Les goofballs

Taking it all in at Bohemian Carnival
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superego@sfbg.com

SUPER EGO How many calories in a Quaalude? Who's the secretary of the interior? The sexy nurse's tits pop out of her too-snug latex uniform, a lewd sneer twisting her face, and my mind begins to wander gloriously — up past the ass-licking performance artiste, his cheesy beret slipping sideways as he rapidly splashes acrylic down a huge vertical canvas; over the heads of the middle-aged guys dressed as pirates, ecstatically frugging to a bebop reverb saxophone solo; quick left at the grope-a-clown booth; and through the ceiling of DNA Lounge, into a nighttime of odd ruminations. This is probably dangerous. As leapfrogging fire twirlers quickly suck the oxygen from the club, I realize that I'd simply die if my last, strangulated thought was: wow, the more we upload exotic animals onto digital film, the more they seem to disappear from the earth.

Ladies and gentleman, a bohemian rhapsody.

Appropriate, since me and Hunky Beau are at Bohemian Carnival, the breathtaking, burner-inflected monthly hosted by Boenobo the Klown, ringmaster of local audio headtrippers Gooferman, and Mike Gaines, director of the erotically acrobatic Vau de Vire Society. You want trapezes? They'll give you trapezes.

Through a series of regular off-the-wall club nights, DNA Lounge has transformed itself into a weekend costume party — goth kids in Doom-era gamer kilts one night, mashup sluts in Santa suits another — and Bohemian Carnival hews to that theme: it looks like Costumes on Haight exploded in here. I've never been a fan of store-bought transgression — I'm allergic to polymer pink bobs and rainbow boas, or rainboas. Still, hey, it's probably really hard for straight people to get freaky and still look cool, so go for it! At least it's not a bunch of prissy gays in $400 jeans or North Beach guys in swirly shirts with moulding mud-stained collars. Thank goddess for cheap dyna.

The whole vaudeville-circus club thing — a stunning contortionist here, a bearded lady go-go dancer there, bared cleavage everywhere — has blown up big-time. One might even posit that its moment has passed as an underground trend (the $15 cover charge at DNA could be evidence of this if the night weren't such an expensive-looking spectacle), but since it all sprang from two of our native mainstays, Burning Man and burlesque, it's not tanking any time soon in San Francisco — and I'm glad for that, 'cause it's kind of freakin' fascinating.

Sure, as the carefully staged bacchanal spins before me and the day-job techies get wild, there are the usual thoughts to fixate on: How Burning Man drops the spirituality and focuses on the crudely sexual when translated into a night club. How stereotypes of gender and race — if not necessarily class — collapse and re-form in a swirl of burlesquing desire. How people with amazing muscular tricks can finally find an appreciative audience. How flammable my dress was.... But there are some surprises here too. Imagine my shocked tingle when, on entering, I was greeted by an extended slam-poetic freestyle from MC Jamie De Wolf, hooted on from the sidelines by a crew of suburban-looking gangsters. Has hip-hop — albeit white hip-hop (an upcoming Bohemian Carnival features heartthrob beat-boxer Kid Beyond) — finally entered the Burning Man vocabulary? And a bubbly house set by DJ Smoove brought quite a bit more soul to the dance floor than I ever thought possible at such events. Nice.

Another surprise: more Las Vegas connections on the 11th Street corridor. While uppity clubs like Loft 11 unabashedly pimp Vegas show–style rock nights, Bohemian Carnival's concept sprang from the legendary 2005 Vegoose Festival, where Boenobo and Gaines hosted VdV's Twisted Cabaret for 80,000 people. Vegas, hip-hop, house — I guess I should have known.

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