|Kendra Monroe is "Defying Gravity" in Sunday's a Drag Brunch at the Starlight Room. Photo: Mike Ward
Here‚Äôs to the ladies who brunch! These particular ‚Äúladies‚ÄĚ have a little something extra to make Sundays less of a slog, as Harry Denton presents Sunday‚Äôs a Drag Brunch at the stellar Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. The weekly show, coming up on its fourth year, is something for locals, tourists and other strangers to enjoy.
Hosted by Donna Sachet, the ever-gracious Doyenne of SF Drag, the brunch show is presented at Noon and 2:30pm, and the show rotates numbers every week. So, like any good buffet, go back for seconds or more. You‚Äôre bound to find something sweet, savory or spicy that wasn‚Äôt on the menu prior (and we‚Äôre not just talkin‚Äô ‚Äėbout the food!). In addition to a core ensemble which rotates numbers and costumes bi-weekly, there is a feast of ravishing faux femmes appearing on a sporadic-to-regular basis to keep the line-up fresh and tasty.
Donna Sachet hosts and sings her own vocals live. Starting the show with original brunch-related lyrics, sung to the tune of ‚ÄúLady is a Tramp,‚ÄĚ Sunday‚Äôs a Drag gets the party going. ‚ÄúOver the Rainbow,‚ÄĚ her closing number, might seem clich√©d, yet it was one of the most sweet, genuinely-pure and truly-touching renditions this reviewer has ever experienced. Sachet‚Äôs phrasing is unexpected and one-of-a-kind, exposing the heart of this endearing, enduring community-building activist.
Lipstick lip-synch abounds in the rest of the show and features some uncannily accurate portrayals. Kendra Monroe dazzled like the Paris Opera Chandelier in a Phantom of the Opera medley, complete with a surprise costume twist. And keeping the Broadway motif (from the mega-hit musical Wicked) Monroe displayed that she, too, was ‚ÄúDefying Gravity.‚ÄĚ Her costumes (designed /constructed by herself) are works of art inspired by her musical numbers, but they careen towards more creative choices.
With enough energy to light up all of Sir Francis Drake Hotel, Lady Tia worked the crowd with leopardess feline prowess in her electric version of Whitney Houston‚Äôs ‚ÄúI‚Äôm Your Baby Tonight.‚ÄĚ Returning later with enough animal magnetism and style to give Tina Turner a run, Lady Tia‚Äôs ‚ÄúGolden Eye‚ÄĚ made for some steamy windows.
At the brunch we attended, Gina Ladiva, ‚Äúthe oldest living drag queen in captivity‚ÄĚ (as Ms. Sachet introduced her) was a living, vibrant definition of ‚Äúfierce‚ÄĚ and proof-positive that age can make a lady even more stunning √† la Sophia Loren. Ladiva‚Äôs first number, ‚ÄúHistory Repeating,‚ÄĚ was an uber-sassy Shirley Bassey with furs a-go-go. Simply jaw-droppingly good. Returning later, her wig coordinating with a gown that would inspire Bob Mackey, Ladiva‚Äôs ‚ÄúStormy Weather‚ÄĚ rained down with skill and finesse.
Birthday brunch bashes seem quite popular, and the performance I attended had three birthday parties ranging in size from four people to ten, and included folks of all different flavors: gay, straight, old (88), young (18), local and foreign (Peru, Italy, Canada, China, Scotland). If you want to plan a party there ‚ÄĒ highly recommended ‚ÄĒ contact the Starlight Room for specifics.
As it is a brunch, mention should be made of the food. The frittata and the custom omelet station were eggs-cellent, solid brunch fare. And the smoked salmon, fresh fruit salad, teas and fresh-squeezed juices (all included) were of premium quality. Note: the baked goods and the deviled eggs didn‚Äôt fare as well. But any slight missteps were minor as the overall value, quantity and variety were substantial.
Where else can you enjoy a fabulous floor show and brunch for only $44.95 per person? Make it a point to indulge yourself and/or visiting friends/family with this San Francisco Treat. Reservations for the first show are taken in 15-minute intervals starting at 11:00 for the Noon show; second show reservations begin at 1:30 for the 2:30pm presentation. Earlier is better.
Sundays a Drag Brunch continues (Sundays only, Noon and 2:30pm) at the Starlight Room, Sir Francis Drake Hotel, 450 Powell Street, San Francisco. Reservations ($44.95) call (415) 395-8595 or email@example.com. Tell them the SF Bay Times sent you!