NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! ACK! I said "HUNKY Jesus! Not "MONKEY Jesus!!!" The religious holidays of Passover and Easter have many specific religious rituals. In SF, things are done a little differently. There, they rejoice and celebrate Eastertide with a relatively new Easter tradition. Every Easter sunday in Dolores Park in San Francisco, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence put the "sack" back in "sacrilege".
MONKEY BUSINESS by Tony Asaro (Composer/Librettist)
Sacrilege is "the misuse of that which is considered sacred." With my non-specific agnosticism, I don't consider much sacred. But for many, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are an evil menace, desecrating the the church. In San Francisco, that's exactly why people love them!
A little history on the Sisters, from their website:
A long, long time ago, in 1976, far away in the land of Oz (Iowa), a convent of Roman Catholic nuns lent some retired habits to The Sugar Plum Fairies performing their version of The Sound of Music. One year later, one of our Founders Sister Vicious Power Hungry Bitch (Ken Bunch) moved to San Francisco (1977) and brought those habits to the streets of the Castro district...
On Easter Weekend [in 1979], during the time of the "Castro Clone," being extremely bored with the conformist atmosphere three men went out into the streets to challenge the world: Ken Bunch (Sister Vicious PHB), Fred Brungard (Sister Missionary Position) and Baruch Golden. They went in full, traditional habits through the streets of our city and down to the nude beach. One even carried a machine gun (for protection). They were met with shock and amazement, but captured everyone's interest. Their next appearance was at a softball game where their pompon routine all but stole the show. In the fall of 1979, Sister Hysterectoria (Edmund Garron) and Reverend Mother (Bill Graham) went to the first International Faerie gathering and encountered even more men with the calling. Our 4 Founders, Sister Vicious PHB, Reverend Mother, Missionary Position and Hysterectoria-Agnes convened their friends, chose our name (The Sisters Of Perpetual Indulgence) and composed our mission statement: to promulgate universal joy and expiate stigmatic guilt.
The Sisters produced the world's first fundraiser benefit for an AIDS organization. It was a dog show on Castro Street with the recording artist Sylvester serving as a judge in 1981. The city's health scene had hit crisis levels during this year. STD's were spreading at a pandemic rate and the "gay cancer" was contaminating everyone with fear and prejudice. Registered nurses Sister Florence Nightmare and Sister Roz Erection joined with a team of Sisters and medical professionals to create Play Fair!, the first safer sex pamphlet anywhere in the world to use plain sex-positive language, practical advice, and humor.
Today The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence® is a leading-edge Order of queer nuns. The Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.
Since our founding in 1979, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have raised and distributed over one million dollars to non-profit organizations that serve needy communities. Each year, we raise thousands more. The next time you see a Sister with a collection bucket, drop a couple of bucks in, because the money goes right back to the community.
In case it's not clear at this point, the Sisters are men in nun drag. Their look is a mix of Catholic nun whimpers from yesteryear, and extreme drag, ALWAYS with white face make up.
They have chapters known as "houses" or "orders" all over the country and the world. While they do a lot of charitable work like Catholic nuns, their look, their often brash manner, and their affiliation with the gay community is enough to raise conservative eyebrows. And with names like Sista Agnes Dei'afta Tamara, Sister Dana Van Iquity, Sister Hera Tique, Sister Penny Costal, Sister Mora Lee D'Klined, Sister Phyliss Withe-Litaday (that one took me a sec), Sister Selma Soul, and my favorite, Sister Tilly Comes Again!, you can see why many pious Catholic folks can get all up in arms about the Sisters.
In most cities that have an Order of Perpetual Indulgence, you can find the Sisters at gay events raising money for HIV/AIDS, but in SF their ministry is much more widespread. They are in integral part of SF, not just the gays.
Every Easter Sunday since their 20th anniversary in 1999, the Sisters have held their Hunky Jesus contest. Here is a description of the contest from an article on christiannewswire.com:
On Easter Sunday in San Francisco's Delores Park, Christianity-spoofing homosexual drag queen "nuns" calling themselves the "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" will stage their annual "Hunky Jesus" contest -- mocking the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ -- as shirtless men in "crucifixion" costumes parade on stage in an atmosphere of haughty, homoerotic humor.
Is this supposed to be a deterrent?!
The contest is just one of many events the Sisters hold on their Easter birthday:
Here are some awesome photos from last year's Hunky Jesus contest (taken by NicoRico.)
You want a little controversy? How about BABY JESUS!
And here's the hunkiest Jesus of them all!!! Frankly, I can't wait to attend next year's!
And speaking of sacrilege...
A CRAZYTOWN EXCLUSIVE!
As a special Easter gift for you, here's "Christ is in the Kitchen with Momma" from the OUR COUNTRY concept album, available in May!!!
Vocals: Justin Utley, Jeremy Pasha, Nic Rouleau, Brian Michael Flanagan,
Band: Eric Day, Jeremy Yaddaw, Vince Peterson, Matt Hinkley, Justin Smith
The album will be available on iTunes in May, and don't forget about the CD release party on May 7th!
TONY ASARO is a composer/librettist currently working on various musical theatre and opera projects including the award winning Our Country. To learn more about Tony's writing, please visit unrelentingmonkey.com. NEVER STOP SWINGING!