NOTE: This online collection of interviews is presented as complement to the Tenderloin Museum’s exhibition Punk/Performance in the ‘Loin (on view through July 2) and the one-time-only screening Once Upon a Time in the TL: Punk/Performance on Screen, presented by Cinematheque and the Tenderloin Museum June 23. Visit the Tenderloin Museum in-person for the full experience!
Focused loosely on a triptych of arts spaces that were pillars of the 1980s Tenderloin Punk scene—Sound of Music, Club Generic and the side-by-side Market St. galleries A.R.E. and Jetwave, Inc.—Punk/Performance in the Loin features over a dozen long-form video interviews shot by exhibition curator Dale Hoyt that create impressionistic portraits of each venue and its respective community, as well as a collection of posters, photos and other ephemera from the era. Like its subject, Hoyt’s project constellates a frenetic and sometimes cacophonous remembrance of an under-documented, fleeting time (and place) in the San Francisco art world, one in which heady conceptual art was sublimated through a visceral and voluminous punk ethos.
The core of Punk/Performance in the Loin is a series of video interviews shot 2021–2022 at Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) and the Tenderloin Museum. In each conversation, you can hear Hoyt asking questions from behind the camera with the videos marked by the filmmaker’s ever curious and slightly zany aesthetic. Tragically, Dale Hoyt passed away on April 12, 2022, just three weeks shy of the planned opening of Punk/Performance in the Loin. In working with Hoyt, the Tenderloin Museum learned that he was first and foremost a committed artist whose practice of making was a vital and constant part of his life. He also loved San Francisco deeply. As such, the Tenderloin Museum and a handful of Dale’s friends and collaborators came together to complete his nearly finished Punk/Performance project and mount this show as a celebration of Dale’s life, work, and the city and community that reared him as a person and as an artist.
Craig Baldwin is an experimental filmmaker whose work revels in the depths of archival and found footage, intersects frequently with performance art and installation, and arcs through various other forms of non-commercial and participatory media practice. Baldwin’s curatorial project, Other Cinema, has exhibited a robust and expansive film culture in San Francisco for over thirty years. He graduated from and has taught at San Francisco State University’s School of Cinema (among other institutions) and is the subject of the forthcoming book Craig Baldwin: Avant to Live! coming soon from San Francisco Cinematheque and INCITE Journal of Experimental Media.
Kathy Brew is a self defined and label defying video artist, curator, writer and educator whose work includes documentaries, experimental work and public television productions. She spent Fourteen years in the Bay Area but returned to her hometown, New York City, in 1994. She formerly worked at SFAI and now teaches in graduate programs at The New School and The School of Visual Arts. Her documentary (with Roberto Guerra), Design is One: The Vignellis (2012), has been screened and broadcast internationally, and her very first short film made in San Francisco, Mixed Messages (1990) was featured in the 2020 International Film Festival Rotterdam. Interviewed remotely by Dale Hoyt in 2022.
Connie Champagne is a cabaret performer, actress and singer whose eclectic career began with roles at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre and Theatre on the Square. She has been a fixture of the Bay Area music scene since 1980 and has lent her bombastic vocals to numerous bands including The Mutants. An “unwitting pioneer of the Cocktail Nation,” Champagne was the winner of the SF Weekly Wammie Award for Outstanding Cabaret Performer for her work with former Cockette Scrumbly Koldewyn in Connie Champagne and Her Tiny Bubbles. Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at the Tenderloin Museum in 2022.
John Coon has forty-five years of experience in many lanes of the music business—he began working with bands at the tender age of thirteen, and since then has tour managed national headling acts, produced records and managed bands and labels. From 1975—1977 he attended the Center For Media Studies, SUNY Buffalo, ground zero for the emerging electronic arts, after which he moved to San Francisco in time for the late-’70s punk boom. During the period explored by Punk/Performance in the ‘Loin, Coon worked as an on-air personality and programming consultant for KSAN FM, in retail at North Beach’s go-to punk/import shop Recycled Records, as a manager for Eye Protection (1978–80) and The Hollowmen (1983-87) and as a record producer on projects by X-Ray-Ted, The Contractions, Eye Protection, Mr. Potatohead and The Hollowmen. Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at BAVC in 2021.
Mia d’Bruzzi is a San Francisco based musician and punk pioneer who co-founded Frightwig, the tremendously influential feminist punk band that helped ignite the riot grrl movement. Frightwig frequently played at the legendary Sound of Music, where Mia also tended bar in its heyday. She is now performing with The Mutants and creating new music under the name Dizzy Twin, with upcoming shows in SF and a new album slated for release in the Fall of 2022. Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at BAVC in 2021.
Ted Falcone is best known as the guitarist of the band Flipper, which in its early years was the de facto house band of the Tenderloin’s most (in)famous punk club, the Sound of Music. Falcone served in the Vietnam War while still in his teens, an experience which informed his turn to music making. Beneath their chaotic, impish facade, Flipper’s idiosyncratic and slowed down take on punk music struck a chord with the disillusioned, youthful counterculture of the 1980s. The band influenced all sorts of punk and punk-adjacent bands from Nirvana to the Melvins and Falcone’s guitar work continues to be a definitive and singular element of the band’s sound. Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at BAVC in 2021.
DNA Hoover is a performance artist, curator and co-founder of the illustrious non-profit art space A.R.E., one of the major hubs for creative experimentation in the mid-Market 1980s art and music scene. The name was open for interpretation but was most frequently known as “Artist for Revolution in the Eighties” and was organized as an artist-run non-profit space. While relatively short lived, A.R.E. hosted everything from Western Front Festival punk shows, screenings for the San Francisco International Video Festival and a “cry-along” during Ronald Reagan’s landslide re-election night in 1984. Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at the Tenderloin Museum in 2022.
Dale Hoyt (1961–2022) was a video artist, teacher, critic and curator who organized Punk/Performance in the ‘Loin. He taught at the New School, California College of the Arts and the San Francisco Art Institute and curated projects for the Western Front Music Festival; The Kitchen; NYC and the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery among other spaces. His work has been shown internationally since he was 19 and is in the collection of The Long Beach Museum of Art; the Museum of Modern Arts and the Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Hoyt was an avid lover of cats, a long-time resident of the El Dorado hotel (just two blocks south of the Tenderloin) and even worked as a desk clerk at the Cadillac Hotel, now home to the Tenderloin Museum. Hoyt passed away on April 12, 2022. Self interview at BAVC in 2021.
Carol Leigh aka Scarlot Harlot is an artist, author, filmmaker and sex workers’ rights activist. Since the late 1970s, Leigh has written and performed political satire and produced work in a variety of genres on queer and feminist issues including work based on her experience in San Francisco massage parlors. A mother of the sex workers rights movement, Leigh is credited with coining the term “sex worker.” Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at the Tenderloin Museum in February 2022.
Dominique Leslie is a musician and longtime Tenderloin resident who in the 1980s was known as Vincent DeRanged and fronted the band Animal Things, which performed regularly at the Tenderloin’s most (in)famous punk club, Sound of Music. Leslie’s bands cultivated and sustained an edginess in the milieu of punk that worked against the genre’s trend towards sanitization and commercialization. Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at the Tenderloin Museum in 2022.
Longshoremen: Carol Detweiler + Judy Gittelsohn are icons of San Francisco’s early new wave and post-punk scene, having recorded and performed in three venerated bands from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s: Inflatable Boy Clams, Pink Section and Longshoremen. Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at the Tenderloin Museum in 2022.
Michael Peppe is an anti-performance artist, composer, vocal gymnast and longtime fixture of the San Francisco art scene. He was a regular performer at the early punk scene hotspot, the Mabuhay Gardens, and has performed all around the country and world including performances at Lincoln Center. He is the creator of Behaviormusik, performance premised on the idea that “all possible behavior is musically composable.” Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at the Tenderloin Museum in 2022.
Dave “Dog” Swan is a poet, vocalist and founding member of the legendary SF “cryptic poetry damage vocal trio” punk band, Longshoremen. In the early 1990s, Dog was also host of his own zany cable access show aptly named “The Doghouse,” which featured guests such as Jello Biafra and Penelope Houston of The Avengers. Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at the Tenderloin Museum in 2022.
Winston Tong is a San Francisco born and based performance artist, puppeteer and vocalist. Acclaimed for his work with punky gothic experimental band Tuxedomoon, Tong is also known for his stellar solo work including the electropop dance album Theoretically Chinese. In 1978, Tong won an Obie award for his puppetry work in Bound Feet, a play about the Chinese custom of binding the feet of young maidens. Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at the Tenderloin Museum in 2022.
Ian Webster is a longtime denizen of the San Francisco music scene, both as a musician and as an employee of the Mabuhay Gardens and Sound of Music. Webster worked the door and booked bands at the Sound of Music throughout the club’s stint as a punk club 1980–1987, and as such was close to the club’s owner/operator, Celso Ruperto. Interviewed by Dale Hoyt at BAVC in 2021.
In celebration of this history, San Francisco Cinematheque and the Tenderloin Museum present Once Upon a Time in the TL: Punk/Performance on Screen, a screening of video and film works selected by the late, great video artist Dale Hoyt. Once Upon a Time in the TL accompanies Punk/Performance in the ‘Loin, a gallery show and public program series exploring the 1980s-era intersection of punk rock and performance art in San Francisco’s wild and ragged Tenderloin District (also organized by Hoyt). Leaning towards the musical in its survey of Tenderloin punk/performance, Hoyt’s selections include videos featuring The Units, Tuxedomoon, Snakefinger and Flipper, along with film/video works by Craig Baldwin, Richard Gaikowski and Hoyt himself. Full details here.