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    Donna’s Chronicles: “A tragic Saturday night fire on Castro Street caused extensive damage to a couple of buildings, curtailing business at Osaka Sushi and Q Bar, injuring two people, and displacing eight residents.”

    By Donna Sachet–

    A tragic Saturday night fire on Castro Street caused extensive damage to a couple of buildings, curtailing business at Osaka Sushi and Q Bar, injuring two people, and displacing eight residents. Within days, word spread of a community-based fundraiser to help out those affected. It was no surprise to hear that the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, led by Sister Tilda NexTime, were involved in organizing the event and Migitte Nielsen stepped up to coordinate the entertainment. As support for the fundraiser grew, the location was moved from the Fez Room to the main stage of Oasis and Sister Roma enthusiastically signed on as co-hostess and emcee with Jimmy Strano lending his talents as DJ. The date of Thanksgiving Eve could not have been more appropriate!

    That night, we were amazed by an impressive list of entertainers including Mutha Chucka, Princess tiny meat, Glamamore, Aliyah Little, Sister Bella Donna Summer, Katherine Rose, Frida K-Hole, Sapphire Jones, Manny Santos, Electra Befierce, Katya Smirnoff-Skye, Kylie Minono, Miss Shugana, Maddog 20/20, Puppet Master Rich, Sister Mary Media, and John Weber. Has a more varied and eclectic cast ever been assembled? We have purposefully omitted Imperial or Ducal titles on this list because it was made clear from the beginning that this event was not about titles, families, or pedigree; it was about a community taking care of its own. All performer tips went to the cause and, in addition, donated items made up a raffle and silent auction, supported by volunteer organizers and ticket sellers. Did we mention that there was no entrance fee for this event? At last count, over $5000 was raised in that single night!

    This is how so much of the fundraising within our community started. We’ve heard stories from Mike Smith and others of how a small group of Leather men sat around a dining room table, trying to figure out how to help their friends stricken by AIDS pay their rent, utilities, or medical needs; the AIDS Emergency Fund grew from that gathering. We’ve heard from Tom Nolan and others how Ruth Brinker, a grandmother and retired food-service worker, saw the early impact of AIDS on her friends and decided to address their nutritional needs with homecooked meals; today, Project Open Hand prepares 2500 meals a day. We’ve heard from Kile Ozier and others about the small group of loyal watchers of the Academy Awards who decided to start hosting annual viewing parties, first in homes and later in larger and larger venues; and so, The Academy of Friends was born. Imperial and Ducal Family members often talk about how we have raised so much money for worthy causes one dollar at a time; now, Imperial and Ducal reigns often raise over $100,000 each year. It is easy to forget that all of the mature service organizations and major fundraisers within our community started somewhere, motivated by basic needs and the heartfelt desire to help others.  And so, this Thanksgiving Eve event brought out the best in so many, volunteering time, money, and compassion to address a very recent and urgent need. Especially in San Francisco, we are so fortunate to have so many charitable agencies that stand ready to help and we encourage our readers to become aware of their missions and operations and to support as many as possible, but once in a while it is refreshing to see grassroots fundraising at its best. Congratulations to all of those involved on a successful event, and we hope that those residents displaced and otherwise affected find relief and assistance quickly.

    Light in the Grove is always a moving remembrance at the National AIDS Memorial in Golden Gate Park and Saturday night’s 10th annual event was well-attended and beautiful. As we entered the Grove, twinkling lights marked the path to the Circle of Friends with thousands of names of those lost to AIDS and those who have tirelessly fought the fight against this ongoing epidemic. Nearby, in a small, subtly lit clearing, members of the James Graham Dancers Theatre moved gracefully among the branches.  At the end of the path, a huge and clear sided tent with an arched ceiling covered with white lights hosted hundreds of attendees, including City Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, Sharon McNight, Brett Andrews, Lewis Sykes & Jim Connor, Joanie Juster, Race Bannon, Matthew Denckla, Mark Leno, Mike Smith, Cleve Jones, Randy Schiller, Alec Hughes, Kelly Rivera Hart, Charles Zukow, P. Tyrone Smith, and Ira Olney & Troy Arnold. The program included a tribute to Mario Diaz, Lifetime of Commitment Honoree, recently retired from Wells Fargo and obviously greatly loved by this crowd, and a moving speech by a theatre producer, not listed in the program, who gave us this week’s quote. Executive Director John Cunningham announced that the AIDS Memorial Grove is taking over custody of the AIDS Memorial Quilt that is returning from Atlanta to the city of its origin.  Musical entertainment by Josh Klipp and the Klipptones rang into the evening. 

    After the extensive listing of upcoming events in our last column, we shall reiterate only one here: Donna Sachet’s Songs of the Season presented by Brian Kent, benefiting PRC, Tuesday and Wednesday, December 10 and 11, 8 pm, at Feinstein’s at the Nikko Hotel. For 25 years we produced this spirited cabaret show that started very small, but grew to become a significant budget item for AIDS Emergency Fund, providing unrestricted funds to support their vital services. Equally important, this event became a much beloved part of the season for many in our LGBTQ Community and beyond, offering beautiful music, welcome laughter, and a little holiday nostalgia along the way. When we stepped away last year, Brian stepped up and the tradition was able to continue with much of the same flavor, but with the added professional expertise, contacts, and talent of our friend Brian. So, join us one of those two nights to see the newly reinvigorated Songs of the Season! Confirmed performers include Frenchie Davis (Tuesday only), Leanne Borghesi, Breanna Sinclaire, Kenny Nelson, Kippy Marks, Dan O’Leary, Sister Roma, Brian Kent, and this humble columnist and singer. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Get your holiday season off to the right start!

    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

    Thursday, December 5
    Drag Queens on Ice, 10th year
    Safeway Ice Rink in Union Square
    8 pm

    Friday, December 6
    Home for the Holidays
    Cabaret benefits Tenderloin Tessie Dinners
    First Unitarian Universalist Center, 1187 Franklin Street
    6 pm
    $25 & up

    Friday, December 6 & Saturday, December 7
    Holigays Are Here: Ring Them Bells
    Music and laughter with SF Gay Men’s Chorus
    Sydney Goldstein Theater, 275 Hayes Street
    3 pm & 7:30 pm
    $25 & up

    Saturday, December 7 & Sunday, December 8
    Dance-Along Nutcracker: Nutcrackers in Space
    SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band
    Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
    Saturday 3 pm & 7 pm, Sunday 11 am & 3 pm
    $22 and up

    Sunday, December 8
    Toys for Tots
    Donate toys & mingle
    Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason Street
    4–8 pm
    Bring a toy!
    Free, but limited space, so RSVP

    Monday, December 9
    Help is on the Way for the Holidays XVIII
    REAF benefit for Project Open Hand and AGUILAS
    Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter
    7:30 pm
    $45 & up

    Tuesday & Wednesday, December 10–11
    Brian Kent presents Donna Sachet’s Songs of the Season
    Holiday cabaret benefiting PRC
    Feinstein’s at the Nikko, 222 Mason Street
    8 pm
    $60 & up

    Sunday, December 15 & Sunday, December 22
    Sunday’s a Drag!
    The Starlight Room
    The Franciscan Ballroom of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel
    10:30 am Brunch, 11:30 am Show
    $75 inclusive

    Published on December 5, 2019