Naked singers and local folk heroes helped a packed crowd celebrate years of Berkeley activism on homelessness and mark the opening of a new temporary shelter during a benefit show at the Freight & Salvage coffee house Wednesday night.
The event, organized by the Berkeley Homeless Union, included performances by the well-known folk guitarists Carol Denney and Country Joe McDonald, along with the eye-opening partially to fully nude trio, “The X-plicit singers,” composed of members of Berkeley’s well-known nude theater group, the X-plicit players.
Festivities opened with an awards ceremony where Mayor Tom Bates and Councilmember Linda Maio presented awards to some of Berkeley’s more well-known homeless advocates including Michael Deihl, attorney Osha Neumann, and Telegraph Avenue Street Calendar creators B.N. Duncan and Ace Backwords.
Fred Lupke, Ray Reese, Father Bill, and Kevin Freeman, Berkeley activists who passed away last year were honored with songs, and pictures of Reese, Father Bill and Freeman stood behind the musicians as they performed.
Highlights from the show included quips from many of the performers—in particular Carol Denney—about Berkeley’s low income housing projects and the city government’s failure to meet the needs of the homeless—all directed at Mayor Bates, sitting in the back of the audience.
All of the money raised will be used to buy sleeping bags, ponchos and blankets, along with other cold weather necessities for the city’s homeless.