There we have it, another San Francisco icon is gone. Well half gone in this sense, but Vivian Brown of the Brown sisters has died. Vivian and Marian were identical twins who dressed a like in a manner that would sometimes just make you scratch your head. I used to see them around San Francisco quite a bit before I found out they were the “Brown Sisters” and one day I ran into them and actually talked to them.
I had a girlfriend who was a little weird like me. We both had a fondness for the pipe organ and Grace Cathedral has the best one around. They used to give [it’s been so long they probably still do, but my wife isn’t into the pipe organ as much as I am]. My girlfriend at the time and I used to go to the afternoon or evening organ recitals and we’d usually go a bit early and maybe have a drink at the Fairmont [never went to the Tonga Room though and for some one born and raised here that’s kind of odd].
As we were walking around one day we saw the Brown Sisters walking into Uncle Vito’s which was one of their regular hangouts. My girlfriend and I being the metal heads we were [and we were kind of extreme at the time] stopped and talked to them right before they went in. There was a bit of a chill in the air and they invited us to come in and have a slice of pizza with them. So there you had the Brown Sisters and a couple of metal heads sitting together talking in the front window of Uncle Vito’s. I wish I could find the picture, but that was so many years ago I’d have too many boxes to go through to find it.
We you talked to them you quickly got passed the leopard print cowboy hats that you’d usually see on older hispanic women out on the town in the Mission [usually at La Rondalla before it closed] on a Saturday night. They were were really funny and surprised that we were going to an opera recital at a large cathedral dressed all in black leather. We both gave a cocked eye and an ahem without having to point at them who the two of them wouldn’t just dress alike they’d dress alike in some of the most bizarre clothes that kind of made you remember them like they were walking down the street on fire.
They were in many TV shows, movies and were also asked to be on a few talk shows. Just a two second shot of them in a commercial and you knew who they were. I’m kind of sad that Vivian is gone because it’s been awhile since I’ve been downtown and run into them. I think I might just have to make a trip to Uncle Vito’s and see if Marian will still hang out there just to wish her well and offer my condolences.