Queer Rebels will rock Sunday
by Elliot Owen
Queer Rebels Productions, a four-year-old production company that showcases queer artists of color, will be celebrating its most successful year yet Sunday, December 9 at El Rio. Expected to pack the house, the event is doubling as an end-of-the-year company benefit and CD release party for Queer Rebels co-founder and co-director KB Boyce (a.k.a. TuffNStuff, Drag King of the Blues). Boyce, who identifies as two-spirit, is notorious for his gripping vocals and jarring guitar skills.
Attendees will get to enjoy performances by some of the same artists responsible for selling out the venues of prior Queer Rebels events. Jezebel Delilah X, a dynamic local performance artist and writer, will be emceeing the event between performances by Bay Area burlesque legend The Lady Ms. Vagina Jenkins, punk rock dancer Brontez Purnell, poet Elena Rose, musician Star Amerasu, and slam poetry champion Joshua Merchant in addition to TuffNStuff.
This year has been especially important for Queer Rebels. Co-founders Boyce, in his late 40s, and femme-identified Celeste Chan, in her early 30s, launched the company's first show in 2010. This year they have had six shows including Queer Rebels of the Harlem Renaissance, which was featured at the National Queer Arts Festival and most recently, Exploding Lineage, a compilation of 14 experimental films showcased at the New York Queer Experimental Film Festival, known as MIX NYC.
Over 800 people have seen a Queer Rebels show this year as the company has generated around 20 media articles and, since traveling to New York gained national recognition. Boyce and Chan intend to maintain the company's growth to continue to document and amplify the work of queer artists of color in addition to connecting queer artists of color with each other across generations.
"We've got this amazing roster of artists and are only expanding," Chan said. "Some folks have told us that participating in Queer Rebels has been life changing for them, that in their whole performing history they've never found such a safe space that's affirmed so many aspects of their identity."
Not only has it been affirming for the artists participating in Queer Rebels, but for Boyce and Chan, too. Boyce realized early on as a "punk rocker in New York" in addition to being a queer person of color that people like him had little chance of being artistically recognized.
"I thought if I had a production company my friends and I would get seen, heard, and respected," Boyce said. "And now I finally have one. I'm living my dream with an amazing community."
Event attendees will also be able to see a few short films that were showcased at MIX NYC including a film by Chan herself titled Queer Origins, a mash-up of experimental animation and queer femme performance.
"I'm excited to show it," Chan said. "When you see your communities' stories through art it can be a lifeline. There's so much negativity in the world, so much that's holding us all down. We really want to create something better for our artists, our audiences and everyone. This is who we are and we're unapologetic."
El Rio is located at 3158 Mission Street in San Francisco. The event takes place from 7 to 11 p.m. Admission is sliding scale $7-$10. No one turned away for lack of funds. The venue is wheelchair accessible and attendees are encouraged to arrive fragrance-free.