Guide to the Donald Montwill Papers, Group I - Records of Valencia Rose, January 1982-1985

Processed by Susan Pastika; machine-readable finding aid created by Xiuzhi Zhou
Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California
P.O. Box 424280
San Francisco, California 94142
Phone: (415) 777-5455, #2
© 1999
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Donald Montwill Papers, Group I - Records of Valencia Rose, January 1982-1985

Accession number: 93-7

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society

San Francisco, California

Contact Information:

  • Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California
  • P.O. Box 424280
  • San Francisco, California 94142
  • Phone: (415) 777-5455, #2
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
Susan Pastika
Date Completed:
Summer 1998
Encoded by:
Xiuzhi Zhou
© 1999 The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Donald Montwill Papers, Group I - Records of Valencia Rose,
Date (inclusive): January 1982-1985
Accession number: 93-7
Creator: Valencia Rose
Extent: 1.66 linear feet
Repository: The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society.
San Francisco, California.
Language: English.

Administrative Information


The papers (93-7) were acquired by GLHS in 1993 from Donald Montwill.


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright to unpublished manuscript materials has been transferred to the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Donald Montwill Papers, Group I - Records of Valencia Rose, 93-7, The Gay and Lesbian Historical Society of Northern California.

Historical Note

Valencia Rose, located at 766 Valencia Street in San Francisco, opened its doors in January 1982 largely through the efforts of Ron Lanza, an actor, theatre lover, and business entrepreneur. With co-owner and partner Hank Wilson, Ron turned a funeral parlor into one of the city's most prominent cabarets. Lanza and Wilson heavily subsidized the Rose for the first two years of its existence, from 1982 to 1984, bringing various theater productions to the Rose and offering full- course dinners through the culinary talents of chef Ward Smith. In 1983, the life of this cabaret really took off, when Lanza hired Donald Montwill as talent scout and Dennis Powers as publicist. By March of 1984, writing a feature for the San Francisco Chronicle, Randy Shilts announced that the Valencia Rose had become "an epicenter of gay comedy." Many up-and-coming performers began their careers at the Rose, including Whoopi Goldberg, Doug Holsclaw, Lea Delaria, and Marga Gomez and local politician, the then "mother of gay comedy" Tom Ammiano. While much performance came and went at the Valencia Rose, the cabaret also became a community resource. Donald Montwill, who is largely responsible for the stellar performances there, solicited academics, politicians, and artists to give presentations on the history of the gay and lesbian community. The series, entitled "Gay and Lesbian Pioneers," ran successfully during 1984, including presentations on lesbian subculture in Paris in the early twentieth century to lectures on the history of the local leather culture. Montwill also turned the Valencia Rose into a public space for various community organizations, encouraging political rallies and other kinds of organizing to take place there, as well as hosting educational evenings on spirituality or holistic living.
During its brief life, the Valencia Rose became a dynamic cultural and political center of the Valencia Street neighborhood. However, Ron soon set his sights on other goals, notably pursuing an acting career in Los Angeles. In late 1985, the Valencia Rose closed its doors. Donald Montwill and his ill lover, Jim Mannis, moved to Hawaii. After Mannis' death, Montwill returned to San Francisco and soon began planning the opening of a new cabaret with Lonza. This time they scouted a location near Castro and began a strong campaign to obtain a cabaret licence. The result was the opening of Josie's Juice Joint on 16th Street just off Market. He then continued his remarkable career as talent scout and theatrical impresario by becoming artistic director for Josie's, which was, in many ways, the successor to Valencia Rose.

Scope and Content

This collection, consisting of Montwill's records as artistic manager of the Rose, contains a variety a materials on just about any event occurring in its performance space. These ranged from musical reviews, plays, stand-up comedy, political meetings, rallies, slide lectures, films and photography exhibits. Promotional materials compose most of this collection. Other items include business documents, correspondence, and performance reviews from the local press.
The records (1.66 linear feet) are divided into three series; performer files, administrative files, and promotional files. The performer files contain materials for performers or for specific performance events. In these files, you will probably find a collection of fliers or other kinds of advertisements for an event. Unfortunately, though we have a plentiful supply of fliers from these events, they provide very limited information. Often, only names and dates (with no year) can be found on these fliers, accompanied by xeroxed photographs of the performer. Other materials in these files range from publicity photos, press releases, occasional scripts, press reviews, and old copies of programs for the performances. Basically, anything relevant to the specific performer or piece can be found in these files. These files were already largely in existence when the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society received these materials.
The administrative files contain general business documents, monthly calendars, correspondence files, and release forms. Of the two correspondence files, the first contain letters to Ron Lanza or promotional materials which Lanza collected. The second correspondence file contains letters and materials that Donald Montwill probably compiled.
The first two promotional files are a simple collection of all postings of performances. Additional promotional files are sorted into "Music Events;" "Photo, Slide, or Film Presentations;" and "Political, Spiritual, Holistic or Other Events." Again these are mostly brief announcements of events. One of the more interesting files in this collection is the History Project file. Here there are promotional materials, and a little correspondence, from "The History Project Series" which the cabaret hosted for about a year. In the next files, a variety of materials more or less related to Valencia Rose can be found. A file labeled "Information about Possible Performances," contains materials that either Ron Lanza, Donald Montwill, or others had collected, pertaining to any performance considered as a possibility for Valencia Rose. The following file "Materials for Planned Performances" consists largely of publicity photos, with reviews and other promotional materials also occasionally included. The file "Articles about Valencia Rose" follows. This consists of reviews and other discussions of the cabaret found in the local press. The next file of this series is a collection of monthly calendars dating from December, 1981 to July 1985; this file includes miscellaneous press releases located in the back of the folder. Finally, the last file of this series contains performance placards, or signs used to announce the event in the cabaret.

Related Collections

Title: Hank Wilson Papers
Identifier/Call Number: #96-2

Container List


Performer Files

Box 1

Ackamoor, Idris & Rhodessa Jones


Ammiano, Tom


Anderson, Jane


Anderson, Lenny


Ashton, Kerry


Avery, Gwen




Aylesworth, Gary


Baum (Terry) and Tufo




Bly, Marj


Bond, Pat


Busch, Charles




Clinton, Kate


Comedy Fiesta: Richard Montoya, Margo Gomez, Monica Palacios, and Jose Anonio Burciaga


Corine, Tee




DeLaria & Strobel


Doba, Wayne/Ernesto Sanchez


Dombrowlski, Patti


Dornacker, Jane


Dubie, Francesa




Dysart, LeRoy




A Fine Romance (performance opening night for Valencia Rose)


Fink, Sue


Fjell, Judy


Flower, Robin


Folk, Bill


Fran & Charlie


Gannon, Kris


Goldberg, Whoopi


Gorman-Jacobs, Judy


Grossman, Steve


Habib, Martine


Halston, Julie


Hayes, Steve


Healey, Susan


Hedzolek, Soundz


Helen, Sandra de


Hershey, Christopher


The Hesitations


Hissy Fits: Doug Holsclaw, Ellen Brook Davis, Mario Mondelli, Marga Gomez


Hit and Run Theatre


Hot Flashes


I Wish I Had Never Met You and I Was Meeting You Now Script




Justin, James


Kasten, Kate


Kelly, Ned


Ladies Against Women


The Last of the Nuns Script, Joe Besecker


Lavner, Lynn


Lesbian Chorus


Leigh, Carol/Scarlot Harlot


Leishman, Gina




Lippman, Dave




McCalla, Deidre


McDonald, Reginald and Diane Schlactus


McGeeHee, Peter




Morgan, Geof






Murphy, Charles


Murphy & Sieber


Out of the Way Players


Over Our Heads


Pat Wynne Band


Patterson, John


Pecora, Donna


Peterson, Art


Pilshaw, Elliot




Quinlan Sisters


Rainbow Ensemble


Reno, Karen


Righteous Mothers


Rogers, Robin


Romanovsky & Phillips


Rose, Betsy


Ross, Jae


Schein, David & Whoopi Goldberg, Reverence for the Dead


Schiffer, Harriet


Sheppard, Frank J.


Sjogren, Craig


Sloan, Judy


Small, Judy


Spider Woman Theater


Street Angels


Street Theater


Sweet Surrender


Sylvern, Elka


Tannen, Holly


Ten Percent Revue


Towe, Ronald




Tyler, Robin


Vaudeville Nouveau


Vincent, Rick


Vocal Minority




We Three


What's Burning with Judy Roderick


Williams, Danny


Wilson (or Weinberg), Tom


Word is Out (film)


Xposed: A Male Musical


Administrative Files

Box 1

Business Documents


Correspondence Files (2 folders)


Release Forms


Promotional Files

Box 1

Performance Fliers

Box 2

Performance Fliers


Music Events


Photo, Slide or Film Presentations


Political, Holistic, or other events


History Project


Information about possible performances


Materials for planned performances: publicity photos, info, etc.


Articles about Valencia Rose


Monthly Calendars


Performance Placards

Folder Legal Size Folder

Calendar of Events