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This is the Thing
Shotwell Studios
San Francisco, CA
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Thank you so much for all your love and support! For more info on upcoming shows, visit www.kirkread.com


This is the Thing

This is the Thing
a multimedia performance by Kirk Read
with live music by Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney

concerning the apocalypse, the Brady Bunch, the South, sex work and magic mushrooms -- storytelling and music and creative tantrum and evangelical lip synch

scroll down for rave reviews in the SF Weekly and SF Bay Guardian!

Two shows remaining!
SATURDAY 10pm (followed by a party! bring food and drink to share and help us celebrate!)

special guests Michelle Tea (Friday Aug 8)
Marga Gomez (Friday Aug 15)

Shotwell Studios
3252A 19th Street at Shotwell  

$12-20 sliding scale

For high res photos, video and more from the  first run of the show, check out http://www.kirkread.com/Site/Press.html
For video clips of the show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k56ADAO9Zrw

Writer/performer Kirk Read presents this midnight movie-style evening of stories and performances about sex work, hallucinations and the apocalypse. Read learned to perform in a touring Virginia evangelical youth group, with some in his hometown expecting him to become a preacher. Instead, Read became an escort and an avowed fan of magic mushrooms. Read is a different sort of preacher. Read's stories weave in and out of multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney's live music soundscape, creating an atmosphere of magical trance. Read's humor and acute observation, together with Mooney's trippy, layered music will take you to church. Liz Singer's gorgeous videos will make your ass tremble. Doug Hansen made a beautiful and surprising sculpture out of stuffed animal skins. Lights by Joe Landini, whose venue the Garage was the place where the show started.

About the shows initial run, Hiya Swanhuyser of SF Weekly said the word pray bubbles up from somewhere deep within Kirk Read, and its genius. The Bay Area Reporter called it hilarious and moving.

During the development process of this show, Kirk was obsessed with memories of a 400 pound sex work client, the Brady Bunch, learning to use a serger machine to make the costumes, pennies and touring through rural Alabama with strippers and praying in public.

Kirk Read is the author of How I Learned to Snap, a comedic memoir about growing up in Virginia which was named an Honor Book by the American Library Association. Upcoming books include This is the Thing and Fannie Floyd and the Book of Life. He is a regular performer at Porchlight and Litquake, as well as a cohost of the open mics Smack Dab and Kvetsh. He has toured nationally as a performer a number of times, most recently to 35 cities with the Sex Workers Art Show. He worked as an HIV counselor at St. James Infirmary, a free clinic for sex workers. Hes the director of Army of Lovers, a project of Queer Cultural Center. He can be reached at www.kirkread.com

God Hates Kirk Read at the Garage
by Hiya Swanhuyser
All Shook Down blog
SF Weekly

Totally kidding, of course. God LOVES Kirk Read.

At his show This Is the Thing last night, the local author (How I Learned to Snap) stepped onstage and said "Let us pray." Something about the way he said it was not fucking funny: This is a man who was raised in an evangelical Christian community by a military family, yet who was so much himself that he just went ahead and arranged to have his high school's prom date policy changed to allow gay couples anyway. If you know Kirk at all, as plenty of us in the audience did (I sat directly in front of Armistead Maupin! While we're talking talent in the audience, I also sat one over from Sarah Fran Wisby who's really, really not as famous as Maupin, but who everyone should be enamored of anyway.) then you were expecting to see him naked, and making you nervous by maybe-torturing himself, and climbing on people in the front row, and like that, which of course happened.

But during the by turns tender and sarcastic opening ode to all that's disappearing (radio DJs, AOL, day planners, pennies, unscripted political speech) he repeated the phrase. "Let us pray." It helped that he was wearing a white suit, of course. But the quality of his voice was reverent in a way I don't know atheists can muster. For a man who doesnt take things very seriously  later in the show, the "Hotel Hooker Haiku" series includes "While client showers/ Free pens and stationery/ I rarely take more."  the word "pray" bubbles up from somewhere deep in Kirk Read, and it's genius.

And this is a psych-out! You can't see the show! It's sold out. You must look at Kirk's Web site to see when his next book is, or just try to bask in his pants at one of the two open mics he hosts: K'vetsh, first Sundays at Sadie's Flying Elephant, or Smack Dab, third Wednesdays at Magnet.

Alternatively, you can hope to run into him at another event affiliated with the National Queer Arts Festival.

P.S. I also got to meet the great Joe Landini, who runs the Garage and who is a tireless supporter of other people's fantastically whacked performance habits. --Hiya Swanhuyser

Pennies from heaven

Kirk Read's Southern gay evangelical fantasy pays off

By Robert Avila


Growing up gay in a military family of evangelical Christians in the Reagan-era South sounds like a tight squeeze for anyone. But as Kirk Read affirms, however claustrophobic one's environment, there's always room for a good fantasy. Besides, Read likes tight squeezes. His active dream life (which includes having a very large man lie on top of him and expel all the air from his lungs) percolated early with the image of his young gay Christian self leaving home for school each morning past an angry throng of fellow evangelicals in protest formation, waving signs expressing God's vehement opposition to little backpack-wearing Kirk Read, holding up the obligatory jars of fetuses, shaking fists, and lobbing Bibles. Well, Read is here to testify that dreams can come true.

The story of that, um, miraculous moment (which took place recently as Read toured his home state of Virginia with the Sex Workers' Art Show) makes up just one part of the Bay Area writer-performer's lively, gleefully offbeat, and largely autobiographical concatenation of multimedia performance pieces, This Is the Thing, now being reprised at Shotwell Studios after its sold-out Queer Arts Festival debut at the Garage in June. But it comes, along with a raucous striptease, as the apt climax of an evening driven by a kind of fervor and sensibility clearly (if inadvertently) inspired by Read's "hardcore" Southern Christian upbringing (recounted in detail in his 2001 memoir, How I Learned to Snap [Hill Street Press]).

Thus the evening begins with a prayer. Stepping onto the stage looking like a young Osmond-esque televangelist in a white polyester suit and gold sequin tee, Read (ably accompanied through many a mood by composer and multi-instrumentalist Jeffrey Alphonsus Mooney, and backed by the smooth, evocative video collage work of Liz Singer) leads those assembled in a celebration of all those things disappearing  the cassette mixtape, the bottle rocket, the sonnet  before segueing into a paean to the penny and a loose, carefree set of associations that promptly lead to Abe Lincoln as well-hung gay icon. Pennies, those "shiny whores," are a sort of leitmotif here, though I can't exactly say I understood why. Still, in terms of theme and execution, Read's deceptively laid-back intensity, wit, and bold and personable self-exposure tend to make up for the evening's slighter or more muddled aspects.

At its best moments This Is the Thing melds carefully honed physical and thematic juxtapositions with Read's loose and natural but wholly committed performance style. The effects are often simultaneously hilarious, haunting, and gently moving. In a segment titled "The Conductor," Read recounts his first encounter with his very favorite sex client, a 450-pound man with a penchant for the classics, acting out the surprisingly romantic business affair with the aid of a large Winnie the Poohheaded bear of a mannequin  a luxurious pileup of stuffed animal pelts constructed by Doug Hansen. In another pas de deux, a quietly strange and graceful piece called "Computer Face," Read is paired with a man-size figure set on wheels, wrapped in white bandages with clumps of wires for hands, and a glowing, hollowed-out Apple computer monitor for a head. As a looped recording plays a speech by Harvey Milk, Read pulls a series of objects from the figure's head and dances with it in tight circles across the stage. In "The Nu Handbell Choir," the show reaches a kind of peak of starkness and delicacy as Read, calmly micturating into a set of crystal goblets, describes his furtive childhood adoration for his father  a veteran of three wars  and his Army brass buddies as they assembled in his parents' living room to drink, talk, and console one another.

Other vignettes are less complex but still compelling in their energy and frank humor. "Hotel Hooker Haiku" is a sassy phenomenology of an Atlanta prostitute's working world, set to banjo accompaniment and jovial footage of some dingy, dreary motel grounds. And the more traditionally outrageous if still amusing "Missing Mike Brady" posits Florence Henderson as a clothesline post airing her sex life on a well-worn marriage sheet. The Bradys may seem a little far afield here, but then, like the best of preachers, Read is nothing if not ecumenical.


Shotwell Studios
3252A 19th Street (at Shotwell)
San Francisco, CA 94110
United States


Arts > Theatre

Minimum Age: 0
Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: No
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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