Scene: San Francisco


Scene 5: True Colors Tour
Greek Theatre
Berkeley, Calif., June 29

Those who have chosen to move from San Francisco to the East Bay boast that the weather there is always better — and as much as San Franciscans have pride in the City by the Bay, they have to admit that it’s true. The night of Friday, June 29, it was a balmy 70 degrees in Berkeley with no wind or fog.

As the evening light spread sunset-gold over the outdoor Greek Theatre, Toronto-based band the Cliks took to the stage right on the dot of 7 p.m. They played to a mostly gay and lesbian crowd that was still milling around, checking out the scene, buying $7 cups of beer and locally produced wine.

When they finished their set, Margaret Cho came out onstage to gush about them. "We’ll be signing CDs over at the merch booth," said lead singer Lucas Silveira, "so come over and say hi." Silveira, dressed in a white button-down shirt, a black-and-red tie and black jeans, exuded the low-key sexiness of the boi you wished lived next door.

"You’ll be at the merch booth?" Cho said suggestively, and then grabbed Silveira, his guitar pressed between them, and proceeded to kiss him until the crowd noticed and started whistling.

After the band left, Cho explained to the audience, "I did it for everyone."

At 7:40, my friend and I joined a group of people waiting in line to go backstage to meet Cyndi Lauper. We all wore triangular stickers to indicate we’d be allowed through. "We’re taking you in groups of 20 or so," said the meet-and-greet organizer. "Have your cameras ready."

They led us back behind the stage, through a carpeted outdoor seating area with plush couches, and lined us up behind another gate. "You’re just going to go back through there again," the man in charge of us admitted. "But we have to wait for Cyndi."

When she emerged a few minutes later, she was tiny, pixie-ish, a little distracted. My friend and I were the second group of people she met that night, and I decided to not bother to introduce myself. How many people had she met on this tour? I wondered.

"Thank you," I said to her instead, and handed my camera to the waiting assistant.

Me, Cyndi Lauper and my friend Claudia

"You’re welcome," Lauper answered, and the assistant snapped a photo. Then we were ushered out at lightning speed, lest we linger any longer and check out who was sitting on those plush outdoor couches.

As the night went on, the acts became more polished, more professional. The Dresden Dolls were followed by Debbie Harry, who was followed by Erasure — who drove the crowd into a frenzy with a group rendition of "Oh L’Amour." And then a surprise guest showed up: Rosie O’Donnell, who reminded us that she became so famous because she is, after all, very funny.

When Cyndi Lauper came onstage at last, she seemed to be wearing black ankle socks with her footless tights. It struck me that she was probably wearing the same kind of outfit she wore 25 years ago when she first hit the big time.

She danced around like an elf as she sang "I Drove All Night," "Money Changes Everything" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." After Erasure, it was like ’80s night; I felt like a kid again as I listened to Lauper sing "Good Enough" from Goonies.

"She’s so tiny," said my friend. "She’s so adorable!"

At the end of the show, all the performers gathered onstage to sing "True Colors" together. They released huge balloons that the crowd kept aloft by bouncing them overhead like beach balls.

Somehow being gay has come to this: We float balloons at night, giant bubbles glowing in the stage lights, and we cheer together.

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