SF Nightclub Legend Harry Denton Has Died
Harry Denton’s Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel has not been Harry Danton’s Starlight Room since 2019, when its name changed. But that very same Harry Denton once owned four nightclubs with his name on them across San Francisco, bringing glitz, glamor, and velvet ropes to the SF gay nightclub scene. But Denton suffered a stroke that retired him from the scene 8 years ago, and he passed away on Sunday. He was 77.
RIP to a true character. We never met, but he did send me an appreciative note for my Super Ego nightlife column in the Bay Guardian. Absolute shame what they've done to the Starlight Room, I'll always remember the high disco glamour of it! https://t.co/UvVXkfxfA1
— Marke B. (@supermarke) August 24, 2021
“Harry brought the gay lifestyle into a downtown environment,” drag queen Donna Sachet told the Chronicle. “Harry liked to celebrate everything that San Francisco is.”
Denton opened his first nightclub Harry’s Bar on Fillmore Street in 1984, a bar that still bears his name today, though now under different ownership. The bar’s opulence established Denton as a self-described “alcoholic, foodaholic, shopaholic and sexaholic,” and he would go on to open Harry Denton’s on Steuart Street in 1991, where Nell Carter performed on opening night, and then Harry’s Southside on Folsom Street.
"Expansive, completely unreserved and often called the 'Big Man,' Denton liked to describe himself as an alcoholic, foodaholic, shopaholic and sexaholic. Also a funaholic."
— Demian Bulwa (@demianbulwa) August 25, 2021
But the most well-known and decked out of Denton’c clubs would be Harry Denton’s Starlight Room, opening in 1996 at the 21st floor of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. He established the long-running drag show “Sunday’s A Drag,” which turned many a Union Square tourist on to the drag queen scene.
— ➕Meikee Magnetic➕ (@meikeemagnetic) August 24, 2021
“We lost the legend that was Harry Denton, a man who had a personality larger than life,” The Sunday’s A Drag Facebook page posted this week. “Harry sure knew how to throw a party and charm a crowd, brightening any room he walked into. When one would think of San Francisco royalty, Harry Denton is up there on that list. Having one of the most popular night spots in the city, The Starlight Room, everyone knew who he was, and what an entertainer as well.
“Today, we that were part of Sunday’s A Drag will cherish the great memories we had with Harry Denton and always remember the Starlight that he was.”