Writing the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence

 

 

 

 

Heather Jacks, a San Francisco based author, has joined forces with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to produce a beautiful coffee table book about their lives and history. She and they will host a fundraising party for the book at Cafe Flore in the Castro on October 14th.

 

Wendy:

 

It’s wonderful that you’ve had the idea for a book about the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. They are part of our every day life here in the Castro but not too many people really know their history or get the in-depth story of what they do. What gave you the idea to do this? How did you become involved with the Sisters?

 

Heather:

 

The first project I did with SF Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, was Project Nunway in 2014. I was asked to design a dress, which was fantastic. Previously I knew nothing about the Sisters. I phoned Sister Zsa-Zsa, who was coordinating the event, as I had a signed record from Jane Weidlin and The GoGos. I have a line of record bags called Rock A Record, and thought I would make the signed album into a purse that they could use in their auction. She thought it was a great idea but they had no auction...so, why don’t you do one Darling?! I put together the auction and it raised over $4,000.00, which was fabulous. I attended their grant giving event and was so happy to see how many wonderful and fringy organizations received grants. Many would never be funded any other way. Grants were given to art, LGBT, historical preservation, homeless programs, etc. It was awesome. I knew this was a group that walked the walk and I LOVED them. I was just so sold on what their mission was and that they actually do what they say they’re gonna do. It is a lifelong commitment they make. Why do they do that? Who are they? What are their personal stories? What drives them to commit to service within a community for life? I want them to be understood. That was the mission, the goal. Hopefully we can celebrate these amazing people who dedicate to their community, and it’s not just San Francisco. Of course that’s where it started but they’re worldwide now. They [began] in 1979 in the Castro. There were four founders; three are still alive; one has just passed on. I’m happy to have the opportunity to interview the remaining three for this project. It’s really amazing to me because I feel like I’m a pretty educated person but doing this project has absolutely revolutionized the way that I think. I’m just blessed and honored to be able to do this.

 

Wendy:

 

I’m not surprised to hear that they donate to all sorts of groups, including fringe groups. Part of their mission statement is “We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty.” They’re very life affirming.

 

Heather:

 

And they cross everything, all generations and divides. Their history is very, very interesting to me. This is going to be an art book, a big oversized art book with amazing photography, very intimate stories, history, culture, and evolution. It’s a coffee table book. You read books like And the Band Played On, and they’re always mentioned but it is a little more of a side note. They haven’t really gotten to be the front and center. I think it’s important; I think it’s hugely important in San Francisco. The question I had when I first started this was why San Francisco? Why not New York or London? What was going on in our city in 1979 that allowed the Sisters to form and bloom. I’ve really been looking into that question and it’s fascinating.

 

Wendy:

 

You’re going to be having a party at Cafe Flore in the Castro for this book on October 14th. What will be happening at the party? I’m sure that some of the Sisters will be there.

 

Heather:

 

I’m very excited about his! Cafe Flore generously donated their [venue]. We have a photo area where [you can] get pictures with Sisters. Veteran Sisters and newbies [will be] coming out to host this evening. We have a lot of people donating alcohol to us to sell and we get to keep all that. We have a really cool silent auction, lots of cool art, lots of cool stuff. I have another autographed record bag by Martha Davis and The Motels! It is super cool. I also have my other book that I’m working on which is book on Bay Area buskers. [Buskers] are people who perform on street corners in exchange for money. We’ll have live music there. We’ll have a raffle; there’ll be go-go boys. It should be a lot of fun!

 

Wendy:

 

You had mentioned the other book that you’re working on about Bay Area buskers. This will be your second book about street musicians. You’ve already published one about New York City buskers that won a book of the year award.

 

Heather:

 

It was pretty spectacular. I independently produced it. We produced it all here in San Francisco, so that was very cool. That will be my second one in that series. It too is a limited edition coffee table book. I’m gonna be crowdfunding; I use RocketHub, which is like Kickstarter. It’s fantastic; I’ve been successful on it previously.

 

Wendy:

 

What brought you to this type of work, of wanting to create these books? You had been in the music industry prior.

 

Heather:

 

I had worked in the music industry. I actually went to USF, the Jesuit school, here in San Francisco back in the ‘80s. I lived here in the ‘80s as well. I love, love, love music; I love the music industry. Music, just like publishing, has really changed. Fortunately I tend to change along with it. With music I had previously worked A & R; I had done concert production; I worked for a major label at one point. I always worked writing; I’d always be writing bands’ bios. Just a few years ago I started a little blog that really seemed to catch on. When I first started it I didn’t intend to do a big art book. I was just doing these articles and people were seriously digging it. I realized with buskers, that there again is kind of a mythology. People look at buskers and they’re like, “They’re vagrants; they’re hacks; they’re homeless; they can’t get real gigs - that’s why they’re on the street.” I found that to be predominantly untrue so I really set out to celebrate that lifestyle, that piece of culture. That’s really where the love of that came from. I’m always about busting down mythology. I grew up on Indian land and that informs the way I operate today. It’s about busting down mythology. It’s the same in some respects with the Sisters.

 

A lot of people have maybe a judgement or a thought and a lot of times those judgements are incorrect. I just really want to try to break those mythologies, bust the myths if you will.

 

Photo courtesy of Heather Jack

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