Category Archives: Spring 2012

Sideshow Performer on the Main Stage

Showman Matthew Bouvier performs one of his many sideshow acts, sword-swallowing, at his Oakland studio.

Written by Erika Maldonado
Photos by Nelson Estrada

Men with piled up pompadours and ladies in vintage animal-print dresses and high-heeled shoes swing dance across the floor to local band Lost Dog Found at Oakland’s Uptown Nightclub on a Saturday night.  Shortly after their opening set, pasties and tassels gyrate as women strip down to just enough to leave something to the imagination as part of the “Hubba Hubba Revue,” a burlesque variety show.

Some of the women watch, with arms crossed and blank expressions while most of the men loudly cheer and raise their beers. Burlesque dancing, once entertainment of the past, is experiencing a revival in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.  Dixie DeLish, a blonde Marilyn Monroe-esque, five-year veteran and her new partner Molotov offer a fresh act in between the solo burlesque dances with an ode to classic Americana.

Molotov, who has been working in sideshow acts since 2000, lays on a bed of nails for their second act. He has been teaching DeLish the ropes to mesh their individual acts into more of a partnership.  Trick rope, bull whips, knife-throwing, sword-swallowing and fire-breathing are all acts Molotov performs throughout the Bay Area.
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Soul Singers

The 90-member SF State Gospel choir rehearses before the end of semester concert at the Herbst Theatre. Photo by Mihail Matikov

Written by Erika Maldonado
Photos by Nelson Estrada & Mihail Matikov

What draws ninety students from different cultures, majors, religious backgrounds and sexual orientations to a stuffy classroom at San Francisco State University every Monday night?  Some say it’s the safe, familial atmosphere.  Others enjoy the idea of being a part of something greater than them.  To others still, these meetings are a spiritual experience.

The SF State Gospel Choir, held in Room 146 of the Creative Arts Building, a one-unit course offered every regular semester, is more than just a class.

“It’s about singing from the heart with a strong emphasis on emotion,” says alto and veteran member Mariam Saaed.  “Singing helps heal ourselves and others and sends a message of love, peace and forgiveness.”

Her involvement in the choir for the past five years helps her deal with depression and anger, helps her become more responsible and has helped establish some lasting friendships.
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Dating Digitally: Date Smarter in the Age of Technology

Jason Emerson and Alex Dusay get distracted by their phones while on a date in Golden Gate Park.

Written by Sage Kemmerly
Photos by Henry Nguyen

“Where’s your head at?” asks Bay Area advice columnist Deborrah Cooper. There are some people who text their friends while on a first date, or are painstakingly perfect on online dating profiles to get more hits. Where is the authenticity? Just because the Internet makes connections easier does not mean it is an easier dating game. It is silly seeing a couple on a date, both bent over their smartphones like there is a pane of glass between them. If the date is going nowhere, they might as well stay home and Skype.

Profiles can be polished within an inch of perfection. A computer screen highlights only positive personality traits, while at the same time hides undesirable attributes. It just goes to show people are not as perfect as they make their profiles out to be, so there is no use in faking it.

“Hiding parts of who you are and emphasizing things that aren’t quite true, embellishing; those kinds of things show total lack of authenticity,” says Cooper. “Just be who you are! Let somebody like you or not like you for who you really are and that way you know the relationship is real.”
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The Dangers of Body Modification

SF State’s Nursing major, Ly Do, gets a nose piercing at Mom’s Body Shop on Haight street in San Francisco, April 21, 2012.

Written by Leigh Walker
Photos & video by Hang Cheng

As adrenaline pumps through her veins, Ashley Kilday waits patiently for her friend, an ex-piercer, to arrive. Kilday, a twenty-three-year-old veteran of the United States Army, decides to get twelve piercings: her nose, belly button, four on each ear, and two in very personal places.  Her friend arrives with the basic sterile equipment she keeps in a lockbox, and begins the process of cleaning each location with rubbing alcohol. Her ears are easy — the piercer marks the ears with a pen, places the jewelry in a piercing gun, places it on the earlobe, shoots. She repeats for a total of four piercings on each ear. No blood.

Kilday’s nose ring is one of the worst: after the piercer marks the spot, and pushes the needle through – blood gushes everywhere. It takes a good twenty minutes to stop the bleeding. After the piercer cleaning the used needle, and douses it in rubbing alcohol for sterilization, Kilday’s navel is next. Not only the bottom portion of her navel pierced crookedly, but Kilday needs to have it redone – twice. The amount of blood Kilday loses from her navel is comparable to her nose. Blood everywhere. Though she takes care of her piercings meticulously for three months, all of Kilday’s piercings, except for her nostril, need to be removed due to infection.
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Freedom Fighters: Battling Sex Trafficking in America

Jewelry and crafts made by survivors of human trafficking at Freedom House sold during the benefit.

Written & Photos by Alice Debois-Froge

“I am not going to tell you about all the horrible things that happened to me. Often, people want to know how bad it is. It’s bad, I can tell you that. But tonight though, I want to focus on the positive,” announces Nikki Junker, a former sex trafficking victim, during a speech for the Freedom House’s third annual gala.

Junker is one of several guests who came to speak at the fundraising event in the packed banquet room of St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. The young woman has short straight blond hair and is decked out in a salmon pink halter dress, she completely mesmerizing the audience. Junker represents the rarely heard voice of a survivor.

“I got a chance to visit Freedom House and see some of the girls, and I was really happy with what I saw,” explains Junker. She sees a lot of programs as part of her activist work. “I am amazed by what they put together. There’s no handbook on how to help so typically there’s a lot of trial and error.”

Junker takes the time to tell the audience that besides legal aid, there are other services that can be just a beneficial to a trafficked survivor – like a haircut or a facial. Though beauty practices are not as sensational as a raid, they can do wonders for a survivor’s morale.
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Hunger in the City: Food Runners Helps Feed the Poor in San Francisco

Food Runners’ volunteers, Keith Goldstein, left, and Seth Acharya, right, collect bags of bread from Acme while at the Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market in San Francisco, March 31, 2012.

Written by Lissette Alvarez
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez

The smell of bagels and coffee float in the air, as R&B and laughter emanate through the sitting area in the Sala Burton Residence. 72-year-old Beverly Saba, the president of the Sala Burton Tenant Association, wears her hair in a loose, white bun which reflects her soft yet authoritative demeanor.

The table is a schmorgesborge of salad, yogurt, pasta, and fruit, while the couch next to the table overflows with bagels and other pastries. San Francisco’s senior citizens line up by the table, eating utensils in hand, ready to bask in the buffet in front of them. Saba observes her tenants as they prepare dinner, and makes sure everyone gets their fair share.

Carrillo Marco, 61, walks with his long wooden cane. Marco’s long hair, tied back in a ponytail, is white enough to rival Saba’s and makes his leathery skin appear darker in contrast. Saba frowns as they begin to discuss the quality of the food. She chides him for not having anything positive to say. He rolls his eyes and ignores the elderly woman’s comments. As Saba continues to push Marco’s buttons, he eventually caves in.
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Mending Hearts: A Sewing Project

Michael Swaine mends clothing of locals in the Tenderloin National Forest the afternoon of April 15, 2012. Swaine comes out once a month and offers his services to mend clothing for anyone who needs it. Photo by Gil Riego Jr.

Written by Haley Brucato
Photos by Gil Riego Jr.

Michael Swaine sits behind an unusual looking cart in the middle of the sidewalk, as he mends clothing for free every month in a district of San Francisco that needs the most mending of all: the Tenderloin. With his brightly striped sweater that hangs loosely over a neon green shirt and brown pants, his artsy persona shines through kind eyes that hide behind long grayish brown hair and an unshaven beard. Not only is his style quirky, but so is his wooden cart on wheels. It is complete with a vintage sewing machine attached precariously to the top, while a growing pile of jeans, shirts, sweaters and jackets hang over the edge, and await his expertise.

The 40-year-old mends for the people on the 15th of every month – his cart has a permanent home in the crime ridden neighborhood.

“My friend Manna and I were walking around and we saw an old, empty lot,” recounts Swaine. “She asked me if I could do anything I wanted in that empty lot, what would it be? And so I told her, I’d stick my old sewing machine in the center of it and mend things for people.”

His pride and joy – a century-old sewing machine – was left on the side of Grove street and rescued by Swaine, it was soon brought back to life. With money earned from an art show at The Luggage Store, a non-profit artist run multidisciplinary arts organization, Swaine bought wheelbarrow wheels and built his trademark wooden cart.
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Thriftlation: Trash or Treasure?


Written by Haley Brucato
Photos by Juliana Severe

The familiar smell of musty furniture wafts through aisles of old books, dusty knick knacks, and faded jeans. Although these items are one person’s trash, they will soon become another’s treasure. The thrill of hunting for vintage items buried in the back of Grandma’s closet for all those years bring shoppers to thrift stores day after day, and keeps businesses thriving and growing all over San Francisco.

Whether it be a fashionista innovator on the hunt for some inspiration, or a single mom as she searches for affordable clothing for her growing child, used goods stores offer something for everyone. The unexpected surprises that await can allow many customers to truly define their personal style choices with articles from all decades, which fuel the power of recycling and repurposing.

With the quirky and eccentric street style that is associated with modern and chic young adults, thrift stores are experiencing a recent spike in popularity and price inflation. Because of this, people truly in need who can’t afford new clothes, have to compete with bargain hunters and antique dealers who don’t mind paying the higher prices. Used sweaters that were previously marked at $3 can now be found for as much as $10, almost reaching the same price as new items from popular clothing stores like Forever 21.
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Blurring the Lines of Hierarchy

Kelly Corwin leads the Student activism class of the experimental college.

Written by Victor Manuel Rodriguez
Photos by Nelson Estrada

Will Nelson sits at a table and watches the students come in and wait for the day’s lesson to begin. As he pulls up his sleeves, his laid-back hiker’s appearance does not exactly scream professor and revolutionary. As is customary, he greets the students when they come in and jokes with them, displaying a strong sense of rapport from teacher to students — but teacher is an inaccurate title.

Behind Nelson is Kelly Corwin, also one of the teachers of the class. With a marker in hand, he shows his obvious knowledge and effective communication skills — a contrast to the stereotypes anyone might have about long-haired skaters.

This duo is a part of San Francisco State University’s “experimental college.” The college seeks to completely reorganize the ways in which education is taught — in essence, they eliminate the boundaries between teachers and students. Though it might appear as just another group discussion or debate, both Nelson and Corwin view it as a way to expand ground for knowledge.

In this particular class, hands-on lectures and discussions are part of a wider experiment that Nelson and Corwin have had in mind since 2010. They serve as the current frontrunners for the student activism class, which is just one part of the experimental college. This particular class encourages students to become a part of the societal movements they learn from history, take action against the plight of the environment, and address current issues on campus.
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When Fashion and Art Collide

Written and photographed by Julio Cortez

A model creeps onto a white strip of runway in wedged ankle boots — everything but her arms and head bare as eyes in the front row shift up and away from their smartphones. A long trail of black hair drapes down at her sides, her arms spread apart and palms face up, channeling a divine creature that may have found its way out of a clogged drain. Her face is covered but her body is open and naked for the most scrutinizing eyes to see. She dons a furry medieval hood that funnels out toward the audience and her draping hair covers her shoulders and trails down between her breasts.

A month after the show, Bayview designer Ilanio Reuben is sitting on a wooden stool inside El Toro Taqueria on Valencia and 17th Street in San Francisco. This is the Bayview designer’s first time coming to taco happy hour, so he goes for the miniature stacked tortillas, drizzled in grilled carne asada and pico de gallo.

“In the fashion world, you make money by selling product,” he says, his black goatee curling down in strands of black and bleach peeking from under his ribbed beanie. “I came out of the retail world myself and I don’t really want anything to do with that.”

The independence, materials, and performances that set the foundation for Reuben’s Ilanio collection make him more of a designer/art dealer than a brand name business. If and how something can be worn is only the beginning of a conceptual design. He prefers to disregard functionality, marketability and practicality when it comes to design. This includes the use of materials you won’t find at The Gap, like aluminum wiring, polyurethane, surgical tubing, wigs and even those hippity-hop balls kids like to bounce around on at Toys ‘R Us.
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Forever Golden

Written by Erin Browner
Photos by Melissa Burman

One day in 1986, Karen Alexander donned prom dress and rushed to Bayview to see Dick Clark appear on a new TV show – KOFY TV’s Dance Party. She waited in line among a horde of Bay Area locals who flocked to the network’s warehouse to travel back in time.

For dozens of seasons, KOFY TV created a pocket of the 1950s, complete with spotlights, retro sets, and a crowd jiving to the sounds of Little Richard and Chubby Checker to recreate the good ol’ days.

Two decades later, Alexander, 67, sits on her apartment floor and digs through boxes of clothing for the next taping session of Dance Party. Her vintage jumpsuits are saved from her years of living in London in the 1980s. In 2012, KOFY TV continues to put on Dance Party, but now the theme is the 80s. Alexander has made a full circle with Dance Party– starting to dance to 50s tracks in the 80s, and now dancing to 80s tracks in present days.

More than the decades have passed during Alexander’s fanatic phases of Dance Party. Her apartment overflows with color-coded bags of sunglasses, boxes of lame´ leggings, piles of sequined hats, and closets full of 80s outfits. It’s safe to say participating in Dance Party is a hobby Alexander has dedicated herself to. Through the years of attending– she has transformed.

Presently, Alexander, more commonly known as Ladygold, cruises to KOFY TV’s warehouse in a gold Camaro bearing a personalized license plate that says “LADY24K.” KOFY TV invited Ladygold to host a show viewing the original Dance Party episodes – during the taping she was decked out in gold, head to toe. Ladygold is an expert in Dance Party, she’s 67, and she ain’t stoppin’ the dance party any time soon.

Network Interruption

Written by Lissette Alvarez
Illustrations by Sara Donchey

The soft clicking of Kristen Gardner’s typing is the only sound heard in her Daly City apartment. Gardner, who works part time as a receptionist at USA Hostel while going to school full time, is so focused on getting her research done that the heat of the room doesn’t faze her. Undeterred by the temptation of Facebook and her iPhone, she continues surfing the web for more information on Nigeria. Researching deforestation in Nigeria for her Social Science class, she switches from her word document and opens a new tab, clicking on a link titled “Nigeria has the worst deforestation rate.”

People often think that the ability to multitask is a positive attribute – those who think they can proudly tout their skills. Likewise, it’s not uncommon to see job listings that place multitasking as a required ability. Technologies such as smartphones and iPads cater to this idea, that we can maximize our efficiency by getting things multiple done.
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