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Crosscurrents

Musical celebrates Sylvester, San Francisco's unapologetically black "Queen of Disco"

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Photo: Joan Marcus (from Brava Theatre press folder)
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Pictured (L. to R.): Anastacia McCleskey, Anthony Wayne and Jacqueline B. Arnold

 

Disco legend Sylvester wasn’t born in San Francisco, but he came into his own as an artist in the City in the 70s. He was a trailblazer both musically and culturally — with his high, clear falsetto and unapologetic presence as a fabulous gay black artist, he became known as the “Queen of Disco”.

The story of his life and music are now being brought to the stage in “Mighty Real: A Fabulous Sylvester Musical”, currently running at the Brava Theater in San Francisco. Co-creators Anthony Wayne and Kendrell Bowman came by the KALW studios and spoke to Jen Chien about sequins, platform heels, and the resilient spirit of the man behind the disco ball.

Click the audio player above to listen to the complete interview.

Jen Chien was the managing editor for Crosscurrents and KALW News from 2016 to 2018. She has been a contributor to All Things Considered, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, BBC/PRI’s The World, Making Contact, SF Public Press, East Bay Express, New America Media, and KPFA in Berkeley, where she took part in the First Voice Apprenticeship Program. She is the recipient of the 2013 Outstanding Emerging Journalist Award from the Society of Professional Journalists of Northern California. She holds a BA in American Studies from Smith College, and an MA in Interdisciplinary Performance from New College of California. Before entering the field of journalism, she had a successful career as a professional dance and theater artist, teacher, and massage therapist.