Put up your dukes: 40 years of SF's Grand Ducal Council

Double duchess! Moe and Paloma, in all their regalia

The global gay charitable network (which started in SF) known as the Imperial Council has been in the news of late: Empress I, Jose Sarria, the Widow Norton, passed away earlier this month and was given a grand funeral at Grace Cathedral that was covered throughout the world.

Now the other major Court Council, the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco, founded to have a bit more fun, is also getting some attention. On Sat/28 the SF Grand Ducal Council SF Grand Ducal Council will crown the newly elected monarchs for the 40th Reign. at an elaborate and festive coronation event, open to all. (Elections were held last Saturday, and we won't know who won until the ceremony.)

The theme, chosen by outgoing monarchs Paloma Volare and Moses "Moe Jo" Garcia is "Dancing With the Czars at the Ice Castle." I exchanged emails with Moe Jo about the theme, the Council, and the Grand Ducal mission:

SFBG Tell us a little about the Grand Ducal Council and what you do.
MOE JO The San Francisco Council of Grand Dukes and Grand Duchesses, Inc., also known as the San Francisco Ducal Council, was founded in 1972 to provide diverse areas of the San Francisco community with charitable and personal support, and has positively affected hundreds of people and groups that may be overlooked by other fundraising organizations. The Ducal Council receives no support from government resources, and depends on fundraisers such as this event (the coronation), and donations from individuals and business.

SFBG Do you feel like you and Paloma accomplished what you set out to do during your reign?
MOE JO Absolutely, when we first started this reign back in September 2012 we both wanted to reach out even more to parts of the community that previously we barely had touched. We had a plan to reach out to the Latino and Transgender communities, plus we wanted to educate the LGBT community even more on what the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco is all about. I truly believe that we did accomplish those goals. Furthermore, we reached out to new people and as a result we have four or more new members that hold permanent titles (Royal Daddy's Boy, Royal Baby Boy and Girl, Mr. Royal Bunny, etc.).

SFBG Can you tell me a bit about the Coronation? The theme intrigues me! What can we expect? Is there anything super-special for the 40th year?
MOE JO "Coronation XL (40): Dancing With the Czars at the Ice Castle" will be a celebration of what the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco is all about... Diversity! We will be celebrating all cultures and different countries that we represent. The audience will be taken to a place where Royalty, fashion, and glamor will be showcased. There will be several surprises during coronation, and the only way anyone will experience them is if they attend this wondrous event!

Obviously the death of Jose, Empress I affected the Council. Will there be a special tribute?
MOE JO Most definitely, we will have a memorial at the entrance of the ballroom with an oversized picture and beautiful red roses surrounding it. We have also included a special page in our coronation book where we have placed individuals who we have lost in the past year to let them know that although they are gone, they will never be forgotten.

SFBG Will you miss wearing your crown and cape? Or do you get to keep them?
MOE JO Having a crown for the year was very nice. Although the crown was never the main point of the reign, it sure felt good to wear it from time to time. Unfortunately, we do not get to keep the crown: on the night of coronation, I will be crowning the new Grand Duke so the crown I wore this year I will be placing it on his head. I can honestly say I will not miss the crown, I did everything in my power to raise a lot of money and we raised over $53,000 for local charities. I worked hard and did all I could, and I am very proud of this great achievement... A crown? I am sure I will purchase one down the road... :)

Grand Ducal Coronation XL (40): Dancing With the Czars at the Ice Castle

Sat/28, 5pm, $40

Hotel Whitcomb

1231 Market, SF.


Special thanks to volunteer of the year Colby Michaels for helping with this interview.

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