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The significance of Halloween in San Francisco

The delta variant dissolves. The city opens again. Halloween was largely canceled in 2020, but this year – thanks to vaccinations and the willingness of the San Franciscans – trick or treating is hot, along with events like Terror Vault’s “Immortal Reckoning,” a spooky, campy haunted house in the San Francisco Mint and curated by Peaches Christ and her costume colleagues.

Joshua Grannell, also known as Peaches Christ, has been busy this Halloween season. The drag performer and filmmaker presented “Devilish Inspirations: Summoning Witches, Demons, and Black Magic at the Piano” on Thursday, an online event co-hosted with Edwin Outwater, music director at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. (The celebration of the piano repertoire’s most haunted moments is still available online, post-event donations are welcome.) Saturday also marked the end of the month-long occupation of the Old Mint by Terror Vault.

Peaches Christ says her favorite Halloween season was in 2018 when she opened the haunted Terror Vault in the San Francisco Mint. (Courtesy Ash Danielson)

The Examiner emailed Peaches Christ about why Halloween has long been popular with the San Franciscans.

Why is Halloween a popular holiday in San Francisco, among young and old, straight and gays?

People call Halloween “Gay Christmas” and because SF is such a culturally queer city I think it really has become an important holiday for everyone because queers are throwing the best parties and somehow showing the wider population how to do it funniest time makes year. Fortunately, we live in a city where events that “straight people” are open to become queer next door.

Can you tell your favorite Halloween in The City? What happened and what were you wearing?

I think my favorite Halloween season had to be 2018, when I was able to realize my lifelong dream of opening our enchanted attraction “Terror Vault” in the old building of the San Francisco Mint. I played a satanic priestess on the show and appeared from above in my scene in an elevator that went down dramatically with dry ice fog. It was very inspired by Frank-N-Furter’s iconic appearance.

A closet full of costumes is quite common among the residents of our city. Why? Is it the Burning Man effect or something else?

I would also pay tribute to the gays who came here and ran away from the most boring places to dress up and be free. Other people saw how much fun they were having and integrated into their own stuff, like Bay to Breakers.

Is the pandemic increasing or dampening the stakes in costuming?

I think it’s a plus because we’re all hungry for fun and tradition and the things that were stolen from us in 2020.

What advice do you have for those who are still torn about what to “be”?

Get creative! Think outside the box and put together a costume using whatever is available. Do NOT let your indecision lead to inaction. Create a costume today.

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