Halloween 2018

Alan Beckstead's Halloween Series at Spark Arts

Spark Arts

4229 18th Street

(between Collingwood & Diamond Street)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Opening: 6pm to 9pm

Alan Beckstead is providing a one night show for Halloween at Spark Arts, Tuesday, October 30, 2018 in the Castro. The show will feature Halloween paintings based on scenes Alan has captured from previous Halloween events in the Castro. Food and refreshments will be provided.

There were a group of “10 Crazy Queens” in the 90’s that started doing group drag to attend the Muscle System Ball (aka Muscle Sisters Ball)  It was a significant event in that it was to raise money for HIV services and organizations. It was THE gym before there were the dozens that proliferated 10 years later.  The owners had the idea of a drag event ball charging for attendance - and you were required to drag. The troupe documented here came up with a theme and as the years went by they tried to outdo the previous year.   20+ years later - some have moved out of town: sadly some have passed away; but when they get together inevitably the Muscle Ball comes up. A cherished memory.


They often ended ended up at the SF Eagle - one of their favorite hangouts. To show up in drag at a leather bar in the 1990’s raised many eyebrows to say the least.   The bar had a Leather and Feathers party but most took it to mean chaps and a boa. They were so far out of character they were rarely recognized.


This series is to commemorate their long friendship.


Pride parades, marches, events, and festivals are events celebrate our diversity and demonstrate our right to be who we are with all the rights and privileges due in a truly democratic society.

"Alan, you chose a moment in history that was so important in many ways to gay history and the Castro.  And I will forever thank you.  The ball and drag was not completely about frivolity.  This was the height of the AIDS crisis and dozens of gay San Franciscans died daily.  The ball was a release, a chance to do what happened in Boccaccio's Decameron (hiding from the Black Plague in a villa in the country).  Probably half of the men attending were victims.  Even among our group of ten, 5 were HIV positive and three died.  The joy the drag and the ball brought was a moment in history that will never be understood by today's generation.  Drag was not common nor welcome in the Castro.  We are in the age of the internet and RuPaul.  In 1994 drag was not yet accepted, yet gay men learned the fleeting joy of being someone else, someone carefree, someone behind a mask who spent, like Cinderella, one magical night away from the grief.  I thank you for all the wonderful paintings and memorializing a great but sad moment in history."

-Jeffrey Smith

Read the whole background story by Jeffrey Stanley by clicking here:

© 2018 by Alan Beckstead

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