Sister Dana Sez: Words of Wisdumb From a Fun Nun

sisterdanaBy Sister Dana Van Iquity

Sister Dana sez, “Author and activist Michael Pollan says, ‘If we are ever to produce food sustainably and justly, and sell it at an honest price, we will first have to pay people a living wage so that they can afford to buy it.’ And yet Repugnicans balk at a fair minimum wage while trying to do away with food stamps. Whaaaat?!”

Providing food should never be a political issue. Meanwhile here in EssEff, land of liberal loving-kindness, PROJECT OPEN HAND is providing meals for the needy. Open Hand held their signature fundraiser, THE 22ND ANNUAL HAND TO HAND LUNCHEON, at The Fairmont Hotel, where “Food = Love” was the theme. We enjoyed an exquisite, multi-course meal prepared by the Bay Area’s most brilliant chefs, and simultaneously helped Project Open Hand provide 150,000 meals with love. Rachel Myrow, reporter for KQED’s “California Report” was emcee. POH Board Chair Ed Lamberger introduced Executive Director Kevin Winge, who said, “We are proud to live in a community that will not allow people in need who are sick or elderly to go hungry.” He introduced POH honorees Thomas F. Durein, Most Outstanding Individual Supporter; Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Most Outstanding Community Partner (accepted by cast members of The Book of Mormon; and Marcia & John Goldman, Ruth Brinker Visionary Award.  

The strongest typhoon in the history of mankind ravaged the central part of a tiny yet beautiful country of the Philippines. So the LGBTQ community came together at Beaux bar for the HAIYAN TYPHOON RECOVERY FUNDRAISER, sponsored by the AMERICAN CENTER OF PHILIPPINE ARTS to help survivors of that terrible tragedy. Tita Aida emceed with performances by La Monistat, Jethro, Rice Rockettes, Ms GAPA Khmera Rouge, Mr. GAPA Nguyen “Sir Whitney Queers” Pham, and many others from the Asian community. There was a “strip for cash” auction. Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence helped sell raffle tickets to the more than generous patrons.

The 21st annual DONNA SACHET’S SONGS OF THE SEASON played in the Starlight Room at Sir Francis Drake Hotel with the lovely Donna emceeing such a glorious holiday crooning cast of: Dan O’Leary, Brian Kent, Matt Alber, Vicki Shepard, Abigail Zsiga, Sharon McNight and, of course, Donna Sachet. And there was even a real (fake) snowfall. For two decades this wonderful seasonal show has provided significant annual income for AIDS EMERGENCY FUND. Let’s hope this delightful tradition continues for another decade or so!

Donna was extra busy that night, when prior to her Songs of the Season she emceed as Mrs. Claus at the annual CASTRO TREE LIGHTING CEREMONY in front of the Castro and 18th Street Bank of America building. The tree decor is oversized ornaments cascading in a rainbow of color, starting with red and going up the spectrum to purple – a very gay tree indeed – and fairy lights! Members of the SF Gay Men’s Chorus, Lesbian/Gay Chorus of SF, and SF Freedom Day Band entertained with seasonal carols for the huge crowd gathered in front and flowing into the street. Terry of Cliff’s Hardware and Castro Merchants Association, Senator Mark Leno, and Supervisor Scott Wiener addressed the audience, and then along came Santa with two of his lively elves, sounding a siren and riding a special police vehicle.

ACADEMY OF FRIENDS held its HOLIDAY RECEPTION AT GUMP’S as a festive holiday fundraiser and chance to purchase gorgeous decorations and presents. The event featured music (the always enchanting Sharon McNight sang), drinks, and light appetizers. In addition, AoF Board Chair Howard Edelman and Vice Chair Matthew Denckla spoke about the Oscar-themed agency’s continued efforts to raise monies for HIV/AIDS services in the SF Bay Area. There was also an update on the 2014 gala “Return to the Emerald City” in March during the Academy Awards ceremony.

THE RICHMOND/ERMET AIDS FOUNDATION presented HELP IS ON THE WAY FOR THE HOLIDAYS XII, produced by Executive Director Ken Henderson and Chairman Joe Seiler as a stellar AIDS fundraising gala and show at Marines Memorial Theatre with a star-studded cast: Tim Hockenberry (America’s Got Talent semi-finalist); comedian /Broadway (Hairspray) star Bruce Vilanch; TV, film and stage star Jason BrockJai Rodriguez Broadway (Rent) / TV (Queer Eye / Celebrity Duets) star; Tony-nominated cabaret star Sharon McNight; cabaret star Carly Ozard; cabaret star Shawn Ryan; jazz star Kim Nalley; Broadway (Phantom of the Opera) star Davis Gaines; singers Jessica and Jennifer Corker; singer Veronica Powers; Grammy Award-winning singer Debby Boone (“You Light Up My Life”); singer, actor, composer Tom Lowe; The UK’s vocal whiz CeCe Sammy; and cast members from Avenue Q (now playing at New Conservatory Theatre Center) and from Book of Mormon.

CUMMING UP!

It’s always fun to get together with the girls during the holidaze, and by “girls,” I am referring to THE GOLDEN GIRLS – THE CHRISTMAS EPISODES with their limited engagement – with only this week, Thursday, Friday, Saturday @ 8pm and Sunday @ 7pm left for a special visit with these classic old sitcom broads. The annual show always stars Heklina as sarcastic Dorothy, Cookie Dough as her wisecracking elderly mother Sophia, Matthew Martin as the over-fifty/oversexed seductress Blanche, & Pollo Del Mar as dumb as a box of rocks Rose, and for this run co-stars Laurie Bushman, Manuel Caneri, Peter Griggs & Jordan Wheeler. Also there is always a celebrity guest star in a walk-on role that gets the crowd going. The show opens with the “Thank you for being a friend” theme song, which you are encouraged to sing along. But that’s it. Do NOT recite your fave lines with the actresses, because drag queens are easily distracted by anything but laughter, clapping, and hooting. There are also commercials from the era (“I want my baby-back baby-back baby-back…ribs”) to give the actors time for a costume change, or to indicate passage of time.

Episode one, “Rose the Prude/ Blanche and the Younger Man,” addresses dating dilemmas of the older set. Episode two, “Ladies of the Evening,” involves hilarious mistaken identity. The Girls hang out at The Victoria Theatre, 2961 – 16th Street @ Mission Street. Tix and info: goldengirlssf.eventbrite.com. Wear your tackiest, glitziest Christmas sweater!

Shawn Ryan performing at REAF’s “Help Is on the Way for the Holidays XII”. PHOTO BY STEVEN UNDERHILL

SHINE – OUR BRIGHTEST HOLIDAY SHOW EVER!” was a dazzling musicale by THE SAN FRANCISCO GAY MEN’S CHORUS at the Opera House on December 6th, and will be every bit as exciting at the Castro Theatre on the 24th, with nearly 300 singers on stage, beautiful orchestrations, stunning solos, clever choreography, an amazing special guest (SF Opera Adler Fellow Marina Harris), pom-poms, snow, twinkling lights, and more! And with the Christmas Eve concert additionally comes openly gay singer Matt Alber. You can expect some fabulous surprises, which I won’t reveal, because then it wouldn’t be a surprise, would it? Just know it will blow your elf cap right off! There is both the sacred and the profane. The dual harp playing is angelic, and the dual pianos are breathtaking. There is a song dedicated to the queers suffering from rampant homophobia in Russia (“Now the Powers of Heaven” by Alexander Sheremetev). “Nutcracker Jingles” will tingle yer jingles; there’s a wacky “Waltz of the Flowers;” and how about a silent “Silent Night”?! This annual cool yule show is not to be missed, and to be crossed off your holiday bucket list. Three shows: December 24th, 5, 7, and 9pm. Tix online: sfgmc.org/events/shine or call (415) 392-4400. Make your holidays truly shine!

IT’S CHRISTMAS, CAROLE! is a world-premiere human cartoon written by Michael Phillis, starring Sara Moore, Michael Phillis, Rory Davis, Dawn Meredith Smith, and Dave Garrett at Creativity Theater (221 4th Street at Howard Street), now through December 22nd, Thursday & Friday, 7pm, Saturday & Sunday, 2 & 5pm. It’s a sillier, modern-day take on DickensChristmas Carol. itschristmascarole.com

Pornucopia: Consider as a great triple present for the man in your life the latest from ragingstallion.com: two fine flicks and a sexy calendar from Open Road 1 and 2.

Sister Dana sez, “This year there is a real ‘War on Christmas’; and it’s not being waged by the ACLU or the Democratic Party, as the fundies claim. This year, the Repugnicans are playing Scrooge, robbing 1.3 million people across America of desperately needed unemployment benefits right in the middle of the holiday season – and setting the stage for robbing millions more of the same benefits later. Nancy Pelosi stood up for the unemployed in a big way, saying she won’t support any budget deal in the House that doesn’t guarantee these crucial benefits. But RepubliCAN’Ts refuse to extend them. Let’s tell them to drop the Grinch act!”

“Happy Holidaze, and please keep the ‘X’ in Xmas!!!” 

Sister Dana also sez, “Happy Queer New Year! My alter ego turns another year older on January 1st.”