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RIP The Mab's Dirk Dirksen

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  • Carl Z.
    Before the Gilman Street Project and Ruthie s Pizza, this was the place for Bay Area punk shows.
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 23, 2006
      Before the Gilman Street Project and Ruthie's Pizza, this was the
      place for Bay Area punk shows.


      Dirk Dirksen -- 'pope of punk' amused, insulted S.F. crowds

      Joel Selvin, Chronicle Senior Pop Music Critic

      Wednesday, November 22, 2006

      Dirk Dirksen helped produce the "Cosmos S.F." cable acces...

      Dirk Dirksen, the godfather of San Francisco punk rock and the often
      abrasive ringmaster of the North Beach punk emporium Mabuhay Gardens,
      died unexpectedly in his sleep Monday night. He was 69.

      Mr. Dirksen presented acts such as the Dead Kennedys, Devo, the
      Ramones, Flipper, the Mutants, the Nuns, Black Flag, the Go-Go's and
      literally thousands more in the 10 years he operated the Broadway
      nightclub, fondly known as the Fab Mab.

      Mr. Dirksen, who called himself "the pope of punk," was known for
      peppering audiences and performers alike with abuse and insults.

      "I'm sorry to see you're that easily pleased," he told the crowd at
      the end of one band's performance. "You should try and show some
      intelligence and sophistication and not just accept any slop that's
      thrown in your trough."

      He turned to the musicians, who were trying to stalk off the stage,
      thinking he was not going to let the band have an encore.

      "I'll give you one," he said, "but only because the next group is an
      absolute pimple in the armpit of progress. Now everybody, please pay
      attention because it's time to play 'People Are Stupid.' "

      "He was super obnoxious onstage," said Penelope Houston of the
      Avengers. "He would stand there with that little dog under his arm,
      being a target for whatever they wanted to throw. At the same time, he
      loved all those people. In a way, they were his family."

      The dog's name was Dummy.

      Mr. Dirksen once estimated that his nose had been broken seven times
      during his years as a nightclub impresario.

      Among the highlights of the Mabuhay's annual calendar was always his
      birthday celebration, where each year he dreamed up a different mock
      torture for himself -- flogging, beheading, etc. One year he had
      himself burned at the stake.

      Mr. Dirksen, who operated the Dirksen-Malloy Productions video firm
      since leaving the nightclub business in 1984, also worked with the
      children in the Mission Recreation Center, across the street from
      where he lived, teaching cooking and helping resolve disputes. He
      hosted the various Mabuhay reunion events, including a Fillmore
      Auditorium show last April with members of the Dead Kennedys, the
      Mutants and Flipper, or the Contractions' recent reunion at the Café
      du Nord. Only last weekend, he attended the show by the Mutants at
      Lennon Studios.

      Born in Braunschweig, Germany, in 1937, he followed his father, a
      professor of aerodynamics, to this country in 1948. The family
      eventually settled in the Los Angeles suburb of Downey. He served in
      the Army as a public relations expert and made his show business debut
      in 1957, producing an all-night live television remote from a Wilshire
      Boulevard auto dealership featuring neophyte and amateur entertainers
      called "Rocket to Stardom." An unknown Lenny Bruce once appeared on
      the 12-hour weekly broadcast.

      He attended San Jose State but dropped out to open a surfing business
      in Santa Cruz. He worked as a producer on an ABC-TV series about
      surfing and served as tour manager with acts such as Ray Charles, the
      Supremes, Iron Butterfly and the Doors. He also managed the 1968
      presidential campaign of comedian Pat Paulsen.

      He moved to San Francisco in 1974 and, two nights later, stumbled into
      the Mabuhay Gardens. He started presenting late-night events at the
      club featuring Les Nickelettes, an all-female guerrilla comedy troupe.
      Whoopi Goldberg made an early appearance at the club.

      When punk rock emerged on the scene, Mr. Dirksen immediately began to
      book the unruly bands. He presided over his impolite empire with an
      enduring patience and a sly smile. Robin Williams once described
      comedy hell as "opening for the Ramones at the Mabuhay Gardens."

      "He was a father figure to me and a lot of other punks," said Kathy
      Peck of the Contractions. "Louie of the Vktms said we thought he hated
      us, but he loved us."

      Mr. Dirksen produced the recent video documentary on the Mutants and
      had been involved in video production since leaving the Mab, including
      a long-running, late-night San Francisco cable access show called
      "Cosmos S.F."

      He underwent heart surgery in 1990.

      He is survived by his longtime partner, Damon Malloy, and two sisters,
      Molly Dirksen of Bethesda, Md., and Theodore Ernst-Dirksen of Los

      Memorial plans are pending.
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