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The Art of Drag Local queens to showcase Arizona’s excellence at Miss Gay America


This event will be a valuable resource for the entire LGBT community and their families. To RSVP to our open house event, please email or call us at 480-492-8833


Dr. Burt Webb is Scottsdale’s Premiere FTM Doctor Dr. Webb has served the lesbian and transgender community for over 34 years as an OB/GYN in Scottsdale. He is well respected amongst his peers and provides unique and individualized care to all of his patients. His expert training and extensive experience has led him to develop his unique procedures for transgender patients, resulting in drastically reduced complication rates and better patient outcomes. His staff is caring, knowledgeable, and experienced in working with all patients within the LGBT community. Come meet Dr. Webb and his team October 25, 2017. Dr. Webb is hosting “An Evening with the Expert” open house starting at 5:30 pm at his practice in Scottsdale, AZ. Follow FTMDoctor on Twitter and Facebook for more information about the event, or call the office at the number listed below!

Scottsdale Center for Woman’s Health 8415 N Pima Rd #210 Scottsdale, AZ 85258 480-492-8833 @FTMDoctor

Attorney Lindsay Benjamin

Attorney Tyler Allen

We’ve got you covered. Family Law

Employment Law

Criminal Defense

Divorce, Child Custody, Prenuptial Agreements

Wrongful Termination, Sexual Harassment, Discrimination

Felony, Misdemeanor, DUI & Traffic

inside this issue Issue 697 | Vol. 29, #1 | October 2017

features NEWS 8

Letter From The Editor

12 Datebook PREVIEWS AND REVIEWS 76 Without Reservations 80 Between The Covers 82 Opening Nights 84 At The Box Office 86 Recordings COMMUNITY


88 All Over The Map

Celebrate As National LGBTQ History Month, October promises a wide variety of celebrations – and you’re invited.


Strut From the pageant stage to the fashion week runway, these community members are putting in werk this season.

ON THE COVER The Miss Gay America crown awaits the 2018 pageant in New Orleans. Original crown photo courtesy of Scotty Kirby.

55 The Art of Drag Local queens to showcase Arizona’s excellence at Miss Gay America

Create Get to know this year’s artists who are fostering community through a variety of creative outlets.


Engage We’re kicking off the arts season by introducing you to members of the arts community that make Echo possible.





inside this issue web exclusives PHOTO GALLERIES Did the Echo cameras catch you out and about at this month’s events? Find out at gallery/2017-photos COMMUNITY CALENDAR From pageants to advocacy, this is where the community goes to fi nd out what’s going on in the gayborhood. Courtesy Photo.

Photo by Devin Millington. community-calendar


Loud and Clear

Gay recording artist with Tucson ties dishes on new album, activism and touring.

Take a look back at the Phoenix Mercury’s 2017 quest to be heard.

COMMUNITY DIRECTORY Looking for a local group to join? Have a group that’s seeking new members? Either way, this is the place to connect. community-directory MARKETING SOLUTIONS Find out why Echo is the publication your future clients are already reading.

Courtesy Photo.

Photo by marketing-solutions

Roll Credits Echo’s long-time film critic Hans Pedersen bids farewell to “At The Box Office.”


Hit Me With Your Best Shot For all the Out & About photos in this issue – and more – visit Echo’s online photo gallery.




LETTER FROM THE editor By KJ Philp

Instagram: @echomagazineaz

Linkedin: Echo Magazine



ach October, Team Echo invites you to join us in celebrating the three things that are most important to us.

The first is LGBTQ History Month, an observance of the history of the gay rights movement – spanning from the first LGBTQ march on Washington in 1979 to this year’s National Coming Out Day, observed on Oct. 11. The second is Echo’s birthday. Believe it or not, this month marks 28 years since Bill Orovan produced the very first issue. We’re thankful for all of you who have supported Echo – by reading, advertising, distributing, writing or photographing – throughout the years. Cheers to many more birthdays, too. The third celebration is Echo’s annual arts season preview (which you are holding in your hands). As one of Echo’s longest-running and most-loved traditions, our annual arts issue celebrates all forms of creative expression, as well as the artists (most of whom are local) who create or perform it.

Just in time for Phoenix Fashion Week, local Renaissance man Nicholas Murray takes us on a tour of his operation, Dupree Art Studio. The artist, model and entrepreneur shares his creative inspiration with us in “Power To The Peaceful” on page 48. Create Join us in our annual tribute to the creators of art of all mediums. From a collection of photography that’s connecting community (“Queer Girls,” page 56) and upcoming theater productions with LGBTQ themes (“11 Shows Not To Miss” on page 60) to a lesbian film duo (“Fat Camp” on page 62) and the Valley’s newest and hottest music festival (“Lost Lake” on page 64), you’ll find a diverse collection of artistic expression and hopefully become acquainted with an artist whose work you weren’t previously familiar with. Engage


If a single word could summarize this year’s arts calendar, “engage” would be it. In this section, we invite you to engage the arts venues and organizations that support Echo. So, in the pages ahead, you’ll find a listing for every entity that has partnered with Echo to promote its 20172018 calendars.

There’s a whole lot happening in the month ahead and you’re invited. We’ve highlighted the biggest and best events heading to Phoenix and Tucson, including event details on Tucson Pride’s 40th anniversary, Phoenix’s 15th annual Rainbows Festival and both the Tucson and Phoenix AIDS Walks. You’re going to want to mark your calendars and join in on these celebrations.

If you missed your chance this year, be sure to get in touch with our sales department (at 602-266-0550) to be included next year. But in the meantime, you can find a listing of everything that’s going on in the Valley’s arts community, visit We invite you to share your upcoming events with our readers here as well.


This letter wouldn’t be complete without a huge thank you to everyone who made this milestone issue possible.

Because that’s a tremendous amount of people, venues, mediums and events to cover, we nearly doubled the size of our usual issue to bring you all this coverage. Let’s take a tour:

From the pageant stage to the fashion week runway, we’re serving up a collection of community members who are putting in werk this season. In pursuit of the Miss Gay America crown, eight queens with local ties will head to the national pageant Oct. 4-7 in New Orleans. Find out more about the coveted crown and the queens who are chasing it in “The Art of Drag” on page 39. We also caught up with Romeo White, Entertainer of the Year King 2017, upon his return to Arizona with his national crown. We have more on his unforgettable pageant experience and his reign in “Fit For A King” on page 45. 8




Thank you to the local venues and groups, that made sure to get us their calendar of events; to the artists, who opened up and shared their passion and talent with us; and to Team Echo, who continues to make us the best we can possibly be (28 years later)! Thank you all and welcome to arts season – your senses await!

EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR: KJ Philp CONTRIBUTORS: Caryn Bird Stephanie Anne Donoghue Buddy Early James Fanizza Tamara Juarez Laura Latzko Art Martori Liz Massey

Devin Millington Tia Norris Seth Reines Julio C. Reyna Terri Schlichenmeyer Nikole Tower Rachel Verbits Megan Wadding

ART DEPARTMENT PHOTOGRAPHY: Fernando Hernandez,, Scotty Kirby Photo and Stephanie Anne Donoghue. ADVERTISING DIRECTOR OF SALES AND MARKETING: Ashlee James ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES: Gregg Edelman Rosanna Portugal-Miles NATIONAL ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVE: Rivendell Media, 212-242-6863


Phoenix, AZ 85011-6630 PHONE: 602-266-0550 EMAIL: Copyright © 2016 • ISSN #1045-2346


Echo Magazine is published by ACE Publishing, Inc. Echo is a registered trademark of ACE Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Written permission must be obtained in advance for partial or complete reproduction of any advertising material contained therein. Opinions expressed therein are not necessarily those of the publisher or staff. ACE Publishing, Inc. does not assume responsibility for claims by its advertisers. Publication of a name, photograph of an individual or organization in articles, advertisements or listings is not to be construed as an indication of the sexual orientation, unless such orientation is specifically stated. Manuscripts or other materials submitted remain the property of ACE Publishing, Inc.




Ann Andrews, FNP

Southwest Center’s Family Nurse Practitioner

Date book

Sept. 29-30

Oct. 21-22

Tucson Pride will celebrate its 40th anniversary with Pride on Parade, Sept. 26 along downtown Tucson’s Fourth Avenue, and Pride in the Park, Sept. 30 at Reid Park, 900 S. Randolph Way, in Tucson. (See story, page 28.)

Phoenix Pride presents the 15th annual Rainbows Festival, a free street fair featuring vendors and entertainment, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Heritage Square Park, 113 N. Sixth St., in Phoenix. (See story, page 32.)

Sept. 23

Sept. 28

Join Echo Magazine and Phoenix Theatre Ambassador Board for Opening Act, a season premiere reception featuring live music, raffles and more, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Phoenix Theatre, 100 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix. RSVP requested.

One Community presents its East Valley LGBT Business Summit, including an overview of the importance of LGBTQ workplace inclusion and an in-depth panel discussion, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at PayPal, 3000 One Payment Way, in Chandler. Sept. 24

will take place from noon to 8 p.m. at the Wyndham Garden Phoenix Midtown, 3600 N. Second St., in Phoenix. Sept. 29 & 30; Oct. 6 & 7

The 2017 Tucson Miss and Mister Pride Pageant, honoring Demi LaRaye and Romeo White, will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. at The Maverick, 6622 E. Tanque Verde Road, in Tucson.

Performances of 5 Lesbians Eating A Quiche, the opening play for 4am productions, will take place at Prescott Center for the Arts - Stage TOO, 208 N. Marina St., in Prescott. Sept. 26 Sept. 30

The Arizona Community Foundation’s Center for LGBTQ Philanthropy will host Health & Aging Salon, an event to highlight issues facing the LGBTQ elder community and address other critical topics from 5 to 7 p.m. at Arizona Community Foundation, 2201 E. Camelback Road, Suite 405B, in Phoenix.

Join some of Phoenix’s best drag queens for Doggies and Drag Show, an adoption event with performances, raffles, drink specials and more, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Kobalt, 3110 N. Central Ave., #125, in Phoenix. Sept. 27

Chatterbox Storytelling, a live storytelling event where everyone is welcome to share their personal stories (no experience necessary, check website for weekly themes) will take place from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at Fair Trade Cafe, 1020 N. First Ave., in Phoenix.

Oct. 15

Southern Arizona’s 29th annual AIDSWALK Tucson, benefiting the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, will take place at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Jácome Plaza, 101 N. Stone Ave., in Tucson. (See story, page 34.) Oct. 20

One Community presents its seventh annual Spotlight on Success awards luncheon (11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) and networking cocktail reception (1:30-3 p.m.) at the Sheraton Grand Phoenix, 340 N. Third St., in Phoenix. Oct. 21

Oct. 5-7

The 2017 Phoenix Fashion Week itinerary of events will take place at Talking Stick Resort, 9800 E. Talking Stick Way, in Scottsdale. Oct. 7

Equality Arizona invites you to Imagine, its 2017 community celebration and awards dinner, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Events on Jackson, 245 E. Jackson St., in Phoenix.

Peacework Medical presents Pawswork, an amateur dog show and fundraiser, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Coronado Park, 1717 N. 12th St., in Phoenix. Oct. 22

Phoenix’s 10th annual AIDS Walk Arizona & 5K Run, benefiting Aunt Rita’s Foundation, will take place at Third Avenue and Washington Street in Downtown Phoenix. (See story, page 35.) Oct. 14

ION Arizona’s first-ever Sausage Fest and LGBTQ Oktoberfest weekend, which will include a pool party, volleyball tournament, libe entertainment, bendors and more, 12








OUT & ABOUT Young Professional Multicultural Network Sept. 12 at The Newton, Phoenix. Photos by

For more Echo photos visit







OUT & ABOUT Trump Rally Protest Aug. 22 in downtown Phoenix. Photos by Bill Gemmill and KJ Philp.

For more Echo photos visit










OKTOBER 13-14-15


KINDERFEST & ADULT CARNIVAL RIDES Events are better when your friends are there!



THE 26


10k/5k/1 Mile in participation with

FOUR PEAKS Oktoberfest




Advertise in Echo for FREE For a limited time, all new 6x and 12x contracts will receive and additional ad of equal or lesser value and be eligible for bag marketing in our Pride 2018 preview issue. Contact us today at 602-266-0550 or to take advantage of this offer.

















1 7

*This offer is only eligible for new contracts signed by Oct. 4, 2017. Advertisers become eligible for free ad once paid contract is fulfilled. Free ad will run in the issue immediately following paid contract. Contract cancellation voids this offer. 20



OUT & ABOUT 2017 Family Health & Resource Fair Sept. 2 at the Parson’s Center for Health and Wellness, Phoenix. Photos by

For more Echo photos visit







Tucson Pride Rainbows Festival

AIDS WALK: Tucson And Phoenix




OUT & ABOUT Turnabout For TIHAN Sept. 3 at Doubletree by Hilton Hotel at Reid Park, Tucson. Photos by Stephanie Anne Donoghue.

For more Echo photos visit




Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Tucson adds Pride-inspired crosswalks to historic Fourth Avenue By Stephanie Anne Donoghue

Courtesy photo.


n August, Tucson joined a growing number of cities that have added rainbow crosswalks to urban spaces. Historic Fourth Avenue, at the intersection of Sixth Street, is now home to the only four rainbow crosswalks in Arizona. The project, which was formally dedicated Aug. 8, is the result of a collaboration by The Fourth Avenue Merchants Association (FAMA), Southern Arizona Aids Foundation (SAAF), Speedy Striping Inc., and the City of Tucson. The message Adam Ragan, associate director of LGBTQ Initiatives for SAAF. hopes the rainbow crosswalks convey is that solidarity and inclusivity are a major and vital part of the community. Ragan was first inspired by the idea of bringing rainbow crosswalks in Tucson four years ago. And, when an opportunity to make this a reality in his city presented itself, the community organizer jumped at it. However, when asked who the one person most responsible for this effort is, Ragan replied, the “Tucson community,” adding that he attributes the success of the project to all the organizations, people, allies and business within the community. When Monique Vallery, events director for FAMA, became involved in Ragan’s project about two years ago, their combined efforts started gaining momentum. Then Lucas Boring, Speedy Striping Inc. president, got on board and donated the time, equipment and services for the project. In addition, he paid his employees overtime for working Sunday afternoon and evening and stated that they were “proud to be part of this effort.” While rainbow crosswalks in other cities use industrial paint, Speedy Striping estimated that Tucson’s would need a better product to withstand its traffic, CELEBRATE

monsoons, heat and ultra violet rays. With the help of its supplier, Speedy Striping developed a new process that – instead of paint – employs recycled stained glass that’s turned into a special mixture and colored to each specific hue. First, an epoxy is laid down and then it’s coated it with one of the colors. Although and this installation was a first of its kind, combining this product and process, this technique is designed to last at least three years. As a permanent artwork on Fourth Avenue and Sixth street, the crosswalks will then be touched up as needed. “Other cities interested in creating their own rainbow crosswalks can look to Tucson for guidance and to Speedy Striping for everything from do-it-yourself kits to Speedy Striping doing the installation,” Ragan said.

serve as a visible symbol that LGBTQ individuals are welcome in Tucson. “We may never know the [project’s] full impact,” Vallery said. “A family five years from now may have a child that sees this and knows this is a safe accepting place. While the child may not be able to express how this support feels, the child can internalize the love Tucson has for all people.” The next addition to Historic Fourth Avenue, according to Ragan, will be SAAF’s Thornhill Lopez Center (TLC), which will offer essential resources to youth who identify as LGBTQ and their youth allies. For more information of TLC, visit

“Businesses hope the permanent colors draw more people here, bringing people down to the shops, restaurants, and stores,” Vallery added. And so far, the city’s seen a welcoming response. The project’s dedication, organizers and local leaders shared their support for the LGBTQ community before a diverse crowd. “Today, we show Arizona, America, and the world that Fourth Avenue and Tucson are proud to stand with, and celebrate, the LGBTQ community,” said the Most Rev. Bennett D. D. Burke, Presiding Bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church International, in his dedication speech. City council member (Ward 3) Karin Uhlich said she hoped the intersection would be a place to turn when she and others “need a little dose of courage or pride,” adding that the colorful crosswalks “make it crystal clear our community loves us and we belong here.” The intention of the public art piece, according to project coordinators, is to

The Fourth Avenue Merchants Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the growth and development of the businesses and communities in the Historic Fourth Avenue Business District. The mission of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation is to cultivate a healthy and stigma-free society through transformative action. For more information, visit




40 Years of Pride

Tucson celebrates milestone anniversary with annual parade and festival By Megan Wadding

Photo by Bill Gemmill.

Pride on Parade The weekend celebration will kick off Sept. 29 with Pride on Parade, a procession of approximately 40 floats that makes its way along downtown Tucson’s Fourth Avenue. The parade’s grand marshals include Tucson Police Chief Chris Magnus, with Assistant Chiefs Kevin Hall and Carla Johnson also in attendance. “Downtown Tucson boasts some of the best nightlife in town,” Cloud said. “[It] is known to be a hot spot for nightlife particularly [for] the LGBTQ community of Tucson. Holding the parade the evening before is a great way to kick off our annual festival.”

Photo by Bill Gemmill.


ucson Pride, the state’s oldest organization of its kind, will celebrate four decades of LGBTQ Pride in Southern Arizona this month. The annual two-day celebration, including Pride on Parade Sept. 29 and Pride in the Park Sept. 30, promises the festivities attendees know and love combined with many new features and headliners. “… celebrating our 40th anniversary [is] particularly significant, as we are the first and oldest LGBT[Q] organization in the state,” Sam Cloud, Tucson Pride board’s

new vice president. “Forty years is a big deal, and deserves to be the biggest Pride celebration Tucson has ever seen.” According to Cloud, who took on the role of the Tucson Pride board’s vice-president in January, she is excited to be a part of the organization as it celebrates this milestone anniversary and has big goals for the organization in the coming years. “Tucson Pride is committed to increasing the organization’s presence in the community and working together with all our incredible community organizations,” Cloud said.

Velo. Courtesy photo.




Immediately following the parade, Cloud said, an official after-party will take place at Fourth Avenue’s Sky Bar and will feature local entertainers, DJs and drag queens to pump up the crowd.

Pride in the Park According to Cloud, attendees can expect many new additions, a great line-up of entertainment and as many as 100 vendors, exhibitors and sponsors at

Fly By Midnight. Courtesy photo.



Photos by Scotty Kirby.

Tucson’s 40th annual Pride Festival. “We have lots of new attractions planned for the festivities this year,’ he said, “including some very exciting headliners, the new dance tent, a kid-friendly zone with children’s activities, vendors and exhibitors, as well as an array of local entertainers performing.”

Pride staff, volunteers and entertainers each time I host Pride,” said Fufu, who currently resides in Las Vegas. “I enjoy so many things about Pride. Some standouts are seeing so many friends and family as we come together as a community to celebrate.”

Festival headliners include Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, Daya, Lucinda Holliday (aka Larry Moore, the band Berlin featuring Terri Nunn, pictured top left) and Bunny Fufu (aka Mark David Hernandez, a homegrown celebrity Fetgatter, pictured top right) will cohost the (Phoenix native) who appeared on Season 7 festival’s main stage. of “American Idol,” Fly By Midnight, a retropop duo known for their covers and Velo, “I love working with a group of fabulous a solo artist with Tucson ties, who will take the stage for the Daya. Courtesy photo. second consecutive year. (Read Echo’s interview with Velo at velo.) “We focused on bringing in a little something for

For Echo’s full interview with Tucson Pride co-host Bunny Fufu, visit tucson-pride-2017.

everyone with artists who are relevant to the LGBT[Q] community,” Cloud explained, adding that local artists will perform between headliners on the main stage. New to the festival this year is the dance tent, which will be the home of an all-day dance party. “The dance tent is one of my favorite additions to this year’s festival,” Cloud said. “We will be featuring rotating DJs throughout the entire event and we have many well-known local DJs lined up, particularly those that frequent our favorite LGBT[Q] nightlife establishments.” According to Cloud, many LGBTQ community organizations will be on site at the festival offering everything from resources and retail to HIV testing and giveaways. Based on previous years’ attendance and current ticket sales, festival organizers are expecting approximately 5,000 to descend on Reid Park through the day. But if you can’t make, it, Cloud said, stay tuned for more opportunities to celebrate. “Our president has set some really exciting goals for the upcoming year,” Cloud said, “including … creating more social opportunities and events throughout the upcoming year.”

Berlin featuring Terri Nunn. Courtesy photo.


Tucson Pride’s 40th Anniversary •Sept. 29 Pride On Parade Along Fourth Avenue, downtown Tucson •Sept. 30 Pride in the Park Reid Park 900 S. Randolph Way, Tucson



David Hernandez. Courtesy photo.








Photos by Gregg Edelman and

Rainbows Festival

Arizona’s “greatest street fair” celebrates 15 years By Laura Latzko


ince it was established in 2002, Rainbows Festival has served as an opportunity to Arizona’s LGBTQ community to come together for celebration, entertainment and community resources. This year, Phoenix Pride presents the 15th annual Rainbows Festival Oct. 21 and 22 at Heritage Square Park (south of Seventh and Van Buren streets) in downtown Phoenix.

“[Rainbows Festival is] really designed for Phoenix to come out and enjoy a weekend catching up with friends and family, meeting new friends and really celebrating the fact that the heat is over, and we can go back outside,” said Justin Owen, Phoenix Pride executive director.

environments at home, school or work.

A Celebration of Diversity

“The LGBT[Q] community encompasses every community,” he said. “In the LGBT[Q] community, you have every ethnicity represented. You have every gender represented. You have every socio-economic status represented … The LGBT[Q] community is one of the communities out there that doesn’t say no to anyone because everyone is a part of it.”

The annual celebration of the diversity, billed as “Arizona’s Greatest Street fair,” takes place during National LGBT[Q] History Month as serves to remind and encourage people to be their unique selves all year long, according to Victor Avila, Phoenix Pride program manager. “Our pride celebration is at the beginning of the year, in April,” he said, “so having the Rainbows Festival toward the end of the year keeps that momentum going [with] people celebrating their pride and remembering that you don’t have to wait until the next pride festival to embrace who you are.” The street-fair style festival is a space where attendees can be themselves openly – something many still do not experience in their day-to-day lives, including




Rainbows Festival, Owen added, is also an opportunity for attendees to come together and express themselves wholly. According to Owen, Phoenix Pride tries to highlight and embrace the diverse groups within the LGBTQ community at its festivals.

The Stars of the Show Consistent with previous years, the Rainbows Festival weekend festivities will include two entertainment stages featuring combination of new and returning performers, including bands, DJs and drag queens. This year, Avila said, Phoenix Pride worked to bring in a wider variety of performers to reflect the diversity of the community members in attendance. “We definitely want the broader audience to feel included,” Avila said. “We [also] want to make sure we give that platform to our local entertainers, to the people who every single day continue to engage our community.” The main stage will be hosted by Olivia Gardens and Barbra Seville, and CELEBRATE

the entertainment lineup will feature performances ranging from Aja from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” to the Miss and Mister Phoenix Pride Pageant contestants and 2017 titleholders Eva Angelica Stratton and Kristofer V. Lee. “We want to make sure that the community sees how this pageant impacts our community, how it helps those who identify as LGBTQ continue furthering their education,” Avila said, adding that this year’s pageant contestants raised $34,700 for the Phoenix Pride Scholarship Program. (For Rainbow Festival’s schedule of events, see page 31.)

A Space For Community When it comes to the entertainment stages, the Pet Pride area, the food vendors and the exhibitors, attendees can expect this year’s festival to have the same layout as previous years. Throughout the Heritage Square, 150 exhibitors will bring their products, services or information about their organization or business to attendees. According to Owen, Phoenix Pride works hard to bring businesses that are truly supportive of, and employ, individuals in LGBTQ community to festivalgoers. “Attendees truly appreciate seeing the businesses out there supporting them because they know that they are LGBT[Q]-friendly businesses,” he said. “There are businesses that are accepting and affirming of them, whether they are looking for jobs or places to spend their personal money.” Additionally, Owen said the event brings together various nonprofits – offering everything from health and advocacy to social meetups and housing-related services – all into one space. An important resource, he said, for people who can’t otherwise access this information easily. “There are many members of our

community that … look forward to our event every year as an opportunity to go find out what’s going on in our community; to go hear from other nonprofits; to get information, whether it be for access to health care or advocacy,” he explained.

Giving Back to Community Another way Phoenix Pride gives back to the local community at Rainbows Festival is through its Partnership Grants Program, – both Volunteer and Beverage Grant – through which Owen said, Phoenix Pride has given away $504,000 since 2008. Phoenix Pride gives a portion of beverage sales to LGBTQ groups whose members volunteer time to work the festival. According to Avila, the organization is continually looking to expand these programs.

“Next year, we are hoping to get other organizations involved and continue to help them in their own mission to uplift the LGBT[Q] community,” Avila said. For more information on Phoenix Pride’s Partnership Grant Programs, visit (click scholarships & grants) or email

Rainbows Festival Oct. 21-22 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Heritage Square Park 113 N. Sixth St., Phoenix

Thus far, Phoenix Pride’s 2017 Partnership Grant Programs have exceeded $47,000.




Tucson AIDSWALK features panels from AIDS Memorial Quilt By Megan Wadding

Once again, AIDSWALK will take place in collaboration with Tucson Meet Yourself (TMY), the Southern Arizona town’s annual folk life festival.


ucson’s first AIDSWALK, which was a memorial march that invited the community to come together to support and remember those affected by HIV/AIDS, took place in 1989. In the years since, the event has raised millions of dollars – more than $1.6 million since 2003 alone. These funds, according to Travis Craddock, director of development for the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF), support critical and life-saving services for people living with, affected by, or at-risk for HIV/AIDS, and provide important prevention education, outreach and intervention. This year marks the 29th anniversary of AIDSWALK Tucson, as part of which SAAF will provide free HIV testing throughout the entire weekend for the second year in a row.

Remembering their NAMES A key element of each year’s AIDSWALK is the opportunity for community members to come together and remember those lost to HIV/AIDS.

According to, the quilt comprises more than 48,000 colorful panels, each memorializing an individual whose life was lost to AIDS. “It is a poignant memorial and the largest ongoing community arts project in the world,” he explained.

Support, Awareness and Prevention According to Craddock, the ongoing goal of AIDSWALK Tucson is to generate support, awareness and funds for preventative measures. “AIDSWALK is a deeply personal event, but it is also a community-centered event, where the community comes together to show support for those affected by or at-risk for HIV/AIDS,” Craddock said. “It is important for us to come together and remember those we lost to HIV/AIDS and to remind those living with HIV/AIDS that they have support from our community and from SAAF, and [also] to recognize that HIV/ AIDS continues to affect our community.”

According to Craddock, this includes bringing in and displaying panels from The NAMES Project Foundation’s AIDS Memorial Quilt. After the walk, attendees are encouraged to attend the quilt’s ceremonial unfolding.

All proceeds from AIDSWALK Tucson, Craddock explained, will benefit the programs and services SAAF offers to those living with or at risk for HIV/AIDS as well as the important prevention education, outreach and intervention the nonprofit organization provides.

“Every year, AIDSWALK sponsors and volunteers take part in the Daybreak Quilt Opening Ceremony,” Craddock said. “[It] is the opportunity for people to come together and remember those lost to HIV/ AIDS. We do this in various ways, including bringing in and displaying panels from the quilt [at the walk].”

“We are no longer fundraising just to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, but to provide services and support to truly improve the quality of life for someone with a positive status and also to create awareness that we are all within reach of the disease if we are unaware of the correct preventative measures,” he said.




Team Tucson

“The joint production between AIDSWALK and Tucson Meet Yourself is one of the smartest collaborations in Tucson,” said Maribel Alvarez, TMY program director. “ … the ritual unfolding of the AIDS quilt fits perfectly with TMY’s focus on tradition and folklife, and has become an important component of the acknowledgement of diversity in our community as a strength instead of something to fear,” For Craddock, the energy that the participants bring to the weekend of events is his favorite part. “So many people play a role in making AIDSWALK successful, and I love seeing the community come together in solidarity to end the stigma for people living with HIV/ AIDS,” Craddock said. A turnout similar to last year’s event is expected, with an estimated 450 registered walkers in total, including 30 pets. “Whether you sign up as a walker or as a volunteer, you will not want to miss AIDSWALK,” he said. “It is such a colorful, moving event and really shows the spirit of the Tucson community.” Tucson: 29th annual AIDSWALK Tucson Oct. 15 7 a.m. Registration Opens 7:30 a.m. Fun Run Start 8 a.m. Walk Opening Ceremonies 8:30 a.m. Warm Up Music 9 a.m. Walk Start 10 a.m. Daybreak Quilt Opening Ceremony Joel D. Valdez Main Library, Jácome Plaza, 101 N. Stone Ave., Tucson CELEBRATE

Phoenix celebrates a decade of raising awareness for HIV/AIDS


his year marks a decade of fundraising for AIDS Walk Arizona, which benefits Aunt Rita’s Foundation and its 16 partners agencies. Each year, the event continues to grow and evolve, and event organizers anticipate between 3,000 to 5,000 participants will descend on the streets of downtown Phoenix Oct. 22. “It is sure to be a great weekend of community and [a] celebration of our accomplishments as both a community and with the advancement of HIV treatment over the past 10 years,” said Jonathan Brier, director of marketing and events for Aunt Rita’s. “[It] is going to be awesome!” According to Brier, last year’s increase in youth and student participants was especially encouraging and something he hopes to see repeated. “[It] was spectacular,” Brier said. “Most new infections are in people under the age of 30, so to see more young people at the walk is very encouraging.”

What To Know Before You Go This year, AIDS Walk Arizona organizers are switching up the event format. The most significant change participants will notice is that the awards presentations, annual recognition and other stage activities will take place before the walk, rather than after as before. “No more waiting around after the walk to get your award this year,” Brier said. “When walkers come back in, there will be entertainment on the main stage, our food vendors will be ready to serve up some great bites and the vendor village will be open for participants to learn about the different organizations we support and … about the sponsors of the walk.” Additionally, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, will address participants from the main stage prior to the walk. “To have such support from our local government is cause for celebration,” Brier said. “We have so much to be grateful for with the advances in treatment and that we live in a city that cares so much about ending HIV.” CELEBRATE

The main stage, one of six stages at the event, will be hosted by walk co-chairs, TV personalities Kim Covington and J.R. Cardenas, who are also community activists committed to raising awareness around HIV and related causes. There will also be a DJ for part of the morning and some live entertainment too.

The Race to Rainbows Another change participants should be aware of is that this year’s event will kick off an hour later to accommodate those attending Phoenix Pride’s Rainbows Festival, which starts the previous evening and goes on all weekend at Heritage Square in Phoenix. “Everyone can sleep in an extra hour, especially since everyone is going to have a great day at Rainbows Festival the day before the walk,” Brier said. “Everyone can come well-rested, get their walk on and then continue their day back at Rainbows Festival.” Phoenix Pride and Rainbows Festival are sponsors of AIDS Walk Arizona, just as the Aunt Rita’s Foundation is a sponsor of the Rainbows Festival, Brier explained, adding that attendees of both events have shared that they love it when both fall on the same weekend “I’ve [spoken to] many people who are going to ‘staycation’ in downtown Phoenix for the weekend so they don’t miss any of the fun between our two events,” he said. “Walkers love being able to finish the walk, grab something yummy to eat from our food trucks and then head right on over to Rainbows to continue the celebrations.”

Walking Toward the Goal However, until we effectively eliminate HIV in Arizona, Brier said, AIDS Walk events will be necessary for raising both awareness and money to support programs that prevent new transmissions and to help support those living with HIV.

[can] walk in celebration, too,” he said. AIDS Walk Arizona annually raises an estimated $270,000, according to Brier, adding that this year’s goal is to raise $300,000. “I would be so happy to reach or exceed that number,” Brier said. “Monies raised at AIDS Walk go directly to [Aunt Rita’s] 16 partner agencies that provide critical HIV prevention programs and treatment services for those living with HIV in the greater Phoenix area.”

Fighting Misconceptions According to Brier, stigma is the biggest modern-day battle concerning HIV. However, he believes that event participants who choose to self-identify as HIV positive (by the wearing red fighterthemed shirts offered at registration) are helping to reduce the stigma around HIV. “People still don’t want to talk about it. We live in a world that still has a lot of fear surrounding HIV,” he explained. “We hope that this awareness changes hearts and minds and allows more people to stand on the right side of the issue with us. We find that this truly helps to reduce stigma and lets people see what HIV looks like – it looks like you and me.” Another misconception that Aunt Rita’s is continuously working to correct is that HIV/ AIDS is no longer an issue. “So many people think that HIV/AIDS is not a problem anymore,” he said. “They hear about the AIDS Walk and a few remember the tough days when people were dying from the condition on a regular basis, [but] many don’t realize that HIV rates are on the rise in Arizona. We are at a critical time to get people out and to recreate the awareness [about HIV]. This is not a time to be complacent.” Phoenix: 10th annual AIDS Walk Arizona & 5K Run Oct. 22 7 a.m. Registration Opens 8 a.m. Main Stage Opens 10 a.m. 5k Run Start 10:05 a.m. AIDS Walk Start Third Avenue and Washington Street in Downtown Phoenix

“Once we have met [our] goals, we will walk in remembrance of those we have lost to this disease. I like to think that we




OUT & ABOUT Mr. Phoenix Prime Beef 2017 Contest Sept. 9 at Pat O’s Bunkhouse Saloon, Phoenix. Photos by

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Miss Gay America Romeo White Nicholas Murray





The Art of Drag Local queens to showcase Arizona’s excellence at Miss Gay America

Photos by Scotty Kirby.


he’s an America Girl.” To those in the know, that phrase means a female impersonator who has a polished look, is intelligent and professional, and aims to attain the highest standards of entertainment. It refers to those entertainers who have matriculated in the Miss Gay America (MGA) Pageant system, and in Arizona being successful in the system is, well, a crowning achievement.

prestigious pageant year after year.

Across the state on numerous nights throughout the week drag shows are hosted by a slate of former (as well as the reigning) Miss Gay Arizona America (MGAA) winners: Pussy LeHoot, Barbra Seville, Celia Putty, Diva, Nevaeh McKenzie, Savannah Stevens, Olivia Gardens. Virtually every female impersonator you’ll find on a local stage has had an America crown on his head at one time. That crown symbolizes “Excellence,” the brand of MGA since Arkansas’ Norma Kristie was honored as the first Miss Gay America in 1973.

“I think that everyone coming from Arizona or associated with Arizona can be Miss Gay America this year,” said Josstyn Redulla, aka Miss Gay Arizona 2017 Olivia Gardens, who was a breath away from cracking the national pageant’s Top 10 in 2012.

These entertainers carry with them the duty to maintain excellence beyond their competition days, but many more continue to hone their craft—and hopefully snag that ultimate shiny hat—by returning to the 40



This year’s Miss Gay America Pageant, which will take place Oct. 4-7 in New Orleans, will feature six contestants from Arizona. (Throw in one former Miss Gay Arizona now representing Texas and one former Miss Gay Tucson who resides in Key West, Florida, and Team Arizona will have an embarrassment of riches at the four-day contest.)

That’s not hyperbole, either. In the past two years alone, Arizona has been represented in the Top 10 by three contestants: Nevaeh McKenzie, Barbra Seville and Savannah Stevens. The latter two are returning this year. Two newcomers to the system, Piper M’Shay and Claudia B., have been praised for bringing fresh approaches and attitudes, and another, Vanity St. James, had just stepped down from the title of Miss Gay USofA Newcomer

two days prior to winning an America prelim. The two former Arizonans joining this group, Grecia Montes D’Occa and Jessica Deveraux, have had previous success besting competitors in evening gown and talent categories. “This year there will be multiple [Arizonans] in the Top 10,” Redulla said confidently.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” —Vince Lombardi

As Suzy Wong, Arnold Myint has spent the past year traveling the country as Miss Gay America 2017 pushing the notion of excellence, which is as vital to the system as its motto: “Where boys are boys and female impersonation is an art.” It goes beyond one’s general appearance, Redulla explained, stating that excellence includes being respectful to yourself and Strut

others, and maintaining a level of dignity within the community. “The audience is looking at you and expecting that everything is the best,” he said. For drag veteran Josh Sipe, Miss Gay Mid West America 2017 1st Alternate Claudia B., his first foray into the system and encountering excellence has changed his life. “It honestly has made me a better entertainer … and it pushes me to be a better person,” he said. Even after 16 years in the business, the journey this year has been eye-opening for Sipe. For many years, he remained on the periphery of the system—as a fan, supporter and promoter—and continually Strut

reasoned that it wasn’t the right time to be a contestant. But a family tragedy made him realize that the time to pursue your goals is now, and he threw himself into competition mode. Joining that sisterhood of excellence is priceless, he said, as the list of Miss Gay Arizona formers are “people I’ve admired in the community for so long.” Tucson’s Alex Martinez (Vanity St. James), who recently wrapped up a reign

as Miss Gay USofA Newcomer before being crowned Miss Gay Gulf States America 2017, admits the allure of the MGA system was always present. “I ran for Miss Gay USofA Newcomer as a way to prep myself to run for Miss Gay America,” said Martinez, who confirmed that the values and benchmarks in the America system were instilled in him “since before I began my journey in female illusion.”




Miss Gay Tennessee America 2017 Miss Gay America Competition History

• Miss Gay Tennessee America 2017 • Miss Gay California America 2016 • Top 10 Finalist at Miss Gay America 2016 • Miss Gay Western States America 2015 • Miss Gay Southern Elegance America 2002-2003 1st Alternate • Miss Gay Arizona America 2000 • Miss Gay Arizona America 1997 1st Alternate

Miss Gay Arizona America 2017 Miss Gay America Competition History

“Lord help the mister who comes between me and my sister.” —Irving Berlin

The sisterhood of entertainers in this is unique, and the reason why “Team Arizona” is widely known, anticipated and referred to each year at the national pageant. The solidarity and support among the contestants and friends who make the trip is second to none. “We’re all friends and we all work together a lot,” Redulla said of this sorority. “Here in Arizona we have a group of entertainers who continue to challenge each other to get better.” 42



• Miss Gay Arizona America 2017 • Miss Gay Arizona America 2012 1st Alternate

That bond and the joy for their sisters’ success was never more evident than in the 2015 pageant, when Nevaeh McKenzie and Barbra Seville were both called out into the Top 10; or in the 2016 pageant, when the final name announced was Savannah Stevens, leaving Seville grasping his hand but standing in 11th place.

family enough for being so welcoming and supportive,” gushed Nik Stetz, aka Piper M’Shay, who qualified as first alternate to Miss Gay Arizona on his first attempt.

“Since we are removed from much of the [national] drag scene, we inspire, rely on and support each other in a way you might not see everywhere else,” said Richard Stevens aka Barbra Seville, Miss Gay Tennessee America 2017.

“Sitting back and watching the other contestants, I realized it was something completely within my reach,” he said.

“I can’t thank the Arizona America

Last year Stetz participated in Stevens’ talent number and the week of exposure to the system and competition led to him catching the bug.

The respect for the scene in Arizona is no secret, as Stevens noted that 2016 Miss Gay America Asia T. O’Hara (Antwan Lee) admitted to being nervous coming to the Strut

Miss Gay Arizona America 2017 1st Alternate Miss Gay America Competition History • Miss Gay Arizona America 2017 1st Alternate

Miss Gay Texas America 2017 1st Alternate Miss Gay America Competition History

• Miss Gay Texas America 2017 1st Alternate • Miss Gay Northeast America 2015 1st Alternate • Miss Gay Arizona America 2014

state for his duties. Each year the reigning national titleholder is told by those before him of the reception to expect. Many previous symbols of excellence have been welcomed by the red carpet … literally. “When Miss Gay America comes to town for Miss Gay Arizona, she is almost always in awe of how we do things,” boasted Daniel Eckstrom, who has been promoting the Arizona pageant since 2007. “From the contestants, to the venue [and] support from the community and formers, Arizona Strut

does it right.” “The MGA title is so respected in Arizona because it is the only national title to really take root,” Stevens said. “Most of Arizona’s most beloved entertainers were born of that system.” And it’s not just the queens who are beholden to excellence, but fans as well. Being introduced as Miss Gay Arizona at a local drag show often is met with thunderous applause, loud cheers, and enough tips to pay off an Arizona summer

electric bill. Savvy Arizona audiences know of the hard work and dedication an individual has put forth to win the crown, and recognize the commitment to serving the community. “Repping Arizona at Miss Gay America is a big deal right now,” said Redulla, who points out the high expectations come from fans not just here but across the country. Added Sipe: “If you look at how many contestants we have qualifying, you have to believe we are doing something right.”




“With one week to go before the pageant, I was finishing my outfit, rehearsing my talent, brushing up on current events, and running 18 miles a day on about 400 calories. I was ready.” —Mary Johanson, Drop Dead Gorgeous

Make no mistake, even with the sisterhood and camaraderie this group of contestants is headed to New Orleans to slay. (That means they’re preparing to do exceptionally well.) The preparation includes countless hours of talent rehearsals, numerous gown fittings, several mock interviews and as many fundraisers as one can schedule before October. While the journey to this national stage— and pageant itself—is an experience each contestant will carry with them forever, they all want to win. 44



A more diverse group of contestants you will not find. In qualifying, the Arizona queens have featured Broadwaystyle production numbers, celebrity impersonations, live singing, and one contestant even played the cello. Presenting “who you are” is something Myint and the national office have been emphasizing this year. That emphasis bodes well for Arizona’s contestants, who have a history of presenting outside-the-box packages at Miss Gay America and not always being rewarded for such boldness. For a national pageant that has often battled a reputation of requiring its contestants fit a certain mold, this emphasis is an important one. “Arizona contestants are unique because the push the envelope and take risks, something the Miss Gay America system is craving,” Eckstrom said. “[Our] entertainers are out here on our own, compared to many of the MGA contestants,” Stevens added. “It’s great because we have a style that is unique. I think many of our girls are more current and in touch with today’s style of female impersonation.”

Miss Gay America Judges’ Scorecard As part of the 2018 Miss Gay America Pageant, and under the theme Le Cirque MGA, contestants will compete in the categories of male interview (750 points), evening gown (750 points) and talent (1,750 points). From there, contestants who make the Top 10 will go on to participate in presentation (500 points) and onstage interview (250 points) beginning at 6 p.m. Oct. 7. The pageant will conclude with the step down of Miss Gay America 2017 (also Miss Gay Western States America 2016) Suzy Wong and the crowing of Miss Gay America 2018. For more information, visit

Buddy Early grew up in Tempe and has been involved in various communities accross the Valley since. He is a former managing editor of both Echo Magazine and Compete Magazine. Strut

OUT & ABOUT Miss Gay America Fundraiser for Houston, Texas Sept. 6 at Kobalt, Phoenix. Photos by

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Fit For A King

Tucson’s Romeo White brings home national crown By Laura Latzko


n late July, Tucson-based drag king Romeo White packed up his pageant best and set out for Louisville, Ky. His destination: the national Entertainer of the Year 2017 pageant. His goal: to bring the national King crown home to Arizona. White earned his ticket to the national pageant by being crowned Arizona Entertainer of the Year (EOY) King 2017 at the state-level pageant, which took place March 4 and 5 at Aqua Nightclub in Phoenix. Wearing a crown within Arizona was nothing new to White, who has earned Mister King of the Desert USofA MI and Mister Tucson Pride titles since he started performing drag in 2010. But, after taking a few years off, his third time on the national stage was not only the charm, but proved to be more meaningful than ever before (he previously competed in the national Mister USfoA MI pageant twice as first alternate). During the national pageant, which took place July 25-29, White competed against one other contestant in talent, presentation, creative evening wear and onstage question. Not only was White crowned EOY King 2017 July 26, but he also made history within the EOY pageant system. Together he and Cass Marie of Madison, Wis., made history by becoming the first transgender individuals to win in the EOY King and Femme divisions, respectively. Shortly after earning their new titles, White and Marie were subjected to some backlash. The negative reactions, White said, made their victories somewhat bittersweet, but also motivated them. “It’s one of those things where you wish, as a society, we were much further along, especially in the pageant and LGBTQ communit[ies],” he explained. “The judges felt she deserved it more. The judges felt I deserved it more. So, why are you personally attacking us? It doesn’t sit well, but it’s one of those things where she and I will prove throughout the year why we were selected as the best candidates.” Because of the scenario he and Marie went through, White said that others are starting to see them as role models. “There’s definitely people who look at us and do put us on that pedestal now because they look at this as [something we] have overcome,” he said, explaining that people are viewing the situation as, ‘This is how 46



these two have reacted to this. This is how they are carrying themselves.’” Despite the issues he initially faced as a first-time national titleholder, White is fully committed to representing and growing the EOY pageant system.

“It, to me, feels like it’s underrated in all divisions,” he said. “I’m just hoping that this year, we get to shed some light on exactly why we’re all so passionate for it, and it definitely sparks interest in other people.” What drew him to the system was the Strut

Q&A with Romeo White, Entertainer of the Year King 2017 Echo: What drag kings are you inspired by? White: Gunner Gatlyn, Nikki Kidd and Freddy Prinze Charming. Echo: One of the biggest things you want to work on? White: Not everyone feels I am approachable…Apparently, I look angry if I’m not smiling or laughing. I definitely want to work on making it where people can come to me, and it doesn’t just have to be pageant-related, drag-related or transrelated. Echo:What have some of your favorite costumes been? White: Spiderman vest and tie for Mister BS West step down. Pink cheetah print vest and shorts for EOY talent. Gray jacket with hand-painted blue, aqua and purple hand-painted squares, made by Richard Cranium for EOY onstage question and crowning. Echo:What are your favorite songs to perform? White: Tim McGraw’s “My Little Girl,” which I performed for my daughter during a Mister Arizona USofA MI Pageant. Boy band songs such as the Backstreet Boys’ “As Long as You Love Me” and seductive tunes such as The Weeknd’s “Earned It.” Echo:What creative goals do you have for your reign?

Cass Marie, Entertainer of the Year Femme 2017, and Romeo White, Entertainer of the Year King 2017. Courtesy photos.

fact that the system’s entertainers are encouraged to bring their own personalities and talents to the stage. “The Entertainer of the Year system is so fantastic because you can really be yourself,” he explained. “There’s no cookie cutter look that they are looking for.” White stands out in the drag king community because of his geeky, sexy persona. At nationals, he did a talent number with two dancers and a shuffle bot to a mix of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It.” And when he’s not on the stage, the performer keeps busy with his day job and family. But he continues to serve his community through drag. Being able to raise money for local organizations and put smiles on people’s faces, he said, is what continues to drive him. “When you get a message from somebody, and they say how much this performance touched them … or you Strut

inspired them to do this, that is what gives you the drive to keep doing it,” White said. “You could be dead-tired from working 10 hours and then still have to go and drive two hours to do a show until 1, 2 o’clock in the morning; drive two hours back home; then get up and go to work the next day. Then, you get that message from somebody and it makes it all worth it.”

White: I don’t want to repeat anything … I really want to show different things, and a lot of my outfits are going to be designed by Richard Cranium … Definitely that’s one of the things I want to work on this year is having all brand new stuff. Echo: What would you like to show the world during your reign? White: As a titleholder, you can be fun. You can be goofy and be 110 percent yourself and not feel like you are going to be judged.

Follow Romeo White through his reign as Entertainer of the Year King 2017 on Facebook at kingarizonaeoy. Laura Latzko is a Phoenix-area freelance writer, originally from Michigan, who holds a bachelor’s degree in English and communication studies from Hollins University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.




Power To The Peaceful

Local artist, model and entrepreneur Nicholas Murray is turning creative expression into enterprise By Liz Massey




Nicholas Murray. Photo by DuPree Art Studio.



here is an old bit of advice to artists that encourages them to focus their talents and not spread themselves too thinly. But the other side of that argument is this: when you have a confluence of multiple strengths, each skill amplifies the others. Think of a mighty river, like the Mississippi or the Colorado – what are they beyond a gathering of countless tributary streams? Similarly, Nicholas Murray’s creativity flows out of him in numerous ways, including drawing, painting, modeling, T-shirt/logo design, photography, photo editing and so much more. He has channeled these talents by organizing their output into his business, Dupree Art Studio LLC. “Dupree Art Studio reflects me as a Renaissance man,” he said. “[I]t reflects me as a person [and] allows me to use these different mediums for artistic expression.” While Murray’s creativity may flow from him in many directions, it has but one source. “Different ideas, emotions, concepts, amongst many other things, can be evoked and presented through the vehicle of art,” Murray shared with readers of his blog in an early entry on the site. “This is mainly why art is so important to me personally.”

Finding Initial Inspiration From childhood, Murray said he was encouraged to engage in the visual and performing arts. His mother and grandmother, who joined forces to raise him and his sister, viewed the arts as a good way to keep their offspring involved and focused.

Walking the (Cat)Walk Although much of Murray’s art-making involves creating visual fine art, another aspect of his career finds him embodying art as a model. Murray has been glimpsed modeling clothes and accessories at a number of Valley events, most notably at Phoenix Fashion Week, where he was a Top 40 model. According to Murray, he sees his modeling work as an extension of the dance and performing arts activities he did as a kid, and relishes the opportunity to use his body as the canvas. “You have to have a fierce walk on the catwalk,” he explained. “You can’t secondguess yourself … instead of putting your images on canvas, you’re representing the clothes. You, as the model, become the composition in which the viewer is able to create their own personal interpretation.” Further, Murray said he viewed his footwork while in the fashion spotlight as a parallel to his creative choices when he’s making his own art. “The way I walk when modeling depends on what’s being portrayed,” he said, “t’s like the colors of a painting.”

Painting it Forward The concept of community, inclusive of the many groups that Murray aligns with, is never far from his mind. One of his primary creative influences is the Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas,

whom Murray admires for the way he incorporated African themes and history into his work. “I found it really cool that he appreciated where he came from, and found beauty in our culture,” Murray said. Murray pays forward his community commitment by connecting with younger artists and supporting after-school programs that emphasize the fine arts and digital art-making/music. He’s worked with LGBTQ youth through one•n•ten, as well as other programs serving a broad range of Valley youth. Kema Charles, the executive director of the youth educational nonprofit Lights Camera Discover, has observed Murray’s dedication though his actions. “His dedication to the youth of our community is amazing,” Charles said. “Before he was a board member for our organization, he held a special fundraiser to support the youth of our program. We are very pleased with his efforts and look forward to using his knowledge and skills to reach more of our youth.” Another way Murray has advanced LGBTQ causes locally has been by staying active in the Devils’ Pride alumni chapter at ASU. Throughout the past five years, he coordinated the art auction that the chapter hosts at its annual fundraising dinner for its scholarship fund, linking Sun Devil supporters with the work of queer and ally artists in Phoenix. All of this fulfills part of his role as a gay black artist in the broader social justice

“My mom wanted us to be active,” he noted. “She didn’t want us to become stagnant. I was involved in sports here and there, but I never really connected with that.” Instead, Murray’s childhood was filled with drawing, playing alto sax in school as well as taking dance classes in jazz, tap and ballet. He learned early that the act of bringing his creations to life was the fire that lit his soul. “I can create and be involved in art all day long and not get tired,” he said. “That’s how I know that’s where I’m supposed to be.” By the time he went to college at Arizona State University, he had developed a passion for animation and dreamed of working for Disney. Although those dreams never came true, he said, the degree program did expose him to other fine arts disciplines, and that was significant for his professional development. “The prerequisite classes for animation included life drawing and sculpture,” Murray remembered. “I enjoyed them, they showed me what I was good at, and it helped me figure out what I liked. … I eventually realized that animation wasn’t the path for me, but by then I knew I had other options to express myself artistically.” STRUT

Photo by Bill Gemmill.




Photo by Felipe Carranza.

Photo by Sonja Bowers.

movement, he said, adding that he believes “artists absolutely have a role in creating equality.”

photography, modeling and logo/apparel creation, including his popular “Power to the Peaceful” line (see sidebar).

Turning Expression into Enterprise

Can the generation of would-be artists coming along behind Murray imitate his habits and achieve success similar to his? Murray thinks so, if they’re willing to show some old-fashioned stick-to-it-tive-ness.

One of the reasons Murray may have already demonstrated his staying power in the Phoenix art scene is because he’s viewed his efforts as part of a larger business enterprise. He complemented his 2005 fine arts undergraduate degree from ASU with an MBA from the University of Phoenix in 2012, and augments his art career income with landlording, a daytime position in higher education as well as other pursuits. “I knew getting an MBA would be an asset for my future,” he said. “It’s helping me promote and make an impact with my art.” As with his creative pursuits, the business services offered by Dupree Art Studio are diverse, and include commissions, charcoal drawings, acrylic paintings, wedding 50



“Do not let outside negativity drown out your creativity,” he asserted. “Use your asset and what you’re good at to your advantage and know that you can create beautiful things. Always be yourself and evolve from there!” For more on Nicholas Murray and Dupree Art Studio, like DuPreeArts on Facebook, follow @DuPreeArtStudio on Instagram or visit Liz Massey has been involved in LGBTQ community-building activities in Kansas City and the Valley of the Sun, and is a former managing editor of Echo Magazine. She can be reached at

Wearing is Caring One way that Nicholas Murray has expressed his desire to make an impact on the larger community has been through the development of his “Power to the Peaceful” apparel campaign. The effort includes T-shirts and tank tops emblazoned with figures in meditative and reflective poses. According to Murray, the creation of this apparel line is as much about his own inner peace as it is outer peace. “The campaign focuses on our similarities and the importance of love,” he said. “I use it as a reminder to be happy and to uplift others and to mainly spread peace.” For more on Nicholas Murray’s Power to the Peaceful apparel campaign, visit dupreeartstudio. com/product-category/tshirts.


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OUT & ABOUT 2017 Open House Aug. 22 at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. Photos by

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CREATE Caption for the images.





Queer Girls 11 Shows Not To Miss Fat Camp Lost Lake Festival




Photos by Marjani Viola Hawkins, MVHPhoto.

Caption for the images.

Marjani Viola Hawkins. Self portarait.

other platforms. And now she’s turning her attention to getting her own project published. For Queer Girls, however, the photos are all shot with 35mm film and there are two poses of each model – either completely clothed outside for both photos, or one nude taken indoors.

Queer Girls

Local photographer creates art, and community, from behind the camera By Laura Latzko


ven before Marjani Viola Hawkins completed her Bachelor’s degree in communication at Arizona State University, she was already submerged in her passion project. In January 2016, the local photographer set out to capture 100 portraits of 50 women who identify under the queer umbrella for her forthcoming book entitled Queer Girls. 56



Hawkins, who does business as MVHPhoto, became interested in photography as an art form while enrolled in a beginner course at Northern Arizona University her freshman year. From there, she set out to explore the world through the lens of her camera. Since that first – and only – photography class, she’s contributed to more than three dozen publications, podcasts and

This body of work is compiled, but still in the production phase. And Hawkins hopes to release the book early next year. In the meantime, Echo caught up with the young artist to find out more about what inspired this project and what she hopes to achieve with it, and here’s what she had to say. Echo: First tell us a little about yourself as an artist, photographer, and queer identified lady? Hawkins: I am definitely a woman of many hats. I have been doing photography for 10 years now, and I only started taking it seriously in college [at] around 20 years old. I also write a lot. I have a pretty extensive writing background. I used to work for a newspaper when I went to NAU, so it all just coincides. I think of myself as an artist, primarily a photographer, but all-around an artist. This whole book, Queer Girls, is basically a way to have my photography and my identity and the CREATE

“Queer to me is not only an identity. It is an existence. It’s an expression to accept those that do not fit in to society’s conventional cultural norms. Being queer is the closet thing to being human, and as humans we have many complexities.” Charmaine | 25 | Queer

direction I want my life to go in … all intersect. Echo: Following up on the intersection of art and identity, how does your identity come into play as far as the start and inspiration for Queer Girls? Hawkins: With social media I wasn’t ready to say something [about my sexuality] online. And what is so odd about the whole thing, is that still to this day I am very careful about what I post in regards to my own sexual orientation versus what I post about my art in the book. So it’s like making this book is a way to constantly come out, and show a bit of my LGBTQ identity, but at the same time not be like, ‘This is what I did this weekend.’ I am starting to realize that people don’t really care. And the people who do care, you know who they are and you probably want to stay away from them. But, other than that, the barriers that I have in place about my own identity I kind of put them in my own head. Echo: So do you see your photography and this book as place where you are able to sort of work through those barriers? Hawkins: Absolutely. Absolutely. Because I just got so frustrated, and I think that is where the book came from. I started it my senior year in college. I just left ASU in May of 2016, and I was almost out of there. I was feeling like my life was going to change again. It kind of became a catalyst to really be myself, and it was important for my artistic direction in general.


called Queer Women then I would have a bigger range of people which I am going to strive for next time. Ironically, I took a queer theory class my senior year … some of what inspired this project was learning about what queer actually means. My definition of queer is that it doesn’t have one, and that’s the best function of it to me because queer can mean something so different to every single person. It can, also, relate to so many different things. Queer doesn’t necessarily mean sexuality to some people. Some of the women when they hear queer, they may think about the way they dressed that day or gender representation …

At the same token, queer is kind of a mess when it comes to saying LGBTQ because for some people identify as lesbian or bisexual and they use those words or gay, they don’t like the fact that queer seems to be an erasure of specific identity that they have been fighting for or we have been historically fighting for. I understand that, too. Say for example, … [if] someone brings up sexuality, I am not going to go, ‘Let me tell you exactly what it is!’ I am just going to say, ‘I’m queer,’ to kind of cover all bases. It is like a middle finger, I guess. It’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m me and I am not really going to explain myself to you, so this is it. Be confused. Angelica.


I feel like the photography market here is all about money and less about art. So I would have continued just doing things because I wanted to make money or get some sort of social presence rather than working toward something that meant something, and I could change my direction … the book is definitely a push in many directions for me. Echo: So, Queer Girls is the book’s title. When you say ‘queer,’ what does that mean to you? And what can you tell us about your decision to use ‘girls’? Hawkins: Well, first on the title, I didn’t want to say girls because they’re all women over 18, but I felt like it was catchier. A problem with that, side note, is that all my participants seem to be young women who are in their 20s, and that bothers me immensely. I feel like if it was CREATE




At the same time, I think it is a good term just to say that you are a part of a community, a specific community, a legible community. It is a way of pointing out difference, I think, in a really positive way. I think it makes a lot of people feel a lot safer being able to have a word that is not so black and white. Echo: Who would you say is the audience for this work? Hawkins: I want it to appeal to women. Again, same as queer, however a person defines themselves as a woman. I want that to appeal to them. That is the most important part about this book to me is bringing women’s’ voices and presence to the forefront of, I guess, a movement.

Again, in Arizona especially, I think other states are known for being very LGBTQ friendly, and we’re not necessarily one of those states, so I wanted to bring that to a female audience. I wanted to create almost a safe space without being too presumptuous. I want the audience to be women and women who relate to being queer in anyway that they relate to being queer. As far as the demographic, obviously it is going to appeal to young people if there is only young in it, unfortunately, but I hope that people who are x number of years and older will be able to appreciate the underlying message of why I am doing it, even if it doesn’t necessarily seem like it represents them.

Echo: How did you find the models for Queer Girls? Hawkins: Actually the way it started a was few of the people I went to school with from that queer theory class. I just pretty much went home, made flyers, and then I came in the next day and I told the professor, ‘I need to plug something real quick. You’re going to have to let me do this,’ and he was like, ‘OK, go ahead.’ I got up there, and I am holding my files, ‘If anyone’s queer pose for my book!’ And like three or four girls immediately emailed me. From then, I photographed two of the women who were in my class, and from there it just snowballed in an unbelievably easy way where I’ve never had to search for people. The network just picked up. Echo: How would you describe the diversity of the queer women represented in your book? What intersectionalities are taking place? Hawkins: That has actually been a critique as far as racial representation. I have been critiqued that a lot of the participants, or too many of them are white or white presenting. I think that opens up a way bigger conversation about how race affects queer identity. Which is super problematic and a shock to me, but not really at the same time because people of color have an incredible journey to try and come out and be comfortable in their own

“What being queer means to me: It lets me appreciate the beauty in everyone, no matter what gender or orientation they are. It means that I can be authentic to the core, which is the most freeing feeling in the world.” Kari Lynn | 26 | Pansexual

“The word queer can mean one thing to one person and a whole lot to someone else, but for me queer means my community. I belong in the queers and I feel at ease when I’m with fellow queers. It’s another place to call home for me.” Shannon Humphrey (left) | 24 | Lesbian “I identify as queer because it is an open umbrella term that does not limit the depths of my identity. Identifying as queer allows me to align with my LGBTQ community without compromising my open sexual orientation. I am also empowered by redefining what it means to be ‘queer’ by using a potential derogatory term as an avenue for connection to community and fostering a deep sense of pride in my identity.” Victoria Giles-Vazquez | 27 | Queer 58



“I first heard the term queer in my early 20s and had known it meant odd or different from the norm but I didn’t realize it could be applied to sexuality. I aways had boyfriends growing up and of course girlfriends that I had to hide or keep secret. I was always kind of ashamed of that side of me. I had been told growing up bisexuality wasn’t real and being gay was wrong but luckily I went to an art school and was surrounded by people of every different background. They led me down a very positive path and it was a long road to get to where I am. Today, I am openly queer and so grateful to have been a part of this wonderful project Marjani has put together.”

idea was because I didn’t see anything like it when I go to bookstores – even today in Arizona … Echo: What’s the next project you’d like to tackle after Queer Girls? Hawkins: I’ve thought of taking the same premise and choosing a different demographic within the LGBTQ community to photograph. I have a few ideas of what my next project will be. It’ll definitely stem from this book, but I’d like to keep it to myself for now. Echo: Where can readers catch you next/ in the coming months? Hawkins: In the next few months I will stop in at any highly publicized LGBTQ events around the Valley and up north [including Rainbows Festival], but the rest of this year and early next will be mostly devoted to fundraising to get the book published.

Ashley aka Vixiee Mallery | 27 | Queer

who is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

communities. I thinks that’s why I don’t have very many women of color in my book, but I do have a few. Really the thing about it is the physical differences as far as terms within the LGBTQ female community in just the way that we define ourselves as women. I think that is the biggest difference. You have a woman who is super, super femme and then you have a woman

For more information on Queer Girls or MVHPhoto, follow Hawkins at ageoftheaquarius on Instagram, MVHPhoto on Facebook, or by visiting or

Echo: How would you say your work fits into a larger body of queer representation? What is your specific spin? Hawkins: One reason, not the sole reason, I wanted to put this together is I am a photographer first. The reason why I wanted to do this in photography, and photography only, as a way to present this

Caryn Bird is a full-time educator with a master’s degree in English from Arizona State University who can be found lending her many talents to a wide variety of community events.

Get the latest. Whenever, wherever. Power To The Peaceful

Local artist, model and entrepreneur Nicholas Murray is turning creative expression into enterprise By Liz Massey


here is an old bit of advice to artists that encourages them to focus their talents and not spread themselves too thinly. But the other side of that argument is this: when you have a confluence of multiple strengths, each skill amplifies the others. Think of a mighty river, like the Mississippi or the Colorado – what are they beyond a gathering of countless tributary streams? Similarly, Nicholas Murray’s creativity flows out of him in numerous ways, including drawing, painting, modeling, T-shirt/logo design, photography, photo editing and so much more. He has channeled these talents by organizing their output into his business, Dupree Art Studio LLC. “Dupree Art Studio reflects me as a Renaissance man,” he said. “[I]t reflects me as a person [and] allows me to use these different mediums for artistic expression.” While Murray’s creativity may flow from him in many directions, it has but one source. “Different ideas, emotions, concepts, amongst many other things, can be evoked and presented through the vehicle of art,” Murray shared with readers of his blog in an early entry on the site. “This is mainly why art is so important to me personally.”

Finding Initial Inspiration From childhood, Murray said he was encouraged to engage in the visual and performing arts. His mother and grandmother, who joined forces to raise him and his sister, viewed the arts as a good way to keep their offspring involved and focused.

Walking the (Cat)Walk Although much of Murray’s art-making involves creating visual fine art, another aspect of his career finds him embodying art as a model. Murray has been glimpsed modeling clothes and accessories at a number of Valley events, most notably at Phoenix Fashion Week, where he was a Top 40 model. According to Murray, he sees his modeling work as an extension of the dance and performing arts activities he did as a kid, and relishes the opportunity to use his body as the canvas. “You have to have a fierce walk on the catwalk,” he explained. “You can’t secondguess yourself … instead of putting your images on canvas, you’re representing the clothes. You, as the model, become the composition in which the viewer is able to create their own personal interpretation.” Further, Murray said he viewed his footwork while in the fashion spotlight as a parallel to his creative choices when he’s making his own art. “The way I walk when modeling depends on what’s being portrayed,” he said, “t’s like the colors of a painting.”

Painting it Forward The concept of community, inclusive of the many groups that Murray aligns with, is never far from his mind. One of his primary creative influences is the Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglas,

whom Murray admires for the way he incorporated African themes and history into his work. “I found it really cool that he appreciated where he came from, and found beauty in our culture,” Murray said. Murray pays forward his community commitment by connecting with younger artists and supporting after-school programs that emphasize the fine arts and digital art-making/music. He’s worked with LGBTQ youth through one•n•ten, as well as other programs serving a broad range of Valley youth. Kema Charles, the executive director of the youth educational nonprofit Lights Camera Discover, has observed Murray’s dedication though his actions. “His dedication to the youth of our community is amazing,” Charles said. “Before he was a board member for our organization, he held a special fundraiser to support the youth of our program. We are very pleased with his efforts and look forward to using his knowledge and skills to reach more of our youth.” Another way Murray has advanced LGBTQ causes locally has been by staying active in the Devils’ Pride alumni chapter at ASU. Throughout the past five years, he coordinated the art auction that the chapter hosts at its annual fundraising dinner for its scholarship fund, linking Sun Devil supporters with the work of queer and ally artists in Phoenix. All of this fulfills part of his role as a gay black artist in the broader social justice

“My mom wanted us to be active,” he noted. “She didn’t want us to become stagnant. I was involved in sports here and there, but I never really connected with that.” Instead, Murray’s childhood was filled with drawing, playing alto sax in school as well as taking dance classes in jazz, tap and ballet. He learned early that the act of bringing his creations to life was the fire that lit his soul. “I can create and be involved in art all day long and not get tired,” he said. “That’s how I know that’s where I’m supposed to be.” By the time he went to college at Arizona State University, he had developed a passion for animation and dreamed of working for Disney. Although those dreams never came true, he said, the degree program did expose him to other fine arts disciplines, and that was significant for his professional development. “The prerequisite classes for animation included life drawing and sculpture,” Murray remembered. “I enjoyed them, they showed me what I was good at, and it helped me figure out what I liked. … I eventually realized that animation wasn’t the path for me, but by then I knew I had other options to express myself artistically.” 48



Nicholas Murray. Photo by DuPree Art Studio.



Photo by Bill Gemmill.




The Art of Drag Local queens to showcase Arizona’s excellence at Miss Gay America

The Art of Drag Local queens to showcase Arizona’s excellence at Miss Gay America


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11 Shows Not To Miss

LGBTQ themes inspire this season’s must-see productions By Seth Reines


hether you prefer the type of performances that require you to use your imagination or the variety that document the most literal of human experiences, the odds are that you’ll find a show that sparks your interest in the season ahead. From a fabulous drag queen to a demonic sock puppet, Phoenix theatergoers have many of choices this season. Here are our top 10 must-see professional shows for 2017-2018:

2. Hedwig And The Angry Inch Through Oct. 15 at Phoenix Theatre Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a brilliantly innovative, heartbreaking and wickedly funny musical about a fictional rock and roll band fronted by Hedwig, a transgender East German singer. With an electrifying glam-rock score, Hedwig is a co-produced by Phoenix Theatre and the Valley newcomer A/C Theatre Company. The show opened on Broadway in 2014 and has gone on to win four Tony Awards, including Best Musical Revival and Best Leading Male (Neil Patrick Harris).

4 Photo by Anne Fishbein.

4. Scottsdale Arts Presents David Sedaris Nov. 18 at Orpheum Theatre David Sedaris, one of America’s pre-eminent out satirists, slices through cultural euphemisms and political correctness, addressing the contemporary human condition. Besides being a prolific writer, Sedaris was featured in the documentary Do I Sound Gay? and appeared as a guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Sedaris will read some of his most recent works, including comic tales of his live-in lover, and answer questions from the audience.

5. Broadway with Seth Rudetsky Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Kelli O’Hara, Jan. 27 Megan Hilty, Feb. 24

3 1

Oct. 31-Nov. 5 at ASU Gammage

1. Mamma Mia! Through Oct. 15 at Phoenix Theatre When Phoenix’s Film Bar sold out its Mamma Mia Big Gay Sing-a-Long event last year, Phoenix Theatre took that as a fabulous sign! PT opens its 2017-1018 season with the Broadway blockbuster. On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings back three men from her mother’s past. Loaded with unforgettable ABBA hits, Mamma Mia! boasts a historic 14year run on Broadway and has became an international phenomenon. 60


3. Something Rotten!


Direct from Broadway, Something Rotten! is a hilarious hit musical set in the 1590s. Two brothers, Nick and Nigel Bottom, are desperate to write their own hit play, while the “rock star” Shakespeare (played on tour by Tony Award-nominee Adam Pascal) keeps getting all the hits. When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, the brothers set out to write the world’s very first musical. New York Magazine dubbed Something’s Rotten! “The Producers + Spamalot +The Book of Mormon squared!”

Mark Cortale Presents Broadway showcases some of Broadway’s brightest musical theatre stars. These cabaretstyle concerts, which mix popular song and candid showbiz stories, are hosted by multitalented out comedian and Broadway pianist Seth Rudetsky of Sirius Radio’s “On Broadway” and “Seth Speaks.” Kelli O’Hara won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in the critically acclaimed revival of The King and I. Megan Hilty earned rave reviews for performances ranging from Broadway to TV, including the NBC musical series “Smash.” 5




8. A Chorus Line

6. Hand To God

March 16-18 at Orpheum Theatre

Feb. 2-25 at Phoenix Theatre In a church basement in a small Texas town, the teens of the Christian Puppet Ministry gather to bring the “word of God” to their flock. But one puppet takes on a foul-mouthed, demonic life of its own, unleashing the community’s barely repressed lust and rage. A coproduction by Phoenix and Stray Cat theatres, Hand to God is a ruthless comedy about sex, sinners and sock puppets. The New Yorker described the show as “‘Sesame Street’ meets The Exorcist.”

A Chorus Line, winner of the 1976 Pulitzer Prize and nine Tony Awards, is more than a Broadway musical about auditioning for a Broadway musical. Revealing the achingly poignant ambitions of professional Broadway dancers, the show is a powerful metaphor for all human aspiration. A Chorus Line will feature the iconic Tony Award-winning direction and choreography of Michael Bennett, who died of AIDS in Arizona in 1987.

7. Kinky Boots Feb. 16-18 at Orpheum Theatre Based on a true story and indie film of the same name, Kinky Boots follows young Brit Charlie Price, who abandons his family’s shoe factory to live in London with his demanding girlfriend. After the unexpected death of his father, Charlie must find a way to keep the struggling factory alive. Enter Lola, a fabulous drag queen who gives Charlie the idea of creating ladies shoes for men. Soon, the factory is turning out “kinky boots.” With a score by Cindi Lauper and book by Harvey Fierstein, Kinky Boots is about finding your passion, overcoming prejudice and transcending stereotypes.

April 17-22 at ASU Gammage First, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker; then a Stephen Spielberg film starring Whoopi Goldberg; and finally, in 2016 The Color Purple became the Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival. This stirring family chronicle follows the life of a young black girl named Celie as she journeys from childhood through joy and despair, anguish and hope to discover the power of love and life in the American South in the 1930s. With a fresh, joyous score of jazz, ragtime, gospel and blues, this revival is based on the award-winning London production.

May 29-June 3 at ASU Gammage


March 9 at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Founded in 1985 by choreographer David Parsons and Tony Award-winning lighting designer Howell Binkley, Parsons Dance is known for its energized, athletic, ensemble work. Seen on PBS, Bravo, A&E and the Discovery Channel, Parsons Dance has enraptured audiences in nearly 450 cities, 30 countries, and 5 continents, performing contemporary American dance of extraordinary artistry. 7

10. The Color Purple

11. The Humans

9. Parsons Dance



Stephen Karam’s The Humans is an uproarious, hopeful and heart-breaking play that takes place over the course of one family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Breaking with tradition, Erik Blake has brought his Pennsylvania family to celebrate and give thanks at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside, the Blake clan’s deepest fears and greatest follies are laid bare. Our modern age of anxiety is keenly observed with humor and compassion in this 2016 Tony Award winner for Best Play.




Photos courtesy of Fat Camp, Jennifer Arnold and Patti Lee.

Fat Camp

Lesbian film duo offers industry insight following the release of sixth collaborative project By James Fanizza


ennifer Arnold and Patti Lee have a lot to celebrate: They’re both making their mark on the film industry in Hollywood, they’ve just released their sixth film together as a director and cinematographer duo and they’ve on the verge of celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary. In an industry where only 2 percent of all cinematographers are women and about 7 percent are women directors, it’s not easy for two queer women to rise to the top of their game and still stay together.

a dream. She’s so funny and such a pro. She elevated every scene and made my job easy. She’s a legend, what’s not to love? I hope I get to work with her again soon! Echo: A director/cinematographer relationship is a very close one that requires a lot of communication and understanding and the same goes for a domestic relationship. What makes you both such a great pair?

Echo: What was filming like and what was it like to work with Vivica A. Fox?

Arnold: This was our first film together since A Small Act. A Small Act was a really tough one to shoot. Because it’s a documentary there was almost no control of the schedule. We filmed when real life events happened. I wanted to shoot everything 24/7. Patti wanted to be more reasonable. We also edited in our house. Our living room was filled with interns. We needed recovery time after that experience. Fat Camp wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t being created from our living room! That was better for us.

Arnold: But working with Vivica A. Fox was

Lee: We have a

So, when this dynamic duo wrapped their sixth project together – with Arnold as director and Lee as cinematographer – Echo caught up with them to find out more about the industry, their lives off set and their latest film, Fat Camp. Echo: What about the story Fat Camp drew you to it? Arnold: When I read Fat Camp, I laughed out loud from the first pages. It was unlike anything I’d ever directed before and I was dying to do comedy. It’s a very in-your-face movie. Lee: The shoot was hard. We wished we had more money, more time and more extras!




shorthand from doing so many projects together. Whether it’s a look or a small gesture I know what Jen’s thinking. In life and on set our communication tends to be good. No matter what we’re dealing with we have each other’s backs. Echo: Is there any crossover between your home life and life on set? Do you bring your work home with you or leave it at set? And how about vice versa - do you bring squabbles or things from home with you on set?


Arnold: What squabbles? We’ve been together 17 years and we’ve never had a fight (that’s a lie). We have one rule – no production talk in bed. I drive Patti crazy wanting to prep all the time. I like to be really prepared, but I try to be respectful – though I’m not great at it. Lee: I like being prepared too, but I also like to sleep. Echo: How important is it for you to share LGBTQ stories on the big screen?

working on network television, which is what I do most of the year. There are more now than in the past and some of us are on very high profile projects. Still, only 2 percent of working DPs are women, so yes, there are hurdles for sure. But I’ve been very lucky to have worked with some amazing directors and producers who have been very supportive.

Lee: I think we’re all excited to see stories that reflect ourselves – for me that includes Asian characters and LGBTQ characters. I appreciate a story that feels authentic and true. We live in Los Angeles, a city filled with so many different types of people. I want films that reflect all of us.

Arnold: I found the biggest obstacle was getting representation when I was starting out. Most of my guy friends locked in agents quickly, which meant they were in a pipeline and being put up for jobs. I’ve often had to create my own opportunities. But things are changing right now and there’s a big push for women directors. It does feel like the opportunities are opening up.

Echo: Do you feel that there is anything lacking in terms of LGBTQ representation in Hollywood?

Echo: Jennifer, do you feel you bring a particular voice to your films that others don’t?

Arnold: There are a lot of different types of LGBTQ people and they’re not all on screen. But it feels like Hollywood is finally starting to change. For example, Lena Waithe’s character on “Master Of None” feels like someone I would I know in real life but I haven’t seen a lot of on film and TV. Silas Howard, who is trans, is directing on Transparent. When more queer people are telling stories, representation changes. I’m excited about the direction we’re going right now. Echo: Is there a particular direction or trend you’d like to see LGBTQ-focused stories start to move toward?

Arnold: I always bring heart to my stories. I can’t seem to help it. Even Fat Camp, which is raunchy, has touching moments. For me, film is about understanding one another. I look for moments to expose something human in the characters, even if I’m doing it with a dick joke (as was the case in Fat Camp).

Echo: Do you find that attitudes have changed toward female cinematographers (DPs) and directors? Are there still hurdles that you have to jump that your male counterparts don’t necessarily have to? Lee: There aren’t a lot of women DPs

Echo: What’s next for you both?

Lee: Yes! We’re ready for more jobs together.

Joyful Noise!

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Accepting new singers January 2018

Echo: Patti, do you feel you have a particular gaze that you bring to your projects that sets you apart from other DPs? Lee: I like it when shots have more than one purpose. Cinematography creates mood, reflects on a character’s frame of mind and shows relationships. I do all that but like to keep it as simple as possible. Shots shouldn’t be distracting unless you’re trying to disrupt the scene. I also like to make sure the actors have freedom to move around, which means lighting areas more than making someone hit a specific mark. Creating free space for the magic to happen is something I believe in. I love my job.

Arnold: Hmmmm, I think a great trend would be if Patti and I were directing and shooting way more of them!

Artistic Director- Kimberly Waigwa Pianist - Dr. Ashley Snavley

Lee: I’m doing two sitcoms: “Superior Donuts” and “By The Book.” Both are on CBS this fall. Arnold: I’m also doing network television this fall. I’m mostly focused on comedy, but have a few dramatic ideas in the works. I tend to juggle multiple projects. I mix genre and format all the time. Fat Camp, starring Chris Redd, Anabelle Acosta, Michael Cienfuegos, Mel Rodriguez and Vivica A. Fox, is available on Netflix and VOD. For more information, visit facebook. com/fatcampmovie. James Fanizza is a proudly queer filmmaker, writer and recent Valley transplant. He can be reached at @jamesfanizza on Instagram and Twitter. CREATE

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Lost Lake

Superfly brings music, culinary and arts festival to the Valley By Julio C. Reyna

Photos courtesy of Lost Lake Festival.


his fall, you’re cordially invited to lose yourself in your own backyard. Created by Superfly, of Bonnaroo and Outside Lands music festivals fame, this inaugural three-day experience pairs the celebration of all things local with an eclectic lineup that features some of the hottest names to play this year’s music festival circuit. From Oct. 20 to 22, Lost Lake Festival will transform Steele Indian Park into a desert oasis that promises not only 40 music acts, performing on multiple stages, but also locally centric elements, including food, drink and art, that will highlight the best the Valley has to offer. Led by Chris Bianco, Pizzeria Bianco owner and James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: Southwest, Lost Lake Festival’s culinary experience, Phoenix Flavors, will include more than 30 top local chefs, restaurants, and breweries representing Phoenix’s vibrant food and drink scene, with local eats. In addition to Phoenix Flavors, the festival culinary experience will include The Lava Pit,

an unparalleled BBQ experience, the Brewpark, an area for craft beers and backyard bar-games, and Nectar of the Gods, an agave experience featuring mezcal and tequila cocktails and tastings. In between sets you can stop by The Lost Playground for a larger-than-life gaming experience that includes Major Lazer oversized versions of your favorite childhood games (and when the sun goes down, the games light up with colorful LED and glowin-the-dark features). But if playing a lifesize Connect-4 does not seem appealing there is Art of the Valley that will showcase work from local favorites as well as emerging artists and Found: The Lost Lake Marketplace will include a carefully curated selection of crafts, jewelry, clothing and more from regional makers and creators. Continuing the celebration of local favorites, Lost Lake Festival has also launched Sound of the Valley, a contest that more than 3,000 bands from across Arizona submitted their music for a chance to play a festival stage. The Ricky Fitts, voted the winner of the contest, will join a few other bands with local ties, including Bogan Via, Kongos, Luna Aura and Playboy Manbaby.

HAIM The thing about this group that makes them so likeable live is that its members genuinely seem to love every single moment they are on stage. A few things to expect, other than the weird faces that Este makes while playing, is they tend to stick to a set list that ranges from nine to eleven songs. They keep things short

HAIM. 64



and sweet with their hysterical banter between one another and the audience. This is also a band that does not like the crowd to be still, so get ready to dance.

Major Lazer This will likely go down as the wildest set of the weekend. Always ready to bring the party, Major Lazer’s sets tend to be your typical dance fare, including plenty of lights and extreme visuals. They usually have a stage full of dancers and CO2 cannons will rarely stop going off. There is 99.9 percent guarantee that Diplo will lose his shirt and this will happen whether it is hot outside or not. No Major Lazer set is complete until he hops into a zorb ball and makes his way through the audience – and the audience will be just as crazy as the on stage antics.

The Killers The band has not missed a note these past few years and, if their recent festival run is any indication, this set will not disappoint. Brandon Flowers and Co. are the type of guys who are so confident, that they will likely start their set off with the biggest hit, “Mr. Brightside.” Something most tend to forget about The Killers is the amount of hits the group actually has. If you are struggling to think of something other than “Somebody Told Me” or “Human,” half way through their performance you’ll be hit with the realization that you have not stopped singing along. create

Lost Lake Festival Artist Lineup Oct. 20


This is a band that has the type of front man and catalogue that is meant to play to a huge crowd. 

Odesza This will be a set that everyone is talking about. This is a group that has exponentially grown their fan base over the past few years and now warrant the type of headlining spot that typically merits a huge production featuring a visual feast. This also means you may want to plot out a spot early on. One thing to expect during “Bloom” is that the band has recently started bringing out a full drumline for the song. Being that this performance will take place well after the

release of the highly anticipated follow-up album, A Moment Apart, also expect plenty of new cuts. Lost Lake Festival has been a long time in the making and if other Superfly productions are any indication, we are in for something really special that this city will be able to claim as its own. The amount of effort behind every detail – from the celebration of all things local to the star-studded music lineup – will culminate in a positive experience for everyone who’s ready to lose themselves.

The Killers.

Chance the Rapper Pixies HAIM Ludacris Crystal Castles Calexico NoName BROODS The Dap-Kings Johnnyswim Trinidad Cardona Striking Matches The Shelters Luna Aura Lost Lakes Oct. 21

The Killers The Roots Huey Lewis & the News Dreamcar Lil Jon (DJ Set) Kongos Lil Yachty SuperJam featuring the Dap-Kings and Special Guests Carla Morrison Tritonal JR JR MUNA Frenship Taylor Bennett Bogan Via Reverb Nation winner Oct. 22

Major Lazer Odesza Run the Jewels Big Gigantic Juanes Snakehips Danny Brown Highly Suspect Poolside Real Estate A Tribe Called Red Futuristic Fayuca Caye Playboy Manbaby

Lost Lake Festival Oct. 20-22 Steele Indian School Park 300 E. Indian School Road in Phoenix







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2017-2018 Arts Season Preview




Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Sept. 23 AfroBaile Records presents Brazilian Day Festival at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts and Scottsdale Civic Center Park Oct. 4 The Martial Artists and Acrobats of Tianjin, People’s Republic of China Oct. 6 Samite Oct. 8 Danny Zelisko presents Tom Rush with Special Guest Danny O’Keefe Oct. 14 Monk On Monk: featuring T.S. Monk, a Centennial Celebration of Thelonious Monk Oct. 21 Lightwire Theater presents Moon Mouse: A Space Odyssey Nov. 4 The Okee Dokee Brothers Nov. 9 Eddie Palmieri Latin Jazz Orchestra: Eddie at 80 Nov. 10 Yo-Yo Ma and Kathryn Stott Nov. 11 An Evening with Rita Rudner Nov. 18 David Sedaris at Orpheum Theatre, Phoenix Nov. 24 The Capitol Steps Dec. 2 ARTrageous Gala 2017 | Ansel Adams: America | Music Composed by Chris Brubeck and Dave Brubeck Dec. 5 Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel, Keys to the Classics Dec. 8-17 Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold Dec. 9 ’Twas a Girls Night Before Christmas: The Musical Dec. 10 Scottsdale Philharmonic Dec. 15 David Britton Christmas, Sounds of the Season Dec. 16 Mariachi Sol de México de José Hernández presents A Merry-Achi Christmas Dec. 21 Windham Hill: Winter Solstice, 30th Anniversary Concert with Will Ackerman, Barbara Higbie, Alex de Grassi and Todd Boston Dec. 22 Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Wild Swingin’ Holiday Party Dec. 26-30 Sing-a-long-a Grease at Stage 2 Jan. 5-March 23 (Fridays) Late Nite Catechism starring Patti Hannon, written by Vicki Quade and Maripat Donovan Jan. 8- 24 (Saturdays) Late Nite Catechism III: ’Til Death Do Us Part starring Patti Hannon, written by Maripat Donovan with Marc Silvia Jan. 6 The Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires Jan. 16 Rob Kapilow: What Makes It Great? Dvorak’s American Quartet at the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix Jan. 17 Close Encounters with Music Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman Renana Gutman, piano | Peter Zazofsky, violin Danielle Talamantes, soprano | Yehuda Hanani, cello Jan. 18 Rob Kapilow: What Makes It Great? You’re the Top: The Songs of Cole Porter Jan. 20 Seven Things I’ve Learned: An Evening with Ira Glass at Orpheum Theatre, Phoenix Jan. 23 Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel, Virtuoso Variations 70



Jan. 27 Mark Cortale presents Broadway @ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Kelli O’Hara featuring Seth Rudetsky as pianist and host Jan. 31 The Manhattan Transfer at Celebrity Theatre, Phoenix Feb. 2 Ladysmith Black Mambazo Feb. 3 Metropolitan Klezmer Feb. 7 Close Encounters with Music The Passion of Camille Saint-Saëns and César Franck: L’Amour Toujours! Feb. 9 SONGBOOK by the Art of Time Ensemble and Steven Page Feb. 13 A Date with John Waters Feb. 15 ODC/Dance Feb. 18 La Gran Fiesta, A Celebration of Latin and Hispanic Cultures | Headliner: Villalobos Brothers Feb. 20 Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel Bach and Chopin: A Musical Kinship Feb. 20 Rob Kapilow: What Makes It Great? Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata at the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix Feb. 22 Rob Kapilow: What Makes It Great? From On the Town to West Side Story: The Theater Music of Leonard Bernstein Feb. 24 Mark Cortale presents Broadway @ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts Megan Hilty featuring Seth Rudetsky as pianist and host Feb. 25 Jesse Cook Feb. 27 The Chieftains Feb. 28 & March 1 The TEN Tenors: Wish You Were Here March 3 Yamato, The Drummers of Japan World Tour, Chousensha/The Challengers March 9 Parsons Dance March 15 Rob Kapilow: What Makes It Great? Finishing the Hat: The Songs of Stephen Sondheim March 16 Amit Peled (cello) and Noreen Polera (piano) Program: Brahms: Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor, Op. 38 | Popper: Hungarian Rhapsody | Schubert: Arpeggione for Cello and Piano March 17 Mark Cortale presents Broadway @ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts featuring Seth Rudetsky as pianist and host, Special Guest TBA March 23 Enmei (Long Life): A Dance and Aging Project March 31 Poncho Sanchez and His Latin Jazz Band April 3 Keyboard Conversations with Jeffrey Siegel Leonard Bernstein at 100: A Musical Celebration April 7 Mark Cortale presents Broadway @ Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts featuring Seth Rudetsky as pianist and host, Special Guest TBA

Virginia G. Piper Concert Series Nov. 4 Moscow State Symphony Orchestra conducted by Pavel Kogan featuring Piano Soloist Dmitry Masleev, Gold Medal Winner of the 2015 International Tchaikovsky Competition Jan. 7 Emanuel Ax Program: Mozart: Sonata No. 15 in F Major, K. 533/494 | Liszt: Tre Sonetti del Petrarca | Bach: Partita No. 5 in G Major, BWV 829 | Beethoven: Sonata No. 21 in C Major, Op. 53 “Waldstein” Feb. 16 Yefim Bronfman Program: Schumann – Arabesque | Schumann – Humoreske | Debussy – Suite Bergamasque | Stravinsky – Petruschka March 2 Seong-Jin Cho performing Beethoven: Sonata No. 8, Op. 13 “Pathétique” | Beethoven: Sonata No. 30, Op. 109 | Debussy: Images (Book 2) | Chopin: Sonata No. 3 in B minor, Op. 58 March 24 Zürich Chamber Orchestra with Daniel Hope (violin) as music director performing Vivaldi: The Four Seasons | Richter: Recomposed April 19 Murray Perahia, piano

San Francisco Opera: Grand Opera Cinema Series Fan favorites of the world-renowned San Francisco Opera Screened in HD. Jan. 24 Othello (film) by Giuseppe Verdi Feb. 21 The Gershwins Porgy and Bess (film) by George Gershwin, DuBose and Dorothy Heyward and Ira Gershwin March 14 Norma (film) with music by Vincenzo Bellini April 11 Rigoletto (film) by Giuseppe Verdi

ASU Concerts at the Center faculty and students of the Arizona State University Herberger Institute School of Music. Oct. 15 Joining Forces: The ASU Philharmonia and Gospel Choir Nov. 19 Big Band Matinee Feb. 12 Vocal Explorations April 2 ASU Symphony

Talk Cinema Sneak previews of new independent and foreign films – personally selected by nationally recognized film critic Harlan Jacobson from Cannes, Sundance, Toronto and other internationally ranked film festivals. Oct. 10 and 24 Nov. 7 and 28 Jan. 16 and 30 March 13 and 27 April 10 and 24 May 15 and 29 Events and performances take place at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts unless otherwise specified. ENGAGE

The Rialto Theatre, Tucson

Sept. 22 SNBRN @ 191 Toole Sept. 24 Natalia Lafourcade Sept. 24 The Bronx Sept. 24 This Will Destroy You @ Flycatcher Sept. 25 Superjoint & Devildriver Sept. 26 Max Frost @ Club Congress Sept. 26 Tokimonsta @ 191 Toole Sept. 27 Electric Guest @ 191 Toole Sept. 28 Luke Pell @ 191 Toole Sept. 29 Janiva Magness & Diunna Greenleaf @ 191 Toole Sept. 30 Tucson Libertine League Presents: The Rainbow Review @ 191 Toole Oct. 2 NAS, Wale and Nick Grant Oct. 2 Y La Bamba @191 Toole Oct. 3 Punk Prayer: Pussy Riot’s Fight For Global Freedom of Expression Oct. 3 Chelsea Wolfe @ 191 Toole Oct. 3 Pinegrove @ Club Congress Oct. 4 Bonobo Oct. 4 Vieux Farka Touré @ 191 Toole Oct. 5 Japandroids & Ty Segall Oct. 6 Black Joe Lewis @ Club Congress Oct. 6 Sin Bandera Oct. 6 My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult 30th Anniversary Tour @ 191 Toole Oct. 6-7 Dusk Music Festival @ Rillito Downs Oct. 7 Loudon Wainwright III @ 191 Toole Oct. 7 Jim Norton – Kneeling Room Only Oct. 8 Fat Tony/F L A C ) @191 Toole Oct. 10 Tove Lo Oct. 10 Shooter Jennings @ 191 Toole Oct. 12 Lampedusa: Concerts For Refugees Featuring Joan Baez, Steve Earle, Patty Griffin, The Mastersons and James Mcmurtry @ The Fox Theatre Oct. 13 Party Favor – Tuned Out Tour Oct. 14 Boris @ 191 Toole Oct. 15 Phil Vassar Oct. 16 Of Mice & Men Oct. 17 KMFDM Hell Yeah 2017 Tour Oct. 17 Thurston Moore Group @ 191 Toole Oct. 18 Home Free @ The Fox Theatre Oct. 18 M. Ward @ 191 Toole Oct. 18 Eagles of Deathe Metal Oct. 19 The Noise Presents: Nothing More - The Stories We Tell Ourselves Tour Oct. 19 Sahbabii @ Toole 191 Oct. 20 Regina Spektor: A Special Solo Performance Oct. 20 Wolves in the Throne Room @ 191 Toole Oct. 21 The English Beat @ 191 Toole Oct. 21 Joyce Manor Wavves Oct. 24 6lack Oct. 26 Foam N’ Glow – Life is More Beautiful with Foam Tour Oct. 27 Shopkins Live! @ TCC Music Hall Oct. 27 Madeintyo @ 191 Toole Oct. 27 Token: Have You Seen Him? @ Club Congress Oct. 28 The ABC Tour feat. Angelz, Bijou & Ciszak Oct. 29 Tyga with special guests Nov. 1 Greta Van Fleet with special guests ENGAGE

Nov. 2 The Devil Makes Three Nov. 4 Animaniacs Live! Nov. 6 Digitour Presents Wes Tucker @ 191 Toole Nov. 7 Secondhand Serenade: Awake – The Ten Year Anniversary Tour @ 191 Toole Nov. 8 The Broken Crowns Tour Featuring Matisyahu With Common Kings & Orphan Nov. 8 Gryffin @ 191 Toole Nov. 10 Roadkill Ghost Choir @ 191 Toole Nov. 10 Chris Janson – The Everybody Tour Nov. 11 Hiss Golden Messenger @ Club Congress Nov. 11 Ile Nov.12 Kyle Kinane @ 191 Toole Nov. 13 Twice As Nice: An Evening With Deer Tick @ 191 Toole Nov. 14 Tennis with special guests Wild Ones @ 191 Toole Nov. 15 Ariel Pink @ 191 Toole Nov. 15 K. Flay Nov. 15 Girlpool @ Solar Culture Nov. 16 Mild High Club @ 191 Toole Nov. 18 Walker Lurkens @ 191 Toole Nov. 19 Mayhem Nov. 22 Jonwayne @ 191 Toole Nov. 24 Winter’s Evening with Ryanhood Nov. 28 Molotov Nov. 29 Metalachi @ 191 Toole Dec. 2 John Waters Christmas Dec. 2 Dr. Fresch @ 191 Toole Dec. 6 Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox Dec. 8 Mark Farina @ 191 Toole Dec. 17 Bone Thungs-N-Harmony Jan. 11 Hypnotic Brass Ensemble Jan. 13 Matt Holman Group @ Club Congress Jan. 13 Zeppelin USA Jan. 14 Sheila E. Jan. 15 Josh Ritter & The Royal City Band Jan. 16 Warren Eolf with UA Studio Jazz Ensemble @ UofA Fred Fox School of Music Crowder Hall Jan. 17 The Lew Tabackin Trio @ Tucson Scottish Rite Temple Jan. 20 The Fab Four: The Ultimate Beatles Tribute @ The Fox Theatre Jan. 20 Spyro Gyra Jan. 21 Jay Leonheart & Wycliffe Gordon @ Club Congress Feb. 12 Bruce Cockburn Feb. 18 Life Could Be a Dream: A Fabulous Fifties Flashback, Fifth Annual Rialto Theatre Fundraising Gala Feb. 25 Ron Pope

Chandler Center for the Arts

Sept. 23 the Velveteen Rabbit Reborn Sept. 30 18th Annual Mariachi and Folklorico Festival Oct. 1 Gaelic Storm Oct. 6 Charles Phoenix – Disney Retro Slide Show Oct. 8 Chandler Symphony Classical Series Oct. 12 Get The Led Out Oct. 14 Miss Indian Arizona Scholarship Program Oct. 21 Center Stage Oct. 21 Sons of Serendip Oct. 38 Dream Theater Nov. 4 The Family Stone – 50th Anniversary Tour Nov. 10 B – The Underwater Bubble Show Nov. 12 Chandler Symphony Classical Series Nov. 24 Nutcracker presented by Ballet Etudes Dec. 9 Spirit of Christmas Dec. 15 Straighten Up and Fly Right featuring Ramsey Lewis and John Pizzarelli Dec. 27 Zappé, An Italian Family Circus Since 1842 Jan. 19 Jarabe Mexicano Jan. 20 The Price Is Right Live Jan. 27 The Texas Tenors Jan. 28 Chandler Symphony Classical Series Feb. 2 Moscow Festival Ballet’s Sleeping Beauty Feb. 16 Bumper Jacksons Feb. 23 Black Violin Feb. 24 Music of the Knights Feb. 27 Eat Your Art Out Chandler! March 3 Always Patsy Cline March 9 Buddy Guy March 10 DaVinci @ Michelangelo: The Titans Experience March 11 Celtic Nights March 16 Classic Albums Live: 50th Anniversary of The Beatles Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band March 18 Musical Thrones, A Parody March 23 Cesar Millan LIVE! March 25 Chandler Symphony Clasical Series April 7 Lee Rocker April 14 Always and Forever April 15 Clint Black April 28 Cinderella, presented by Ballen Etudes May 4 Pacifico Dance Company May 6 Chandler Symphony Classical Series June 2 Showcase presented by Ballet Etudes School of Dance




Nov. 15-Dec. 31 Disney’s Newsies

Arizona Opera Hercules Vs Va mpires Composer: Patrick Morganelli | Filmmaker: Mario Bava Tucson: Oct. 15 at Fox Theatre | Phoenix: Oct. 21 & 22 Tosca by Giacomo Puccini Tucson: Nov. 11 & 12 | Phoenix: Nov. 17-19 Candide by Leonard Bernstein Tucson: Jan. 27-28 | Phoenix: Feb. 2-4 The Barber Of Seville by Gioachino Rossini Tucson: March 3-4 | Phoenix: March 9-11 Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner Phoenix: April 6-8 | Tucson: April 14-15 Phoenix performances take place at Symphony Hall and Tucson performances take place at Tucson Music Hall unless otherwise noted.

Melrose Collective melrosecollectivephx

March 7-April 8 Million Dollar Quartet March 9-18 The Phoenix Theatre Festival Of New American Theatre April 18-May 13 Godspell May 16-June 10 Little Shop of Horrors

Phoenix Theatre

Sept. 6-Oct. 15 Mamma Mia! Sept. 20-Oct. 15 Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Feb. 2-25 Hand To God Feb. 14-March 4 The Boob Show

Phoenix Convention Center

Creative Gateways, a collaboration of the arts, Sedona

Jan. 24-Feb. 11 It’s Only A Play

Desert Overture Wind Symphony Sept. 30 Desert City Jazz - Jazz on the Rooftop, featuring trumpeter Dan Reed, at the Clarendon Hotel Skydeck Dec. 3 Around the World for the Holidays at Orangewood

Desert Overture Wind Symphony. Photo by Tina Dickson Photography.

KILLER SEATS NOW AVAILABLE. Full & Mini Season Packages On Sale | 602-266-7464 All performances at Symphony Hall






Desert Voices Dec. 8-10 Rock the Holidays at St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, 3809 E. Third St., Tucson Feb. 24 Desert Voices Got Talent at Tucson Women’s Club, 6245 E. Bellevue St., Tucson June 10 Celebrating the Spectrum at Temple of Music and Art, 330 Scott Ave., Tucson

Grand Canyon Performing Arts

Phoenix Women’s Chorus Nov. 18 & 19 Building Hope, Joyful Noise! at Shepherd of the Hills UCC Church, Scottsdale Dec. 3 Building Hope, Joyful Noise! At Desert Garden United Church, Sun City West May 19 & 20 Building Hope, Immovable Voices: Creating Change at Shepherd of the Hills UCC Church, Scottsdale Nov. 17 & 18, 2018 PWC 25th Anniversary Celebration Concert

Reveille Men’s Chorus Dec. 1-3 Holiday Spectacular at Leo Rich Theater, 206 S. Church Ave., Tucson May 2018 (TBA)

Voices of the Desert Dec. 9-10 Sleighin’ It Holiday Show, Phoenix grand-canyon-performing-arts Canyon Echoes Phoenix Metropolitan Men’s Chorus Omaggio LGBTQ Youth Chorus


Phoenix Women’s Chorus.




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Hibiscus Berry Margarita.

was just as decadent to look at as it was to drink. My dining partner selected the equally tantalizing watermelon margarita, made with reposado tequila and lime and garnished with a fresh cube of watermelon. Spoiler alert: Pepper makes a guest appearance on this one, giving the light drink a delightfully spicy kick!

Photos and story by Rachel Verbits


idtown Phoenix is currently in the midst of a restaurant Renaissance. Everywhere you look, a new restaurant is popping up and attracting more food lovers and cocktail enthusiasts than the week before. But with a seemingly endless list of new dining destinations, such as Camp S ocial and Cold Beers And Cheeseburgers, joining the ranks of popular eateries along Midtown’s newly dubbed “Restaurant Row,” it can be hard to stand out. One cantina, however, is doing just that. Casa Añejo Tacos and Tequila, owned by Evening Entertainment Group, has been cranking out wood-fired twists on authentic Mexican fare, inspired by authentic flavors and traditional dishes since May 5. Because you can’t throw a pestle in any direction without hitting a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix these days, this creative cantina has a few tricks up its sleeve that has not only piqued people’s interest, but kept them coming back for more. One such example of this is the star power that HGTV and DIY Network personality

Alison Victoria, host of “Kitchen Crashers,” has brought to the operation as its creative director. Upon entering the stylish indoor/outdoor dining space, located inside The Colony Shopping Center just north of Seventh Street and Missouri Avenue, we found ourselves immersed in a vibrant space with the upscale authenticity you’d hope to find on a quintessential jaunt south of the border. Decorative lanterns scatter mood lighting from the eye-catching bar in the center of the room to the pottery-lined walls. Everything from the rich wood touches inside to the light-adorned trees on the patio offer visitors a warm welcome. We arrived just in time for happy hour (3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday) which meant it was still too warm to enjoy the ambiance of the wraparound patio. So instead we enjoyed the small-but-mighty selection of $5 happy hour margaritas. I was intrigued by the hibiscus berry margarita, which is crafted with Blanco tequila, berry hibiscus and lime and topped with a real orchid. Fruity, without being overly sweet, the unmistakable purple cocktail

Casa Añejo’s menu boasts an extensive tequila list that offers shots ranging from Espolon Blanco ($9) to Clase Azul Añejo ($55), depending on what your palate and your wallet are in the mood for. Instead of blindly making a selection and hoping for the best, I enlisted the help of the staff. They were happy to lend their expertise, so my advice is to take advantage of it – I was glad I did. We decided to pair our tequila with some of Casa Añejo’s shared plates, which include such familiar dishes as street corn, ceviche and black bean dip and even more unique items, like papas y chorizo, made with tomatillo, cojita, chipotle aioli and a six-minute egg. Extra hungry patrons can easily fill up on the machaca nachos, which are loaded with queso, frijoles, guacamole, pickled jalapeño, lettuce, crema, onion, cilantro and tomatillo. As someone who had never tried chicharrones, I couldn’t pass up ordering some fried pork skins to see why these crispy bites are so popular. Just as I hoped, they were extremely light, puffy and crunchy without being greasy at all. A few splashes of Cholula with cojita cheese and cilantro completed the dish by adding

Left to right: Short rib, carne asada and carnitas tacos, pozole and chicharrones.




grasshopper adventure? With a Taco Tuesday celebration, of course. We couldn’t resist mixing and matching three tacos for just $8, which is Casa Añejo’s Taco Tuesday deal every week.

Watermelon Margarita.

flavor and spice to the popped pork skins. I really don’t know how I made it so far in life without these puffy, crisp morsels, and never again will I dismiss you, chicharrones. Moving on to what makes Casa Añejo truly unique: the guacamole. A generous size portion of classic guacamole is available for purists, but since Casa Añejo is all about that little extra something, they’ve taken almost everyone’s favorite starter a step further by letting patrons stock their guac! Thanks to a little research ahead of time, we asked our waitress for a “Stock Your Guac” menu and were presented with a sheet of about a dozen mix-ins to customize our guacamole. These items range from black beans and pepitas to pineapple and grasshoppers. Yes, you read that right: grasshoppers. To be specific, chapulines, which are a certain type of grasshopper commonly eaten in areas of Mexico, and are just one of a few unique mix-ins available to stock your guac with. If you’re looking to try something new, we recommend adding the green apple Pop Rocks or the smoked salmon to your avocado masterpiece. And don’t forget to specify your heat, from one to three flames, as well. If a restaurant is going to risk stepping this far out of the box, it has to be done right. And Casa Añejo’s efforts have already earned them three Best of the Valley awards, including one for “Best Use of Grasshoppers,” which was enough for me to trust the chef’s creation. After debating on the level of adventure our palates we’re prepared to embark on, we loaded ours up with roasted corn, queso fresco and the chapulines (don’t worry, they’re small!). Without adding much flavor, the chapulines did provide a crunchy element to an otherwise creamy dish, and the roasted corn complimented the critter with the fresh sweetness we knew we could count on. How do you follow up a culinary


Served a la carte, Casa Añejo’s offerings may first appear to be your typical street tacos, but the unique flavor combination in these creations truly showcase what makes the cuisine here special. I’m a firm believer in (almost) no taco left behind, so we tried as many as our stomachs would allow, and our clear winners were 1) the tender grilled swordfish with mango pineapple salsa, 2) carnitas with pickled onion and tomatillo and 3) short ribs with charred poblano and pickled onions, but I would have them all again in a heartbeat. Don’t let the size of the tacos fool you, either. When the plates arrived at our table, I was initially a bit disappointed at how small they seemed, but I quickly changed my mind when I noticed the heaping portions of the fillings. And that’s the best part of the taco anyway, right? Besides tacos, the cantina offers a number of flavorful, wood-fired entrees. Making a choice isn’t easy, as the options include such favorites as authentic roadside pollo, green chili pork and a Sonoran Dog. I couldn’t leave without trying one more selection, and the small order of pozole, made with tender pork shoulder, hominy, red chili, avocado and fresh flour tortillas for scooping, was the perfect final course – before dessert. There really is no other way to end a meal of this variety than homemade churros. Covered in cinnamon sugar and served up with a trio of dipping sauces (chocolate, strawberries and cream and mango chutney), our churros arrived hot and fresh, and also proved to be more than we could conquer. If you’re short on time, check out Casa Añejo’s curbside kitchen, which offers tacos to go, Sonoran hot dogs and canned beers. If you’re looking to feed more than a few, ask about the taco take-out menu. Casa Añejo offers the trifecta we’re looking for in a dining experience: ambiance, authenticity and award-winning cuisine. Pro tip: With fall temps finally approaching, you’d be wise to skip the guesswork on many of the new places popping up and bring your out-of-town guests here for a taste of the southwest this fall. Casa Añejo Tacos and Tequila 5600 N. Seventh St., Phoenix Hours: 11 a.m.- midnight, Mon-Thurs 10 a.m.-midnight, Sat 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun





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between the covers

Making Midcentury Modern By Terri Schlichenmeyer


ou’ll never forget the feeling of key in hand. Imagine: you. A homeowner, finally, after saving, planning, and a ceiling-high pile of paperwork. Starting today, you can go home (home!), shut the door and know that it’s all yours. So, how do you reflect your style in this home you love? A good place to begin is with Making Midcentury Modern by Christopher Kennedy. When he was a young lad, Kennedy’s parents taught him the proper ways to a well-mannered life: his mother made him write thank-you notes, and she taught him 80



how to “make a good first impression,” while his father advised him to “live each day to the fullest.” Those lessons were learned in “simpler, more gracious times.” Kennedy insists it’s not nostalgia that makes him love interior design from that period. Instead, he just likes the trend, and he doesn’t see it “slowing down any time soon.” In this book, he shows how you can include Midcentury Modern into your home, even if it was built last month. You can start in the entrance. Those first impressions matter when it comes to a

home, Kennedy says. Paint your front door in a Midcentury Modern color to welcome guests warmly. On the topic of colors, Midcentury Modern isn’t shy. Orange is the “caffeine of the color wheel,” and it really pops. Think pink (Mamie Eisenhower’s favorite color), turquoise, white, red or any shade of blue. Don’t just color walls, though; be bold with furniture, rugs, and accessories. Pillows in out-there colors are inexpensive ways to dip your toe into the design. Know the “secret to a beautiful and easy-to-make bed” – and for guest rooms, consider twin beds. Go ahead and mix metals, bring childhood treasures out for display, and recall Mom’s kitchen or bathroom for ideas. Take your indoors, outdoors, weather permitting. Pare down; BOOKS

Midcentury Modern isn’t cluttered (so on that note, hide your TV). And finally, have fun. “Above all,” Kennedy says, “never take your home … too seriously.” Sometimes, it’s easy to feel indecision or paralysis, when it comes to décor. What if you make a mistake? What if you have Making Midcentury Modern? With 100 easy-to-use (and surprisingly budget-friendly) tips, Kennedy gives readers the inspirational boost they need to make a home dazzle. You’ll see how simple color will transform a house’s entire look, and where cherished possessions can become unusual displays. Kennedy fully admits that many of his favorite pieces were discovered online or at thrift stores, an idea that’s somehow very delicious. And pillows? Pile ‘em on!

Making Midcentury Modern by Christopher Kennedy, foreword by Barclay Butera. Gibbs Smith, 2017 | $35.

The one criticism I have with this book isn’t with the information – it’s with getting that information: the font color against color can be very difficult to read. White print on a yellow background, for example, is nearly hidden. It’s a design flaw in a design book. Go

figure. That’s not insurmountable, though: there are photos enough to make this coffee-table book a can’t-miss full of fun. If you need your house to feel groovier no matter when it was constructed, Making Midcentury Modern may be key.

Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm, lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 13,000 books. She’s been reading since age 3 and, to this day, she never goes anywhere without a book.





Hedwig And The Angry Inch

Glam-rock musical premieres at Phoenix Theatre By Seth Reines


nce upon a time, there was a boy named Hansel, born in Communist East Berlin during the height of the Cold War. He always dreamed of finding his “other half” and becoming an American rock star. When a handsome American GI, promised him love and liberation, it seemed that his dreams had all come true. But, in order to marry and emigrate, Hansel had to “leave something behind.” Surviving a botched sex change operation that left her with an “angry inch,” Hedwig was deserted in a Kansas trailer park by her GI, who left her for a younger man on the very day the Berlin Wall came down. Undaunted, Hedwig donned flamboyant glam makeup and Farrah Fawcett wig and formed a rock band named The Angry Inch. While supporting herself with babysitting gigs, Hedwig fell in love with a 16-year-old Jesus freak who stole her songs and became the rock star Hedwig had always dreamed of being. But refusing to be defeated, Hedwig continued to perform in dive bars and restaurants while searching for recognition, retribution and reconciliation with her “other half.” Created by John Cameron Mitchell, the original off-Broadway Hedwig, and Stephen Trask, Hedwig And The Angry Inch is an innovative, heartbreaking, wickedly funny rock musical following Hedwig’s tale of survival and self-discovery. “[Hedwig is] a little bit of everything. She’s a bit gay man, a bit drag queen, a bit genderqueer. She’s not really trans – she’s accidental trans. She’s an outsider in every possible way,” Mitchell said. “In many ways Hedwig is a metaphor for any outsider and the reason why audiences have been drawn to her over the years. Now that trans and queer issues are not so alien, I think she’s even more relatable.” This month, Hedwig finally makes 82



its professional Phoenix premiere in a collaborative production by Phoenix Theatre and A/C Theatre Company, known for its passionate, intriguing and edgy productions. Playing Hedwig is actor/singer Caleb Reese (pictured), who has starred in Phoenix Theatre’s Bullets Over Broadway, The Toxic Avenger, End of the Rainbow, Les Miserables and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. “Hedwig is a shining pillar of hope for so many wonderful people in our society, and her story must be told with respect and sincerity,” he said. This role, Reese admitted, brought with it many new experiences. “First, there is the physical transformation to play the role. A lot of my summer has been in the gym and away from restaurants,” he admitted. “Next is the dialect of Hedwig. The German accent is one I’ve never tried and I have been working with a dialect coach in New York to help smooth out the process. And last, but not least, is having to perform the whole show in heels, fake eyelashes and a corset, which are all firsts for me.”

are and striving to become who we want to be … a universal theme to all of us.” Pasha, who spent most of his life in Iran, Canada and France and trained with Cirque du Soleil, discussed the uniqueness of the Phoenix production. “We spent a lot of time in concept chats about celebrating the origins of the show and its original development in the 1990s via bar and club concerts, creating a functional and enchanting Phoenix dive bar as our set,” he said. “Our bar celebrates some of the famous bars that have come and gone in the Valley .... Patrons will have the ability to sit in our fictional bar and be front and center for Hedwig and The Angry Inch – and the naughtiness she will bring!” Hedwig and the Angry Inch Sept. 20-Oct.15 Phoenix Theatre 100 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix Tickets: $35-$95; 602-254-2151

The show will be directed by Pasha Yamotahari, Phoenix Theatre’s associate producing director and star of last year’s Phoenix Theatre hit In The Heights. “What makes Hedwig an important show for the LGBTQ community,” Yamotahari explained, “[is that] this is not only a show, but an important experience for everyone in the community. This experience celebrates with a beautiful mélange of triumph and tragedy, [and] the roads we all take in accepting who we

Photo by Reg Madison Photography. THEATER

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AT THE BOX OFFICE By James Fanizza

Tom of Finland In theaters Oct.13 | 115 minutes | Biography, Drama

Fat Camp Now available on VOD | 86 minutes | Comedy

When Hutch (Chris Redd) is kicked out of the house by his mom, and forced to work at his uncle’s fat camp, the 20-something freeloader finds himself supervising an offbeat group of husky boys who, ultimately, help him grow up. Emmy-nominated LGBTQ filmmaker Jennifer Arnold’s directorial debut is a willfully offensive adult comedy with no manners and tons of heart, that also stars Anabelle Acosta, Michael Cienfuegos, Mel Rodriguez and Vivica A. Fox.

Directed by Dome Karukoski and written by Aleksi Bardy, Tom of Finland follows a decorated officer who returns home after a harrowing and heroic experience serving Finland in World War II. Life after the war proves to be equally distressing as he finds peacetime Helsinki rampant with persecution of homosexuals, including gay men being pressured to marry women and have children. Touko Laaksonen aka Tom of Finland (Pekka Strang) finds refuge in his liberating art, which focuses on homoerotic drawings of muscular men, free of inhibitions. His work – made famous by his signature – became the emblem of a generation of men and fanned the flames of a gay revolution.

God’s Own Country In theaters Oct. 26 | 104 minutes | Drama, Romance

The Snowman In theaters Oct. 20 | Crime, Drama, Horror

When a boy finds his missing mother’s pink scarf wrapped around the neck of a sinister-looking snowman, Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is called in to investigate and begins to suspect it’s the work of a serial killer. With the help of a brilliant recruit (Rebecca Ferguson), the detective must connect decades-old cold cases to the brutal new one if he hopes to outwit this unthinkable evil before the next snowfall. Directed by Tomas Alfredson, this thriller also stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Val Kilmer and J. K. Simmons. 84



God’s Own Country follows Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor), a young Yorkshire sheep farmer who is emotionally shut off and must keep his family’s farm from going after his father is partly paralyzed with a stroke. In order to help out at the farm, his father hires Gheorghe (Alec Secareanu), a Romanian migrant worker whose arrival makes Johnny confront his feelings of love and being loved for the first time. This wonderfully performed and impressively unsentimental story of love and longing is the debut feature of Yorkshire-born actor and director Francis Lee, and is rightly being acclaimed as one of the best British films of the year. James Fanizza is a proudly queer filmmaker, writer and recent Valley transplant. He can be reached at @jamesfanizza on Instagram and Twitter. MOVIES

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moments come from her collaborations with Eagles of Death Metal on both “Boogie Feet” and on the infectious “Let ‘Em Talk” - the anthemic chorus of which will make you want to turn the song all the way up, sing at the top of your lungs and maybe give the world a middle finger or two. The album slightly loses its way when it comes to genre cohesion, as she goes from pop ballads, to country-tinged songs and her more fun rock persona. There is almost a feeling that perhaps this genre shifting may be intentional because she is no longer tied to the constraints of her previous producers and is having her “I am Kesha, hear me roar moment.”


Rainbow RCA/Kemosabe |

“I think it’s time to practice what I preach/ exorcise the demons inside me,” Kesha sings on “Learn to Let Go,” a track off of her comeback album, Rainbow. It is difficult to write about this album without touching on how she has gotten to this point. After spending years in a legal embroilment with Dr. Luke, she was finally able to release music for the first time since 2012. While the album alludes to the situation, it is more a celebration of who she is. She is moving forward, singing louder, and getting weird.

It has been a contentious five years for Kesha, but she has managed to persevere. Simply put, she is making music on her terms. And while the result can, at times, be a bit all over the place, she is making the best music of her career. This is not exactly a rebrand or her trying on a new person. Listeners will really get the sense she is finally showing the world the free spirit she truly is.

While there are songs about redemption and rising above the fray, Rainbow really excels in instances where Kesha lets loose and experiments with her sound. Standout

gratification. The album is as complex and sonically lush as its predecessors and the band is now finding itself sonically shifting slowly in a new direction. What initially stands out about Painted Ruins is that the project veers in a more synth-centric direction. The most prominent example of which is the he keyboards in “Mourning Sound.” The music is still moody and rich. But while the lyrics don’t go on in blatant terms about loneliness or heartbreak, but the picture of those feelings is clearly painted. In “Three Rings,” Dan Rossen softly begs to be given a chance to truly prove himself in a guitar- and synth-filled arrangement that could easily pass as a Radiohead song. Then on “Losing Sense” the subtlety is finally dropped when a simple request is made, “Can I ask of you not to cut into me?” You can almost picture yourself lying in your bed alone wondering what you did to cause this. The combination of the multiple vocals harmonies, instruments and song arrangements each listen is a sonic treat. Painted Ruins is a beautiful record that warrants multiple plays to do it justice. Not only is that the case but this is one that can be listened to very loudly or just with headphones. There is large scope of storytelling within the album that goes beyond the lyrical content, and listening in those two different contexts does yield a different result. Like the lyric in “Four Cypresses” says, “It’s chaos, but it works.”

Alice Glass Alice Glass Loma Vista |

Grizzly Bear Painted Ruins RCA |

It has been five years since the beloved Brooklyn quintet Grizzly Bear has released an album and they have finally returned with the Painted Ruins. As with previous efforts this is not an album for those seeking instant 86



Alice Glass’ solo moment has been a long time in the making. After leaving Crystal Castles in 2014 and then releasing of her single, “Stillbirth,” in 2015, the self-titled EP Alice Glass made a quiet debut late this summer. While she does not steer very far from the electropop aesthetic of her previous group, this solo effort is more of a focus on bringing her voice and lyrics to the forefront, an objective she ultimately fails to reach. The album kicks off with “Without Love,” a song that basically finds her questioning MUSIC

the point of staying in an abusive situation. It also serves as the moment she immediately throws a dig at her old bandmate. It is well known fact that her time in Crystal Castles was contentious. “Tell me what to spit, Don’t tell me what to swallow” she sings in a clear reference to the band’s song “Teach Me What To Swallow.” Thematically the rest of the songs do not really move further than this point. There is a lot of anger and disappointed. As the album progresses, something about it starts to seem extremely familiar. When you get to “Natural Selection” it finally hits you; this sounds like a bad version of Purity Ring.

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The emotions that are trying to be conveyed here are nothing new. Plenty of dark electronic girls currently exist. What’s lacking is personality. Glass is not only an act who once fronted a very exciting group, but also one that many hoped would be able to move into a solo career with ease. Granted, it may be too soon to make a such a statement (or maybe the window of opportunity was missed long ago). Either way, the only redeeming quality this project has is that it is only six songs long.

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Designing A Beautiful Life By Liz Massey

3. Develop


ach October, I make an extra effort to tie this column to a creativity-related topic for Echo’s arts season preview. Over the years, I’ve written about things like artistic burnout, lessons learned during the five years that I published a blog on the creative process, and even the relationship between LGBTQ people and the “Maker” movement. If I see creativity everywhere in my life, it may have to do with how I was raised. My parents immersed their three children in an environment where there were opportunities to draw, craft, make music, dance and act around every corner. Some of the strongest memories I have as a small child are sitting around the piano with my family and singing folk songs together. My mother, in particular, has always had a talent for using whatever resources were available to her to create the environment she wanted for herself and her family. Sometimes, those solutions were eye-catching and magnificent; at other times, they were more humble looking, but they reinforced for me the importance of approaching difficult situations as design challenges, rather than a series of punishments. It may well have been my familial influence, then, that led me to feel intrigued when I recently read the book “Designing Your Life” by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. The authors, who are on the faculty of Stanford University’s design program, use the discipline of design thinking to help readers create vocational and personal lives that are satisfying and well-functioning. Their method goes beyond rigid pre-planning or bouncing around from one symptom-relief tactic to another. As they say in their introduction, 88


before them, what they know about the parameters of the challenge and their best guess of how to provide a solution.


“Designers don’t think their way forward. Designers build their way forward.” Those two sentences provide a good working definition of design thinking. Tim Brown, CEO of the design consulting firm IDEO, has written that “design thinking bridges the knowing-doing gap,” and I can’t think of a place where that gap is more poignant and painful than when it comes to figuring how to lead one’s life, including how we conduct our relationships, how we serve our community, and how we advocate for justice for LGBTQ and all marginalized peoples. Rather than trying to impose excessive amounts of order on the messy chaos that can comprise our lives, design thinkers work with what they have, and keep tweaking until they arrive at the best possible solution. There are a few steps in the design thinking process that are important to follow as a would-be “artist of life.” Burnett, Evans and Brown provide some guidelines for how to think like a designer when crafting a more satisfying existence.

1. Discover Something triggers us to think about a life situation or challenge. Using empathy to explore how this problem impacts everyone in the picture (including us), we can collect a variety of data, so we have plenty of unbiased information to take with us into the next stage.

2. Define Once we have gathered enough “field notes” about our situation, we can begin to shape a hypothesis about what successful resolution might look like. Real-life designers often draft a “creative brief” at this stage, a document that articulates the challenge placed

This stage is where the knowing-doing gap gets filled in. The viability of possible solutions that were explored in the Define stage are tested with hands-on, low-fidelity prototypes, which are rough approximations of how a solution might work. Corporate trainer Andy Eklund writes that making prototypes forces a problem-solver to think visually, saying that “by using your hands, you have a better sense intuitively if your ideas are right or wrong, and how to improve [them].”

4. Deliver Once we’ve crafted crude mock-ups of our solutions, we get to test them out, always with the idea that if they crash and burn, we can learn from their glorious failures and try again with a new and improved version. Design thinkers advocate for pilot programs and limitedrun editions of solutions, so that the “beta version” of these answers is constantly reinforced. Eventually, using such a template, we may well come to the point where we’ve designed a life that we could never have planned or purchased into existence. And we may very well want to encourage others to do the same. As Brown puts it, “We can learn how to take joy in the things we create. We can work within the constraints of our own natures — and still be agile, build capabilities, iterate … Think of today as a prototype. What would you change?”


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OUT & ABOUT Wet Heat Pool Party Sept. 2 at Wyndham Garden Phoenix Midtown. Photos by

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A Co-Production with A/C Theatre Company

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8/28/17 10:33 AM

David Sedaris

An Evening With

Sat, November 18, 8 p.m. Orpheum Theatre, Phoenix A reading and book signing with the best-selling author and humorist

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Rita Rudner

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People’s Republic of China

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Echo Magazine October 2017  

Echo Magazine – Arizona's leading media outlet dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community in news, views and entertainment. The ART of Drag Oc...

Echo Magazine October 2017  

Echo Magazine – Arizona's leading media outlet dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community in news, views and entertainment. The ART of Drag Oc...