P.perhaps best known for their bar in HaYeses Valley, which ran for 23 years, Marlena came to San Francisco from Modesto over 30 years ago. She was previously married with two children, but after taking on a challenge, she became the Empress of Modesto in 1976 – at which point her life as Marlena really began.
Friends encouraged Marlena to move to San Francisco. She began her engagements at the Imperial Court of SF and served as Chair of the Imperial Council for two years before becoming Empress XXV in 1990 when she opened Marlena’s Bar in the Hayes Valley.
Marlena has received numerous awards and recognitions during her reign and thereafter, including her election as Community Grand Marshal of the SF Pride Parade in 2013 and her Love Roast at the SF LBGT Community Center in 2015.
Her warmth and generosity have won her friends across the country, in the Leather Community, at countless charities, in bars across San Francisco, and even in City Hall.
After all her years at the imperial court, Marlena still attends most events, encouraging new members and titleholders, and supporting each reign with an open mind and loving heart.
I contacted Marlena to find out more about her accomplishments and commitment during her reign.
Juanita MORE!: In what year was your reign as emperor / empress?
Marlena: I was Empress of San Francisco from 1990 to 1991
JM!: What made you choose to run for the Empress?
m: After serving as Empress of Modesto and traveling around meeting so many beautiful people, I knew I wanted to be Empress here when I came to San Francisco. The support of dear friends like Pat Montclair, Kimo and of course my Emperor Simeon Traw made it an incredible experience.
JM!: What was your proudest achievement?
m: We brought so many people together during my reign. We have worked with the ducal court on many occasions, we have attended and supported events by other organizations. We’ve been everywhere Polk, SOMA, Castro, Gay Softball League, Leather Bike Clubs and whatever!
JM!: Which non-profit organizations did you support during your reign?
m: At that time there were so many other organizations that needed our support – and we raised money for many of them. But especially AIDS Emergency Fund, AIDS Walk San Francisco, AIDS life cycle, and Tenderloin Tessie Christmas dinnerto name a few.
JM !: JM !: What are your hopes for the future of Judgment?
m: The imperial court gave me so much joy that I hope that it can share this joy with many others. I made friends for life. It makes me sad when I see individuals interfere as a power game or ego trip. I love people, and I’ve found a home among those in court, and I’m very proud of how many people we’ve helped over the years. I have known every Emperor and Empress of San Francisco personally. I’ve also known every mayor of this city since I’ve been here, and I’m so grateful for my life here.
You can stay up to date with Marlena via Facebook: @ gary-mclain