This promises to be another EPIC EVENT for Venus Envy!
SATURDAY MAY 30th from 8am-1pm
UPCYCLED is our annual yard sale with the fun, the funky, the weird and the oddball items that us Venus Envy Members and Supporters have collected and donated to the cause!
Our UPCYCLED event is one of our major fundraisers for the organization. We use this money to help fund our Annual Showcase of Women Artists and any support we can get is greatly appreciated!
|HOW CAN YOU HELP?
|WE NEED DONATIONS!
If you would like to donate items from your spring cleaning to our organization, please come to our
CALL FOR ARTISTS!
VENUS ENVY DRAG BRUNCH EVENT!
VENUS ENVY is happy to announce our Drag Brunch event.
VENUS ENVY understands the importance of performing in drag and it’s contribution to self-identity, and in that same spirit is filling the stage with professional self-identifying women to showcase their art.
We will also be welcoming one of our own members in her debut amateur performance and introduction to the art of Drag!
SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS ARE IN!
If you are interested in learning more about the scholarship applications and help in the process of awarding the scholarship we invite you to the next SCHOLARSHIP/DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE MEETING
Thursday, March 12th 7pm
4554 Chouteau 63110
MARCH FEATURED ARTIST:
|This March we are hosting our 2015 Drag Brunch, and in light of this amazing event we have reached out to St. Louis Drag Performer: J.D. Vibes to be our MARCH FEATURED ARTIST. J.D. met with Venus Envy Board Member Laura Henke to discuss the art form of drag and how it has empowered them as an individual and affected change in the St. Louis LGBTQ community.|
|J.D. Vibes:…I feel like drag in general is this expression of gender. It creates an illusion of a gender and one is almost baffled at how someone of one gender can pull off the opposite gender. In some cases, it’s a parody of gender expression/roles that our society has established through history. However, being transgender is a gender identity. I feel that many get the two confused due to lack of understanding, but they do intersect at gender expression. You may have a woman who tapes or binds her breasts, glues hair on her face in the shape of a beard, and stuffs a pair of old socks in her underwear while wearing perceived men’s clothing to express herself as a man. Until she talks, you may not know the difference nor may you even care, because in the setting of drag nothing is what it seems…|
DO YOU WANT TO GET INVOLVED?!?
THURSDAY March 12th at 7PM
4554 Chouteau 63110
email@example.comEvents Committee Meeting
WEDNESDAY March 25th at 7PM
3974 Wyoming St. 63116
firstname.lastname@example.orgPR/Marketing Committee Meeting
TUESDAY April 7th at 8pm
Saint Louis Bread Co., 1909 South Brentwood Boulevard, Brentwood, MO 63144
SUPPORT WOMEN AND THEIR ART!
This March we are hosting our 2015 Drag Brunch, and in light of this amazing event we have reached out to St. Louis Drag Performer: J.D. Vibes to be our MARCH FEATURED ARTIST. J.D. met with Venus Envy Board Member Laura Henke to discuss the art form of drag and how it has empowered them as an individual and affected change in the St. Louis LGBTQ community.
VE: How did you get your start as a Drag Artist?
JD: I started drag by chance: a friend of mine was coordinating a king show at Hummel’s Pub back in 2010. One night a performer called off 2 hours before the show. I was helping her get ready for the show/hanging out beforehand, when she turned me and said “Hey you wanna be a boy?”. She fronted me with some facial hair, duct tape, a pair of old socks (for packing purposes), and some other things. On the way to the bar, we brainstormed names and poof… J.D. Vibes was born. We did not know it was going to last past that night, but I was a natural and quite enjoyed performing.
VE: Most artist feel a particular connection to their medium, I am wondering what about drag speaks to you?
JD: Drag is an illusion; you become someone else. J.D. Vibes is like an alter ego of the inner boy inside me; like the rock star that my inner boy dreams of being. I enjoy coming up with performances and challenging myself to be more entertaining. I like bringing to life music that I enjoy. I also enjoy the costuming. I am far from an expert at sewing or working with fabric, but I’m creative and resourceful so I have been able to create some fun costumes or pieces of costumes.
VE: I know that drag queens and members of the transgender community in New York City played an instrumental role in the Stonewall Riots of 1969 constituting the most significant event leading to the gay liberation movement. Could you speak to the intersection between drag and the transgender community? And from your experience as a local drag artist, how has this dynamic performance art influenced the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in St. Louis?
J.D.: This question is intense and I will do my best to answer it. I feel like drag in general is this expression of gender. It creates an illusion of a gender and one is almost baffled at how someone of one gender can pull off the opposite gender. In some cases, it’s a parody of gender expression/roles that our society has established through history. However, being transgender is a gender identity. I feel that many get the two confused due to lack of understanding, but they do intersect at gender expression. You may have a woman who tapes or binds her breasts, glues hair on her face in the shape of a beard, and stuffs a pair of old socks in her underwear while wearing perceived men’s clothing to express herself as a man. Until she talks, you may not know the difference nor may you even care, because in the setting of drag nothing is what it seems. However, if she does it every day, she may in fact identify as being male, whereas if she does it for the art, she would more than likely identify as a king. I think that drag assisted the transgender community in being more comfortable with gender expressions and identities. During the time of the Stonewall Riots, many didn’t really know how to express their inner gender identity struggles, except by being a drag performer or simply cross dressing. However, with society shifting, with more and more people coming out and having a name for how they want to express themselves, being transgendered and/or a drag performer are two different things, which I must add is fantastic! People are discovering who they are and that is something really beautiful. I think moving forward drag influences our modern fight for LGBTQ rights in St. Louis especially through each producers’ creativity. You see that reflected in bending the rules of drag by having shows that are “genderfucked” [incorporating the whole spectrum of gender and gender identities], to the Pride Pageant reinstating the Mr. and Mrs. Pride categories encouraging anyone who is transgender to compete in their perspective identifying categories. I think that through this art of performing we are showing St. Louis that gender identity and expression is a spectrum concept not a black and white or binary sort of thing.
VE: Unlike many other art forms, drag artists are not commonly formally/classically trained? How does this trend inform the impact of drag as an art form?
J.D.: Anyone interested in doing drag can become a drag performer. This can be awesome because anyone who is interested can network with different show producers and start out in amateur shows or tip spots. Eventually they can work their way up to getting bookings for shows, by show producers recognizing that individual’s talents, winning amateur competitions, or by the crowd that they bring. However, there are pros and cons. Unfortunately, the performances eventually look the same or that performer gets what is known as their “signature move”. For a long time, I had this fascination with hats that I wore and had a hard time letting it go. Another con is due to a lack of mentors or constructive criticism; some performers have a hard time fine-tuning skills. If you bring all your friends to the shows and only ask them how you did, then you’ll get awesome reviews. I like to ask friends of mine that will be honest with me and tell me, “hey that second song you did was not as good as the rest.” Then I ask follow up questions to improve. I think the cons can be handled with more community building as artists.
VE: You spoke about the benefit of new drag artists having a mentor to guide their art form. Have you ever been a mentor?
J.D.: I have recently gotten the opportunity to mentor a Venus Envy volunteer for her performance in the organization’s upcoming drag show fundraiser. It’s been very inspiring to connect to this amateur performer and to work closely with her and the Venus Envy Organization. I also look forward to performing next to her as she starts her drag journey and am very excited to build a relationship with Venus Envy and their 2015 Drag Brunch Fundraiser.
VE: What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned through your experience as a drag artist?
J.D: My most valuable lesson would have to be to stay humble. I enjoy performing and I feel I do it well. But I can always learn from other performers and I always need to be challenging myself to expand my abilities and work on my skills as a drag performer. I also think humility is essential to performing because its easy to get lost in the excitement of being on stage and people cheering for you. However, staying humble enough to be encouraging to your fellow performers who share the same love for this art form as you is so important to our community.
VE: What advice would you give to an aspiring drag performer?
J. D. When you’re performing, own it. Own the stage. Own the character. Own the crowd, own it, but don’t forget the techniques of knowing your words and interacting with the people who came to see a show. If you’re having fun, so will the crowd.
You can see J. D. and other self-identifying women drag performers on Sunday, March 29th at Venus Envy’s 2015 Drag Brunch Fundraiser at Van Goghz Martini Bar and Bistro. Doors open at 12:00 Noon. Show starts at 1:00pm. Only $15! RSVP and learn more HERE!
Venus Envy, a local non-profit dedicated to empowering women through the arts, is happy to announce our 2015 Drag Brunch event!
This event is a celebration of self-identifying women and the art form of Drag. We understand the importance of performing in drag and it’s contribution to self-identity, and in that same spirit we are filling the stage with professional self-identifying women to showcase their art. We are also VERY excited be welcoming one of our own members in her debut amateur performance and introduction to the art of Drag!
It promises to be an uplifting and positive afternoon full of fun, music, performance and jello shots!
Doors open at 12:00 noon
Show begins at 1:00pm.
$15.00 per ticket at the door will provide you with Brunch and Drag Show. But please RSVP HERE!
**All ticket sales will go to Venus Envy and their Annual Scholarship**
3200 Shenandoah Ave
St Louis, MO 63104
Our art form, be it visual, culinary, performance or literary, is often the tool we use to empower ourselves through situations, memories, trauma and pain. This month we are featuring a literary artist that used her artistic medium to express, reach out and come to terms with her own past in order to empower herself towards her future. Sarafina Bianco, met with Venus Envy to discuss her memoir, the importance of writing to her current empowerment and the women that surrounded her during this recovery.
VE: Your memoir focuses on a time in your life, struggling for autonomy and strength, during a highly abusive relationship. What drove you to share your story with the public?
SB: When I started blogging, I didn’t realize how many women would reach out to me and show gratitude for my honesty. Once I started talking to other survivors, and reading other blogs and books, I decided that sharing my voice was necessary. I felt I owed it to myself, and to everyone, to be honest; to say ‘I don’t feel whole every day, even five years after leaving. Even after getting married to a man who is everything anyone could want.’ To share that could validate someone else’s experience, and the transparency would be worth it. My desire to heal others is part of the reason I ended up on the concrete floor, suffering his abuse. Instead of focusing on how it hurt me, publishing this book gave me back the power to use my healing tendencies for the greater good.
VE: Can you tell us about any bonds you made with women who empowered you to share your writing?
SB: Surviving complex traumas is alienating for everyone. It’s so damn easy to feel like we are the only people in the universe who have experienced whatever it is we’ve faced. I’ve seen this in my own experience with domestic violence, but also in my friends who’ve suffered their own traumas (including the loss of a fiance or, in another case, a child). What has been the most beneficial for me is meeting other women who’ve survived violence. Group therapy threw open the blinds on a life we ignorantly assume belongs to other people. My preconceived ideas about the life of an abuse survivor were shattered, and I also felt, finally, like someone understood. That’s why I started #domesticviolencechat on Twitter after I graduated from therapy, because those bonds help me stay grounded, remembering I’m not alone. Remembering there is life after abuse and there are other women who need to witness me, just as I needed to witness others, so that they can take bigger steps toward healing.
VE: The ending of your memoir is very different from what one usually expects. What led you to end this book the way that you did?
SB: So often we want to focus on the good that we have after we leave. Sometimes, that can lead to readers overlooking how damaging the abuse can be. If there is a “happy ending”, the silver lining is what the reader will almost always focus on. In my experience, anyone who only sees the rehabilitation doesn’t truly understand the magnitude of abuse and it’s ability to linger long after one leaves the abuser. It was important to me to convey that feeling and I hope the readers get a sense of how the abuse stays with someone long after leaving.
VE: Can you tell us about the process of writing and self-publishing this memoir? How did it affect you emotionally?
SB: My feelings about publishing the book change daily, even now. An overwhelming pride can be ruined by a bad review. It’s a process I’m learning how to cope with, and one that gets easier every day. Emotionally, I’ve run the gamut. Describing the abuse, the rape, the forced drug usage, and especially the masturbation scene, were incredibly triggering. I started writing my book in August, but it took me until the next September to complete it. This was not because the book is long, but because it took me that long to be able to process that I was sharing the worst moments of my life with anyone who was willing to read it. It was scary and very difficult.
But there were also joyous moments. I took back my life in some ways. Right now I am considering losing my pseudonym and republishing the book under my given name. This is obviously a large step in my recovery, but I want to be honest with myself and my readers that this experience doesn’t happen to “other people”. It happens to your friends, your family, your neighbors. I felt I needed to own this story more completely and putting my given name on it could help. I don’t have to hold a place in my heart for secrets anymore. I am free again.
VE: If you could give some advice to women in abusive relationships (whether physical, verbal, emotional or financial), what would you tell them? What are strong flags to look out for?
SB: I would provide them with the resources available to women currently in abusive relationships. The worst thing anyone can do to a woman in that situation is tell them to leave. They’re getting so much input from various places and living in a state of trauma, so it’s incredibly easy to push away suggestions and pleas. Telling them you will be there for them, no matter their decision, giving them the resources available (and explaining they can receive help to leave) and listening are the best things to do.
If you’re in a relationship with someone who alienates you from the people who make you the strongest (friends and family) or belittles your accomplishments (taking credit for your success) these are two red flags to look out for. Most abusers start relationships on their best behavior, often appearing too good to be true. They boast about their successes and diminish the rest of the people in their lives (often in ways that feel normal for everyone). One of these alone should be considered a red flag, but if your mate is showing multiple signs like these, it’s highly likely their true colors will eventually show.
VE: Where can someone find your memoir and purchase it? Can we look forward to any new writing by you in the future?
SB: Right now, the book is available online only, through Amazon (in Kindle and paperback formats) and through Barnes & Noble (in paperback). That version will be available online until the end of March, when my new, updated draft will go live with Booktrope Publishing shortly thereafter.
After I’ve gotten through the last few edits for the new version, I will begin book two, detailing recovery and life after the abuse. I’m hoping it will be out before the end of the year, though I’m not certain when it will be ready. From there, I’m hoping to focus more on advocacy work and raising awareness through public speaking, but the writing bug will never leave me, so I’m sure I’ll write another book before too long.
You can find The House on Sunset on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.com/The-House-Sunset-Sarafina-Bianco-ebook/dp/B00NEN6RNY/
Also available in paperback through Barnes & Noble:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-house-on-sunset-sarafina-bianco/1120527777
Venus Envy Happy Hour
Meet and Greet
Do you want to make a difference for Women and the Arts in St. Louis? Here is your chance to get involved with our organization as we begin our banner year of fun, engaging and empowering events scheduled for 2015. We have various activities, fundraisers (for our annual arts scholarship) and opportunities for artists to meet, mix and explore what our great city has to offer for Female and those who self-identify as Female artists!
NOW IS YOUR CHANCE TO GET INVOLVED!
Venus Envy Happy Hour Meet and Greet
Wednesday January 21st at 5:30 pm
Tavern of Fine Arts
313 Belt Ave. 63112
Meet all the Venus Envy Board Members and learn more about our different committees. See how you too can help female artists in our city all while meeting and working with some of the most fun, lively women you’ll meet!
RSVP HERE! We will see you there!
THIS YEAR WE HAVE RAISED A TOTAL OF $2,300 TOWARDS OUR SCHOLARSHIP FUND!
Now we need to find people to give this scholarship to!
If you are an artist (visual, performing, culinary- all types of artists) and need financial help to take classes, or further your work please apply for our scholarship.
If you know someone that fits this description of any age of any experience level, help them by sharing this information and pushing them to apply!
Tell every artist you know to look into the scholarship and see if they could benefit! We would love this money to go to people who could really use it!
FOR MORE INFORMATION GO HERE!
DO YOU WANT TO GET INVOLVED?!?
The Scholarship/Development Committee Meeting
THURSDAY January 15th at 7PM
4554 Chouteau 63110
Events Committee Meeting
WEDNESDAY January 28th at 7PM
3974 Wyoming St. 63116
We are excepting applications for our first annual art education scholarship! The application deadline for this 2015 summer scholarship is March 1, 2015. Self-identifying women artists (visual, performing, and culinary) living within a 35-mile radius of the city limits of St. Louis, MO are asked to complete the application HERE and submit examples of their work to email@example.com with subject line “SCHOLARSHIP APPLICANT”. There is no age restriction to the scholarship. Recipients will be notified in May 2015.
Preference is given to artists seeking funding for education or professional development and those who actively engage the community to promote social change. Please be prepared for an interview with the scholarship selection committee.
Scholarship recipients will be featured in Venus Envy’s September 2015 Showcase.
Venus Envy recently expanded its impact by collaborating with the St Louis Lady Arm Wrestlers (SLLAW) which shares its mission of empowering self-identifying women in the St. Louis metro area through community engagement. In June 2014, SLLAW joined VE fundraising efforts, contributing $1,300 to the first annual scholarship fund of $2,000.
Please send any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
What an amazing raffle we had this year! We would like to thank from the bottom of our heart all the folks that donated to tour raffle with the intentions of raising money for a local female scholarship! Scholarship application can be found, HERE. Looks like we will be awarding up to $2000 worth of scholarships!
Venus Envy presents:
Revelation 2014 Performance Line Up
The visual art is in and the line up is confirmed! Be sure to buy your tickets now at the EARLY BIRD price of $25 for the whole weekend! Includes 2 hours of open bar on Friday night and some tastes from some impressive local lady chefs!
FRIDAY AUGUST 22 (VIP Preview Party)
Petite Bastille Fashion Show
Saint Louis Ladies Armwrestling