I couldn't get a goddamn one of my friends to go with me to the triumphant return of the Mr. Marina pageant, held for the first time this year at that mecca of San Francisco nightlife Ruby Skye. Fools! Luckily, one of them did volunteer their preppy friend Johnny, who picked me up in a Beamer, bought my drinks for the night, wore a seersucker blazer, and after the pageantry was done brought me to an after-party at Ottimista Enoteca where multiple Mr. Marina runners-up were in attendance.
It was basically the perfect evening and my favorite contestant won the damn thing. As he said in our exclusive dressing room interview shortly before recieving his trophy and ceremonial Mr. Marina sash, "you gotta come hang out with guys like us."
These girls were awesome. They were really hot, were wearing customized Mr. Marina tees, and as far as I'm concerned, were the most memorable part of Jason De La Del Grande's stab at the throne.
Here's Johnny, with our drinks from the open bar during the first hour doors were open at Ruby Skye. He's launching his campaign for Mr. Marina 2014 and I think he's an early frontrunner for the honor. By the way, those are the "94123" house cocktails made from Sprite and Skyy Infusions Moscato Grape, which as the Daily News will tell you, was inspired by the newfound popularity of moscato wines in the "urban community."
But only one candidate had people carrying around cut-outs of their face on a stick and that was Ishmail "Ish" Simpson, who pretty much had already won the competition based on the viral video of him making Jay-Z SOMETHIGN. Simpson played football for Stanford, was the only person of color in the whole pageant, and is frankly adorable. Trigger warning: the following clip contains denigrating statements made towards the Mission.
Just some crowd style shots. That's madras, for the Philistines among you.
This is NOT a cravat, Johnny told me. It is an ascot. It's wearer is Baldwin Cunningham, who started what is basically a dating website between people who want to be sponsored and companies like Pabst Blue Ribbon who want to sponsor people. Get you some.
Did I mention Mr. Marina is all about fighting cancer? The pageant raised $91,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, to be donated through a little booster club named Slap Cancer, a moniker that embodies the charming side of the Marina. The gentleman above is wearing a tuxedo Speedo for the swimwear segment of the evening, which was by far the best segment of the evening.
In the photo above, Alex Schmitt betrays his brutal hotness with the worst talent segment I'd seen up to that point (having watched the rest of the competition, I have now seen much worse.) Mr. Marina expert Andrew Dalton's sum-up of the contest has many of these other lowlights in his reportage on the evening. Check out Dalton's missive on last year's competition for a historical perspective on the event.
Thank goodness for Ish. His performance of "99 Problems (But an Ish Ain't One)" was not as good as his video, but as you can see from the dollar bills littering the stage at his feet, who cares.
More talent segment atrocities. I was pleased, however, that this particular number rescued my perfect record of never going to a San Francisco pageant that did not include a drag queen.
Shortly after I shot this, the blow-up dolls were made out with, cruelly flung away into the audience and "Ice, Ice Baby" began to play. Obviously.
After that I was so terrified Johnny and I fled to the dressing room, where I got to hear from these two gentleman about how they had bought the exact same pair of white slim-cut H&M jeans to sport in the evening's final challenge: the impromptu question/Marinawear segment.
Ish's blazer apparently made my camera freak out but how goddamn adorable is he? I took this opportunity to sit down with him for a pre-victory one-on-one. He's really good at interviews, and I found out he moved to the Marina four years ago and now works in tech in the South Bay. In an abridged version:
SFBG Why did you want to be Mr. Marina?
Ishmail Simpson I remember last year I was like, what are you people talking about? And then everyone started telling me I should run. I had all these friends be like 'Ish, you should do it.' I had no reason to say no -- I mean if I said no that would have been lazy.
SFBG I never really get down to the Marina
IS You gotta come down! Hang with guys like us. (smiles. Swoon.)
SFBG What do you like about the Marina?
IS Number one, the people. We all like the same stuff. All the guys like sports. And the women!
SFBG Would you ever live in a different San Francisco neighborhood?
IS Of course I would. Do I want to? No.
SFBG I asked the people who are carrying your face around on sticks why you should win and they mentioned something about purple pants.
IS (laughs) I always wear colored pants! I probably have pants in a dozen colors. Purple, white, salmon. They must just be remembering the purple.
When Ish was subsequently asked, in his impromptu question spotlight, to finish the sentence "I know I'm in the Marina when...," he responded: "I know I'm in the Marina when I hear 'Ish!' 'Hey look everybody it's Ish!" I doubt anyone in the audience doubted the sincerity of that statement. Fate = sealed.
These are all things that Mr. Marina wins but I guess for simplicity's sake it leaves out:
Complimentary bottomless mimosas at Bin 38 Sunday Brunch for the year of his reign
A pair of Chubbies shorts for every season
Reservations for the back patio at Lightening Tavern with a $250 bar tab
An afterparty at HiFi with a $300 bar tab
$100 to Tacolicious, $100 to Brixton and $100 to Mas Sake
A Mr. Marina drink (shot + beer) of his choice on the menu at Brick Yard
12 months worth of Argoz argyle socks
$250 credit for Ski Tickets from Liftopia
$100 to Ace Wasabi + a round of sake bombs
Basically, when you win Mr. Marina, life becomes worth living.
When Ish was sashed up (sorry no photos, my camera was hopped up on testosterone and moscato vodka by evening's end), he thanked "every single man and woman who lives in the 94123," and shook the judges' hands. Yes, Mr. Marina 2012, the earnest woman from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, and Ms California 2004 (fourth runner-up, please note, to Ms USA 2004.)
Afterwards, spirits were high. #MrMarina neon tanktops were donned, the photobooth got a workout, cancer was slapped.
I'll leave you with this. 'Til next year, Mr. Marina. I raise my Skyy moscato-and-Sprite to you.