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    Donna’s Chronicles

    By Donna Sachet–

    The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus left no holiday theme behind in its rousing Brassy & Sassy concerts at Nourse Theater! In the excellent company of Jeffrey Doney, we rode a roller coaster of emotions as the chorus delivered polished performances, whimsical “choralography,” hilarious spoofs and old-fashioned Christmas treats to a full house of admirers. Artistic Director Tim Seelig continues to astound with his skillful direction of this historic and seminal musical organization and his amazing connection to his audiences. Any challenges Nourse Theater presented, including bathroom lines, lack of refreshments and spotty climate controls, were quickly forgotten with crowd-pleasing music from nearly 300 voices, brass accompaniment, soprano guest star Marnie Breckenridge, dancer Luke Willis and a convenient chilled flask. Their 2019 41st season looks exciting with The Brits Are Coming at Davies Symphony Hall, March 22, Queens with guest star Billy Porter at Nourse Theater, June 21–22 and the recently opened Artists’ Portal at the AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park. And don’t forget, you still have three chances to hear SFGMC before the year ends at Home for the Holidays at the Castro Theatre on Christmas Eve at 5, 7, and 9 pm.  

    As loyal readers know, the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation is one of our favorite organizations, providing top quality musical performances while raising money for a variety of worthy local groups. So, we couldn’t miss Help is on the Way for the Holidays XVII at Marines’ Memorial Theater, benefiting Project Open Hand and Positive Resource Center. When we arrived on the steady arm of Richard Sablatura, the lobby was teeming with people anxiously bidding on silent auction selections and chatting up a storm. Among them we caught up with Brett Caldwell, Chris Edwards, Larry Horowitz, Patrik Gallineaux, Sky Paterson, Tom Ray, Jen Chan, Linda Lee, Neil Figurelli, Joe Mac, Randy Schiller, Cal Callahan, and Beth Schnitzer. The cast was incredible, including Debby Holiday, Paula West, Sharon McNight, Mikalah Gordon, Jai Rodriguez, Shawn Ryan, Constantine Maroulis, Darius A. Harper, and Maureen McGovern. An amazing dance routine by Caitlin Anderson & Kirill Strakohov and skilled auctioning by Lenny Broberg rounded out the show. At the Clift Hotel’s Redwood Room afterwards, the audience and stars mingled amiably while dining on delectable desserts and bubbly.  Next up for REAF, One Night Only: Cabaret Cirque at The Great Northern, 119 Utah Street, Monday, January 28, 7:30 pm, featuring performers from Kinky Boots and various Cirque de Soleil shows. Tickets are already selling fast!

    When the Imperial Court, Krewe de Kinque, and Rainbow World Fund get together to raise money, how can they fail? From all reports, last Friday’s We Are One: San Francisco Supports Paradise Fire Survivors at the beautiful home of John Newman brought together a festive and generous crowd, raising over $6000 to help those in need after the most recent fires. Silent auction, raffle tickets and admission charges combined to ensure this success. Attending were Joanie Juster, Blake King, William Bulkley, Michael Daniels, Ken Henderson, Ben Wong, Garaje Gooch, and many others. Additional hosts were Gary Virginia, founder of Krewe de Kinque, Jeff Cotter, founder of Rainbow World Fund, Mr. SF Eagle Manny Ojeda, and the Reigning Emperor of San Francisco Leandro Gonzales and Reigning Empress Pollo del Mar and musical entertainment by Paul Hogart, Breanna Elyce Sinclaire, Emma Peel, Andrew Hirst, Jethro Patalinghug and others enlivened the party.  This was San Francisco at its finest!

    The 40-year-old much beloved San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band is now the official band of the City of San Francisco!  After two unanimous votes by the Board of Supervisors, Mayor London Breed signed the appropriate legislation on Tuesday for this historic and significant honor. Founded by the legendary Jon Sims in 1978, the Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band provided a place for instrumentalists to express themselves within the growing Gay movement, rallying the community and inspiring similar groups across the globe. If you attended any of the Dance Along Nutcracker: Clara Potter and the Elder Baton performances in December, caught their Spotlight on Broadway show, enjoyed any of their many free concerts during the year, or simply reveled in the thrill of this marching band at a Pride Parade, Pilgrimage to Colma or other public gathering, then you join me in applauding the band on this well-deserved recognition.

    Last Saturday, this publication shared a 40th anniversary holiday celebration with the SF Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band at Tom Taylor & Jerome Goldstein’s sprawling home, elaborately decorated for Christmas and recently featured on ABC’s Light Fights television competition. The cast and crew of the recent Dance Along Nutcracker were on hand, as were Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, De’Anthony Jones representing the Mayor’s Office, amazing Classical soloist David Korn, and ground-breaking civil rights activist and singer Holly Near! (Editor’s note: Donna Sachet deftly hosted the program and sang beautiful versions of “Just in Time for Christmas” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Thank you, Donna!) After sharing a short trailer for the upcoming PBS film about her life, Singing for Our Lives, Holly sang a few verses of that song, encouraging everyone to join in. What a San Francisco moment! Food and drink were plentiful, raffle prizes were distributed and holiday carols rang into the night!

    As 2018 rapidly comes to a close, we hope you reflect pleasantly upon your accomplishments, your friendships and your contributions to the larger community. If regrets attempt to rear their ugly heads, shoo them away; let the past be the past and concentrate on the days ahead. San Francisco undoubtedly faces many frustrating challenges, but we remain its biggest cheerleader, having seen firsthand how much we can do when we join together in our diversity and passion. May your 2019 be full of positive reinforcement, exhilarating experiences and delightful surprises!               

    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

    Sunday, December 23
    Sunday’s a Drag: Miracle on Powell Street
    10:30 am Brunch, 11:30 am Show
    The Starlight Room
    Sir Francis Drake Hotel
    $75 inclusive

    Sunday, December 23
    Jason Brock’s 6th Annual Holiday Show
    4 pm
    4 Valencia Street

    Monday, December 24
    Home for the Holidays: SF Gay Men’s Chorus
    5 pm, 7 pm & 9 pm
    Castro Theatre