The Summer of Lust: Art & Comedy Festival, the festival you didn’t know you needed.
Like many people before me, I came to San Francisco because it seemed like a safer place to fully express my sexuality and creativity than my rural hometown in Louisiana. As an artist, I wasn’t fucking around, staking my claim in the comedy scene and creating a show called Live Sex SF.
“Do you have live sex on stage?” One particular pearl-clutcher once whispered on Muni.
“No ma’am,” I replied, but should have said, “You wish.”
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“I wanted to go to your show,” she continued, “but I was afraid to google ‘Live Sex SF’ or say ‘Interested’ on Facebook because I don’t want people in my office to think I’m into kink.”
You would be amazed how many people have said something like this to me. You know the types, the ones who pretend that they don’t watch porn. Let’s face it, everyone has sex. Why are so many people uncomfortable talking about it? Maybe if we talked about it more we would have more consensual sexual experiences. Maybe if we weren’t so afraid of having an honest conversation we would have less repressed people who are often responsible for hate crimes in America. Despite what my raunchy title suggests, my show is all about dialogue. Live Sex SF is primarily a talk show that brings sexperts (you can throw a rock in the Bay Area and hit someone who is a sexpert) and comics together to discuss and laugh about everything under the umbrella of sexuality.
As a black artist who promotes this kind of openness and acceptance of human sexuality, at times I struggle with competing priorities when so much violence is being targeted towards communities based on race. Is it misguided to focus my work on self-acceptance, sex-education, and embracing the full spectrum of gender and sexuality when we have so much work to do in racial justice? But then I always come back to: there can be no acceptance of others when people are still struggling to accept themselves. Living in shame around sex, is an act of violence towards yourself. How can we call for peace when we are committing acts of violence towards ourselves? You can’t have peace without acceptance. You can’t promote shameful, guilty attitudes surrounding people’s identities and expect to live in a world without violence and that’s why I created The Summer of Lust: Art & Comedy Festival (August 7-13th) at PianoFight.
In spite of a rapidly changing San Francisco where many artists, LGBTQ venues, and beloved residents are being pushed out, it’s important to band together and showcase the uniquely talented and diverse artists who are still creating barrier-breaking cultural arts. The Summer of Lust: Art & Comedy Festival symbolizes the true essence of San Francisco: a culture of free love, sexual liberation, art and queerness. It brings us back to 1967, when thousands of free-loving hippies converged in San Francisco to shed consumerist values, oppose war, and embrace music, poetry and art. The iconic Summer of Love was a welcoming hub of creativity, peace, curiosity, and uniqueness. And this festival reminds us that San Francisco is not only a city where all orientations, genders, and sexual identities are welcomed, but celebrated.
In producing The Summer of Lust: Art & Comedy Festival, I am encouraging a more sex-positive culture through humor and I get to showcase many Bay Area artists and shows I deeply admire. For example, I’ve gotten the chance to be completely smitten with the Bay Area burlesque scene and quite frankly, I haven’t seen anything like Dottie Lux’s Red Hots Burlesque; Jenn Stokes’ Moonlighting SF, the feel-good variety show that gives you Wells Day’s Just The Tip along with a guaranteed happy ending (relax, it usually just a homemade baked good); Storytelling shows like Red Light Lit have become San Francisco staples that remind me that we all have a voice and a story to tell; and I’m still a kid in a candy-store at drag shows at The Stud, inspired by Queens whose stage presence could run laps around mine.
With over 80 diverse performers in age, race, orientation, gender, and genre; 11 shows, and sponsorship from Good Vibrations, Green Apple Books and Left Magazine, this is truly a community effort in supporting queer, sex-positive and diverse artists in the Bay Area. The Summer of Lust is all about a call for acceptance and celebration, laughing and fully loving who we are: San Francisco.
Go here to learn more info about the festival.