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    Donna’s Chronicles

    By Donna Sachet–

    The Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band under the direction of Pete Nowlen presented Spotlight on Broadway May 18 at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. For those not in the know, they are now the Official Band of San Francisco and their musical expertise and love of performance were on marvelous display for a packed house. We loved hosting the night, ably assisted by David Korn and additional band volunteers, encouraging the crowd to sing along, bid on attractive live auction packages, and otherwise raise money for this beloved group. For a singer, it is a rare opportunity to sing backed by an accomplished full band of instrumentalists. Through crowd-pleasing Broadway music and numerous costume changes and humorous on-stage antics, the audience roared its approval. One of our personal favorite pieces was a commissioned piece by Philip Orem called The 1978 San Francisco Pride Parade March, full of solid marching band rhythms and sly references to popular songs. Only this group could convince this dignified performer to don a nun’s habit for the Sound of Music finale! Throughout the year, the Freedom Band performs at a myriad of public events free of charge, so it was a particular pleasure to help raise money to support their work.

    As a matter of fact, the very next day, the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band played in the Castro as part of several events recognizing Harvey Milk Day. From Harvey Milk Plaza to the location of his camera shop and in window displays up and down Castro Street, the community joined in remembrance of our Gay icon. Remodeling plans nearing completion for Harvey Milk Plaza were revealed by the Friends of Harvey Milk Plaza and awards presented to State Senator Scott Wiener and others.

    Afterwards, we popped into Hamburger Mary’s where Saturday and Sunday brunches and other drag shows have been taking off. This day’s brunch was hosted by Holotta Tymes, supported by her husband Robert Carstensen, and the crowd was raucous and happy. How refreshing to have a vibrant business in this long vacant space on Castro Street!

    The very next night, we were back at Hamburger Mary’s for the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic San Francisco bartender competition. We co-hosted for the sixth year with Stoli International LGBT Ambassador Patrik Gallineaux as five competitive bartenders displayed their talents for a panel of four judges, including last year’s winner Matt Gutowski, local performer BeBe Sweetbriar, Key West’s Bourbon Street pub owner Joey Schroeder, and Key West Business Guild President Alan Beaubien. The wonderfully talented LaToya London and local entertainer Sadist Payne added great performances. After an incredible variety of mixology presentations, valuable input from the judges, and enthusiastic support from the audience, not to mention much consumption of Stoli cocktails, David Facer, representing Toad Hall and Badlands, emerged as the winner and will head to the finals in Key West. Moments later, and much to our surprise, we were invited for the first time to join the finale in Key West in June! Guess what? We said, “Yes!” We’ll be judging one of two final elimination rounds and joining the many events surrounding Pride Key West. You’ll read a full report in this column in the next issue. Our first visit to Key West!  Are we ready? Are they?

    Regular readers of this column know that we occasionally rave about this event or that, trying diligently to explain why it particularly impressed us and encouraging others to seek out similar events. Such an event occurred last Thursday evening at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. First of all, no self-respecting San Franciscan would admit to never having visited this incredible building and its renowned collection of contemporary art. Located right downtown, across from Yerba Buena Park, SF MOMA is well worth your time whether visiting for a special exhibit or to enjoy its extensive permanent collection. Last Thursday, they unveiled the highly anticipated mural The Chronicles of San Francisco by JR, a French artist who has earned international recognition for his monumentally scaled works and their unusual subject matter. Among the crowd were Gareth Gooch & William Bulkley, Strange de Jim, Steven Dorsey, Jeff Cotter and Cleve Jones. Over the past few years, JR visited San Francisco using a mobile studio to record images of the diverse population, envisioning a mural similar to one he had previously completed of a Parisian neighborhood. Over the course of his visit, he collected black and white photographs and eventually videos of local luminaries and ordinary citizens, elected officials and clergy, street people and activists, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Leathermen, millennials and golden agers—over a thousand images truly reflecting the rich diversity of San Francisco and its character.

    As we descended the staircase into the spacious room at MOMA where the mural was displayed, we were immediately captured by the life-size scale and astounding impact of the work. To our surprise, an occasional movement caught our eye as ballerinas leapt, children played, and protesters waved placards. Smoke from a fire rose from a building, birds flew overhead and recognizable faces came into focus as they interacted with each other over the massive and gradually rotating mural projected across two walls. We expected to be impressed, but we were not prepared for the immediacy and intensity that this work of art conveyed. Gradually a proscenium stage came into view and the curtain rose to reveal tuxedoed members of the SF Gay Men’s Chorus, followed by Emperors and Empresses, drag personalities and other entertainers, while a nearby garage door opened to introduce various individuals involved in sports activities. We could go on and on describing our impressions, but please take our advice and go to the museum and view this masterpiece for yourself. Find the faces of people you know and people you’ve read about, groups both familiar and unknown, and eventually, perhaps, find yourself amongst those portrayed. Museum Director Neal Benezra introduced JR who spoke briefly of his vision and the journey to complete this mural, clearly demonstrating that his artistic talent is shaped by his fascination with people and interpersonal dynamics. This special exhibit will be on display for a year and is offered free of charge. Don’t pass it by!

    June is upon us and you know what that means … PRIDE! Look no further than Monday, June 3, for the first event kicking off Pride at Google’s Community Space downtown. The Rainbow Honor Walk will soon be adding eight new plaques to the sidewalks in the Castro and they will be unveiled here, including Chavela Vargas, Lou Sullivan, Josephine Baker, Alvin Ailey, Marie Equi, Gerry Studds, W. H. Auden and Freddie Mercury. Reflecting the musical genre and time period of several of these honorees, this event will have a Speakeasy decor and feeling with food, drink, souvenir photo booth and silent auction. Get your Pride started right!

    We’ll keep our calendar here in the San Francisco Bay Times updated with the latest and best Pride events. New York may be packed with celebrants for Stonewall 50, but there is nothing like a San Francisco Pride and this year is no exception! From the rainbow Pride flag-raising at City Hall on Monday, June 3, to the biggest Pride Parade in the country on Sunday, June 30, we’ll keep you informed about all the events right here in San Francisco, where the Compton Cafeteria Riots preceded Stonewall by three years. Throw back those shoulders, break out those rainbows and get ready for San Francisco Pride!

    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

    Every Sunday
    Sunday’s a Drag!
    The Starlight Room
    Sir Francis Drake Hotel
    10:30 am Brunch, 11:30 am Show
    $75 inclusive

    Thursday, May 30
    LGBT Asylum Project Castro Opening
    526 Castro Street
    6–8 pm

    Thursday, May 30
    The Book of Pride – Mason Funk
    Book release at Books, Inc.
    Opera Plaza, 601 Van Ness
    7–9 pm

    Friday, May 31
    AIDS/LifeCycle Send-Off Party
    Thousands of participants ride from SF to LA
    Benefits LA LGBT Center and SF AIDS Foundation
    6 pm
    3600 16th Street

    Friday, May 31
    Out in the Streets: Quiet No More
    Lesbian/Gay Chorus of San Francisco
    Theatrical, musical commemoration of Stonewall 50
    7:30 pm
    50 Oak Street
    $25 & up

    Saturday, June 1
    Mother: Madonna Tribute
    Hosted by Sue Casa with special guest William
    10 pm
    298 11th Street

    Monday, June 3
    Stonewall 50 Speakeasy!
    Rainbow Honor Walk reception
    Food, drink, silent auction
    5:30–8:30 pm
    188 Embarcadero

    Wednesday, June 12
    SF Giants’ LGBTQ Night at Oracle Park
    Kippy Marks performs National Anthem
    6:45 pm
    Oracle Park
    24 Willie Mays Plaza
    (See page 12 of this issue for more information.)

    Friday, June 14
    Disco Coalition
    Series of Happy Hour tributes to Queeros
    Salute to José Sarria, benefits Castro Country Club
    5–8 pm
    3600 16th Street

    Saturday, June 15
    Daytime Disco w/Wayne G
    1–6 pm
    Virgin Hotel Rooftop
    250 4th Street

    Sunday, June 16
    Broadway Bares: San Francisco Strips IV
    Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation benefit
    Bruce Vilanch, Jai Rodriguez, Cassandra Cass, Leanne Borghesi
    8 pm
    DNA Lounge
    375 11th Street
    $45 & up

    Friday and Saturday, June 21–22
    Queens, San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus
    Imperial Court, Grand Ducal Council, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
    June 21, 8 pm, June 22, 2:30 pm & 8 pm
    Sydney Goldstein Theater
    275 Hayes Street
    $25 & up

    Sunday, June 23
    Marc Huestis Presents Frameline
    Festival’s special presentation
    Impresario of Castro Street book release
    6:45 pm
    Victoria Theatre
    2961 16th Street
    Price TBD

    Wednesday, June 26
    Equality Federation LGBTQ Mixer
    6–9 pm
    Salesforce Tower
    415 Mission Street
    $35 (but now sold out)

    Saturday, June 29
    Gary Virginia & Donna Sachet’s 21st Annual Pride Brunch
    Benefiting PRC, honoring Grand Marshals of Pride Parade
    Tito’s Handmade Vodka & Korbel sparkling wine
    Silent & live auction, raffle, speaking program
    11 am–2 pm
    Westin St. Francis Hotel, Union Square
    $125 & up

    Sunday, June 30
    San Francisco Pride Parade: Generations of Resistance!
    Market Street from Embarcadero to Civic Center
    10:30 am start time