Holy smokes, Hard French! Every year I wonder just like you who’s going to rise to be the cream of our crop and then as I watch the kind words pour in I get totally smitten with all of our nominees! Cheese alert: they’re all already winners to me! But lez be real: we don’t live in a total love fest yet (capitalism etc is over if you want it!) so there can only be ONE set of royalty — you must be present at the ball to vote, so if you want to see your heroes win, you better GET YOUR TICKETS NOW!
Once again, all of the final nominees have chosen community beneficiaries that they’re running on behalf of (it’s like celebrity reality TV) — the winners will each have CASH MONEY to the org/project of their choice. (And you can help chip in to those donations by visiting the photobooth and coat check, or by making a donation when you buy your tickets!!!)
Of course, we want our winners to also walk away with more than just our adoration and the satisfaction of helping out the community, so we’re showering them with treats from local sponsors: Adobe Books, Boogaloos, Moon Zoom (Santa Cruz!), Paxton Gate, The Picnic Basket (Santa Cruz!), Pure Pleasure (Santa Cruz!), Rooky Ricardo’s Records, Rickshaw Bagworks, Saturn Cafe (Santa Cruz!), and Virgil’s Sea Room. And they each get a free Season Pass to Hard French. This is REAL.
So, keep cool and carry on and read about your nominees in alphabetical order (with queens first because we know they’re most important!) and the wonderful projects they’re supporting!
Lil Miss Hot Mess
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Iris Lena Triska
Seven-word self summary: Pacific Northwest Queer Nightlife Photographer
Why I want to be queen: It’s probably just my Saturn-return-quarter-life Crisis but I really want to have PROM NIGHT again, this time surrounded by my cute queer community that has made SF feel like home.
Beneficiary: I really believe strongly in the model of the St. James Infirmary as it is the only health clinic in the United States providing unique healthcare and social services to Sex Workers while also promoting community-based public heath initiatives on behalf of Sex Workers everywhere.
Words from friends: “Iris has the most genuine smile that makes anyone lucky enough to receive it feel at home. The special thing is that she makes everyone feel that. She honestly is the sweetest girl that never stops making strangers to close friends feel at ease and giggle. She also spends every spare moment with her 3 year old niece and volunteers her free-lance photography business to queer events all around the bay area from Santa Cruz to Oakland to San Francisco. She has helped start queer events and maintained outreach to rural communities that would otherwise never know of safe places to make likeminded friendships while dancing.”
Kitty Von Quim
Seven-word self summary: Bodacious bouncing burlesque babe
Why I want to be queen: I want to represent all of the joy that Hard French has brought me as a performer and dancer. And besides, what’s better than a fat kid being told she’s a queen?
Beneficiary: Pink Light Burlesque offers free burlesque classes to those who have survived or in treatment for breast cancer, giving them the opportunity to love the bodies that they’ve been fighting against.
Words from friends: “She is one of the most passionate, creative, fun, sweet hearted human beings you could ever have the pleasure to know. Also, she is so damn adorable.” ”She is so damn radiant!!! Always smiling and sparkling. She’s so positive and her go go dancing, and burlesque performances are sexy as hell. She changes the whole atmosphere of the room she is fierce and fabulous. Her art is always impeccable! Virgo hottie for the win!!!!”
Rachel Little Gem
Seven-word self summary: School-Teacher-Drag-Queen-Wannabe
Why I want to be queen: As Groucho Marx once said, “I’d never want to be Queen of any, er, prom that would nominate someone like me to their court…” or something like that. But he clearly hadn’t met the Hard French family, or he would have been pushing other gals down the stairs to nab that crown.
Beneficiary: St. James Infirmary offers services to people that often have to fight to be heard, seen and given the respect they deserve. Sex workers are a part of our community, and healthcare is a human right.
Words from friends: “She embodies what’s good about SF, loves children and moves like she’s at HF every moment of her life.” ”Thoughtful, patient, beautiful, kind, brilliant, fierce, best dress up clothes, friend through thick and thin ride or die, trust her with my life, top choice person to take if stranded on a desert island, a maverick, a gem.”
“Shugga” Shay Franco-Clausen
Seven-word self summary: Living my life likes it’s golden
Why I want to be queen: I think I live that example for the community, I dance my tail off, and ALWAYS doing something for a great cause to help others, I am IN!
Beneficiary: My wife (nominee Yolanda-Franco Clausen!) and I started PLAYNICE Productions, hosting events to raise capital for our services in the community. We offer our time, efforts, skills, leadership, education, social awareness, rehabilitation to our youth in the Bay Area, through bringing folks together. We want to really get our services to anyone, no matter their economic background — change starts when we make it a priority.
Words from friends: “No one on this Earth has a bigger heart than Shay. She thinks if herself last, putting the needs if the less fortunate, the community (volunteers at the YMCA, and feeds the homeless during the holidays). Proud mom of 3, her and Yo combine forces for a healthy, responsible and loving relationship and family focused home that the rest of us can only attempt to measure up to. Shay is heart led leadership.” ”Not just preaches ‘playing nice’ but she lives it every single day!! She might not be rich and famous but you’d never know that by the way people love her in our community and the blessings she makes happen for others on a regular basis!”
Seven-word self summary: Palestinian Bearded She-wolf of the Arabian Peninsula
Why I want to be queen: To spread more loving positive energy to the community and empower people to be whoever they are and to give more hugs!
Beneficiary: Providing visibility and resources for LGBTQ SWANA (SouthWest Asian/North African) Community has always been important to me. I fully believe in the BibiSF Mission Statement: BibiSF, a collective of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer and Gender Non-Conforming people of Middle Eastern North African decent, who aim to liberate our people through self-determination, visibility, and celebrating community.
Words from friends: “Tara performs her art [mostly] for charity events. She goes out of her way to help with numerous non-profit events and I have personally followed her for an entire weekend while she performs in up to 6 locations. Devoted, heart-felt, and gracious being who is more than deserving of the Hard French Winter Queen title.” ”She’s elegant and trashy. She’s stunning and shocking. She’s loyal like a dog but a don’t get it twisted she’s nothing but purebred. She’ll be your ride or die when those trash talking bitches are coming your way. She’ll cut a hoe or be your backup and hold your purse, nails, hoops, weave and baby till you tag her in. She a FIERCE BITCH!!!”
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Seven-word self summary: I know god is love, but satan does that thing I like with his tongue
Why I want to be king: I feel that Hard French does a great job of bring people together from the whole gender and sexual orientation spectrum at its parties (creates community). It is my gay nature to create community (and to party).
Beneficiary: I know several people in our extended community that have benefited from the AIDS Emergency Fund grants, myself included. This is great opportunity to give back.
Words from friends: “One of the sweetest, sexiest queer men to walk the face of the Earth ever! Smart, sassy, always ready for a good time or to lend a helping hand. I once saw him give mouth to mouth to a complete stranger, until paramedics arrived and pronounced the man dead. He then cried for hours that he wasn’t able to save the dude, and that the man was gone. Selfless. Also, he’s cultured, all about community, well-traveled, and looks equally beautiful in a tuxedo or a ball gown.” ”He embodies, togetherness, adventure, style and community. A regal presence who whole heartedly deserves the love and acknowledgment of his sparkling peers. A king strives to bring people together, and he is a cosmic world-bridger among us.”
Cabure Bonugli (Shot in the City)
Seven-word self summary: Your photographer this evening
Why I want to be king: The people have spoken… I’m just following up!
Beneficiary: I support Project Open Hand because I pick up food for a couple of friends who can’t make it to POH and they really need those services.
Words from friends: “Cabure deserves the title of King for all he brings to Hard French. His presence both physically and via the internet (through Shot in the City) has created a branding for Hard French that is unique and visually rich.”
Seven-word self summary: Designer & Socialite. I love to have a good time and San Francisco is my latest stomping ground
Why I want to be king: Why wouldn’t I want the honor of being recognized for my giving spirit and sickening personality? It’s about standing out from the rest of the pack.
Beneficiary: I support Dress for Success because it does more than just provide clothing. It is the opportunity for people to feel like people again and transition back into work life, back into a home of their own and have access to amazing services.
Words from friends: “When he first moved here he didn’t realize the way the city works or how we did things but he quickly adapted without sacrificing who he really was/is as a person. Christopher makes everyone feel special when he’s around and brings people closer together than ever imagined. Heres where it gets sentimental: he would stash food around the city for the homeless people that he knew were trying to better their situation. He speaks to them and shakes hands, he says that when you shake someones hand that its a sign of respect and it shows them that you do care and you are listening. He looks like a diva bitch but he’s honestly the most shy sweetheart you will ever meet. Christopher is brave and smiles even when he is really crying inside. He is selfless because he doesn’t brag, no one really knows what he does.”
Seven-word self summary: Fag, Drags, Ready set go.
Why I want to be king: I want to be “officailly” popular, my worth is TIED TO THIS CROWN/TITLE.
Beneficiary: CounterPULSE is a radical performance space that is trying to acquire a new building, and its super important to make sure spaces for artists can stay in this city, especially in this housing plague and shifting cultural landscape.
Words from friends: “Community superstar, wonderful and talented artist.” ”I love him to the end of times.” ”Duh.”
Seven-word self summary: Youth fitness instructor, bartender, parent, and wife.
Why I want to be king: I feel that a lot of our community already looks at my wife (nominee “Shugga” Shay Franco-Clausen) and I as great examples. I want to be the King to continue solidifying that and show how we contribute to the community on an even more broad scale.
Beneficiary: We are supporting PlayNice Productions because it is our own. We are heavily involved with the youth and our community. We would make sure that the money funded our free youth basketball clinic we are holding.
Words from friends: “Why is Yolanda amazing? Well she’s kind, thoughtful, thinks of others, gives back to youth and community, is an amazing parent, wife and friend….I always see all the kind gestures she does for her wife Shay…super cute! She knows the stress Shay goes under trying to help EVERYONE she can, so Yolanda takes the time to do small things that make Shay smile during moments of craziness.” “Hardest working, loyal, and loving stud, who took on an amazing woman (Shay) with 3 kids and would die to provide for them. She is a basketball coach, and helped feed homeless during the holidays. Yolanda is the epitome of a prototypical butch that every femme dreams of and every butch wants to be like. Respect for her is an understatement.”