already forgotten. They told us their court name. I've already forgotten. They told us their court colors. Lime Green for Felicia (in honor of Empress Jack E) and Yellow for Courtney (the color of corn). Courtney was passed the Coat of Many Drawers and instructions to add 20 pairs of underwear to it.

We escaped, had lunch, and drove home. I don't think we would have survived had we gone back, yet again, to The Nine for the Alaska Bird Water party.
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[ profile] kproche and I hopped a plane to Denver Friday evening for their Coronation weekend. It's a good thing that K's reign is over, and we're doing a lot less of this, or I don't think we'd survive.

We got in to the hotel just in time to meet [ profile] mishalak (who had never been exposed to the Imperial Court) and catch the bus tour around the bars of Denver. The Kiki bus was packed to the gills already so we joined Emperor Paul's bus. Bus tours are always amusing, but Denver beat even Chicago's Trolley bus tour with a pair of old English double-decker Routemasters. The bus was divided into chanting and non-chanting sections, with the upper deck being the loud one. We got a nice early start and made 4 stops (BJ's Carousel, The Brig / The Compound, Charlie's and Triangle) with plenty of time at each for a drink or two. The smoke almost killed me (I like living in California) but it was most excellent.

Saturday we turned in K's protocol and spent the afternoon hanging out and chatting with folks in hospitality. Denver does a really nice hospitality suite. Emperor Greg Brockman of Iowa, Emperor Martin "Canadian Bacon Fat" Storm of Surrey and other members of the Imperial House of Fat were selling T-shirts and collecting donations for Empress Kiki's (founder of the Imperial House of Fat) and Emperor Paul's charity fund.

The Coronation Ball itself, while not the epitome of organization started on time and went pretty well. Court walks/presentations were all in the first act, which was a pleasant change. Regent Emperor Michael and Empress Crystal de Light of Nebraska did a fabulous entrance with their court in beautiful orentalia. Candidate and command performances were all excellent. At the end of the evening, Lamarr and Scarlett Fever were crowned the new Emperor and Empress of Denver.

All that done, we returned to hospitality for pizza (lots of pizza) and drinks (lots of drinks).

A reasonable night's sleep later, we packed up the room and went down to victory brunch, where Kiki and Paul gave out a bunch of awards to folks who helped them during their year. Scarlett Fever was presented with her "Facet of the Crystal" and is now "The Rapture of the Crystal" (tho I expect that "The Epidemic of the Crystal" will probably stick) and a rock (which was promptly stolen, and which she's going to have to raise $2k for charity to ransom). Lamarr was presented with the new "Coat of Many Drawers" to which he has to add 5 pairs of underwear (not his, not his friends') before passing on to another new emperor at another victory brunch.

Victory party wasn't until after we needed to be back at the airport, so we finished up the afternoon sitting in the lobby, reading the paper, chatting with folks and catching up on email through the free wi-fi.
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Sneak Preview: The International House of Beavers

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Andrew T Trembley

June 2011

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