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Insider tips: Writer-performer Kirk Read

March 27th, 2012

The always colorful Kirk Read (Photo: Toby Jantzen)

This Friday and Saturday night, March 30 and 31, Kirk Read presents his latest one-man-a-palooza, Computer Face,  at The Garage. Kirk manages to make performance art charming, even as he laces it with all manner of playful perversity. The yarns spun in Computer Face include a fantasia of touring with the Republican presidential candidates as a tagalong sex worker. SFAgenda asked Kirk to honor us by being the first local notable to answer our “Tips for Tourists” questionnaire. His replies do not disappoint…

What are some of your favorite cultural institutions in San Francisco?
I like the indigenous art gallery at the de Young. It’s an amazing place to go tripping on mushrooms because it’s so perfectly lit. The masks come alive. You should go with someone because the masks are powerful and there is high potential for a meltdown.
I am a huge fan of the Center for Sex and Culture and do events there a lot. Carol Queen and Robert Lawrence, to me, are the essence of what San Francisco is. They champion pleasure, kindness, intellect and art.
And Joe Landini of the Garage is a sort of saint, taking in all these performance art strays and giving us an unpretentious place to do our work. I love doing my stuff there because it used to be an auto garage and now it’s a theater and so much of that mechanic aesthetic carries through. Joe is a big ol’ bear. That’s probably part of it.
I would argue that the sex clubs Eros and Blow Buddies are cultural institutions and they are definitely two of my favorite places. I love that at Blow Buddies people walk around with beers and smoke cigars on the patio.
What’s the best view in the city?
The top of Bernal Heights is a place I take visitors because it captures the vastness of the city. It’s mythic up there. I did a naked photo shoot in the grass once and accidentally rolled in dog doo. That place belongs to dogs. I still don’t know what is going on with that tower up there. I really should use my google function, but it’s nice to have mysteries in life.
Kirk chews the fat about food and restaurants after the jump…
What’s one thing a visitor shouldn’t miss eating in SF?  
I’m not really a foodie. I can totally appreciate good food, and I am impressed by arugula and beets and fennel and all that stuff. But give me a cheeseburger and a Bud Light and I’m good. I think places like Millennium and Cafe Gratitude are types of food that aren’t happening in a lot of other cities. The No Cheese pizza at Atlas Cafe is killer.
Where’s your favorite place to have a cocktail in town?
I’m not a huge cocktail person. Mostly bars annoy me because the music’s too loud and it’s that club mix shit that you should only listen to when you’re on an elliptical machine. If I go out to bars, it’s in Guerneville to the Rainbow Cattle and the Triple R. You can actually have conversations and do karaoke and meet people. It isn’t so thick.

“You want fires with that?” (Photo: Lynnly Labowitz)

You’ve got $50 or more per person to spend for a restaurant dinner—Where would you choose?
Well, quite frankly, I would take everyone for burritos and keep the rest for rent. But okay, I’ll play along. Someone sent my partner [Longtime gay activist Ed Wolf] a $200 gift certificate for that new restaurant Frances. They saw him in the documentary We Were Here. So Ed tries like seven times to make a reservation and there’s this thing where you can’t book more than two months ahead. You have to wait until the day the month turns. It is the most ludicrous bullshit I’ve ever heard of. It reminds me of when you had to call Ticketmaster on the phone and try to get through to an operator. This is why I don’t like expensive restaurants. If the people in the kitchen wash their hands every now and then, I’m happy with that.
You’ve got less than $15 per person to spend for a restaurant dinner—Where would you choose?
Now this one I can answer. I love Fruitilandia at 24th and Folsom. You’re basically in this woman’s living room. She cooks Cuban food and brings it to you. It’s so homey and comfortable. And who doesn’t love yucca root soaked in garlicky butter? Come on!
What should visitors absolutely do while in San Francisco that they probably won’t find in a guide book?
Well, I think that people should take advantage of the erotic culture here in San Francisco. We are the erotic capital of North America and one of the great cities of the world in terms of people being fully realized sexual beings. There are different levels of resources for people. Gay men obviously have the most outlets. There are strip clubs, the Power Exchange sex club, great shopping at Good Vibrations and crazy overpriced but fascinating stuff at Mr. S Leather.
The LGBT Historical Society has a storefront museum on 18th that is definitely worth seeing. And I love going to the Sutro Bath ruins on the edge of the city. There is a long dark cave and if you go at the right time of evening it gets completely dark except for the ends. Go with someone and you have to hold hands and get through it together. Stop and make out a few times.
Check out video from Kirk Read’s Computer Face here.



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