You probably won’t win any staring contests inside the new Madame Tussauds that opened June 26 at Fisherman’s Wharf. (Besides, I wouldn’t recommend holding prolonged eye contact with any of the wax figures, especially the Nicolas Cage one.) Like the youngest sibling in the shadow of brothers and sisters who have already established themselves, the SF branch — the fifth North American branch — tries to make a name for itself by flaunting its individuality whenever it’s convenient. Its attempt showcases eerily lifelike figures of well-known San Franciscans in themed rooms.
This week, Frameline continues (our coverage here!), plus offbeat sci-fi winners Coherence and Snowpiercer are well worth seeking out ... especially if you're not in the mood for more giant robot smash-ups from the Michael Bay factory. Plus: new docs and more! Read on.
In 2001, interns at Powell Street's Meridian Gallery planned and painted a 13x48 foot mural on the wall of the SRO Hartland Hotel, a few blocks away in the Tenderloin. The mural, a colorful and sunny street scene showcasing the multiculturalism of the neighborhood, was revered by residents and and left untouched for 10 years until it was vandalized by graffiti. In response, former interns who had worked on the project came back together and, alongside the current kids in the program, repainted the piece. The artists’ lasting willingness to help Meridian in times of need reemerges in a broader sense this week, which marks the climax of the gallery’s June Benefit Series (tonight's entry: "16 Years of Meridian Music," a diverse program of new music).
Sexy granny panties? Up-and-coming San Francisco comedy troupe Granny Cart Gangstas recently proved this isn’t an oxymoron. Taking a cue from the Kids in the Hall — one of member Ava Tong’s biggest inspirations — who were once photographed wearing bras over suits, the troupe decided to do something similar (one member flaunted a pair of leopard-print granny panties) for a photo shoot ahead of its Sat/28 show, "No Happy Endings," at SF's Little Boxes Theater.
Dateline: San Francisco. Distressing news, via Facebook, on the "all the cool shit is in danger" front, with a post late Fri/20 by Valencia Street stalwart Lost Weekend Video:
"Times are tough at Lost Weekend Video! We’ve seen business suddenly drop by 30 percent just in the last few months, on top of the 60 percent hit we’ve already taken over the last few years. This has thrown us into pretty immediate crisis. We’d been working with an architect and the City to open a larger version of the Cinecave [Lost Weekend's basement screening room/performance venue] in the back half of the main space upstairs, but have found that it’s impossible due to a combination of the layout of the building and Valencia Street business restrictions. That has left us pretty much out of options."
"Paris Chic, Cali Cool.” That’s the tagline behind the eco-friendly clothing brand Amour Vert. Usually, the people who refer to California as “Cali" are non-natives. The term implies a certain unfamiliarity with the golden state and a desire to be more ~CaLiFoRnIaN~. Yet, the slogan is fitting. Founded out of a need for clothing that doesn't sacrifice style for sustainability, Amour Vert’s garments are created by a French designer and made within a 20 mile radius.
Until now, the Palo Alto-based brand was only available in department stores and small boutiques but Amour Vert opens its first retail store today. Nestled in the heart of Hayes Valley, at 437 Hayes, the boutique neighbors the french confectioner Chantal Guillon Macarons and clothing store Steven Alan.
Frameline 38, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, kicked off last night and runs through June 29; check out our big list o' blurbs right here. Elsewhere, Clint Eastwood directs a musical, Guy Pearce prowls the outback, a very good suburban noir emerges from the Netherlands, a documentary takes on the cost of higher education, and more! Read on for the goods (and bads).
A new attraction is coming to Fisherman’s Wharf June 26, and it’s pretty surreal. The San Francisco Dungeon, the eighth in a series by Merlin Entertainments and the first stateside (most of the other dungeons focus on medieval history and are scattered throughout Western Europe), is a subterranean labyrinth where actors lead patrons on a hodgepodge tour of creepy SF-inspired historical haunts.
There’s obviously a lot to be skeptical of here. For one, Merlin, which is centered in the UK, is a gargantuan enterprise second only to Disney in the themed tourist trap world — other assets include Madame Tussauds, Legoland, and a bevy of contrived wildlife safaris. San Franciscans already talk a ton of smack about the half-assed efforts by huge corporate attractions on Jefferson St. to appear “local” — the one or two scattered Californian sports figures or cultural icons in Tussauds, for example, don’t conceal the sterility of the whole operation.
My visit to the Dungeon didn’t run entirely contrary to these concerns.