Sister Dana sez, “Breaking news: Donald Trump has been impeached! Oh sorry, April Fools!!!”
This spring, we got to experience paradise with the SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS during their heavenly concert, “PARADISE FOUND“—featuring the 250 men of the internationally renowned SF Gay Men’s Chorus, the spectacular choral sound for which they are known, and a cavalcade of surprises along the way. We joined SFGMC at the Herbst Theatre for “Paradise Found,” under the baton of Dr. Timothy Seelig, complete with several world-premiere pieces, cherished favorites, and over-the-top production numbers. In addition, the Chorus welcomed the international sensation NA LEI HULU I KA WEKIU DANCE COMPANY as special guests—bare-chested men in loincloths and women in colorful skirts doing interpretive hula and island dances and chants with stick-banging. The show ran the entire gamut of musical styles in one beautiful evening, all wrapped up in the theme of “paradise.” In addition to the four world-premiere pieces, more familiar selections included Rodgers & Hammerstein‘s South Pacific; “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (in the Hawaiian style of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole); “Hawaiian War Chant” (à la Bette Midler with an audience sing-along: “Aaaahh-Way, Lack-of-nookie’s-got-me! Aaaaahh-Way, Come-on-I-wanna-lay-ya!” and the guys in loud Hawaiian shirts and shorts and leis); Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along; and Louis Armstrong‘s “What a Wonderful World.” The Chorus also presented stunning versions of “Amazing Grace” and the 19th Century hymn “Nearer My God To Thee.” But the most emotionally charged pieces were so appropriate during these terrible Trump travel ban times, the lyrics of Emma Lazarus inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, “Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor…” and “God Help the Outcasts.” I had tears running down my cheeks.
This was the world-premiere performance of SFGMC Composer-in-Residence Dr. James Granville Eakin III’s 15-minute epic work “Paradiso,” based on the work of Dante. “Paradiso” was breathtaking, radiating with bold conviction and vivid color, and was anchored by three different trios guiding the listener from despair to ultimate joy, backed by the power of the entire Chorus. Additionally, the Chorus premiered “Sanctuary” by world-renowned composer Ola Gjeilo. “I can’t think of a more meaningful time in our history when we have needed [paradise] more than now,” said Chris Verdugo, SFGMC Executive Director. “We at SFGMC are doing just that with a show that calls forth hope, love, laughter and peace, and that for a few brief hours creates a paradise that you melt into and away.” ’nuff said. But typical of the comical side of the Chorus, they closed with a bevy of bathing “beauties” (drag queens) as the Chorus guys donned bathing caps—singing to “Swan Lake” and executing 1940s–50s Esther Williams type synchronized swim choreography as “aqua-musicals.” Hilarious!
The OUT & EQUAL WORKPLACE ADVOCATES‘ MOMENTUM GALA CELEBRATION was incredibly moving in sharing the 20th anniversary celebration of the founder and CEO, Selisse Berry, with 800 of our closest friends. A video screened showed all of the accomplishments of O&E. We laughed with comedian and emcee Kate Clinton (who joked, “I am the last Clinton standing; and I worry someone will yell, ‘Lock her up!'”); honored 10 LGBT and Ally Champions of the workplace (who each were given a 9-word limit to give their acceptance speeches); celebrated the hit television show When We Rise, which received the Outstanding Champion Award, along with Dustin Lance Black, Oscar-winner and 2017 O&E Champion of the Year (unable to attend and accept in person); and danced to three-time Grammy-winning pop legends, The Pointer Sisters! The trio sang a trio of their hits, “I’m So Excited,” “Neutron Dance,” and “Jump.” The night was capped off with the live auction with the celebrity guest from Bravo TV’s hit television series The People’s Couch, openly and boldly gay Scott Nevins! O&E raised nearly $500,000 for the future of Global LGBT Workplace Equality so that nobody ever has to choose between the career they love and the person they love! Berry emphasized, “Together we are changing the world, one cubicle at a time, and around the world, we will rise!”
We celebrated international TRANSGENDER DAY OF VISIBILITY (TDOV) on March 31 at SOMArts with a reception and “Love & Resistance“ program. The event was led by community partners from the SF LGBT CENTER TRANS EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM and TRANS:THRIVE at API WELLNESS, featuring special guest YouTube star Gigi Gorgeous. This year’s honorees included the Transgender Gender Variant and Intersex (TGI) Justice Project; Aria Sa’id, emerging leader and Program Director of St. James Infirmary; Tom Waddell Health Center‘s Transgender Clinic; Fresh White, and videographer and advocate Gwen Park. Nya from the Fuse show Transcendent and Shawn Demmons emceed the evening. Trans Day of Visibility is an international annual holiday celebrated around the world. The day is dedicated to honoring trans community leaders while raising awareness of victories and work that is still needed to save trans lives. tdov.org
THE SISTERS OF PERPETUAL INDULGENCE hosted the SAINTS & SISTERS SOCIAL at the Center for Sex & Culture in the Mission. It was a lovely buffet and cocktail event where we did NOT have to put on makeup or nun drag—and just got to know one another (nun another?) out of face, out of drag. The opportunity to do drag and makeup will come very soon at our annual EASTER IN THE PARK event in Golden Gate Park.
SISTER DANA SEZ, “APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS, BUT DON’T LET RAIN KEEP YOU AWAY FROM THESE GREAT UPCOMING EVENTS!”
ART SAVES LIVES, the noncommissioned gallery and performance space in the Castro, presents another monthly exhibition and show. Performing are Donna Personna, The Magnificent, Kim Lembo and more. Featured artists are: Jim Williams, Smithy Blackwell, Jim Housley, Jay Davidson, Jose Cardiza, Irene Martha Feiks, Alexander Nowik, Russel House, Bedoyan Ara Brett, Diane Nutting, Jack Stelnicki, Donna DeMatteo, Celia V. Beatts, Ed Terpeningn and the curator, owner of the gallery, Thomasina De Maio. The event is free and open to all at 518 Castro Street, from 6–9 pm on April 7.
This spring and summer, many San Francisco cultural organizations are sponsoring special events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Summer of Love. The GLBT HISTORY MUSEUM is taking part by mounting a new exhibition set to open April 7: “LAVENDER-TINTED GLASSES: A GROOVY, GAY LOOK AT THE SUMMER OF LOVE.” “In San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district, young people were seeking a way out of what they saw as the soul-destroying alienation of materialism,” curator Joey Cain says. “They created new art, philosophies, politics, forms of self-expansion, music and relationships. The City already had a dynamic LGBTQ community, and many members saw the developments of the Summer of Love as opening the way to greater liberation.” The exhibition runs through September 27 at 4127 18th Street.
THE SF LGBT CENTER will throw its “15TH ANNIVERSARY SOIRÉE” as an unforgettable evening to celebrate the completion of their remodel, which breathes new life into their physical space and creates a sustainable home for future generations of LGBTQ people. (See pages 15–17.) The fun is at Terra Gallery, 511 Harrison Street on Saturday, April 8, 5 pm for dinner, an open bar, entertainment, and a live and silent auction; 8:30 pm for the general admission party with an open bar and hors d’oeuvres. Juanita MORE! returns as Entertainment Director with lots of live entertainment and dancing afterwards. The proceeds from Soirée will fund expansion of the Center’s Youth Program, increase information and referral services, and improve building facilities. sfcenter.org
It’s that time of year again! Easter in Golden Gate Park, Hellman Hollow, on April 16 with your SISTERS OF PERPETUAL INDULGENCE, INC. This year’s theme is “SANCTUARY: UNIVERSAL JOY,” a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Let the sunshine in! Join the Sisters for a family-friendly CHILDREN’S EASTER starting at 10 am, which includes an egg hunt, games, and face painting. Starting at noon, the kids can go home, and the PG-13 fun starts with the EASTER BONNET CONTEST, the FOXY MARY and HUNKY JESUS contests judged by Sister Roma & Sister Dana; followed by burlesque performances, live music acts, drag kings and queens, Sisters’ vows and elevations, and a quick EXORCISM CEREMONY OF DONALD TRUMP! Emcees are Kit Tapata, Mutha Chucka, and Cruzin D’Loo. Everyone is invited to join the Easter Bonnet, Foxy Mary, and Hunky Jesus contests. All contestants must arrive backstage already in full costume 30 minutes in advance. Talk to a Sister if you need directions. Come join us for an amazing afternoon, and celebrate Easter in the best possible San Francisco values way! Bring your blanket, picnic supplies, and join us for a wonderful afternoon of irreverence and fun. And don’t forget to wear flowers in your hair!
PEACHES CHRIST PRODUCTIONS and FUDGIE FROTTAGE proudly present the West Coast premiere of Lady Bunny in “TRANS-JESTER!” Direct from a sold-out New York engagement, Trans-Jester stars the legendary Lady Bunny of Wigstock fame at The Verdi Club, 2424 Mariposa Street, April 13 & 14, 8 pm. In addition to new parodies that re-work selections from Adele, Rent and Bruno Mars to hilarious effect—punctuated by zany Laugh-In style zingers—Bunny has widened her repertoire to include some actually insightful social commentary. peacheschrist.com
D’ARCY DROLLINGER presents THREE’S COMPANY LIVE! now playing through April 29, Thursdays, 8 pm, Fridays & Saturdays, 7 pm at Oasis, 298 11th Street. Come and knock on our door … Three’s Company Live! is back with brand new episodes, gender-bending send-ups of the infamous 70’s sitcom starring John Ritter, Suzanne Somers and Joyce DeWitt, that changed the airwaves forever with their racy subject matter, sexual innuendos, and over-the-top physical comedy. A man pretends to be gay in order to share an apartment with two women in this legendary bedroom farce. The cast features many of San Francisco’s drag stars and even some actual clowns: D’Arcy Drollinger, Heklina, Michael Phillis, Matthew Martin, Sara Moore, Marine Layer, Sue Casa & Laurie Bushman. sfoasis.com
Called the funniest farce ever written, “NOISES OFF” is the most dexterously realized comedy about putting on a comedy. A rollicking backstage farce about a second-rate theatrical troupe—the hilarity combines slapstick, a British sex comedy, and non-stop humor from a manic menagerie of itinerant actors rehearsing a flop called Nothing On. Doors slamming, on- and off-stage intrigue, and an errant herring all figure in the plot of this uproarious backstage comedy. Now playing through May 13 at SAN FRANCISCO PLAYHOUSE, 450 Post Street.
Sister Dana sez, “This week the Trump administration withdrew job protections for LGBTQ workers; kept queer people off the Census; and began dismantling the Office of Civil Rights. Not to mention that North Carolina repealed its bathroom ban—only to replace it with something even worse. Ugh.”