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Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes talks voting and more with Tom Reardon


Meet Kamlynn Thomas of Sharp AZ Knives

Back In Action! Find out what some local movers and shakers have planned for the fall season LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT | Vol. 30, #12 | Issue 720 | September 2019 | COMPLIMENTARY



Bobbi Ryals, REALTOR® ABR, e-PRO 602-486-3587 Tricia Amato, REALTOR® 520-247-3305

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Kamlynn Thomas by Maria Vassett.

Issue 720 | Vol. 30, #12 | September 2019

NEWS 8 Editor’s Note 12 News Briefs 14 Datebook

COMMUNITY 38 40 42 44 46 48 50 52 54 56

Without Reservations At the Box Office Opening Nights Bands Recordings Between the Covers Talking Bodies Not That You Asked We The People History


From science to sharp knives Meet Kamlynn Thomas, the founder of Sharp AZ Knives, a mobile knife-sharpening business. Learn how she developed her keen skills.

OUT & ABOUT 16 18 24 36 62 64 65

Phoenix Pride Reception Project RED Dancing for one•n•ten Biz Bowl Fierce Skate Posh at Lola AZ Diamond Crystal Awards

ON THE COVER Kamlynn Thomas Photo by Maria Vassett.


Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes talks voting and more with Tom Reardon


Meet Kamlynn Thomas of Sharp AZ Knives

Fall initiatives


Back In Action! Find out what some local movers and shakers have planned for the fall season LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT | Vol. 30, #12 | Issue 720 | September 2019 | COMPLIMENTARY




From exciting fundraisers to educational sessions, Michelle Talsma Everson presents a hearty list of ways you can get involved with locally-based organizations.

By Gerri Hernandez.

Adrian Fontes


The Maricopa County Recorder on growing up in Nogales, how he got involved in Arizona politics, and future goals. See an extended version online at

Angela Johnson shares her knowledge.

Equality Arizona panel discussion, photo courtesy of Equality Arizona.

No Room for Divas: Angela Johnson on Inclusivity in Fashion


The longtime designer, teacher, and fashion expert discusses personal history, fashion trends, and misconceptions about the fashion industry.


A mission of inclusion: Equality Arizona strives to raise awareness and open doors


Tucson Pride Megan Wadding has the scoop on the 2019 Tucson Pride event, Pride in the Desert. The annual festival takes place September 28 at Reid Park. Find out about vendors, royalty contests, entertainers, and more.






hile Arizona temperatures are still soaring above the national average, it’s hard to imagine being on the other side of summer. Those triple digits aside, we’re dipping our toes into the fall season, ready for all it has to offer. There’s a sense of rejuvenation that happens this time of year and our Back In Action issue is meant to parallel that vibe. Whether it’s going back to school or starting a new life-plan or endeavor, it’s a turn of the clock that encourages us to press the reset button. We wanted to share with our readers what some of our community members are leaping into this fall. Meet Kamlynn Thomas on page 20. She talked with Ashley Naftule about making a life change to follow an interest in knifesharpening. She’s armed with blades and passion. Our round-up of fall initiatives of local organizations on page 22 is a way to get involved. As you discover the educational and beneficial programs and events these groups are facilitating, you can explore ways to become personally involved with these dedicated residents. On page 26 you’ll find Tom Reardon’s interview with Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes. Just

a few years ago, flaws in our voting system inspired him to run for the position that he now holds. He shares information about his upbringing, along with what he has done in this role so far and what he hopes to accomplish. Our web version of this feature is an extended piece, so be sure to check that out, too. On page 31, get to know Angela Johnson. She is not only a fashion designer but an expert in that arena — from teaching to creating spaces for others to learn, grow, and flourish. Ashley Naftule talked to her about her dynamic career and upcoming fashion trends. Our features for the September issue wrap up on page 34. Tom Reardon interviewed Equality Arizona’s Executive Director Michael Soto, who shared information about the organization’s overall mission, as well as specific initiatives and goals. Of course, there’s plenty more to devour until we return in October with our jam-packed annual Arts issue.

LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT PUBLISHER: Bill Orovan ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER: Bill Gemmill EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR: Amy Young CONTRIBUTORS: Joey Amato Kimberly Blaker Grace Bolyard Edward Castro Jenna Duncan Buddy Early Michelle Talsma Everson Mark C. Horn Tamara Juarez Steve Kilar Jason Kron Jeff Kronenfeld

Laura Latzko Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen Judy McGuire Kaely Monahan Ashley Naftule David-Elijah Nahmod Tia Norris Tom Reardon Seth Reines Mikey Rox Terri Schlichenmeyer Colby Tortorici


Amy Young is the managing editor of Echo Magazine. A longtime journalist, her work has appeared in numerous publications, regional to international. Please contact her at



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 or advice columnists. 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. 8




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Nutrition Services Primary & Trans Care Counseling Empowerment Programs Sexual Health Education Condoms

Learn More Online at:


HRC statement on mass shootings in Dayton, OH and El Paso, TX WASHINGTON, DC — On August 4, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, responded to mass shootings at the Oregon District of Dayton, Ohio that left at least nine dead and at least 27 wounded and Cielo Vista Mall in El Paso, where at least 20 were killed and more than two dozen wounded. HRC leaders in Texas and Ohio gave these responses: Rebecca Marquez, HRC Texas State Director: “Team HRC Texas is horrified by the violence and tragic loss in our community last night. Texans and all Americans deserve so much more. We need our legislators to take action. We need commonsense gun violence prevention now.”

Shawn Copeland, HRC Ohio State Director: “The entire HRC Ohio team is mourning Dayton and the families and loved ones of those who were murdered today in the second mass shooting in 24 hours. Leaders in Ohio and across the nation must act NOW with commonsense gun violence prevention legislation.”

and easy access to deadly weapons has compounded this threat. Commonsense gun violence prevention measures endorsed by HRC include banning access to assault-style rifles, expanding background checks, and limiting the ability for suspected terrorists and those with a history of domestic abuse to access guns.

This tragedy comes more than three years since 49 lives — most of them Latinx — were taken in a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, more than 33,000 gun deaths happen every year.

HRC backs commonsense gun violence prevention policy measures and policies aimed at addressing the epidemic of hate that has fueled anti-LGBTQ-motivated murder, assault, and discrimination. For decades, LGBTQ people have been a target for bias-motivated violence,

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community

House Democrats on mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton PHOENIX- House Democratic Leader Charlene Fernandez released the following statement August 4, regarding the racially motivated terror attack in El Paso, Texas on August 3. That same day, a second armed attack took place in Dayton, Ohio. “Our caucus mourns for the victims 12



and survivors of the disgusting attacks in El Paso and Dayton yesterday. The divisive atmosphere and rhetoric in our country has proven deadly many times over, yet again we see a blatant attack on the Latino community in El Paso. In Dayton, another example of the danger of high capacity automatic weapons.

Our caucus pledges to continue fighting against those who do not want to address these issues. The time is long overdue that our country finally act on both gun reform and domestic terrorism.” Courtesy of Bailey Netsch, Deputy Communications Director & Community Liaison, Arizona House Democrats news

DATEBOOK September 12

Thinking about a new job or career change? Check out the 2nd Annual LGBTQ Job and Career Fair. Meet potential employers alongside entry-level and seasoned professional job seekers in an LGBTQ-supportive environment. The event happens from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at ASU Downtown — A.E. England Building, 424 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.

August 25

Stuff your face for a good cause? We don’t have to ask you twice! At Joseph and Stacy’s 3rd Annual Pancake Breakfast, funds are raised for Phoenix Pride’s Scholarship Fund. The $25 admission includes an all-you-can-eat menu with items like pancakes, sausage, donuts, fruit, and bagels. Another $10 buys you access to an enormous Bloody Mary bar where you’ll fi nd crab legs and ribs. Join the fun from 10  a.m. to 1 p.m. at Stacy’s @ Melrose, 4343 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix.

September 1

Dragalicious: A Drag Convention with Shuga Cain from RuPaul’s Drag Race, along with a bevy of performers from across the state. An audience participation event lets you show your own skills. The day is also packed with workshops, panels, and vendors. Admission is $20. A $35 VIP ticket includes special access and a meet-and-greet with Shuga Cain. Doors open at noon at The Cash Nightclub & Lounge, 1730 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix.

September 16

RuPaul’s Drag Race: Werq the World is an all-new production featuring Michelle Visage, who is on a journey to save the universe with the help of her intergalactic queens including Aquaria, Kameron Michaels, Asia O’Hara, Kim Chi, Naomi Smalls, Violet Chachki, and the queens from Season 11. The show is at 8 p.m. at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 W. Adams St., Phoenix.

September 21

September 6 August 30

The Bearracuda Phoenix Labor Day Parking Lot Party invites you to celebrate with more than 500 men. Listen to guest DJ Freddy King of Pants from Seattle and enjoy fun visuals and tasty snacks. Admission is $6 to $8 and the party kicks off at 9 p.m. at The Rock, 4129 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix. 14



It’s a celeb-fi lled evening at Opening Nights: Dinner with the Stars. A delicious dinner is made even tastier with exciting performances. Acts include Geo Johnson as Freddy Mercury, Cesar Marquez as Prince, and Neveah McKenzie as Paula Abdul. Tickets range from $40 to $300 — a VIP experience is available. Start time is 6 p.m. at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Phoenix Airport, 2333 East Thomas Road, Phoenix.

The Grand Canyon Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence present the Fourth Mr. Phoenix Prime Beef Contest. The fun celebration of men includes a lighthearted contest, live entertainment, and silent auctions. The event raises funds for Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA). The shindig starts at 8 p.m. at the Bunkhouse Saloon, 4428 N. Seventh Ave., Phoenix.

Mark Our Calendars

To have your event considered for Echo’s print and online calendars, submit your event details to community-calendar *All submissions are subject to Echo’s discretion.

Upcoming Concerts Kawehi September 7 Lucibela September 21 Paula Cole: The Revolution Tour September 25


Mon., September 16 | 7 p.m. | $33.50–$43.50

“Southern Avenue reaches out to a new generation of soulsters while preserving the tradition of Stax and Memphis soul. These songs flow deep down into our hearts and bones.” —No Depression

Stephen Kellogg and Will Hoge September 30 Gerald Clayton October 1 Candy Dulfer October 2 & 3 Bettye LaVette October 8 And many more!

2019 Concert Series sponsored by | 480.478.6000 | 4725 E. Mayo Blvd., Phoenix, AZ

Phoenix Pride Reception, A Night in Monte Carlo July 13 at Penske Racing Museum, Scottsdale. Photos by

For more Echo photos visit 16



Project RED

July 20 at F.A.B.R.I.C., Tempe. Photos by

For more Echo photos visit 18



Out & About




From science to sharp knives, Kamlynn Thomas is all about getting edgy By Ashley Naftule. Photos by Maria Vassett.


he tell-tale sign that you’re talking to someone with a science background is they cannot resist a pun. Like loose ball bearings to a magnet, the scientific mind (for all its rigor and erudition) is powerless to resist the pull of a groaner. So, when Sharp AZ Knives maestro Kamlynn Thomas answers her phone with a cheery “Sharpen your day,” it should come as no surprise that science is her métier. A Valley resident since 2011, Thomas has long been immersed in the world of STEM. She studied physics and mathematics in Montana before moving to the Valley. It was while she was in Montana that she discovered a deep and abiding love for science. “It’s very, very precise,” Thomas says over the phone. “And with physics, I liked that there are equations and lots of data. It’s actually one of the things I appreciate about owning my business — yes, there’s the customer service aspect and providing a service, but I also get to do my expenses and crunch my spreadsheets.” The future Arizonan also discovered something else while studying in Montana: “I learned that I don’t like being cold.” Whereas most Phoenicians lament the suffocating summer heat, Thomas says she doesn’t mind it. The mobile knife sharpening business owner is as resilient as the water stones that make her trade possible. Before launching Sharp AZ Knives, Thomas worked at the Arizona Science Center for almost eight years. “I loved working there,” Thomas says. “But I just realized it was time for a change.” That change is the business she’s thrown herself full-bore into is a knifesharpening service that goes directly to the customer’s home. Thomas spells out the nature of her business clearly on her website. “I’m equipped with a Fingerprint Clearance Card, a sunny disposition, and a vast collection of science puns,” she writes. Customers reach out with a call or text and she sets appointments with them to come to their home to sharpen their knives. Thomas eschews complex equipment for the timehonored practice of using water stones (or whetstones, as they’re commonly known). “By coming to their location, they don’t have to transport their knives, dull or sharp, to me,” she says. “And I work around their schedules, so it’s convenient and flexible.” Thomas likens the





sharpening process (which takes about an hour per household, according to her estimates) to “a day at the spa” for knives. The process returns them to a state of pristine sharpness, able to hack through anything your kitchen throws at them. But how do you know when your knives need to be sharpened? Thomas says a great way to keep tabs on their sharpness is to employ “the tomato test.” “If you get a tomato and you try cutting it and the skin kind of puckers, you definitely need to send me a message,” she explains. “A sharp knife should just slide right through it without any puckering.” Thomas says that your household appliances and kitchen equipment can hasten the dulling of your blades. “Don’t put them in the dishwasher,” she says. “I know it’s much more convenient to just pop them in there, but the machines are really, really tough on them. They’re just rattling around inside. Just take a couple of seconds to give them a nice little rubdown and then dry them immediately… and look at your cutting boards. Some boards, like granite or marble cutting boards, can dull your knife.” On paper, Thomas’s transition from physics major and Science Center employee to knife-sharpening entrepreneur might seem random — but Thomas points out that her scientific background does inform her practice. “It’s fitting with knives because you need to be very accurate with your angles.” Any accident-prone cook will be quick to tell you that precision and knives go together like air and lungs. Thomas started her business for the most classic of reasons — she saw a problem and decided to offer a solution. “About three or four years ago my wife got me a really nice cooking knife and I used it so much. I would go to the farmer’s market and always be like, ‘Oh, I need to bring my knife and get it sharpened.’ And then I’d forget. And then next week: ‘Oh, I need to get my knife and get it sharpened.’ And that went on for a while until I thought, ‘why don’t I just do it myself?’

Seeing an opportunity, Thomas learned her water stones technique from “a family friend up north in Washington ... He showed me where to put my hands — the great thing about working with water stones is that the knives are still dull when you’re starting off. So, you’re not going to do as much damage if something happens.” The process of sharpening metal with stones is an ancient one, with different cultures developing their own twists on the technique. Like in Japan, where they eschewed putting oil on their stones and used water instead. “I’ve been doing it for about a year, so it’s taken some time to know the right angle and pressure and whatnot,” she said. “Now it’s kind of just muscle memory. I started doing that for family and friends and myself, and the idea just started growing from there.” By applying the blade to the stone’s surface, the abrasive particles in the block remove small bits of steel off the knife — removing the dull bits that don’t cut properly anymore to give the blade a new, sharper edge. It can be a delicate, Goldilocks-style process: shave too little off and you’ve still got an imprecise, blunt blade. Take off too much and you can risk distorting the knife’s shape. It’s why someone with Thomas’s mind and training can excel at the craft: By understanding the precise amount of

pressure to apply to the knife and the correct angles to make sure that it comes out right every time. While you’d think a knife-sharpening business would mostly be gunning for a restaurant clientele, Thomas says that she’s more interested in cultivating a customer base that can sympathize with her farmer’s market dilemma. By offering them the convenience of house calls and affordable sharpening rates, she’s ensuring that they’ll never have to endure “Oh, I should have brought my knives!” remorse ever again. “It’s mostly been referrals, but it also helps that my wife works in marketing,” Thomas says about her growing business. She plans to expand the types of services she offers in the future: She’s currently trying to get equipment that will let her sharpen serrated knives, and she’s also looking to add cooking scissors and shears to her repertoire. She’s also planning on doing holiday promotions for Halloween and Thanksgiving. “Don’t try to carve your pumpkins with dull knives,” she says. “Let me come over for Halloween and get those ready to go.” Above all else, Thomas credits the existence of Sharp AZ Knives to her spouse. “My wife was the one who really supported me doing this,” she says. “Her love and support really helped me take this leap of faith and leave a career I was working in for several years to start this new endeavor.” Like a good knife, Kamlynn Thomas knows how to cut exactly to the heart of things. Ashley Naftule is a writer and theater artist from Phoenix, AZ. His work has been published in Pitchfork, Vice, Bandcamp, Phoenix New Times, Popula, Longreads, The Outline, SYFY Wire, AZCentral, and Java Magazine. He’s a resident playwright and artistic director at Space55 Theatre. You can find him at @Emperor_norton on Twitter.





Community initiatives and events: Keep your eye out for these this fall Compiled by Michelle Talsma Everson


ith the weather cooling down (ok, we wish!), a new season is upon us—which means that some of our favorite community organizations and nonprofits are rolling out new programs, events and initiatives. We rounded up some of our favorite news items from local organizations for you to consider this fall. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, we hope it inspires you to check in on your favorite community group and see what they have going as the season changes.

drinks, costume contests and sideshow entertainment,” shares Jeremy Bright of RipplePHX. “Then, we’ll transform the carnival into our First Annual Día de los Muertos Celebration on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 1-2, with everything you love about the carnival, plus additional live entertainment, mariachi bands and some of your favorite, local Latinx performers.”

Aunt Rita’s Foundation

they are negative, or begin immediate treatment if they are positive,” says Glen Spencer, Aunt Rita’s executive director. More information will be available beginning Oct. 1 at or

Hospice of the Valley Fall Events

New HIV Testing Initiative


Fall Carnival Weekend

Courtesy of Aunt Rita’s Foundation.

Courtesy of RipplePHX.

Halloween and Día de los Muertos weekend is going to be off-the-hook this year. So much so, RipplePHX has decided to postpone their Summer Carnival and put everything they have into an amazing RipplePHX Fall Carnival Weekend with Stacy’s at Melrose. “Save the date to join us Thursday, Oct. 31 for Stacy’s Annual Halloween Bash where we’ll fill the back parking lot with full-size carnival games, prizes, food, 22



Aunt Rita’s Foundation is launching a new HIV testing initiative in October that will expand free HIV testing locations in Arizona by more than 100. The new program will be offered to all Arizonans who have not been HIV tested in more than a year, and they will have the option of testing at Walgreens Health Clinics, selected Safeway pharmacies, or any Sonora Quest location. The new program follows Aunt Rita’s home HIV test kit program and is part of its overall goal to normalize HIV testing and expand the availability and accessibility of free HIV testing. “This initiative significantly helps our statewide goals for residents to know their status, and get on PrEP if

Courtesy of Hospice of the Valley.

Hospice of the Valley is privileged to be our community’s not-for-profit hospice since 1977, according to the organization. As such, the agency believes strongly in providing a myriad of services and programs at no cost, says spokeswoman Lin Sue Cooney. Some fall initiatives include grief support groups, mindfulness meditation, volunteer training, and the annual Light Up a Life annual remembrance event on Nov. 24.

Loving More Arizona

Phoenix Pride

2nd Annual LGBTQ+ Job and Career fair

A national nonprofit, Loving More’s mission is to “educate people about and support polyamory as a valid choice in loving relationships and family lifestyle.” The local branch, Loving More Arizona, hosts ongoing monthly educational meet and greets and discussions in Tempe. Upcoming topics include trust and STI/ STD information and education. Visit their Facebook group to learn more and join in the conversation.

Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Fall Events

Courtesy of Phoenix Pride.

The 2nd Annual LGBTQ+ Job and Career Fair will take place on Thursday, Sept. 12. “Last year, we saw hundreds of job seekers come through our doors and had many success stories,” says Victor E. Avila, development manager for Phoenix Pride. “This year, we aim to bring together employers, experienced professionals and entry level individuals under one roof to continue to support and empower the LGBTQ community and our allies.” This event will take place at the AE England Building at the ASU Campus downtown, located at 424 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix.

Southwest Center for HIV/ AIDS HIV 101: Pizza and The Basics

Photo by Phillip Nero.

journey to healing,” says spokesperson Ryan Narramore.


New Volunteer Opportunities One•n•ten has a number of great volunteer opportunities available this fall. These opportunities include weekly program volunteering, behind the scenes support, and special event volunteer support. To learn more about volunteering and attend one of their volunteer open houses, contact volunteer coordinator De’Shay Thomas at

Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS hosts HIV 101: Pizza & The Basics on Wednesday, Sept. 11 to help answer your burning questions about HIV. Whether you’re newly-diagnosed and looking to learn something about living with HIV, you want to support someone you know who is HIV-positive, you want to learn how to prevent HIV, or if you just want to brush up your knowledge, this session is great for everyone, according to the organization. Call 602-307-5330 for more event details.

SWHD Foster Care Information and Opportunities

Courtesy of Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

The local LGBTQ+ chamber welcomes members and non-members alike to their fall events. Events include First Friday Luncheons, Third Thursday Night Mixers, LGBT Night Out with Arizona Broadway Theater (Sept. 20) and the 11th annual Festival of Trees on Dec. 7.

September is National Consent Month and Courtesy of one•n•ten.

New Stop at First Fridays one•n•ten

Southwest Human Development’s Foster Care and Adoption program is seeking individuals and couples who are interested in bringing children into their life to provide the support, guidance, patience and encouragement they need to thrive, according to the organization. With approximately 14,000 children in the foster care system (many living in shelters and group homes), there is an ongoing need for foster, and in some cases adoptive caregivers. “Please consider helping a child or sibling group who has experienced trauma begin a

Phoenix’s First Fridays now has one more stop on its art walk! From 5 to 7 p.m. on First Fridays, one n ten will open its doors to the community in its First Friday Showcase, highlighting LGBTQ+ and allied youths’ artwork and performances. The next Showcase is on Sept. 6. Come and support these awesome youth and the nonprofit’s newest program, offering Fine Arts Fridays, a night every week for youth to develop the artist within. one n ten is a safe sober space. For more information, contact

Hosted by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom, September is national Consent Month, which is a time to recognize and embrace the “freedom of expression achieved when informed consent is present,” according to the organization. “We also just released our Consent Signs that are specifically designed for different groups and for people to choose from so they can post on their social media,” says spokeswoman Susan Wright. Visit the Consent Month website for more information and to learn about this vital topic. Michelle Talsma Everson is a freelance writer, editor and PR pro. A graduate of NAU, she’s been writing for Valley publications for more than a decade. You can find out more at




Dancing for one•n•ten

July 28 at Tempe Center for the Arts. Photos by

For more Echo photos visit 24











decided to do something about it. Since that point, the father of three who lives in the Coronado district has been working diligently to bring about effective change in Maricopa County to ensure this type of widespread voting mismanagement never happens again. We spoke to Fontes about his experiences growing up, why it is important to get involved, and what’s happening with our local elections.

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes.

Echo: What was it like growing up in Nogales?

Meet the Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes on his deep dive into politics and what’s next By Tom Reardon Photos by Gerri Hernandez


aricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes knows how to draw you in. He’s a gregarious guy and there is a certain honor behind his voice that, like a comfy blanket, makes you think that everything just might be okay. He’s also a smart, driven member of the community who saw something wrong in our county and decided to do something about it.

A native Arizonan, Fontes grew up in Nogales on the U.S./Mexico border in a family of educators and builders. He 26



loves his family and speaks of them with the kind of pride we all wish our family members would show when speaking about us. Now nearing 50, Fontes took a circuitous path to political office. He’s been a high school counselor, done prosecution and defense as an attorney, and served four years in the United States Marine Corp. In 2016, Fontes, like many Arizonans was appalled by the issues with the voting process for the Presidential primaries in March of that year and

Adrian Fontes: It was neat growing up there because it was a very business-y town, very import/export town, actually a very cosmopolitan town. Which is a little interesting because, you know, there were Korean families and Lebanese families and Jewish families and Greek families and literally folks from all over the world. You’d go to one friend’s house and grandma’s speaking Korean. You go to somebody else’s house and they’re speaking Greek and you may not understand any of it, but you don’t care because they’re safe spaces. How long did you live in Nogales? All the way until I graduated from Nogales High School (in 1988). So, I’m a product of the border and that binational, bicultural, bilingual environment and this is really something that is part of my identity. Growing up, did you know you wanted to go into law? Was this seed planted in Nogales? That’s really kind of a funny story and it’s a little bit weird. I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I knew what kind of person I wanted to be and what kind of role I wanted to play. I literally could envision myself sitting behind a big desk with a shirt and a tie on and somebody would bring a file to me. I would open it up, I would sign something and that would be important. Literally, that was to me, as a little kid, that was professionalism or a professional place. What got you into politics? I got mad that people couldn’t vote (in March of 2016 for the Presidential primary). It was literally that simple. It’s not a complicated story. I felt like my insides were getting ripped out. Looking at these long lines and people being left out and it was just an abject failure of the system and the people running the system. I had just been in a country that had survived years of disease and pestilence and wars (Fontes had just returned from a trip to Greece with his mother) for literally thousands of years and I’m here in Phoenix where the current civilization has hardly been around for a couple of generations and people can’t vote. That FEATURE STORY

made me absolutely furious. I knew that complaining about it on Facebook wasn’t going to make a difference. So, I decided to run for office. Prior to that, had you given thought to running for office? Briefly in 2013, but this was the first time that I had jumped in and followed through. I was under no illusion that I was going to win. The incumbent had been in office since 1988 and this was a county that still had Joe Arpaio as sheriff. There were a lot of cards stacked against our campaign, but I felt it was valuable enough to have the conversation.

I heard he passed away, I just, internally, totally collapsed. He was such an amazing guy. What made Ray such a great leader for the LGBTQ caucus? He was fearless. He existed with this insistent dignity. He was always up to the moment. He could be in a deep funk one moment and then turn around, 10 seconds later and be a beacon of light in the room. He had a charisma … it was this kind of deep magic about him. As I sit here talking to you, I’m still wearing the eyeglass frames he picked out for me. I literally see the world through a frame that he put on my face.

I figured if I don’t do something about it, who will? The next morning, I went out to the County party headquarters with a friend, Rebecca Wininger. We went down to the warehouse, and there right under the sheet of glass with Helen Purcell’s (the former County Recorder who Fontes defeated) name on it, I filed the paperwork to challenge her.

You mentioned you still have messages on your cell phone from him.

I got a great deal of help from a guy who’s an amazing human being. Ray Bradford. He was right there by my side through the entire campaign. He was a great fundraiser and a fierce advocate for homeless LGBTQ youth. I learned so much from him and I would not have gotten elected if it wasn’t for him. When

It sounds like you got into doing your job because you want everyone to have a voice.


I do. It was somewhere in mid-October (2016) and he called me and said, “I think we might win this thing.” I will never get rid of that. I’m glad you’re not here right now (we were doing the interview over the phone). I’m a puddle-y mess right now.

That’s the idea behind democracy. And it wasn’t always, you know? We’ve changed and evolved into the system we have now. Women didn’t used

to get to vote. People of color didn’t used to get to vote. Native Americans didn’t fully have the right to vote until, you know, sometime in the 60s, in some places in the United States. We’ve always been a nation that has welcomed more and more and more people into the franchise and the fact that people were being excluded, for whatever reason, was a major step backwards in my view. And even though it was just that one day and that one election, it was enough. It was enough to set me off and get me on this path, so here we find ourselves. I can’t avoid the reality that exists politically and that is, the more people who vote, the more the politicians have to listen to the people and the less people vote, the less the politicians have to listen to the people. Removing oneself from the process, it emboldens and empowers the people who don’t listen, the people in power who won’t listen to the voters because they’re going to get their traditional core no matter what, regardless of partisan party, regardless of any of that stuff, they’re going to get their traditional quarter vote for them. And so, the less other voices, quote unquote other voices, the less new voters, the less of the total number of people are voting, the more power they have.




people. I came to this because people in my community, and by the word community, I mean voters in my town couldn’t vote. That’s what my motive was and that’s what my motive continues to be. It wasn’t about black, brown, gay, straight, men, women, disabled or abled, and none of that. It was people weren’t voting cause they couldn’t and that was bad. I still have that motivation today and there’s still a lot of work to be done. There are still people out there who don’t recognize the value of their own votes, which I think is one of the biggest tragedies in this whole thing. There’s been some major adjustments that we’ve had to make as a family (to be in office) but it’s worth it. I’m happy to do it and I’m happy to continue doing it. You’re going to run again?

But people often say, “My vote doesn’t really matter.”

congratulations, but not everybody is that lucky.

Exactly. The argument … (pauses) ... it’s a very privileged argument because it says that I absolve myself of responsibility to help change things and only people who are okay with the current system can say that.

How has your view of the political system changed?

I wish more people understood that. It’s not an easy concept to understand because they’ll say, “Well, well my vote doesn’t matter.” Well it does matter, but you’re removing it from the equation. And so yes, you’re correct. You’re not voting now doesn’t matter. And if you’re okay with the status quo, if you’re okay with the way things are going, then you shouldn’t vote because they’ll keep going that way. And the people in power don’t have to listen to you. And the folks who are making whatever changes or anything like that, they don’t need to make any changes. Things can stay the same. If you’re okay with the way things are because either economically or socially or culturally or all of it, you’re doing just fine. Well,

I used to think it was bad. Now I know it’s bad. I used to think that there were people in politics who didn’t bother to read. I used to think that they were people in politics who at every turn chose ideology over everything else. I used to think there were people in politics who didn’t care about anyone but themselves. Now I know those things to be true. It’s not all politicians, and it’s not all elected officials, but when you’re on the outside of the “political” world, you have these views of, well, it’s gotta be because they don’t care, it’s gotta be because they’re in it for themselves. It’s gotta be these reasons, right? Now I’m on the inside and I see it, and boy am I kind of disappointed. So, what are your next steps? Just because there is a bunch of terrible people doing these types of jobs, it doesn’t mean that I should stop. I don’t see myself as one of these terrible

Absolutely. There’s no question about it. I think the positive changes that we’ve made can very easily be swept away if folks don’t see the value in it and preserve it. This is a very different office than it was when I came to it and I’m very proud of the work that we’ve done. I want those policies to be institutionalized for the betterment of all voters. I want to make sure that all voters get the information they need instead of having to come to the office for the information. The office should be taking the information to the voters. I want to make sure that our security protocols stay at the heightened level that we put them at. We’ve got way too much at risk for our democracy, if we let our guard down. I want to make sure that we’re appropriately utilizing all of the technology that we have and continuing to really bolster these policies and train folks better and communicate with voters better. I think it’s critically important to continue so that we can adjust the culture of the office into the future and not go backwards. The people will see the product in the end. They will know that the entire system has been improved and I’ll be very grateful that I was lucky enough to be a major player in preserving and protecting our democracy. That’s really all that matters. Tom Reardon loves to write about people who are doing something to contribute to our community in a positive way. He also loves his family and family of friends, his pets, music, skateboarding, movies, good (and bad) TV, and working with children to build a better world. Tom’s favorite movie is Jaws, his favorite food is lasagna, and he loves to play music with his friends. He’s a busy guy, but never too busy to listen to what you have to say so tell him a story.





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June 27 at Let It Roll Bowl, Phoenix. Photos by

For more Echo photos visit 30



Out & About

Angela Johnson by Larry Alan.

No room for divas: Angela Johnson on inclusivity in fashion By Ashley Naftule.


f fashion in Phoenix was a web, Angela Johnson would be the spider at the center of it. She’s a born weaver of strands — connecting people together, sharing knowledge, and stitching together a couture culture with the same care and grace she applies to her own eco-friendly vintage shirt ballroom gowns. Johnson is the co-founder of the nonprofit 501-c3 AZ Apparel Foundation and the Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center (F.A.B.R.I.C.), a fashion incubator. Both organizations are devoted to furthering fashion in the Valley of the Sun by providing up-and-coming designers with the resources and institutional knowledge they’ll need to succeed. She’s also founded LabelHorde, FEATURE STORY

Arizona’s fashion industry directory. In addition to designing clothes, she teaches classes on fashion. She’s also an advocate for reusable materials, gaining attention for designing beautiful dresses and outfits sewn together out of all old thrift store T-shirts. We got a chance to talk to Johnson about common misconceptions about her industry, what got her interested in design, and what hot trends she thinks may hit the fashion world soon. Echo: Outside of the fashion world, where do you draw aesthetic inspiration from? Angela Johnson: I usually pull from music. Pop culture is a big inspiration for me. So, a lot of times when I’m designing a collection or just tiny pieces,

F.A.B.R.I.C. Co-Founders Angela Johnson and Sherri Barry.




just knew that I wanted to use them and turn them into other things. As someone who’s worked as both a fashion professional and in education, what’s one of the biggest misconceptions you’ve seen about the fashion world? People often don’t understand the difference between making one shirt or dress and making a thousand of them. It takes more of a business brain to manufacture and make multiples of the same thing. Starting a brand of clothing is developing a product and just like developing any product, there’s prototyping involved, there’s technical engineering involved, there’s sourcing of all of the materials they’re testing. It takes like six months to develop a full collection and then get it ready for manufacturing and then another six things to make the entire collection. It’s a yearlong process that costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. Is it that lack of knowledge about the business side of fashion one of the reasons why you developed your nonprofit work in the Valley? Absolutely. When I was a designer in L.A., I would go to piece out each thing and manage the production. I’d go to pattern makers and I’d take patterns to somebody who sizes them called a grader. And then I’d take my graded size patterns to another company to do the cutting. I’d pick up fabric from different companies and deliver all the cuttings to the sewing factories. And there were all these different factories and things to manage in order to produce larger quantities. But when I moved to Arizona, none of those resources existed here. That’s why I created F.A.B.R.I.C. and the nonprofit: so that other designers in town can find all the resources that they need under one roof.

Angela Johnson’s popular design — T-shirt Ball Gown. Photo by Nicolle Clemetson.

it almost always stems from hearing a song or a type of music. And I always go directly to thinking about what a runway show would look like with that music playing. And it’s always music that’s the complete opposite of what you’d normally think of show music. It’s almost like you’re having a conversation with pop culture — that fashion is in dialogue with everything else that’s going on. What you wear is a statement. It’s starting a dialogue about who you are, what you are, what you’re putting out there in the world. So, it is like a conversation. 32



What first sparked your interest in becoming a designer? My grandfather was a U.S. district attorney in the Panama Canal zone in the 70’s. I basically grew up with my grandparents. My grandma would host events: dinner parties and balls, formals, things for governors. She would dress up for all these things and then she held onto her clothes over the years. When I was growing up, I would play in her closet and get dressed up in all that stuff. When I became a teenager, I would take some of her clothes and do things to them: cut off a sleeve or shorten it and wear combat boots with them. I didn’t know how to sew or anything. I

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a more inclusive spirit start to emerge in fashion — especially with the rise of plus-size clothing lines. Do you think part of the reason why it’s taken so long for new voices to rise in the industry is because it has such a steep price of admission? That the buy-in is so large it’s hard for change to happen? That’s exactly it. The industry has been the same since manufacturing was developed. To make a profit you have to make thousands and thousands of the same thing, and you have it so cheap in order for it to be affordable. So, you end up using illegal methods overseas in places where people don’t get paid what they should be so you can afford to make a $20 H&M shirt. It’s a very unsustainable model and you can’t be very niche within that model. If I wanted to make a big FEATURE STORY

F.A.B.R.I.C. event. Photo by Shane Baker.

and tall men line for people with one arm, something super niche like that, there’s no way that I’m going to have enough sales to be able to meet that minimum at giant factories overseas and make it cheap enough for my customers to be able to afford it. Do you find that people in Arizona are supportive of these initiatives? I think people have this misconception about fashion being super cutthroat. And that probably comes from movies and TV shows like Project Runway where they make it seem like everybody’s a diva. But when I was in Los Angeles, I never experienced anything like that. When I came to Arizona, I did find a bit of that attitude from some designers at first, but I chalk that up to a lack of experience. A lot of designers here don’t have industry experience, so they just think that’s how you’re supposed to be. Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to tell our readers about? We’ll be doing a fundraiser — a plated dinner gala — for our nonprofit on Sept. 28. It’s gonna be called Fashioning Arizona’s Future and it’s going to be a futuristic-themed dinner. And on Dec. 7, we have our annual LabelHorde fashion show that I’ve been doing for 15 years. It features FEATURE STORY

as many local designers as can find in one show. We’ve just got one more question. What are your predictions for upcoming fashion trends? What do you think is going to pop in the fall and winter?

Ashley Naftule is a writer and theater artist from Phoenix, AZ. His work has been published in Pitchfork, Vice, Bandcamp, Phoenix New Times, Popula, Longreads, The Outline, SYFY Wire, AZCentral, and Java Magazine. He’s a resident playwright and artistic director at Space55 Theatre. You can find him at @Emperor_norton on Twitter.

I haven’t had these books that are called forecasting books that are there for our industry. So, people in our industry get a sneak peek into the upcoming trends that you get to see one year in advance. And these are so important to our industry that they’re really expensive — they cost like $10,000 a season. So really only the big brands get access to this information. It’s like a science — these companies do some serious research into why the trends change and what’s affecting them. They look at the hautecouture runway shows from Paris, they look at the music festivals, they see what’s going on at every level of fashion and bring it all together. All designers use these books as inspiration. That’s why you go shopping and everybody’s using plaid or camouflage or whatever it is because they’ve all seen the same forecasting book. I’ve been so busy recently that I haven’t had time to pay attention to that. It’s kind of ironic: I have my fingers on the pulse of anything that’s fashion in Arizona for the last 18 years. That’s all I eat, breathe, and sleep.




Equality Arizona’s Executive Director Michael Soto in action.

A mission of inclusion: Equality Arizona strives to raise awareness and open doors By Tom Reardon Photos courtesy of Equality Arizona


f nothing else, Equality Arizona represents an opportunity.

Its two parallel entities — Equality Arizona (501c3) and Equality Arizona Action (501c4) — are poised to provide Arizonans with education, advocacy, and new insights into political policy. Since 1992, Equality Arizona has strived to help LGBTQ community members understand the political process from Tucson to Flagstaff, Phoenix to Sierra Vista, and everywhere else within our borders. This work is not easy, but Executive Director Michael Soto is no stranger to tackling difficult situations head on. As the first out trans person at ASU in the late 1990s, Soto brought his trademark energy and tenacity to his university and helped change policy during a time in many people’s lives when they are more focused on hitting the bars, meeting new people, and getting wild. Empathy, as well as a strong (understatement) knowledge of Arizona politics oozes from Soto and it is truly a pleasure to listen to and learn from him as he shares his passion for his job. 34



Soto was kind enough to generously share his time on a Tuesday afternoon at the non-profit organization’s Phoenix office. Here is what he had to say: Thank you for taking some time with me today. So today, are you optimistic about what’s happening in our country politically? Having Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell in leadership positions where they not only don’t affirm LGBTQ people, but actively work to harm us is bad for LGBTQ folks but also bad for cisgender and straight folks, especially the kids, because they’re getting these messages that it’s okay to discriminate against us. It’s happening in front of our eyes. It was clear from the beginning that Trump was targeting immigrants, LGBTQ people and women, right? That was a hard thing for a lot of people to reconcile. He very clearly went after these groups (and several others) in his campaign. Lots of people made excuses and said, “No, no, he doesn’t mean it or he doesn’t really believe that, he’s just trying to be elected.” I have people in my family that voted for him

and were just like, “Well, it won’t harm you at all. Nothing has happened to you.” I was like, “Right. Give it two days. It will happen. He promised it would.” And you know, today it’s a very different conversation with those folks. So, let’s talk about accountability. Right? This is a big thing for me. It’s one thing for someone in my family, a cousin, an aunt and uncle, someone to vote for Trump and then say, “I still love you and I love and care about you.” And then today it’s my responsibility as an LGBTQ person to go and have a conversation with that person and say, “It is hard for me to believe that you love and care about me when you constantly vote for people that don’t believe I deserve human dignity and respect. That isn’t love. These are the same people who consistently love to offer thoughts and prayers? Exactly. Instead of thoughts and prayers, we represent policy and change. How do you educate people who are new to the community or just coming out to be part of this movement? FEATURE STORY

We know that, to activate people politically, we also have to activate them in the community as whole. For people to feel, to have a political LGBTQ identity, they also have to have just a community identity and feel like they’re a part of something, a community and a movement that’s bigger than them. We do a lot of work around that. As a 501(c) (3) organization, the mission is all about building the culture for our community, so that there can be a sense of community — a cohesion — and focus on safety, wellness, and inclusion. Those are the top issues. When I first started as executive director, I did a listening tour around Arizona and I asked LGBTQ people, “What are your top concerns? What keeps you up at night?” (Writer’s note: The organization’s 501(c) (4) status allows them to lobby politically.) Safety across the board was number one, there was no other issue that was as prominent as being safe in their homes, their workplaces, in their communities. Number two was feeling alone, isolated, and not a part of something. We took both of those on. We’re like, okay, so that’s going to be our C3. Our mission there is to build a sense of community throughout Arizona for LGBTQ people and allies that are like deeply invested in this movement. How are you doing that with this very important election on the horizon in 2020? For us, that is an immediate goal, but it’s just the beginning of very long-term planning for building the political power of LGBTQ people in Arizona. So, for us, it only takes a small percentage of people

Having fun raising awareness.

to sway an election and to change an electorate. Arizona’s already changing, right? This was a solidly red state when you and I were growing up. Our congressional delegation is the majority Democrat. That’s huge. We’re two seats away from tying the House. The state Senate and House are within a reasonable reach of tying them or evening them and not being a super red majority anymore so we’re shifting politically already. We have to be better at planning long term. Part of our strategy is working with LGBTQ people and allied people that are deeply committed to LGBTQ equality, and getting those people activated. Sometimes it’s the low-hanging fruit first like voter registration and then getting people to come to the monthly meetings of Equality Arizona. This system of government is not supposed to be something we are divorced from. We are actually supposed

Lobby Day 2019. FEATURE STORY

to be the people in control of it. And that means not just through voting, but active participation in other ways like running for office. You know, we want to see people, LGBTQ people, running for every level of office and then governing for our community. It’s not about Republicans or Democrats. It’s about whether or not you’re going to govern in a way that makes life better and improves the safety, well-being and inclusion of LGBTQ people in Arizona. What type of help and support do you need? We need LGBTQ people to get involved. I feel very proud and honored to be in this job. For me, this job is about service and community. This organization only works if LGBTQ and our allies get involved. We have events like town halls and forums. We have events like our electoral campaigns called “Post to the Polls.” So, we use ballroom culture to create political moments of community building opportunity, but also cultural building. We also have our membership. We’re asking LGBTQ Arizonans to join. It’s very affordable to join Equality Arizona. The lowest amount is a $15 annual fee. You get lots of benefits of being involved, including access to this amazing work that we’re doing together as a community. We are trying to build a sense of belonging, a sense of community and celebrate being LGBTQ together. Tom Reardon loves to write about people who are doing something to contribute to our community in a positive way. He also loves his family and family of friends, his pets, music, skateboarding, movies, good (and bad) TV, and working with children to build a better world. Tom’s favorite movie is Jaws, his favorite food is lasagna, and he loves to play music with his friends. He’s a busy guy, but never too busy to listen to what you have to say so tell him a story.




Join us and our partner sponsors, Stacy's @ Melrose and Phoenix Pride in celebrating 30 years of success, progress and accomplishments. We invite you to enjoy drink specials and entertainment as we cheers to 30 more years!

Stacy's @ Melrose September 28, 2019 6 a.m. - 12 a.m.

4343 North 7th Avenue Phoenix




Owner Roscoe Smith with employee Sareah Escarcega who designed the shop’s logo.

A cozy dining spot for sandwich enjoyment.

Bare “Knuckle Sandwiches”: Stepping in the ring with restaurateur Roscoe Smith Story and Photos by Jeff Kronenfeld


hen someone asks if you want a knuckle sandwich, those who aren’t gluttons for punishment will usually answer with a hard “no.”

Roscoe Smith, is all smiles and no fists. Smith is all about fighting, though his foe is hunger rather than some street brawler.

However, if you happen to be in Mesa near the intersection of Brown and Higley and someone poses this suspicious sounding query, you may want to consider it. There, knockouts aren’t delivered by clenched fists, but instead, with tall stacks of meat squeezed between slices of bread.

Knuckles isn’t Smith’s first rodeo in the food service industry. Originally from Chicago, the gregarious restauranteur studied hospitality and restaurant administration at Missouri State University and has over 22 years of experience in the industry. Having run everything from fast food chains to hospital kitchens to fine dining establishments throughout the Midwest,

Despite its pugilistic name, the owner of recently opened Knuckle Sandwiches,

Corned beef on a crusty fennel bun. 38



Smith and his wife made the move to Arizona in 2014, despite only knowing two people in the whole state. Smith had purchased a faltering Schlotzsky’s in Mesa and was excited by the opportunity to explore a new place while turning it around. However, after five years slugging it out in the “franchise life,” Smith decided he had enough of running a corporate chain. He wanted to do something that gave him more control and creativity. When his 5-year franchise agreement expired, Smith decided not to renew

Knuckle Sandwich’s take on the classic meatball sub. Dining Out

and, instead, to convert the restaurant into something all his own. “It wasn’t a hard decision,” Smith said. “I feel this is a lot more satisfying because I get to write the menu and have input into everything as far as the food goes, so it’s satisfied my culinary background.” Smith threw himself into the task of designing a menu from scratch. A true carnivore, he wanted to prepare all his meats in house. He converted the production kitchen into one focused on slow cooking. He partnered with Strictly From Scratch and Capistrano’s Bakery to get fresh bread delivered daily so he could focus on roasting turkey, beef and other meats. For the turkey, he starts by injecting it with butter and rubbing it down with kosher salt and blackening seasoning. After he lets this soak in for half a day, he slow roasts the turkey to retain juiciness even after being sliced and reheated for individual sandwiches. For his roast beef, he uses beef knuckle, actually a cut from just above the kneecap on the cow’s hind leg which he marinates for two days in a citrus base. For the eponymous knuckle sandwiches, he uses a chuck cut from around the cow’s shoulder. He braises this in beef stock, salt and pepper until its 140 degrees. At that point, he slices it before bathing it in beef stock again to cook the rest of the way. “The idea was to create the kind of sandwich that you’re secretly planning out in the back of your mind while you’re eating Thanksgiving dinner with the family,” Smith explains. “That might just be my fat boy dreams, but that’s the kind of sandwich I was trying to make.” After preparing the menu, renovating the space and coming up with the name over a sushi dinner, Smith turned to friends and employees to help develop the logo and other art. Despite the quick turnover common in the food service industry, most of Smith’s staff have worked with him for years and even stayed on after the conversion form chain to indie. One such employee, Sareah Escarcega, was known to be artistically inclined and so Smith tapped her to design the logo. Local artist Corey Sherman, a friend of a co-worker of Smith’s wife, painted a mural in the store featuring its name emblazoned on brass knuckles. With everything in place, Smith opened the doors on June 16. With a focus on value, no item on the menu exceeds 10 dollars, even the towering Dagwood. Given the precarious state of the U.S. economy, Knuckles is a great place to fill up your stomach without emptying your wallet. My companion and I ordered several sandwiches, wanting to sample a decent portion of the 27 on offer, plus three Dining Out

wraps, a half-dozen salads and range of sides made in-house. For me, the corned beef was the favorite. It featured an inch-thick series of tender pink slices piled onto a fennel-encrusted bun and paired nicely with swiss cheese, mayo, deli mustard and pickles. The bread held together and the sandwich was easy to scarf down without making a mess, a pleasant surprise considering how juicy and soft the meat was. I also ordered the meatball sub, which featured several huge meatballs drizzled with mozzarella, housemade marinara and grilled sweet green peppers. My less gluttonous vegetarian dining partner ordered a pair of paninis. She enjoyed the spinach, tomato, avocado and cheddar panini — which felt healthy yet filling — though the brie and apple one proved the breakout choice. The soft melted brie complimented the crisp apple and crunch of the bread quite nicely. It was savory and rich without being too heavy. After my one and then two sample bites, I was literally licking my lips. Had I additional stomachs, I would have liked to try the Sweet!, a panini made with ham, mango chutney, brie and tomato. The knuckle sandwich — which features shredded beef, swiss, cheddar, grilled onions and horseradish — also looked intriguing.



For sides, there are chips, but also a range of pasta and potato salads made in house. I ordered the German potato salad, which was creamy with a pleasant tangy kick. However, it’s not for vegetarians, featuring bacon and bacon fat as ingredients. The salads are large and come piled with goodies, and the lady dining at the table next to us gave her Chef Salad an enthusiastic two thumbs up. There are also a small and very well-priced breakfast menu that we were unable to sample given the late afternoon timing. All in all, Knuckle Sandwiches provides tasty, well-made food at a reasonable price, plus the service is friendly and prompt. Whether you’re looking for a filling breakfast or lunch on a work day or a quiet spot to dine with family after a weekend excursion to Saguaro Lake or the Superstitions, Knuckle Sandwich should hit the mark. Jeff Kronenfeld is an independent journalist based out of Phoenix, Arizona. His writing has been featured in Java Magazine, the Arts Beacon, PHXSUX, and the Phoenix Jewish News, where he received the Simon Rockower Award for excellence in news reporting from the American Jewish Press Association. Links to his previously published work are available at





Four films in theaters this month By Tuesday Mahrle

IT Chapter II In theaters September 6 | Rated R | 185 minutes | Horror, Thriller

It’s been 27 years since the Losers’ Club first laid eyes on Pennywise. They’ve grown up and living normal lives. The friends have done their best to put those gruesome events of their childhood in the past. The tragedies of Derry forced them apart through the years, but one harrowing phone call will reunite the squad and bring them face-to-face with the thing they fear the most, in the town they used to call home.

Judy In theaters September 27 | Rated PG-13 | 118 Minutes | Biography, Drama, History

Adapted from the stage play End of the Rainbow, Judy brings us the story of infamous Judy Garland in the winter of 1968. We follow Judy’s residency at a British theater chronicling her well-publicized struggles with depression, anxiety, pills, and alcohol. When the world around her was nothing but gloom, Judy (played by Renee Zellweger) shows the world all the colors that are just over the rainbow.

American Dreamer In theaters September 27 | Rated R | 92 minutes | Crime, Thriller

Doing his best to make ends meet, a HAIL driver finds himself down on his luck and running low on funds. Unable to afford child support payments, he can no longer see his son, so when a low-level drug dealer gives him a deal to fix his financial woes, he reluctantly agrees. This twisted thriller puts knots in your stomach. What would you do if you were faced with the possibility of never seeing your loved one again and you had nothing left to lose?

The Hunt In theaters September 27 | Not Rated | Action, Horror, Thriller

Bound and gagged, 12 strangers wake up in a clearing in a forest. Unsure of how they got there, they start searching for answers. It doesn’t take long before they realize they shouldn’t be looking; they should be hiding. Welcome to Manor House, a vacation resort where the elite of the country hunt everyday citizens for sport. Unknown to the rich, one of their catches knows the game better than they do. Tuesday Mahrle is a film critic and host of “Whiskey and Popcorn,” a Phoenixbased movie podcast. 40




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Stark Sands, Billy Porter in Kinky Boots photo by Sean Williams.


Phoenix Theatre presents the kaleidoscopic Kinky Boots By Seth Reines


ong before RuPaul’s Drag Race took the world by storm, Broadway has been making strides in LGBTQ inclusion and representation. From Edna Turnblad in Hairspray and Zaza in La Cage Aux Folles to Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Angel in Rent, drag characters have become a staple of the Broadway musical theater. August 28-October 13, Lola, one of Broadway’s most recent drag heroines, takes center stage in Phoenix Theatre’s regional premiere of Kinky Boots. Lola, rejected by her father for her lifestyle, laments, “the best part of me, is what he wouldn’t see.” But, staying true to herself, Lola’s passionate stand on trans issues, drag and gender roles make her a role model for LGBTQ adolescents and audiences around the world.

Pasha in PT’s In the Heights. 42



With book by Harvey Fierstein and music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper, the six-time Tony-

winning musical has a potent message: “Change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.” Echo recently spoke with PT’s Kinky Boots director Pasha Yamotahari, costume designer Cari Smith, and wig/ make-up designer Kelly Yurko. Echo: Pasha, why is Kinky Boots so resonant in today’s socio-political climate? Pasha: There are so many pertinent subjects and issues tackled by the various characters in Kinky Boots. It would be a trap to treat this exhilarating piece of musical theater as just fanfare … these are real people struggling not only to work to make ends meet but a kaleidoscope of beautiful people who often, in the expression of who they truly are and what they believe in, are met with equally strong convicted people who fight them in every possible way to convince them they’re wrong. This fine balance of two different worlds creates such passionate and powerful conflicts that sway closely to the ever present worldwide conflicts we witness everyday on our streets ENTERTAINMENT

and communities regardless of our geographic location. Echo: What does Kinky Boots mean to you personally? Pasha: I’m drawn to the sacrifices we often make in our lives to hide our deepest wants, desires and needs. That inner struggle in all of us to fight for who we want to be whilst appreciating and understanding who we really are and where we really came from. Kinky also speaks highly for me about how our commitment and loyalty to family, friends, lovers and even occupations sometimes can derail us from our inner dreams and how it can silence our wills. We mustn’t give up on our dreams solely on our own inner-belief that we are tied entirely to our responsibilities. Dreams can and often do come true … if we keep our dreams alive and trust that the people who we are committed to and our loyal to will support us in our journey to their realizations. Echo: Cari, as PT’s Kinky Boots costume designer, what attracted you to the project? Cari: Drag performers are the perfect canvas for glamour and rhinestones. While I have costumed a few drag characters in shows before, Kinky Boots will be my first venture into featuring

Kinky Boots on Broadway.

and honoring drag culture and fashion. Echo: How will your designs for PT’s production differ from the Broadway originals? Cari: I didn’t want to recreate the Broadway show but I did want honor the British feel of the show. So I brainstormed British iconography from

queens, musicians, and actresses to footballers and cricket. Those images became the inspiration for my designs. Also, as I wanted to address Lola as a non-binary character, I played with combining masculine and feminine shapes, colors and design elements. Echo: Kelly, how did you approach your wig/make-up design for Kinky Boots? Kelly: For Lola and the Angels, I started by looking at pictures of many different drag queens from all different parts of the world and as many different types of drag queens I could find. In my 25-year career as a costume/wig designer, I have designed drag characters for theater pieces before, but never for a professional drag artist. From my understanding, designing and applying the makeup and wig(s) is part of the process for the drag performer as they create the drag persona. Echo: Pasha, how will your Kinky Boots differ from the original Broadway staging and intent? Pasha: I spent some time in the UK this summer and visited some smaller industrial towns and was inspired to make sure that our production, in every facet, whether in its design, sound, movement, in every facet, ours will be gritty and bite at the audience with its wonderful music, story, and cathartic elements. For tickets to Phoenix Theatre’s production of Kinky Boots, visit

Actor Darius Harper ENTERTAINMENT

M. Seth Reines is an award-winning theater buff who has directed more than 500 productions nationally for stage and television, and formerly served as head of Roosevelt University’s musical theatre program.





Cindy Wilson on the left with bandmates Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson. Photo by Pieter M. van Hattem.

The B-52s’ Cindy Wilson: still cosmic after all these years By Mark C. Horn


o local Arizona music fans, the power of the sun, mountains and vistas have always been a part of what energizes us. The national acts who have made tour stops over the decades in The Valley, have often spoken out about their initial jaw-dropping reactions to viewing the vast expanse of the region and the awe-inspiring hold it has had on them. So, it would only make sense this cosmic feeling was felt by members of no less than ‘the world’s greatest party band”, The B-52s at one time a few decades at the most pivotal time in their band’s history. With memorable quirky songs that revamped camp and kitsch such as “Rock Lobster,” “Private Idaho,” “Roam and “Love Shack” the band experienced its own Arizona vibe that set them on a course to healing and happiness and gave them a world-wide fan base just prior to the release of their pop breakthrough album Cosmic Thing in 1989. “We were playing Phoenix, but we went on a side trip to Sedona and went 44



up to some positive energy vortex. I guess we climbed up on Bell Rock, and I saw people doing ceremonies,” recalls Cindy Wilson. “So, we had an idea, we were all up there, we held hands, the whole band.

Hot 100. Both album and singles would also chart in no less than seven other countries and overall achieve 4x platinum pop plateau.

“We put out the energy that the world would be a happier place, and also that this would be a successful album. It was an amazing time. It was a magical record, and Ricky was on it, too, in his own special way.”

These days, Wilson, along with fellow chanteuse Kate Pierson and front mansinger Fred Schneider, are the remaining trio of the original band. The threesome is marking the 40 th anniversary of the release of their eponymous first album The B-52s with a 32-date North American tour.

Ricky Wilson, Cindy’s older brother and co-founder of the band had passed away from AIDS four years earlier. Cosmic Thing was the band’s attempt to get back into music after a near permanent break-up of the band due the devasting loss of its musical leader.

“I was 19 when we started, so I had no clue that we would keep going after 30 (years),” confesses Cindy Wilson. “But, it’s amazing to think about that we’ve had multiple audiences at different points of our career, and some of those have stayed with us the whole time.”

Whatever swirling centers of energy the group conjured on their AZ vortex adventure; it would somehow help to jettison the B-52s from new wave pioneers to world pop sensations. Cosmic Thing would go on to climb to a band best No. 9 on the Billboard 200, while singles “Roam” and “Love Shack” would each reach No. 3 on the Billboard

It was in 1976 when events led to the band’s formation. As Cindy Wilson had from a very early age been the doting little sister to brother Ricky. The Wilson’s and brother Ricky’s longtime friend Keith Strickland all grew up in the farm town that is also the home of the University of Georgia. After Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson Entertainment

found their way to Athens via their native New Jersey, it would be kismet when the five met and began hanging out. “There really weren’t that many places to play as a starter band,” recalls Wilson. “You had to play parties, which was cool. And then we went up to New York to get our careers going, but we really had no idea what a career would be. It was really just to entertain ourselves and our friends.” The legendary story of the band’s birth came by way of the five sharing a Volcano Rum Drink at Hunan Chinese Restaurant in Athens, in 1976. What better liquid catalyst to fuel the birth of a new music to an unsuspecting world. At a time when the punk scene was starting to slow down and experimental new wave was on the rise, the B-52s timing was perfect. Considered now the ‘Liverpool of the American South,’ back in the mid-70s, Athens provided space as a practice ground for the B-52s playing house parties. There was little going for it in the way of scene-happening favorite club haunts. Ironically, Athens eventually spawned the likes of REM, Love Tractor and Pylon, and down the road Indigo Girls, among others. The group would make regular tracks in the Wilson’s parent’s family stationwagon to New York in 1977 and 1978 and gained exposure to the burgeoning NY alternative music scene, playing at legendary clubs like CBGBs, Max’s Kansas City, the Mudd Club and Hurrah’s. In 1978, Schneider and Wilson penned the timeless new wave hit, “Rock Lobster.” The song put out by Atlanta label DB Records would get the band to No. 56 on the Billboard Hot 100 and straight to the top in Canada in 1980, with “Private Idaho” as the flipside. The band would record its self-titled debut album and the next two albums at Compass Point Studios in Jamaica, furthering their off-beat sci-fi, surf, and alt new wave blues sounds, with “52 Girls,” “Planet Claire” and even a Pierson, farfisa-led remake of Petula Clark’s 60s hit “Downtown” sung by Wilson. The album would reach No. 56 on the Billboard album chart and eventual go platinum. After the 1983 album Whammy with hit “Legal Tender” reaching No. 29, the members needed a break as the songwriting by five members living in the same house was wearing thin. Determined, the group would wrestle its way through to a fourth album, Bouncing off the Satellites recorded in 1985. While the album had some fun Entertainment

songs such as “Summer of Love” and “Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland” it had ditched some of the kitsch for a more somber and melancholy mood. The year also proved to put Wilson and the band on an emotional rollercoaster. In April, Wilson married her brother’s onetime guitar tech Keith Bennet. However, the passing of her brother, best friend and musical hero at 32, in October was devastating. Ricky Wilson had only confided in his longtime friend, Strickland about his illness, apparently not wanting to bother anyone with his dire state, as the story goes. “It takes many years to get over the loss of my brother and for my family, it was like a nuclear bomb going off, if you can imagine,” explains Wilson, who was only 28 when her brother passed.” I had never lost anybody, you know, I had never had death in my family. It was devastating. And I didn’t have any closure with Ricky.” “But I guess later on I came to the conclusion that he might have been in denial himself. I mean I was just a mess; mad at everything, God and country, and just everything. I was very, very lucky to have had a really great brother who was so funny, so witty, and so talented, and that we got to do this big project is amazing.” For Cindy, the world stopped rotating, and the band went on hiatus, already having needed a break, but now needing answers to how to carry on minus a brother. Finally, after nearly three years, it would be Strickland who would convince the remaining trio of B-52s that it was time to get back to their passion of songwriting, recording and performing. To come out with a strong support for the fight against the dreaded disease that took Ricky’s life, the remaining B-52 foursome first would put a PSA together with a collage of artists supporting the cause for what is now called the American Foundation for AIDS Research, as they worked their way back into the music. The band enlisting disco, soul and R&B great Niles Rodgers to produce the comeback album. The co-founder of disco band Chic was just what the doctor ordered. Rodgers, along with veteran funk rocker and producer veteran Don Was, would each produced several of the album’s songs. The themes were more environmental, anti-capitalistic and yet energized with a sassy and funk sensibility. Of the four singles released, “Roam” and “Love Shack” blasted their way each to No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 2017, WIlson released her debut solo effort, the psychedelia-laced Change.

“So, the solo (album), I was always into experimentation, and working with Ryan (Monahan) and Suny (Lyons) it was really great to experiment, and they were younger. I really wanted a really modern sound yet have a definite ‘me’ in there,” explains Wilson. “I can hear ‘Dance This Mess Around,’ my softer vocal in there.” For Wilson and the other B-52 members, it has now been 11 years since the release of the last B-52 album, Funplex, and fans are aching for new B-52 material. What so you, Cindy? “You know, I’m not supposed to talk about it, cuz I don’t want to jinx it, but there’s talk about getting together and doing more music, so cross your fingers.” While looking forward, Wilson also occasionally looks back on furthering causes. In addition to the band’s support of the LGBT community, they have promoted women in music. “It was great for women to be in music and working with men, so it was great to have a mixed sex of women and men in a group. It was a lot of diversity, so creatively it was really good.” As Wilson and Pierson unwittingly were new wave barrier-breakers for women artists. For that, they were acknowledged just last year at the 6th annual She Rocks Awards (WiMN) for their accomplishments as leading women music artists. “My kids, they’re thrilled to have Ricky as an uncle. They know the whole story, sadness in the country and the world with AIDS. They couldn’t believe what was going on. So, it’s been really interesting.” And what would Ricky think about the LGBTQ world today? “I think he would be real happy about that (the progress of gay acceptance and rights), but I think about that, too, that there is horrible stuff going on too. You know you think, ‘what would Ricky think?’ It feels like we’re going backwards.” In the end, music is her default for bliss, and her place to go to escape a weary world. “Music can lighten your load, and when you feel like you’re beaten down, you can go see a good concert, or go put on a record, or turn on the stereo; you can dance and just get it out of your heart and live in the moment.” So, whether she is 53 miles west of Venus, in the basement with heavy equipment, or roaming around the world, Cindy Wilson is grateful for her incredible life, and each day she continues to seek out the cosmic cool. The B-52’s are currently on tour. Visit for all band-related information.






ne of the great things about reviewing music is getting the records sent to you, especially when they are as killer as some of this month’s collection. I don’t know about how many of you spent your summer, but this one has seemed particularly long and hot and frustrating, so having the opportunity to dive into some summer jams from the following bands was both welcome and necessary.

By Tom Reardon your panic buttons. Cherubs want you to have fun with Immaculada High, but they don’t want you to get too comfortable. This ain’t no yacht rock, friends. This is the soundtrack to tubing the Salt River high on a mix of clean amphetamines and LSD wearing a blindfold and a speedo made of duct tape. Bassist Owen McMahon and drummer Brett Prager keep things moving right along as the three-piece band of Texans push the fuzzy drone (but poppy, too, in the weirdest and best way) to exemplary heights. Buy this record now, people, and buy a copy for your friends. You won’t regret it. Note — Cherubs play Tucson on October 2 at Club Congress.

Cherubs — Immaculada High Austin, Texas is home to many odd and wonderful bands. Among them is Cherubs, who after a fairly lengthy hiatus between records one and two and then three and four, have blessed fans of noisy, fuzzy psych punk with a killer new entry to their excellent discography. From opening song “Turista” to the eleventh and final track, “Nobodies” there is no let up on Immaculada High (Relapse). Singer/guitarist Kevin Whitley has one of those voices, higher than you would expect for such a heavy band, that gets under your skin and roots around for 46



Gauche — A People’s History Of Gauche For a band that considers themselves an “anti-capitalist, anti-racist, feminist jam band,” Washington, D.C.’s Gauche plays super accessible and very danceable funky math punk. On A People’s History Of Gauche (Merge), there is a lot going on. Featuring members of Priests and Downtown Boys, Gauche reminds me a bit of a much more musically polished X-Ray Spex, as well as making me yearn for a second record by L.A.’s Sex Stains, but unfortunately that band has broken up so luckily we have Gauche (who recently played the Valley Bar in Phoenix). Opening song, “Flash,” is

brilliant. There are bits of B-52s in Gauche’s approach as well, especially on “Flash” with some surf-y guitar and head-bobbing bass lines that perfectly supplement the group vocal attack. The band has curated a pretty awesome collection of songs here that consistently deliver thoughtful lyrics such as “I’m running out of options here and I’m tired of being empty-handed” from “Running,” which tackles the idea of modern existentialism while maintaining a groove Jah Wobble would be proud of. If you like skronk-y guitar and saxophone, layered vocals, and attitude, Gauche’s A People’s History Of Gauche is the record of the summer. Entertainment

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Shannon Lay — August What is it about records that feature a lot of acoustic guitar that makes them seem introspective? Shannon Lay’s August (SubPop) is definitely a departure from her work with Feels, which is stellar, but Lay’s new record is the perfect soundtrack for an overcast day (not that we get many in Phoenix) or a lonely teenage boy or girl looking for something sweet and smart to ease a troubled soul. Imagine if early Simon & Garfunkel had just been one gal with some beautiful red hair and a really lovely voice and you have August. “Seen it all before but play it again. Maybe there will be something new,” sings Lay wistfully on “Shuffling Stoned,” which is just her and her acoustic guitar. Simple, elegant, beautiful … the fourth track on August sets a perfect tone, balancing hopefulness and melancholy and it all works because of Lay’s talented voice and fingers. If you have seen or heard Feels, you know Lay has all the chops, but her work on her solo record really cements Lay as someone to watch in the coming decades. Maybe it is too soon to anoint her as the closest thing to an indie rock Joni Mitchell, but time will tell if this is the beginning of something amazing or just a really strong and wonderful record. “Wild” is a dirge to be reckoned with and highly recommended for your next mixtape or playlist, especially if you want to impress a certain someone with your great musical taste. Tom Reardon loves to write about people who are doing something to contribute to our community in a positive way. He also loves his family and family of friends, his pets, music, skateboarding, movies, good (and bad) TV, and working with children to build a better world. Tom’s favorite movie is Jaws, his favorite food is lasagna, and he loves to play music with his friends. He’s a busy guy, but never too busy to listen to what you have to say so tell him a story. Entertainment

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By Terri Schlichenmeyer


he light beneath the door is just a sliver.

This may cause a lot of worry, for yourself and for people you love. Recognize that anxiety before it goes wild and know how to break the cycle. Being gay, says Khalaf, is actually a “gift,” as you’ll eventually begin to see.

It’s enticing, though, and you’re eager to see what’s on the other side, finally ready to open that door and come out. In Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? by Riyadh Khalaf, you’ll find some advice for doing it. For a while, months, maybe years, you’ve been “feeling different.” You think you might be gay and that’s “okay, it’s normal, and it’s not something you need to change.” Or you may be bi or pan or non-binary, “it simply comes down to how you feel” and it may have everything or nothing to do with the anatomy you got at birth. The thing to remember is that “you cannot change who you are.”

That’s a gift you can share or not, says Khalaf, because “you can come out whenever and however you want,” it’s your call. Yes, family members might freak out at first and your friends might retreat but you’ll find advice on how to cope with that, and a reminder that “almost every relationship is salvageable.” So, let’s say you’re out, comfortable with it, and you’re ready to find your first true love. It’s okay to go online and look but Khalaf

Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? A Gay Boy’s Guide to Life by Riyadh Khalaf c.2019, Frances Lincoln | $14.99 / $19.99 | Canada | 223 pages says to be wary: you know how easy it is to pretend you’re someone you’re not when you’re on a computer, so be safe. Also be safe when you go to clubs or parties, and remember that protecting your heart is important, too. Relationships can be different, your first kiss can be amazing, and your body may respond in embarrassing ways to all of the above. And on that note, remember that consent is the new hot.

Author Riyadh Khalaf Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? A Gay Boy’s Guide to Life 48



Here’s the very first thing you’ll need to know about Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? — absolutely anyone can read it — including parents and allies — but it’s really geared toward gay teen boys and young men. Indeed, author Riyadh Khalaf includes pages expressly for those allies and parents, but later

parts of the book are filled with valid information that may be more graphic than they’ll want. Still, that info will speak directly to the heart and the health of young men just coming out, in a way that’s not stuffy or clinical, but that’s more lightheartedly factual. Khalaf is gay and he uses his own personal anecdotes as tools to teach, but he’s not pious or pushy. Instead, there’s a whole lot of care and camaraderie in these pages, and the words “you are not alone” are not just written, but they leap from each page. That could make this book a lifesaver for a boy with a dawning understanding but a short support system. Yay! You’re Gay! Now What? is serious but fun to read and may help to shed some light. Entertainment

Sometimes, a book should come with a warning label that says something a bit like this: The words within will make you think. They will also make you feel some feelings you might not enjoy. Proceed with caution because these words just might change your mind. Lydia Lunch, the exalted witch of spoken word, musician, artist, and author has a new book, So Real It Hurts (7StoriesPress), and the title is not only appropriate, it’s possibly the most honest title of any book I’ve ever read. The “hurt” within Lunch’s kicks in almost immediately as you read the late Anthony Bourdain’s introduction. His words eloquently set us up to be taken in our poetic priestess and like the author herself, Bourdain pulled zero punches as he sets the table for the reader. At one

Lydia Lunch point, Bourdain wrote, “She continues to write sentences

so ballistically perfect, so lethally designed, that they always hit their targets — and with deadly effect.” Bourdain is not wrong. As you wind your way through the 20 chapters of the book, which come in economically at under 160 pages, Lunch sharpens her pen on the backbone of her heroes, villains, victims, and in many ways most triumphantly, herself. If it were a lesser writer, you might be tempted to call bullshit, at times, as in the case of chapter six, “The Spirit Of Philosophical Vitriol,” where Lunch among other things, talks about turning the tables on two would be lotharios in Istanbul. At first read, you can’t help but think “She’s pulling our leg here” but when you dig a little deeper, you know she’s not. Lunch is stellar at luring you in with her often poetic prose and then either educating or enraging the reader, and sometimes both. Many of the chapters, which are really essays, have been released in other formats over the years, but there is a timelessness to the words and messages

So Real It Hurts by Lydia Lunch c.2019, Seven Stories Press | $17.95 Entertainment

that will allow readers to gain an insight into not only who Lunch is, but also the world that she has decided to take on, rather than be a bystander. You will laugh, too, while you learn. Chapter three, “Motherhood: It’s Not Compulsory” is laugh out loud funny before it eviscerates the idea of procreation. Music fans, especially those who are fans of Lunch’s own musical projects, will enjoy chapter 12, “No Wave” and chapter 13, “Slobathon: One Size Doesn’t Fit All” as it postulates on the connection between t-shirts and the birth of punk rock. Whether you savor So Real It Hurts over time or digest it all in one sitting, Lunch has provided her audience with many things to think about here and we highly recommend this collection of her work. With the holidays coming up in a few months, it is a perfect gift for any discerning fan of combative yet heart wrenching work (although probably not great for your Trump loving friends and family).

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.





to shop the market to find the perfect fit personally, academically, and financially for you. Do get creative, stay perfectly patient, and be ready with substitutions. Be prepared for sessions where your pain either escalates to a 5/10, or even worse for some days where your pain never drops below a 5/10. On these days, you need a bank of exercise variations, substitution activities, and modifications on ranges of movement, etc. It’s vital in these moments that you remain calm, patient, and agile in adjusting course when needed. When “Plan A” doesn’t work, remember that there are 25 other letters in the alphabet. Don’ts:

How to resume training after injury By Tia Norris


act: anyone who is active will eventually get injured. Now, that injury may range from minor to major, but it’s virtually a certainty for all athletes, eventually. To believe that you’ll be able to train forever, without any injury, is simply a fantasy. If you’re new to training, just accept this cold, hard truth now. If you’re not new to training, certainly then, you’ve dealt with injuries along the way. We’ve all been there: we’re feeling strong, feeling confident, pushing ourselves, trying to ignore the good pain in pursuit of the goals… when all of a sudden, BAM: injury strikes. It’s heartbreaking and can stir up a hot mess of emotions if you’re not focused. So, here are my do’s and don’ts when it comes to resuming training after an injury: Do’s: Do keep training, using the pain scale 0-10 at all times. The number one rule when it comes to the majority of injuries is: don’t stop! Unless you just had surgery, or are paralyzed, I promise you there’s a way to keep working. If your lower body is injured, try focusing on upper body. You can still lift weights with one functional arm or simply use bodyweight. You can try a new activity like running, rowing,




or swimming. There is always a way. But here’s the catch: you must stay aware of the quantitative value or your pain at all times. “0” is no pain; “1-3” is mild pain, hardly noticeable, and still very much trainable; “4-5” is moderate pain and must be treated with serious caution; “5+” is your cutoff point … any pain equal to or above a 5/10 means STOP, and switch exercises or muscle groups. This single doctrine alone will keep you training through injury, while simultaneously not exacerbating your problems. Do consider calling in an expert, but make sure it’s the right one. There’s always someone out there who knows more than the sum of all the parts you know right now. I’m talking about personal trainers, physical therapists, sports medicine doctors, and more. Don’t forget about acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapists, and other therapy-type of practitioners, too. If you’re stuck, contact someone who knows how to get you unstuck. Just a word of caution here: really do your homework when it comes to trusting someone on this topic. There are a lot of pretenders, hustlers, and, quite frankly, basic dumbasses who talk the talk but fail to walk the walk in health and fitness. Read reviews, poll your friends for referrals, and don’t be afraid

Don’t go full-speed too early. Proceed with caution. Again, referring back to the pain scale … you need to temporarily suspend your goals, events, races, and other time-sensitive elements in order to allow full, fast recovery. If you continuously train above the acceptable pain threshold of 5/10, it’s a certainty that you’ll at least slow down your recovery, or worse, you’ll end up re-injured. Give it some time and space, and work on other parts of your program in ways that don’t hurt. Don’t be a stubborn ass about this one — don’t roll the dice with the only body you’ve got! Don’t get overly emotional about it. Move forward and stay logical. Real talk: stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop the negative spiral into the emotional abyss, and get a grip. It can be a sharp downturn after injury, to dwell on feelings of regret (what did I do wrong?), hopelessness (now I’ll never reach my goal), and despair (what am I going to do with my time now?). But none of this shit is going to get you anywhere. You must fight to stay positive, to focus on what you can do, to call for help from experts, and to solely rely on ice cold logic in the face of the difficult road ahead. Don’t give up! Most importantly … remember, people defy the odds every minute of every day. So, why can’t you? Now, this isn’t some rah-rah b.s., or some saccharinely sweet fake motivation, this is an expert’s experience, seeing and training people to break out of their boxes, and finding new ways to do so, consistently. I don’t care who you’ve talked to, what their qualifications are, how many therapies you’ve tried, how many times you’ve failed, or anything else. Stay logical, listen to your body, and move forward. Period. Tia Norris is the president and head trainer at FitPro, LLC, a local fitness company. Find out more at Health & Fitness


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Why every day is casual Friday By Buddy Early


’ve been told on occasion I clean up well. That usually means a person is so surprised to see me wearing a dress shirt and/or tie they have no control over projectile vomiting that nonsense phrase in my direction. What does that even mean? Is it an implication that I go through life “unclean” most of the time? Does is assert that I forgo washing my shorts and t-shirts regularly, in favor of simply pulling them out of the pile and Febreze-ing them for re-wear? Does it I suggest that I don’t regularly shower in favor of having B.O.? Wait — do I have B.O.? You guys would tell me, right? I’ve decided to just file this with “Things White People Say” and move on. (Send your letters of complaint to Mary, P.O. Box Calm Down, Snowflake, AZ.) Over the last decade my policy has been to wear a tie to job interviews and funerals. And I haven’t been to any funerals. My hesitation to “clean up” is not because I don’t like looking sharp — a word my father used to use and I’ve come to accept as a perfectly fine descriptive word but I also have started using the word “slacks” so that may tell you something. Rather, I don’t like getting dressed up. Perhaps if Rosie from The Jetsons could drop-kick me into a suit every morning, I wouldn’t mind walking around looking like I am someone who lives to work rather than




works to live. So, bypassing the process would make a difference … temporarily. However, after two hours of being dressed up, I will undoubtedly be thinking about when I can get out of this clown suit. I mean, that’s plenty of time for enough people to see how nice I can look and maybe even capture a few pictures for posterity (or, perhaps a better word would be proof). I’ve been lucky enough that for my entire professional career I’ve had the luxury of being able to wear whatever I want to the office. (I understand this policy can be a slippery slope. For example; I once worked at a place that had to include “No Chaps” in the dress code section of its employee handbook. Now why do you suppose they put that in there?) I’m not one to push that envelope too far, although the flip-flop of my flip-flops as I ascended the stairs at Echo when I worked here full-time was a signal to everyone that I was approaching. Let’s just say, I like to be comfortable. A lot of folks advise you should dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. That’s why I always dress like a lottery winner. And, honestly, I think all of us should. It’s certainly not my place to tell people they shouldn’t wear a suit to work every day. But how many people stop to

ask themselves why they are doing it? Does it make them more effective? Does it recharge Kevin’s brain so he can crunch those numbers better, or provide Steve with the inspiration to draw sketches of houses? The simplest answer is that it is “professional.” But what is dressing professionally, other than what society has deemed as such? People adhere to that notion of dressing like a Stepford employee because that’s what their father did, and his father and his father. Some of the most unprofessional people I’ve met were wearing Armani, and some of the most professional were wearing Adidas. My work-attire choices may have cost me in the past, sure. There’s no question it is the main reason I never became a lawyer or a captain of industry. Still, I think our country would be much more chill (a word I am using to counterbalance “sharp” and “slacks”) if we all just did business in casual attire. I understand many of you won’t or can’t join me in this, but I’ll still be dressing like I’m always headed to a BBQ. Buddy Early grew up in Tempe and has been involved in various communities across the Valley since. He is a former managing editor of both Echo Magazine and Compete Magazine. Community





In March, the state of Michigan settled a similar lawsuit brought by the ACLU, agreeing to require all tax-funded child welfare agencies to work with LGBTQ people. The same-sex couple who filed the case had been turned away by two religiously affiliated child welfare agencies that provided state-contracted services.

Trump’s plan to allow religious discrimination will harm kids in need By Steve Kilar


here are more than 13,000 children in foster care in Arizona, according to the state’s Department of Child Safety. That’s a daunting number and one that demands all prospective foster and adoptive parents be treated with dignity and respect. Fortunately, there is an Obama-era federal regulation in effect that says all foster and adoption agencies receiving federal funds cannot discriminate against people based on factors including age, disability, sex, race, national origin, religion, gender identity, or sexual orientation. That makes sense: an agency that receives public money should be required to serve the whole public. But according to recent news reports, the Trump administration is considering rolling back these nondiscrimination protections or making religious agencies immune to them. This is not surprising considering the myriad ways the Trump administration has acted to harm LGBTQ people but it’s disturbing, nonetheless. No otherwise eligible foster or adoptive parent should be dismissed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In the end, a rule allowing this kind of discrimination would harm kids in need of stable homes. “Families who are rejected by an agency because of their faith or sexual orientation may not have other options in their area,” wrote Leslie Cooper, deputy director of the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project in a May blog post. “Even if they do, the sting and humiliation of discrimination may deter some from 54



approaching other agencies to possibly face more discrimination.” Several Arizona counties only have two or three agencies that license foster parents on behalf of the state. Many of the licensing agencies in Arizona are religious. If a nationwide rule allowing religious discrimination by child welfare agencies were approved, it would not be hard to imagine an Arizona where LGBTQ people in some parts of the state could not obtain a foster care license. “When families are deterred from fostering, this means that more children will be placed in group homes, separated from siblings, and age out of foster care without ever being adopted,” noted Cooper, who was writing about a lawsuit that Lambda Legal and the ACLU filed against the Trump administration and South Carolina. In January, the Trump administration granted South Carolina an exemption to the rules prohibiting discrimination in federally funded child welfare programs. South Carolina’s Department of Social Services had determined Miracle Hill Ministries, a foster care agency, “violated state and federal law by restricting eligibility to prospective foster parents who are evangelical Protestant Christians,” according to the lawsuit. The agency had refused to work with Jewish, Catholic, and LGBTQ people because they did not share or fit within the agency’s religious beliefs. The lawsuit aims to prove that the Trump administration and South Carolina are violating the Constitution by allowing agencies to use religious criteria to exclude would-be parents.

“Freedom of religion is absolutely important in our society, but that should not give anyone the right to impose their beliefs on a child seeking a forever home or families like ours who are coming forward to care for them,” the Michigan couple, Kristy and Dana Dumont, wrote in an op-ed for Vice in June 2018. When a religious agency that is doing work on behalf of the government declines to serve someone because that person is LGBTQ, practices a different faith, or is not religious at all, that’s not religious liberty. It’s state-sponsored discrimination. The Every Child Deserves a Family Act would preserve the child welfare nondiscrimination regulations in statute. The bill, which was reintroduced in June, also proposes banning conversion therapy for children involved with federally funded child welfare services. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, the civil rights pioneer, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are the primary sponsors of the current bill, which was first introduced in 2009. Reps. Ruben Gallego, Raúl Grijalva, and Ann Kirkpatrick are the only members of Arizona’s congressional delegation cosponsoring the 2019 version. A guiding principle of U.S. child welfare law is that decisions should be made “in the best interest” of a child. The Trump administration’s attempts to restrict the number of eligible foster and adoptive families clearly doesn’t fit that standard. Although passage of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act (H.R.3114 and S.1791) is unlikely during the current Congress, our elected leaders need to hear from constitutes who support it, so there’s momentum for the bill’s eventual passage. Contact your members of Congress and tell them you support this proposal, which would ensure kids in the child welfare system have the best opportunity to join a loving home. Steve Kilar, is the communications director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona (acluaz. org). If you have questions about your rights that you would like addressed in a future issue, write him at COMMUNITY


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The Past I Heard … Rockin’ Robin is the living history of the Court By Buddy Early


o celebrate Echo’s 30th birthday, this year I will be catching up with some of Arizona’s LGBT personalities from past and present to revisit the people, places and events that helped shape our community. After a more than two-decade absence, the Imperial Court of Arizona made a comeback in 2005. I was somewhat familiar with the Court system, as a few of my elders had told me about it, but in all honesty I never “got” it. I only knew it was a bunch of do-gooders who like to dress up in regal costumes and give each other long titles. Eventually I realized: it’s do-gooders! Playing dress-up! And assigning themselves roles! Obviously, it’s much more than that. But once I started thinking of it as cosplay (which, admittedly, I don’t really “get” either) it made a lot more sense. And you’d be hard-pressed to find an LGBT community group that raises more money for great causes than the Court.




Robert “Robin” Price, known affectionately by other Court members as Rockin’ Robin, holds the esteemed title of Emperor I of the Imperial Court de Phoenix. He was coronated along with his Empress, Adrian Raintree, in 1975. At the time the International Court system had been thriving for several years, and Robin was good friends with its founder, Jose Sarria, during the time he lived in the Bay Area and had even worn the title of Crown Prince. Robin saw a need for a chapter in Phoenix in the early 70s, particularly as a force to battle law enforcement raids of gays bars that had become common. The then-Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Blubaum had a hardon for busting up social gatherings of our community. “He was a complete asshole,” Robin told me. “He wanted to get all the fairies out of Maricopa County.” Robin and his partner at the time, who were both well-known fixtures of the Phoenix gay social scene, had stumbled

upon a raid of a downtown bar one early morning. The duo arrived just as police were beating the shit out of a visitor from Palm Springs, a twink wearing hot pants and a t-shirt tied around his neck like an ascot. The young man’s older partner, an important muckety-muck, promptly called a high-priced attorney who got a dismissal of all charges and a rebuking of the sheriff by the judge. This raid and others were a catalyst for the Valley’s gay community to organize. Part of that effort led to the introduction of the Court. Robin agreed to sit down with me in July to tell some stories of the original version of the Court. And then he agreed to sit down with me again a week later. (In fairness, I was warned he can and does talk a lot.) At 86, he’s slow to get around, aided by a walker necessitated by Post-Polio Syndrome. But his mind is sharp as a tack, his memory ironclad, and his vocabulary impressive. He also appears to have not lost any of his charm that has made him popular in gay COMMUNITY

bars since the early 1950s. “The only community per se (in Phoenix) was the bar crowd,” Robin confirmed. Not only did he recognize that notorious division between gay men and lesbians, but most of the vocal activists “went on tv demanding things” and he felt that was not the way for the community to achieve progress. The Imperial Court of Arizona was officially organized on June 28, 1975. Despite their previous court involvement in other cities, Robin and Adrian Raintree each had competition from four aspirants. The ball, which was attended by a packed crowd at the Desert Hills Resort Hotel, was titled “The Unification of the Community” and culminated in the crowning of Robin and Adrian and Emperor I and Empress I. According to the community’s magazine of the time, The Post, the highlight of the night was the singing of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by female impersonator Lady Shana. Robin called it one of the most memorable nights of his life and a turning point for the community. The Post wrote: “People should be proud of this accomplishment; it brings us out of the Dark Ages and into a reality. With the new unity of the bars, the bath, the church, GPA, The Imperial Court, and this magazine we are joining hands together to show the world we can do it! God bless you all and work with all. THE BEGINNING?” In the pre-AIDS days, the Imperial Court existed to raise funds for individuals in all kinds of need. Gays and lesbians were incredibly impacted by the nation’s high unemployment, and while more and more gay people were coming out, many found themselves without familial support. At the time, Robin and Adrian controlled the Court’s accounts, and were responsible for dispersing funds to those who needed help. According to Robin, the calls would come at all hours — usually to his phone since Adrian gave out his number to everyone. “A gay couple had their house burned down by neighbors who didn’t like the queers,” he recalled. “We had a fundraiser at one of the bars on 7th Street. It was to start at 8 p.m. and go until midnight. … We raised $1,600 that night for that couple. (People stayed) after they stopped serving alcohol, and we didn’t get out of there until 2.” Most outsiders know the Court for its long titles bestowed on members, or for the over-the-top royal costumes worn at events. But Robin confessed that he never had much interest in all that pomp and circumstance. During the time

I met with him, in fact, he referred to the Investiture — the annual ceremony at which titles are conferred — as The Inquisition about a half dozen times. “(Dressing up) is fun,” he said. “But the reason we are here is to give back to the community.” Even after the Court dissolved Robin remained active in community fundraising. And when the Imperial Court of Arizona returned in 2006, it was only natural that Rockin’ Robin would be asked to play a role. When he showed up to their inaugural events that year, he had the red carpet rolled out … literally. Even talking about it now he seems amazed at how he was treated like true royalty. “I’m history for them,” he said. These days Robin still attends all the meetings and maintains full voting responsibility. He certainly keeps busier than most 86-year-olds. And don’t make the mistake of asking him when he gave up his role in the Valley’s gay social scene. He says he hasn’t yet. He would be out and about more often if it weren’t for one particular Saturday afternoon in

the last decade. (He doesn’t remember exactly when.) Robin had been at a meeting of Los Amigos Del Sol, another social and volunteer group he has been participating in for decades, after which he and a few others took to bar-hopping. Bunkhouse was followed by Kobalt, followed by Apollo’s. While leaving the last bar to get into a cab, Robin tripped and face-planted onto the patio. Needless to say, he had to cut back on the partying after that day. But he refuses to become a shut-in. Robin’s active role in the gay community’s social scene has been consistent since those days in 1951 when he would sneak off to Market Street after school to look at the sailors. As long as the Court is around, Robin will be a presence. And given the success of the Court, that means Robin will be around for some time. Buddy Early grew up in Tempe and has been involved in various communities across the Valley since. He is a former managing editor of both Echo Magazine and Compete Magazine.




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Profile for Echo Magazine

Echo Magazine - Arizona LGBTQ Lifestyle - Sep 2019  

Echo Magazine – 2019 marks our 30th year! Arizona's leading media outlet dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community in news, views and entert...

Echo Magazine - Arizona LGBTQ Lifestyle - Sep 2019  

Echo Magazine – 2019 marks our 30th year! Arizona's leading media outlet dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community in news, views and entert...