Page 1




april 9 15


Join 20,000 attendees from across the US for a week of interdisciplinary creativity and inspiration.

F E S T I VA L Music. Art. Food. Innovation. Over 100 free events bring the community together and celebrate Charlottesville. Spilling across the city, over outdoor spaces and theaters, into galleries and concert halls, the Festival celebrates visionaries like you. Recharge, have fun, and learn to see your world in a new way.

S U M M I T S Explore ideas that matter with John Cleese, Dan Rather, a Pulitzer Prize winner, New York Times bestselling authors, a MacArthur Genius, the founders of Reddit and Honest Tea, plus hundreds of others. Dive deep and connect with peers in over 150 sessions on energy, housing, design, machine learning, big data, biotech, healthcare, food justice, entrepreneurship, media, arts, and the future of democracy.


Tickets & Schedule at




100 M F ROM

Fredericksburg Staunton







The word "local" can mean a lot of things.

Lynchburg Williamsburg Petersburg

At Ellwood Thompson's, our definition is clear:

Virginia Beach

"local" means within 100 miles of our store.


When sourcing food, we first look within our own community. We like to be close enough to shake hands with the farmers we work with, which in turn, brings you closer to your food.



4 N . T H O M P S O N ST. 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018




8 0 4 -3 59 -752 5



| 3












located at Graduate Richmond 301 W Franklin St, Richmond, VA







ear reader, If 2017 was the year of #MeToo, 2018 will be the Year of Women, an echo of the 1992 declaration of the Year of the Woman, when a wave of women won election to the US Senate. Between writers, photographers, and subjects, this issue focuses on women in politics, arts, music, and style. I wrote our arts feature this issue about Declaration, the opening exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art, presenting work by Nidaa Badwan. The Palestinian artist created her baroque photo series, “100 Days Of Solitude,” while living in a self-imposed exile in her single room for nearly two years, after facing sexist harassment from Hamas authorities. Our second arts story, from Caley Sturgill, is about the censoring of Norfolk-based artist Alison Stinely. Hampton Roads Transit gallery cancelled the show and even closed their art space over discomfort with her paintings, some of which depict the female form. In politics, Madelyne Ashworth reports on the wave of women who won election in Virginia in 2017 in “The Revolution Is Female.” She interviewed new delegates Hala Ayala, Emily Brewer, Dawn Adams, and Kathy Tran, along with veteran legislator and power-player Vivian Watts. Our second political story comes from Editorial Director Landon Shroder, reporting from Washington D.C. and the office of Sen. Tim Kaine. Kaine answered his questions on young people in politics, climate change, foreign policy, refugees, and the immigration debate. From Caitlin Barbieri comes a piece revealing the human faces behind opioid dependency, including the stories of young women and mothers, a less visible demographic in the epidemic. In music, Davy Jones profiled Kenneka Cook and her debut album, Moonchild. Cook has become a formidable jazz vocalist with an exploding career, and Jones has the scoop on how she got her start and what’s next for this new star. Hip Hop Henry reports from the frontlines of Richmond’s underground rap battle scene with a piece on local legend Moon, who graces our cover, and his much-heralded appearance at the Ultimate Rap League Survivor Series held at Shockoe Bottom club The Top. URL is the top battle rap league in the nation, and Hip Hop waxes nostalgic remembering the door-to-door sales of their DVDs before they exploded into a coast-to-coast empire with a presence on Pay-Per-View. For style, Megan Wilson found the story of Heloíne Moreno, a model originally from Bauru, Brazil. The translator, club promoter, and go-go dancer came to America as a babysitter before placing second in a national competition for Maxim. Her second feature profiles popular reseller shop Round Two and their new store in LA. Her regular column, Mass Appeal, highlights the latest in Richmond style and fashion. We also have our regular features and columns, including Good Eats from RVAMag’s web editor Amy David, and Studio News and record reviews from GayRVA’s editor Marilyn Drew Necci. Thank you for picking up our first issue of 2018. As always, we look forward to your feedback, and to providing you with the very best writing on culture, political lifestyle, music, and arts in Richmond and Virginia. Please be in touch, DAVID STREEVER 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018


FOUNDERS R. Anthony Harris + Jeremy Parker PUBLISHER Inkwell PRESIDENT John Reinhold MANAGING PARTNER LANDON SHRODER PRINT EDITOR DAVID STREEVER WEB EDITOR, RVAMAG.COM Amy David Web editor, Marilyn Drew Necci SALES DIREctoR JOE VANDERHOFF DESIGN @TONY_TIGERZ WRITERS Landon Shroder, MEGAN WILSON, Davy Jones, Marilyn Drew Necci, Amy David, HIP HOP HENRY, Madelyne Ashworth, Caley Sturgill, & Caitlin Barbieri PHOTOGRAPHY Branden Wilson, Allison MacEwen, & joey wharton INTERNS Sarah Honosky, John Donegan, Daniel Brickhouse, Andrew Goetzinger, Ash Griffith, Vivienne Lee, & Samantha Rinchetti GENERAL, EDITORIAL & DISTRIBUTION QUESTION ADVERTISING JOHN REINHOLD 276 732 3410 // SUBMISSION POLICY RVA Magazine welcomes submissions but cannot be held responsible for unsolicited material. Send all submissions to All submissions become property of Inkwell Ventures Inc. The entire content is a copyright of Inkwell Ventures Inc. and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without written authorization of the publisher. ONLINE Every issue of RVA Magazine can be viewed in its entirety anytime at SOCIAL @RVAmag SUBSCRIPTION Log onto to have RVA Magazine sent to your home or office. DISTRIBUTION Thank you to our distribution partners QUICKNESS RVA HEADS UP! The advertising and articles appearing within this publication reflect the opinion and attitudes of their respective authors and not necessarily those of the publisher or editors. Reproduction in whole or part without prior written permission from the publisher is strictly prohibited. RVA Magazine is published quarterly. Images are subject to being altered from their original format. All material within this magazine is protected. RVA Magazine is a registered trademark of Inkwell Ventures.



Gallery 5, 1708 Gallery, Turnstyle, Velocity Comics, max's on broad, Monument, Utmost, Round Two, Steady Sounds/Bare Bones Vintage, Lift Coffee, Quirk Hotel, rider boots


Plan 9 Records, Agee’s Bicycles, New York Deli, Best friend's forever, Chop Suey Books, Heroes & Ghosts, Weezie’s Kitchen, Ellwoood Thompsons, Need Supply Co., burger bach, mellow mushroom, World of Mirth, Bits N Pixels, Tobacco Club & Gifts, Venue Skateboards


Pasture, Barcode, Tobacco Company Bottom’s Up, Kulture, Alamo BBQ, kabana rooftop, society social club, Plant Zero Cafe, Cha Cha’s Cantina, Urban Farmhouse, Union Market, the nile ethiopian restaurant


Plant zero cafe, Manchester Market, moto richmond, legend brewing company


VMFA, Bandito’s Burrito Lounge, The Franklin Inn, little saint, sheppard street tavern, Patterson Express


The MIll, Stir Crazy Coffee, blackhand coffee


The Broadberry, En Su Boca, Buz & Ned’s BBQ, sabai, Lunch Supper, Ardent ales, Hardywood craft brewery, The Veil, fat dragon, boulevard burger & brews


Beuvine burger concept, Commerical Taphouse, FW Sullivan’s, Lady Nawlins, Foo Dog, Commercial taphouse, Star-lite Lounge, Deep Grooves, Capitol Mac, Katra Gala, Sticky Rice, Joe’s Inn, Strawberry Street Market, Little Mexico, Lamplighter, Balliceaux, Helen’s, Metro Grill, Yesterday’s Heroes, pik nik, social 52, cary street cafe, city beach


ALB Tech, Strange Matter, Lamplighter VCU, Kulture, 821 Cafe, Fan Guitar & Ukulele, Ipanema, The Village, Mojo’s, Rumors boutique, my noodle bar, The Camel, tap 20


NIssan Of Richmond, Mekong, Taboo, The Answer brewpub, Diamonds Direct, Guitar Center

RVA Magazine is printed locally by Conquest Graphics cover by BRANDeN WILSON Credits page by Nidaa Badwan, 100 Days of Solitude; Code:8 (2014) SPECIAL THANKS to Artifex M. Hunter Hagland



12 12




Follow us @RVAmag ALL PHOTOS by joey Wharton OPPOSITE PAGE Top MAIN: Butcher Brown at The Camel 2nd row LEFT: Iron Reagan at Champion 3rd ROW LEFT: Tim Barry at Broadberry BOTTOM RIGHT: Minor Poet at TheCamel THIS PAGE TOP: Flaming Lips at TheNational 2nd row: PBR at Broadberry 3rd row LEFT: Kenneka Cook AT The Camel 3rd ROW RIGHT: Sleepwalkers AT WRIR ANNIVERSARY DON’T SLEEP -- tag us @RVAmag


13 13


KIAN SOLTANI AND AARON PILSAN, "IN MEMORY OF A LOST BELOVED" HOME (DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON) Austrian-Persian cellist Kian Soltani plays this piece by Persian composer Reza Vali on his debut album, which also features works by Schubert and Schumann. The moody track opens with an atmospheric piano solo by Aaron Pilsan, which fades while Soltani’s cello rises, before coming back as part of a repeating crescendo. With call and response passages, the two instrumentalists have created an evocative, mournful track, bringing to mind a long-buried memory that keeps coming back to the surface. --David Streever

MICHAEL MILLIONS, “WATER III” HARD TO BE KING (PURPLE REPUBLIC) When Hard To Be King dropped, I gave the album a listen and loved it from the first play. I found that after the track "Kings" fades out there is a hidden track at the end, which turns out to be "Water III." A track that splits time between spitting bars and spitting about daily life we all can relate to, it features guest verses from Easalio and Radio B. If you're one of the "real hip hop" types, it should help feed your appetite. Turn this up! --Hip Hop Henry


How many more times is Turnstile able to successfully push the envelope before people start giving credit where it is due? The latest track off their upcoming record Time & Space is right in line with Turnstile’s melodic, intricate, and risky approach, which redefines hardcore and the direction it can go. The intro leads to a natural crescendo into the chorus, which is sudden, powerful, and demanding. The song showcases the musical ability and growth in the band itself, showing a new and refreshing look at what a traditional hardcore band is capable of creating. --Samantha Rinchetti

SHOVELS & ROPE, “BLUE EYES CRYING IN THE RAIN” BUSTED JUKEBOX VOL. 2 (NEW WEST) Given John Moreland’s sold-out January show at The Camel — and the pindrop reverence the audience showed — it’s safe to say word has gotten out in town about the brilliant Oklahoman songwriter. Still, his appearance on the second installment in Shovels & Rope’s Busted Jukebox cover album series may have flown under the radar for some. Moreland sings Fred Rose’s classic “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and makes two things clear: his emotive powers extend to voicing others’ writing, and Willie Nelson’s version needs to scooch over to make room in the canon. --Davy Jones


YARROW (ZEGEMA BEACH/MIDDLE-MAN/I.CORRUPT) RVA trio Ostraca finished up a productive 2017 by contributing two tracks to compilation LP Yarrow. These songs see Ostraca backing down on their most metallic aspects in favor of a stronger melodic infusion into their passionate, powerful hardcore sound. While “So Do I” gets off to a heavy start, the rhythm section soon drops out, leaving a sadly beautiful guitar melody as the only musical counterpoint to Gus Caldwell’s bloodcurdling screams. This lengthy, evocative interlude communicates equal parts terror and yearning with the same intensity Ostraca bring to their unforgettable live performances. --Marilyn Drew Necci


STUDIO NEWS 2017 was a productive first year of existence for OPIN, Landis Wine and Tori Hovater's post-White Laces project. After recording their first LP, the two recruited Jon Hawkins (Navi) and Ethan Johnstone (Night Idea/ Houdan The Mystic) to round out their lineup, and immediately started putting together new music for 2018. "We had started to gel as a live band and I really wanted to document where things were after we had settled into a group dynamic," Wine says of the inspiration for Drifters, the forthcoming EP scheduled for release on Harding Street Assembly Lab in April. "We also wanted to write more around rough ideas and sketches instead of fully-formed songs." Drifters was recorded at Philadelphia's Uniform Recording with producer Jeff Zeigler, who has been working with Wine since White Laces' 2014 LP, Trance. However, Opin is also doing a fair bit of home recording right now, with the intent of releasing their second LP later in the year. "[We're] mostly writing things as a group and using all outboard gear instead of relying on anything inside the computer," says Wine. "Just trying to figure out what weird sounds we can get to make happen in the room." The first taste of these home-studio tracks will come when two are released as download-only bonus tracks on Drifters. White Laces' other former members, Jimmy Held and Jay Ward, have remained active since the group's split as well. Their new project, RARE COLORS, will release their self-titled first album on cassette next month. The album, which was mixed by Miles Washington and mastered by Dave Downham at The Gradwell House, was recorded almost entirely by Held and Ward, though the group has since expanded to a five-piece with the addition of Jeff Boone, Monica Bjorklund, and Justin O'Neill. The 12 song collection explores some of the same moody electronic territory that Opin's also ranged across, but Rare Colors distinguish themselves from their former bandmates with a much more ambient, atmospheric sound that makes the listener feel like they're floating through space in a futuristic cyberworld. Noise-punk quartet GUMMING are set to follow up their 2017 demo with a full-length cassette called Human Values, due out later this month on Not Normal Records. As has been a tradition in the local hardcore punk scene, they recorded with Bob Quirk, who has worked with Left Cross, Nosebleed, Slump, Sinister Purpose, and uncountable others. "Bob has a really good personality," says Gumming singer Emilie von Unwerth. "He's funny, so he's fun to work with." He also gets a heavy, powerful sound for the bands he records, and Gumming is no exception. The finished product features 13 songs -- six new ones, and seven that were re-recorded from their demo -- and will strike familiar notes for fans of the bizarre end of the hardcore spectrum (think Flipper, or the Crucifucks). Von Unwerth admits their sound might strike some people as odd. "It's very weird, and we're performative," she says. "But it's not forced! We do all feel it in our own ways, and it comes together in this really fun spectacle. At least, I think it's fun," she adds. "I want it to be fun." -- Marilyn Drew Necci RVA MAGAZINE 32 | SPRING 2018







With Moonchild, Kenneka Cook has taken an impressive step forward, bridging the sonic space between her start as a solo performer and a fuller sound bringing in contributions from some of the city’s finest players. Beat-driven moments combine with traditional jazz instrumentation under a single, cosmic vision, firmly establishing Cook’s voice as one of the most promising in recent memory. (DJ)

Historian is Dacus’ second consecutive triumph of directness, insight, and vocal excellence. Throughout, she explores change, strained relationships, and the friction between emotional and physical spaces: being told to stay indoors, a small town’s charm wearing off, disassociating the body and the self. Several tracks boil over, with arrangements that, together with Dacus’ singing, pack a powerful cathartic punch. (DJ)








Imagine Peripheral Vision-era Turnover meets Man Overboard -- good to some, bad to others. Personally, I couldn’t help but bounce my head while listening to it. The soothing yet intricate instrumentals make for accessible music that offers a twist on beloved classic genres while also making the band distinguishable and refreshing. (SR)

Released in December after a six-year gestation period, After All This Time plays like a true double album, with 19 tracks and an hour and a half of guitars and twang. The album’s beauty lies in that sprawl -- in the extended song running times, the stylistic variation, and how multiple songwriters and singers have opportunities to take center stage. (DJ)




A surprise project from 2 of RVA's finest along with Hampton Roads beatsmith J Clyde. Over legendary Better Beat Bureau member Clyde's tracks, Gallo's alwaysconsistent flow is complemented by Cole Hicks’ equal lyricism. This is a mustlisten for any hip hop head. (HH)



RVA thrash masters Iron Reagan follow up their 2017 third LP with five songs that slightly lower their speed in favor of structural complexity and more traditionally metallic touches than they’ve previously displayed. Arizona’s Gatecreeper bring us some rumbling death riffage, forsaking Iron Reagans’ sense of humor in favor of a grimly intense low-end attack. File under: 21st century crossover. (MN)

In a world that focuses on stardom, split albums are a decidedly underground phenomenon. Instead of elevating a particular artist above all others, they emphasize the community that exists within particular scenes. This split sees two Virginia bands participating in what's become a strong tradition in the world of metal, and coming up with very different results. Windhand's first release in three years gives us the first taste of the band's new slimmed-down single-guitar lineup. However, those who fear a corresponding loss in sonic power can lay those fears to rest -- Windhand's sludgy riffs still pack a hell of a wallop, and pair perfectly with singer Dorthia Cottrell's witchy tones. They may have given us a bit too much of a good thing, though. At 14 minutes, the second of their two tracks, "Three Sisters," is several minutes longer than Satan's Satyrs' entire side. While the spooky organ textures are an excellent touch, the song’s sludgy, repetitive riffs don’t quite justify its length. NoVA shredders Satan's Satyrs start out well on the other side with a couple of killer bikermetal tunes Fu Manchu wishes they could've written. But they wear out their own welcome with the over-the-top goof "Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby," which ends their side by reminding us all of the stupidest songs on early 70s proto-metal albums. Rattle your windows with this one -- just be prepared to reach for the skip button a couple of times. (MN)



Michael Millions comes through with an outstanding project that takes you through the South Side, with production and lyrical content to match any mood you may be in during the day. This early contender for record of the year is an experience that we all need to take notice of. (HH)

(WECALLTHISCOURAGE.BANDCAMP.COM) Richmond bred another pop punk band. They speak of relatable feelings and situations based on their lyrics -- but sadly, their sound does not hold up through the entire album. I found myself becoming quickly bored by a musical style that I have heard from many bands before. (SR)








atriarchy may celebrate the nude image of Titian’s Venus, but it gets uncomfortable when women take up the brush. Norfolk-based artist Alison Stinely became the center of a controversy in the city’s art community this year when a government agency censored her work for containing nudity. “There’s always been this tear between how people want me to behave, and how I actually want to behave,” said Stinely, who is both an artist and an assistant professor at Old Dominion University. “I have something to say, and I have the right to make a statement,” Stinely said. “But as a woman, no matter how assertive I am or am not, I’m still going to be viewed in a way I don’t want to be.” While Stinely uses her work to confront the identities of modern womanhood, she’s found that even in her creative outlet, the control is out of her hands. Located only a short trip down the road from Richmond’s thriving arts scene, Hampton Roads Transit (HRT) was cited by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) for First Amendment violations after retracting Stinely’s work from its public gallery. “It’s 2018, and the female form is still being rejected in public spaces,” Stinely said. “It’s body shaming, but simultaneously it’s objectifying. It creates this idea that every ‘body’ has to be sexual, that we’re our own forbidden fruit.” Stinely’s work was approved for display in early 2017 by Norfolk Arts, a commission that oversees much of the city’s distribution and funding for public art. A year later, her exhibit was displayed in the gallery for less than five hours before she was ordered to remove it. “My head was spinning,” Stinely said. “I reached out to NCAC. They published a letter to HRT’s CEO, William Harrell, citing supreme court case after supreme court case against this type of censorship.” Stinely has upcoming shows in other galleries, despite being censored in her hometown. The first is a solo show at the Ghost Gallery in New York City in February, and a second in April is closer to home, at the Linda Matney Gallery in Williamsburg. Stinely describes her work as safe, even conservative, compared to popular media. “These people probably watch violent movies,” Stinely said. “They probably watch Game of Thrones, which is borderline pornographic and displays rape scenes. If they took a tour of Italy, they’d look up at the ceiling of the Duomo in


By Caley Sturgill

“It’s 2018, and the female form is still being rejected in public spaces. It’s body shaming, but simultaneously it’s objectifying. It creates this idea that every ‘body’ has to be sexual, that we’re our own forbidden fruit.”

Florence -- and they’d be so ignorant, they’d say, ‘It’s so beautiful!’ and not even notice the pitchforks going up people’s behinds.” “But for some reason,” she said, “Two strokes of paint, [or] two shapes of color next to one another that suggest a penis -- it blows their heads off.” Stinely is not alone in her outrage. HRT has met with a strong backlash from the city’s creative community, claiming that these actions are detrimental to the arts scene as a whole. “For men to be telling a woman, especially when it’s not even a photograph but literally a painting from her imagination, how a female body should be displayed….to me, it’s just the epitome of how we should not do things,” said Charles Rasputin, a notable artist in the Norfolk scene. Rasputin has seen folks of all ages, including the Norfolk Drawing Group, respond to the decision with concern. “It’s not just young, hip kids or art school graduates,” Rasputin said. “It’s 80-year old ladies that see the value of the human form in art, and they’re angry about the treatment of Alison.” Equally alarming to local artists was CEO William Harrell’s decision, within 24 hours, to close the gallery permanently. HRT has also rescinded all funding to the arts following the incident. “I think it’s indicative of the systematic nature of this kind of oppression,” Rasputin said. “I’m a realist. I understand why they may be nervous about putting some boobs in the Transit Gallery… But to me, if Norfolk Arts is the gatekeeper, they need to be prepared for these sort of instances.” In the aftermath, HRT responded by stating that, with “deep regret and disappointment,” it would “no longer permit temporary exhibits from local artists [to be] displayed within any of its workspaces or at any of its facilities.” The company noted its past support for the arts community in the area, and that it initially opened the Transit Gallery in response to the closure of another local space, the Selden Arcade. An HRT representative stated that, following the controversy around Stinely’s work, the Transit Gallery closed in order to avoid similar disruptions in the future, and to allow HRT to focus on their goals with local public transportation. HRT Commissioner Keith Parnell did make himself available for public input regarding the cancellation of Stinely’s show. “He took a meeting with three local artists,” said Rasputin. “But it was all men. The meeting was all men.” One artist involved in the meeting, Walt Taylor, concluded that the primary cause of RVA RVA MAGAZINE MAGAZINE 32 32 || SPRING SPRING 2018 2018

“Why can’t a naked woman hang up in your place of employment? Is that going to make you do something? Is it making you think things? Why is that?” the incident was poor communication between HRT and Norfolk Arts prior to the installation of the exhibit. "Businesses need to give more thought to what constitutes an actionable offense in the Human Resources realm,” commented Taylor. “Because a few employees felt ‘offended’ at the presence of nudity (nudity in fine art! Who ever heard of such a thing!), many more people were deprived [from] experiencing the work of an acclaimed modern artist.” Taylor’s response parallels those of several local artists, including Stinely. “What’s wrong in someone’s head that they can’t look at a nude representation of a human, in a normal position, and not think ‘sex’?” Stinely said. “Why can’t a naked woman hang up in your place of employment? Is that going to make you do something? Is it making you think things? Why is that?” Even in the age of the Me Too movement, women are confronted by issues withtheir bodies in public spaces. The issue, Stinely said, often comes back to the idea that men can’t control themselves beyond immediate sexualization towards nudity. “I think in modern politics and through the Trump presidency, it’s making people feel more brazen to express their racism and their misogynistic views,” Stinely said. “Looking at the recent election in Alabama, how women could possibly vote for an accused child molester. People think they can be pigs now because our president is a pig. They’re coming out of the woodwork, and making holiday dinners much more uncomfortable. It’s just a total nightmare.” While both political and generational changes are at play in public opinion, the consensus from both Stinely and Rasputin is that conversation is key in these controversial spaces. “Should we erase those things, or be able to discuss them with our kids?” Rasputin said. “If you can’t talk to your child about the nude painting they saw in the Transit Gallery, that’s not a problem with the art. It’s literally that you do not want to talk to the baby you made.” Stinely hopes the incident can lead to better dialogue about controversial topics in the future. “It’s just too bad that instead of starting a conversation in the community, they shut it down completely,” Stinely said. “This could have been a really great opportunity to get people together and discuss the issue. Instead, they’ve limited the art community by removing a gallery space.”


12 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2017 2005-2018


Madison Turner is burned out, and she’s working hard to let everyone know about it. The singersongwriter’s latest LP, A Comprehensive Guide To Burning Out, made its way into the world in January, over two years after her last EP came out, and its contents help explain why it took so long to get here. “All of the songs are about burnout, because I write what’s true to me,” Turner says wryly. “I wanted to make [the album] a bit lighthearted, but it really is about burnout, and how difficult it can be to keep going when everything is the same, and the same, and the same.” She confronts these feelings honestly and with humor and charm on A Comprehensive Guide To Burning Out. The lyrics intersperse their chronicles of ennui and frustration with genuinely hilarious asides. But she’s making a serious point on songs like album opener “Small Talk.” “I don't necessarily enjoy very lighthearted conversation,” she says. “I'd much rather talk about something I'm actually going through, [something] that's real, or that somebody else is going through.” The example she gives is “getting fired for being trans,” something that actually happened to her at one point. Indeed, Turner associates some of the burnout she’s been feeling with the day to day struggles of being transgender. “Going to work, and maybe nobody's said anything for a month, but then one small child says something, and it cuts you deep,” she says. “It's like, I'm just burnt, I can't deal with this.” All the burnout talk is kind of ironic, considering she was still inspired enough to write a whole album about her lack of energy. Then again, much of the time when she was writing these songs, she was on the move. “I couch surfed for about a year and a half,” she says. “A lot of these songs were written on other people's couches.” Throughout this peripatetic time, she was slowly compiling the material for her new album. “I kind of took my time with it,” she says. “I wanted to make sure everything was real, very much what I felt, and not just forcing it out there.” 20 20

While Turner’s made her name as a folk-punk singer with a caffeinated, hyper-literate sound that draws influence from early Against Me! and the solo work of MU330’s Dan Potthast, there’s quite a bit of musical variety on her latest album. This was by design. “I was very particular with what I wanted,” Turner tells me. “I wanted it to be a lot like the 90s records I like--” here she shouts out Recovering the Satellites by Counting Crows and Fastball’s All The Pain Money Can Buy. “I just wanted all of the songs to sound so different from each other, but like they were all written by the same band.” Indeed, this is the exact sort of feel that Comprehensive Guide has. While the speedy acoustic punk of tunes like “Sometimes” and “Portland, Oregon” will make longtime fans happy, this is far from the only style exhibited on the album. From the alt-rock sound of “New Year’s Eve” to the countryish vibe of “Our Wild Rage,” Turner and her backing band range across a variety of genres. If you ask her, that backing band is a big part of what made this album what it was. “I couldn't have done it without everybody else,” Turner says. “If I were just doing another lo-fi album, it wouldn't be anything like what it is now, which I think is a very good album.” Turner’s doing pretty good these days herself; her couch surfing days are over. She lives in a big house in Northside with LGBTQ roommates and two friendly, exuberant dogs. She’s working part time and going to college online, a choice she made out of necessity. “When I was couch surfing, I had no money whatsoever,” she explains. “People were like, ‘Go back to school, because they'll give you grants.’ I'm still in school now. It's much better when you're in school, because you can pretend you don't have to pay it back, even though I will. Ask me questions again at that point.” She laughs. For a burnout, she’s doing all right.

@madison.danielle.turner RVA RVA MAGAZINE MAGAZINE 32 32 || SPRING SPRING 2018 2018



22 22



ou’re from Virginia. You live in Richmond. You care about politics. If you can check off all these boxes, there is only one destination: The office of Senator Tim Kaine. Why? Because Kaine has been one of Virginia’s steadiest political voices for over thirty years, and has served at every rung of government, from Richmond City Council to vice presidential candidate. And in an age of unbridled political cynicism, where the complexity can seem overwhelming, assurances from our elected leaders have never been more needed. Which is why RVA Mag travelled to Kaine’s office in Washington DC to take the vibe on some of the most pressing issues facing the country and the Commonwealth in the age of Trump. Even for people who have experienced politics at the source, the frantic pace of activity in Washington DC can be relentless. Kaine is at the center of this maelstrom, sitting on the armed services, budget, foreign relations, health, education, labor, and pensions committees in the Senate - confronting some of the most critical challenges of 2018. This particular Valentine’s Day morning was no different, with the Senate trying to move on bipartisan immigration legislation to protect the Dreamers. Still, Kaine was ever present as we sat down in his office to banter about the environment, immigration, foreign policy, and the role of young people in this new political age.

Clearly we live in a very cynical time. How do we keep young people engaged in politics in 2018? It’s a really good question, and one we struggle with, but what I start with is kind of a hopeful thought -- what we saw in November in Virginia in 2017. Youth voting was dramatically greater than [in] the governor’s race four years ago, massively greater if you go eight years before. But it was more than voting. It was volunteering and it was candidates. The fifteen newcomers who won house seats were predominantly first time candidates, fairly young on average, eleven of fifteen were women, immigrants, LGBT, people of color... it was really cool to see. So I think that we’re seeing a real upsurge in activity by young people. I think the important thing is to not do anything to discourage them. Sometimes parties or heads of institutions [say] “You haven’t been here long enough, You haven’t paid your dues yet, we want to run things.” I think those of us who are in the work have to make space, encourage, campaign with and for young candidates. And I think the more we do that, the more others will see, “Oh, I could be running, I could do that.” There isn’t anything magic to it, but I think those of us who are doing it really need to lift up young leaders, because their example is going to be what really draws more young people in.

12 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2017 2005-2018

What do young people need to know about the legal immigration debate? There seems to be an intense focus on the Dreamers because everyone can sympathize with their situation. But we keep hearing about chain migration. Is this just another way to demonize immigrants? I think that when the president talks about this chain migration and then he says, “You can come here and then willy-nilly bring anybody you want,” the way he said in the State of the Union -- that’s not what happens. Can you sponsor family members if you're a US citizen? Yes you can, but it is a long and onerous process. If you're coming from the Philippines, it could take 18 or 20 years for a sponsorship application acceptance. So this notion of, “You become a citizen [and then] you can just drag everybody with you,” it’s just not true. I think this deal needs to be primarily border security and protection for Dreamers. And if we would have a broader discussion about the immigration system, including the family issues, the backlog… There are nearly four million people on the backlog right now. Most of them, nearly three million, are family members. Could we accelerate the backlog? Could we make changes? I’m open to all of it, that’s why we did a comprehensive immigration reform bill in June 2013. And the House didn’t do anything. But we’re ready to have that discussion.

serious rethinking of that. I think what people have realized is [that] the second largest metro area in Virginia is Hampton Roads, and that is an economy that has a couple of pillars. DOD [Department of Defense] is a pillar, tourism is a pillar, and things connected to the Chesapeake Bay and the waterman’s industry are pillars too. And so, offshore drilling is still pretty speculative. Oil prices are coming down, and we're moving more toward wind and solar, which we should. So do you want to bet on a speculative pillar if it's going to hurt the existing pillars? The DOD has weighed in against it. NASA has weighed in against it. The tourism industry has weighed in against it. And that's caused cities like Norfolk and Virginia Beach to switch and become opposed. So I think it's a bad idea, and I'm working with Democrats and Republicans to try to convince the Trump administration, at least about Virginia - it's a bad idea.

You sit on the foreign relations and armed services committees. What are the most pressing foreign policy challenges today?

I’ll put two down, but I could give you ten. Congress needs to claw back from the executive [branch] power over war-making, and to some degree even over key articles issues. Congress has let a lot of power go to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue on matters of war, peace, and diplomacy, under presidents of both parties. It’s been a long term phenomenon. Congress has to reinvest itself in being deeply involved But the key is, how do you go into it? If you go into in making these decisions and checking an it with the idea that immigration is hurting the overreaching executive. That's number one. United States, it’s factually wrong. Immigration is helping the US economy. In fact, when we And then the second one, I think this refugee did our comprehensive bill in 2013, the CBO issue is huge, because we think about refugees [Congressional Budget Office] said, “If you like they’re the episodic victims that show up pass that bill, it doesn’t cost the government every ten years after something. We think of it as one thing. It will increase the growth rate of an emergency response. Migration now is not an our economy by…” I think it was one to two emergency -- it's an everyday permanent reality. percent. There’s very few things that you can do that won’t cost one penny, that will increase Tens of millions of people are moving around the the growth rate of the American economy, and world because of war, natural disasters, climate immigration is one of them. change, and corruption. And when they do, they create all kinds of instabilities. It might be an Where does one even begin with instability like Syrian refugees in Jordan, because the environment? It seems like a lot they have so little water, that puts pressure on of climate protections are being them. Or it might be instabilities, like refugees systematically deconstructed. that flow into other countries. Then it leads to right-wing movements in other countries, We have an administration where the key people neo-nationalist parties in Western Europe that don’t even believe in climate science, which is are getting power because of their anti-refugee an embarrassment. position. I think a global commitment toward thinking about migration policies in a different One of the biggest issues for us in Virginia way, and coming up with a set of strategies to is the potential licensing of offshore deal with migration and refugees as a permanent drilling rights. Where does that leave us phenomenon, rather than episodic emergencies, given that the coastal economy is such a is really important. big factor in Virginia’s economy ? It's not a good idea. 10 to 12 years ago, I was open to this idea. Before BP Horizon and the spill. VA Beach and Norfolk were [thinking], “Well maybe it would be a new pillar to add to our economy,” but after BP, there's been a






Inka Essenhigh, Fairy Procession, 2016. 78x80 inches, oil and enamel on panel. Courtesy of the Artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY Inka Essenhigh, Fairy Procession, 2016. 78x80 inches, oil and enamel on panel. Courtesy of the Artist and Miles McEnery Gallery, New York, NY

OPENINGRECEPTION RECEPTION OPENING MARCH 16, 2018 MARCH 16, 2018 InkaEssenhigh: Essenhigh: A Fine Line Inka A Fine Line New 2018* NewWaves Waves 2018

*Accepting submissions from from *Accepting submissions Virginia artists through Jan Virginia artists through8Jan

ARTOF OF NOW NOW THTH E EART 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018 | 757-425-0000 | Virginia Beach 25 | 757-425-0000 | Virginia Bea

Breaking Out Of Her Room BY DAVID STREEVER




Nidaa Badwan, 100 Days of Solitude; Code:1 (2014)


TOP: Nidaa Badwan, 100 Days of Solitude; Code:1 (2014) BELOW: Nidaa Badwan, 100 Days of Solitude; Code:8 (2014)




idaa Badwan lived in isolation for some 20 months in a tiny room in occupied Gaza, under a bare bulb and a single window. After her first hundred days of exile, she began a photographic self-portrait series, titled “100 Days of Solitude.” Fresh from exhibits across Europe and New York City, she’s making her Virginia debut in Declaration, the opening exhibition for the groundbreaking of the Institute for Contemporary Art this April. Her exile began after harassment by Hamas militias, something she described as routine. “It happens with women who are ‘different’, who do not walk in the same line, to those who try to walk off the track,” she said. “But no one talks about this, because those who undergo it are ashamed.” Badwan was initially placed under house arrest for eight days after a confrontation with Hamas at a youth arts program. She was told she would have to wear a face-covering veil, and only travel with male relatives. Instead, she stayed in her room, where she found inspiration in the Gabriel García Márquez novel her work pays homage to, One Hundred Years of Solitude. “The beauty of this book is that there is a city. Inside this city is a house; inside this house there is a room. It looks a lot like my situation, or my room: Inside this house, inside this city, isolated from the world,” she said. “It is the same story of this city.” Macondo, the city of Marquez’s story, may not exist under that name, but for Badwan, it is real nonetheless. The bold colors and strong play between light and shadow in each portrait, mixed with the partial obscurement of Badwan’s face, have drawn comparisons to Caravaggio paintings, surprising her. “I did not know Caravaggio until I finished this project and people in Italy started talking about the resemblance to him,” she said. “I went to see his paintings and I was shocked, as if I had been there with him when he was painting his works. I immediately sensed how he thought, what was going on inside his head...” Her work is time intensive and painterly, both in the process and end result. She said her work takes time because she only uses natural light. “For every picture it takes almost a month, because I study the light, the shadow, the position, all the details that want to put in the picture, to have a work like a painting,” she said. Loneliness is a central theme in her work, something she describes as both universal and deeply personal. “Loneliness is a very personal thing, very special. Everyone can feel differently from the other,” she said, separating the theme of loneliness in her work from the political conditions of life in Gaza. “Under occupation, or without occupation. When you're alone, you do not ask yourself what's out there.” The Institute for Contemporary Art is a fitting space to show this work, which was born out of seclusion and isolation. The spacious modernist building, designed by Steven Holl Architects of New York, is situated along Broad St. between Belvidere St. and Pine St., on the border of the neighborhood rebranded as the Richmond Arts District in 2012. “It’s a public space, intended for conversation and bringing people together,” Chief Curator 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018

Stephanie Smith said when I met with her in February. “It’s been intentionally designed with windows and skylights to be porous and open. We want to be a convening place for conversations.” That intention extends to the two entranceways. One door opens on Belvidere, the other on Pine. They’re equal in size and scale, Smith noted, saying, “There’s no front door here. We have a campus and a city entrance. The goal is to create a shared spaced between VCU and the city.” The open design of the ICA, the way it connects two segments of the city, is a strong contrast for Badwan’s work. Her photos are tightly composed, almost cramped, and full with color, symbols, and meaning. They’ll be placed on open walls in an expansive room with soaring ceilings. Directly across from her solitary scenes will be a collaborative installation with fabric and thread, designed to bring strangers together in conversation. Smith, a recent hire at the ICA, came to Richmond in 2016 after a prestigious career that’s included long stints as the chief curator of both the Art Gallery of Ontario and the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art. She described the recent staff turnover and construction delays as not unusual for such a large project, but was confident about the opening, saying, “It’s a short runway for an exhibition of this scale. It’s all really intense and really exciting.” In addition to Badwan’s work, the non-collecting institution will open with a wide slate of works, including the anti-racist sculptural series REWIND by Paul Rucker, a citywide exhibit by Detroit-based printmaker Amos Paul Kennedy Jr., and a media installation by Peter Burr and Porpentine Charity Heartscape. Smith described the variety of opening pieces as part of the mission of the institute, connecting local, national, and international artists all in one space from a variety of disciplines. “The exhibit is diverse in all the ways you can think about that, culturally, artistically,” she said. Although many of the exhibits make strong statements, Smith said none of them had been chosen to fulfill a particular agenda, saying, “We’re a public institution. We don’t take a political stance in support of a particular policy or person, but we do take on ethical or moral stances.” Above all, she says they “stand behind freedom of expression and art,” which she describes as having a transformative power. Badwan’s work touches on many political topics, especially those relating to Israel and Palestine, but Smith described the work as political only in the lowercase-p sense, used to describe personal politics and the important choices individuals make in their lives. “She’s someone who was dealing with an intense situation and her response was to pull inside and imagine another world,” Smith said. “She chose to respond to [imprisonment] with art in a really disciplined way.” Badwan expressed a similar sentiment when asked about political content in her work, describing it as, “Zero. In art, I like to talk about things that interest me. Politics do not interest me.” Although she describes her self-isolation

as an act of political protest, she sees the art that came out of that period as transcending mere politics. Even before Smith knew Badwan’s story, though, what first drew her to Badwan’s art was the power of the imagery, which she saw in 2016 in New York City. “The work is beautiful. She has an exquisite sense of space, color, and composition. Visitors who don’t know anything about the backstory can be drawn in just by the imagery.” The work makes statements about gender and discrimination, most notably in a piece Badwan identified as the most important. It depicts her playing an oud, a lute common in the Middle East, to silence a hostile rooster. In one interview, she describes the rooster as symbolic of men, particularly in Arabic symbolism, and is blunt about the message, saying, “With my gesture, I invite the rooster to shut up and let me be free to express myself and my art.” Despite the restrictions on her personal life imposed by Hamas, Badwan enjoyed a rich creative life inside her room, and she made plans to debut “100 Days of Solitude” in East Jerusalem. This too, was restricted, although this time by the Israeli authorities, who refused to let her exit the Gaza Strip to attend. After her self-portraits gained attention in 2015, largely through her social media presence on the website 500px and an interview with a New York Times reporter, she was finally able to leave Gaza. Before she received her invitation, to Monte Grimano and Montecatini in Italy, she told the Times interviewer that her situation was dire, saying, “I’m ready to die in this room unless I find a better place.” It’s a sentiment expressed on her 500px profile too, where her one-line biography reads, “Finding a Safe Place”, and in notes she’s written about her self-portrait series, where she wrote, “In the first months of self-imprisonment I contemplated committing suicide.” The invitation to Italy came via the diplomatic efforts of a Franciscan, Father Ibrahim Faltas, of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem. Since her arrival, she’s taught at the University of Design in San Marino, and exhibited new work in Denmark, Berlin, France, and the United States. I asked her if Italy and Europe had proven to be that safe, or better, place. Her answer was conflicted. While she enjoys greater freedom in Italy, she also described a sense of loss. “I feel like I've entered this game called “Solitude" and it's like a videogame,” she said. The move from Gaza was like successfully progressing through a video game only to encounter greater difficulty. “I passed the first level, I won, and now I move to the second level. The theme is different, but it is a higher level of the solitude I had inside my room.” She still feels isolated, but within a new context, she explained. “In the first level I was locked inside my room, inside a closed city, and there I had my world. But now the opposite has happened. Now I have the whole world, free, all open, but I do not have a room. I do not have my room.”










MAY 11




















13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018 • #CheersRVA



By Davy Jones

“I wanted to make sure I got a little of everything out there, without it being utterly ridiculous.” 32



debut album is a singular act of creation, ushering in a brand new version of the universe. A blank slate. A new map, with contours distinct from all the cartography that came before. With her debut full-length, Moonchild, Richmond jazz vocalist Kenneka Cook has projected a heartening vision of the world -- one in which people, genres, and techniques come together in a spirit of connectedness. I had the good fortune to explore her vision when I sat down with her at Pop’s Market on East Grace Street recently. Moonchild was released on February 23 by American Paradox Records, the fledgling imprint run by Scott Lane of standout rock outfit The Congress. Cook and Lane first met after one of her performances. “There’s a series called REC Room at the Camel,” Cook said. “Scott was in the audience.” Lane was so impressed he wanted to sign her. “Next thing I know, I’m making a record.” So what brought a jazz singer to REC Room -- a showcase for beatmakers organized by the Richmond Electronic Collective? The answer is a surprise, given the full-band arrangements employed on Moonchild, but Cook got her start with looping, a more individualistic technique. Using just her versatile voice and the Vox Lil’ Looper, a pedal that allows her to create sampled vocal arrangements on the fly, Cook honed her skills performing solo at venues like Emilio’s, Cary Street Café, and Gallery5. “It started off at Emilio’s,” Cook remembered, “at their open mic. I started going there, and I met a few people in the house band at Emilio’s. From there, it just kind of snowballed into me really getting into the Richmond music scene.” Though she was performing alone, Cook ensured the experience was far from solipsistic. “It’s hard when you’re standing up there by yourself. It can be intimidating with all those people staring at you. So I [asked], ‘How can I connect with them?’ And so in between songs, [I’d] talk to them. ‘Hey, what’s up? I see you right there. That shirt’s cute.’” Among the connections she made during that time, that initial conversation with Scott Lane proved to be especially fateful. Following a “stem to stern” model of production, American Paradox artists work with Lane at every step of the album cycle, including recording in his Jackson Ward home. The location inspired Cook. “That house is over 100 years old,” she said. “I love stuff like that. I think it’s really cool to be able to record in a place that has so much history. It’s on the same block as the Maggie L. Walker Museum, so it’s cool to add more history on history that’s already been made on that block.” Cook also appreciated Lane’s easygoing style as a producer. ”He’s a real laid back guy, and that makes it easy for everybody.” Easy and tightly-knit, as much of the recording was done in close collaboration -- including the vocals. “I would be right beside Scott, recording, and he would be doing whatever on the computer. No crazy soundbooth or anything.” Remarkably, this easy-going, collaborative environment was also established when it came time to record the band. “Everybody was kind of together in one room,” Cook remembered. “[Lane] has this baby grand in the front, and a drum set, so everything was put together.” According to Cook, it’s essentially the same setup as is depicted in the live performance of Moonchild track “Brings Me Back (111)” recorded by videography collective RVATRACK, for which Lane runs audio and acts as project manager. Whether it’s the physical space, Lane’s approach, or a shared commitment to making good organic music, the community that’s grown around American Paradox Records is as tightly knit as the recording process. A key figure in that ecosystem is Sid Kingsley, the singer and pianist whose soulful Americana album, Good Way Home, 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018

provided an outstanding proof of concept for the label’s in-house methodology last year. It’s Kingsley’s saxophone work you hear in the version of “Brings Me Back (111)” on Moonchild. “We go to each other’s shows,” Cook said of her labelmates. “We support each other. I feel like it’s a [microcosm] of Richmond, because the Richmond music community is really supportive of each other.” Moonchild draws expertly from that broader pool of Richmond musicians, with a list of contributors that includes local renaissance man Kelli Strawbridge (who also plays with Cook in the band Mikrowaves), No BS! Brass Band mainstay Marcus Tenney, and multitalented Butcher Brown keyboardist Devonne Harris. “They [made] it easy because they’re so talented,” Cook said. “I was very open to any suggestions they had, because what I do is so minimalist. I wanted to have their input [on] anything they heard or thought would sound cool if we tried it. To have those people want to suggest stuff anyway is a blessing in itself.” Harris played on two songs: “My Universe” and “The Practice.” “He did keys on both tracks, [on] the baby grand in the living room,” Cook said. “He plays everything like he’s a pro at it. He makes it look so easy... It’s funny, because he does this thing: We’ll teach him the song, he’ll do an amazing job, and we’ll [say] ‘That was great!’ He’ll say ‘Oh no, that wasn’t it…’ and we’re [saying] ‘No, that was it!’” As greatly as Moonchild benefits from the various players it features, the album still feels like a vision that’s distinctively Cook’s -- starting with the title. “I like the moon,” Cook explained. “I’ve always liked space, and I always had weird theories about space and all that stuff as a kid, which any kid probably has. But as I got older, not only the scientific knowledge about space, but also the metaphysical and spiritual sense of the moon the Sun and all that -- it made sense. The moon’s connection with the feminine and feminine energy -- it’s a reminder to embrace my feminine side.” During the recording process, she looked for ways to infuse music with her love for the cosmos, which reaches all the way back to childhood evenings spent stargazing with siblings and cousins. “I wanted ‘Moonchild’ to be somewhat mysterious,” Cook said. “I wanted it to be very spacey, and space is a mystery within itself. No matter how much we learn about space, it’s going to always be a mystery, because we’ll never learn everything. I wanted that feel in that track, definitely.” Cook also sought to provide a sense of balance that married her sample-driven solo performance style with the love of jazz that kicked into high gear when she first heard Billie Holiday sing -- a love she’s nurtured by frequenting record stores like Deep Groove, Plan 9, and Steady Sounds, surrounding herself with other legendary voices like Ella Fitzgerald’s and Betty Carter’s. “I knew for a fact I wanted [the album] to be full band songs and looper-eque songs,” Cook affirmed, “but I [also] knew I wanted to show my diverse taste in music. Jazz is my baby; that’s my heart. [But] I wanted to show I have other interests in music... I wanted to make sure I got a little of everything out there, without it being utterly ridiculous.” Cook covered Vampire Weekend’s “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance” as an outlet for her more electronic instincts. “I wanted the Vampire Weekend one to be closer to how it is when I loop it,” she mentioned. “We were thinking, ‘How can we make this sound fun [and] different?’ It has that Mark Mothersbaugh sound to it. Just a piece of my childhood just thrown in there a little bit.” Conversely, “The Practice” was always destined to be more built-out. “I knew I wanted a traditional sounding jazz song on the record.” The track got an early signal boost in mid-January thanks to Bandcamp’s music discovery show Bandcamp Weekly, which aired the song alongside two 33

others from Moonchild and an interview with Cook. Her photo even spent time on the site’s front page. I asked about how she’s enjoyed the process of promoting the album and engaging with music media. “I don’t like to talk,” she confessed. “I’m a very quiet, to-myself person, so to be able to express myself through words is kind of nerve-wracking. But it is exciting, because people want to know how this happened.” Her reticence gets a symbolic nod in the cover art, which features photography by Joey Wharton and lettering by illustrator Leslie Herman. “Because I don’t like talking, I [thought], ‘Let me show who I am the best way possible.’ Looping, even though it is a powerful tool, I feel like it’s minimalist, so I [thought], ‘How do I express that visually?’ So if you notice, my album cover is just this much of me [from the top of the nose up], and then simple lettering that has the moon phases in the O’s. It’s simple, but you can get a lot out of it.” Cook may not be a big talker, but she’s confident in her work, especially as the number of glowing reviews has grown. “The more positive feedback I’m getting, it’s a little less nerve-wracking.” She has one group of supporters in particular that’s provided constant encouragement: Her five sisters. “I come from a big family,” Cook said. “We’re close. We still are close. We always had each other’s backs. We’re all different, but we’re always supportive of each other… I feel like they promote [Moonchild] more than I do sometimes.


I’m being dead serious. I’ll [get] calls from their friends [saying], ‘The album’s amazing. Your sister’s been sharing it around the office.’ So they’re really excited about it.” Cook grew up in Chesterfield, singing in her church and school choirs, and soaking in the wave of soul music that redefined the genre leading into the 21st Century. “We had a stereo in our living room,” Cook said, “and every weekend, there was cleaning day.” So she would put on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu’s Baduizm and clean up. It was the kind of sustained, passive listening that plants deep roots, and the impact continues to grow. “Even if I [wasn’t] paying attention to it, it [was] being put into my head. Not forcibly or anything; it was good music. It’s part of our memories. And I go back and listen to it now, and I actually know what they’re talking about. Erykah Badu performed at the [2017] Richmond Jazz Festival, and she said something about waiting for you all to grow up. And I [thought], yes, that makes so much sense!” Family turned out to be a recurring theme during our conversation, whether she was describing her sisters’ enthusiasm, the virtues of the American Paradox community, or experiences singing in ensemble groups like Mikrowaves and Piranha Rama. “Playing in other bands -- it’s fun,” Cook said. “It’s like a little family. Especially Mikrowaves. I love hanging out with Mikrowaves. I’m guaranteed to laugh with Mikrowaves. To have fun with it -- I learned that from Piranha Rama and Mikrowaves.

Just make a little family. Because if you guys aren’t connecting in some way, it’s not going to come out the way you want it to.” It’s an approach she’s hoping to take on the road. When asked what she hoped the release Moonchild would lead to--what her metric for success might be--her answer was clear and decisive. “Touring. That’s the number one thing. I’ve never really gotten to tour before, so to be able to go outside of Richmond and show myself would be cool.” As for adjusting to her role fronting a bigger group, Cook described engagement as key, regardless of whether she’s looping solo or leading a band. “I love them both for different reasons,” she said. “I feel like when I’m up there by myself, I’m more interactive with the crowd, which is always fun. But when I’m up there with [the band], it’s less of a burden -- not mentally freaking out, [thinking] ‘OK, what’s next?’ I can relax a little and interact with the people in the band with me.” The beauty of Kenneka Cook is how she’s rooted her musical brilliance in human connection, through her literal and metaphorical families and her relationship with the audience. That beauty is affirmed via Moonchild, and Cook is poised to project that truth widely as songs from the album fill living rooms and venues in Richmond and beyond.




The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time Sister Act Once Atlantis - A New Musical The Wiz


Between Riverside and Crazy In My Chair WORLD PREMIERE Gloria


The Game’s Afoot: Holmes for the Holidays Broadway Bound Forever Plaid


Mr. Popper’s Penguins Huck and Tom and the Mighty Mississippi Pinocchio Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical



VIRGINIAREP.ORG | 804-282-2620









hen the Ultimate Rap League brought their Survivor Series to Richmond this past January, it marked the first time that a national battle rap group established a platform for the talented emcees of my hometown. The group, known as SMACK/URL, has an international following for their battles, which they usually host in New York City and Los Angeles. Their venue for this event was The Top, promoter EJ Lewter’s club in Shockoe Bottom, and it was packed with rap fans of all ages for the battle, which was streamed live over PayPer-View for the folks at home. When I stopped in to catch the action on January 20th, Lewter introduced me to Smack White, the owner of URL. "It's my pleasure,” White said of hosting a battle in Richmond. “Richmond has been the city that's been supporting me throughout my whole career, [from] the DVD era all the way to the battle rap culture. We got like 15-16 years of support from the city of Richmond so I wanted to come back and show the city some love.” Battle rap has a place right at the heart of hip hop, said Radio B, a Richmond artist and one of the owners of the local Southpaw Battle Coalition. “It is the true sport of hip hop, and the original essence of rap. It’s really high-level lyricism -- rap, spoken word, stand-up comedy, and debate, all rolled into one.”

By HIP HOP HENRY PHOTOS BY BRANDEN WILSON Styling by Natalie Jackson @nattywarbucks 13 13 YEARS YEARS OF OF RVA RVA MAGAZINE MAGAZINE 2005-2018 2005-2018


If battle rap is the sport of hip hop, Survivor Series DMV is the major leagues of emcee sparring. This event brought out almost all of battle rap’s heavy hitters in the region; Baltimore's Tay Roc, soon-to-be top tier performers Chess of New York City, T-Top from North Carolina, and arguably the most exciting newcomer to URL, Nu Jerzey Twork, who has performed in RVA and moved up the ranks in Northern Virginia's Showtime Battle Arena. The DMV area is home to a lot of talent, but often overlooked, White said. "I don't think they get enough light. That's why I'm here, to show the city some love and to establish a presence in the city. Hopefully this can be one of many events that I do out here.” Some of the DMV-area artists included the Goonies Crew, comprised of Twork, League of Champions-member Ryda, Richmond’s own Jakkboy Maine, Young X from Portsmouth, and one of the most anticipated rappers, veteran battle emcee and Black Money Mobb head Moon. Originally from Paterson NJ, Moon has been a Richmond resident since the ‘90s. He has an impressive resume for a rapper, including a feature in MTV’s Fight Klub and a famous rumored battle between him, Wu-Tang’s RZA, and Juice Crew member Craig G.

He’s one of the older battlers active on the scene today -- something he doesn’t try to hide onstage -- and he’s fiercely loyal to the Richmond music scene. Whether it’s a Southpaw Battle or League of Champions (LOC) battle around town, you’ll find Moon and some of his Mobb brothers in attendance. He’s a hardened veteran of the scene, and he’s not afraid of any challenge. He referenced two house fires he’s survived when he joked, “I’ve survived some wilder shit than [a battle].” As a touring battle rapper who’s been on MTV, Pay-Per-View, and had recent bouts in Ohio and New York City, Moon described the impact Richmond hip hop has had on him. “Richmond Virginia brought me back to life, man. I had really left battle rap, rap period, alone. I wasn’t really doing rap like that, but I was dibbling and dabbling.” In particular, he credits a few local folks with his return. “Shout out to Rocstagis, LOC, that’s where it all started. Me and Bravo had the city on fire, you can go look at our first battle. We actually brought battle rap back, me and Bravo. That brought my career back.” Battle rap might be new to some, but hip hop has always had a competitive edge. Everybody talks about who has the best crew or DJ, but it all comes down to skill. This was established

tape exists showing the DMX versus Jay-Z battle in the early 90s, but every serious emcee has heard the tale. The new wave of rap aggression in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s brought high profile rappers like Nas, Jay-Z, Mobb Deep, Beanie Sigel, and Jadakiss into rap beefs with each other, and the conflicts drove a spike in sales from consumers wanting to hear more battle rap. As a college-aged hip-hop fan, I came of age with Fight Klub battles on MTV2, and seeing RVA’s own Nickelus F as the Hall of Fame champion on 106th & Park’s Freestyle Friday. These battles kept it clean for TV, but there were rawer, uncensored battles which we picked up from the neighborhood DVD seller. Floorto-floor and door-to-door, they’d deliver the latest movies, albums, and plenty of rap battles recorded on DVD for an underground audience of diehard fans. This is where Queens NY native Troy Mitchell, alias Smack White, made his debut. His preYouTube-era series SMACK (Streets Music Art Culture Knowledge) was a touring show that visited different cities to show street life from the perspectives of local hip-hop royalty and more. In 2003, those videos first introduced me to Big Meech and Black Mafia Family (BMF), with club

“[Battle Rap] is the true sport of hip hop, and the original essence of rap.” When I asked him if really happened, he answered, “I got a $30,000 watch from it.” Battle rap is about building legends, and Moon has legends for everybody in the club. He’s one of the top performers in the Survivor Series, and the word survivor suits him well; the night before the battle, a fire consumed his Southside home. Just like my question about the battle, it didn’t phase him. After the battle, I met up with Moon outside his temporary apartment to talk battle rap and RVA in general. “It’s a different time of battle rap from what I come from. What I come from, we didn't even write your battle raps. When you battled somebody, you ran up on they ass,” he said, comparing the calculated approach in today’s game to the more free-form early bouts. “Back in the day, it was, ‘Let’s bet some money,’ or just bragging rights for your ‘hood. You didn’t have time to prepare for a nigga, you didn’t know his grandmother… It wasn’t about how much information you had on the nigga. You had to be nice, you had to be lyrical.” One factor that makes Moon a rising star in the battle world is his honest approach to rapping; he still sticks to his rhyming principles. “That’s the difference,” he said. “I respect what they do now. I’ve had to grow into some of the things they do. But I don’t change what the fuck I do, because that’s what makes me me.” 40

in the early days of hip hop, when Coke La Rock and Keith Cowboy became celebrities for their skill with the mic. There have been hundreds of rap battles on tapes and TV recently, but they’re the tip of an iceberg. Most battles are face to face, held wherever, from the street outside a concert to a quick confrontation in a studio. It’s rare that these get recorded, and they’re almost never caught on video, especially in the early days. But those that were are watched 20 to 30 years later and the winners are still subject to debate. One of the most legendary crew battles caught on tape was between the Cold Crush Brothers and the Fantastic Romantic Five, recorded live in 1981 at the Harlem World Battle of the Heavyweights. The audio is all over YouTube, where commentators argue over who should have won. For emcees, the most famous is probably one of the earliest recorded, a battle between Chief Rocker Busy Bee and Kool Moe Dee from the Treacherous Three, also taped in 1981. For many hip hop fans, this was the first time we heard one rapper go after another face to face on the same stage. Since then, the battle has been the proving ground for many up and coming rappers, but many of their early matches have become legends, passed on only by word of mouth. No

scenes and even a segment where Bleu DaVinci and the crew hang out in a Miami hotel lobby with the city’s mayor. The local culture was fascinating, but not the main attraction. Somewhere in the middle of the DVD would be a battle or two. Sometimes they were set up at the park, sometimes a clothing store or a project hallway in NYC. These weren’t the battles in movies like 8 Mile or The Shelter. There were no beats, no backing tracks, no famous actors. They’re just two rappers, mostly unknown outside their city limits, standing across from each other, ready for lyrical war. Early DVDs showed a three or six-round battle, but as the series progressed, you’d see a lot more trash talk between rappers, some who weren’t even in the battle. The conflicts sparked anticipation, and we all looked forward to the next SMACK DVD as the battles and conflicts took center stage. Still pre-YouTube, we’d meet up outside Foster Hall at Virginia State University, and argue over whether Murda Mook beat Jae Millz or vice-versa. Every emcee wanted to make it to a SMACK DVD; this inspired White’s creation of the Ultimate Rap League, which took off immediately. Today, URL’s artist roster features the best rappers from all over the country, from different leagues in every region, and they all head up to RVA MAGAZINE 32 | SPRING 2018

“Richmond Virginia brought me back to life, man. I had really left battle rap, rap period, alone.” New York City or Los Angeles to battle. As battle rap has grown, other leagues have sprung up, especially here in Richmond. The two prominent leagues in the city now are the long-standing League of Champions, owned by Sonny Kolfax, and the upstart, Radio B and Bravo’s Southpaw Battle Coalition, who count Chance Fischer as a member. During the photoshoot, I sat down with Kolfax to talk battle rap and what it’s like to be live on stage during the battle. “You can’t buy [the feeling] nowhere,” he said. “It’s so easy to have a concert and people rock with the music, the lyrics don’t necessarily have to be there. But when you’re battling, there is no music. Everything you say counts. If you on stage and there's no music and you're giving everything to your opponent and the crowd is rocking with you, that energy transfer is a high almost." He noted Richmond’s place in the history of battle rap, and the impact of SMACK coming down I-95. "You look at the DMV area and you look at the URL and it's heavy here now, it's prominent...and people never realize that those guys started out here,” he said. “Ryda came up through LOC, Jakkboy Maine's first battle was on SRL [the Southern Rap League].” Kolfax noted that it’s just getting bigger here. “The growth that I've seen in the scene from 2014 to present has been tremendous,” he said. 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018

“Because now battle rap is almost synonymous with hip hop in the city. When I started out battle rap wasn't that big, like, ‘You're a battle rapper? OK’.” Kolfax thought URL’s battle was a good sign for the city. “It’s a blessing to see where it's at now, because this is only a precursor to what can happen -- and we showed the city what can happen." But more important, he said, will be Richmond capitalizing on the newfound attention from the rest of the battle world. “Don't think just because Smack came that’s the end of battle rap,” he said. “No, we still have leagues out here. Pack our events now. Because URL already took notice, now it’s up to us. Even if you never been to a battle rap event, [you’re] just a fan of music, check it out." Gigi Broadway, from Kolfax’s LOC, shared his sentiments regarding hip-hop in RVA and battle rap in general. “Battle rap in this region is exploding,” she said. “URL is invested in the battlers here, and are always looking for talent out here. The music scene is really growing as well. The industry hasn’t quite set their eyes here yet like battle rap has, but it’s definitely turning in our direction.” Broadway gave shoutouts to some local talent that’s been in the news lately. “Artists like Michael Millions, Mutant Academy, Noah O,

and more have gotten a lot of national coverage last year, so it’s coming. I would say now is the time to get involved, because they are looking at how the city responds to and supports the artists. The time is now,” she said. “Once battle rap becomes more mainstream here, it will open the door for RVA to get more respect in the hip hop culture in general.” Every person I spoke to about the future of battle rap and hip-hop in Richmond agreed; the time is now. When the #1 battle league in the world shows you this type of love, it’s time for the whole city to take notice of the crews, the leagues, and the venues like Lewter’s The Top. Battle rap may have started underground, but it’s driven hip-hop for decades, and with this type of buzz, it’s time for the form to take its place at the front of the scene.







The Revolution is Female By Madelyne Ashworth

“I believe that women are running for office–I’m sorry, I’m working and just...” I heard a scuffling of papers in the background while Delegate Hala Ayala paused, early in our conversation about a wave of women candidates elected to the Virginia House of Delegates this past November. “...Doing a lot. This surge of women are finding out that after this election, and after the Women’s March, we have to have a seat at the table, versus being on the menu. Women are stepping up and striking out against those injustices. We’re saying this is no longer acceptable.” The scuffling continued, but Ayala, focused, finished our interview and her paperwork without further distraction. Multitasking is just one of her many strengths. She’s a single mother of two who served on former Gov. McAuliffe’s Council of Women. She’s a cyber security specialist who worked for the Department of Homeland Security and founded the Prince William County chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She helped organize the Women’s March in Washington this past year and now she’s the delegate for the 51st District in Virginia’s House of Delegates. And she’s just the beginning. In the 2017 election cycle, 11 new female Democratic delegates were voted into the General Assembly. This made the total number of women in the General Assembly (GA) rise from 17 to 27, including four Republican delegates – the highest we’ve ever had. 44 44

Delegate Vivian Watts described the recent election as a tipping point, saying, “Critical mass is when you reach about a third, so at 27 [women] we’re pretty close to critical mass.” In social dynamics, critical mass means there are a large enough number of independent changes in the innovation of a social system that the rate of adoption becomes self-sustaining and creates further growth. It creates a tradition of collective action, meaning enough people have committed to a cause that they devote themselves to that common cause. Watts represents the 39th House District, a seat she has held intermittently since 1982. “I really do find some element of that critical mass” after the recent election, she said. “I know for myself, that I’m much more willing, or I feel much more comfortable speaking out on some issues because I know [there is] a better understanding of the issue around me. There’s only one thing worse than just enduring in silence, and that is to say something and have it absolutely dismissed.” Watts has had a distinguished career, including service on over 35 boards and citizen task forces, and is the author of two books on criminal justice. She’s been a state legislative aide, president of the Fairfax League of Voters, and has two children and four grandchildren. She remembers when the few women who were in the House simply did not appear after hours at social functions. “You can’t do business that way, especially when we have such short six and eight week sessions,” Watts said. “You’ve got to get to know each other.

That was one of the things I was determined, when I got elected, [that] I would be sure and participate as much as I possibly could. [I was determined] to also make sure that I kept relaxed and kept a sense of humour. Just try to be more part of a collegial setting, rather than assuming that there wasn’t a place for me.” Watts says it’s far more common for women to have real connections with the other female members of the General Assembly. The shared experience among the women in the GA allows for a larger conversation than the male-dominated discussions of the past, and Watts knows she can stand up, talk about an issue pertinent to women, and have it understood by at least one third of the room. “I look to ever greater influence, in the years to come, of this shared experience being a part of the legislative considerations about what really is in the best interest of all involved,” she said. The number of women in office is just one of many significant firsts from the November elections, especially for the Democratic delegates. Kathy Tran, who represents the 42nd district, is the first Asian-American to serve in the GA. She fled from Vietnam with her parents at just seven months old, on a perilous sea journey. Delegates Hala Ayala and Elizabeth Guzman are the first Latino women in the GA. Local journalist Danica Roem became the first transgender person to ever be elected to a state legislature, and Dawn Adams, a nurse practitioner who also works for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, is the first openly lesbian delegate. In total, 43 Democratic women, nine Republican women, and one independent ran in House races in RVA MAGAZINE 32 | SPRING 2018

2017. Those numbers are record breaking. Emily Brewer (R), a small business owner and delegate representing the 64th House District, attributes the change to modern technologies and abilities, which she says make it easier for women to juggle their lives and also feel empowered to bolster change. “There are a lot of women now that are small business owners and leaders, entrepreneurs, and it’s a different time for women to really lead. And I think that’s led to having more women in politics,” Brewer said. “I don’t see a marked difference [in the GA]. What I do see is a sense of excitement, especially since women have more representation on both sides of the aisle.” Ayala, along with several other women who ran for office this past year, see the change as a direct result of dissatisfaction with the current president. “I left everything I knew and my blanket of security because I was unwilling to sit on the sideline and watch this leader that we have, of the free world that I honor and am so proud of, implement the policies in my backyard that he plans to implement,” Ayala said. “He comes with every attribute I don’t believe a leader should have.” Another debut this election cycle was the #MeToo movement, which Watts sees as a major factor in women running for office and winning elections. She sees the movement as a way to not only address predatory sexual behavior but to go farther and tackle the systematic patriarchal power structure that has oppressed women, including herself, for centuries. “It’s the fact that women in a professional setting are so often put into a no-win situation,” Watts said. “What you have in the Me Too movement is also that expression of, ‘I want to be the whole person that I am professionally as well as be a woman. I don’t want to have to be in a situation where that is compromised or dismissed.’ The Me Too movement I see is far more than just the issue of broadly stated sexual harassment.” 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018

Not only are women sitting at the table, they’re bringing their experiences to it. Delegate Brewer, who was adopted, has already passed a new bill supporting and amending foster parent adoption. As many new mothers and women bring their dynamic life roles to the House, they are swaying the conversation. “My interest is in looking at policy from a holistic lense that takes into account the interconnectedness of life experience and how we make policy that supports quality outcomes in our lives,” said Dawn Adams, who represents the 68th House District. “I put forward a bill to create the Commission for a Healthy Virginia. I think that’s a different kind of suggestion than male counterparts make, in that it’s a really broad lens on how we get to where we want to go, looking at it from an all-encompassing perspective, rather than just piecemeal and trying to put out fires from a policy perspective.” Social movements like #MeToo are not lost on these women. They talk about community fears with empathy and foresight, where those concerns were previously dismissed as unimportant or matters of personal weakness. One policy in particular stands out to Delegate Watts as vital. “We need to have a comprehensive workplace harassment policy, so that the public feels very comfortable about what the procedures are, should they be concerned about anything that they are experiencing or that happened to them,” Watts said. “It needs to be broadly defined to include all of the public, not just employees of the GA, and I believe strongly that it needs to include our activities year-round. It’s not just walking in here for eight weeks in the building that has my desk in my office, but it is the entire interface with the public. They need to have that comfort level where there is full protection as well as proper procedures to make sure there is nothing where people might use their position of power inappropriately.” Small changes have been enacted at the GA already, such as the addition of two nursing rooms,

but some delegates say the changes don’t address systemic issues and hurdles. “We cannot let up over the next couple of years, and we need to have that voice of diverse women jumping in,” Adams said. “If we’re just sitting in seats and we’re not able to make effective policy, we haven’t helped anyone. We have to stay engaged and I hope that more women with more diverse life experience will get in and support each other.” Adams worries that because of the influx of Democratic Party members to a GA still dominated by Republicans, a vein of contention has been sliced open, driven by a fear of losing control. “My personal perception is that nothing has changed,” she said. “It may even not be as Democratic-friendly because of the big shift in people who are now in the GA.” She says most bills proposed by Democrats are killed at subcommittee level, often moving to pass by them indefinitely. “It kind of doesn’t matter how strong the policy, or what the policy might have to say,” Adams said. “There seems to be a very regimented process where you can almost tick the boxes. It’s prescriptive.” Despite the challenge, Adams says this is exactly why women, or anyone with new ideas to tackle patriarchy, cannot back down. Critical mass has just begun. It’s time to create further growth. Our vision of a typical politician is changing because of these women. They’re delegates, but they are also mothers, grandmothers, small business owners, advocates, nurses, cyber security analysts, authors, artists, humans. And they’re angry. And they’re doing something about it. “Women are no longer willing to remain silent or on the sidelines,” Ayala said. “We’re grabbing our clipboards, we’re grabbing our sneakers, and we’re knocking the hell out of a lot of doors to make a lot of change.” And that’s all before lunch.

45 45





THE EPIDEMIC NEXT DOOR By Caitlin Barbieri photos by Branden Wilson


A routine day for paramedics in Richmond finds them at a hotel where a young woman is overdosing on heroin. She’ll live because of the 911 call her 4-year-old son placed, but the future for this woman and her son is still hazy. This is the sixth time she’s overdosed -- her son has seen it enough times to know how to respond -- and it will most likely happen again. Alex Brooks, a trauma technician at MCV and paramedic at Chippenham Hospital, shared this story with us as we investigated the opioid epidemic in the River City. He said this story was a common one, estimating that four to five overdoses occur every day in Richmond. With the introduction of fentanyl and ever-stronger heroin, this epidemic becomes harder and harder to control. “This summer was pretty rough,” Brooks said. “I recall one particular evening we had seven [overdoses] at one hospital.” People who suffer from addiction have a complex disease that compels sufferers to seek and use a particular substance. This disease, now called Substance Use Disorder by the American Psychiatric Association, changes the mood, personality, and actions of those struggling with it. On top of the physical and mental challenges individuals face during recovery, there are also social challenges that make long term recovery very difficult. A survey conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health showed that the general public does not believe treatment options for drug addicts are effective, and are opposed to government spending on treatment facilities. Their research also showed that people are averse to working with sufferers in a job space, and most would not welcome a family member’s marriage to someone with the disorder. In an interview with Johns Hopkins University's The Hub, lead researcher Colleen L Barry told reporters, "While drug addiction and mental illness are both chronic, treatable health conditions, the American public is more likely to think of addiction as a moral failing than a medical condition." However, despite conventional wisdom, there is hope for people who suffer from this disorder -- even the mother in that hotel room. We were unable to find out where she is now, but interviews with other locals suffering from the disorder give a partial picture. The people we spoke to hoped that sharing their story could help others by removing some of the stigmas they’ve faced. “I used to hate to see the sun come up,” said William, who seeks to rejoin society following years of substance use. “I didn’t want to get up and go outside in the freezing cold to stand out there and wait for somebody to get beat, or somebody to score so I can get some. But I couldn’t help myself.” William (who wished to be identified only by his first name) grew up in Richmond and struggled with heroin for 10 years. He has been in recovery at the Healing Place, a local treatment center for people struggling with substance use disorder, for two years; currently, he’s working on rebuilding the life heroin took from him. “In step one they talk about powerlessness. I was powerless over the drug,” William said. “Every part of my life, heroin was in it. If I woke up, I needed RVA MAGAZINE 32 | SPRING 2018

it; if I went to sleep, I needed it; if I took a shower, I needed it; if I ate, I needed it. If I looked at you, I needed it.” The disorder does not discriminate across race, gender, or economic lines. Although the face of addiction in mainstream culture is predominantly male and black, men and women from all races and walks of life have suffered from the same dependence. Marie Pruitt, who is now in recovery, is a former college student from an upper middle class background. She talked about how heroin supplanted school and the future she originally saw ahead of her. “Junior year, I gave up. I felt like school was irrelevant,” she said. “I was just going to go to NOVA [Community College] because there was really no point in me leaving the area, because I don’t know people who will sell me drugs outside of the area.” At first glance, Pruitt and William are polar opposites, but substance use disorder has erased many of the gaps between them. While William is an African American man from poverty, Pruitt is a young white woman from an upper middle class household in Fairfax, Virginia, born with every resource to succeed. However, at the age of 20, Pruitt has been through inpatient rehab five times. She began experimenting with drugs in middle school, and by the time she was 18, Pruitt had tried almost every drug imaginable, and developed a dependence on heroin. “I felt like [I had lost control] before I even got to heroin. I felt like that with oxies,” said Pruitt. “I had too much money and access, and things were getting really awful.” No one plans on getting addicted to substances, but their availability both behind the counter and on the street makes it easy for individuals to slip into dependency. Both Pruitt and William were introduced to opiates by people they trusted. A trusted adult in Pruitt’s life would trade prescription opioids to her in exchange for marijuana. Later, Pruitt began buying opioids outright. It was a short step to buying heroin. “I think the main reason why there is such a big heroin problem now is because of over-prescribing meds,” Pruitt said. With opioids being prescribed so frequently, they become easily accessible for a wide range of people. “They’re available, and you don’t realize they’re that bad. You don’t think it's bad because it’s in a [prescription] pill bottle.” Before William could get heroin himself, his uncle would share his heroin with him. In the environment where he grew up, these substances seemed like an inescapable part of life. “I grew up on misinformation,” William said. “I thought the only way I was going to get out the ghetto or get a pair of Jordans was I had to sell drugs; only way I thought I was gonna get a nice car was I had to sell drugs.” That misinformation is not isolated to the Richmond community. A study from Harvard’s Equality of Opportunity Project showed that the American Dream of upward income mobility is dissolving. Only 50 percent of children born in 1985 were expected to earn more than their parents did, down from 90 percent of children born in 1940. For people like William, who are born into 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018

poverty, that means they are likely to stay in poverty throughout adulthood. In areas of poverty and high unemployment, the people with the most money tend to be drug dealers, who in turn become idolized for their apparent success. But once William’s uncle introduced him to heroin, the desire to better his socioeconomic status dissolved into a desire to get more heroin. “I’d seen these people living in abandoned houses, and I had a house to go home to and a car, but I’d rather be with them than go home,” William said. Pruitt’s addiction caused her to value the substance over her own life. “I definitely thought I was gonna die, but I just felt like, whatever.” Pruitt’s story of upper-class suburban addiction might seem like an outlier in comparison to the stories told in dramas like The Wire, but it’s a fastgrowing trend. A research study in JAMA Psychiatry found that there has been an increase in heroin abuse throughout the country -- especially in white suburban areas. Mike St. Germain, a middle class family man from the Atlanta suburbs, struggled to help his daughter Tori as she struggled with substance use disorder during her high school years. Her grades started to drop, her mood became more volatile, and the little girl that once happily roamed their house was erased by substances. Like William and Pruitt, Tori’s addiction affected everyone in her life. “The addiction takes everything around it and sinks these little hooks into it, and just pulls it all the way towards itself,” Mike St. Germain said. Once a person becomes dependent, life revolves around two things: the substance, and the money to afford it. Another man at the Healing Place, Sean, said, “We live to use and use to live -- it’s a vicious cycle.” Family, friends, work, and the future suddenly lose their significance, and the top priority becomes the substance. “Our stories may vary, but the disease of addiction does not discriminate,” he said. Pruitt felt isolated from everyone she cared about. At her lowest point, many of her friends wouldn’t even speak to her, and she had nowhere to stay. St. Germain’s daughter’s addiction got so bad she gave up her child. “She was in such a bad place she actually signed guardianship over to me and my wife,” St. Germain said. Nearly a year went by before Tori returned to see her baby girl. Today her daughter is five years old and has a two-year-old sister. Both girls live with their grandparents; just when St. Germain and his wife were expecting to retire, they found themselves becoming parents again. “I have a lot of conflicting emotions about it because I love my grandkids, I do,” St. Germain said. “But I don’t want to be a parent again.” Tori is currently in recovery and living with her parents. St. Germain and his wife have done everything they can to help her, and are hopeful that Tori will continue to improve her life. That hope is a common theme for the people who suffer, the people who love them, and the people who work with them in recovery. “That’s the secret sauce of what works about collegiate recovery, is that you infuse hope,” said Thomas Bannard, Program Coordinator of VCU’s Rams in Recovery. “You give this long term treatment

approach, which is especially necessary with opioids, but is true of all drugs.” While centers like Rams in Recovery and the Healing Place share a focus on creating a community to serve and support people in recovery, they approach the issue with different models and foundations. Rams in Recovery is a VCU-based support group for students struggling with substance use, while the Healing Place is a recovery treatment center created by CARITAS, a Catholic relief organization with an abstinence-based peer-to-peer recovery program. Both centers strive to create an environment of hope for people in recovery, and give them a place to go as they cope with the physical, mental, and social aspects of that process. “People that have substance use disorders have a marginalized, stigmatized health condition,” Bannard said. “That makes it really challenging to seek help.” Stories from Healing Place residents in recovery demonstrated the sheer strength it took for these men to get where they are. Arnold, a resident who only used his first name, said, “I had enough. Enough killing myself, enough going in and out of jails. I decided I had to do something different, make a change. My kids were getting older, and I wanted to be there for them -- and definitely be there for my grandkids.” Recovery is a trying experience, requiring hope and support from a community that cares. “You don’t just get recovered. There is nobody who has been an addict, and is recovered, and everything is fine,” Pruitt said. “I know people that are 50 years old and have been clean for 10 years. [They] tell me they still think about it every day.” Recovery isn’t impossible, but it’s frequently punctuated by relapse. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 40 to 60 percent of those with the disorder experience a relapse. However, what is important is an individual's ability stay committed through those relapses. “Relapse is a part of recovery,” said Albert. “What’s important is that when we fall we get back up and keep trying.” Despite significant relapse rates, all of the individuals we spoke with are succeeding in recovery. Pruitt is currently attending VCU and is working towards a degree that she once thought she wouldn't live to see. Tori and her children are currently living with St. Germain and his wife, as Tori attempts to rebuild her life. And after two years at the Healing Place, William believes he is finally ready to leave. “Bad days don’t exist no more,” William said. “I wake up everyday and find something to be grateful for -- the smallest things. Because I don’t have to wake up and roll over to no dope.”


Rams in Recovery









A former Food Network competitor has returned to Richmond to open a new restaurant in Shockoe Bottom. Malcolm Mitchell, longtime personal chef, restaurateur, and Season 8 finalist on Food Network Star, opened Lower 48 in September in the old Shockoe Valley Pizza space. “It’s basically rustic regional American food, going back to the old school way of cooking… a scratch kitchen,” he said. “I’m just trying to do my interpretation.” Serving dinner and brunch, the chef is whipping up his take on American classics such as shrimp and grits, crab cakes, Texas-style barbecue, burgers, and wings, along with craft beer and cocktails. Competing on Food Network Star wasn’t the chef’s first taste of fame. Mitchell also competed on Beat Bobby Flay. Likewise, Lower 48 isn’t Mitchell’s first dabble in the Richmond restaurant scene. Along with Julep’s owner Amy Ayers, he opened Mint Gastropub in the Fan, which operated for two years before moving, and eventually closing, in Petersburg in 2014. Originally from New York, the chef grew up in Maryland, where he learned the culinary basics from his mother, and from working at local greasy spoons. He left his hometown to spend four years in the Navy, where he didn’t cook, but his passion still flourished. “When we would go to these different ports -- Spain, Portugal, Denmark, all over the world -- the first place I would go was try to find somewhere nice to eat,” he said. “So, I got really into food when I started traveling. That developed my international palate.” He honed his skills cooking for small parties and friends’ events, but decided he needed to fine tune his craft a bit more before stepping out on his own. Mitchell earned his culinary degree from Stratford University, and worked his way up the ranks. “I worked all over the place -- chain hotels, little bistros. I worked in school lunch programs with Compass Group, the world’s largest food company. And then I had an opportunity between 2005 and 2007 working for this sports and management company.” Through 52


that gig, he eventually became a personal chef for athletes and musicians like actor/comedian Chris Tucker, singer Mary J. Blige, and the NBA’s Washington Wizards. Mitchell has since opened concepts in Los Angeles, as well as three in Baltimore, including wine bar Butchers Hill Society; Kitchen Market, a specialty foods and grab and go station; and gastropub Ryder’s. While jumpstarting restaurants and moving to his next inspiration are Mitchell’s bread and butter, the chef wanted to return to Richmond to make his mark again on the local scene. “I think four years ago when I was there, it was getting there, but everybody was kind of doing the same style. But now it’s changed,” he said. “The fact that it was starting to grow into a big food town and a big beer town, and you can get better rent than in a lot of these big tier cities, it’s a good place to start a new brand.” Mitchell plans to expand Lower 48 with other locations within Richmond. 423 N. 18TH ST. FACEBOOK.COM/LOWER48RVA


“One dessert to share please” is a strange concept to me. I share most things, but my dessert? Not likely. Yet that’s the motto behind Jess Widener’s forthcoming business, Four Forks. The Lunch/Supper pastry chef serves desserts from the restaurant’s event venue, Urban Roost, and at local farmers’ markets, but is planning to sweeten up Richmond with a spot of her own. The idea is a three-course dessert bar, with special pairings. Widener’s been testing her concept out recently, with pop-ups at The Urban Roost and The Broken Tulip. “We did a three-course dessert menu,” she said. “The courses were sent out with the intention to share with whoever you came with, and that’s where the idea is going. I would like to have a small intimate restaurant where we could

do private events, but also we would do beverage pairings with each course like wine, coffee, tea, and maybe some curated cocktails.” Before baking at Lunch and Supper, Widener started as a hostess at Brio, working up the corporate ladder to become a sous chef and manager at the restaurant. She also pursued her culinary arts degree at J. Sargeant Reynolds, which she completed in 2013. Widener baked desserts at Shagbark for a year before returning to Lunch and Supper, where she decided to dip into her creative side and play around with her own recipes. “They had the event space and were looking to expand their pastry department,” she said. “Part of the reason I went back was because I asked them if I could have my own freedom if I was starting my own business in the future, [and] if they would help me brand myself, and they’ve been really helpful.” Widener said she bases her desserts around one key ingredient. Some of her past pop ups have featured a blood orange and olive oil cake, bourbon crème brulee tarts, and dark chocolate toffee pudding. The baking gene actually runs in her family. Widener’s dad and uncle were both in the restaurant industry. Her father, from whom she learned to bake growing up, owned Sunday’s before it was The Boathouse, and ran wholesale bakery Ellie’s for years. Widener’s uncle is helping get Four Forks off the ground. Besides monthly pop-ups, Widener will be selling macaroons and bonbons at the spring farmers’ markets, as well as cookies and brownies for the forthcoming Jackson Ward restaurant Salt & Forge, and packaged treats for Richmond Triangle Players. And while there’s no official brick and mortar location yet, she hopes to have her dessert bar open in Carytown by the end of the year. “I love the idea of Carytown, when you have somewhere that features dessert,” she said. “I think you kind of want it to be somewhere that people stumble in after eating dinner.” Widener’s next Four Forks Italian-inspired pop-up will be Mar. 27 at The Broken Tulip. FACEBOOK.COM/FOURFORKSRVA



A dilapidated historic building in Jackson Ward will transform into fast-casual sandwich and breakfast spot Salt & Forge in March. Restoring the North 2nd Street property is former Chipotle executive David Hahn, who has plans for a quick neighborhood spot where busy professionals and area residents can pop in to grab a breakfast biscuit or salad and sandwich for lunch. “I think there’s an opportunity for fast, tasty breakfast in the area, people coming and going from work,” Hahn said. “I’ve always been on the go, and I’ve always liked eating with my hands, and I think people do.” Hahn, a Colorado native, has been on the corporate side of the industry for 15 years. He’s worked for Chipotle in operations and development, and helped DC restaurateurs expand the Philly-style hoagie chain Taylor Gourmet from four to nine locations. He first thought of his River City restaurant after a trip here from Florida, where he was helping launch a startup. “I visited Richmond for the UCI World Championship Bike Race,” he said. “While I was here, I heard a lot of great things about Richmond’s restaurant scene and started asking for restaurant recommendations.” Hahn soon met Melissa, his future fiancé, and once his contract in Florida was up in early 2016, he moved to Richmond to pursue his dream. Salt &Forge will be a from-scratch kitchen with most ingredients made in house. “We’ll roast our own meat, grind our own corned beef, make our own pickles, jams, dressings, sauces,” Hahn said. The menu offers Reubens, grilled cheeses, Cubanos, as well as brisket and an Italian sandwich for lunch, and on the lighter side, a beet salad; Mediterranean salad; and a superfood salad with kale, cabbage, bok choy and pickled apples; along with potato salad, fruit, and soups as sides. In addition to lunch, the 42-seat restaurant will be open for breakfast, serving biscuits and gravy, chicken biscuits, egg sandwiches, and biscuits with jam, along with cold-brew coffee. Locally-sourced desserts, beer, and wine will also be on the menu at the restaurant. Hahn plans to offer delivery as well as catering to local companies when he’s up and running. Salt & Forge is still undergoing construction, but Hahn plans to be open by first week of April. 312 N. 2ND ST. SALTANDFORGE.COM 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018


This March brings us the aroma of baked empanadas wafting out of Happy Empanada’s new restaurant space in Westover Hills. You’ve most likely seen their brightly-colored truck, painted with a smiling empanada, at Richmond breweries, festivals, and events, where they dish out hand-made empanadas, fried plantains, and other Latin side dishes several days a week. Happy Empanada has been serving up empanadas to hungry Richmonders since 2012. Owner Luciana, known as “Lucy,” emigrated from Panama to the United States in 1975, bringing her cooking skills to restaurants in Oregon, California, Texas, and Virginia. The food truck business she started six years ago is expanding with a brick and mortar spot for takeout, delivery, and catering, as well as a commercial kitchen for the food truck. “At the beginning, my mom wanted to do the truck just a couple times here and there,” said Linda, Luciana’s daughter. “It got so popular and kept getting booked and booked. This is just the evolution of it and the next step, so we can continue to do more events.” Linda, a longtime web developer, recently quit her day job to take over Happy Empanada so her mother can retire and return to Panama. The idea for Happy Empanada spawned on a holiday when Lucy realized she could take her recipes and love of cooking, and start her own food truck business. “We were cooking up empanadas one day, I think it was like Thanksgiving, and she was like, ‘these are great we could sell these!’, and [she] decided to do the food truck,” Linda said. “It took us about a year to put it together. It was 100 percent a family thing, My two brothers, my aunt and my uncle, and me and my mom all worked to get the truck, paint it and [get] equipment.” Lucy had the benefit of years of experience in the restaurant industry, from waiting tables to running other restaurants she’s owned, such as Pilot’s Wharf and Bambery’s Restaurant, both in Virginia’s Northern Neck. “She’s always cooked, and always enjoyed that,” Linda said of her mom’s passion. Lucy went full-time with Happy Empanada in 2013, quitting her other restaurant job to keep up with the demand of running the truck several days a week. The business has been using the commercial kitchen space Kitchen Thyme to churn out the empanadas they sell. Empanadas, which are a standard dish of Latin America, vary depending on the country,

according to Linda. “Whether they have a different type of dough, or they fold them different or [have] different fillings, everyone has their own way of making them,” Linda said. Growing up, they were a staple in Linda’s home, although she says her mother has had to tweak some of her recipes for the local customer base. “These have kind of morphed,” she said. “Growing up, we would get empanadas, but they would be made with raisins and olives. But our customers didn’t like that, so some of the recipes we’ve modified. Some we’ve developed over time for this business.” Currently, Happy Empanada offers five empanada flavors, including beef, pork chorizo, chicken with sundried tomatoes, spinach mushroom and feta, and apple guava, along with sides like rice and black beans, mango coleslaw, fried plantains, and chips and salsa. Over time, the demand grew to the point where Happy Empanada was having to turn down gigs, so Linda said for the last year, the crew scoured Richmond for a location to expand. They finally landed on the Westover Hills area in December, when they signed the lease on their new shop. “We’ll add more flavors of empanadas and more types of rice,” Linda said of the expanded menu that will come along with the new space. They will add arroz con gandules (rice, pigeon peas and pork), arroz con pollo, and arroz con coco (coconut rice). She also said they will add soups -- specifically Sancocho, a chicken soup dish common in Panama -- along with grilled meats on a stick and desserts. With the Southside spot, Linda also said they will be able to extend the days they’re out in the truck, offer delivery, and ramp up their catering operations. “We're going to sign up for Ubereats and GrubHub, and since we’ll have the location, we’ll be able to do more private events with our truck,” she said. Happy Empanada’s carryout and delivery spot is slated to open sometime this month. 1203 WESTOVER HILLS BLVD. FACEBOOK.COM/HAPPYEMPANADA






Spring is here, and local breweries have new releases, parties, and events planned for beer lovers in the River City and beyond. THE ANSWER BREWPUB bids a bittersweet farewell to head brewer Brandon Tolbert, who is pursuing his dreams and opening his own local project in Richmond, SAFETY TEAM BREWING CO. The new head brewer, Sean O’Hern, has worked with Tolbert and the rest of the staff for the last two years, leading to a smooth transition for the popular Richmond bar and restaurant--which is also expanding into a new patio and has future plans in the works. After their first year in Richmond, CHAMPION BREWING COMPANY-RVA, out of Charlottesville, has expanded into brewpub territory, with a “beer-infused” food menu. Every item has a beer component--salads with a beer-based vinaigrette, sandwiches like beerbraised brisket Reubens, and classic pub fare like beer-battered hand-cut onion rings. Even the desserts are flavored with beer, from the “beeramisu” to an IPA lemon tart--something for everyone so long as you love beer. The East Grace Street brewery has also ramped up its entertainment, working with local promoter Slimehole Productions to host free live shows featuring local and regional metal, punk, and rock bands every Thursday night. The pioneering LEGEND BREWING COMPANY is holding their annual anniversary celebration on April 14. The venerable Southside brewers are celebrating 24 years in business with live music, food trucks and specials, and anniversary-specific brews are all in the works. As part of a recent collaboration, RVA Mag collaborated with Legend to produce a special firkin for their neighbors at Dogtown Dance Theatre, which will see release on April 14. Other releases from Legend include Spring Pale Ale and Woman In Black. The former is a crisp beer that pairs with the warmer weather, providing a spicy herbal opening that transitions to notes of citrus and melon; the latter is an Eisbock that marks the first release of their Urban Legend Series for 2018. Legend will have a new neighbor in DOGTOWN BREWING CO., slated for a late 2018 or early 2019 opening in Manchester. Husband and wife team of Michael and Laura Dyer Hild will transform the old Thalhimers space on Hull Street into a beer hall, restaurant, and rooftop bar with a dog-friendly patio. Dogtown Brewing will have around 20 beers on draft. Chesterfield-based STEAM BELL BEER WORKS owner Brad Cooper opened his second brewery, CANON & DRAW BREWING COMPANY this month in the Fan. The West Main Street brewery will have eight taps, a seasonal menu, and a space for private events. While Steam Bell has built its reputation with


farmhouse ales, sours, and several stouts, Cooper told RVA Mag in May that Canon & Draw would be more IPA-heavy as well offer a variety of lagers. L'appel du Vide, a 10.5% Barley Wine, Weiz Guy, a 5.2% Hefeweizen, Three Kings: A 7.2% tropical DIPA, and Ad Nauseum, a hazy, juicy DIPA are a few of the beers the brewery will have available in its taproom. On the opposite side of the city, TABOL BREWING will open in Northside sometime this spring. A first for the area, Tabol will be a small-batch brewery and tasting room with a focus on wild and sour brews that are fermented and conditioned in barrels, puncheons, and foeders. HARDYWOOD PARK CRAFT BREWERY will host the grand opening of HARDYWOOD WEST CREEK, their Goochland expansion the weekend of April 6-8, Nestled on 24 acres overlooking Tuckahoe Creek just off 288, Hardywood’s forthcoming location is a 55,000 squarefoot brewery nestled on 24 acres overlooking Tuckahoe Creek just off 288. The West Creek location features a 4,000 square-foot taproom, mezzanine, outdoor patio and beer garden with a 60-barrel brew system which will allow Hardywood to produce 35,000 barrels annually at capacity. Hardywood West Creek will have 18 beers on tap when it opens with most of them made with ingredients sourced from Virginia. The brewery is launching a new double IPA, Hopkeeper, on April 7 and recently, made a special Phantom of the Opera-themed black lager, which will be served at the Majestic Theater in New York City in collaboration with the Happy Hour Guys for their Broadway Brews Project. The making of the beer will be revealed in a special web video with appearances from members of the Phantom cast. Up in NoVA, Manassas-based HERITAGE BREWING is celebrating five years in the business with some big changes. The company has a new logo, new recipes, and a new lineup of flagship beers, dropping on March 10. Founders and veteran brothers Ryan & Sean Arroyo are now working side by side full time in the brewery. Their new brand and logo gives a nod to the two founders with its subtle stars side by side. Heritage is also planning updates to their taproom and Arlington brewpub over the rest of 2018. The brewery has tweaked its flagship Freedom Isn’t Free IPA recipe and added Force Multiplier Double IPA and Civil Works honey lager to its lineup.




“When I got signed, MAKING I learned and more OF A MODEL understood about who I am as by MEgan Wilson photo by Allison MacEwen

When Heloíne Moreno left her hometown of Bauru, Brazil, locals mourned. The striking young woman had quickly risen from anonymous local daughter to highly sought-after fashion model. Now she was heading to the far-off city of Richmond, Virginia, to take the next step in her new career. Before she got her break, she had lived with her mother and grandmother in a small house. She helped with bills by working as a go-go dancer at nightclubs like Labirinthus, which led to her first modeling gig, promoting the popular gay dance club. Then she helped out backstage during a fashion show for a friend who owned the Óbvio Boutique. “I remember at the end of the show, a lot of her friends asked why I wasn’t modeling,” Moreno said. “Next season I was a model and was featured in a magazine. I just loved that.” Moreno had been studying English and Portuguese, and had a side job translating for local tourism companies. Modeling wasn’t a passion, but she was curious, and she knew she wanted to go to the United States. She found a job as an au pair for a single mom here in Richmond and set out. “I started modeling on the side a few months after living here,” she said. “I did a photo shoot for my birthday and things started picking up. I got really interested in learning more.” Moreno researched her chosen career by watching episodes of America’s Next Top Model, which she described as one of the most practical and significant resources. She built a portfolio, learned the poses, and made a few connections. Then she went to New York. There, she spent three months with her portfolio going from casting call to casting call, walked in a few fashion shows, and signed with an agency. But she kept her apartment in Richmond. “When I got signed, I learned and understood more about who I am as a model,” Moreno said. “New York modeling is very high fashion, super tall and skinny. I can’t grow more. I was frustrated in the beginning. I learned I needed to be happy with who I am.” Moreno took the experience and connections back to her studio apartment in Richmond, where she kept receiving casting calls from all over the country. Moreno also found work here, and walked her first local show at Carytown Fashion Feeds the Byrd in 2014. “There’s definitely growing opportunity here for fashion,” she said. “Competition is a sign. There are competing fashion shows, new boutiques, and new models. Competition spurs growth.” Moreno has worked with local boutiques including Fab’rik, Trunk Up, and Tailor, as well as designers including Tangee’s Closet, TJ Sewer, 13 YEARS 10 YEARS OF OF RVA RVA MAGAZINE MAGAZINE 2005-2018 2005-2015

a model. New York modeling is very high fashion, super tall and skinny. I can’t grow more. I was frustrated in the beginning. I learned I needed to be happy with who I am.” and Victoria Lynn Designs. She also works with national brands who have a local presence, like Bebe and Lily Rain. If there’s a show to walk in Richmond, she tries her best to do it. Most of her work isn’t local, but she calls Richmond a good home base, especially with access to the train. Since 2012, her modeling career has taken her to New York, Salt Lake City, and Hawaii. Her specialty is glam modeling, which mostly means lingerie and bikinis. “Sometimes I get criticized because I’m in a bikini contest again,” she said. “Because I keep trying to show who I am, I got to go to Hawaii, Salt Lake City. It’s all paid and I love to travel.” She’s found success in competitions and pageants, notably winning the crown of Miss Brazil USA in 2014. “Then I started knowing about other contests and submissions I could make,” she said. “It was and is all about networking -- who you know. Then, I started getting published in magazines and now I’m in at least 20 of them.” She recently placed second in Maxim’s Finest competition, among a field of thousands. She’s set her sights on a $50,000 prize from Jet Set Magazine for her next event. In the first round of public voting, she’s held strong in first place. The competition ends April 11. She asks local supporters to vote for her daily at jetsetmag. com/model-search. While Moreno travels for these competitions and photo shoots, she works closely with a list of Richmond-based photographers for her photo submissions. Her favorite photographers in Richmond include Glen Dandridge (GD shoots), Michael Hostetler (Michael Hostetler Photography), and Bobby Stephis (Nothingman Photography). Dandridge took the photos that secured Moreno’s runner-up position in the Maxim contest. Keep an eye out--chances are that you’ll be seeing Moreno in a lot more magazines, especially since her first cover in late 2017 on Implied Magazine. And if you’re in Richmond, you can see her in person this April when she walks in RVA Fashion Week.



THE LATEST THREADS, COLLABS AND FASHION EVENTS IN RICHMOND BY MEGAN WILSON There’s more to style than finding the right fit and mastering new trends. The ethics of fashion are a growing concern worldwide, and a group of local women are bringing that consciousness to the local scene. Led by Rupa Singh of Love This, they launched the ETHICAL STYLE COLLECTIVE this January. The collective plans to host educational events about ethical fashion to encourage intentional shopping and conscious conversations in the industry. The initial launch event attracted boutique owners, clothing designers, a seamstress, fashionforward consumers and more. After surveying attendees of the launch, the collective decided to host a clothing swap in late February. Nearly 30 women brought clothing to the swap, skipping factory-made mass-market clothes in order to recycle their wardrobes and find something stylish. In January and February, Richmond area models and designers began walking the runway and showcasing their latest designs in preparation for RVA FASHION WEEK. Between now and April 23, makeup artists, hair stylists, DJs and more are also preparing for the 10th anniversary of Richmond’s annual week-long celebration of fashion. Attendees can expect a close-up look at new and emerging designers and boutiques, according to Larissa Wisniewski, executive director of Fashion Week. As in past years, Fashion Week kicks off with its signature networking social, an invitation-only event for local industry professionals. New to the lineup is a fashion show dedicated to designers who have not participated in previous RVA Fashion Week events. For the sixth year in a row, local nonprofit Dress for Success of Central Virginia will host its Recycle the Runway Fashion Show on Wednesday, April 25, a tradition that’s become a mainstay of the event. The organization gifts donated professional clothing to women in need, helping them as they seek professional employment. Some of the donations they receive aren’t ready-to-wear, and they ask local designers to create create high fashion garments using the most soiled or damaged clothing donations. After his ALQEMY APPAREL line appeared on BET’s Tales last year, designer Brendan James has been preparing his second collection of modernist designs inspired by medieval alchemy. He’ll roll out new items throughout the summer season, including shorts, a jacket, snapback hats, and short sleeves. Expect a pastel color palette, subdued colors, and “a splash of brights here and there.” Alqemy Apparel will be on sale during First Fridays in May, location TBA. Consignment shops in Richmond have great options for styleconscious women, but men haven’t had many options. Until this past fall, when Susan Youngs opened A MAN'S WORLD, selling premium suits, dress shoes, ties, and other men’s accessories. The store joins a growing list of fashion store fronts in the Arts District at 100 West Broad Street. After a social media build up, Richmond natives Emma Manis and Colleen Hegarty launched the website for EVOLVE, an online boutique. The initial collection features 14 items including dresses, rompers, and tops, and will continue to grow. Evolve currently carries She & Sky, Sole Mio, and LUX LA. Manis said the two decided to launch the business in Richmond “because of the combination of a boho and grungy city feel that we pull from for inspiration for ourcollections, not to mention that it is a growing city with endless opportunities.” Evolve will host its first pop-up March 2nd at 101 W Broad St. at 5 PM.




It’s Friday in Richmond. Quarter to 11, at 202 West Broad Street, there’s a group of men gathering on the sidewalk. They’ve got bags in hand, or shoeboxes under their arms. They’re hoping some of their shoes, shirts, and hoodies might lead to a payout from Round Two’s Richmond store. Inside, Round Two store manager Austin King has been setting up for the day. He’s lined the shelves from top to bottom with tees, jackets, jerseys, hats and sneakers from Yeezy, Supreme, Stone Island, BAPE and Guess. Some of the items come from the guys out front, others were thrift store treasure. “That’s what we call heat,” King said. “It’s stuff we’re excited to buy as much as we want to sell.” The store counter stays busy, with men steadily coming in to bring mountains of shoeboxes or sometimes a single sweater. It’s a delicate dance that’s often personal. The men on both sides of the counter see their “hypebeast” finds as art. As consumers and buyers, they determine the value of the items, not the manufacturer. “The store attracts anyone and everyone,“ said Haile Cano, who manages the website and store operations in Richmond. King and Cano know most of the regulars by first name. Some come in daily, others are new. Cano shared a story about a grandmother who came to the store to buy a pair of Jordans for her grandson. “She copped some for herself,” he said. “She left looking at her feet and smiling.” Cano has been with Round 2 since 2013 and has watched the company and brand grow. He stepped in to help founder Chris Russow, a high school friend. He’s often behind the counter with Austin receiving new items. “I always start by asking people what they’re looking for in an item,” he said. “Condition is important, but also... what is a customer willing to pay for a specific item? They control the resale value of products.” King chimed in with one big sale, saying, “I once sold a brand new pair of Red October Yeezys for $4,400.” King also recalled a man who drove from Pittsburgh with 86 pairs of shoes. He took home around $10,000 that day. Other coveted items are shipped biweekly from LA and New York, where Round Two has second and third 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018

locations. The New York store just opened in fall 2017. “Being in major cities for the brand is super important,” King said. “They are all hubs for fashion in the world.” Compared to other store locations, King says the “east coast is more fixated on sneakers.” In LA, you’ll find more apparel and high fashion items. Co-owners Sean Wotherspoon, Chris Russow, and Luke Fracher are driving the brand forward all over the country. They leverage the power of Instagram and Youtube to promote the lifestyle and culture of sneakerheads, thrift fanatics and Supreme collectors. Wotherspoon has collaborated with Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, and Guess for special collections and sneaker releases. The launch of Wotherspoon’s Nike collaboration caused a shutdown of Cary Street last November. He launched his Nike Air Max 1/97 at Need Supply Co., where he got his own sneaker fix before opening Round Two. Viral videos showed a police car swarmed by hundreds of hopeful buyers. Shoes from that limited release of a few hundred sell for more than $1000 on online resale markets. With a physical presence in LA, Round Two has attracted A-listers like ASAP Rocky, Playboi Carti, Travis Scott, Lil Yachty, Kendall Jenner, and ASAP Ferg. Richmond remains an important part of the brand’s roots, though. “Everyone has worked in the Richmond store at one point,” King said. In Richmond, Round Two has a barbershop vibe. Customers ranging from preteen to middle age come in to not only cop the latest releases and vintage finds, but to linger, talk, and connect. It’s a second home for some. "This city has culture that needed a hub for people to connect to all of this stuff,” King said. “I’m all about making relationships with people that last.” Wotherspoon and the Round Two team are working on their own apparel line. Expect it to hit stores and the web this year.









11131 West Broad St, Glen Allen, VA 23060 13 YEARS OF RVA MAGAZINE 2005-2018

(804) 967-0500 Proud Sponsor 63




Profile for RVA Magazine

RVA #32 SPRING 2018  

RVA Magazine is back with our 32nd issue, a celebration of women in arts, music, fashion, and politics. In a year dubbed the year of women,...

RVA #32 SPRING 2018  

RVA Magazine is back with our 32nd issue, a celebration of women in arts, music, fashion, and politics. In a year dubbed the year of women,...

Profile for snooka

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded