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San Francisco’s Famous Weirdness Isn’t Dead

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The Hubba Hubba Revue performs its bizarre burlesque shows every Monday night upstairs at the DNA Lounge. (Courtesy Neil Motteram/DNA Lounge)

This originally appeared in my Broke-Ass City column for the San Francisco Examiner.

The event described is actually happening again this Monday. Get your tickets here.

I’m pretty vanilla. I mean, not for the mainstream, but by San Francisco standards, I’m not very kinky. I don’t need you to dress up in an Inuit outfit and throw hot coffee on me while calling me “Gargamel.”

I’m open-minded and, if it’s really your thing, I’ll consider it — but I don’t need it. Threesomes are about as kinky as I get. That said, I may have found my kink …

Every Monday night at the DNA Lounge, the Hubba Hubba Revue performs in the smaller upstairs venue above the pizza joint. Touting themselves as “San Francisco’s World Famous Burlesque and Variety Show,” Hubba Hubba was started in 2006 by ringleader Jim Sweeny and has a rotating cast of performers, including Alexa Von Kickinface, Lee Presson and Maggie Motorboat. It’s funny, strange, sexy and halfway insane. It’s also a weekly throwback to when San Francisco was a wilder and weirder city, which is perfect considering that running concurrently downstairs in the bigger DNA venue is Death Guild, the oldest continually operating gothic-industrial dance club in the United States. Between the two, shit gets really weird at the DNA Lounge on Monday nights. It’s magical.

Last Monday’s Hubba event was called “Kingfish and Lala’s Birthday Klown Car,” a joint celebration for Jim and frequent Hubba performer Ophelia Coeur de Noir. And it was sexy clown themed. Yes, all of it. You can see a video of it here.

Have you ever been to a clown burlesque show? Have you ever seen the majesty of hot women in colorful greasepaint stripping down to nipple tassels while performing strange skits to novelty songs? Have you ever witnessed the glory of a half-dozen scantily clad clowns, each in a different colored wig, shimmying a choreographed dance number?

Well, I have. As a straight dude, clown burlesque was like watching a drag show full of people I was actually interested in having sex with. It was an awakening.

I’m only kind of serious about my newfound clown fetish, but what honestly made Monday night special was that it was proof that San Francisco’s famous weirdness isn’t dead. The fact that a clown burlesque show was happening in the same building as a goth-industrial party reminded me that there’s still plenty of odd underground things happening — and that we must fight to protect them.

A few months ago, Jamie Zawinski, proprietor of the DNA Lounge, put out a post explaining the venue and its new sister venue, Codeword, were in trouble. Zawinski had put in millions of dollars to keep the places running and he was now looking for ways to keep them afloat. The simplest answer he landed on was that the community needed to show up and bring friends and buy tickets and buy drinks and buy pizza and throw events at the venues. This is part of the reason I recently threw my Crazy Purim Costume Party at Codeword. (editors note: You can now support the DNA Lounge on Patreon)

It would be an absolute shame to lose the DNA Lounge. It’s a bastion of the freaky-deaky. On any night of the week, you can see oddballs and outcasts and unexpected events. And like San Francisco was for so many years, the DNA Lounge is a home for people who don’t always fit in anywhere else. It’s important that we support it.

As the night ended and the clown burlesque show was at a close, the all-clown New Orleans-style marching band, was going throw open the doors and march through the goth party downstairs. The rest of the clowns, as well as those of us in the crowd, would all trail behind, second-line style. Unfortunately, at the very last minute, the move was vetoed. I don’t know the reasoning, but it’s possible we finally found the one thing too weird even for the DNA Lounge.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.