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    Donna’s Chronicles, “The Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco…”

    By Donna Sachet–

    The Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco continued a long and worthy tradition with Coronation XLVIII, The Black & White Ball at Grand Peterhof on Saturday, September 24, at the Holiday Inn Golden Gateway on Van Ness. Grand Duke Scott Rice & Grand Duchess Bobby Friday carried out the color theme beautifully and inspired others as well, most notably Grand Duke Madd Dogg & Grand Duchess Miss Shugana in their coordinated checkerboard print ensembles, Grand Duchess MGM Grande in swirling zebra stripes, completed with matching gloves and jewelry, Empress Alexis Miranda in a black & white print and black & white hair, and Reigning Empress Ehra Amaya in an explosion of white organza dotted with black. Courts visiting from as far as Alaska, Hawaii, and Canada, as well as Queen Mother I of the Americas Nicole the Great, attended by a number of Heirs Apparent, were treated to lively entertainment, fantasy costumes, and all the usual pomp and circumstance.  Many commented on the feeling of unity within the room and were awed by the $100,000 raised for charitable causes by the court. At long last, the results of the previous Saturday’s public vote were announced, followed by the crowning of the new Grand Duke Gregory Starr & Grand Duchess Kelly Rose. Watch these newest monarchs in the coming months for public appearances, hosted events, and busy fundraising.

    Make plans now to check out Juanita: 30 Years of MORE!, a fabulous display of Mr. David couture creations for Juanita MORE! over the past three decades. The exhibit runs through November 12 and also includes photographs, awards, letters, and other memorabilia, truly a fitting tribute to the work of these two San Francisco icons. We got a sneak glimpse at the Press Preview, but Friday night’s Opening Night was packed so tight one could barely move! We applaud Curator Marcel Pardo Ariza and the San Francisco Art Commission’s Main Gallery for creating this display and demonstrating once again the leadership of this City in recognizing its outstanding citizens and their remarkable achievements. Special evenings are scattered through the length of the exhibit, so plan your viewing accordingly.

    Friday’s Divas & Drinks at The Academy again stretched the capacity restraints of the club as we celebrated CHEER SF, the Transgender Law Center, and Jeopardy! stars as specialty Bacardí cocktails flowed, Extreme Pizza was devoured, and the crowd grew. First, recent cover model and runner Cal Calamia and Ariel Robbins shared information about their work with transgender children through their organization 2 Hot 4 Hoodies (2H4H). The individual stars of the night were Amy Schneider, the second longest player on ABC-TV’s Jeopardy!, her recently wed wife Genevieve Davis, and Mattea Roach, the fifth longest player, truly making this a historic night. Recognition and gifts came from many directions, including the Office of Supervisor Matt Dorsey. The organization star was CHEER SF and they did not disappoint, offering a couple of spirited cheers complete with acrobatic displays and the presentation of a check to their primary beneficiary for the past year, Transgender Law Center. In total, CHEER SF raised $33,750 during the 2021–2022 season. During the evening, Halloween eggs, raffle tickets, and a short live auction generated funds for CHEER SF’s new efforts. Wherever this group appears, you are bound to leave uplifted and smiling. The program part of the evening ended, as always, with a Name That Tune competition, this time between Team CHEER SF and Team Bank of the West, but with a special twist, asking that the answers be put in the form of a question, an obvious nod to our Jeopardy! friends. DJ Rockaway presented by Olivia played tunes from TV and game shows, but even with that twist, both teams played admirably and Team Bank of the West emerged victorious.

    The following night, the Emperors of San Francisco celebrated their 50th Anniversary at Oasis with cocktails, food, a silent auction, and an informative program of history, tributes, and entertainment. Emcees Queen Cougar, looking resplendent in silver lame,and Emperor J. P. Soto kept the evening moving smoothly. Queen Mother I of the Americas, Nicole the Great, back in town for the second weekend in a row, spoke authoritatively of the early days and presented special pins to each attending Emperor. The Emperors outdid themselves with entertainment drawn from various sources, most notably BeBe Sweetbriar performing with incredible energy and an eye-popping costume that brought down the house, Emperor John Weber performing a medley with back-up dancers from Sacramento, and Katya Smirnoff Skye serving up a fitting assembly of San Francisco tunes. After the incomparable gala seven years ago at City Hall marking 50 years of the Imperial Court, this well-attended, well-produced, and entertaining event gave appropriate attention to the later founding and subsequent success of the Emperors of San Francisco.

    What followed that rollicking event can only be described as a labor of love for a much-loved individual, as the crowd moved over to The Eagle for a fundraiser for Prince Wolf, who recently suffered a sudden health emergency. This was a rare gathering of drag and leather, men and women, all ages, genders, and backgrounds, rallying for their friend. We hope the door charge, passed buckets, and brief show’s tips will all serve to help Prince Wolf in this unexpected time of need.

    A special treat at both of these events was visiting Emperor Brian Benamati, who reigned with us many years ago and now lives in Portland, Oregon, with his husband Tony Onorati. How wonderful it felt to be on the arm of our official Imperial partner once again, strolling the streets of our old haunts, catching up with friends, and exchanging news!

    Our weekend ended with the much-anticipated return of a full-fledged Castro Street Fair. Hundreds gathered in the sparkling sunshine to continue a tradition started by Harvey Milk himself, and the fair stretched from 18th Street, up Castro, and further up Market to Noe. Food booths abounded, businesses were packed, and people laughed and smiled in the beautiful weather.  Perhaps this will be remembered as the final emergence from our long pandemic concerns and self-isolation. This vibrant LGBTQ+ Community has shown resilience before and we are ready for an exciting future.

    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 empsachet@gmail.com


    Calendar a/la Sachet

    Through November 12
    Juanita: 30 Years of MORE!
    Fashion & History Exhibit
    SF Art Commission Main Gallery, War Memorial Building, 401 Van Ness
    Noon–5 pm
    Free!
    https://www.sfartscommission.org/

    Thursday, October 13
    Compassion Is Universal: Shanti’s 48th Anniversary Dinner
    Honoring Tom Horn and Dr. Monica Gandhi
    Palace Hotel
    6 pm
    $300
    https://www.shanti.org/

    Donna’s Chronicles
    Published on October 6, 2022