Dark Turns Light: Mid-Century Neon in Warsaw, Havana, and San Francisco
Nov
14
6:00 PM18:00

Dark Turns Light: Mid-Century Neon in Warsaw, Havana, and San Francisco

A cocktail social, slide presentation, and film screening which highlights Cold War-era neon signs in Warsaw, Cuba, and San Francisco.

According to Al Barna of San Francisco Neon, the Castro Theater losing its neon sign would be like the city block losing its two front teeth.  

“[The Castro Theater’s neon sign] is a landmark for the neighborhood, for the gay community, for the film community, and for social justice. Neon soaks up meaning and history, and makes a statement just by staying there and lighting up every night,” says Randall Ann Homan, co-founder of SF Neon with her husband, Al Barna. To Homan and Barna, neon signs are not just pieces of colored glass: they are sculpted artforms, cultural landmarks, and symbols of survival.

In places like mid-century Warsaw, Havana, and San Francisco, neon signs brought light, color, and aesthetics to dense metropolitan spaces—from the 1930s to the 1950s, Havana once had 140 neon-lit cinemas on Calle 23, the Cuban equivalent of Broadway. The Tenderloin, too, has an abundance of nearly 100 vintage neon signs, the highest concentration of neighborhood neon in San Francisco. 

However, despite the divergent histories of each of these cities, mid-century neon served similar functions: they marked where people gathered, advertising goods, services and social spaces. And despite that much neon was lost in the wake of modernization and development, all three cities are experiencing neon restoration efforts by individuals and preservation organizations.

On November 14, the Tenderloin Museum will host a series of slide presentations and discussions which explore neon’s various forms and functions in Warsaw, Havana, and San Francisco. Featuring slides of Cuban neon from Tenderloin Museum Executive Director Katie Conry’s and Steven Spiegel of Signs United’s recent trips to Havana, audience members will have the opportunity to get an inside look at how vintage neon signs are surviving today. Preceding the slide presentations, SF Neon will give an overview of the current projects to restore vintage neon in San Francisco. 

Lastly, following the slide presentations will be a screening of NEON, Eric Bednarski’s award-winning documentary on the neonization of Warsaw and Poland in the Cold War era. In this gorgeous film, Bednarski uncovers the remarkable Polish neon design of 1960s and 1970s in Warsaw, and asks: Was it possible to truly advertise in a system where shops were frequently empty and brands and services were state run? What distinguished “socialist” neon advertising from neon advertising on the other side of the Iron Curtain? 

Doors: 6 p.m.
Cocktail social: 6:30 - 7 p.m. (featuring a special neon cocktail)
Slide presentations: 7 p.m.
Screening: 8 p.m.
Q&A session: 8:55 p.m. 

Buy tickets here
RSVP here

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This program is in partnership with Tenderloin Neon A-Z, a collaboration between the Tenderloin Museum, SF Neon, and San Francisco’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development (OEWD) to restore neon signs in the Tenderloin neighborhood in an effort to illuminate this historic neighborhood.

Cover photo by Steven Spiegel of Signs United.

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Spectral San Francisco
Oct
15
6:30 PM18:30

Spectral San Francisco

On Tuesday, October 15, resident magician and raconteur Christian Cagigal will share his favorite supernatural stories of a forgotten San Francisco. Recognized as Best Magician of the Bay of 2018 by the Bay Guardian, Cagigal uses his unique blend of theatrics, storytelling, and magic to transport audiences into the mythical—and macabre—world of old San Francisco.

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Drag Queen Bingo!
Oct
4
6:00 PM18:00

Drag Queen Bingo!

Drag Queen Bingo is back with Grand Duchess Olivia Hart!

On Friday, October 4th from 6 to 9 p.m., come play double or nothing and visit the Tenderloin Museum for our latest installment of the wildly successful Drag Queen Bingo! Hosted by drag pioneer Olivia Hart, this fabulous fundraiser is inspired by the neighborhood’s long and storied history of gambling, and supports our ongoing diverse and dynamic programming. 

Whether you’re a natural or a newbie, the Tenderloin Museum welcomes all to go bank or go home and win the following prizes:

Tickets to the Roxie Theater 
Tickets to the San Francisco Jazz Center 
Tickets to Great American Music Hall 
Tickets to The Warfield 
Gift Card to City Lights 
Gift Card to the San Francisco Bike Coalition 

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Shakespeare for All Neighbors at the Tenderloin Museum
Sep
17
6:00 PM18:00

Shakespeare for All Neighbors at the Tenderloin Museum

The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival believes that everyone has a story to tell that is as vital and important as Shakespeare’s. In this storytelling workshop, we’ll use Shakespeare’s great comedy, As You Like It, as a springboard to talk about the issues that matter most to us as individuals and as a community. This workshop is taught by professional artist-educators from the Festival. Activities include role play, and immersive storytelling. Be prepared to laugh, share, and have fun.

As You Like It is a play about class privilege and gender fluidity. In this play, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival explores what it means to be exiled to the margins. Who is in and who is out? What freedoms does the “wilderness” grant? What does it take away? We ask how a play about exile and reunion can remind us about our prejudices and our common humanity.

Workshop facilitator, Jade Blackthorne, is a Community Consultant for the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival. She calls the Tenderloin home. Jade joined the Festival after attending a previous Shakespeare for All Neighbors Workshop. Since then, she has generously devoted her technical expertise in sound engineering and her passion for community engagement to the mission of the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival.


Free
Dinner 6-6:30pm
Workshop 6:30-9pm

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Starring the Rock: Alcatraz in Hollywood Movies
Sep
12
7:00 PM19:00

Starring the Rock: Alcatraz in Hollywood Movies

Join us for a deep dive into San Francisco film, this time looking at the cinematic mythology surrounding a complicated San Francisco landmark, Alcatraz Island.

Shortly after Alcatraz opened as a federal prison in 1934, its career as a setting for movies began. From Alcatraz Island (1937) through Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), Hollywood depicted life on the isolated island. After the prison closed in 1963, a new era began. Point Blank (1967) was the first to film there, followed by such memorable titles as The Enforcer (1974) Escape from Alcatraz (1979), The Rock (1996) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Jim Van Buskirk, author of Celluloid San Francisco (and former SFPL librarian), offers a clip-filled program of how the Bay Area’s beloved prison/sightseeing destination has been portrayed on screen.

Jim is an accomplished public speaker, author, and historian who offers unique and entertaining perspectives on California gay and lesbian history, Jewish identity, and Bay Area-related movies. Jim’s had numerous speaking engagements this summer, most recently presenting at SFMOMA, the Tenderloin Museum, and SFPL.

Door at 6:30, Program at 7.

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Thanks to Hank
Aug
20
7:00 PM19:00

Thanks to Hank

Join the Tenderloin Museum for a screening of a new documentary film on one of the city’s most preeminent LGBTQ activist Hank Wilsom. “Thanks to Hank” is Bob Ostertag’s first feature film, for which he is the producer, director, writer, and editor. The film tells the story of the life and work of Hank Wilson, an extraordinary gay leader with whom Bob was very close.
Doors at 6:30, Screening at 7pm. Q&A with Bob immediately following the film.
$10 suggested donation; no one turned away for lack of funds

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Drugs in the Tenderloin (1966)
Aug
14
7:00 PM19:00

Drugs in the Tenderloin (1966)

The Tenderloin Museum brings back Robert Zagone’s Drugs in the Tenderloin to the Roxie Theater for a one night only special engagement. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to view Robert Zagone’s guerilla-style documentary that captures the Tenderloin transforming into a center for young queers and drug users. Premiered on KQED in 1966, this visceral flick wasn’t shown again in public until 2015 at the Tenderloin Museum, followed by a series of sold-out screenings at the Roxie Theater. This film is not available to see any other way, so don’t miss out on your chance to catch this historic gem.

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That Was Ray
Aug
13
6:30 PM18:30

That Was Ray

Come watch the incredible true story of Rev. Raymond Broshears in this short-documentary about his life and the founding of the Lavender Panthers, a gay vigilante group in the 1970's in San Francisco.

Forming the Lavender Panthers, an armed self-defense group, Ray took to the streets to do the job the police wouldn't. Ray was met with criticism, curiosity and fear as he roamed the streets wearing his cleric's collar and brandishing a shotgun.
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers, along with Susan Stryker (director of the award-winning documentary "Screaming Queens"), Jim Van Buskirk (co-author of "Gay by the Bay: A History of Queer Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area"), and community historian Paul Gabriel.

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The Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria
Aug
8
7:00 PM19:00

The Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton's Cafeteria

Directors Susan Stryker and Victor Silverman’s award winning documentary, The Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, tells the forgotten story of the first collective act of militant resistance to the social oppression of queer people in the United States–a 1966 riot by transgender prostitutes at a late night cafeteria in San Francisco. The Screaming Queens was awarded an Emmy during The 35th Annual Northern California Area EMMY® Awards For Outstanding Achievement in the Historical/Cultural category.

The Screaming Queens will be held on August 8th; reception at 6:30pm, screening at 7pm with director Susan Stryker (professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Arizona, Director of the Institute for LGBT Studies).


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Beautiful By Night: Photographs from Aunt Charlie's Lounge by James Hosking
Aug
1
6:00 PM18:00

Beautiful By Night: Photographs from Aunt Charlie's Lounge by James Hosking

James Hosking, an award-winning photographer and filmmaker, developed an ongoing series focusing on performers from Aunt Charlie's, particularly Donna Personna, Olivia Hart, and Collette LeGrande. In this exhibition, Hosking documents performers' ritualistic transformations onstage, behind the scenes, and at home, offering a candid exploration of aging and labor in drag.

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Teacher Strike Wave: A Panel Discussion
Jul
23
7:00 PM19:00

Teacher Strike Wave: A Panel Discussion

A recent wave of strikes, rallies and wildcat actions led by teachers across the country have drawn attention to the most urgent issues faced by students and educators - school closures, budget cuts, understaffing, and the reappropriation of public school funding for charter schools. This panel seeks to tell the stories of local teachers and parent activists, many of which have been underreported or ignored by the mainstream media.

Our panelists include a journalist who has given educators a national voice in this struggle, along with the teachers, organizers, and parents leading the way for radical change within their classrooms, union halls, and communities. These everyday labor leaders will discuss their distinct visions for building working class power, including fighting for dignity and respect through fair contracts, taking militant demands to the streets, and forging solidarity among educators and support staff. We look forward to you leaving this panel with renewed hope in workers’ power to create radical change in education.

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Where We'll Go and Where We've Been: A Fundraiser & Celebration
Jul
19
7:00 PM19:00

Where We'll Go and Where We've Been: A Fundraiser & Celebration

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RSVP HERE https://www.eventbrite.com/e/where-well-go-and-where-weve-been-a-fundraiser-celebration-tickets-65016024680
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A free fundraiser celebrating how far we've come and how far we will go. Help us send our delegates to the National Convention. Special keynote speakers: Richard Walker, Dean Preston and Rose Kleiner. Appetizers served!

Great for first-time attendees! A facilitator will be available 15 minutes before the scheduled start time to orient new members.

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Forever's Gonna Start Tonight
Jul
18
7:00 PM19:00

Forever's Gonna Start Tonight

Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight' chronicles the remarkable experiences of Vicki Marlane, a drag performer still strutting it onstage in her seventies. Vicki takes us on the ride of her life — from rollerskating crossdressed in her youth, to hoochie-coochie girl carnival sideshows and romantic road trips. We hitchhike through the adventures that led to her being San Francisco’s “Toast of the Town” in the early ’70s, and Vicki even shares her tips of the trade acquired from decades of drag experience at hot-spot venues including Aunt Charlie’s in the Tenderloin District. Directed by Michelle Lawler, and produced by archivist and historian Kim Klausner (It’s Elementary:Talking About Gay Issues In School, Frameline20) and Emmy Award-winning Susan Stryker (Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, Frameline30), this film is a loving tribute to a legend.

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Typography, Neon, Matchbooks
Jun
27
6:00 PM18:00

Typography, Neon, Matchbooks

An official SF Design Week event!

Join the Tenderloin Museum for an exploration of the typography used on the matchbooks featured in our recent publication The Match Book: Vintage Matchbooks from San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Randall Homan and Al Barna from San Francisco Neon and Stephen Coles from Letterform Archive will present and discuss the unique letter forms and design of Tenderloin matchbooks associated with legacy businesses and neon signs. Just like matchbooks, historic neon signs are a fascinating synecdoche of the small businesses they represent, and a window to the past explored through material culture.

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Drag Queen Bingo
Jun
21
6:30 PM18:30

Drag Queen Bingo

Come down to the Tenderloin Museum Friday, June 21st for our fourth installment of the wildly successful Drag Queen Bingo! This fabulous fundraiser is inspired by the neighborhood’s long and storied history of gambling, and supports our ongoing diverse and dynamic programming. Come for the drag, stay for the party, and hopefully leave lucky! If luck be your lady, you will be going home with some fabulous prizes ranging from the experiential to the material!

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 LGBTQ History in the TL Walking Tour
Jun
20
6:30 PM18:30

LGBTQ History in the TL Walking Tour

On June 20th, architectural historian and preservation activist Shayne Watson will lead a walking tour through the TL focused on LGBTQ-sites and the discussion of how best to honor a crucial, intangible legacy in physical (but often altered) locations. This special walking tour is a rare opportunity to explore one of the earliest and most historic LGBTQ enclaves in San Francisco with an expert in the field.

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Transgender History: The Roots of Today's Revolution
Jun
11
6:00 PM18:00

Transgender History: The Roots of Today's Revolution

Join us for an evening with award-winning scholar and filmmaker Susan Stryker as she presents on the newest edition of her book, Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution (Seal Press 2008, 2017), with particular emphasis on San Francisco's rich transgender history, from the 19th century to the present.

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The History of the 1934 General Strike
May
23
7:00 PM19:00

The History of the 1934 General Strike

The event on May 23rd is an educational presentation by Chris Carlsson about San Francisco’s 1934 General Strike, the single more important even in California labor history.

7p-9p
$5-$10 suggested donation; no one turned away for lack of funds
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This event is part of a larger month-long project dedicated to the History of the US Labor Movement. The Tenderloin Museum and Democratic Socialists of America - San Francisco (DSA-SF) are proud to contribute to the oral history of the US labor movement with an exciting new program focused on the past, present, and future of working people.

The Tenderloin has long been a home for the working class. The neighborhood's small, affordable apartments have drawn blue collar workers for generations -- from bartenders and waitresses, to sex workers and union organizers.

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The Future of Labor
May
16
7:00 PM19:00

The Future of Labor

The event on May 16th is a presentation on the labor history being made today by the workers and organizers fighting for it. We'll be joined at this "Future of Labor" panel by workers from Anchor Brewing, joined by organizers from TWU and TWC -- all everyday workers and activists engaging in what local labor historian Fred Glass calls the "oral culture of unionism...[the culture of] workers journeying from isolation and powerlessness to community, strength, and hope."

7-9p
$5-$10 suggested donation; no one turned away for lack of funds
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This event is part of a larger month-long project dedicated to the History of the US Labor Movement. The Tenderloin Museum and Democratic Socialists of America - San Francisco (DSA-SF) are proud to contribute to the oral history of the US labor movement with an exciting new program focused on the past, present, and future of working people.

The Tenderloin has long been a home for the working class. The neighborhood's small, affordable apartments have drawn blue collar workers for generations -- from bartenders and waitresses, to sex workers and union organizers.

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Tenderloin Museum 4th Anniversary Soirée
May
7
5:30 PM17:30

Tenderloin Museum 4th Anniversary Soirée

The Tenderloin Museum would love to toast YOU at our 4th Anniversary Fundraiser!

Join us for a celebration of the Tenderloin Museum, and its years of empowering, supporting, and engaging the Tenderloin community. You’re invited on May 7th to the the iconic mid-century Phoenix Hotel for a swanky evening of nibbles, libations, and mingling. Join the Tenderloin Museum staff and our board members for poolside hors d'oeuvres and frivolity in the most beautiful mid-century hotel in town.

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Maya Stovall: Theorem, no. 1
May
3
3:00 PM15:00

Maya Stovall: Theorem, no. 1

The Tenderloin Museum and SFAI invite you on May 3rd at 3pm to witness an outdoor performance by renowned dance and movement artist Maya Stovall.

Maya Stovall makes art through small encounters in everyday life. Theorem, no.1, her new performance commission, unfolds in the streets and sidewalks — spaces fraught and celebrated — where that life takes place.  Spinning a score that the artist refers to as “The Anti-Pop Up” or “The Anti-Flash Mob,” Theorem, no.1 gathers artists and collaborators to weigh the distances between neighbors, public spaces, and art worlds.  Led by the movement of Seycon-Nadia Chea, Bana Kabalan, and Mohamed Soumah and the soundscapes of Todd Stovall, a group of 15 interconnected souls take actions from reading, eating, crying, sucking, thinking, kissing, writing, and praying.  Together, they weave us into a procession of urban research, wonder, grit, and feeling.


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Neon Curiosity Lounge
Apr
26
1:00 PM13:00

Neon Curiosity Lounge

Part art exhibit, part science fair. Drop in to see amazing neon artifacts presented by a roomful of experts. Satisfy your neon curiosity!

The Neon Curiosity Lounge is part of the 2nd Annual Neon Speaks Festival and Symposium (April 26, 27 and 28). Neon Speaks, founded and produced by Al Barna and Randall Ann Homan of SF Neon (fiscally sponsored by Tenderloin Museum), brings together a wide array of people who celebrate vintage neon signs and want to save them as community landmarks. Local designers, architects, historians, preservationists, tube benders, urbanists, photographers, authors, and their contemporaries from across the United States will gather to share case studies and how-to knowledge on preservation efforts from coast to coast.

Tix to Neon Curiosity Lounge here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/neon-curiosity-lounge-tickets-56603449441

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The History of May Day
Apr
23
7:00 PM19:00

The History of May Day

The event on April 23rd is a presentation that explores the history of May Day, the original workers' holiday. Fred Glass, author of From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Movement, will examine the events which led up to May Day, including the struggle for the 8-hour day, general strikes, and the socialist politics which shaped these actions.

7-9p
$5-$10 suggested donation; no one turned away for lack of funds
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This event is part of a larger month-long project dedicated to the History of the US Labor Movement. The Tenderloin Museum and Democratic Socialists of America - San Francisco (DSA-SF) are proud to contribute to the oral history of the US labor movement with an exciting new program focused on the past, present, and future of working people.

The Tenderloin has long been a home for the working class. The neighborhood's small, affordable apartments have drawn blue collar workers for generations -- from bartenders and waitresses, to sex workers and union organizers.

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Neon Family: A Tribute By Roxy Rose
Apr
4
6:00 PM18:00

Neon Family: A Tribute By Roxy Rose

Opening Reception for the art exhibition "Neon Family: A Tribute by Roxy Rose"
April 4, 6-9pm
FREE
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The pieces in Neon Family: A Tribute by Roxy Rose have each been created as expressions of loving memory of Roxy’s father, Rio Score II, who passed away in February 2019, and in tribute to their four-generation family neon business, Alert-Lite Neon, which closed in November 2018. Each work was completely created by Roxy—from cutting and shaping the metal, to painting it, to bending and pumping the neon tubing—to reflect on Rio Score II’s life, revealing also a piece of Roxy’s own biography, all through the glow of neon.

On display in the Tenderloin Museum art gallery April 4th - 28th

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