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    Donna’s Chronicles: The Academy’s third annual Legends Awards

    Donna Sachet–

    The Academy’s third annual Legends Awards ceremony took place last Friday at the Swedish American Hall and nearly 200 people showed up to celebrate and socialize, including Jan Wahl, Gary Virginia, Gareth Gooch, Bill Wilson, and Brian Kent. We co-emceed with the dashing Liam Mayclem of television and gastronomic fame and Sister Roma,the “most photographed nun in the world” and always fun to work with. Paul Miller and Nate Bourg not only created The Academy, but they also created a group of awards to recognize individuals making a difference in the LGBTQ+ Community. The Exemplar Award was presented by the sparkling Mercedez Munro to long-time champion of the Asian/Pacific Islander Community Tita Aida. The Diane Jones Solidarity Award went to writer, activist, and filmmaker Leo Herrera,who accepted by video. The Architect Award was then given by talented drag performer Miss Rahni Nothingmore to Scott Peterson,who has turned the Powerhouse into such a favorite SOMA location; his remarks were particularly humble and moving. Between awards, we enjoyed a remarkable variety of musical performances by Russell Deason, Melanie DeMore, and Linda Stonestreet. Finally, the Legends Archive Award was presented by Terrance Kelly,director of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, to Dr. Tim Seelig,Artistic Director of the SF Gay Men’s Chorus. Tim recently announced his retirement after an extraordinary career and especially significant contributions to this local chorus, making him a perfect selection for the evening’s premier award. In keeping with past years, Tim gave one of his favorite conducting batons, framed with historic photographs and documents, to be forever on display at The Academy, joining Sister Roma’s headpiece and Juanita MORE!’sneon “Loads of Love.” The awards ended with a hilarious video offered by Tim and a rousing song by members of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. Guests wandered next door to The Academy for an after-party at The Academy with all the awardees, presenters, performers, and guests for cocktails and congratulations, as Juanita MORE! provided excellent music.

    Two recent events gave friends and associates of the late Harry Denton and Michael Pagan a chance to gather and share fond memories. First, Harry’s Bar on Fillmore Street hosted a mid-week happy hour timed party. Never having been to that bar and being rather unfamiliar with that neck of the woods, we went a bit reluctantly, unsure of our reception. Within minutes of arriving, any anxiety was allayed as Greg August offered us a seat and a Cosmo, engaging us in delightful conversation. The gaggle of boisterous guests buzzed with amusing stories of their experiences with Harry Denton. At some point, it was time to cut the two cakes, both with suggestive and amusing designs, and to sing the birthday song. Somehow, we were hoisted up onto the front bar with Liam Mayclem with the blessing of General Manager Charles Johnson and we led the singing, ending with a toast to this extraordinary San Franciscan.

    Then, we joined a number of former Sir Francis Drake Hotel employees and other friends and business associates of Michael Pagan at Harris’ Steakhouse. Once again, conversations centered around the man we were honoring. We loved spending some time with Cassandra Cass, Holotta Tymes, and Robert Carstensen,all of whom played crucial roles in the success of Sunday’s a Drag at The Starlight Room, as well as other familiar faces from those many years doing shows at the hotel. We even had a chance to spend a few minutes with Michael’s sister, her daughter, and son-in-law. A big thank you to Scott Taylor for providing the comfortable setting with bar, delicious food, beautiful floral arrangements, and a slide show of photographs. Each of these events was not heavy on ceremony or speeches, but served an important purpose in bringing together people impacted by the loss of two very caring individuals who touched many lives.

    We ended our weekend celebrating Absolute Empress Marlena’s birthday with many of her friends gathered in Patricia’s Green, the small park in Hayes Valley directly across from the location previously known as the legendary Marlena’s bar. Marlena was resplendent as she received admirers from far and near, court related and otherwise, as cake was cut and champagne flowed. We chatted with Emperors John Carrillo, Jacque Michaels, J.P. Soto, and Bill Bulkley,Empresses Alexis Miranda and Emma Peel, Kippy Marks, Carlos Medal, Patrick Noonan, Aldy Albanes-Pearman, Bobby Sleker, Ehra Amaya, Jouke Lanning, and so many more. This was an informal celebration for a wonderful community icon. As this pandemic continues to melt away, we look forward to many more such events, bringing people back together in person with precautions, but with boundless joy.

    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

    Friday, November 19
    Winter Onesie Party
    Fun in your favorite onesie
    DJ Rob Moore
    The Lookout, 3600 16th Street
    9 pm

    Monday, November 29
    Castro Holiday Tree Lighting
    Hosted by Donna Sachet
    Music, elected officials, & community
    Bank of America, Castro Location
    6 pm

    Thursday, December 2
    Drag Queens on Ice
    Union Square Holiday Ice Rink
    Top drag queens take to the ice
    Special guest Denali from RuPaul’s Drag Race
    7 pm

    Sunday, December 5
    Help Is on the Way for the Holidays XX
    Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation benefiting Project Open Hand
    Auction & performances
    Brava Theater, 2781 24th Street
    6:30 pm
    $45 & up

    Monday, December 6
    Tree of Hope Lighting
    Rainbow World Fund
    Origami decorated holiday tree
    Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street
    7 pm

    Sunday, December 12
    Birthday Cabaret & Celebration
    Celebrating José Sarria, hosted by Emperor XLVIII, A.N., William Bulkley
    Emceed by Imperial Crown Princess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy
    Martuni’s, 4 Valencia Street
    4–6 pm

    Tuesday and Wednesday, December 14 & 15
    Donna Sachet’s Songs of the Season
    Presented by Brian Kent
    Holiday Cabaret benefits PRC
    Feinstein’s at Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason Street
    8 pm
    $25 & up

    Published on November 18, 2021