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    Sister Dana sez, “What’s all this fuss about the latest Batman DC comic adult edition and Batman’s big ‘batpole’?!”

    By Sister Dana Van Iquity–

    Sister Dana sez, “What’s all this fuss about the latest Batman DC comic adult edition and Batman’s big ‘batpole’?!”

    VERASPHERE: 25 YEARS of LOVE, ART, JOY was on Friday, September 21, at Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott Street. The OPENING RECEPTION celebrated the collaborative partners’ works of photography, costumes and paintings by artists David Faulk (“Mrs. Vera”) and Michael Johnstone (aka Mr. Tina back in the day). The exhibition, continuing for several months, featured the “Mrs. Vera’s Daybook” series of photographs taken by Johnstone, examining everyday life, alienation, magic and long-term survival; acrylic paintings by Faulk; and elaborate costumes made with recycled items and images of the Verasphere Group, an ever-expanding bunch that marches at Pride in SF. Sponsored by San Francisco Recreation & Parks, Harvey Milk Photo Center Curator: Dave Christensen, and Special Sponsor: Art Saves Lives, Thomasina DeMaio. This was Thomasina’s first big party since she had to close down the 518 Castro Street venue. This show was supposed to hang for the entire month of August at the AHF Art Saves Lives location. Now David Christensen has taken the Verasphere show in, and it has provided more fun, art and surprises than ever! Some of my fave photos: “57: Christina’s World,” where Mrs. Vera looks like a deer trapped in headlights; “54: Thud!” as we feel her pain having fallen from high above and shown splayed out on the ground; and “56: Elizabeth Bay, Sydney” with the Mrs. V. typical look of disdain. All four walls of the entry are covered with these magnificent photos and mannequins displaying recycled decorated gowns. But don’t stop there! Continue down the hall and into the main room to witness a bazillion more photos of V. by Johnstone, dresses made of trash and original acrylic cartoons painted by Faulk. So queer! So overwhelming! So go check it out at 50 Scott Street!

    CELEBRITY CRUISES presented SOIREE ON THE BAY and celebrated Love + Diversity onboard “Celebrity Solstice,” Pier 27, San Francisco, on September 17. This was a festive onboard party while docked in San Francisco featuring full hosted bar and appetizers, benefiting THE RICHMOND/ERMET AID FOUNDATION (REAF) with a lovely champagne greeting upon boarding (after passing many security checks and finding no terrorists aboard). We started out poolside enjoying music as a mermaid swam sensuously in the pool. Then a guy in a bubble “walked across the water” to entertain us. We then entered the big lounge room to delight in special amusement by performers from the ship’s regular entertainers plus cast members from the touring cast of The Phantom of the Opera and special guest emcees: Fernando & Greg of 99.7NOW radio. Acrobats defied gravity. Tours of the ship were available throughout the evening, as was lively music and dynamic dancing. Both the SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS and SAN FRANCISCO BAY TIMES celebrated their 40th anniversaries on the ship. Both received Certificates of Recognition from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Senator Scott Wiener, and Senator Kamala HarrisDonna Sachet & Gary Virginia presented an award to Bay Times publishers Betty Sullivan and Jennifer Viegas. More fabulous entertainment ensued with Phantom and shipboard singers and dancers. Especially standout was their version of “On Broadway.” And they topped it all off with “The Dawning of Aquarius” from HAIR, where we all gleefully sang along and became hippies again. Their grand finale was “This Is Me” from the movie, The Greatest Showman. “Celebrity Solstice” truly provided The Greatest Anniversaries!

    Sister Dana sez, “Please join with me in shouting loudly: ‘We believe you, Dr. Christine Ford, Deborah Ramirez, and Julie Swetnick!’ Kava-nope!”

    Meanwhile hundreds of women and men held protests against Kavanaugh outside SF City Hall, among similar demonstrations nationwide. Most memorable chant was, “November Is Coming!” as a warning regarding mid-term voters’ revenge. All this outcry has led to the demand for the now ongoing FBI re-investigation. The people WILL be heard! Just as Kavanaugh’s preposterous, peeved, petulant attitude was heard at his hearing.

    THE RICHMOND/ERMET AID FOUNDATION (REAF) presented One Night Only Benefit Cabaret with the touring casts of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA and ON YOUR FEET (the Gloria and Emilio Estafan story)—an evening of music, dance & comedy on September 24 at Marines’ Memorial Theater. These one-night cabaret fundraisers, produced by REAF directors Ken Henderson & Joe Seiler, benefit BROADWAY CARES/EQUITY FIGHTS AIDS and THE RICHMOND/ERMET AID FOUNDATION OF SAN FRANCISCO. REAF’s founders, the late Barbara Richmond and Peggy Ermet, envisioned a world without AIDS when they created this agency. REAF’s focus has always been, and continues to be, to support AIDS services until there is a cure. With recent advancements in HIV treatments and promising research for a cure, however, REAF has expanded their focus areas of what they support, including supporting programs that provide food for the needy and programs that help homeless and disenfranchised youth, as well as continued funding for HIV programs in the SF Bay Area. Beneficiaries for their 2018 events to date include MEALS ON WHEELS of San Francisco, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, POSITIVE RESOURCE CENTER and AIDS LEGAL REFERRAL PANEL.

    The show opened with “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” from Gypsy by Constantine Pappas of The Phantom of the Opera. Highlights of Act I from Phantom cast and crew included Cathy Venable singing a female gender-bending “C’est Moi” from CamelotAdrian Moorefield and his gorgeous baritone of “Home” from The Wiz; the hilarious male gender-bending of “The Schuler Sisters” from Hamilton with Adam Bashian, Moorefield, Pappas, and Tynan Davis as the “sisters.” Again with the gender reversal, we had a stunning soprano Sarah Mossman singing her love for “Maria” from West Side Story. And ending Act I with a rock-the-house version of Wanted Dead or Alive by Carmen Vass dressed so apropos as a sexy blonde rocker chick in black corset, black leather pants and black hooker heels. OMG, she rocked the joint!

    For his final auctioneering gig in EssEff (Lenny Broberg told me he was moving to Palm Springs, or “God’s waiting room,” as he joked), the man raised a ton of money for the fundraiser. Highlights of Act Two (all from the cast and crew of On Your Feet) included little Carlos Carreras in a touching “Lost Boy” from Finding NeverlandMarina Pires & Nancy Ticotin as Maria and Anita doing an emotional duet of “A Boy Like That” from West Side StoryClaudia Mulet with a heart-wrenching “Who Can I Turn To”; and the exciting power ballad of Heart’s  “Alone” by Anthony Alfaro & Jonathan Arana. For the grand finale, many of the cast sang a rousing “In the Heights” from the musical of the same name. What an incredible evening!  

    Sister Dana Sez, “Trump has now accused the FBI and DOJ of having a ‘lingering stench.’ Well, Mr. stinky president, let us invoke that ancient accusation: ‘he who smelt it, dealt it!'”

    THE SAN FRANCISCO BAY TIMES, the first newspaper for the LGBTQ community to be jointly and equally produced by women and men, continues to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. It remains the only newspaper for the LGBT community in San Francisco that is 100% owned and operated by LGBT individuals. On September 28, at the GLBT HISTORY MUSEUM, 4127 18th Street, a living-history panel reviewed San Francisco history from 1978 as covered in the pages of the paper. The program included an impressive slide show. Among those who took part in recounting memories and discussing the significance of the publication were founding news editor Randy Alfred, founding production manager Susan Calico, founding contributor Cleve Jones, columnist and Commissioner Andrea Shorter, historian and columnist Dr. Bill Lipsky, and columnist and current San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. It was a fascinating history lesson, which I will talk about in my next column, because I don’t have the column inches to properly describe the amazing experience.  

    Presented by OASIS SF & PEACHES CHRIST PRODUCTIONS, we enjoyed the hilarious THE ROAST OF DONNA SACHET on September 29 at the Castro Theatre, benefiting the GLBT HISTORY MUSEUM. Donna is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Did I mention OLDEST?! (Okay, that was MY contribution to the roast. Love ya, Donna!). Roast Master comedian Bruce Vilanch floored us with his witty/dirty/funny set and brought out the LGBTQ celebs, including loving barbs against one another and then to Donna, deftly delivered by Mark Leno, Heklina, Cleve Jones, Sister Roma, Lenny Broberg, Sharon McNight (changing the lyrics to her classic “Stand By Your Man” to relate to a man in a dress), and Jai Rodriguez (who sang to Donna the lyrics over and over “you, skanky skanky whore”).

    THE SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS (of which Donna was a member and first got her drag name as Donna Winters who first sashayed in drag) performed “If You Were Gay” and a mash-up of “True Colors” (Donna’s color is, of course, RED) and “Brave” under the baton of Dr. Timothy SeeligDonna Sachet (real name Kirk Reeves—but no one ever calls her that) has received many awards for her fundraising efforts across the community. Speaking of her real last name, her brother, Adam Reeves, was a surprise to Donna and everyone that night, especially with his deliciously embarrassing childhood photos flashed on screen—including what he noted was her childhood home: a log cabin! Donna was also a former Grand Marshal of the San Francisco Pride Parade. And she was elected by the Imperial Court System as the 30th Absolute Empress of San Francisco, so it was appropriate that another surprise visit came from Grand Mere Empress Nicole the Great Murray-Ramirez, mother of all Imperials of the Americas, flown in from San Diego to dish dirt on everyone, and then donate a $1,000 check to the GLBT History Museum. I will say this: Donna can joke and also take a joke. Which was what that night was all about! She roasted the roasters and then ended the show with her own specially adapted lyrics to the emotional “I’m Still Here” from the musical Follies. Yes, Donna, you are still here—and will be here for decades to come! Brava!

    The 27th annual LEATHERWALK took place on Sunday, September 23, as the official kick-off for San Francisco’s LEATHER WEEK that culminated one week later at the FOLSOM STREET FAIR. Each year, hundreds of LeatherWalkers take over Market Street and march from the Castro Station to SoMa, proudly raising the Leather Flag.

    This was a build-up to the world’s largest leather and fetish event, FOLSOM STREET FAIR, which took place on Sunday, September 30, from 11 am to 6 pm, on Folsom Street from 8th to 13th Streets—over 13 city blocks. Over 250,000 participated this year. It was leatherrific!

    Sister Dana sez, “At the U.N., Trump rejected global thinking; while here at home, we think globally and act locally. So here are some local events you’ll want to check out.”

    THE 45TH ANNUAL CASTRO STREET FAIR will take place on Sunday, October 7, 11 am to 6 pm in and around Castro and 18th Streets. They ask for a suggested donation of $5 or $10 at the entry gates, going to a whole lot of charitable organizations. https://castrostreetfair.org/fair

    October 11 is NCOD (NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY), so even if you’re already out, try to come out even more. For instance, prepare yourselves for a National Coming Out Day rendition of QUEER SLAM on Thursday October 11, 6–9 pm in the Rainbow Room at the SF LBGT Center. The poetry should reflect QUEER SLAM’s “Coming Out Story” theme. https://queerslamoctober2018.eventbrite.com

    October is nationally recognized annually and officially as LGBTQ HISTORY MONTH. This October 12 marks 20 years since the death of Matthew Shepard, followed shortly by the founding of the MATTHEW SHEPARD FOUNDATION www.matthewshepard.org

    Drag queens (and kings!) interested in performing at this year’s DRAG QUEENS ON ICE are invited to submit a video by Sunday, October 14. Online voting is open to the public beginning Monday, October 15 through Friday, October 26. Winners will be selected and announced on Wednesday, November 7, at the opening ceremony for The Safeway Holiday Ice Rink in Union Square. http://unionsquareicerink.com/san-francisco-events

    PRC (POSITIVE RESOURCE CENTER) invites you to join them for the MIGHTY REAL Gala taking place on Friday, October 12, at San Francisco’s Four Seasons Hotel. This year, PRC has much to celebrate as they continue their double merger with AIDS EMERGENCY FUND and BAKER PLACES and they unveil the plans for their new consolidated service center at 170 9th Street. They hope to raise $250,000 for PRC’s lifesaving HIV/AIDS, mental health and substance use services as well as the infrastructure to support those programs. www.eventbrite.com/e/prc-mighty-real-gala-2kets-49188295516?ref

    With ELECTION DAY weeks away, the Castro now offers the RED TO BLUE SF office for Democratic volunteers. Red to Blue SF is a pop-up at 2390 Market Street, the former Pottery Barn space that most recently served as the headquarters for mayoral candidate Mark Leno. Phone-banking will focus on eight swing Congressional districts in California that the national Democratic party has identified as high-priority. https://www.eventbrite.com/o/team-pelosi-red-to-blue-sf-17817271926

    SPARK! 2018 promises to be the biggest to date. Get your tickets today to join TLC (TRANSGENDER LAW CENTER) and Laverne Cox as they come together to ignite change and do what it takes to keep transgender and gender non-conforming people alive, thriving and fighting for liberation. “SPARK” is Thursday, October 18, 6 pm at The Bently Reserve, 301 Battery Street. https://transgenderlawcenter.org/

    October 18 is national SPIRIT DAY, when everyone wears purple. Spirit Day is a means of speaking out against LGBTQ bullying and standing with LGBTQ youth, who disproportionately face bullying and harassment because of their identities. Pledging to “go purple” on Spirit Day is a way for everyone—forward-thinking companies, global leaders, respected celebrities, neighbors, parents, classmates and friends—to visibly show solidarity with LGBTQ youth and to take part in the largest, most visible anti-bullying campaign in the world. https://www.glaad.org/spiritday#why

    Sister Dana sez, “Repugnicans are plotting to cram through ANOTHER tax giveaway for the rich while the media’s attention is on breaking news of more sexual assault allegations against Brett Kavanaugh. And their scheme calls for slashing $1.3 trillion from safety net programs like Social Security. Give us a break!”