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    Donna’s Chronicles, “January’s Divas & Drinks…”

    By Donna Sachet–

    January’s Divas & Drinks, the San Francisco Bay Times’ monthly event at The Academy SF, was a celebration of Olivia Travel, the premier travel company for the Lesbian community for over50 years. We started with a birthday salute to Melissa Cherry, a member of the Dykes on Bikes and attendee of every single Divas & Drinks©. Representatives of Olivia, including Vice President of Travel and Business Operations Tisha Floratos, Senior Manager of Entertainment and Production Terri Lynn Delk, and Event Marketing Manager Aundrea Prysock, welcomed the crowd and gave away door prizes. Susan Berston also gave away a door prize and discussed the upcoming documentary The Day the Curtains Came Down, inspired by the lives of the late Phyllis Lyon & Del Martin. Popular local comic Marga Gomez delivered a hilarious set, once again demonstrating her quick wit, perfect timing, and community connection. Aïma the Dreamer then amazed the audience with her fast-paced, infectious, and topical rap routine, leaving the crowd begging for more. DJ Rockaway closed out the night with dance music.

    Jason Brock is back! Popular local X-Factor finalist Brock moved to Japan some time ago, but returned recently to San Francisco, attracting a loyal crowd to Martuni’s for a show accompanied by the wonderful Dee Spencer. Among the audience were Gary Virginia, Danny Ferris, Jason Minix, David Landis & Sean Dowdall, Carolyne Zinko, and Don Berger. Jason sang crowd-pleasing songs and shared lots of personal stories from Japan and here, reminding us all of how much he has been missed.

    Thursday, February 1, Mark Rhoades hosted a screening of Pursuit of Equality: The Unfinished Work of American Freedom, the 2005 documentary about the ultimately successful fight for marriage equality that started right here in San Francisco. The Castro Theatre was packed with supporters of the fight, including many of those who played key roles, and we were thrilled to attend with Richard Sablatura, visiting from his new home in Dallas, Texas. We started at the upstairs reception, shoulder to shoulder with friends, including Thomas Horn & Caesar Alexzander, Steve Kawa, Leonardo DaSilva, Sister Roma, Kenshi Westover, Mary Conde of Another Planet Entertainment, Supervisors Ahsha Safai and Matt Dorsey, Mayoral hopeful Daniel Lurie, and filmmaker Geoff Callan and his wife Hillary Newsom Callan. The big surprise of the night was the appearance of Governor Gavin Newsom, the former San Francisco Mayor who took the first brave step to ensure marriage equality for our LGBTQ+ Community. Although surrounded by admirers and at least six security personnel, the Governor graciously reached out his hand and spoke with us.

    Once inside the theatre, we were seated with City Treasurer José Cisneros, BART Board President Bevan Dufty, and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman. Rhoades welcomed the audience, Callan introduced Governor Newsom to wild applause, and he introduced the film. We had seen the film years ago, but reliving this historic struggle in that iconic theatre with that enthusiastic crowd, watching the faces and hearing the words of so many familiar individuals, some no longer with us, was a profoundly moving experience. After the film, the SF Gay Men’s Chorus sang, key figures gathered on stage, including Dennis Herrera, Mabel Teng, and Mike Shaw, and others were acknowledged in the audience, including Kate Kendell, Imani Rupert-Gordon, and John Lewis & Stuart Gaffney. All in all, what a wonderful reminder of San Francisco’s history-making, courageous leadership role in advancing the civil rights of our LGBTQ+ Community!

    The wedding of Kelley Wagg & Charles Sanderson last Saturday was one of those only-in-San-Francisco gatherings, bringing together their families, friends, and associates from far and wide. Imagine a Gay wedding at a Gay bar (Beaux) in the middle of the day (noon)! Somehow, it all worked! From delicate floral displays and bundles of balloons to well-dressed guests, copious hors d’oeuvres, and free-flowing wine and champagne, this event brought together people who might not have ever met had it not been for this charming couple. Carly Ozard emceed, entertained, and performed the marriage ceremony and Veronika Klaus sang with Daniel Fabricant on strings, mixing traditions with camp. 

    Max von Essen, Tony, Drama Desk, and Grammy nominated singer, took a short break from his starring role in Chicago on Broadway to bring Call Me Old Fashioned: The Broadway Standards to the Venetian Room of the Fairmont Hotel last Sunday and what a show it was! We attended with Patrick Rylee at the invitation of Jon Finck, running into many music-loving friends in the iconic performance space. How fortunate we are that Marilyn Levinson has revived the Venetian Room with her Bay Area Cabaret shows! Max took us down Memory Lane singing soaring Broadway melodies and tender Gershwin tunes with his rich voice, skilled control, and wide range. He was accompanied by the legendary Billy Stritch, who also joined in singing on a couple of selections and collaborated on several medleys. Don’t miss upcoming concerts in this series, March 24, 5 pm, Venetian Evenings: A Musical Tribute to the Venetian Room, and April 14, 5 pm, Standby, Me with Broadway’s Julie Benko.

    Finally, this week’s calendar is overrun with Imperial events because this is February, our traditional month to change from one reign to another. Get out there and support the new candidates for Emperor and Empress, attend the many events surrounding Imperial Coronation, and make it a point to thank Reigning Emperor Michael Anthony Chua and Reigning Empress Cameron Stiehl-Munro for a wonderful year of activities, fundraising, and pageantry.

    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

    Thursday, February 8
    Meet & Greet with Bob Glas
    Emperor candidate event
    The Lookout, 3600 16th Street
    5–7 pm

    Saturday, February 10
    Black & White Ball
    Empress candidate Linda Summers hosts
    Moby Dick, 4049 18th Street
    4:30–7:30 pm

    Saturday, February 17
    Voting Day for Emperor & Empress
    The Cinch, 1723 Polk Street, 11 am–4 pm
    Castro Muni Station, noon–6 pm
    Powerhouse, 1347 Folsom Street, 1–5 pm
    Valid photo ID for SF, Marin, or San Mateo County

    Wednesday, February 21
    Imperial In-Town Show & Awards
    Local stars perform
    Emperor Michael Chua & Empress Cameron Stiehl-Munro host
    Beaux, 2344
    Market Street
    6–8:30 pm

    Thursday, February 22
    Anniversary Monarchs Reception
    Celebrate milestone anniversaries
    Hosted by John Carrillo & Misty Blue
    HaRa Club, 875 Geary Street
    6:30–8:30 pm

    Friday, February 23
    Divas & Drinks celebrates Black History Month
    Honoring Black LGBTQ+ Women Leaders & Allies
    Imani Rupert-Gordon, Jewelle Gomez, Theodora Lee
    Renée Lubin, Dr. Dee Spencer, and many more!
    SF Bay Times presents monthly party
    Donna Sachet hosts
    Performance of a show highlighting Black women composers
    DJ Rockaway courtesy of Olivia Travel
    Bacardí cocktails
    The Academy, 2166 Market Street

    Friday, February 23
    Out-of-Town Show
    The best of Court performers
    6 pm
    Saturday, February 24

    Imperial Coronation 59: Seasons of Love
    Crowning of new Emperor & Empress
    Hyatt Regency SOMA, 50 Third Street
    5 pm

    Sunday, February 25
    Annual Pilgrimage to ColmaVisit the gravesites of Joshua Norton & José Sarria
    Emceed by Donna Sachet
    Bus departs Hyatt Regency SOMA, 50 Third Street
    8 am

    Sunday, February 25
    Victory Brunch
    End of one reign, start of another
    Hyatt Regency SOMA, 50 Third Street11 am

    Donna’s Chronicles
    Published on February 8, 2024