Thomas Trymstone (left) poses with Barry Cloud (right). Trymstone has lived in the Castro for 27 years and thinks it’s inevitable that a younger gay crowd will eventually overtake the neighborhood. Photo: Brad Bailey
The Castro is known worldwide for being the vibrant, eclectic hub of San Francisco’s legendary gay community. The neighborhood, however, is undergoing a demographic shift, which is bringing change to Castro residents.
According to a 1999 poll, 54 percent of Castro residents were between 30 and 49 years old. In 2015, the percentage of residents in a similar age range, from 35-54, had dropped to 42 percent. San Francisco’s tech boom—which has brought in millennials—and the aging of long-time neighborhood residents over 55, are partly to blame. But each generation has its own perspectives about what is shaping the character of the Castro.
Thomas Tymstone, 53, has been a resident of the Castro for over 27 years and has seen his share of area changes. “When I came here, it was much more lively and much more focused on gay culture, and now it feels like it’s almost Middle America,” he said.
When asked about some of reasons for this generational shift, he said he believed a change was inevitable.
“In some ways a lot of them [the older generation] died off, so someone had to take their place,” he said. “The younger people feel like it’s more their place. When I got here the average age was 30 to 40 and now it feels like the average age is 25 to 35 with a lot of 40s and 50s thrown in. It’s just different now.”
With the advent of same sex marriage, medications for HIV, and a broader acceptance, the perspective of gay youth differs from older individuals who were alive during earlier gay rights struggles.
Tymstone says that this age shift brings a new perspective on the world. “[The younger generation] want[s] to blend into the rest of the world and America. The older generation at the time did not want to blend in.”
At the corner of Church and Market, Barry Cloud was also standing with Tymstone. Cloud had been a resident of the Bay Area for 22 years, and previously worked in the Castro.
“It changed tremendously,” he said, “A lot of the youth never had to fight for anything. They have no clue what a fight is.”
Cloud said he believes that some of those older values are important, and are in danger of being lost. “Caring,” he said, “We had to care for each other. We strived to be ourselves and different, which has definitely been lost.”
On the other end of the spectrum, Zach Felsenstein just moved to San Francisco from Seattle. Felsenstein is in his mid 20s and just arrived as a resident two weeks ago.
“I want to know a lot more about the Castro’s’ history,” he said. As a result, he completed a walking tour about the history of the Castro using his phone that was narrated by gay activist Cleve Jones. “[It] opened my eyes a ton to things I never would have known otherwise,” he said. “There’s definitely a huge generational gap between older Castro residents and younger Castro residents.”
Felsenstein believes a variety of unique spaces are important for residents of different generations to really interact with each other. “The bars don’t necessarily facilitate people really meeting each other,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of venues I’ve discovered yet where I can meet people who’ve been here a while, but I definitely want to.”
Actions could be taken to bridge the gap, though, he said.
“It would be cool if there were more volunteering opportunities,” he said. “At least the ones that I’ve heard about where I get to work with people that have lived here for a while to hear their stories and help people in this neighborhood.”
Felsenstein offered his take on the differences between Capitol Hill, Seattle’s gay neighborhood, and the Castro, noting the direction he thinks industry is pushing young people in the city.
“Capitol Hill is the young and arty neighborhood so it has a lot of roles, known for a lot of things,” he said. “San Francisco seems to separate those functions. Now of course tech is taking over the entire city, and I see a lot of my friends that are queer that work in tech, and I can see that clash happening.”
Former Site of ‘Home’ to Host 7-Story Apartment Building
Home is no more. Bulldozers finished the demolition in March to make way for construction of a new apartment building with retail leases.
Photo: Steven Bracco on Instagram
New changes are coming to the corner of Church and Market in the Castro. The site was previously the location of “Home” restaurant, and construction has begun on a new residential and retail space.
2100 Market St. will soon be the location of a seven-story structure with 60 new residential apartments and two ground level retail spaces. Brian Spiers is a local business owner and real estate developer for the project.
Visitors to the area can already notice the bulldozers on site. Demolition of the original building was earlier this year. “We have broken ground,” Spiers said. “We expect to start to move forward on the foundation and some of the excavation as early as next week.”
Spiers forecasts that construction will last about 18 to 20 months, which puts an opening in 2019 or 2020.
The former restaurant “Home” closed in 2011, and a Preliminary Project Assessment was submitted to the San Francisco Planning Department in June 2014. During that preliminary proposal the developers called 64 dwelling units, on grade parking for 15 cars with car lifts, and 4,700 square feet of retail commercial space on Market, 14th and Church streets. Several changes took place after a review of that Assessment in 2014 to the present day. The number of units was dropped to 60 and residential units were moved to higher floor to make space for ground floor retail.
“As you find out what you need for your ground floor space, sometimes you lose or gain units based on your final formula for those areas,” he said.
When asked about what type of retail space will go in the building, he stated that a restaurant/bar or bar will occupy the larger of the two spaces. The other space is still undecided.
The building will also have affordable housing units and will fall in line with the city’s inclusionary housing law. “All of our BMR’s (Below Market Rate) will be to requirement on site,” he said. “We’re picking up much needed apartments in the neighborhood.”
Spiers was born and raised in San Francisco, which may give him an insight into the potential changes of the project for the Castro and the city at large. In addition to 2100 Market, Spiers also owns the Lucky 13 bar at 2140 Market Street and the Bitter End Bar and Grill at 441 Clement Street. He also owns the ground floor commercial space at 280 Valencia Street.
“I feel it’s a positive change for the neighborhood,” he said, “It had been vacant for 5 years, so in less than two years it will go from a vacant, obsolete, run- down building to a new apartment building with ground floor retail in excess or matching the existing ground floor footprint of the prior business.”
After years of planning, Spiers is optimistic about the development so far, and the changes coming for the building and area. “We’re pleased with our progress up to date,” he said.
Paul Pulizzano watches as a woman views his art inside of 518 Castro St. Pulizzano is a young artist with disabilities. Photo Tony Taylor
With help, artist is turning heads with newfound public exposure
Standing outside of 518 Castro St., Paul Pulizzano greeted pedestrians as they passed in front of the open art gallery. Dressed in a pair of khakis and a blue Golden State Warriors hoodie that day, the unassuming 28-year-old artist was in stark contrast to his vivacious drag queen persona.
“Hello, come on in,” Paul said confidently to passersby. “This is my work and you can take a picture.”
Under the guidance of a local learning center called The Arc San Francisco, Paul and his creative peers had three colorful framed images hung near the gallery entrance in the gallery for a month-long exhibition titled “We Are All Here.” Using beads, glitter, oil pastels, and shapes and photos he cut himself, Paul noted that the art pieces were his idea. The abstract images, titled “Kandi Delite 1,” “Kandi Delite 2,” and “Kandi Delite 3,” are of Paul dolled up in wigs and makeup.
“‘We Are All Here’ came from a conversation I had with a Gallery owner,” said Lance Scott, director of Arts, Recreation and Socialization at The Arc San Francisco. “I told him I work with adults with developmental disabilities, people who have autism and cerebral palsy. The gallery owner responded, ‘Oh, you work with people who aren’t all there,’ and it just hit me in the gut.”
Scott has worked at The Arc for over 20 years. He said the clients are often the most present, thoughtful, talented and funny people he knows. “We Are All Here” claims that The Arc clients are as fully human and fully valuable as anybody else in the world and the regular population.
The Arc San Francisco is a lifelong learning center with departments that focus on wellness, employment, and arts among others.
“Some of our folks are nonverbal and they can tell about their life and presence through artwork,” said Scott. “Many clients have issues with low self-esteem and as they develop themselves as artists, they build a confidence to say ‘I’m an artist, not just a person with development needs, and I have something to offer the world.’”
Paul’s father, Mitch Pulizzano, said Paul has been doing art since he was 10 years old.
“He’s always been outside in front of the house doing his art,” said Mitch. “He loves the stage. The first time I saw [him perform], I was not used to that. He knows the entire dance routine to Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies.’”
Kandi Delite, Paul’s drag queen alter ego, was created about two years ago on Halloween when he dressed as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.
“I got curious about drag when I saw Mark Kirk [former director of facilities at The Arc] change into his drag costume,” said Paul who identifies as a proud, gay male.
“Whenever Paul would see drag queens he would say ‘I want to do that,’” added Scott who said Paul is a natural performer. “Once he puts on a wig and a dress, he just does it. He even dances at the bus stop.”
At the “We Are All Here” opening reception, Paul performed as Kandi Delite inside the 518 Castro St. Gallery in front of a packed house.
“I owned the audience,” Paul said. “I love performing. I made about $30 or more from that performance.”
During his performance of “Sparks” by Hilary Duff, Kandi Delite snatched off her purple wig and threw it into the audience. Though advised against it, Kandi also gyrated her hips, kicked off her heels and grabbed at her breasts. Paul loves shock value.
“He’s not bashful,” added Mitch. “Nothing bothers Paul. He just does what he wants to do.”
During the interview, Castro’s iconic walking nudists passed by the gallery windows. When asked if Paul would ever be interested in nudity as art, he replied with an eye roll — and without pause — “I think not.” Nuzzling into his father’s neck, Paul offered a hug, a kiss and an “I love you.” Later, he took to retying his father’s loose shoe strings.
Paul, who lives with his parents in the Richmond District, aspires to get a job making coffee and to live on his own someday. “I don’t want to get married, though,” he admitted.
His father said Paul is a blessing. “He’s full of talent and he enjoys himself,” said Mitch. “He’s an artist and his art is amazing.”
Paul Pulizzano’s work can be seen along with other members of the Arc community at their 1500 Howard Street location in San Francisco. For more information, contact Lance Scott at email@example.com.
Photo: Jessica Webb
Delayed Reopening of Randall Museum Set for Fall
The Randall Museum, a popular destination for both children and adults, has been closed for about two years as it undergoes remodeling.
The much anticipated reopening of the Randall Museum, scheduled for this spring, has been pushed back until later this year.
The science and nature museum perched atop Corona Heights has been closed to the public since June of 2015. The Randall, located at 199 Museum Way, is currently undergoing an extensive renovation in order to offer the best visitor experience possible.
“We expect the Randall to reopen in the fall of 2017,” Genevieve Antaky, PR Consultant for Randall Museum Friends told the Courier. “We are not quite ready to announce a date for reopening.”
The Randall Museum is a San Francisco Recreation and Park Department community center that promotes extensive science, environment and arts learning experiences. It was the inspiration of a remarkable woman, Josephine D. Randall, who received her master’s degree in zoology from Stanford University in 1910. Randall intended the museum to be a place that would foster a love of science, natural history and the arts. In 1951, the museum opened in its current facilities on a 16-acre park overlooking San Francisco Bay.
The Randall offers hands-on learning accessible to all through free admission and low-cost classes. The museum caters to children and teens through school field trips and is home to more than 100 animals that can no longer survive in the wild. The museum showcases these animals to help visitors learn about and appreciate California’s diverse and disappearing wildlife. During the reconstruction, live animals and Saturday drop-in programs have been moved to the Mission Arts Center at 745 Treat Ave.
Randall Museum Friends, a nonprofit organization, launched the Revitalize the Randall campaign to raise $8 million. To date, 93 percent of this goal has been attained according to the museum’s website. The State of California funded a $5.5 million Nature Education Facilities Program grant to kick things off. The remainder is being sought through philanthropic contributions. The renovation and reconfiguration is reportedly being done through a partnership between local architectural firms Pfau Long Architecture and Kuth Raineri Architects, who beat out seven other contenders for the bid.
In addition to structural and seismic upgrades, the museum’s primary renovation goals include ADA compliance and accessibility, as well as more dynamic spaces for interdisciplinary learning, creating and building. The new Randall will highlight the following aspects:
1. The Main Lobby will welcome visitors and showcases changing exhibits.
2. The Garage, a brand new STEM lab, will feature hands-on experimentation opportunities with state-of-the-art technological tools.
3. The Natural Sciences Lab will encourage visitors to look deeper into nature using the scientific method in an expanded and renovated setting.
4. The Buckley Redwood Room will host a variety of groups and special events in a remarkable setting.
5. The Grove, a sculptural tree wall, will showcase specimens and artifacts while housing raptors in its branches.
6. The Randall Room will offer a learning environment for large group classes, field trips and summer camps.
7. Café Josephine will feature healthy snacks and comfortable seating.
8. The Ceramics Lab will offer more varied classes in a roomier environment.
Although a civic leader reportedly donated a $500,000 matching grant to the Revitalize the Randall campaign, the museum is still seeking further contribution to the renovation through membership and donation.
Memberships range from $30 for individuals to $1,000 for stewards. Donations over $5,000 will receive prominent recognition in the new Randall. The museum will remain free once its doors reopen to the public in the fall of 2017.
Lady Bunny’s ‘Trans-Jester’ Performance Drops PC Humor at the Door
The one and only Lady Bunny is headed to San Francisco and will appear at Verdi Club in her smash one-woman show, Trans-Jester! Bunny’s completely irreverent sense of humor and her priceless delivery have won her fans not only across the country, but around the globe. San Francisco remains one of her favorite destinations and has become a home away from home for her. Peaches Christ and Fudgie Frottage are presenting Lady Bunny’s Trans-Jester for two nights only, on April 13th and 14th at Verdi Club (2424 Mariposa Street, between Hampshire and Potrero). Go and be prepared to leave your politically correct notions at the door!
Wendy: You’re coming to San Francisco with Trans-Jester and doing a couple of nights at the Verdi Club! Your last one woman show, Clown Syndrome, was a smash all over the world.
Lady Bunny: This one’s actually done better. It ran for about six months at Stonewall. It’s a fascinating venue. It’s not the place where you take someone for drinks that you want to impress but it is a legendary dive. Some of the questions that I bring up ... never was there before tension between drag and trans people. This is brand new to me, as someone that’s grown up with my best friends being trans! Because the election was such a train wreck, I do shy away from politics in this show, but I don’t shy away from gender politics. This show is raunchy humor, song parodies - everyone from Adele to Bruno Mars to The Sound of Music, but I think what makes this show gel more than any of my other shows ever have is that I’m doing it in the context of, “What are we still able to laugh at?” While it is important to be sensitive to other people’s struggles that we may not be aware of, I’ve been getting this feeling that the community is engaged in so much in fighting over words and correct names. I just wish we could fight the real enemy. The election kind of punctuated that. Words are a tool of comedians. I’m not going to say at someone’s funeral, “This faggot made me laugh my ass off!” but if there’s someone who’s heckling me at a comedy club I’ll say, “Faggot would you shut up?!” Of course I will!
Wendy: Luckily the gay community is starting to be a big part of mainstream culture so maybe they have more time for the other stuff now.
Lady Bunny: Yeah. The funny thing is the ones who would point a finger at me and say that I have cisgender privilege, it’s kinda like, well, you’re sitting around busting Beyonce on 12 of your Twitter accounts for one Bollywood inspired piece of jewelry that she wore in one video, and screaming cultural appropriation! I’m like, who’s privileged?! You’ve got a lot of time on your hands! I work!
Wendy: Yes, and fortunately you’ll be working here soon!
Lady Bunny:This show is kind of a love affair with San Francisco as someone who’s been coming there since Josie’s Juice Joint! That’s where I did my first show in San Francisco. I’ve seen some changes and one number in the show does address that. For me personally, San Francisco and Miami would be my two places that I’ve come to see as a second home and [I] have cultivated many friendships there. I’m happy to work with Peaches for the first time, and Fudgie Frottage!
Wendy: Aside from Trans-Jester, you’re involved in many projects, as always. What else have you been up to?
Lady Bunny: I did just release a dance single with the UK producer True2Life called “(For You) I’ll Wait.” Dance music is not something that pays my bills but it’s something that I feel the need to express and I’m very glad that The great San Francisco DJ Juanita MORE! has enjoyed playing some of [the music] that I’ve put out!
Wendy: I first came to know you in your Pyramid Club days, in New York. Would you say that’s where you really got your start in this kind of production, or did you get your start in Atlanta?
Lady Bunny: The Pyramid shaped me because there were so many different kinds of drag. Coming from Atlanta, the drag there was very traditional. We were kind of associated with The Now Explosion; RuPaul and I always hung out with the alternative scene, and the Pyramid was very much a mixed scene. We were not only seeking fame and fortune in the bigger city, but we also connected with the drag there because drag was pushing the boundries. In Atlanta it had been more like Tina Turner and Cher impersonators, and they were great, but the Pyramid was more impersonating Mona Lisa, or Yma Sumac, or Janis Joplin. Drag queens were fronting bands; drag queens were reciting poetry; it inspired me. Not only did I feel, “Well, I’m home,” but my excitement about that drag scene really spurred me to create Wigstock, to give the neighborhood a taste of what was going on in that little bitty club. I think that the pyramid really shaped my humor as well because the [message of the club was] let your freak flag fly! Performing at 1 a.m. for very drunk people - they wanna see stuff that’s shocking and outrageous.
Wendy: It took a lot to shock that crowd at 1 a.m. or anytime.
Lady Bunny: Well, I managed it!
Wendy: You absolutely managed it and that’s saying quite a lot!
Lady Bunny: I’ve gotten worse. Much worse.
Come and get it! The Castro Farmers’ Market is now back on every Wednesday from 4:30-8 p.m. at Market and Noe streets.
Located at Noe and Market streets, the Castro Farmers’ Market (CFM) opened again for business on March 15. The first lady of the Castro, Donna Sachet, entertained the sizeable group of people who had gathered to cheer on another year of a fruitful collaboration between the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMS) based in Concord and the Castro Merchant’s Association. Our new Supervisor of District 8, John Sheehy, was on hand to meet people. Every Wednesday from 4:30 to 8 p.m. you’ll find the market, a cornucopia of fresh produce, flowers, baked treats and lot free of samples. Music was provided by Mama Mia D’Bruzzi.
Since the Castro Farmers’ Market started it has grown every year of its operation since 2009. Operated by the PCFMA, a non-profit organization that works with 52 farmers markets throughout 300 locations in Northern California. PCFMA helps local farmers and ranchers be successful in their communities while providing those communities with access to healthier, better food.
The crowd will continue to grow until about May when the number peaks with seed foods: peaches, nectarines, plums, and cherries. Although it’s smaller than other Farmers’ Markets in the city, many vendors like that it starts in the afternoon.
Many smaller farmers only sell at the Castro Farmers’ Market.
“We drove from Watsonville,” the cashier but I’m glad to be back in the Castro. I like the feel of the place here.” She sells the many kinds of vegetables in the big stand on the right as you enter from Market Street. Large and small bags of lettuce often include orangish-yellow nasturtium flowers.
Jesus Arveo oversaw sales in the crowded tent Rodin Ranch tent. The Ranch is based in Modesto and he’s worked on the ranch for more than thirty years. “Yes it’s a drive, two hours each way.”
“This is the best time and place to indulge in sweet tomatoes from southern California, asparagus and organic raspberries,” one vendor said, “And THE place for some succulent local honey, cheeses galore, fresh salmon and Prather Ranch meats.
A representative of the PCFMA said, “Family farms are the heart of California agriculture, creating employment and revenue opportunities within our rural Northern and Central California communities.”
Organic foods are featured prominently in the market. They now compose almost 5 percent of the total food sales in the U.S. The organic industry says U.S. sales of its products jumped 11 percent last year alone to more than $39 billion, despite tight regulations of what “organic” means.
The Farmers’ Market also reflects the changing demographics of the Castro. Moms pushing strollers and proud fathers carrying babies on their chests are a reminder of how much the Castro has changed in the last five years.
Almost everyone agrees the Farmers’ Market adds more community to the Castro. Friends and neighbors chat, dog owners talk it up and young women laugh as they sample locally produced honey.
There was a tall tan muscular man walking down Noe on his way to meet a friend for a drink at Café Flore. Café Flore has always been a welcome addition to the market with its open air greenhouse feel. There’s nothing like an afternoon latte before or after you shop. Terrance Aian, one of the new owners of the café, says the Castro Farmer’s Market is why he loves the neighborhood. He is planning to make special dishes each Wednesday for the Farmer’s Market.
Kids were in the tent squealing as a few sesame covered almonds fell into their tiny mitts. Other almonds dusted in a hot jalapeno flavor interested an older teen.
One man says he comes to shop for fruits and vegetables, meet his friends and listen to the music.
David Lloyd stops in after work and has lived in the Castro for 20 years. “The Market is a neighborhood treasure. I love to come here after work and shop for fruits and vegetables. Look at those tomatoes!”
Photos: Sally Swope