We arrived 15 minutes before seven and a line was already formed along the facade of the Makeout Room. Couples, single folks, and groups stood and chatted in the late afternoon sun, squinting into the splayed gold light reflected off the windows across the street. A pair of Rumpus regulars chatted behind us, one woman explaining to the other, “I hope they do what they usually do. As soon as they open those doors, they’ll sort through the line and push everyone without a pre-paid ticket to the side. They’ll stick everyone else over there,” the lady pointed to the edge of the sidewalk where a cluster of folks stood smoking cigarettes, right in front of a knot of bikes, tangled in a weave of u-locks and titanium cables and attached to a parking meter. “It’s our VIP service,” the women said and laughed.
Despite not having pre-paid tickets, we entered right away, and even snagged a small table with a single chair. There was a definite frenzy in the air and by the time the doors opened and the man at the door took our money and stamped our wrists, the line had grown almost to Mission Street and the bar was packed.
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that this event takes place in San Francisco’s Mission district, or maybe it’s the venue—a great bar adorned with tinseled ceilings, silver helium balloons, velvet paintings, and bedazzled taxidermy. It has to owe something to the Rumpus website, which is constantly updated with new writing. Whatever the cause, the Rumpus brings out a huge and loyal crowd one Monday each month. And its fans are engaged and eager, ready to laugh and drink all in the name of brash and personal storytelling.
The theme of this Month’s Rumpus was “No Mistakes Left to Make” and managing editor Isaac Fitzgerald took over emcee duties for Editor-in-Chief Stephen Elliot, who was in LA working on a writing project. Fitzgerald was full of energy, springing on to stage between acts to rile the crowd, introduce the writers, and call out winning numbers of the night’s porn raffle. Two writers from the Pacific Northwest, Lidia Yuknavitch and Cheryl Strayed, read strong pieces of work. Yuknavitch elicited a raucous response with her story of grad-school lesbian sexual awakening in a gas station bathroom. Strayed read a startling and suspenseful story of a solitary trek along the Pacific Crest Trail, following in the wake of a divorce. The evening also included an illustrated read-along by regular Rumpus contributor and fixture of the SF Chronicle Paul Madonna, who has a new book, Everything Is Its Own Reward, recently released by City Lights.
Lidia Yuknavich, from Portland, Oregon.
…and Lidia’s boots.
San Francisco’s own Paul Madonna.
Cheryl Strayed, also visiting from Portland, Oregon.
Rumpus Managing Editor (and emcee) Isaac Fitzgerald.
Some of Paul Madonna’s work was included in the monthly Rumpus booklet. You can find his All Over Coffee series in the San Francisco Chronicle every Sunday.
Dylan Landis, from Washington, D.C.
You can find The Rumpus online at www.therumpus.net