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Camp Off: Beach Blanket Babylon and the SF Gay Men's Chorus
Caleb Pershan | Photo: Kasey L. Ross | March 22, 2013
For the first time ever, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus and Beach Blanket Babylon are performing together. Has San Francisco reached Peak Gay?
On Monday, March 25th and Tuesday the 26th, for the first time in their more than 30-year histories, the twin titans of San Francisco song are sharing the same stage. Their show at Davies Symphony Hall will invoke Blanket Babylon’s recurring premise—Snow White is looking for love—only this time, she’s surrounded by nearly 300 men who would rather just be friends. We chatted with SFGMC director and conductor Tim Seelig to answer a burning question: Which group is campier?
San Francisco Magazine: So, which of you hams it up more?
Tim Seelig: It’s definitely a competition, and they win hands down. In Beach Blanket, Snow goes to Paris and runs into King Louis, who’s dressed head to toe in pink— “I am what I am,” he sings, and they’ve re-written the words to be mostly about Prop 8. But if people think all we’re doing is being the Pips to Beach Blanket’s Gladys Knight, they should know that the chorus sings some really great music. So it’s not all camp: We sing pretty.
SFMAG: Wait, wait, wait. The Gay Men's Chorus and Beach Blanket Babylon. Why hasn’t this happened before?
TS: Yea, it’s, like, duh—how has this never happened in their 39 and our 35 years? When I got to San Francisco two years ago, it was at the top of my list. Collaboration is really key to what makes a successful arts organization. This is a big event, and I’ve never really seen anything quite like it. And it’s not gonna happen again for quite sometime.
SFMAG: Who has the more extravagant wardrobe?
TS: The Beach Blanket people change clothes a lot. And when the chorus guys saw this, they were like, I wanna do that, too! There aren’t nearly enough mirrors at Davies for all of you to change clothes backstage, I said. So in the first half, all 285 men change their wardrobes three times right there on the stage.
SF: Biggest showstopper?
TS: “It’s Raining Men” in the first half, featuring special rain gear. Let’s just say, there’s a rainbow involved.
Tickets for Snow White & Her Merry Men range in price from $15-$75 and are available now online at SFGMC.org or through City Box Office at (415) 392-4400.