Olympic, Gay Games skaters in 'One Hit Wonder'
by Jim Provenzano
SkateOut's Cabaret on Ice series, the annual classy, flashy, figure skating event at Yerba Buena Ice Rink, is back with its all new "One Hit Wonder" show, including performances by Olympic competitors, local skaters who medaled at Gay Games VII in Chicago in July, and even a popular porn star.
One Hit Wonder offers two programs on Saturday, September 2 at 6 and 9 p.m. in downtown San Francisco.
U.S. national champions Rena Inoue and John Baldwin will join Canadian national champion Emanuel Sandhu and British national champion Neil Wilson as well as 40 medalists from the 2006 Gay Games and Outgames, along with U.S. adult nationals, and the American Ice Theatre.
Joel Mangs, who won two gold medals at 2002's Gay Games VI in Sydney and a silver at Outgames last month, will be shirtless again, but this time under a deluge of water as Martha Wash belts out "It's Raining Men."
Wash has performed at ceremonies at Gay Games V in Amsterdam and Outgames in Montreal. Her musical roots have a strong Bay Area connection, as Wash sang as half of Two Tons of Fun, the acclaimed back-up singers for disco and soul singer Sylvester.
Gay adult video fans also know Mangs as the Falcon Studios exclusive Brad Patton, where his talent is equally, um, big.
Live musical performances by the cover band The Cheeseballs will include hits from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, including catchy tunes like "Hey, Mickey" and "Disco Inferno."
The array of skaters will satisfy the fans of the sport. U.S. pairs champions and Olympians Inoue and Baldwin are best known for landing the first throw triple axel in competition. No pairs team has ever completed the move before.
Sandhu recently competed at the Winter Olympics in Torino. But the man who stole the show last year, U.S. skating phenomenon Rohene Ward, is back again. Ward astounded audiences with his unusual ability to perform triple jumps in any direction.
Some other male skaters who producers guarantee will offer sexy shirtless performances include Stephane Vachon and Ron Fremont from Canada as they work up a sweat on the ice. Local favorite Billy Kheir is back this year to wow the crowd.
"We use a small venue, to give the audience an up close and personal experience," said producer Thom Mullins, who will also perform, and who medaled most recently at Gay Games VII.
"We've got a very sexy show lined up this year," Mullins added. "Sometimes you won't be sure if the skaters going to land that triple jump or land in your lap. Either way, it will be entertaining."
Table seating on carpeted sections of the ice will put some of the audience close to the action. The skaters can literally take a sip of your drink as they jump and spin by.
"This truly is a cabaret on ice, complete with bars in every corner of the ice rink. And since you're in an ice rink, your drink will never get warm," said Mullins. Audience members are asked to bring a coat to keep themselves warm.
The shows benefit three local nonprofits, the Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center, the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund, and the Team San Francisco Fitness Fund.
There are two performances, with the 6 p.m. show being described as "family friendly" and the 9 p.m. version being a bit "more sexy." Both shows will include performances by dozens of talented skaters, including Wilson, a three-time UK national champion, who is in the Guinness Book of World Records for his incredible spins.
Bay Area medalists just back from Gay Games VII [see sidebar] will be featured, as well as skaters from elsewhere who also took top honors in Chicago in July. Among them is New Yorker Kris Fidler-Ballard, who is a member of Men-N-Sync, the only all-male synchronized skating team in the U.S.
Louise Karch, gold medalist at Gay Games VII, is also a two-time adult national junior bronze and interpretive figure skating champion from Canada.
Other skaters scheduled to perform include Burton Powley of Iowa, who's won dozens of championships, and took two golds at the Outgames.
Vachon, a Gay Games and Outgames medalist, has won many other events, and skated in more than 1,000 ice shows around the world. He's just one of the many amazing talented athlete-artists who will make this a night to remember for skating fans.
Held in San Francisco's Yerba Buena Ice Center (750 Folsom Street between 3rd & 4th), enjoy the show from bleacher seats or box seats with tickets ranging from $20 to $75. Table seats on the ice range from $75 to $150. Order tickets online at www.skateout.org or by calling 1-800-838-3006.
Author Lucy Jane Bledsoe will read from and sign copies of her new book, The Ice Cave: A Woman's Adventures from the Mojave to the Antarctic. The collection of adventure stories explores the lesbian writer and scientist's relationship between fear and grace. Bledsoe will tell stories about contemporary Antarctica and show images from her three trips there. Monday, August 28, 7:30 p.m., Black Oak Bookstore, 1491 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. (510) 486-0698. www.lucyjanebledsoe.com.
Frozen in time
Whether you went to Gay Games VII, Outgames or both, or are simply a fan, you can relive those events with photos, photo CDs, a DVD, and a book. Official media photos of both games are available for purchase online. Both events offer CD sets, Gay Games is taking orders for its official DVD, and Outgames is selling an official commemorative book. Didn't get your participant medal? You can still have it sent to you (for a small shipping fee). Visit www.gaygameschicago.org or www.montreal2006.org for more info.