POETRY MISSION: not your uncle’s open mic

(Charles Kruger)

Jul 28 2011: Viracocha, heart of the mission, San Francisco, California, early in the 21st century. It’s happening. New shit. Good shit. It’s a hip spot in a hip neighborhood. There is a readers’ platform. It is dark, but not smoky. People of all ages, all sexes (not just two by any means), colors and attitudes come here seeking epiphany. They are here seven nights a week, under the loving care of Jonathan Siegel, a tall, dark & handsome 30-something impressario with an actor’s voice who sings torch songs, writes poetry and clucks over his brood like a new generation’s Anna Madrigal. Some nights are plays. Some nights there is new music. Occasionally, there are university classes. On second and fourth Thursday nights, poets Sam Sax, Nic Alea and Jen G preside over a most unusual open mic: “The New Shit Show.” Everything is new, the ink still fresh on the page, the audience hungry, attentive, participating. This is not your uncle’s open mic: some of the finest poets in the west (and a few wannabes like yours truly) show up and deliver the risky, untried goods. It’ll get you downtown.

On Jul 28, no fewer than 16 poets participated, never a dull moment.

This was followed with a bravura, unforgettable performance by the inimitable Ben McCoy, a poet and essayist of considerable skill whose comic delivery is unsurpassed. Ms. McCoy has more than a touch of comic genius, combining the wit and insight of Barry Humphries (Dame Edna to ya’ll), the arch elegant beauty of RuPaul and the physical expressiveness of the great comics of the silent film era. And, girl, this lady can write!  She taught us how a lady is a poet, and if you weren’t there, well, I’m terribly sorry for you but at least you will find a video record below. Next time, show up, why don’t you?

You want to be on this bus.

Sam Sax

Jen G

Blythe Baldwin

Charles Kruger

Alex W

Na’amen Tilahun


Daphne Gottlieb

Wonder Dave

Jonathan Siegel

Jane Silver

Baruch Porras-Hernandez



Steven Gray

Rusty Rebar

Ben McCoy