SUPER EGO Wax up your handlebar mustache, dust off your stripy topcoat, burnish your steampunk petticoats, and oil those wheezy accordions: The Edwardian Ball, that phenomenal annual gathering of exquisitely decked-out freaks, is back for its 12th installment of mannered mayhem. This time it aims to quell any kvetching about crowding by stretching itself over five official local events (and a satellite ball in Los Angeles next month). But the Fri/20 World's Faire and the Sat/20 Ball itself will still be the main attraction for thousands of Friends of Ed.
Where did it come from, the distinctly San Franciscan style that the Edwardian Ball represents, the curious — and, in some pale lights, socially conservative — amalgamation of circus revivalism, steampunk mechanicals, Wild West gumption, burlesque peekaboo, 1990s anarcho-sincerity, and more than a hint of Burning Man fairy dust? The ball itself, launched in 2000 by Justin Katz of "premiere pagan lounge ensemble" Rosin Coven and Mike Gaines of the neo-cirque Vau de Vire Society, delectably conflates affection for Edwards Gorey, author, and Windsor, British king, producing a turn-of-the-last-century high-brow goth fantasia that's impossible to resist. There's more than a hint of Burtonesque Scissorhands-worship in there as well, bringing our Ed count to three. (Check out my revealing interview with founder Katz.)
Like absinthe, the ball's drink of choice, I savor this native subculture most in small, strong doses — sometimes its sheer mass can overwhelm, and its style seems always in a state of coalescence rather than expansion. (An Edwardian Ball in 2112 would, and probably should, be much like the one this week, hover-bikes notwithstanding.) That's why the ball's a perfectly cromulent occasion to check in on the dark-eyed, ruby-red, velvety feast of one of our essential undergrounds. Promenade, anyone?
Fri/20: Edwardian World's Faire Kinetic Steam Works, Cyclecide, Vau de Vire, games, and more
Sat/21: Edwardian Ball 2012 "The Iron Tonic" with Jill Tracy, The Fossettes, Miz Margo and more
Both at Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness, SF. All ages, see www.edwardianball.com for prices, times, and more events.
BENEFITS FOR DJ TOPH ONE Beloved "wino" Toph One got struck while riding his bike by a hit-and-run driver on Sun/8 and was hospitalized with a broken pelvis and internal bleeding. The DJ, bike activist and annual AIDS Rider, and party promoter (of the incredibly long-running Red Wine Social and Pepper) is OK and in good spirits now. And the great Bay Area nightlife scene is banding together once again to help out a friend in need. There are going to be two big benefits — all proceeds going to Toph's bills — that are also serving as major bay talent summits. One's at Public Works (Fri/20, 9 p.m.-3 a.m., $10. 161 Erie, SF. www.publicsf.com) with J-Boogie, Jimmy Love, Matt Haze, Pleasure Maker, E Da Boss, Chris Orr, and many more. The other's at SOM (Sun/22, 8 p.m., $10–$20 but no one turned away. 2925 16th St., SF. www.som-bar.com) with Billy Jam, Sake One, DJ Pause, Rolo 1-3, Rascue, Jah Warrior Shelter Hi-Fi, and tons more. Get well soon, buddy — and anyone with information on the crime please call the anonymous police tip line at (415) 575-4444 or send a tip by text message to TIP411.