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    Donna’s Chronicles: “Although GAPA’s Runway 31: Cirque du Runway occurred some weeks ago and may not therefore qualify as breaking news, we must congratulate them on another successful evening at Herbst Theatre.”

    By Donna Sachet–

    Although GAPA’s Runway 31: Cirque du Runway occurred some weeks ago and may not therefore qualify as breaking news, we must congratulate them on another successful evening at Herbst Theatre. Sir Whitney Queers and Jezebel Patel returned as emcees for the fifth year, delivering the signature comic timing, hilarious deadpan, and quick wit that has endeared them to so many. Mr. GAPA 2018 Christo Roma and Miss GAPA 2018 Miss Shu Mai joined the contestants for a rousing opening number, followed by presentations by the 14 contestants in several pageant categories. Judges Esme Weijun Wang, Ivan Lam, Joon Park, Jose Francisco, Kevin Lieu, Michelle Kim, and Tracy Zhao had no easy task as beauty, humor, and talent delighted an enthusiastic audience. Who could leave the competition until the winners were finally announced? They were SNJV and Mocha Fapalatte. The adoring crowd reflected the diversity of contestants, including Ken Hamai & Jack Henyon, Lawrence Wong, Dennis White, Fred Dea, Lawrence Wu, Ben Wong, the Reigning Emperor Terrill Grimes Munro and Reigning Empress Baby Shaques Munro, and too many Imperials to list, although they were listed on the display screen above the stage for all to see. (Thank you, GAPA, for this special and very much appreciated acknowledgement.)  In a true measure of support, many of the previous winners of the GAPA Runway Pageant were in the audience or in supportive roles backstage.

    Far beyond the mechanics of the pageant is the empowering message of GAPA’s annual Runway. Each contestant, the emcees, the judges, and everyone involved in this production at some time during the evening touched upon the regrettable racism and tokenism constantly faced by the Asian-American community, additionally impacted by LGBTQ discrimination. As Producer of Runway 31 Alan Quismorio wrote in the printed program, “For the last 31 years, the Gay Asian-Pacific Alliance and GAPA Foundation have built and strengthened the visibility of QTAPIs in the San Francisco Bay Area—in a fashion that resonated nationally, then globally.” Participants and attendees alike are inspired to speak and act louder, celebrating the rich diversity and beauty of their unique community. And at the reception for the winners in the lobby afterwards, we looked around and realized that for a moment, we were truly in the minority, surrounded by languages and cultural differences beyond our immediate understanding, but nevertheless welcomed and appreciated for our attendance and support. Valuable lessons abound at this annual event.

    On August 25, Sunday’s a Drag was happy to welcome the San Francisco Bay Times’ Co-Publishers and Co-Editors Betty Sullivan and Jennifer Viegas with a group of friends for a post-Pride Parade celebration, many of them having joined in this paper’s Parade contingent. Among the group were Christine Shamon of Gray Line Tours SF, LaTonya Lawson of Celebrity Cruises, and Fran Herman and Audry deLucia of ellaprint. As performers, we couldn’t ask for a more enthusiastic audience.  Why not bring your group soon to Sunday’s a Drag for a gourmet brunch buffet, luxurious setting, and fantastic show?

    Veronica Klaus’ performance at Martuni’s lived up to her reputation, bringing exquisite phrasing, unique rhythms, and a charming song selection, all accompanied by the amazing Tammy Hall Trio with Daniel Fabrikant and Daria Johnson.  Although now living on the East Coast, Veronica does return periodically to the Bay Area to remind us of what we are missing!  The evening we went, Martuni’s was filled with celebrities, including William Wicht, Kim Nalley, and even Veronika Fimbres in the outer bar. After the show, we couldn’t resist joining pianist Joe Wicht for a little singing and a most appreciative crowd.

    Khmera Rouge and Kevin Lisle with Donna Sachet at the VIP Reception held at Herbst Theater in conjunction with the 31st Annual GAPA Runway presented by the GAPA Foundation on August 24. (Photo by Paul Margolis)

    Sunday afternoon found us in Berkeley for an impromptu farewell party for Russell Kassman who is moving to Chicago after decades in San Francisco offering support to musicians, other performers, and charitable groups, particularly related to AIDS.  We have certainly been the recipient of many years of his generosity and will miss his adorable presence here. Among the small, but close-knit, group were Richard Sablatura, Jerome Goldstein & Tommy Taylor, Chris Edwards, virtuoso pianists Robin Sutherland, Christopher Basso, Keisuke Nakagochi, and Jeffrey LaDeur, and Bay Area favorite Sharon McNight accompanied by Joan Edgar to emcee the program. All the best to Russell Kassman as he enters a new chapter in his life!

    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!
    The Starlight Room
    Sir Francis Drake Hotel
    10:30 am Brunch, 11:30 am Show
    $75 inclusive

    Friday, September 6
    Opening Night of the SF Opera
    Charles Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet
    Glamorous clothes, glorious music and spectacle
    War Memorial Opera House
    8 pm
    $175 & up

    Friday–Sunday, September 6–8
    Russian River Pride “Flooded with Love”
    Come celebrate with the recently recovered community
    Guerneville area

    Saturday, September 7
    Patty McGroin’s Dollhouse Benefit
    Fundraising for Rocket Dog with drag show & raffle
    Midnight Sun, 4067 18th Street
    4 pm–7 pm

    Saturday–Sunday, September 7–8
    Tenderloin Pride Gala & Block Party
    Saturday Gala at the Tenderloin Museum
    398 Eddy Street
    Noon–4 pm
    Sunday Block Party
    Vicki Mar Lane (100 block of Turk Street)
    Noon–4 pm

    Monday, September 16
    REAF’s One Night Only: Protest, Revel with Some Rebels
    Benefit Cabaret with cast members from Hamilton
    Marines’ Memorial Theatre
    7:30 pm

    Sunday, September 21
    Project Nunway X: Decades of Indulgence
    Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence unique fashion show
    SOMArts Cultural Center
    934 Brannan Street
    6 pm
    $40 & up