Monday, May 7, 2007

Event Review: SoMa Bare Chest Calendar Finals at the DNA Lounge

Like the Mr. Royal Bunny contest I wrote about back in April, the SoMa Bare Chest Calendar events are intended to raise funds for gay community organizations, in this case the AIDS Emergency Fund and Positive Resource. And, as with Mr. Bunny, I went out to the Bare Chest Calendar events because I wanted to support a friend, Jim, a big blond bear of a guy who presents a different image than the rest of the gym queens who make up the usual calendar guys. Not that Jim doesn’t hit the Golds as much as the rest of those guys, but, since I know him from the dance floor and as a flagger, I don’t think of him in the context of the boring butchness that the rest of the would-be pin-ups present.

I should probably say that, if it wasn’t for Jim, I’d have nothing whatsoever to do with this event. I find the guys in the calendar to be clones of hyper-masculinity who would never get my attention (or pay any attention to me), and they have an extremely annoying auction every year during a beer bust at the Eagle, an event that has ruined a couple otherwise nice Sundays for me. I like that the gay community gets together to raise money for these organizations, but I dislike the way theses contests wind up reinforcing all the worst things about our community, like the emphasis on a very narrowly defined set of physical features, and whether or not you have enough friends with money to buy raffle tickets from you and thus make your fundraising quota.

The event was held at the DNA on a late Sunday afternoon, presumably so it wouldn’t conflict with the beer bust, but no one thought about the fact that the How Weird Street Faire was going on a block away. The boyfriend and I showed up around 5.45 and quickly found Jim so we could get some raffle tickets from him. We bought ourselves a couple Miller Lights (after all, Miller Brewing is a proud sponsor of whatever it takes to get gay men to drink their swill), and passed some time watching the DJ mix or, at least, match beats using Torq and slide a virtual cross-fader (NOTE: Bryan Hughes was listed as the DJ on the flyer, but I don't think the DJ we watched was him, as he seemed much younger than the photos I've seen of Bryan Hughes - though club lighting mercifully takes a few years off us all). Perhaps he wasn’t putting much effort into it because it wasn’t really a dance party, and maybe he got better as the night went on, but for the time we watched over his shoulder he was barely phoning it in. The tracks were all standard issue diva house (the tracks we watched him mix were off two versions of the same DJ compilation), and he did nothing to actually mix them; when we watched him bring in one track the EQs were at 12 o'clock on both channels, all he did was start one track (and not even on a good phrase) by matching the waveforms, slide over the crossfader about 80%, wait for the other track to come to an end, and slide the crossfader over the rest of the way. As we listened to his subsequent mixes from down on the dancefloor every one was a case of mashing the bass of the incoming track against the bass of the outgoing, and then cutting in with the fader to bring in the next track. The flow was terrible, with the groove being dropped in every transition. Not something I wanted to spend my Sunday evening listening to, at the very least.

We didn’t stay long at the event; after a night of crazy techno (see my review of the Gentleman’s Techno party) we had neither the endurance for hours of standing around with gay men who wanted to drool over pumped pecs, nor the patience to put up with bad music and an annoying series of performance, raffles, and contestant interviews. I haven’t found out yet how Jim did; I hope he made the final cut, because I sure would like to see someone who embodies a different set of values and ideas about what a hunky gay man is, and does, than the audience and participants for this event.

Update: I found out that Jim didn't make the calendar, but he was the top raffle ticket seller for the evening, and of the $39K that was raised overall, he brought in about 10% of that. Good job, Jim, let's hope that the work done by you and everyone else who didn't make it into the calendar is still acknowledged and appreciated.

Update Number Two: So I have confirmation that the DJ was indeed Bryan Hughes, which comes as something of a suprise since Bryan has been DJing, and even producing music, for a long time. He's one of the main guys behind Dirty and often spins for the Bearracuda parties. Perhaps he turned in such a lackluster performance because it was early in the evening and he was just warming up, knowing he would be interrupted soon, and because it wasn't as much of a high-profile dance event. Still, after hearing that little sample I have no real interest in checking him out at other events.