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    Donna’s Chronicles: “Believe it or not, this week marks our one-year anniversary of writing for the San Francisco Bay Times!”

    By Donna Sachet–

    Believe it or not, this week marks our one-year anniversary of writing for the San Francisco Bay Times! Yes, “Donna’s Chronicles,” a name devised in collaboration with Gary Virginia, began in September of last year with extensive coverage of Opening Night of the San Francisco Opera and a splashy Gareth Gooch cover photo of us and the Golden Gate Bridge. We weren’t really looking for a change from our decade-long previous column for another publication, but after its surprise cancellation and a summer without a written voice in the community’s press, Betty Sullivan and Jennifer Viegas made us an offer we couldn’t refuse and we have been delighted ever since. Imagine seeing for the first time this page you now read with its eye-catching photo, personal logo, quote of the week, upcoming calendar, and extensive coverage of the goings-on and the who’s who in the LGBTQ Community! Thank you, Bay Times, for all the support, and thank you, readers, for finding us here and remaining so loyal. We love hearing from you and encourage your feedback and input. It is an honor to have a regularly scheduled, written voice in the local LGBTQ press and we restate our commitment to providing an accurate, diverse, and amusing glimpse of the San Francisco we love!

    Opening Night of the San Francisco Opera was more glamorous, more celebratory, and more successful than ever before! We arrived at the Grove Street porte-cochere, Richard Sablatura elegantly tuxedoed and us resplendent in red, and were immediately swept into the crowd by Premier Usher Billy Repp. Any earlier concerns that this year’s Opera Opening Night would be outshined by the SF Symphony in Conductor Michael Tilson Thomas’ final year were put to rest as glorious gown after ornate jacket set the tone for a fabulous night. Many donned embellished masks in a nod to the masked ball scene from the night’s opera and many others grew weary of careless footsteps on beautiful trains, a risk best left to experienced gala goers. In the press room, we were warmly greeted by Jeffery McMillan and Teresa Concepcion, who always treat us so wonderfully.  Champagne flowed in the ornate lobby, festooned with flowers, where we caught up with Willie Brown & Sonya Molodetskaya, Allison Speer, Jan & Maria Manetti Shrem, Joel Goodrich, Carolyn Chandler, Victor & Farah Makras, John Rosin, Roselyne Swig, Susan Swig, and many others, all being madly photographed by Drew Altizer and his expert team. Upstairs, the breezy loggia offered splendid City Hall views at the BRAVO! CLUB’s reception abounding in wine and hors d’oeuvres. Chiming bells summoned us all inside where more flowers surrounded the balcony and the glorious gold curtain rose for opening remarks from Opera Association President Kevin Geeslin, Chairman of the Board John Gunn, and General Director Matthew Shilvock.

    Charles Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette is the perfect Opening Night opera with its familiar storyline and lush, romantic music. Last minute substitute tenor Pene Pati and soprano Nadine Sierra filled the Opera House with extraordinary performances, immediately demonstrating a genuine connection and natural affection. Sets were simple, but evocative of Italian settings; costumes were lush and colorful; on-stage action was engaging and balanced; and the chorus was particularly outstanding. We may be overstepping our limited role as social columnist, but we can’t say enough about this excellent production.

    During the brief intermission, we promenaded through the lobby, greeting Lewis Sykes & Jim Connor, George & Charlotte Shultz, Deepa Pakianathan, Michael Purdy, Jay Jeffers, Ken McNeely & Inder Dhillon, Bob Hill, Dede Wilsey, John & Judith Renard, and David Laudon & Randy Laroche. In our humble opinion, the best gown of the night—multi-colored, multi-fabric, and off the shoulder—was worn by Yuke Uehara, and the best mask—a face completely and eerily covered in faceted crystals—was by Ronnie Genotti. Please excuse our sometimes-esoteric reverie about fashion, but we’ll remind readers that our background career at Saks Fifth Avenue is never far away. What a delight to see San Francisco personalities enjoying first class opera while embracing the finest in ready-to-wear! 

    CHEER SF has been spreading enthusiasm for years with its technically challenging routines, lively cheers, and amazing energy!  We were at the Academy recently when they presented various organizations with over $40,000 in annual fundraising. Others we knew there were Larry Horowitz, Bill Hirsch, Okan Sengun, and Nguyen Pham. Who knew that such incredible fundraising could be such fun?

    At the risk of running too long in this column, we’ll briefly thank Eye Gotcha for including us in their L.A. Eyeworks trunk show, Patrik Gallineaux for bringing us to see Sherry Vine in a brand new show at Oasis, and Mr. Gay SF Khalil Munro and Migitte Nielsen for hosting a fun event at Beaux raising money for Larkin Street Youth Services. 

    And if you were ever a fan of the television series Downton Abbey, get to theaters now for the just released film! We immersed ourselves in that rarefied world of privilege at the Castro Theatre, a perfect setting preceded by a fashion show of those dressed for the occasion, none more elegantly than John Newmeyer! Without any spoilers, Downton Abbey: The Film is wonderful!

    Finally, we note with regret the closing of Rick Hamer’s clubby Finn Town and lively Papi Rico. It is always sad to lose businesses in the Castro and we enjoyed both of these creations by this talented and community committed individual. We saw Papi Rico out in style on Sunday with a going-away party for Skye Paterson, a person who leaves an indelible and delightful mark on the Castro, the city, and our heart. All the best to you, Skye!

    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

    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

    Saturday, September 28
    Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco Coronation 46
    Pansies in Russia: A Garden Party at the Hermitage
    Step Down of Grand Duke Ken Harper & Grand Duchess MGM Grande
    Holiday Inn Golden Gateway, 1500 Van Ness
    5 pm Doors, 6 pm Coronation

    Sunday, September 29
    Folsom Street Fair
    The World’s Biggest Leather Event
    Folsom Street from 8th to 13th
    11 am–6 pm
    $10–$15 suggested gate donation

    Thursday, October 3
    Compassion is Universal
    Shanti’s 45th Anniversary Gala
    Palace Hotel Grand Ballroom, 2 Montgomery
    6 pm
    $300 & up

    Friday, October 4
    Bummers Ball 3: Rocket Dog Rescue
    Castro Theatre
    6 pm
    $50 & up

    Saturday, October 5
    Horizons Foundation Gala
    Fairmont Hotel Grand Ballroom
    5:30 pm
    $350 & up

    Friday, October 11
    Mighty Real: PRC Gala
    Four Seasons Hotel Veranda Ballroom
    6 pm
    $300 & up

    Saturday, October 12
    Imperial Council’s 47th Annual Mr. and Miss Gay Pageant
    Folsom Street Foundry, 1425 Folsom
    6 pm