The TRAVEL Issue, Vital VOICE Magazine, St. Louis, MO
May 2010 THE GETAWAY ISSUE Overlook Farm Pikeâ€™s Peak Colorado Trx Turns 20 Complimentary Copy This issue is dedicated to ‘ n THiS ISSUE 7 11 15 19 23 25 26 Pike’s Peak Overlook Farm One out of 10 Ain’t Bad LIVE + CREATE: Trx Turns 20! Date Place: Bixby’s Scene & Styling Non-profit of the Month: Missouri Botanical Garden oi cE Volume 11, Issue 5 Contributors Index Colin Murphy – Writer Darin Slyman – Publisher/Editor William A. Donius – Writer email@example.com Amanda Wichern – Writer Tess Tulley – Director of Business Affairs Richard Nichols – Photography firstname.lastname@example.org Chris Weiss – Photography Jeff Kapfer – Design Wilbur R. Wegener – Photography email@example.com Colin Murphy – Senior Writer/Web Editor firstname.lastname@example.org R. Lee Bond – Associate Editor RLeeBond@gmail.com Drew Baumgartner – Marketing/Vital VISION Dbaumgartner05@gmail.com CONTACT Vital VOICE Magazine 4579 Laclede Avenue #268 Saint Louis, MO 63108 VitalVOICEmag@gmail.com 314.256.1196 ONLINE thevitalvoice.com facebook.com/VitalVOICE twitter.com/VitalVOICEmag youtube.com/TheVitalVISION ADVERTISING Tesstulley@thevitalvoice.com 314.256.1196 (office) ADVISORY BOARD William A. Donius Thom Halter Colin Murphy Jay Perez Pam Schneider Kellie Trivers Sharon Tucci 3 Dear Friends, Now that spring is in full bloom, the travel bug has bitten Vital VOICE Magazine. Sure, it’s easy to hop a flight to some tropical destination or a glamorous city. However, the age-old adventure of the American road trip seems to be just what the doctor ordered. This year, whether it’s a 14-hour trek to Pike’s Peak Paradise in Colorado or an hour-long jaunt to Overlook Farm in Clarksville Missouri—this is the year to get out there and explore our beautiful Midwest America. I always like to say, “It’s called the heartland of America because we’ve got HEART”. This month we also take a look at our LGBT history; those who were a part of it, those who created it and those who have survived it. Our senior writer/web editor, Colin Murphy brings us an important feature on the St. Louis Gay History Project in his 1 out of TEN column. Also in history news, this year marks the 20-year anniversary of famed LGBT owned and operated retailer, Cheap TRX. From antique row to its infamous south grand location, it’s been an amazing trip turning TRX into St. Louis’ alternative shopping experience. Let’s not forget that PRIDE FEST ST. LOUIS will soon be upon us. This month, PRIDE has several events scheduled to get you pumped for PRIDE. On May 6-8, PRIDE presents their annual Malibu Beach Weekend at Attitudes Night Club. New to PRIDE this year, 5 bands will compete in the PRIDE Band Showcase on May 21 at The Fox Hole – AKA – Atomic Cowboy’s performance venue. As I always like to say… if you can’t be an athlete—be an athletic supporter by attending the annual PRIDE Volleyball Tournament on May 22 at the Stratford Inn. Finally, on May 24 PRIDE will be taking their monthly community meeting to a whole new level. This won’t be a meeting per-se, but an opportunity for PRIDE and the community to interact in a pressure-free, fun environment; appropriately renamed the PRIDE St. Louis Community Meet-up located at Just John’s at 7pm. I wouldn’t be a good publisher without a little shameless plug. Don’t forget you have until May 14 to get your advertisement supporting your LGBT community in the official 2010 PRIDE GUIDE. Contact our offices for more information 314 256 1196. Cheers, Darin Slyman Publisher 5 SLSO PRESENTS with the Saint LouiS Symphony orcheStra ONE NIGHT ONLY! SaturDay, June 5 8pm aT pOwELL HaLL Songstress and Tony® award-winner Liza Minnelli joins the SLSO for one unforgettable evening. Liza will sing sensational american standards in a glamorous and intimate concert with the SLSO. 314-534-1700 www.SLSo.org POwELL HaLL — 718 N. GRaNd BOuLEvaRd ’ S E K I PEA P K Written by William A. Donius It is almost a knee jerk response to head either east or west from St. Louis on vacation. The big cities: New York, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco are certainly exciting places to visit. But I decided to break the habit and took a road trip to Colorado. We also wanted to break out of the more typical vacation by going skiing and discovering the beauty of the Colorado Rockies by staying at a B&B owned by former St. Louisans. For me, vacations should be about getting some quality time to really catch up and connect with a partner or friends on a deeper level. Fourteen hours in the car certainly provides enough time! Before, you summarily dismiss the possibility of committing such a crazy act, a few things to consider. First, if you don’t have a big or reliable vehicle, rent one. A great vehicle makes the trip a lot easier and fun. Second, the objective is to enjoy the means to the end, and not just the destination. It is great to explore some of the quirky roadside destinations, surf the local radio stations or just play your favorite music for hours and hours. When you ski for the day at an altitude of 13,000 feet, it must be the equivalent of about 15 hours in the gym! It’s an excellent way to burn mega calories. Higher altitudes burn calories much faster. Bonus! Be forewarned, start slow with alcohol, as the altitude can make you feel like you want to lay down and not get up. If you’ve never been skiing, it’s certainly something to add to your list! The latest ski technology, plentiful instructors and ski schools make learning to ski easier than ever. The payoff — a truly spectacular view from a 13,000-foot mountain summit. You’re forced to blink to make sure you are not just imaging the beautiful sight before you. We stayed in Breckenridge, a gold mining town established in the 1800’s. Being the first in Colorado to decriminalized marijuana, it goes without saying that the town is laid back without the big attitude and glamour you’ll find in, say, Vail or Aspen. Don’t fret, however, Breckenridge has all the amenities you’ll need. Plus, there are three great mountain peaks to choose from depending on your skill level and terrain preference. 7 Years ago, I was impressed (even a bit jealous) when friends Ron Pujit and Michael Zacharias escaped their traditional jobs in St. Louis and decided to purchase a B&B overlooking Pike’s Peak. Their place is duly named, Pikes Peak Paradise. “Paradise,” by the way, is no overstatement! The first thing you see when you walk in through the front door of their B&B is the entire Pikes Peak Mountain through their two-story glass wall. Wow! The view is truly majestic, especially at sunset. There are many activities to do nearby, too. Among other things, you can visit a wolf shelter or hike a one-, three- or five-mile loop around some of the largest fossilized forests in the world. Perhaps the best part about our stay is the first-rate service Ron and Michael provide for their guests. For one, both are trained chefs, and you realize this immediately at breakfast (not your typical boring B&B fare). They serve up a gourmet breakfast and a great wine and cheese happy hour later as well. The completely renovated rooms are effectively the size of suites. Ron and Michael have gone to great lengths to make all rooms first-rate by adding importing Italian tile, fireplaces, terraces with views and big Jacuzzi tubs. The road trip proved to be great. We enjoyed being able to discover new sights, sounds and places. Our destination, Pikes Peek Paradise in Breckenridge, is not to be believed! I am always amazed by how much this country has to offer. It is easy to think we need to leave this country to have an interesting, inspiring vacation. Au contraire! I am a big fan of nature, so I encourage people to leave the cities and discover wild hinterland of America. 9 Take off with all the best perks “The best credit card if you want travel perks.” -Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, December 2009 For travel rewards, no other card comes close to the value you get with FlexPerksSM.Just ask Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. With just 20,000 FlexPoints, you are ready for takeoff with up to a $400 ticket on more than 150 airlines with no blackout dates or capacity controls. You earn FlexPoints fast with every purchase you make, plus earn double on most cell phone expenses and the category you spend the most — gas, groceries or airline travel. FlexPerks is a suite of credit and check cards that lets you quickly earn the rewards you want at a value you deserve as a FlexPerks cardholder. Not just the best travel rewards, but cash and merchandise rewards, your way. For more details, please visit us at www.QuikBit.com Email: Service@Quikbit.com or call us at (314) 735-5726 Apply online, call, or stop by today! Discreet Certified Computer Service 7 Days a Week * Flat Fee Service * Fast Turn-Around $50 Flat Fee Anonymity Privacy Virus & Malware Removal Troubleshooting, Repair & Maintenance System Optimization & Performance usbank.com/flexperks – 800-360-2900 Confidentiality Located in Centeral West End of St Louis Providing the community with the total pc service solution U.S. Bank FlexPerks Rewards Visa Credit Cards are issued by U.S. Bank National Association ND. Deposit products offered by U.S. Bank N.A. Member FDIC Overlook Farm Written by Amanda Wichern. Photography by Richard Nichols Pastoral Paradise, Palatial Digs What is the perfect getaway-place for a vacation? Few would answer this question with the word farm. But for those who have visited the relaxing, historical Overlook Farm, their answer may be a tad different. Located about 70 miles north of St. Louis— Overlook Farm is just a hop, skip and an hour-long-drive away. The 200 acre farm includes a restaurant, a gift shop, a farmer’s market, two bed and breakfasts—with another on the way—and views and memories that will last a lifetime. Overlook Farm is anything but boring. Skeet shooting and kayaking are just a couple of the fun, unique activities to take part in at the farm. the business by adding a full restaurant called Clarkesville Station which opened in 2005. After the success of Clarkesville Station took place, Pettus began remodeling two old historic homes located on the property. She began transforming the buildings into tranquil, relaxing European inspired bed and breakfasts that were full of different spaces to get away to. “I always wanted to get into the bed and breakfast business,” Pettus said. A family history A place to stay Described as a scene from a Jane Austin novel by proprietor Nathalie Pettus, this family owned landmark has been transformed by Pettus so visitors can enjoy the farm as she has her entire life. What was once a weekend home for the St. Louisan is know a place to call home and an entrepreneurial adventure. Overlook Farm has two bed and breakfasts for visitors to choose from. Each building is unique in its own way with historical value and character. Pettus added on to each house and remodeled them from the ground up. As the great-granddaughter to the original proprietor of the land, Pettus has turned the one-time apple orchard into a country getaway oasis. The land has been in Pettus’ family for more than 150 years. In 2004 Pettus decided to take her weekend getaway and make it a hotspot for tourists and the townspeople. While opening a small gift shop with a little deli attached was what Pettus wanted, visitors were screaming for more. 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With statues of ancient Greek gods framing the outside pool, it is the perfect spot to lay out and get some sun and make anyone feel like royalty. And don’t be fooled because the pool is outside—it is heated year round no matter what temperature for that Aspen feel during the winter time. to give them secluded spaces to be alone. Pettus said she doesn’t want people to feel like they are at a bed and breakfast that they are sharing with other people. Down home cookin’ “It fits with the classical theme,” Pettus said. “It’s very mythical and that’s what it’s all about.” Although Overlook Farm is full of fun exciting extracurricular activities and great housing options, the restaurant is the delicacy of the hotspot. The second bed and breakfast is known as Rackheath House which dates back to the 1860’s. This house is full of outdoor extracurricular activities. Enjoy a book on the two-seater swing attached to the tree by a small pond filled with coy gold fish or enjoy a strategic game of chess with the life-size chess board in the garden by the house. With new chef Timothy Grandinetti on board, Overlook Farm’s menu was created based on product that is currently in season. Much of the product and supplies for the dishes are grown on the farm. The meat used by the chef is fresh and organic from local farmers. The house’s inner décor is done meticulously down to the floor tiles—literally. The tiles were bought used and give the place a character all to itself. Grandinetti believes the farmer/chef relationship is vital to making excellent cuisine. “The tiles are an artistic element of the room itself,” Pettus said. “When you cook with a farmer’s product, it builds a connection with the chef and the farmer that is so important,” Grandinetti said. The house is named after Pettus’ English ancestry, the Rackheath family, in honor of the way her father used to roughen his voice and escalade his vocals louder as he said, “Rackheath.” “I’m doing it for my daddy,” Pettus shared. Decorated by Pettus herself, the houses are full of eye pleasing details; from the custom draperies made of Indian sarees to each bedroom that is accompanied with a chess board. The specifically designed houses whisk locals away to a European getaway without the turbulence and nine hour jet-lag. Pettus said it was important for her to make a lot of separate areas for people to experience while staying in the inns in order Pettus said she loves the experience of being able to create great food from product that you have grown and created with your own hands. The menu at Clarkesville Station isn’t your regular steak and potato dishes. The menu includes a variety of sandwich options and several different daily specials like: scallops over creamy grits with balsamic honey glaze. The newly finished outside patio of Clarkesville Station was completed in April and includes an outdoor kitchen area, a Japanese tea garden and a romantic bonfire to sit and get cozy by. Pettus said her father used to describe the weekend getaway spot as a combination of England, Vermont and Virginia, and that’s just what it is. Overlook Farm is literally a dream filled place full of character, history and peaceful surroundings. Owning a motto like a “shop, eat, stay,” Overlook Farm makes visitors do just that. “This place is like a breath of fresh air,” Pettus said. 1 Out of 10 Ain’t Bad! Written By Colin Murphy – Senior Writer/Web Editor Photography By Wilbur R. Wegener & Colin Murphy “Most of Gay history lies in shallow bachelors’ graves” – Paul Monette Chances are you’ve never heard of Wilbur Wegener. He wasn’t famous—but he was among the countless foremothers and forefathers who helped to shape and document the St. Louis lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Wegener was a member of early gay rights organizations, The Mattachine Society, The Mandrake Society, and One, Incorporated in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also an amateur photographer who spent three decades capturing richly candid images of our community from the nameless, faceless hustlers outside of Herbey’s in the Central West End (CWE) to the fist Pride Celebrations here in The Lou. 15 According to St. Louis photographer Scott Lokitz, who picked up Wegener’s torch in documenting our community, the elder’s body of work was impressive. Sadly, when he died in 2002 at age 80, Wegener’s family destroyed all of his photographs and negatives. Whether they didn’t approve, didn’t understand or simply couldn’t care less—it was a tragedy. “It just makes me cringe,” said Lokitz, who befriended Wegener in the 1980s and has what is believed to be the only collection of his photographs. The 11 images are from the 1980 & 1982 St. Louis Pridefests (the first and third respectively.) Having taken millions of community related pictures since the early 1980s, Lokitz is keenly aware of their history, and we thank him for allowing us to publish a few of them here. Sadly, much of our history winds up in the dumpster or has gone unrecorded altogether. I think that’s why we are a community of collectors. (We do hold on to the oddest things.) For over the past two generations we’ve had to seek out, unearth, reclaim and retell our stories. Each year gives way to new discoveries about our community’s history. The St. Louis Gay History Project Steve Brawley has loved history for as long as he can remember. From an early age he was fixated on Abraham Lincoln, and later in life, Jackie Kennedy. (He has an awesome site devoted to the latter at www.pinkpillbox.com.) But it was at the 1988 Pridefest where the seeds of the St. Louis Gay History Project were first planted for the area PR Consultant. “I would meet folks and they always had a story to tell,” said Brawley. “At a very young age I just loved to hear Bette Davis (Jimmy Walker) stories and was just fascinated by that history.” “But one by one people die off and you think, why didn’t I talk to that person, why didn’t I record it?” recalled Brawley. “So I thought—this is silly. I really should do something about it.” Accordingly, The St. Louis Gay History Project blog was launched in 2008. Brawley posted stories about what other cities were doing to preserve their LGBT history as well as local historical nuggets and pictures pertaining to the Gateway City. Reaction was almost immediate as Brawley heard from like-minded community members who wanted to help out. One of those was college student Ian Darnell who joined Brawley in hosting community meetings, visiting the St. Louis LGBT Archives at UMSL and setting up oral history training. The St. Louis Gay History Project will launch its website in June. There, folks can read up on St. Louis’ queer history, view photos, and browse the first of the oral histories from area LGBT elders. “There are several folks who are willing and interested and we are using them as a way of encouraging others,” said Brawley of the project that has started with a list of 200 potential subjects. “SAGE has been very interested in working with us and we’re looking forward to that.” “I think we’re at a really fun, exciting juncture here with things coming together,” he continued. “I think there’s a lot of community interest and I’m just one cog in this wheel. My main goal is to use the web platform to do what I do.” Diversity within the History Project is important and organizers look forward to lesbian, transgender and ethnically diverse community members to champion the effort. On May 16, in honor of Equality Across America’s Harvey Milk Call to Action, The St. Louis Gay History Project will be leading a walking tour of sites in the CWE significant to the history of St. Louis’ LGBT community. This neighborhood—by the 1960s known as St. Louis’ “gay ghetto”—has long been a hub of LGBT social, religious, and political life. Learn more about the history project at stlouisgayhistory.com and on Facebook (St. Louis LGBT History Project). 17 live create & Live + CREAT Trx Turns 20! Live| CREATE Written By Colin Murphy â€“ Senior Writer Photography By Richard Nichols & Colin Murphy If you’re ever at an area antique store and spy a piece of whimsically painted furniture, don’t be surprised if the name Cheap Trx is scrawled on the backside. For the queer landmark’s beginnings 20-years ago just might surprise you. What would become The Lou’s “alternative shopping experience” opened in the summer of 1990 on Cherokee Street’s Antique Row. Cheap Trx—named for doing artistic tricks to cheap furniture—was born from a trip that longtime-partners Michael Mahler and Frank Neal made to Chicago to visit a friend’s newly decorated apartment. “They were doing all of this crazy stuff with painting old pieces of furniture and doing gold treatment on her walls,” recalled Mahler. “And of course Frank and I looked at each other and said, well, we can do this.” Indeed, launching a kitschy shop was a perfect venture for the creative professionals. Mahler was employed at Design Network doing multimedia displays and Neal had worked in visual display at Famous-Barr for 30-years and was looking for a change. Accordingly, the duo went about adding to their existing collection of pottery, plates and glassware and spent the next six months hitting garage sales and alleyways for camp finds and old furniture they could fancy up with paint treatments and new fabric and opened shop. “About a month and a half into the shop is when I got laid off and so we did everything we could,” said Mahler. “We did mass mailings and had little parties at the shop to bring people in. We were just quirky enough and silly enough that we got lucky and we got some great articles in the Post.” “We were media darlings for a short time,” added Neal. After all— Cheap Trx was unlike anything St. Louis had seen before and there was darn little they couldn’t sell given the right paint, upholstery or design. (Even an old broken brick with an Egyptian paint theme could sell for $5). Trx of the Trade In 1992 Cheap Trx moved to its present location at 3211 South Grand. The late 1980s and early 1990s had seen a steady migration of LGBT St. Louisans to the diverse neighborhood and Mahler and Neal courted them by flying rainbow flags down the block. “When we moved to South Grand, we lost our collectiblebased-customer and we started changing direction,” offered Neal. “That’s when we started getting all of the fun stuff in and merchandizing and in effect became more of a retail outlet.” Still those were lean years and there were more than a few $100 days. But in 1994 the opportunity to partner with body piercer, Stan Schober presented itself which gave way to increased traffic and an expanding customer base. It would prove a turning point for the quirky shop. In 1998 St. Louis Pridefest made the jump to South Grand and Tower Grove Park. Each June rivals the holidays in revenue and the shop is silly with rainbows, cards and assorted Pride paraphernalia. “I think one thing that has saved us constantly is our diversity because we try to cater to the whole community,” explained Mahler. “We encourage everyone to shop there as long as they get along with each other. So it’s not uncommon for us to have truckers shopping next to a drag queen.” “We’ve got the customers that nobody else wants,” Neal said with pride. In 2003 William Spencer took over the reins of the piercing services and added tattooing to the menu. Cheap Trx is now divided into three separate yet cohesive identities: Cheap Trx is the retail store on the street level and offers an array funky, fun and fabulous finds; TRXi’s (a.k.a. The Cage) is the lower “adult” level boutique; and TRX tattooing/piercing operated by Spencer is the service part of the business on the second floor. Mahler and Neal believe in giving back to the community that has supported them and donate to myriad organizations and charities. For over the past two decades Cheap Trx has become a touchable anchor for the LGBT community and their shop is oftentimes the first stop for out-of-towners or those first stepping out into the community. “Every weekend there’s people coming into town who stop in to ask what else is there to do in St. Louis, where else to go and what bars to go to and all that,” said Neal, who is now retired from the shop. “It’s a constant question and answer thing.” “It’s really fun,” offered Mahler. “I really enjoy it when we have the new generation coming through. And it’s kind of scary too because now we’re getting people in the shop who are turning 18-19-years old and we’re thinking—you weren’t even born yet when we opened up the shop.” Mahler and Neal celebrated 30-years together last fall. In 1996, they partnered with Stan Galczynski to round out the Cheap Trx trio. Galczynski is the Trx staff photographer and web designer. 21 Specializing in Mortgages for all borrowers! P ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° Rachel McCalla– arty Perfect and P.U.R.E.* Genius: People Using Renewable Energy are those making smart decisions about the future by supporting renewable energy – like local wind power. This helps keep Missouri’s air clean, strengthen the local economy and protect natural resources for future generations. That’s why Rachel McCalla enrolled her weddings, events, and floral design business, “Lucky You Productions,” in AMERENUE PURE POWER® program. Pure Power makes it easy for Rachel to support renewable energy sources right here in Missouri... and easy for her to recommend it to her clients. “I care about the environment. Almost every time Lucky You stages an event, we use electricity. The generation of that power is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions today,” says McCalla. “I can do all sorts of things to make an event sustainable – like using real china vs. paper plates or locally raised flowers in centerpieces – but offsetting the electricity through Pure Power is the easiest and most effective way to help an event move closer to true carbon neutrality.” P.U.R.E.* Genius – that’s Rachel, Pure Power and a Lucky You event. GO GREEN! Check the PURE POWER box on your monthly power bill or call 1-866-665-PURE (7873) to start supporting clean energy. To sign up online or learn more about Pure Power, visit www.ameren.com/purepower. Christine Elbert Account Executive 314-772-8663 email@example.com The Strength of our Shield! dfg AUTO • HOME • LIFE Greg Tainter 636-938-5500 GTainter@ShelterInsurance.com 1-800-SHELTER ShelterInsurance.com 2010 Gypsy Caravan Antiques, Flea Market & Craft Fair Proceeds donated support the Saint Louis Symphony’s more than 250 free community and educational programs each year. Memorial Day, May 31 University of Missouri–St. Louis General Admission: 9am-5pm, $5 Early Admission: 7am-9am, $20 Children Under 12 Free www.gypsycaravan-stl.org Presented by the Saint Louis Symphony Volunteer Association with the cooperation of the University of Missouri–St. Louis First Time Homebuyers FHA / VA FHA Rehab Refinance Pre-Approvals Debt Consolidation Investment Property Reverse Mortgage Realtor Referrals Mortgage Counseling The new date place in town is not only appealing to the taste buds, but the view from the dining room is another aspect that can’t be found just anywhere. Bixby’s, the newly renovated restaurant in the Missouri History Museum, is an elegant, chic place to take a lunch date—or have a brunch date on a Sunday morning. Bixby’s is named after philanthropist William K. Bixby. Display cases throughout the restaurant are dedicated to Bixby with bio information about the St. Louis philanthropist. Bixby’s tagline, “dining with local influence” is quite appropriate for more reasons than one. The restaurant’s dishes and menu is made from materials grown, produced and raised locally. The restaurant thrives on keeping the materials clear of any unknown additives and tries to stay as organic as possible. PLACE: Written by Amanda Wichern. Photography by Chris Weiss Bixby’s Beautiful on the inside and the out “We try to use just local products when possible,” said Todd Lough, Bixby’s chef de cuisine. Not only is the menu made up of clean organic product, but it is also anything-but-boring and will keep you coming back for more. The menu will change seasonally based on the produce and meats in season from local vendors supplied to Bixby’s. The delicacies of the mouthwatering, clean flavors created by Lough are not the only exquisite things found in the sustainable restaurant. The view of the park from the dining room of the restaurant makes Bixby’s a place that is sure to please another of the five senses. “People come here, not only for the food but for the view,” John McGuire, Bixby’s general manager said. You and your date will enjoy the breathtaking view from the wall lined with glass to the outside. The view will stir the conversation during your visit; from watching the people as they walk and jog the paths, play golf on the nearby golf course, or watch the ornate and amazing fountains that accompany the park’s decor. Let’s not forget that the restaurant is located in the Missouri History Museum. The dining area is decorated with canvas photos that were duplicated from some of the display exhibits in the museum. The wall displays are scheduled to change annually with exhibits. Bixby’s offers an array of conversation starters from the view to the décor display for that awkward pause in any date. If the date is a little more modest, try out Bixby’s Express counter, which is set up in a separate area from the sit-down dining room for a more easy-going lunch to-go. While dining at Bixby’s not only were the view and the décor pleasing to the eye, but the decadent carefully arranged appearance of the food was in itself an art-form. I even overheard one lady tell her waitress as she was bringing out the food, “It is too beautiful to eat.” Aside from the food and the view, Bixby’s service is one of the best I have ever experienced while dining out in St. Louis. The wait staff are attentive to the needs of their customers and constantly have a smile on their faces making the dining experience that much more inviting. Bixby’s really has it all for the perfect date. It’s both delicious on the inside and beautiful on the outside. 23 Lea Delaria is NAKED Famed Comedian and Cabaret signer Lea Delaria packed NP April 16th and 17th for her outrageous performance. The Bellville, IL native was on a return trip home to visit family and decided to treat us all to her hysterical live antics. Known as the first openly out lesbian comedian on national TV, Lea has continued to grow and currently entertains audiencesâ€™ worldwide. Vital VOICE was honored to be the presenting sponsor for her performances here in St. Louis. We hope we can have her back soon! & Scene Styling Project St. Louis Over 300 people attended the launch of Project St. Louis at the Duane Reed gallery in the CWE on April 8th and 9th to view photos of the silent statement about the current state of gay marriage. Over 1000 people posed for photographer John Elkins over the past several months making this project one of the biggest events that has brought the LGBT and our straight allies together. Big kudos must also go out to Project St. Louis Organizer Todd Villmer for all his hard work in making this happen. Vital VOICE dedicates this issue to our Non-profit of the month The Missouri Botanical Garden – The Missouri Botanical Garden is an oasis in the heart of St. Louis. Opened to the public in 1859, the Garden is a National Historic Landmark and the oldest botanical garden in continuous operation in the country, widely considered one of the top three botanical gardens in the world. It is a renowned center for science and conservation, education and horticultural display. In 1819, an 18-year old Englishman named Henry Shaw came to St. Louis to open a business selling hardware and cutlery. As St. Louis grew, so did Shaw’s business and fortunes, and he retired before age 40. Shaw spent his early retirement years buying property and traveling in the U.S. and abroad. In the 1850s, inspired by the great gardens of Europe that he encountered on his journeys, he began developing land near his country home (now southwest St. Louis) into a gift for the city. In 1859, he opened the Missouri Botanical Garden to visitors. Over 150 years later, “Shaw’s Garden,” as locals often call it, is one of the city’s most popular attractions, visited by hundreds of thousands of people annually. Its 79 acres encompass splendid horticultural displays, indoor conservatories and historic structures. Since 1960, the Climatron® conservatory has easily been one of the most recognizable features at the Garden, noted as the first geodesic dome to be used as a plant conservatory. Inside, verdant foliage, cascading waterfalls and a warm, humid climate simulate an authentic jungle atmosphere. In celebration of this iconic structure’s 50th anniversary in 2010, the Garden is hosting the “DinoQuest: A Tropical Trek Through Time” exhibition from May 1 through Oct. 3. Encounter dozens of prehistoric creatures in an unparalleled environment – a thriving tropical rain forest! Explore the world of dinosaurs and prehistoric plants; discover how scientists shed light on the past, present and future; and celebrate our planet’s rich biodiversity of today. Visit www.mobot.org/dinoquest for hours, admission and special events associated with the exhibit. The 14-acre authentic Japanese Garden, Seiwa-en, is another must-see. One of the largest and most authentic Japanese strolling gardens in North America, it features cherry blossoms, azaleas, chrysanthemums, lotus and more surrounding a four-acre lake stocked with giant “koi,” or carp, which are relentless in their desire to be fed by visitors. Green-thumbed visitors should stop at the William T. Kemper Center for Home Gardening, the nation’s most comprehensive resource center for gardening information. The Kemper Center includes 23 residential-scale demonstration gardens blooming with ideas for any space, from a city garden to a family vegetable garden to a butterfly garden. The Doris I. Schnuck Children’s Garden offers nearly two acres of outdoor play, fun and learning for children from April through October ($5 per child ages three to 12). Other outstanding displays include Chinese, English, German and Turkish-inspired gardens, and a Victorian District featuring Tower Grove House, the 1849 country home of Henry Shaw (open for tours Tuesdays through Sundays, April through December). Spring and summer are awash with the color of hundreds of thousands of bulbs, two rose gardens, and iris and daylily displays. Nearly 5,200 trees Beauty in All Four Seasons live on the grounds, including some rare and unusual varieties and a few stately specimens dating back to the 19th century, when Shaw planted them. As one of the area’s premier cultural attractions, the Garden hosts a variety of special events, activities and exhibitions throughout the year. The celebration of Chinese Culture Days occurs annually on the third weekend of May and features a Grand Parade with 70-foot dancing dragon, Shanghai Acrobats, martial arts, Chinese calligraphy, painting and authentic regional cuisine. The popular (and free!) Whitaker Music Festival returns with live concerts performed under the stars on Wednesday evenings from June through early August (www.mobot.org/events/whitaker). The Japanese Festival showcases the culture and traditions of Japan every Labor Day weekend, and the Best of Missouri Market features the goods of over 130 of Missouri’s finest food producers and artisans during the first weekend of October. The Garden’s renowned and expansive orchid collection is publicly displayed from February through mid-March, and the Gardenland Express holiday flower and train show rolls into town from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. A variety of other amenities are available for Garden visitors. Narrated tram tours are available daily from April through October for $4 per person. Free guided walking tours led by Garden docents depart the Ridgway Visitor Center at 10 a.m. daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day (1 p.m. the rest of the year). Dining is available on site indoors or out at the Sassafras café, and no visit is complete without a stop at the Garden Gate Shop for unique souvenirs! The Missouri Botanical Garden is located at 4344 Shaw Blvd., just off I-44 and Vandeventer in St. Louis. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round, with extended summer hours until 8 p.m. on Wednesday evenings from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Admission is $8 for adults and free for children ages 12 and under. St. Louis City and County residents enjoy discounted admission of $4 for adults and are free on most Wednesday and Saturday mornings until noon (exceptions: third weekend of May, Labor Day weekend and the first weekend of October, when special admission rates apply). Free on-site parking is also available. For more information about the Missouri Botanical Garden, visit mobot.org or call 314.577.5100. OPERA THEATRE OF SAINT LOUIS ANNOUNCES Food Outreach Fridays AT OPERA THEATRE See the opera festival that the Sunday Times (London) called “Magic on the Mississippi!” and benefit FOOD OUTREACH! Mention OUTREACH when you call for tickets (or use it as your promo code online) to any Friday night performance at Opera Theatre, and 20% of your ticket price will go to FOOD OUTREACH. Offer cannot be applied to subscription or discounted tickets. Seating is limited. The Marriage of Figaro Much ado about I do. A comic masterpiece by Mozart with Maria Kanyova, Amanda Majeski, and Christopher Feigum. Eugene Onegin Performances held at the Loretto Hilton Center, 130 Edgar Road, St. Louis, MO 63119 Tchaikovsky’s music and Pushkin’s story is the essential Russian opera with Dina Kuznetsova, Christopher Magiera, and Sean Panikkar. Opera Theatre gratefully acknowledges 2010 Season presenting sponsor A Little Night Music Isaac Mizrahi directs and designs the Sondheim classic with Amy Irving, Siân Phillips, and Ron Raines. CALL (314) 961-0644 FOR TICKETS NOW! WATCH OUR PREVIEW VIDEO ONLINE AT ExperienceOpera.org World Premiere The Golden Ticket A new opera based on Roald Dahl’s classic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Daniel Okulitch, Tracy Dahl, and Susanne Mentzer.