I met Steven Wibben in a Palm Springs gay bar called the Tool Shed six years ago. He was having an afternoon beer after seeing a live Metropolitan Opera broadcast of John Adams' Nixon in China. I told him about being a supernumerary at the San Francisco Opera over the decades, and he said that he used to go to the San Francisco Opera frequently when he worked in Silicon Valley. "I went to a drag bar in the Hayes Valley called Marlena's about 15 or 20 years ago and met a guy who was a supernumerary there, and he invited me over to his apartment a block from the Opera House because he said I had to listen to Nixon in China." After a long pause, I raised my hand and replied, "There's basically only one person in the world that could have been. Me." (Steve is posing above with a painting by the Oakland artist Hung Liu at the Palm Springs Art Museum.)
Though neither of us recognized each other from that afternoon a couple of decades ago, it seemed an obvious sign that we were fated to know each other, and we have been fast friends ever since, joining each other for many amusing adventures. (Steven is crawling like Jesus below a painting by Enrique Chagoya.)
Though Steve is smart about all kinds of things, occasionally even wise, he is also an authentic goofball, as you can see from this photo of his clowning behind my favorite Anselm Kiefer sculpture.
He's also something of an amateur, genius performance artist, and treats Halloween as part of the High Holy Gay Holidays of Palm Springs.
On his way to a doll themed costume party, he showed up last Sunday at my neighbor Sammy's house dressed as Murderous Barbie with Ken's severed head in tow. He later said the real joy of the party was meeting strangers who were loving Palm Springs as much as him over the last 15 years. I am starting to feel similarly about the place.