Good Sandra Bernhard vibrations

  • by Roberto Friedman
  • Tuesday June 7, 2011
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Out There just scored a phone interview with the great comedienne/actress/singer Sandra Bernhard , who's coming to San Francisco later this month for some shows and appearances. She called us at our offices from her home in New York City at the appointed time, completely punctual.

Roberto Friedman: Hey Sandra! Thanks for doing this interview, and thanks for calling right on time.

Sandra Bernhard: Well, I have to. I have three interviews to do in a row.

You're coming to San Francisco for our gay Pride celebrations, a fancy Pride party, and also to do a few dates at the Marines Memorial Theatre in your new show I Love Being Me, Don't You?

Yeah, I'll be there for the whole gay pride extravaganza. It will be rocking.

I love your last album Whatever It Takes. I still listen to it. You've always been a kick-ass rock performer.

Thank you, that means a lot to me! This new album [also called I Love Being Me, Don't You?] is a little more comedic, but it still has some music on it. I like to keep making the rounds between observational stuff and songs, but there will always be music in what I do.

Who are you listening to these days? Adele ? Gaga?

I listen to all the new people who are worthy of being listened to, I try to avoid the ones who aren't. And I listen to the stalwarts: Stevie Nicks, Joni Mitchell , Dusty Springfield , Laura Nyro, old Stones. I'm very eclectic, but I branch out.

What kind of material are you going to do in SF?

Classic stuff, pieces interweaved in and out of music, topical observations, anecdotes.

So do you have any little secret hideaway you like to go to when you're in San Francisco?

Oh yeah, if I had more time, I'd visit the redwoods, the surrounding environs, down to Carmel, up to Mendocino. But when I have so much stuff to do like I will this time, I'll stay in the city.

Are you mostly in LA these days?

Oh no, I'm based in New York now, it's better suited for me. It's the center of things that matter.

You've always been the kind of celebrity who isn't superficial. Like, I bet you even read books!

I do read. I like historical fiction, stories of what could have been, should have been, might have been. Here, I'm walking to my bedroom, to tell you what's on my night-table right now.

My friend Justin Bond has a book coming out, called Tango, I'm reading now. We're working on a musical together. I'm also reading Roseanne 's new book, Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm. Also the memoir by Christopher Buckley , about his parents. I started that Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I couldn't stand it. Marlene Dietrich 's ABC, this weird book where she tells you things like, "Absence makes the heart go sharper. Accordion: a sound my ear likes, because it reminds me of France."

I love that you're literate.

Oh yeah. My girlfriend is a world-class reader. And my daughter does book reports now, she's in the seventh grade. We're all readers.

Well, thanks for taking the time out to chat! We're all looking forward to having you here in SF.

Me, too! Shabat Shalom!

The details: Bernhard's new album was released this week. Her Marines' Memorial performances are on Fri.-Sat., June 24 & 25. She'll also be appearing on SF Pride's mainstage performing a 15-20-minute musical set. On Thurs., June 23, the VIP Kick-off Party to Celebrate Pride 2011 will transpire at the elegant Bentley Reserve in SF, 6-9:30 p.m., with hostess Bernhard performing. That soiree will be presented by PG&E and host Mark Rhoades, and it's benefiting the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute. Among those expected to attend are the man-about-town Wilkes Bashford, Joie de Vivre CEO Chip Conley, nightclub king Harry Denton, Levi-Strauss CEO Robert Hanson, Banana Republic CEO Jack Calhoun, SF socialite Joy Bianchi, NCLR executive director Kate Kendell, and possibly even little old Out There. What a guest list to put together. You go, Mark and Sandra!

June bugs

Yes, it's already LGBT Pride month here in SF, the slightly rain-bedraggled rainbow flags festoon Market St. Hope you're preparing to get busy, because things become multifarious and relentless really fast.

First thing upcoming is the free, 7th annual Queer Women of Color Film Festival, June 10-12 at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. This year's fest will be bigger than before, with five different film screening programs and a special panel discussion. The Festival Focus this year has been given the rubric, Igniting the Intersections: LGBTQ People of Color. Thinkers & Troublemakers is a panel of veteran queer women of color activists and artists such as former Black Panther and political prisoner Professor Ericka Huggins , playwright Jewelle Gomez , journalist Helen Zia , former political prisoner Olga Talamante and filmmaker Pratibha Parmar . QWOCFF is also presenting a number of films by queer women of color, and by and about transgender men of color, and those that feature transgender women of color. For more info, go to

Two red-letter dates in Gay Rights history figure in a free double screening presented by KQED at the Castro Theatre on Tues., June 28. Those would be the six-day riot ignited by a police raid on the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969, and the even earlier resistance by drag queens fighting back at Compton's Cafeteria in the Tenderloin, SF, in August 1966. Stonewall Uprising (2010, directors Kate Davis & David Heilbroner) screens at 7 p.m.; Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria (2005, directors Victor Silverman & Susan Stryker) screens at 9 p.m. More info is at

Part of the installation of the B.A.R. 40th anniversary commemorative exhibit in Union Bank's California St. headquarters. (Photo: Scott Wazlowski)

If you missed the slide presentation and installation of artifacts that celebrate the Bay Area Reporter's 40th anniversary that showed at the GLBT History Museum this past April, all is not lost. The commemorative exhibit is currently on display in the main branch of Union Bank, 400 California St., SF. It's free and open to the public every weekday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., through June 30. The grand old banking hall is of pre-earthquake vintage, and it's a great chamber of finance. Go and see it!

Meantime, the celebrities just keep on coming to see the resuscitated Cockettes musical Vice Palace at the Hypnodrome. Attending a performance late last month were master puppeteer Basil Twist (The Pee Wee Herman Show and The Addams Family on Broadway, Martha Stewart's Halloween TV special), dress designer Mr. David, Pam Tent (a.k.a. Sweet Pam, a Cockette who was in the original production of Vice Palace, and who wrote a book on her life with the Cockettes, Midnight at the Palace) and celebrated bean & noodle artist Jason Mecier. The show runs Fri. & Sat. at 8 p.m., and Sun. at 7 p.m. through July 31. We're told that it will not extend.