The name Garry McLain might not be familiar to you, but for so many - even folks on the other side of the world, the Hayes Valley establishment he runs here is San Francisco is not only familiar, it is a destination! Mclain, much better known as Absolute Empress XXV of San Francisco, Marlena the Magnificent, runs Marlena's - but only for one last day.
So many know him as a drag queen or as a bar owner, but if you have spent any time in the community or if you have visited his namesake saloon, you know him as someone who gives back - someone who makes a difference in this world. He has given money- he has given time - he has given a stage for new preformers - he has given a place for folks with nowhere else to go. To put it quite simply, Garry McLain has a heart of gold.
Marlena’s has been a neighborhood institution for twenty two years and for many regulars, it’s a home away from home - a place like Cheers, "where everybody knows your name." It's also where you can play a quick afternoon game of pool or come to see one of the best drag shows anywhere. Of course the fundraisers and community events are firm in so many of our memories too. Santas. If you have been there at Christmastime, you know about the santas. Marlena's has been such a wonderful part of San Francisco these past years, but it is the man at the top, Marlena himself, who made this all happen.
Today Marlena's is closing. That does not mean that we will no longer see Garry (Marlena) McLain. I suspect he will invent even more ways to give to the community. Before that though, I invite you to leave a message in the comments section below telling your memories of Marlena's bar or your thanks for this wonderful man. If you are close by, stop in and say thanks in person. After today though, Marlena's (the place) will be only a memory.