Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018



Assemblyman Tom Ammiano(Photo: Rick Gerharter)
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Best LGBT Activist

Tom Ammiano

California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) has been one of the leaders of the LGBT community for decades. Ammiano worked with the late Supervisor Harvey Milk and the late activist Hank Wilson to fight against the Briggs initiative in 1978. The proposition, which would have barred gays and lesbians from teaching in California public schools, was defeated by voters.

A former school teacher and stand-up comic, Ammiano, 71, began his political career on the San Francisco school board. He went on to serve as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1994-2008, including stints as board president. He was an architect of the city's domestic partner ordinance and is best known in recent years for spearheading Healthy San Francisco, the city's universal health care program.

Since being elected to the Assembly in 2008, Ammiano has been a champion of the underserved, including LGBTs, immigrants, and prisoners. A father and grandfather, he is known for his quick wit and comebacks, which have on occasion provided levity in the Statehouse.

Bartender Steve Dalton
(Photo: Courtesy Steve Dalton)

Best bartender (individual)

Steve Dalton

Stop by the Pilsner Inn in San Francisco's Castro district, and you may see Steve Dalton pouring the drinks. Dalton, 40, said in an email that he was honored and flattered to win the category, but that "there is absolutely no way this could have happened without my Pilsner family." With only two years tending bar, Dalton said he is fortunate to be surrounded by the experience of his co-workers: Michael Pell, Gaddy Gadbouis, Alan Hadley, David Hartzell, Jeff Morten, Tommy "Mama" Tortstensen, and Johnnie Wartella, whom he thanked. Dalton also said that his bosses Pat Conlin, George Loudis, and Bryan Hoff are like family.

Dalton, who is gay, hails from Alabama and credits his upbringing in the South with helping him ease into bartending. "You can train a monkey to make a drink, but personality makes a true bartender," he said. "My success as a bartender comes from Southern hospitality and a work ethic to match. People seem to be drawn to the accent, but stay because I make a good cocktail and work hard to show them a good time."

He also credited the Pilsner regulars with being some of the friendliest and most loyal customers in the city.

"I have grown close to them all," he said.

Pilsner Inn, 225 Church Street, San Francisco, (415) 621-7058.

Best DJ (Tie)

Robbie Martin, Sophia Hernandez

Robbie Martin is no stranger to this category, which he has won for the third consecutive year. Martin, who is gay, has been DJing for 23 years.

Martin, 38, said that last year's honor kept him in the game a bit longer, but he is now transitioning out of the city.

Last December, he was asked if he would move back to his hometown of New Orleans to manage the Club Baths in the French Quarter, the only bathhouse in Louisiana. "After deliberation and negotiation I accepted an offer in February," he told the B.A.R.

He relocated this week, after a giant going-away party, Bunny, was held April 1. Celebrity DJ Tracy Young spun the tunes.

Martin said that he has loved his time in San Francisco and he thanked the paper for its support over the past eight years. "I have been included and published for things I never thought possible," he said. "Thank you so much for everything!"

Sophia Hernandez is a new winner. Hernandez is a DJ for Radio Valencia, an independent, freeform, commercial-free radio station in San Francisco. Radio Valencia can be found at 87.9 FM and online at

Best Personal Trainer

Daniel Paul Young

Personal trainer Daniel Young works out of the Sessions Training Facility in San Francisco. He is a premiere provider in personal fitness and provides a range of services, including indoor, outdoor, and couples training. He has lived in San Francisco for almost a decade. Young began his career 15 years ago working at the YMCA in Omaha, Nebraska. Since then he has worked at various fitness facilities. He is a licensed, insured personal trainer and is CPR/AED certified. "What makes me happy is to provide you with quality service, experience, and the ability to achieve your fitness goals," he says on his website.

Daniel Paul Young.

Best Resource for LGBT Seniors

SF LGBT Community Center

The San Francisco LGBT Community Center is a hub for elders in the community. Partnering with Openhouse, the LGBT senior agency that now has its offices and a community room at the center, it provides a venue for regular events such as Health and Wellness Fourth Fridays, drop-in groups, and the popular Game Day every Saturday.

The LGBT center also offers gallery shows and a variety of workshops and seminars.

San Francisco LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 865-5555.

Photographer Joe Mazza
(Photo: Courtesy Joe Mazza)

Best Photographer

Joe Mazza

Joe Mazza has spent much of his life observing and photographing the human experience. He spent many years traveling to remote and desolate places, and while most of his traveling companions were photographing architecture, Mazza, armed with an old film camera and zoom lens, went off on his own to candidly shoot the faces of the people who lived there, according to his website. It was those people who helped form his fascination with the story behind the eyes of his subjects – a trait that still finds its way into his work. Originally from Los Angeles, Mazza moved to San Francisco more than 15 years ago and is a freelance photographer and acting coach. He has a broad range of credits and clients, including the Bare Chest Calendar, Yorkies underwear, and the website of American Idol.

Mention the B.A.R. when you book your photo shoot and receive magazine-quality retouching on one additional image from your proofs, free of charge.

Joe Mazza Photography, (415) 552-6844.

Best Politician, Best Politician You Love to Hate

Scott Wiener

Love him or hate him, everyone seems to know gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, the winner in these two categories. Wiener, 42, has raised his profile considerably this year with not one, not two, but three feature stories in local media outlets.

In a recent interview, Wiener, who is in his first term on the board, pointed to his work last year restoring HIV/AIDS funds and getting transgender benefits included in Healthy San Francisco, the city's universal health care system. He was also a proponent of the LGBT Aging Policy Task Force, which is studying the needs of LGBT seniors.

Regarding non-LGBT specific legislation, he talked about his work on transportation issues, with a focus on Muni, car-sharing, and bike-sharing, as well as his work on housing issues like micro units.

Wiener has his detractors, most notably urban nudists – Wiener spearheaded the nudity ban that went into effect February 1 – and progressives who are critical of a plan he and Supervisor Mark Farrell are pushing regarding condo conversions. He acknowledged that his work in the Castro, backing the removal of the benches at Harvey Milk Plaza and his legislation establishing plaza rules has drawn criticism.

"Whenever you're active and taking on hard issues some people are going to love you and some people are not going to love you. I didn't run for this office to be universally loved," he said.

Mudpuppy's head groomer
Blake Hernandez
(Photo: Courtesy Mudpuppy's)

Best Place to Pamper Your Pets

Mudpuppy's Tub and Scrub

The popular Mudpuppy's Tub and Scrub has won before as readers love the dog-washing service. The company has two locations, Point Isabel Regional Shoreline (washing only), and the Castro, where full grooming services are now available for dogs and cats, according to the company's website.

Co-owners Todd Ahlberg, Daniel Bergerac, and Eddie Lundeen opened the Castro location a couple years ago and never looked back.

Ahlberg said the company was thrilled with its Best of the Gays award, despite Bergerac remarking at a recent Merchants of Upper Market and Castro meeting that "print is dead,"

"Well, Dan says silly things sometimes," Ahlberg said, adding that the context for the comment was Bergerac was trying to make a case for the removal of empty newsracks. "Personally, I read the B.A.R. every week."

When you visit, be sure to say hi to resident French bulldogs Miss Moo and Winston.

Mudpuppy's Tub and Scrub, 536 Castro Street, San Francisco, (415) 431-8899. 1 Isabel Street, Richmond, (510) 559-8899.

Best Dentist (Tie)

Paul-Ryan Lake, Blair Keck

Drs. Paul-Ryan Lake and Blair Keck have their practices in the same building, 4128 18th Street, and were our readers' choice in this category. Lake's website indicates he offers a full range of dental services, as well as another office in Union Square. Keck's entry on says that he practices general dentistry.

Paul-Ryan Lake, DDS; Blair Keck, DDS, 4128 18th Street, San Francisco, (415) 863-9255.

Best Healthcare Provider

Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is one of the region's largest health care providers, offering members an array of plans and coverage. Kaiser has been a leader in HIV/AIDS treatment, with high quality doctors, nurses, and medical staff. Kaiser also offers programs in men's health, women's health, fitness and weight management, nutrition and recipes, preventive care, smoking cessation, and much more.

Kaiser Permanente.

Best Attorney

Thomas R. Burns

Attorney Thomas R. Burns won the category this year. His specialty is bankruptcy law and the firm was founded in 1992. Burns has offices in San Francisco and Walnut Creek. For over 20 years, Burns and his team have provided help and relief to clients suffering from unmanageable financial situations.

Bankruptcy Law Center of Thomas R. Burns, 703 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 543-9900.

Best Tax Preparer

H & R Block

H & R Block is synonymous with taxes and has the category to itself this year. With the April 15 tax deadline around the corner, the company offers many products, including online filing, and has offices throughout the Bay Area.

H&R Block, 2370 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 241-0318.

360 Skin's Brandon Doyle
(Photo: Courtesy 360 Skin)

Best Day Spa

360 Skin

Brandon Doyle is the founder of 360 Skin, a fully licensed award-winning medical esthetics practice for advanced skincare located in the heart of San Francisco's Financial district. Doyle specializes in the unique needs of the professional client with the expressed goal of solving your skincare issues and maintaining your skin's health and appearance. The utilization of non-invasive cosmetic procedures, nutrition, and a keen, discerning eye all allow him to rectify the aging process with natural appearing results. Facials, waxing, chemical peels and more are available.

360 Skin, 21 Columbus Avenue, Suite 227, San Francisco, (415) 501-0360.

Best Place to Get Your Hair Done

Joe's Barbershop

"Just a little off the top" is the slogan at Joe's Barbershop, a Castro favorite since 2004. Owner Joe Gallagher, who studied at Moler Barber College in Oakland, started in the business in 2002. The shop moved to its current location in 2009, where a number of barbers now work. A fire in March 2012 closed the business for a time, but it was back up and running two months later. Readers love that Joe's is now open seven days a week so that they can get a special cut for any occasion.

Gallagher said that he and the crew are grateful for the honor. "We had quite a year and are thrilled to have survived the fire, and to be thriving with all our great customers," he said.

Joe's Barbershop, 2150 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 255-9096.

Best Nail Salon

Queen Bee Nail Salon

The winner in this new category does more than nails. You can also get a facial or waxing at the Queen Bee Nail Salon in the Castro. The business bills itself as one of the few professional nail salons and spas in the city, where new facilities and a trained professional staff are waiting for you. For more information, visit their Facebook page.

Queen Bee Nail Salon, 2380 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 252-8092.

Best Place for a First Date,

Best Place to Breakup

Cafe Flore

It says something about this popular Castro cafe that LGBTs feel comfortable enough to excitedly start a potential relationship or, heartbreakingly, to end one.

Gary Virginia, a longtime gay activist who helps owner JD Petras with marketing, offered this perspective on why Cafe Flore makes a great place for a first date.

"Perhaps the attraction of Cafe Flore to take a love interest on a first date is the romantic patio garden and wide variety of drinks, food, and desserts," Virginia said in an email. "There's something for any taste without breaking the budget, with just enough distractions at the bustling intersection to keep your interest if your date doesn't."

On the other hand, the cafe can be a safe place to end a relationship if it's reached its final chapter.

"With its cozy seating and plentiful cruising sight lines, you'll not only have witnesses if things get ugly, but you might just spot your next love interest through the flower-hanging windows," Virginia said. "There are also two exits on this major transit hub for a quick getaway."

Cafe Flore, 2298 Market Street, San Francisco, (415) 621-8579.

Simply the Best!

See all the other winners in Best of the Gays 2013. (read more)

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