April 18, 2020 at 12:35 pm PDT | by John Paul King
Virtual screening set for restored doc about early queer history

Image courtesy of Tenderloin Museum

Quarantined documentary fans can get a rare glimpse at pre-Stonewall queer history next week, thanks to San Francisco’s Tenderloin Museum and Roxie Theatre, who are joining forces to present a digital screening of a rarely-seen film delving into the Tenderloin’s early queer movements during the ’60s and ’70s.

“Gay San Francisco,” created by filmmaker Jonathan Raymond, gives an unabashedly raw window into queer life decades ago. “A true mondo film with no shortage of pornographic material,” according to publicity materials, it offers “scenes from San Francisco’s thriving LGBTQ culture, interviews with gay men and transwomen, and rare pieces from a Halloween drag show at the historic On The Levee gay bar, emceed by the legendary Charles Pierce.” Tackling “gay and erotic themes with a respect and humor that was all but unheard of at the time of its shooting,” Raymond’s unusual movie “gives a shockingly complete depiction of homosexual life in […] the Tenderloin, San Francisco’s first queer neighborhood.”

The obscure documentary was discovered by filmmakers Susan Stryker and Victor Silverman, who used material from it in their Emmy-winning documentary “Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria,” after being presented with the original 16mm film by its cinematographer, Ed Muckerman. Restored from the original print and transferred to digital in a collaboration between Tenderloin Museum and California Preservation Program, this extended version features, among other new scenes, lesbian subject matter and a fetish “tickle sacrifice” scene.

The virtual event will feature an introduction by Stryker, who in addition to being a filmmaker, is a lauded historian and longtime Tenderloin Museum collaborator, She will be joined by fellow San Francisco queer history expert Kirk Frederick, the author of “Write That Down! The Comedy of Male Actress Charles Pierce” and co-author (with Christopher Stone) of an upcoming book, “The Gayest Generation,” that looks at the people, places, and events of the ’70s that propelled the Gay Rights movement forward in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Kirk Frederick, pictured with Charles Pierce (R) in a production photo from the ground-breaking queer play “Geese” in 1969. Frederick served as Pierce’s stage manager for 20 years and later authored a book about the iconic “male actress.” (Photo courtesy of Frederick)

Both Stryker and Frederick will participate in a Q&A immediately following the film’s screening.

Presented by TLM Online and the Roxie Virtual Theatre, “Gay San Francisco” will screen digitally on Tuesday, April 20, from 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM PDT. Tickets are free, though a donation of $10 is suggested from those who have the means, and can be reserved on Eventbrite.

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