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    Donna’s Chronicles

    By Donna Sachet–

    The Kinsey Sicks blew into town and we couldn’t miss one of their hilarious shows. Terrence Taylor joined us at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre for Things You Shouldn’t Say, a 25th anniversary show that pushed envelopes and satirized every imaginable sacred cow, but also delivered some salient political points. In addition to funny sketches and remarkable ensemble singing, each performer had a solo turn, reflecting their individual character and style, but in the middle of the show, Benjamin Schatz, who plays Rachel and is retiring after this tour, delivered a show-stopping monologue that kept the audience on the edge of their seats.  Immediately after the show, the current and some former cast members reminisced about their San Francisco origin, 25 years of shows, and the memories they leave behind. It’s hard to believe how far four men in drag with tight four-part harmony and razor-sharp wit have come!

    Duboce Park again provided the perfect setting for our little role in Fleet Week as we emceed demonstrations of highly trained canines working with the SF Police, SF Sherriff’s Department, BART, U.S. Marines and U.S. Coast Guard. This was the third year for this family friendly event and the dogs did not disappoint! Coordinated with the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management, Bark at the Park is an amazing look at what dogs can do after disasters and in other emergency situations, and it’s a great way for Fleet Week to reach out to a local neighborhood.

    Saturday night we attended Horizons Foundation’s annual gala at the Fairmont Hotel. We joined Chris Carnes, Gretchen Fleishman, Mark Leno, Russell Kassman, Manny Yekutiel and others to celebrate a successful year of giving and distributing dollars within our Community. Honored that night were Gavin Grimm and Jewelle Gomez, introduced in glowing and obviously loving terms by Ed Decker of New Conservatory Theatre. After an inspiring and emotional speech by Executive Director Roger Doughty, board member Olga Talamente led an amazing fundraising plea. During the evening we caught up with Adam Sandel, Okan Sengun, Dan Joranstaad & Bob Hermann, Juan Barajas, Derek Barnes, Ed Eishen & Jeff Lewy, Bob Dockendorff, Diane Sabin, Matthew Denckla and one of Horizons most avid supporters, Deb Stallings, who introduced her visiting mother. Finally, most of the attendees spilled into the iconic Tonga Room for final refreshments and a little Tiki nostalgia.

    Sunday’s Castro Street Fair seemed to us to be one of the most successful in years with perfect weather, a clearly organized layout, room to move, great music and lots of happy people. The Castro businesses certainly seemed pleased!

    We wrapped up Sunday night in the company of James Holloway with another fantastic performance of Varla Jean Merman in Under a Big Top at Oasis. How fortunate we are to have such a versatile venue, owned and operated by members of the LGBT Community and welcoming such diverse entertainment! And what a consummate professional is Varla, merging video, music, comedy and theatre into a mesmerizing show. Take it from us: Never miss a Varla performance! 

    The 26th annual Tenderloin Neighborhood Housing Corporation’s Celebrity Pool Toss once again amazed us at the Phoenix Hotel with its seamless production, enthusiastic support and tremendous fundraising. Priya Clemens, Director of Public Affairs for the Golden Gate Bridge; Linda Hill of Aegon Real Assets; Commander David Lazar from the SF Police Department; Minna Tao, General Manager of Recology Golden Gate; and others all willingly succumbed to a toss in the pool from the top bidder, raising thousands of dollars and eliciting lots of laughter. Along with a silent auction and raffle tickets, in addition to ticket sales, this event is bound to provide significant funding for an organization committed to improving life in the Tenderloin. And working with one of our favorite local television personalities, Cheryl Jennings of ABC-7, as well as the SF Chronicle’s Tony Bravo, Lynn Winslow, Neil Figurelli and Lisa Cohen, is always a delight! Afterwards, we shared a cocktail with Lewis Sykes & Jim Connor at nearby Emperor Norton’s Booze Joint.

    Friday morning, we gave moral support to friends who had accepted the challenge of Over the Edge to rappel down the side of the Hilton Union Square for charity. Sister Roma, Mark Leno, Michael Kuehl and others faced the challenge as friends watched through the window of the 46th floor. Lots of money was raised to support Outward Bound California, providing healthy outdoor activities to young people and students.

    We will be the first to acknowledge that we have received more than our share of praise, awards, and recognition from many sources, but last Friday’s Mighty Real Gala for PRC was something very distinct. Having served on the Board of Directors, watched its management mature and develop, and witnessed its life-altering work year after year, we will forever champion PRC! While many charitable organizations have well developed annual galas, honed over years into the slick productions they are, PRC only recently stepped into this milieu, using the Four Seasons Hotel as its setting and bringing in Reggie Aqui of ABC-7 and Michelle Meow of KBCW and CBS-SF as emcees. Hundreds of guests enjoyed cocktails on the patio with splendid City views before entering the elegant ballroom for entertainment by Jason Brock accompanied by Dee Spencer, a four-course dinner, and the formal program. Craig Miller, originator of the AIDS Walk, received a well-deserved Vanguard Leadership Award and Kaiser Permanente received the Keystone Service Award for their historic generosity and corporate leadership. After dinner, Chief Executive Officer Brett Andrews shared his powerful vision for PRC, followed by an inspirational video, and Michael Tate of the SF Gay Men’s Chorus skillfully auctioned off several tempting packages and directed a spirited fund-a-need. With an over-the-top introduction, Michelle then presented us with the Sylvester Community Pillar Award, a memorable moment to which we will long cling. Deena Dawn and James Holloway took the stage in their Gayest attire to present Gary Virginia with his Sylvester Community Pillar Award. Gary’s humble and gracious remarks reminded many of us of the simple beginnings of PRC, the importance of the contributions of so many along the way and Gary’s pivotal place in PRC’s history. At our table, Dave Earl, Kaushik Roy, Chris Carnes, Susan Fahey and Zoe Borkowski added a personal touch to the experience. The evening ended with music and dancing that clearly evoked the memory of Sylvester and the many nights we’ve spent spinning on a dance floor.

    Sometimes the smaller events are the most meaningful, such as a birthday party for a friend in a bar in the Castro. But when that friend is Gary Rahlf (The Queen) and that bar is 440 Castro, there is nothing small about it! Scores of well-wishers flooded the bar from noon to 4 pm this past Sunday to celebrate in an old-fashioned way, i.e. face-to-face! We reunited with many not seen for years or at least weeks, like Brad Cavalier, Veronika Fimbres, The Cove’s Solange Marzouk Darwish, Lu Conrad, Mark Abramson, Robert Larabee, Patrick Noonan and so many others. Gary is a rare man, whom we’ve known at least a couple of decades and many there longer, and he is loved for his open acceptance of all, irreverent humor and generosity of spirt. When the birthday song rang out, Gary must have felt the love in the room!

    A quick shout out to our newest Mr. Gay San Francisco King Khalil Munro and Miss Gay San Francisco Amoura Teese, selected by an esteemed panel of judges at the recent pageant under the aegis of the Imperial Court of San Francisco. May they have a successful year! And speaking of Imperials, word has it that Reigning Emperor Leandro Gonzales in his only officially sanctioned appearance in drag during his reign was a Latina bombshell, thanks to Empress Alexis Miranda!

    The SF Gay Men’s Chorus celebrates 40 years of singing with a weekend of festivities. Not to be missed is their concert on Friday, October 26, 8 pm, at St. Ignatius Catholic Church; you have to hear in person the story of the chorus’ history with this church to believe it! On Saturday morning, October 27, 11 am, the chorus will be joined by the Gay & Lesbian Freedom Band at the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park, previewing a permanent memorial to singers and supporters lost to AIDS. Later that day, the Sir Francis Drake Hotel’s Empire Ballroom hosts a celebratory luncheon emceed by Curt Branom of Beach Blanket Babylon with special guest Armistead Maupin. And finally, the SF Gay Men’s Chorus and their supporters will fill The Starlight Room on Sunday at 10:30 am for a gourmet brunch and at 11:30 am, Sunday’s a Drag, now in its 13th year of entertaining. Do you even need to ask who will emcee that day? After all, we proudly acknowledge that we were born at an SF Gay Men’s Chorus retreat many years ago. Congratulations to the chorus and to its wonderful Artistic Director Tim Seelig!

    This issue’s calendar may not look as full, but don’t miss the listed events and head out to the many theatrical, musical and fundraising activities within our LGBT Community. Why not get a jump on things and start planning your holiday events, including The Golden Girls: The Christmas Episodes, November 29–December 23 at Victoria Theatre; Miracle on Powell Street at Sunday’s a Drag every Sunday in December; and Drag Queens on Ice in Union Square on Thursday, December 6 at 8 pm. This year, for the first time, we are looking for additional talent, queens and kings, to display their skills on skates! Make a short video of yourself and submit it for consideration. Complete details are at

    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

    Now through November 3
    Into the Dark: Terror Vault
    Tours starting at 6:30 pm–10 pm
    The San Francisco Mint
    88 5th Street
    $60 (Ages 21+ only)

    Wednesday, October 17
    Mr. International Freedom Contest
    6 pm, Show at 7 pm
    $20 General Admission, $50 VIP Seating

    Thursday, October 18
    Let’s Misbehave
    Celebrating the 90th Birthday of the Kimpton Sir Francis Drake Hotel
    7–11 pm
    The Starlight Room
    450 Powell Street
    $25 (presale)–$35 (at the door)

    Saturday, October 20
    OurTownSF Nonprofit Expo
    12:30–4:30 pm
    Eureka Valley Recreation Center

    Sunday, October 21
    5th Anniversary + Photo Wall Shoot + DJ Haute Toddy
    2–5 pm
    2344 Market Street

    Friday, October 26
    Tribute: 40th Birthday Concert
    San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
    8 pm
    St. Ignatius Church
    650 Parker Avenue

    Saturday, October 27
    40 & Fabulous
    San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
    Noon Reception, 1 pm Lunch
    Sir Francis Drake Empire Ballroom
    450 Powell Street

    Saturday, October 27
    Glow in the Streets
    Comfort & Joy
    4 pm–9:30 pm
    Noe Street between Market and Beaver