Rollin' deep in the heart of the I.E. through the gnarled concrete arteries of 60+10+91 east to neon sunsets and Naugles, Taco Tia, the Mad/Friendly/Happy or Lucky Greek,The Menagerie, Spanky's, Butch's Grinders, The Denny's Cocktail Lounge at Hardman Center (in pace requiescat). We spell Paris P-E-R-R-I-S, bitches!


Event Alert: You Belong to Me (Riverside, February 13-16 + 20-21)

Stumped for something truly sexy to do in the I.E. this Valentine's weekend? Like every good Imperial subject, I'm a big fan of celebrating special occasions at le Market Broiler (a hot spot for prom kids and the AARP set). But this February 13-16--and again from February 20-21--denizens of the empire have a unique opportunity to get down and dirty with some high art as YOU BELONG TO ME: Art & the Ethics of Presence launches its first among a series of public events at Riverside's own queer cafe and salon, Back to the Grind.

Celebrating artists who make their audiences into more than spectators, events include a musical concert featuring internationally renowned LuiseƱo performance artist James Luna, feminist spoken word artist and hip hop musician Ursula Rucker; a week-long workshop and evening of queer performance featuring the I.E.'s very own art star, Ron Athey; and an afternoon of conversations between the artists, UCR faculty, and audience members.

This weekend (Feb 13-16) kicks off a seminar on performance led by art legend, Ron Athey & UCR Professor, writer, and soccer aficionado Jennifer Doyle. Parts of the seminar will be open to the public, including evening, salon-style screenings of performance video curated by Athey & Doyle

Downstairs at Back to the Grind (3575 University Ave) 5:30pm-7:30pm Friday Feb 13 & Saturday Feb 14.
Join our seminar’s evening session for an eclectic program of performance “classics” and oddball cinematic texts representing Athey’s performance & filmic archive. Expect lots of nudity, explicitness, and creepy investigations of art & intimacy. Intended to be a relaxed and social gathering - discussion and talking back to the screen encouraged.

The screenings will follow two public lectures by Doyle:

“Critical Limits: Difficulty and Contemporary Art” Friday Feb. 13 2:00pm-4:30pm 2212 Humanities Building, UC Riverside
What happens when we encounter our limits as critics, as spectators – and
why should we spend time unpacking them?

“My Bloody Valentine: When Sex & Performance Meet and Queer & Liberal Feminism Part” Saturday Feb. 14, 2:00pm-4:30pm Downstairs at Back to the Grind (3575 University Ave)
In the spring of 2008, the artist Aliza Shvarts found herself in the middle of a national controversy about a conceptual performance that engages with the possibilities of abortion. This talk maps the nature of that controversy.

Parts 2, 3 and 4 round out next week on Friday Feb 20th, with Ursula Rucker & James Luna in CONCERT@ 8:00pm 3787 Main (corner of 6th & Main); on Saturday morning, Feb 21, with Luna, Athey, and Rucker in dialogue with Professors Michelle Raheja, Jennifer Doyle, and Erica Edwards (respectively)11:00am-2:30pm @ Back to the Grind.

Public events conclude on Saturday evening, February 21, with an I.E reboot of Resonate/Obliterate, called (appropriately enough) Resonate/Obliterate I.E.: A Night of Queer Performance featuring Ron Athey, Julie Tolentino, Heather Cassils, and Zachary Drucker @ 8:00pm. 3787 Main (corner of 6th & Main).


MEDIA ALERT: I.E. Casinos and Asian Entertainers

On Thanksgiving, Riverside's Press Enterprise featured a story on the Asian entertainment acts booked at local casinos to rake in even more "yellow dollars." The story reveals what I know from my own sordid experiences in the card rooms of southern California: it's a good bet you'll find plenty of Pinoy, Korean, Vietnamese and Chinese cardsharks hunkered down at the tables.

According to the story, bringing in Asian acts (and acts popular with Asians) not only services the growing communities in the Inland region, but also convinces those of us who live further afield in L.A. or Orange County to drive in for more prolonged overnight gaming getaways. Not that we need all that much convincing. [LEFT: The Golden Divas--a campy trio of Pinay mestiza vocal stars of yore-- performing tonight at Pala Casino].

"Agua Caliente is seeing patrons from Orange County and Morongo is pulling from San Bernardino and Los Angeles.

Ferrari [director of marketing operations for Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula--one of my fave places] said the resort's Saigon Thanksgiving show this weekend was booked only a month ago and was selling very well.

Ferrari said sometimes acts have crossover appeal, such as rock band Journey, whose show sold out quickly when the band played Pechanga earlier this year. The band's singer, Arnel Pineda, is from the Philippines.

Other acts are teaming up with American artists, such as Martin Nievera [Emperor: an old family friend], who will perform with Brian McKnight at Morongo in December."

Click HERE for the full story.

In the meantime, I'll let the Golden Divas take us out with their cover of Rihanna's "Umbrella" (performed live on the Filipino variety show, S.O.P.)


I.E. Holiday News Round Up | Shooting at Toys 'R' Us + Mission Inn Gets Totally Lit

Riverside Countians had to one-up the Long Island Walmart trampling with a shooting that left two men dead at a Palm Desert Toys 'R' Us store. Though the gun battle was NOT about a toy, circumstances were inflamed by the long lines and buying frenzy of Black Friday. The Riverside Press Enterprise reports (click on the map for the full story):

"Bargain hunters scrambled from a Palm Desert Toys "R" Us on Friday after two men were shot and killed on one of the nation's busiest shopping days.

Riverside County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said the men were involved in a nonshopping-related disagreement near the checkout stand of the busy store.

'This confrontation was not over a toy,' Gutierrez said.

Police in the Coachella Valley city arrived at 11:32 a.m., a minute after receiving reports of shots fired inside the crowded store on Highway 111. Retailers such as Toys "R" Us generally offer deep discounts to draw customers on Black Friday, as the day after Thanksgiving is known."


On a much happier note, yesterday also marked the start of the 16th Annual Festival of Lights at downtown Riverside's The Mission Inn. I hadn't really thought about it 'til now but in the years since grad school, I've managed to bring friends from all over the world and So. Cal to the Mission Inn's twinkly, animatronic wonderland. It wasn't (just) because they were too broke to fly home--but more often than not, because they were too broke to fly home AND to the MLA for job interviews, papers and other professional tortures. Thank goddesses this will mark the last year that dreadful gathering is scheduled between Christmas and New Year's. (Click the picture for the Press Enterprise's account of yesterday's festivities).

The Emperor dedicates this year's Festival of Lights to all the loved ones--our beautiful, improvised families--from Koeln, Paris, Marseilles, Iowa City, Lexington, Seoul, Salinas, Bell Gardens and The Valley who have each claimed these lights as their own some time or other. Please come again soon. Y'all know you're always welcome. xoxoxo, I. Emperor.


L.A. TIMES: Unemployment Surge in the I.E.

With an unemployment rate of 9.1%, the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro region ranks even worse than Detroit.

From Dan Pierson of the Los Angeles Times (click the picture below for the full story):
"The percentage of people unemployed in the Inland Empire has more than doubled from a year ago, and some experts predict the situation will worsen before it improves.

'It's a perfect storm,' said Brad Kemp, director of regional research for Beacon Economics, which recently conducted the second annual Inland Empire Economic Forecast Conference.

'It was one of the fastest-growing places in America,' he said. 'And when you have that kind of growth, you have the potential for loss.'

The downturn has all but erased the glow of optimism the Inland Empire enjoyed only two years ago, when newly minted mansions and an array of upscale retailers fashioned parts of the region into a more affordable Orange County in the making." [Right: The historic Fox Theater in downtown Riverside. Perpetually under renovation]

Sadly, this offers more fodder for the O.C./I.E. rivalry subplot in my book.


All in the Family | Benefit Big Band Concert + No More Blues CD

When Kangagi and I hit up the Riverside Pride Festival in White Park last month (mentioned in my previous post), my mom and dad decided to join us. Much to my surprise--totally embarrassing, actually--my folks knew more queers at the festival than I did, from a would-be Project Runway contestant who made it deep into the casting rounds, to the middle-aged dyke who ruled the hand stamp check. We were the wallflowers, and they were the ones ass-bumping, cheek-kissing and saying howdy to every queer in town. [Left: Mom, Dad and me, ca. 1979].

For a minute I wondered if it was all due to the fact that their last name is DYKES (yes--that is my stepfather's real last name), but as Kangagi and I quickly realized, their inroads to the scene actually come from their church, the Riverside Community Center for Spiritual Living in Fairmont Park near downtown. This queer positive, predominantly African-American church (which hosted a booth at the pride festival), is where my dad has been the musical director for nearly a decade. And it's the community that nurtured my mom through her recent battle with cancer, from surgery to chemo to recovery. Even as I was frantically driving east on the 60 FWY in the morning hours of my mom's epic surgery, Rev. Lee was there with my dad and grandmother to pray with mom and soothe her nerves as she went under, and to help bolster our collective hope that everything would be OK.

This Sunday, October 26 at 7pm, mom and dad, my uncle, smooth Jazz dude Boy Katindig, and all of their musical colleagues and friends will "pay it forward" (if you will) by performing at a major fundraiser for the church. The "Raise the Roof Benefit Big Band Concert" will help raise funds for structural repairs to the building, as well help continue funding programs like the center's PFLAG meetings, youth choir, spiritual retreats and day to day operations. Many friends and family are already coming to participate in the festivities, which include fine dining at Mario's downtown, a silent auction, etc. The fam and I are profoundly moved by the generosity of our friends and colleagues, not only with their dollaz in this time of economic uncertainty, but also with their time. Join us if you can!

Mom's new CD (with the I.E. Based Skipper Productions jazz label curated by jazz bass legend, Henry Franklin), will also be available at the concert in advance of its official release date on October 30th. Titled NO MORE BLUES, it features some of my folks' favorite bossa nova and straight-ahead jazz standards. If you can't make it to the show and would like to buy a CD, just email mom at I'll also post here when the disc is available on iTunes and other sites like Rhapsody and Last FM. Here's a little preview of their first single, the Antonio Carlos Jobim classic, "Triste":

Triste - Maria Katindig-Dykes

, we hope to see you at the show!
Biggest Love,
The Inland Emperor

Raise the Roof II - A Benefit Big Band Concert
Sunday, October 26, 2008 - 7pm
General Admission, $25
3891 Ridge Road | Riverside, CA 92501 | Tickets: 951.683.2343


Calendar Alert! | Riverside Pride '08 (September 13)

Polish your rainbow bling, and buy an ample stash of Mac's "twig and fetish" lipstick--RuPaul is one of the featured performers at Riverside's first local pride festival on September 13, 2008! If memory serves, there have been local pride parades and protests in the past, but none have been as ambitious as this year's program of performances, activities and an "art walk" in downtown's White Park (located right next door to ye olde Le Sex Shoppe and the all-you-can-eat Cabin Sushi--aka "porno sushi"--beloved by Media Sheep).

In my
adolescence, White Park was the classic downtown wino park (like the one where Cornelius Hackl in Hello Dolly sings "It Only Takes a Moment"). But all the civic-led gentrification has seen it turn in to a more respectable picnic spot--proximity to Le Sex and all. [Above R: Cabin Sushi, photographed by Yelper Jan G. || Below L:White Park now]

The event is organized by the Jeffrey Owens Community Center, an Inland support and advocacy group that came together after the 2002 murder of a local AIDS activist and North High School Alum. Jeffrey Owens was stabbed to death in the parking lot behind The Menagerie (the I.E.'s oldest queer club). Unlike most corporate pride events that tend only to benefit the unholy triumverate of light beers (Bud, Coors and Miller), as well as other opportunists, Riverside Pride is being staged to increase awareness and raise money for local charities and local non-profit LGBTIQ organizations like JOCC. Click the poster below for a link to the Riverside Pride myspace page with more info about how to participate as a Volunteer, Vendor or Performer. Tickets are $10.


I.E. Quake!!! || 5.4 - Epicenter Chino Hills

My favorite thing about an earthquake in So. Cal is the calm, butchy presence of "the earthquake lady," Kate Hutton from Cal Tech. I guess I'm not the only dyklette who grew up totally stoked for her no-nonsense, skirt-suited seismological updates. Check out Kate's interview with The Advocate back in 2001 for more lesbionic subtext. [Below Right: Kate in action]

I have to say, she seemed a bit grumpier on the Channel 7 Eyewitness news today,
totally willing to complain overtly that the Governator's budget cuts leave little room for developing early quake detection technology. You go, Doc! When the Big One strikes, we'll all be waiting for you to tell us the real deal...

Despite the relatively slow roll we experienced out here, 40 miles west in Silver Lake, Kangagi and I still sensed we at least had something in the upper 4's on our hands. Today's 5.4 quake happened to be epi-centered in the I.E.'s very own Chino Hills, my Oh! Industry sistah, CBB's hometown.

When the quake struck, my mom was at the Tyler Mall (or is it the Gal
leria at Tyler now?) in nearby Riverside, getting her prescription glasses fixed, while Dad was at home, apparently just apres shower and hence nervous about not having the option to flee out of the house. I know, TMI.

Like everyone else, I couldn't get through using a cell phone (so much for their emergency effectiveness), but our prehistoric landline worked just fine. Dad reported no damage or toppled books at home (surprising given how they're such pack rats), but neither of us could reach my mom. She finally got a text through about 30 mins. later, and complained that "there's really no place to go in a mall that feels like it's built entirely out of glass."

Otherwise, there isn't much more to add to the good ol' Press Enterprise report. I wonder how the controversial, year-old Ranch 99 Asian Market is holding up? Check out Angry Asian Man's take from
last April, or for all sides of the "we don't want this to turn into another Rowland or Hacienda Heights" story, visit the P.E. archive. Could today's quake be a case of the Karma Chameleons? Kate Hutton would probably say no. The ancestors meanwhile...