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    Donna’s Chronicles

    By Donna Sachet–

    We were pleased to serve as emcee for the San Francisco Public Relations Round Table recently in the Penthouse of the Westin St. Francis Hotel, where the décor that used to be ornate, but frankly gaudy and overwhelming, has been redesigned with cool gray tones, pleated fabric and soft textures, perfectly silhouetting the amazing views of the city. Other than obviously promoting the image of this incredible city far and wide, this group has a scholarship program that supports future leaders in the public relations profession. The revenue from that day’s silent and live auction went to that cause. Co-chairs Brenda Kahn and Molly Walker presided over a gregarious group of members and well-known SF Chronicle columnist Phil Matier was the featured speaker, offering sage prognostications on political and other matters. Even the weather cooperated as the sun broke through and a rainbow appeared over Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill!

    Last Saturday, we joined a diverse and lively crowd at Noe’s Cantina for the birthday party of Liam Mayclem, popular media personality, successful auctioneer, food specialist and beloved local figure. The guest list was extensive and astounding, including celebrity chef Hubert Keller, Rolling Stone magazine co-founder and radio columnist Ben Fong Torres & Diane, Sister Roma, Richard Sablatura, Richard Costello & Margaret Ross-Costello, Brooks & Sarah Lundy, Raghu Shivaram & Beth Schnitzer, chef Jim Modesitt, Liam’s brother Rory O’Mara, and, of course, Liam’s partner Rick Camargo. This was a memorable event with free-flowing drinks, copious food, and even a whole roasted pig on display. This guy has given so much to San Francisco over the years and it was good to see him surrounded by so much love!

    Birthday boy Liam Mayclem surrounded by Donna Sachet and Sister Roma

    Imperial Coronation week has arrived! In our last column, we provided a very brief history of the Imperial Court, but for those who wonder, we would like to offer a glimpse inside this Saturday night’s Coronation. Doors open at 5 pm at the Design Center, 101 Henry Adams Street, and guests from all over the continent begin to arrive decked out in their finest. You’ll see magnificent crowns, encrusted jewelry and elaborate costumes … and that’s just on the men in the crowd! Longtime members of various chapters of the International Court System mix with newer title-holders and those simply curious or supportive of this longstanding philanthropic organization, often rekindling old friendships or forming new ones. The lights dim promptly at 6 pm, as the formal Color Guard assembles on stage and the national anthems of Mexico, Canada and the United States and a brief invocation are presented. The current Court of Tamales Con Pollo then entertains, attendants to the thrones gather, and Their Most Imperial Majesties Leandro Gonzales and Pollo Del Mar enter with all of the pomp and circumstance you expect.  The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence then offer their blessing and local businesses and organizations offer their greetings in a formal parade across the stage. It is then time for the introduction of the Imperial Family of San Francisco, all of those with permanent titles bestowed over the past 53 years, including the Emperors and Empresses present. No matter how many times we witness this ceremony, we still stand in awe at this beautiful representation of over five decades of community service, fund-raising, and leadership. What José Sarria created so long ago continues to evolve, addressing new priorities and welcoming new participants. How proud she would be!

    During the extensive evening, Queen Mother of the Americas Nicole the Great will greet the audience, various entertainers requested by the Reigning Monarchs will perform, the Brotherhood of Emperors and Sisterhood of Empresses will complete official acts, and the candidates for Emperor and Empress will entertain. Members of visiting Courts will promenade across the stage in recognition of the Imperial Court of San Francisco, the Founding Mother Court of the International Court System.  You’ll be amazed at the pageantry and the surprising location of some of these Courts, including Alaska, Denver, Ft. Lauderdale, Hawaii, Boise, Chicago, Kentucky, Nebraska, New York, Reno, Oklahoma, Utah, Washington, D.C., Calgary, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Tijuana. In addition, we offer those Monarchs celebrating special anniversaries of their Reigns the opportunity to present a musical number and this year is full of such presentations. Don’t miss Emperor XVII, After Norton, Jerry Coletti (30 years), Absolute Empress XXIX Anita Martini (25 years), Absolute Empress XXXIV Sheba (20 years), Absolute Empress XXXIX China Silk (15 years), and Absolute Empress XLIV Angelina Josephina Manicotti (10 years), as they remember their year on the throne and thank their many supporters. 

    In the final act of Coronation, the Reigning Monarchs perform one last time, often an emotionally charged moment for them and many in the room, ending their official Reign, but joining the very special group who have shared their journey. Then, the candidates are sequestered as the results of the previous Saturday’s election are announced and the new Emperor and Empress of San Francisco are crowned in a formal ceremony steeped in tradition, opulence and camp. This is just a taste of what awaits you at Imperial Coronation this Saturday!

    As you’ll see from the nearby calendar of events, you could stay quite busy attending all of the related events, leading up to Imperial Coronation itself. Voting was last week and improved weather surely increased the turn-out. Both candidate for Emperor Terrill Grimes and candidate for Empress Baby Shaques ran spirited campaigns and we anticipate them joining the ranks of San Francisco Monarchs this weekend. Join us for all or some of the events, but we want to emphasize the unique early morning Pilgrimage to Colma. With nearly 70 Court chapters across Canada, the United States and Mexico, only San Francisco hosts this special visit to the gravesites of Emperor Joshua Norton and Empress José Sarria at Woodlawn Memorial Park in Colma. It is quite early, but well worth the effort to hop on the bus at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway or at Castro and Market Streets. José put her indelible stamp on the Pilgrimage, achieving a perfect blend of tradition, whimsy and camp, always accompanied by the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. Many will dress in mourning attire, but don’t expect it to be too serious!  Humor and revelry will rule the day!

    And right on the heels of Imperial Coronation comes the Academy of Friends Gala, the perfect way to view the Oscar Awards ceremony, mingle with charitable members of our community and dazzle them with your glamour! This year’s theme Neptune’s Fantasy, the spectacular City View at Metreon location and a competitive lineup of nominees combine to guarantee a fun-filled night! The Academy of Friends has been throwing these elaborate parties and raising thousands of dollars for worthy charitable organizations for nearly 40 years. We assure you, this is not a party that you will want to miss!

    Donna Sachet is a celebrated performer, fundraiser, activist and philanthropist who has dedicated over two decades to the LGBTQ Community in San Francisco. Contact her at


    Calendar a/la Sachet

    Every Sunday
    Sunday’s a Drag!
    10:30 am Brunch, 11:30 am Show
    The Starlight Room
    Sir Francis Drake Hotel
    $75 inclusive

    Thursday, February 21
    Anniversary Monarchs’ Reception
    6 pm–8 pm
    HA-RA Club
    875 Geary Street

    Friday, February 22
    Imperial Out of Town Show
    Calle 11
    1501 Folsom Street
    Followed by Monarchs’ Bus Tour

    Saturday, February 23
    Imperial Coronation 54: Under the Sea
    6 pm
    SF Design Center Galleria
    101 Henry Adams Street

    Sunday, February 24
    Annual Pilgrimage to Colma Cemetery
    Woodlawn Memorial Park, Colma
    Host Hotel Bus: 8 am
    José Sarria Plaque at Castro & Market: 8:30 am

    Sunday, February 24
    Victory Brunch
    11:30 am
    Holiday Inn Golden Gateway
    1500 Van Ness Avenue

    Sunday, February 24
    Academy of Friends presents Neptune’s Fantasy
    Academy Awards Night and Gala Fundraiser
    5 pm–10 pm
    City View at Metreon
    $300 & up

    Saturday, March 2
    Krewe de Kinque presents Bohemian Royalty: A GlamRock Revolution
    Benefiting the LGBT Asylum Project
    The Café
    2369 Market Street
    $40 & up

    Sunday, March 3
    REAF presents One Night Only Cabaret with cast of Hello Dolly
    8 pm
    Hosted by Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy
    Brava Theater Center
    2781 24th Street
    $35 & up

    Saturday, March 9
    Stand Out, Stand Up – Jennie McNulty
    Comedy showcase
    3092 16th Street
    $15 & up