Parties without borders - Page 4

In the age of social media, San Francisco's wildest clubs (and shrewdest promoters) are taking over the world


"I love gay people, but I love money more," tall, scruffy Matt Mikesell of Bearracuda ( deadpanned over the phone. "And yes, world domination is the goal." Four years ago, he began Bearracuda -- now twice monthly at Deco Lounge -- as "a place for big, hot, hairy gay guys to dance somewhere that was attitude-free, but could still get crazy." To his surprise, the simple-sounding concept quickly filled a niche and exploded. Bearracuda parties were soon established in L.A., Portland, Seattle, and New Orleans. ("I try to be at every one I can, and I exert total control over the DJ selection, the flyers, and the look.") In the near future, Sydney, Auckland, Vancouver, Atlanta, and Orlando will see their own Bearracudas, and Mikesell is even taking over the famed Lazy Bear Weekend in Guerneville this summer, temporarily replacing it with his own party, called Bear Market (

Having worked with Trannyshack and Bootie, Mikesell knows that expansion beyond the West Coast isn't profitable, especially when he charges less than $10 cover. "Frankly, I was astounded at how much more they're willing to pay in Auckland and Sydney, so I'm trying it out," he says. "Plus, more parties mean I'm still fresh meat."

But what he's exporting may be invaluable. No diss on the resilient, light-hearted Bearracuda, but bear parties are old news here, and have even gone through several evolutions. Yet bears in other cities aren't as spoiled as ours. "Portland has, like, some little shack out in the country for them," Mikesell says. Originally meant to buck the tanned-and-toned body fascism of the gay scene, bear culture was developed in Northern California and honed in SF, so Bearracuda is actually repping a local, sexually subversive commodity to the world.

Matt Mikesell. Photo by Jeffery Cross

It doesn't stop there with the exporting of San Francisco values. "We were booked in straight clubs. We were booked in gay clubs. Outrageous trannies and total bros showed up." Adrian said of the Bootie tour. "People didn't know what to expect from our descriptions, since there are so few mixed parties outside of SF. And then, of course, there's us. They saw D, they saw me, and sometimes they couldn't figure it all out." Adrian and D. were legally married six years ago (at Burning Man, natch), but still maintain an openly queer, and, in Adrian's case, androgynous status. "People got a little bit of an education about San Francisco-style sexualities on that tour."

Heklina sums it up nicely: "We were doing Trannyshack L.A. last year, and this queen from there got up on stage with a bunch of guys in yellow raincoats. I think she did a Whitney Houston number or something. Anyway, at the climax, the guys stood above her and started pissing all over her. I went up to her afterward and said, 'That was amazing, dear! But you know, it's been done before. Years before. In San Francisco.' I probably shouldn't have said that."

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