Beach Blanket Babylon 40th Anniversary
Before many of us were out and proud, or even born yet, Beach Blanket Babylon was showering gay energy over audiences like magical, uplifting fairy dust. Let’s face it. Much of the show is gayer than King Louis’ heart-shaped pink hair.Beach Blanket Babylon even premiered during Pride Month of 1974, first showing at Savoy Tivoli and then moving to Club Fugazi in 1975. SF Pride itself was just a baby then, so a show blatantly envisioned by a brilliant gay man—Steve Silver—contributed to the sheer joy of LGBT life in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Silver contracted AIDS and died of complications from the virus in 1995. His life force carries on through the show, however, thanks to his handpicked talented successor, Jo Schuman Silver. As of now, Beach Blanket Babylon’s impressive run includes well over 15,000 performances. The show has become a world-renowned record-breaking success that has been seen by nearly six million people from around the globe. It is not just an internationally acclaimed musical revue. It’s a San Francisco iconic fixture.
As the city’s oldest and only fully LGBT owned and funded paper serving our community, the SF Bay Times happily salutes Beach Blanket Babylon on its anniversary. We will join with city and civic leaders on Friday, June 6, at 12p.m. in a celebration of all things BBB. The event, which is open to the public, will feature Mayor Ed Lee, Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz, former Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr., Ann Getty, Dede Wilsey, San Francisco Symphony Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas, and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Other dignitaries are to be announced.
We hope to see you at the event, but in the meantime, please enjoy our look back at memorable moments from the show’s past four decades. You can view the outrageously gigantic hats in person, as they are now on display at various locations throughout San Francisco.
“We are proud that Beach Blanket Babylon is an integral part of this City that we love so much. Steve thought the show would only run six weeks, but his celebrated genius and creative vision is as alive as the day the show opened in 1974. We are honored that San Francisco is celebrating with the ‘only in San Francisco’ event of the year on Friday, June 6, at San Francisco’s City Hall and that institutions across the Bay Area are showcasing our iconic hats from the past 40 years.” – Producer Jo Schuman Silver