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HAPPY NEW YEAR

LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT | Vol. 32, #4 | Issue 736 | January 2021 | COMPLIMENTARY


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INSIDE THIS

ISSUE Issue 736 | Vol. 32, #4 | January 2021

NEWS 8

Editor’s Note

12 News Briefs

COMMUNITY 20 Without Reservations 23 Between the Covers 25 Health and Wellness 26 Bands 28 Not That You Asked

HAPPY NEW YEAR

LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT | Vol. 32, #4 | Issue 736 | January 2021 | COMPLIMENTARY

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On the open road: RV life during the pandemic Michelle Talsma Everson checks in with some local adventurers who have embraced mobile living to find out how they’re making it work during an unprecedented time.

Men and makeup: The perfect glow-up to start 2021 Anttoni Lopez, CEO of Alpha Male Cosmetics, talks makeup-for-men with Timothy Rawles. From tips that help new users get started to what products are hot, get the inside scoop.


Sydney Sprague by Michael Carter

Sydney Sprague will make your new year bright The Phoenix singer-songwriter has a new release titled maybe I will see you at the end of the world. Jason Keil talks about its emotional content and chats with the artist about the record and her career.

16

Loneliness and isolation can impact your physical & emotional wellness During the COVID-19 pandemic, being apart from others can be especially mood-altering. Kimberly Blaker offers an array of tips to help overcome the challenges that stem from isolation.

WEB EXCLUSIVES

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NEW YEAR – NEW GOALS A new calendar year always inspires new plans and goals. Jason Keil talks to several community leaders who – after an extremely taxing 2020 – share what they’d like to see in 2021. Find this exclusive story at echomag.com/leaderswishlist-2020.

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EDITOR’S NOTE By Amy Young

H

appy New Year. Welcome to 2021. It felt like it was never going to arrive. Though it’s bringing some of the challenging aspects of 2020 along with it, let’s face it, the calendar reset always seems to inspire hope. I think one thing this last year has taught us is that hope alone is just not enough. We have to add action when possible to facilitate the changes that benefit humanity and beyond. Hate and ugliness roared in 2020 like a ruthless, two-headed beast – let’s continue to combat that monster with the louder sounds of compassion and empathy, and let’s get hardcore about it. Sure, we’re tired, but let’s push that reset button and see what good we can do in this new year. In a recent conversation with Maricopa County’s outgoing Recorder, Adrian Fontes, he mentioned that he tackled several personal and work-related challenges by assessing and setting realistic goals by what can be done each day. Consider the big picture, indeed, but to use each day as thoughtfully and purposefully as possible and let those choices add up to long-term successes. I’m paraphrasing, but it resonated. Sometimes we know these things already, subconsciously. Still, it sure doesn’t hurt to get a reminder, especially at the time of year when reminders, resets, and resolutions permeate our minds and our conversations. Welcome to our January issue. Our feature stories kick off on page 9, where Michelle Talsma Everson talks to families who have adopted RV living and how that is working for them during the pandemic.

Alpha Male Cosmetics is here for men who want to wear makeup. Tim Rawles talks to their CEO, who digs into the history of men and makeup and what his company has to offer. I’m personally excited about Tom Reardon’s interview with Cliquey Bitches, an indie rock supergroup featuring one of the riot grrrl movement leaders in the ‘80s, Allison Wolfe. The band includes Seth Bogart and one of L.A.’s punk pioneers, Alice Bag. (Full transparency, (along with Dana Stern and Chela Mischke) I played in a band with Bag, called the She-Riffs, while Bag lived in Phoenix. It was a short-lived project, but we did manage to release an EP and do a short tour.) One of our January Web Exclusives finds Jason Keil speaking with several community leaders on their 2021 wish lists, including goals and things they’d like to see in the new year. Echo podcasts are coming soon – stay tuned. We’ll be creating and hosting entertaining and thought-provoking podcast shows, along with our sister publications that are part of the Aequalitas Media team. In February, we will see you with our Relationship Issue, but you can find new content throughout each week at echomag.com. Cheers! Amy Young is the editor-in-chief of Echo Magazine. A longtime journalist, her work has appeared numerous publications, regional to international. Please contact her at editor@echomag.com.

LGBTQ NEWS, VIEWS AND ENTERTAINMENT PUBLISHER: Aequalitas Media EDITORIAL EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Amy Young CONTRIBUTORS: Kimberly Blaker Grace Bolyard Niki D'Andrea Jenna Duncan Buddy Early Michelle Talsma Everson Jason Keil Jason Kron Jeff Kronenfeld Megan Lane Laura Latzko Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen

Tuesday Mahrle Ashley Naftule Anika Nayak David-Elijah Nahmod Tia Norris Timothy Rawles Tom Reardon Terri Schlichenmeyer Carly Schorman Anika Nayak Sojas Wagle

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that there are many benefits to traveling in an RV during the pandemic, including: your own bathroom and bedding; digital detox; connecting with nature; exploring the in-between destinations; creative camping meals; a freer schedule; and it’s more affordable than many people would think. Alexander though notes that, while there are perks, there are definitely learning curves. “It’s been difficult figuring out which places to get water from, many places are closed for the season or closed due to COVID-19. We make sure to call ahead now,” he says. “We’ve made mistakes along the way, but we’re just learning to walk. We know we have some great adventures ahead of us … it’s the new American dream.”

On the open road We checked in with some local adventurers who have embraced RV life during the pandemic By Michelle Talsma Everson

T

o schedule a video interview with Alexander Long is an exercise in pandemic era juggling — at least on his end. First, he needs to make sure that he and his husband’s four kids and one dog are all in or around the RV. Then, he needs to find a quiet spot — like many stayat-home parents. Then, it’s a crapshoot to see if the video will work because he’s using a hotspot and the majority of his internet capability is used for his husband’s job, which he does from their tiny bedroom in their RV. During our interview, he was in Quartzsite, but has plans to travel west to Southern California depending on their COVID-19 travel restrictions. In October 2020 he and his family of six bought a travel trailer to live in full-time. His husband works full-time telecommuting and Alexander “road schools” the kids.

FEATURE STORY

“Traveling in an RV or travel trailer was something of a dream my dad and I used to talk about,” he shares. “My dad passed away a couple years ago. COVID-19 took away all the obstacles preventing us from actually doing this: my husband began working remotely, the kids were now being homeschooled, our habilitation and respite provider for our children with special needs is also in quarantine. We were isolated. Seemed like the perfect time to be isolated elsewhere.” According to the RV Industry Association, 20 percent of Americans surveyed in the summer of 2020 have been more interested in RVs as a recreational travel option. Nearly half of those surveyed who planned to take an RV trip said health concerns had increased their interest. Many of these RV goers live in their RVs full-time. In fact, the RV Industry

Association cited more than a million Americans live in RVs full-time — and that was a 2018 statistic. Obviously, many have to do so because of finances but a lot of RV enthusiasts do so out of choice, as well.

On The Road Full-Time Alexander shares that he and his family plan to live on the road full-time for at least a year. They do have a storage shed in Mesa, though, when they’re ready to return to “normal” life. “We sold our house two months ago and have now been in the trailer for two months and spent a total of eight days boondocking (when you’re off the grid),” he explains. “We spent time up in Northern Arizona in the snow and are on our way to Southern California. We’ll be heading north when the weather permits.” Lauren Strait, a freelance travel writer and blogger specializing in RV travel, says

As for having a family in such a small space, Alexander says it was an adjustment, but it’s been worth it. “Without a house to manage, our time together has become more coordinated and peaceful,” he explains. “Yes, it’s a small space inside, but our adventures are mostly outdoors and we’re spending better quality time together.” In fact, it was on the road that his kids had memorable experiences. “Our first experience in snow was amazing,” he says. “My kids had never seen snow before; they watched it come down like magic and disappear before it hit the ground. These kids are making memories.” Like Alexander and his family, Mark Ng and Danielle Connell, who have been together nearly three years, also recently went from regular living — in this case, an apartment in Uptown Phoenix — to a small travel trailer 24/7. They, too, have been on the road since the fall and are able to do so because Mark telecommutes. “I’ve always really enjoyed traveling, even before COVID19,” Danielle says. “Once COVID-19 hit, traveling in an RV or travel trailer seemed like the only interesting plan,” Mark says with a laugh. “Everything else was broken and hotels are still risky.” After moving out of their Phoenix apartment and ECHOMAG.COM

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Some of Mark and Danielle’s fun décor

spending some time at a family vacation home in Michigan, their first real travel trailer try was only an hour away from their home base.

On the road (they’ve travel to several states and keep track of them on a “We Sleep Around” pin board) they have had some amazing adventures. They’ve stayed at a bee farm and eaten fresh honey. They’ve made and eaten fresh cheese. They collect stickers of some of their favorite places and, with COVID-19 safety precautions in place (masks, social distancing, etc.), they’ve seen friends old and new as they’ve gone across the country. For those thinking of hitting the road full-time they advise that you do your research and that everyone on the trip know how to do all the things. They found YouTube to be a helpful resource. When we talked right before the holidays, they were planning on spending time in Phoenix before moving on. They’re not sure how long they’ll be on the road full-time, but they hope to always have that travel bug as an integral part of

their lives together. “While we’re in a really small space, we’re definitely conscious of our alone time; actually, more so than we were in an apartment,” Mark says. “It was challenging at first, but now we have the whole world as our backyard. How can you beat that?” asks Danielle.

Part-Time Adventures While some families can pick up and head on the road 24/7, for many of us, RV or travel trailer life is more of a vacation mode of travel. Even then, though, there are still many perks. Mick and Red T. often have adventures with their family in their RV. “Our family needs to get away from the hustle and busyness of the city,” Red says. “Camping is a socially safe way to enjoy nature and get out of the house and relieve quarantine fatigue. We were camping before the pandemic, but we’ve been a lot more mindful of where we camp since the start. This year we’ve used our trailer for Alexander Long and family

“Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” Danielle

says. Which, to the adventurous couple is kind of a theme: expect things to go wrong (they’ll turn out okay anyways). Plan, prep, research and go slow if you can. It creates resilience, they both believe. “When

you expect the awful and get through it, you experience a lot of wonderful,” Danielle says.

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FEATURE STORY


Mark and Danielle’s mobile home

day trips and weeklong trips. We’ve camped in the Mogollon Rim/White Mountains, the Coconino National Forest, and the Sonoran desert when it gets cold. We’ve avoided doing a lot of tourist destinations because of COVID-19. We travel with our trailer to have a safe restroom, full kitchen, and a place to eat that’s sanitary.” Since they were camping before the pandemic, they have noticed an influx in fellow campers. “The increased number of people camping (whether in a campground or dispersed camping boondocking) has made finding a remote location challenging,” Red shares. “With the rampant forest fires closing the Tonto National Forest locally, everyone who normally camped there had to go further north. Camping in a trailer means having the creature comforts of home — ice cream in the freezer, air conditioning in the too hot summer, and a flush toilet.” Red describes preparing for these trips as “controlled chaos,” but says it is well worth it. “Some of our favorite memories are stargazing and seeing the Milky Way with our eyes, falling asleep to the sounds of coyotes singing to FEATURE STORY

each other, and waking up to stunning vistas with gorgeous sunrises,” she recalls.

destinations, vetted by a team of full-time travelers and reviewed by their 275,000+ members.

“Don’t wait to start camping because you need to have the ideal rig or specialized gear. Start small, day trips, and work your way up to overnight camping. Renting a RV is a great way to learn what you actually need for your needs before you buy. Life is short and way too unpredictable to wait for that perfect moment,” she advises.

Hipcamp This app filters campsites and lodging according to your travel needs, including price, group size, structure type, petfriendliness, amenities (from toilets to outdoor kitchens),

and access to activities such as hiking, fishing, and surfing.

Dyrt This is the ultimate camping app, with over 500,000+ user-submitted locations, reviews and tips across the U.S. The platform is free to use on the web, iOS and Android, with additional functionality available in the paid PRO version.

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 mteverson.com.

RV Apps To learn about what life is like on the road, I checked in with Lauren Strait, a freelance travel writer and co-founder of Strait Talk Travel, a family blog and resource she maintains with her husband and twin boys. Here is an overview of her favorite RV apps:

FreeRoam This app is for finding free campsites on public land as well as a directory of reviews for established campsites. However, its greatest power lies in finding new campsites not otherwise documented.

Campendium This app has tens of thousands of places to camp, from swanky RV parks to free remote

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NEWS BRIEFS

elect and are the number one issue motivating voters to oppose Donald Trump. At the same time, attacks on the LGBTQ community had little impact. Anti-LGBTQ operatives launched aggressive attacks on the transgender community, alleging falsely that Biden supports gender confirmation surgeries for children. That issue ranks dead last as a reason to oppose Joe Biden.

LGBTQ and Equality Voter Opinions Despite some reports, LGBTQ voters did not waver in their opposition to Trump. According to HRC/GQR’s poll, 83% of LGBTQ voters supporting Biden, much closer to the historic norm as well as other surveys like GLAAD (81% supporting Biden) and AP Vote Cast (73% supporting Biden)

New Human Rights Campaign exit poll: LGBTQ, equality voters strongly supported Joe Biden for President Courtesy of HRC

O

n December 22, Human Rights Campaign released new 2020 exit polling conducted by HRC and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. According to the findings, LGBTQ and Equality Voters strongly supported Joe Biden for President, assuredly providing him with the crucial boost he needed in swing states across the country.

he needed in crucial battleground states across the country.

The 2020 Edison exit survey purported to show Joe Biden winning only 63% of LGBTQ voters. This finding is implausible. In the Edison poll, New York is only marked as having 4% LGBTQ voters, a number that is highly doubtful given the national figure of 7% turnout and a significant portion of the LGBTQ community living in the state. This underweighting of New York is among numerous factors that likely weighted the horserace figures towards Trump. Among Equality Voters, 79% supported Joe Biden with only 19% supporting President Trump, a margin of 60%.

The Equality Act

“Over the last three elections, the share of LGBTQ voters and Equality Voters has continued to increase, solidifying our community and our allies as a key rising constituency that can make or break a politician’s success. Our issues matter, our votes matter and politicians around the country have taken notice. This development did not occur in a single cycle, but rather through sustained efforts by the Human Rights Campaign to identify and improve turnout amongst these groups. Now with pro-equality control restored in the White House, the future of our community and our movement is bright,” says Alphonso David, Human Rights Campaign President

In 2016, HRC developed the Equality Voter model to identify 57 million voters across the country who prioritize LGBTQ issues at the ballot box. In 2017, we announced a significant expansion of our efforts in key target states to make sure we built the relationships with leaders and voters on the ground to make sure our community and these Equality Voter allies turned out. And that effort quickly bore fruit in the 2018 midterm elections, with Equality Voters making up 29% of the entire electorate, outpacing White Evangelical Voter (26%) for the first time on record. This year, we again saw significant growth, an increase of 8% of the electorate in just one election cycle. We anticipate that growth continuing in the coming years as positive opinions of LGBTQ equality are cemented in the minds of voters, and leaders like Donald Trump and many in the Republican party continue to get further and further behind public opinion.

LGBTQ and Equality Voter Turn Out

LGBTQ Issues and the 2020 Electorate

According to the poll, 37% of general election voters were Equality Voters — voters who prioritize LGBTQ issues at the ballot box — versus 29% of the electorate in the 2018 midterm elections, a growth of 8% in just two years. That significant increase in turnout assuredly gave Joe Biden the boost

Equality issues — standing up for immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people — played a massive role in Joe Biden’s 81 million vote total. Biden beat Trump 51 to 47 percent in the popular vote. Among Biden voters, equality issues rank second as the leading reason to support the president-

By inspiring and engaging individuals and communities, the Human Rights Campaign strives to end discrimination against LGBTQ people and realize a world that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. HRC envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are ensured equality and embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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Protections for LGBTQ people and the Equality Act remains high among almost all demographic groups, increasing in support since 2018. According to the poll, 70% of 2020 general election respondents supported the Equality Act with 53% strongly supporting the bill, an increase of 5% and 3% respectively. Only 21% of voters opposed the legislation with 15% strongly opposing the bill, a decrease of 4% and 3% respectively. The Human Rights Campaign, alongside Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, completed a poll of 1,400 2020 general election voters, including an oversample of voters in the Sunbelt (Florida, Texas, Arizona and Georgia). The margin of error unless otherwise listed in the memo was +/- 2.83%. Visit hrc.org for complete article with graphs.

About HRC:

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Men and makeup: The perfect glow-up to start 2021 By Timothy Rawles; photos courtesy of Alpha Male Cosmetics

C

an men wear makeup? The short answer is yes.

But it might be intimidating to them when all they see are male celebrity makeup artists fully painted with bright eyeshadow, full lashes, and enough highlighter to block out the sun. Fortunately, there are options for men who want to feel better about themselves in 2021 without looking like a wellblended stained-glass window. Maybe with enough confidence, it could lead to that if it’s in your heart, but most people would rather start out small. Social media influencers are good at their jobs. They should be, as the makeup trade is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. With that kind of

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reach, you would think everyone would know the difference between Morphe and CVS. If you don’t, you’re not alone.  

want to look and feel good with makeup but are afraid of overdoing it or appearing too feminine.

What better reason than a new year to try it all out? Especially for men who simply want to even out their tones or hide a blemish or look slightly refreshed after a rough year.

“Alpha Male Cosmetics was created for these exact men who pose this question/ concern,” he says. “Our line does not offer any female inspired/tailored products, i.e., eyeshadow, lashes, blush, etc.”

Gen Z kids already seem comfortable using their faces as a canvas, but there are men out there who want a simple “glow up” with natural colors, not an entire paint-by-numbers looking celebrity palette. They want to take baby steps. We talked to the CEO of Alpha Male Cosmetics, Anttoni Lopez, about where curious men should start. He says he understands how some men

His omission list reads like the gender-bending tools of the trade 40 years ago when pop musicians challenged masculinity. Boy George was probably the most controversial. When he came onto the scene with thick eyeliner, red lipstick, and blush, the world wondered about his masculinity. In the ’90s, successful men were criticized for their skincare

treatments and were coined “metrosexuals” — straight men who routinely used moisturizers and other expensive products on their faces and hair. They, too, were mocked for taking longer in the bathroom than women. Social media started to take off in the latter part of the 2000s, and companies such as Facebook and YouTube became places to monetize big ideas. The MUA (Makeup Artist) celebrity was born. Today successful makeup companies are started by influencers who end up making millions. It has become a high stakes environment complete with corporate espionage and cheaper black market knockoffs. With all of this bombarding your newsfeed, it’s easy to feel FEATURE STORY


Lopez believes that men are afraid to use makeup for fear of being judged by their peers because the market is so hyperfocused on women.

for some, it can affect their selfesteem. With a little practice, anyone can perfect their look, whatever it might be. For people who are shy about shopping at brick-andmortar stores, there is always the internet. “If you are a man looking to try makeup for the first time, Congratulations!” says Lopez enthusiastically.

“In addition, I believe the fear of the unknown also plays a part,” he adds. “A man with semi- to problematic-skin may want to feel more confident but doesn’t want his masculinity to be questioned — this is just a man that lacks selfconfidence. When did we really begin to care what others had to say about us?”

Behind his encouragement, there is also an empowering message. “You have just embarked on the beginning of a journey that may change your life forever. Remember that the makeup does not make you; you make the makeup! Never forget why you decided to try using cosmetics.”

For the answer, Lopez gives us a lesson in fashion history. “It was basically normal in the 1800s for men to not just wear makeup but wigs and shoes with heels. Crazy how the world has shifted over the centuries. I have to blame social media for the downturn in men’s self-esteem and confidence in more recent times. We live in a microwave society that is pushed by false lifestyles and visuals of what is accepted as beautiful. Alpha Male Cosmetics was made for men that stand out amongst the crowd, the men who are not afraid to stand up and be the Alpha regardless of his personal at-home grooming regimens.”

He does warn that anyone with problematic skin, such as unhealed sores or inflammation, should hold off until they mend. And even then, he recommends consulting a dermatologist. But after that, the sky’s the limit. His website also makes tutorial videos to help you figure out how it all works. “Lastly, walk with your head held high; you just took the next step toward the rest of your life!”

Lopez suggests beginners start with three basics: a BB cream (a tinted moisturizer), a hi-def concealer, and “our camera-ready primer is always a perfect addition to prepping the skin as it provides hydration and a smooth layer of protection.” Three things seem manageable amid the gridlock of other commercial products shilled on social media. Lopez says there is no time like the new year to start your exploration into using makeup. One thing that is most important on your journey is the right color; it must match your skin tone or come close to it. The same goes for concealer; the wrong color could out your secret. Women aren’t the only ones who get dark circles under their eyes or acne scars, or breakouts. Men get these things too, and FEATURE STORY

Anttoni Lopez of Alpha Male Cosmetics

intimidated. You don’t want to look like Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. You just want to look good doing regular, everyday activities like grocery shopping or taking Instagram selfies with the family.

Extreme makeup on men is a subculture that has its roots in the art of drag. As the public becomes more educated about the LGBTQ spectrum and rejects the heteronormative-fueled stigma of men using cosmetics, guys can slowly abandon their fears of drowning beneath a beauty blender.    There’s power in powder, and since 2021 might be the perfect time to start your “new year, new you” attitude, why not give in to curiosity? Who knows? You might become Lord of the Ring Light. Timothy Rawles is an awardwinning journalist and California native who moved to Arizona with his husband and two children in 2019. He attended San Francisco State University many years ago and somehow managed to pass math and continue pursuing his journalism degree. His story is not as interesting as the people he writes about, but Timothy has discovered that everyone has one, and good or bad, they all share the same thing; heart.

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Sprague’s upcoming release, maybe I will see you at the end of the world

Sydney Sprague will make your new year bright The Phoenix songwriter’s emotional album is resolute By Jason Keil

W

hen Sydney Sprague wrote the song “steve,” she was feeling unhappy. Because of troubled feelings about her relationships, job, and the direction of her life, she was attracting negativity. “I was wallowing a lot,” she says. “I realized if I didn’t start surrounding myself with more positive things that made me happy, I would drown.”

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The lyrics of the jangly alternative single pose the question: “Can I get what I want only once?” So, the 28-year-old local singersongwriter tried to figure out what she wanted. She reassessed her whole life and cut out the pessimism around her. Then she began to save whatever she could to commit the songs she was writing to tape.

wannabe say to a crowd of desperate salesmen inside a hotel conference room. But in this case, the power of positive thinking did radically alter the direction of Sprague’s life. And that album she was saving her money to record? The aptly titled maybe i will see you at the end of the world, her first full-length record, drops February 26 on Rude Records.

This inspirational story sounds like something you might hear a Tony Robbins

Sprague accomplished all this by sticking to those resolutions she made as 2020 FEATURE STORY


Sydney Sprague by Michael Carter

began, back when the world was more optimistic about the new year. It was the first time she resolved to get her “shit together,” but the road to realizing her dreams wasn’t smooth. “I wouldn’t say [COVID] has dampened things, but it’s changed the experience,” she says. “It doesn’t feel real because it’s just been me sitting in my apartment all year getting emails and doing Zoom calls. I can’t go play shows and see the growth of what’s happening, but it’s just as exciting.”

just as the novel coronavirus was about to devastate the northwestern city. Chris Walla, formerly of the band Death Cab for Cutie, currently owns the historic studio where Nirvana recorded Bleach, the grunge band’s debut album. Maybe i will see you at the end of the world was produced by Sam Rosson, who is also behind the boards of fellow Phoenician Danielle Durack’s upcoming record, and mixed by Mike Pepe, who also worked with Valley band Sundressed on their latest album.

Concerts and festivals hadn’t been canceled yet, including South by Southwest in Austin, Texas. Sprague was set to be included in the influential music conference’s official lineup for the first time. Before she came to the Valley, she lived in the Lone Star State’s capital city until the age of 11. She started performing when she was 14 and returned to the live music mecca when she turned 18 to pursue a career in the industry. The experience motivated her in unexpected ways.

But according to Sprague, Pepe did more than help put Sprague’s record together. He shared it with the team at the independent label Rude Records, the home of bands such as Saves the Day and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Sprague was surprised to receive an email from the label in June saying they wanted to talk about releasing the record, just a short time after her single “I Refuse to Die” was self-released. She also has the honor of becoming the label’s first female solo artist.

“Growing up [in Austin], there’s music everywhere,” she recalls. “Being around that got me going. There are so many musicians. Even with so many places to play, it’s still competitive. It was pretty eye-opening for me at that age. You have to be really good to make it in the door.”

“From the people around me that are successful, they always say you never want to chase an opportunity,” she says. “You want one to fall in your lap with people that love what you’re doing. It really shocked me because I thought you had to have a good track record of streaming and a following to back it up. There are still labels that exist that make shit they’re passionate about.”

Sprague eventually moved back to Phoenix, performing cover gigs for several years. She was also writing and performing original music and graduated to playing shows at Crescent Ballroom and The Rebel Lounge. In 2018 and 2019, Sprague penned the bulk of the songs on maybe i will see you at the end of the world and demoed them at home. She recorded the album in early 2020 at The Hall of Justice, a Seattle studio, FEATURE STORY

And despite the pandemic, Sprague did get to perform her music in front of a live audience last October, only it wasn’t at Crescent Ballroom. It was opening for Cher as part of a Biden-Harris campaign rally. She describes the experience as “absolutely insane” and a “super jarring experience.” Several days later, she

performed for the then vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris and Alicia Keys at an event. “I didn’t even have time to process it because it all happened so fast,” says Sprague. But despite the good fortune that has come the artist’s way, Sprague is still waiting for something bad to happen to help balance things out. “I’ve always felt like the end of the world is coming,” she says. “I’m deeply paranoid and anxious. When I go on a trip, I’m afraid the plane is going to crash. I’m a worst-casescenario person. This album was me trying to work through that.” Speaking with Echo in early December, the self-described doom-scroller hasn’t even thought about making resolutions for 2021 because “things are so uncertain.” But she’s been spending her time in quarantine writing new music and shooting the video for her song “I Refuse to Die” on her iPhone, spending weeks on YouTube to learn how to insert the special effects. And despite her album’s title, she’s starting to feel a little optimistic about 2021. That feeling permeates throughout the bright-sounding record. “A lot of my songs have been doom and gloom,” she describes. “Now, there’s a little hope in there.” Jason Keil is a freelance journalist based in Phoenix and is the co-host of the podcast What the Fork: Exploring The Good Place. His work has appeared in Phoenix New Times, AZCentral, and Phoenix magazine, and he tweets about pop culture @jasonekeil. ECHOMAG.COM

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of COVID-19.” Maria Elizabeth Loades et al. found depression, anxiety, and even suicidal ideation and attempts are potential issues resulting from a lack of sufficient positive and healthy social relationships.

Single parents may have children around, but that isn’t enough to prevent feeling lonely or isolated from adults. Among older adults, extended social isolation may even increase an individual’s risk for dementia or cognitive decline, according to a 2019 study, “Are loneliness and social isolation associated with cognitive decline?” by Elvira Lara et al.

How are various demographics impacted by loneliness and isolation?

Loneliness and isolation can impact your physical & emotional wellness Here are some tips to overcome these challenges By Kimberly Blaker

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umans are inherently social animals who rely on interpersonal relationships for a variety of needs. When people experience healthy friendships, family dynamics, and even casual positive interactions with others, they feel a sense of belonging and satisfaction, which translates to better health. Unfortunately, when your social connections and relationships don’t meet your individual needs, feelings of loneliness and isolation may occur and can have potentially devastating consequences.

How do loneliness and isolation affect physical and mental health? Feelings of loneliness and isolation can significantly impact our health, especially when these feelings occur for an extended time. Unsatisfactory social relationships or connections can lead to a host of problems for both body and mind. Physical health can be impacted by 18

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loneliness in surprising ways. According to the Centers for Disease Control in “Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions,” loneliness can significantly impact our health. It increases the risk for premature death, strokes, heart disease, heart failure, and other cardiovascular issues at levels comparable to those who smoke, are obese, or are physically inactive. Various studies have also shown correlations between loneliness or isolation and other complications, reports Amy Novotney in “The Risks of Social Isolation.” These include poor sleep, decreased selfcontrol, higher stress levels, and lower immunity, to name a few. Mental health struggles can also develop from feeling isolated or lonely. This is true not only for adults but children and adolescents. On June 3, 2020, researchers published their findings in “Rapid Systematic Review: The Impact of Social Isolation and Loneliness on the Mental Health of Children and Adolescents in the Context

While all people require some level of personal connection and interaction, individuals and specific demographic groups may have different needs or struggles related to loneliness and isolation. Anyone can, at times, experience isolation from others. Those who lack close family or friends, have moved to a new place, differ from their community, or belong to any kind of outgroup are at risk of missing out on their desired level of social connection. Certain groups, according to the CDC, are particularly at increased risk of experiencing isolation and loneliness. Single parents may have children around, but that isn’t enough to prevent feeling lonely or isolated from adults. Parenting, even with a partner, already comes with these challenges. It can be exacerbated if you’re also dealing with a challenging co-parenting situation or experiencing a loss. Seniors are a group significantly affected by social isolation. Experiences like divorce, becoming a widow or widower, children growing up and moving away, retirement, chronic illness, and moving to a retirement home or care facility can increase these feelings. People with mental illness can have symptoms reappear or increase in severity if they don’t have access to a support network, including friends, family, or others to connect with. Immigrants may face language barriers, differences in customs or local dynamics, or lack established social relationships. They may also feel incredibly lonely being away from their home, culture, or family. Members of the LGBTQ+ community may be affected by discrimination and stigma. They may even experience loss of relationships with family and friends who don’t accept them, leaving them isolated from former social groups. FEATURE STORY


People with disabilities may experience increased isolation or feelings of loneliness depending on their individual situations. They may face barriers in communication, discrimination, stigma, or even physical impediments preventing easier engagement in social relationships.

it’s crucial to find ways to connect with others. Try scheduling social time such as regular video calls to catch up and even share a meal, movie, game, or activity together from your own homes. Find ways to get together safely outdoors in small groups, appropriately spaced apart.

How to reduce isolation and loneliness Unfortunately, dealing with loneliness and isolation is becoming a widespread experience. According to experts, most people from all walks of life report feeling a lack of social connection or relationships at some point in their lives. Sometimes experiencing these feelings is a consequence of larger problems like a pandemic where people need to maintain distance to stay safe. Though it may seem impossible, isolation and loneliness do not have to become a permanent state. Even if you must be physically apart from others, there are many ways to stay connected and build new social relationships. Reach out to friends, family, former co-workers, or neighbors who you haven’t talked to in a while or have lost touch with. Send an email, a letter, a text, or even pick up the phone and give them a call. In situations like a pandemic, where physical distancing is necessary for a while,

Even if you must be physically apart from others, there are many ways to stay connected and build new social relationships. Join groups where you can connect with others through shared interests. A book club, cooking class, community college course, club sports team, fitness class, or community theater are a few possibilities. During a pandemic, look for virtual opportunities. It’s easier to maintain relationships when you have things in common — plus interest-based groups provide opportunities to connect with others in a structured but lower-stress environment. Technology opens up so many opportunities to make social connections and build virtual relationships with real people. You can join social networks and find groups for people in similar life

situations, with similar interests, or just looking to connect with others. Just be conscious of how you’re using social media. Seeing other people’s “highlight reels” can actually increase the feeling of being left out. Volunteer for a cause that’s dear to your heart. You can find others who share similar interests or values while gaining satisfaction from giving back to your community. Especially consider working with populations who are at risk for loneliness. This way, you can help others while helping yourself. If you’re experiencing significant mental or physical health problems related to loneliness or isolation, speak with your doctor or mental health care professional. They can support you and direct you to various resources. When feelings of isolation or loneliness become overwhelming, it’s hard to imagine how to change your circumstances. But with a little effort and perhaps some support, there are ways to create and maintain healthy social relationships and connect to others, regardless of our personal situation or the world around us. Kimberly Blaker is a freelance family writer. She also does blog and content writing for a variety of industries and is an expert in on page SEO.

Don’t put your education on hold. Make it happen this Spring. Register today! • Safe learning environments • Multiple class formats including Live Online! • New ways to save on tuition • Flexible start dates

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Chandler-Gilbert | Estrella Mountain | GateWay | Glendale | Mesa | Paradise Valley | Phoenix | Rio Salado | Scottsdale | South Mountain The Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD) is an EEO/AA institution and an equal opportunity employer of protected veterans and individuals with disabilities. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or national origin. A lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in the career and technical education programs of the District.

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An exterior shot of Belly

WITHOUT RESERVATIONS

A good gut punch: Belly Kitchen & Bar Story and photos by Jeff Kronenfeld

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Michael Babcock, laughed heartily during the tale’s telling, he demurred when it came to sharing any Hangover-style antics that may or may not have occurred during the group’s gastronomical globetrotting. Before Belly, Babcock was the Welcome Diner’s chef. Together with Wayne Coats, that restaurant’s general manager, they built up the local watering hole until

With the squad now assembled, they collectively decided to conduct a very tasty fact-finding mission overseas. Not content with gimmicky mashups like Pho burritos, the partners wanted to find menu items with deep roots in Southeast Asia. In the same way that Babcock’s love of Creole food inspired Welcome Diner’s menu, he and his team again wanted to let their foodie inclinations be their guide. Upon their return, the decision to focus on Vietnamese cuisine for the new concept’s menu was firmly cemented. The co-owners secured a building at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Camelback Road and got to work renovating. Everything was going smoothly until the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March. Not only was the grand opening indefinitely delayed, but as the scope and scale of the changes wrought by the virus slowly became clear, Babcock and company realized they had to go back to the drawing board. Originally conceived of as a cocktail bar with a menu of small plates, this model now seemed ill-suited to an era of social distancing. Plucky and determined, the restaurateurs shifted focus, reimagining Belly as a takeout pit stop rather than a swanky hangout. The menu also had to adapt. Foods that traveled well were the new order of business, but Babcock still wanted to find a way to offer something unique.      “I didn’t want to do Pho because I figured every Vietnamese place in town already does that, so we really zoned in on braised claypot dishes as something that would be really cool,” Babcock explained.  

A couple classic spring rolls with nuoc cham dipping sauce

A braised claypot dish of turmeric chicken thighs

group of friends travel to Vietnam and Japan seeking inspiration, in the end coming away with a deeper respect for the cultures and cuisines of both countries. It may sound like the premise for a raunchy comedy flick, but in fact, it is the origin story behind Belly, one of West Phoenix’s newest eateries. While its head chef and one of the co-owners,

stepping away in early 2019. The pair then joined forces with a trio of former members of defunct indie rock band Dear and the Headlights to found Instrumental Hospitality.

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A very tasty coconut-based lemongrass horchata

A tasty Jackfruit pan mi sandwich

The menu currently features four such braised claypot dishes, which are known as kho in Vietnam. Although the nature of the takeout model means the dishes aren’t literally served in ceramics, they’re still packed with all that smokey complex flavor. The first one I tried was the turmeric chicken thighs, the slightly tangy fragrance filling my truck on the drive home after a security guard unceremoniously cut short my tailgate picnic in an adjacent parking lot. We had a little trouble getting into the actual restaurant’s parking lot due to its position relative to the very busy intersection. If I hadn’t been on the clock, this might have deterred me, but the meal proved well worth the traffic. To save yourself the headaches, just remember you can only enter the property by car if you’re heading north on Seventh Avenue.

A pork belly and egg braised claypot dish

Since I was ordering other items, too, I opted for the smaller portion, priced at $15. It was a good size for one person and also came with a heaping pile of white rice, two cucumber slices, and half a lime for adding a little fresh zest. The tender chunks of chicken dripped with mildly sweet juices and were topped with minced green onions. The spices were potent,

but not too much so, complementing rather than overwhelming the chicken. As I gulped it down on the cold night, the savory warmth was like a cozy sweater for my insides. On a later visit, I ordered the pork belly and egg braised claypot, again opting for the half portion. This dish was my personal favorite. The sweet slow-cooked pork goes so well with the coconut juice, fish sauce and other ingredients. The ample juices dripped from each tender chunk of pig meat, soaking the rice with umami richness. As an appetizer, I split an order of the classic spring rolls with a friend. The two semi-transparent cylinders were large and packed to the brim with pork sausage and juicy shrimp. The nuoc cham dipping sauce adds plenty of spice, citrus and just the right amount of astringency. All this combined with the noodles and fresh veggies to create an enjoyable blend of flavors and textures.   My friend gave one of Belly’s two pan mi sandwiches a try, opting for the vegetarian one stuffed with jackfruit over the pork sausage. The bun was different from the standard sub-style role used in most banh mis, being wider, flatter and airier. It tasted great and held the boldly flavored inners

together. The sandwich has a lot going on, from the powerful pickled veggies to the various sweet and spicy notes, but they all played well together.      Last but not least, I just had to try Babcock’s spin on this most comforting of comfort foods: fried rice. One of the three items on the specialties section of the menu, this reporter went with the pork and pickled mustard greens fried rice. I’m sure the jackfruit is delectable, but I’m almost as much as a sucker for alliteration as I am for anything pickled. Another sumptuously aromatic dish, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish it all after everything else, but this ended up being a total nonissue. From the first waft of pungent steam to that last kernel of flavor-infused rice, this dish worked for me. Every part of my tongue was covered by the diverse but complimentary medley of tastes. Sour, savory and with the perfect pinch of spiciness, it’s just what the doctor ordered pre or post hangover, though I’m sure the less lush would enjoy it too. A plethora of options are available to wash down all this grub, too. I ordered a glass of the lemongrass horchata, which adds a Southeast Asian twist to the sweet Hispanic specialty. It’s hard for me to capture in words just how creamy and rich this shake was. The coconut base adds a velvety smoothness while the lemongrass balances the cloying sweetness.   The team at Instrumental Hospitality may not help you shed that quarantine spare tire, but they sure will make sure your belly is happy and full.    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 www.jeffkronenfeld.com.

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BETWEEN THE COVERS

from the classic musical Gypsy. When they were young, Stan and Lance had appeared in a community theater production of Gypsy — Lance played Tulsa, a character in the show. Stan never forgot his Tulsa, and when they are reunited years later, Stan is elated, if also a little nervous. Since Stan grew up during the 1960s and ‘70s, there are many retro pop culture references in the book, so Stan’s story will serve as a trip down memory lane for some readers. The awakening sexuality of Stan’s youth is also an aspect of the story that many gay men may remember from their own younger years. “Unless a story is set in the future, it’s all going to be based on memory,” Provenzano tells Echo. “I’ve read many literary and romance books that take place in what I call ‘novel world’. No one references reality, TV or pop culture. That’s fine as an artistic decision. But I prefer to set all my books in a specific time, reference pop-culture as signposts, metaphors or just for fun. The writing started in the mid-1990s, where the bulk of the novel is set, so I was sort of writing in real time.”

P

Finding Tulsa is an intense story, yet it’s an easy read due to the author’s vivid writing. The ENTERTAINMENT

Finding Tulsa gets its title

“Like anyone, I have many profound experiences from my childhood and teenage years,” he said. “The only other novel that’s set mostly in Ohio is my sixth novel, Now I’m Here, about a piano prodigy and a pumpkin farmer’s lives together. In that novel and Finding Tulsa, the contrast between rural Ohio and big cities makes for a more diverse landscape.” The story also serves as a peek inside the life of a filmmaker who’s been able to make a living from making films, but who hasn’t entirely made it to the upper echelons of the industry. Stan is a director with a bit of a cult following. He’s made B-movies and art films and even considers an opportunity to direct a gay porn film under a pseudonym. As the story unfolds, readers will get a glimpse of how the film industry works and the struggles filmmakers often have to go through to get their projects made.

“If a sense of our collective history is shared in a fun and sexy way, I’ll be happy,” he said. “Most of the reader comments and reviews have mentioned the 1990s in a nostalgic way. But I hope readers will remember or discover how different things were for gay artists only 20 or 30 years ago.”

By David-Elijah Nahmod; photos courtesy of Jim Provenzano town of Brookside, Ohio, where Stan grew up, comes to life in Provenzano’s deftly written prose. Whether remembering his teenage sexual fantasies or recalling the time spent with his brother making amateur films, Stan takes the reader on a journey back through time, back to a place where being gay often wasn’t accepted. But Stan accepts his sexuality without shame. Years later, he casts Lance in his film, hoping that he and Lance will have the love affair Stan wanted when they were younger.

This is the second Provenzano novel in a row to feature an Ohio setting. Though born in New York City, he and his family moved to Ohio in the mid-1960s.

Provenzano addressed what he hopes readers will take from the book.

Finding Tulsa: A tale of memory and desire rolific author Jim Provenzano covers some heavy ground in Finding Tulsa, his seventh novel. Written as an autobiography, this entertaining work of fiction tells the story of Stan, a gay film director making a film about his past. When he was a teen, Stan had an incestuous relationship with his uncle, which is the subject of his film. Cast in the movie is Lance, a boyhood crush who Stan reconnects with in Hollywood.

theater to get the jokes.”

The author urges potential readers to purchase Finding Tulsa from www.bookshop.org, a site that supports independent bookstores.

Provenzano admits that the book has its dark moments. “But mostly it’s about nervous joy,” he said. “Stan’s potential rise to fame and reconnecting with Lance, his Tulsa crush from summer theater, are the highlights. It helps to know some musical

David-Elijah Nahmod is an American-Israeli writer who’s lived in New York City, Tel Aviv and is currently based in San Francisco. He’s been published in LGBT publications, monster magazines and SF Weekly, and can be reached on Facebook as DavidElijah Nahmod, Author and on Twitter at @DavidElijahN. ECHOMAG.COM

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HEALTH AND WELLNESS

mental health professionals. Through the app, you can conveniently get in touch with a licensed specialist through live chat in addition to booking weekly scheduled appointments. Pride Counseling also offers need-based financial aid to make counseling affordable. Available on iOS and Google Play.

Sowlmate Sowlmate is an LGBTQ+ focused selfcare app with a wide library of interactive courses and meditation sounds designed by LGBTQ+ professionals. A key feature of this app is the AI-based mood tracker, where the data is used to showcase content tailored to your individual needs. New programs are released every week on the platform. Available on iOS only.

Trill Project

Top five mental health apps for the LGBTQ+ community By Anika Nayak and Sojas Wagle

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020 was quite a year. In the midst of the surging pandemic, polarizing election, and alarming economy, it’s hard not to feel anxious. Understand that you are not alone and that your feelings are valid. “Though we don’t have a good deal of data, it does seem that, on average, the mental health of LGBTQ+ folks is getting worse during the pandemic. For instance, the Trevor Project crisis line for LGBTQ+ youth has seen a surge in volume,” says Dr. Jack Turban, MD, MHS, a child and adolescent psychiatry fellow at Stanford University School of Medicine, where he researches the mental health of transgender youth.  Seeking help may be a difficult step to take, but it’s a necessary one. Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there that can help you find support and affirmation. Mental health apps are a low-cost, accessible way to receive instant help for your struggles. While they aren’t a replacement for professional care, they have various functions to promote mental wellness, such as sleep reminders, calming music, and even mood trackers. Some apps also have teletherapy services, where you can communicate with a licensed specialist to get started with treatment.  “One of the most important parts, and

FEATURE STORY

beautiful parts when used correctly, is that digital mental health tools and the internet in general, create a space for connections. [Mental health apps] are beneficial because they can help remove some of the possible barriers LGBTQ+ individuals deal with in less accepting environments. Hopefully, they can access such tools without someone standing in their way or being gatekeepers that bar their path to better health, says Dr. Chase Anderson, MD, MS, a child psychiatry fellow at the University of California San Francisco. Echo presents a list of five mental health apps that will make your life a little easier.

Ayana Therapy Ayana is an app that helps people from marginalized communities find a therapist they can identify with based on their unique experiences and identities across race, gender identity, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and ability. This on-demand app allows for flexible communication across convenient platforms (text, phone, and video call) to get in touch with your LGBTQ+ therapist whenever you need to. Available on iOS and Google Play.

Pride Counseling This is an online counseling program for the LGBTQ+ community, led by specialized

This is an anonymous, social network where you can freely express yourself. Through the app, you can share your deepest, unfiltered thoughts and build authentic conversations with other members of the LGBTQ+ community. There is also tons of content focused on LGBTQ+ issues and mental health for users to discover and share. Available on iOS and Google Play.

Wisdo Wisdo is a peer-to-peer support platform to connect with people who’ve walked your path and share your own helpful advice. In the app, there are live sessions from mentors and virtual communities focused on discussing LGBTQ+ issues. You can also easily have private conversations with people you guide or learn from. Available on iOS and Google Play. If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit www.SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.com for additional resources. If you are an LGBTQ young person in crisis, feeling suicidal or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, call the Trevor Lifeline immediately at 1-866-488-7386. Anika Nayak currently studies public health at the University of California Berkeley. She frequently contributes to Architectural Digest, HuffPost, Livestrong.com, and many other publications with a focus on mental health and wellness. Follow her on Twitter, @AnikaNayak.

Sojas Wagle currently studies a discipline he developed himself – Psychiatric Epidemiology, or the study of mental illness from a population perspective, at Brown University. He serves as the Editor-in-Chief of the International Youth Neuroscience Association Journal, a psychiatric technician for Arisa Health, and a trained suicide hotline operator for Samaritans of Rhode Island. Follow him on Twitter, @soja_swag_le. ECHOMAG.COM

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Bogart, Bag, and Wolfe; photo by Beth B.

BANDS

Cliquey Bitches Get to know the underground supergroup By Tom Reardon

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alking to musicians Alice Bag and Allison Wolfe of Cliquey Bitches is like having coffee with a couple of long lost and very smart friends. These are not just any musicians, either. Bag and Wolfe represent both history and the future as the two continue to create excellent music while pushing the envelope of expectation. If there truly is a feminist movement in rock and roll, these women exude the meaning of leading by example. They are role models for anyone, regardless of gender or genre. Wolfe’s charming in a way that both disarms and makes you think, “I better bring my A-game to this particular party,” while Alice demands your attention without being

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demanding. You better pay attention to both because you’re going to learn if you do. In a refreshing twist, too, both are great listeners as rock demigods go, especially those with a pedigree like theirs with over 75 years of thoughtprovoking, headbanging entertainment between them. In short, spending time with two-thirds of the super-trio, Cliquey Bitches, is a treat, a hoot, and a lesson in how to rock and roll. In our conversations, I talked with Bag and Wolf about many things. Our chats’ primary reason is the release of Cliquey Bitches’ vinyl release of their Scorpio Scorpio EP on Fettkakao Records out of Austria. The other member of the band, Seth Bogart (Hunx and his Punx), was

not available for comment this time around, which is a drag because it would have been great to include his voice here. Still, you’ll have to grab a copy of Scorpio Scorpio to hear his garage-y, punk sounding guitar and programming. You can’t deny the combined power and uniqueness of this EP. It borrows from multiple genres without sounding like anything you’ve ever heard before. Wolfe’s vocals ooze smirky, punk rock sex kitten charm without a hint of cliché over Bogart’s fuzzy guitar, and Bag’s wild surf rock meets gramma’s Wurlitzer organ keyboard attack. Bookend tracks “Caveat Emptor” and “Dude No” will grab onto your brain and have you humming along before you realize that

you’re only hearing the song for the first time. It’s a shame this band doesn’t exist anymore, but with the record being released in the United States this winter, you never know what could happen. Here’s some history on this trio of groundbreakers: Bogart, a Tucson native who was friends with both Wolfe and Bag before this band formed, has had his own musical success with Gravy Train (stylized Gravy Train!!!) Hunx and his Punx. Bogart is the host and creator of the World of Wonder’s web series, Feelin’ Fruity. His website, sethbogart.com, is truly something to behold, as well, with links to his music and his genuinely original art. You want to check this out for yourself, but if you need a little prompting, consider the words: big, comfortable, fun, and wild. Bag became part of the punk rock conversation in the late 70s in Los Angeles with The Bags, featured in the classic punk rock documentary, Decline of Western Civilization by Penelope Spheeris (1980). In more recent years, she’s written a killer memoir, Violence Girl, and continues to kick out the jams as a solo artist and collaborator. Wolfe is also a prolific singer who has fronted bands like one of the legends of the riot grrrl movement, Bratmobile, as well as and the Sex Stains, Cold Hearts, and Partyline. She currently has a project going with members of Big Business and The Locust called Magic Witch Cookbox, as well, that might have some music for us when the pandemic clears. When she’s not changing the face of music with one of her uber-cool projects, Wolfe is an acclaimed curator of information, podcaster, and journalist who recently helped the Smithsonian (yes, that Smithsonian) with a project to bring the story of the first women’s DJ collective to the museum’s Folklife Festival in 2019. Our conversations covered a lot of ground, including what it was like to be a Cliquey Bitch and the state of the world today ENTERTAINMENT


from a musician’s eyes. Here’s what these amazing women had to say: (Note: while these were two separate conversations, we’re making the executive decision to combine them for brevity’s sake) So, Allison, before we jump into Cliquey Bitches chat, I just realized Bratmobile did a split 7” with Brainiac back in the 90s. I recently told Echo readers how great Brainiac’s Bonsai Superstar record is in my review column (Author’s note: shameless plug). Wolfe: That was really weird. Bratmobile did our first tour in the 1992 summer with Heavens to Betsy, and we played in Dayton, Ohio, and so we played with Brainiac (who were from Dayton), who, I think, were a fairly new band at the time, and we loved them. They didn’t hang out with us, and they didn’t talk to us or anything afterward. They were pretty quiet, but we were all like raving about them, and they’re probably the best band we played with on that tour before we got to (Washington) DC or New York, maybe. It was wild, so we were really into them, but we didn’t think they liked us very much because they weren’t very talkative or anything. But then, I think we played our DC show actually like a month later or something, and (Brainiac) just suddenly showed up to our DC show and was hanging around and talking to us, and that’s when they asked if we’d like to do a split 7”. I think it is kinda perfect, actually, because we’re in the same spot in a record store bin, you know, B-r-a and B-r-a. That’s so cool. How did Cliquey Bitches come about? Bag: I’ve known Allison for a few years now, and I came out (to Los Angeles as Bag was living in Arizona at the time in 2013) to do a Zine Fest panel discussion, and Allison was one of the panelists. At the time, I was doing the readings for my book, Violence Girl, and I was also really into the stuff Pussy Riot was doing, so I would sing a song about Pussy Riot where I would wear a balaclava on stage when I did my book reading. I remember showing up ENTERTAINMENT

early at the Ukrainian center. I remember saying to Allison and the other women on the panel (Drew Denny of LA Record and Charlyne Li of Upright Citizens Brigade), “Hey, do you want to learn this song and perform it with me? I have balaclavas in my, in my guitar case right now” and they said, “Yes.” So, they learned a song in about ten minutes, and we came out and did our Pussy Riot song in balaclavas, and I knew it was like an instant friendship. Wolfe: Seth was doing this series for World of Wonder (Feelin’ Fruity), and he asked Alice and me to do a skit for one of his shows. [In the skit], we were supposed to be in a band together, so we formed a fake band for the TV taping, and afterward, we were like, “Oh, that was fun,” and then someone said, “We should do this for real. We should try to play together.” I think at the time Seth wasn’t really playing, and I wasn’t playing either, and Alice, I think, was doing her solo stuff, but I don’t think they were very active at that moment (summer of 2018). We started practicing, and it was just that kind of a project thing for fun. The songs are so fun and kind of garage-y, with a punk vibe that fits with your collective background. How was it bringing three seasoned front people together to form a band? Wolfe: Seth has a kind of garage-y musical background, you know, so I feel like that was his influence, and then Alice is very melodic. She’s a very melodic songwriter and kind of poppy, really. I feel like that was kind of the mix. Bag: I think initially we thought that we would all be like moving around and doing different instruments and having different singers, and it would be a rotating musical experience, but it just kind of cemented into it being me on keyboards, Seth on guitar, and Allison doing lead vocals and that was fine. It felt right, and it worked, so we stayed with that. I must ask, is it strange to have the record coming out now? You’re both prolific live performers, and we haven’t

had live music, really, this year. Any thoughts on that? Bag: I personally will not play live until there’s some kind of vaccine that I can have. One of the things that brought Cliquey Bitches to a halt was that after our third show, I caught pneumonia. I actually did a show with my own band about a week after I was diagnosed with pneumonia. I was on antibiotics, and I took the last pill the day before we played. When we came back from that show, I had double pneumonia, and I had to be hospitalized. After that hospitalization, I went in, I had a chest X-ray, and my doctor said, “You damaged your lungs. You cannot do this again.” When you have pneumonia, you have to be very careful about respiratory illnesses because your health is compromised now. So, that’s why I’ve taken quarantine, pretty much, to the extreme. I stay indoors, occasionally go to get groceries, and take little walks in my neighborhood, but mostly I’m in my house or my yard. Wolfe: It’s been tough for me to feel inspired, or motivated to do, actually, almost anything (since the pandemic began). Music, too,

and it’s too bad because leading up to this, I’d started a fairly new project band with Joey Karam from The Locusts and Le Shok and Coady Willis, who played drums in Murder City Devils and Big Business called Magic Witch Cookbox. Joey and Cody have written 10 songs or something that are just great, and I am just lagging in writing my vocal parts. I think I’ve written lyrics for maybe three of them so far, but they need working out, and we can’t get together now. I think for me, I am just such a social person, born an identical twin, and I’m always used to doing something, you know, everything with someone. I think this kind of isolation and not being able to go to shows and hang out with people very much, and I just don’t feel like I’m having the conversations or the experiences that generally lead to the type of lyrics I write. So that’s been hard, and I haven’t felt that inspired. But I mean, that said, I do keep notes on my phone all the time of little things I think up, and so I should probably try to apply myself a little more. I’m a total procrastinator.

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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NOT THAT YOU ASKED

They pretended to be deaf when he said things like “stand down and stand by” to his right-wing militia fans. They defended his payment of $750 in taxes paid, arguing that cheating means he’s a “good businessman.” They laughed when he threw paper towels at Puerto Rican citizens devastated by Hurricane Maria. They turned on every single former Trump ally (including Fox News!) who spoke out about Trump’s stupidity, corruption, and the dangers he presented to the country.

There are times to be unsportsmanlike, and this is one

They refused to be alarmed at Trump’s comments about nuking hurricanes, windmills causing cancer, and shining an ultraviolet light up our asses to get rid of COVID-19.

By Buddy Early

They remained silent in the face of evidence Trump was actively trying to steal the election by attempting to cripple the post office and supporting voter suppression efforts in key states.

T

here is an unwritten rule in football you’re expected to follow when your team is up by several touchdowns with a few minutes remaining: you don’t run up the score. You run conservative plays and run out the clock, to not further embarrass the opponent you just whipped. (I bring up this analogy to remind everyone of my butch factor, despite my history of belting out show tunes and going to pageants where men model evening gowns.) Anyway, while not running up the score is a good rule of thumb for football games, I can’t think of a good reason why one would apply this strategy to politics. While we won the battle of the recent presidential election, we’re still in the midst of a war in this country. Mixed metaphors be damned — it’s time to run up the score. I have a hunch Donald Trump is going to fade away in the coming years — either broke, in failing health, in prison, living in another country without an extradition agreement, take your pick — but his horrible children and sycophant followers will still be around to try to foil any progress on the horizon. They’re going to ride the MAGA train until the wheels come off, and if we are not careful, they’ll speed right back into relevance. There is so much more work to do, starting with simply undoing all the damage already done by Trump and his cronies. His executive orders stripped away almost every financial and environmental regulation that existed and protected us. And then there’s the matter of his stacking of the Supreme Court. Correcting that will take decades, and it will take expanding the blue hold on the House and Senate

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and re-electing Democratic presidents for the next several cycles. In addition to running up the score in Washington, we need to remember the people who let this happen and make sure they feel the consequences of their behaviors (and their votes). Some of these people are in our families, our circles of friends, our community. Remember what they’ve stood for over the previous four years. They signaled approval of Trump’s behavior on the Access Hollywood tape, on which he bragged about sexual assault on women. They cheered when he saddled his political opponents with childish nicknames, referred to professional athletes as sons of bitches, and called other countries shitholes. They made excuses every time we saw him and/or his family members benefit financially from his administration’s corrupt actions. They accepted his daily lies — small and large, from the size of his crowds at rallies to completely fabricated stories about Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and even countless former members of his administration of whom he had formerly spoken incredibly high. They agreed with him that white supremacists are “fine people.” They followed his non-approach to containing COVID-19, leading to over 300,000 dead. Later, they presumed to simply not care when audiotapes revealed Trump knew of the seriousness of a Coronavirus threat.

They decided his collusion with Russia was no big deal. We can’t forgive and forget. Not yet. That would be very short-sighted of us. Forgiving and forgetting are precisely what the deplorables are counting on. The people who supported Trump need to be reminded that they are not a silent majority. At every opportunity, we need to remind them of the landslide. They need to be made aware that “their kind” is not welcome in our homes, and their ideas for the country will simply be dismissed, as we will be a nation of progress, not regress. We need to ensure Democrats fill those two Georgia Senate seats. We need to come back stronger in 2022 and increase our leads in both houses of Congress. We need to participate in passing legislation, at local and national levels, that Trumpers will absolutely hate. And our friends (or perhaps I should say enemies) in the Log Cabin Republican and LGBTQ for Trump groups need to be shunned for as long as it takes. (And, by no means should any of us have sex with them!) My apologies to any fair-minded Republicans that may still exist. You dug this hole for yourself by letting the last four years happen. Your punishment must be decades of Democratic rule. 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


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Profile for Echo Magazine

Echo Magazine - Arizona LGBTQ Lifestyle - January 2021  

Echo Magazine – Arizona's leading media outlet dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community in news, views and entertainment. January 2021. Les...

Echo Magazine - Arizona LGBTQ Lifestyle - January 2021  

Echo Magazine – Arizona's leading media outlet dedicated to serving the LGBTQ community in news, views and entertainment. January 2021. Les...