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Valencia v. Valencia

Kristin Smith | October 21, 2011 | Lifestyle Story Culture

Seventeen years ago, local author Michelle Tea’s award-winning novel Valencia did for young lesbians what On the Road did for the Beat generation. Based on Tea’s own sex, drug, and tattoo–fueled search for love and community, the book gave voice to the experience of other young queers and helped make the Mission district their go-to destination. This summer, Tea made Valencia into a movie (due out sometime next year) and discovered some interesting things about the old hood in the process. Puerto Alegre is still slinging giant margaritas, music still pours out of Esta Noche nightly, and Katz Bagels, where Tea had an interview for her short-lived brothel job, is still going strong. But a lot has changed, as Tea wistfully pointed out on a recent tour of her old stomping grounds (she now lives in the lower Haight). “I loved the Valencia era, but it was kind of crazy,” she says. “Besides, the city had changed a million times before I even got here. You can’t be too attached to it.”


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