Gay Lesbian Parade

San Francisco, California, June 25, 1987



From "The Memoirs, Volume Two" -



            After our terrific success of the Piggy Bank float for the Emergency Fund, well, we were their darlings and we were asked to all their events and marveled over.  They mentioned all the time how another Gay Parade is coming up soon, and how they knew that we were sure to do something even more wonderful than last year, and how they were all looking forward to it so!  Then too, each year the Fund selects an “honorary chairperson” or spokesperson or such, to make a big deal of and to help publicize AIDS awareness and fund-raising and such.  This year it would be Sharon McKnight they informed us.  Well, I had known her a little over the years, a sort of “Sophie Tucker” hot, popular singer in and around the nightclub and alternative scenes in San Francisco for a long time, and liked her a lot.




            She wanted to be on the float, they said.  So, she came over to the studio and we had a meeting.

            “See, Bill, I got this great idea.  You ever see that movie ...?” and named some movie in which she had seen this lady all dressed up in a big skirt which was actually a car or something underneath and the dress completely covered the car and this big lady slowly “strolled” down the street!  And wouldn’t that be a great float!

            So, she, Sharon McKnight, would be the whole float and we would build a big dress for her.  She was then singing a sort of hot mama version of Tammy Wynette’s great classic, “Stand By Your Man,” as a sort of tribute to all her gay friends who were ill with AIDS.  And she thought it would be perfect to sing in the parade as she strolled down the street. 




            We all thought it was a great idea and set to work making it happen.  We would need a big sound system and so planned to build the speakers into the folds of the dress and she would have a hand-held mike on top.  We designed a big white dress with big red sashes and bows and a big bustle out the back, mostly to hide the obvious shape of the truck underneath.




            We built the float at Ready Set, of course, and Sharon stopped by a couple times to "try it on."




            I helped her into it.




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            And, of course, the guys in the Fund knew all the right people and convinced the Parade Committee that, like, after the HUGE success of last year’s float and, well, this year it was Sharon McNight (!!!) and that we should be at the head of the parade.  So we were scheduled in to be the first float in the parade, right after the traditional opener, Dykes on Bikes.


            So we rolled into place in the staging area at the foot of Market Street and, of course, I took advantage of the "photo op" to try on the Big Dress myself.




            Her blouse, of course, on top, was a separate piece with big mutton-chop sleeves and red ribbons cascading down the front, all set off with a big blonde, curly wig.  She put on heavy eye make-up and rouge and would give it her all!  I helped her fluff her hair and checked her make-up.






            They got a good turnout, natch, of all the Fund’s people and friends and hangers-on and all in their white and red Fund T-shirts, and the Fund’s big banner across the front and everybody getting excited, standing and pacing in their places.

            We posed for a group photo.




            I had spoken to the driver, Matthew again, before we started, and when it was time to begin and the loud, rocking music kicked in, I looked into Matthew’s little see-hole and gave him the nod.

            He gave a strong turn to the left, and then to the right.  There was a gasp from the crowd but Sharon was playing it perfectly and her clear voice, “Stand by your man!  Give him all the love you can!” lead the parade, now clearly “strolling” back and forth down wide Market Street.  An enormous cheer rose up and rolled along with us the entire route.




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            It was a huge hit and a full shot of our "Big Dress" and Sharon McNight and all the gang covered the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle the next morning.






























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