Feeling pretty gay
by Roberto Friedman
We always get a kick out of a Castro Theatre crowd singing along with Natalie Wood (actually, it was dubbing soprano Marni Nixon) to the immortal words from West Side Story, "I feel pretty and witty and gay! A committee should be organized to honor me." Well, gayelle impresario Marc Huestis and the Castro Theatre have decided to do just that, honoring screen icon and SF-born native daughter Natalie Wood with a three-day festival of her films, coming up on Nov. 9-11. Out There can break the news that Natalie's little sister Lana Wood will be making a special appearance to be interviewed as part of the centerpiece event on Sat., Nov. 10. Lana vows that the chat "will be an honest, open discussion, personal and completely truthful. No holds barred." With Natalie back in the news lately, we say pass the popcorn!
The gala main event will also feature a tribute performed by Connie Champagne and a rare screening of Elia Kazan's 1961 masterwork Splendor in the Grass, for which Wood received one of three Oscar nominations and got to kanoodle with a very young and very pretty Warren Beatty. Also included in the three-day fest are a screening of Gypsy hosted by Matthew Martin as Mama Rose, a sing-along West Side Story, tributes from stars such as Ann Blyth and Lesley Ann Warren, plus unspoolings of other Wood classics including Rebel Without a Cause, co-starring James Dean and an equally pretty and gay Sal Mineo . Now that's a cause we can get behind. For more information, a $5 discount, and first dibs on seats for the centerpiece event, call Marc at (415) 863-0611. Tell him Daisy Clover sent you.
Jazz it up
Out There was in the house last week as SFJazz announced its inaugural season for its new concert hall the SFJazz Center, set to open in January at Franklin and Fell Sts. SFJazz executive director Randall Kline described the treasures to come during a press conference at the Hayes Street Grill that included such attendees as Ishmael Reed , Ruben Blades, Lavay Smith, Mary Stallings and Kim Nalley . Then the assembled headed out to the building site with architect Mark Cavagnero, acoustician Sam Berkow and on-site supervisors. The centerpiece of this new "jewel-box" building will be an intimate performance space seating 700, designed to be a venue somewhere between a concert hall, with its focused energy, and a nightclub, with a communal feel. But the space is intended to be flexible enough to pull people in, transparent with lots of glass at street level, fronting practice rooms, a cafe and an ensemble room. Murals by artist Sandow Birk and Elyse Pignolet will add color and vibrancy.
The opening concert on Jan. 23 will bring jazz luminaries McCoy Tyner, Chick Corea , Esperanza Spalding , emcee Bill Cosby and others. The first year of performances include residencies by such figures as Zakir Hussain , Bill Frisell (premiering multimedia projects based on works by Hunter S. Thompson and Allen Ginsberg ), Brad Mehldau, Jason Moran (including a Fats Waller tribute with Meshell Ndegeocello), and Regina Carter . We'd say that's a (partial) list of jazz heavy-hitters. Find out more at www.sfjazz.org.
We know Jack
We've been paging through a copy of Jack Robinson: On Show, Portraits 1958-72 (Palazzo Editions), a collection of work by Jack Robinson , a revered gay photographer who shot more than 500 photographs for Vogue magazine during his storied career. Robinson's subjects comprise a Who's Who of 1960s and 70s celebrities, including compelling photographs of Jack Nicholson, Joni Mitchell, Ralph Lauren, Tina Turner , Elton John, Andy Warhol, Crosby , Stills, Nash & Young and others. A young Warren Beatty, resplendent in leather, holds down the cover. The book documents everything from NYC's unbridled-decadence years to Jacqueline Kennedy 's elegance to the restlessness of the Beats, and restores the once-reclusive artist from midtown Memphis to his rightful place in the cultural annals. This past Sept. 18 would have been Robinson's 104th birthday.
With similar flourish, Tavo Amador 's review of David M. Halperin 's How To Be Gay in this issue provokes thoughts about which divas and films best symbolize gay culture. Here's Amador's "Who's Your Diva and Her Role?" Top 5 List: Maria Montez, Cobra Woman; Rita Moreno, The Ritz; Bette Davis, In This Our Life; Vivien Leigh, Ship of Fools; and Julie Christie, Shampoo. Who are yours?