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January 2010

The ICON Issue RED HOT Andy Cohen Gateway Icons LGBT Media - yesterday, today & tomorrow

Complimentary Copy

This issue is dedicated to Food Outreach


7 11 18 21 23 25 26

RED HOT Andy Cohen Gateway ICONS Legacy of LGBT Media LIVE + CREATE: ReDo Date Place: Bobo Noodle House Scene & Styling Non-profit of the month: Food Outreach



Volume 11, Issue 1 Index Darin Slyman – Publisher/Editor Tess Tulley – Director of Business Affairs Jeff Kapfer – Design Colin Murphy – Senior Writer Contributors Richard Nichols – Photography Mark Webber – Writer Corey Stulce – Writer Gabriel Thorne – Intern

ONLINE ADVERTISING 314.256.1196 (office) ADVISORY BOARD Sharon Tucci Jay Perez William A. Donius Colin Murphy Pam Schneider Thom Halter

CONTACT Vital VOICE Magazine is published the first week of every month by Darin Slyman & Associates LLC. 4579 Laclede Avenue #268, Saint Louis, Missouri 63108 314.256.1196



Friends, Happy New Year and welcome to the second decade of the twenty-first century. I am so proud and honored to welcome you to a new era in LGBT media for the St. Louis region. The new Vital VOICE—Vital VOICE magazine—is tomorrow’s Omni-media publication and informative source that has been conceptually created just for you. The new magazine format is a modern reflection of today’s community and each month we will strive to showcase all that is great and amazing about our LGBT lifestyle and community. With this debut, appropriately titled The ICON Issue, we wanted to re-launch by saluting some of St. Louis’ very own movers and shakers who have selflessly made a commitment to the betterment of our community. In addition to Icons, our senior writer, Colin Murphy has also scribed a fabulous feature on the history of LGBT media in St. Louis showcasing how we began and were we are going. We are further pleased to present St. Louis’ own hometownboy, Andy Cohen who is rapidly becoming an LGBT ICON as well as a POP ICON on the national scene. This February, “Mr. Bravo” has been tapped to be the celebrity host for “RED 2010 on Broadway”. For those of you not in the know, “RED”, is the annual benefit for Doorways St. Louis. Vital VOICE is proud to be one of the media sponsors for the “Cast Party” which will take place February 6, 2010 at the downtown Hilton St. Louis from 11p.m. to 3a.m. For tickets, please log on to doorwayshousing. org or call 314.535.1919, ext. 3048. This is sure to be a night to remember! Each month in our new LIVE+CREATE (a.k.a. Lifestyle) section, you will learn about some of the great places to see and be seen as well as information on those in the community who make our world a little more artistic. Who knows, you may even spot a photo of yourself in our Scene & Styling pages. That’s right, Vital VOICE has gone all paparazzi. STAY TUNED Over this next year, we at Vital VOICE plan on bringing you a cornucopia of new ways to keep the community informed and bring us closer together. This summer we are planning a complete redesign of our website and look forward to bringing you video reporting. Currently we are scheduling many LGBT events in celebration of YOU. We have also decided to partner with SAGE to create some special programs for the senior members of our community.

One of our goals is to be more involved with not just our community, but the non-profit community as well. To that end, each issue will be dedicated to a non-profit of the month and a portion of our event proceeds will be donated to that organization. We’ll also donate an editorial page to tell the non-profit’s story in addition to partnering with them in programs throughout that month. I am pleased to announce that this month’s non-profit is Food Outreach and we encourage you, our community, to support this fabulous organization this January. As you can see we have many things planned for you in the months ahead. I have only laid out a small portion of the great new packages to come and we encourage you to get involved and send us your comments, suggestions and the ideas that reflect YOU. You can contact us at Again, Happy New Year and Welcome to Vital VOICE magazine!


Darin Slyman Publisher


: n e h o C y And RED HOT

On Bravo – On Broadway Written by Corey Stulce

On Bravo network exec. Andy Cohen’s hit Thursday night show, “Watch What Happens Live,” he poses pointed audience questions to guests like Sarah Jessica Parker, Isaac Mizrahi and Dem. Rep. Barney Frank. For this St. Louis-boy-makes-good profile of Andy, we went straight, er, forward, to Facebook to get questions

for the handsome, charming (Did we already mention handsome? Oh, good.) Senior Vice President of Production

and Programming, responsible for such hits as “The Real Housewives of …,” “Flipping Out,” “Project Runway” and “Top Chef,” among others. “I love it!” Andy said about being FB queried. Sooo, “What are you doing on Friday?” Andy Cohen: Friday, I’m going to a party Jimmy Fallon is having for his show. “Do you have a boyfriend?” Andy: I don’t have a boyfriend. I need a boyfriend. “Who is your best boo at the end of the day?” (Andy says “boo.” A lot.) Andy: I think I’m my own best boo. I have a lot of good boos, though. My friend Bruce is my best boo. He’s been to St. Louis with me a bunch of times. He’s a great guy. Shawn asks, “What’s it like to be a GIP (Gay In Public)?” Andy: That is so funny. How does it feel to be a GIP? Feels good. I don’t really think about being a gay spokesperson. I don’t feel like I represent all gay people. I feel like I am a gay person who happens to be doing a lot of other things. I do speak up a lot about gay issues on my show.


OK, enough faceless quizzing. Andy Clayton High Class of ’86, holla! – is coming home next month to serve as the celebrity host for the Doorways Red 2010 on Broadway fund-raising event. Doorways, which helps provide housing for men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, is dear to Andy because his mother, Evelyn, joined its board as a response to his coming out of the closet 20 years ago. “I wanted to do something to show him I cared about him. I didn’t know what to do. At the time, the AIDS epidemic was in full force,” Evelyn Cohen told Vital Voice. She was a Doorways board member for about 10 years, from 1990-2000, she said, and remains active. “Every single person that has been on that board is the most thoughtful, giving person,” Evelyn said. She recalled the first building Doorways transformed, on Delmar, which had to be gutted, and how Lynne Cooper, President, was able to “beg, borrow and steal everything for that building,” giving hope to some people living with AIDS that otherwise would have been homeless. “It’s been wonderful. And sad,” Evelyn added. “She doesn’t waste her time,” Andy said of his mom. “She found an organization that was changing people’s lives.” Andy’s pledge to Doorways is a reflection of the deep commitment to his mother, who during her interview for this article was giggling at a photo of a 4-year-old Andy wearing hair curlers. “Yes, I was surprised. I shouldn’t have been, but I was,” she said about Andy’s coming out as a sophomore at Boston University, dishing the dirt in ways only a mother can. “I went through a mourning process of what my expectations were, but you know it’s been a wonderful thing in the last 20 years,” she said. “At that time, I couldn’t conceive of him every having a family. Now, there is a possibility. It’s gotten so much better; not best but better.” Andy’s behind-the-scenes gigs in broadcast television include his stint as a producer for CBS News, which led to a Vice President of Programming position with the former Trio network, where he won a Peabody Award and also supervised the documentary “Gay Republicans.”

But at Bravo, Andy has taken the opportunity to directly communicate with the engaged viewers of shows like “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List” and “The Rachel Zoe Project,” via his TV show and popular blog, where he details his bustling and fascinating life in and around the business of show. It’s rare – and some might say refreshing – to see a TV executive willing to share the frank opinions and backstage drama usually reserved for behind-closed-door meetings and angry Bluetooth rants.

Andy shared what might be a typical Saturday night during the “Frankie Say Relax” era in the Lou with young Master Cohen.

“Bravo’s been on the forefront of working with its audience,” Andy said. “Do I selfcensor? While it seems sometimes I don’t, sometimes there’s a joke people don’t get, or when it’s in print, I go, ‘God, I can’t believe I told that story.’ I’m aware of a line. I definitely think about what I put down before I write it.”

Andy was student body president while still deeply terrified in the closet and voted Most Talkative by the Class of ’86.

While hosting the Bravo reunion specials (catfights) and his own show would seem to occupy a lot of Andy’s time, it’s really a thin slice of his jammed schedule. He offered a little breakdown of the day he was being interviewed for Vital Voice: “Screened two cuts of shows, had a production conference call about my live show, had lunch with the proposed host of a new show, had a production meeting, had a pitch meeting with a big fashion person, have another pitch meeting at 5, will screen one more show and then I’m going to see a play tonight.” Andy said he would consider any opportunity tossed his way, including giving up some of his production duties to be on screen more frequently. “I will tell you I’m having a blast doing the show.” He said. “I am so proud of the crazy mix of guests we had, from the Housewives to Barney Frank to getting Levi Johnston to pose nude. That came out of our show, crazily.” And as a public figure, according to another gay blogger, Perez Hilton, Andy’s life is up for scrutiny. And if the nice, Jewish boy from St. Louis were to become the center of a media scandal? “If I was guilty, I would cop to it immediately and fall on my sword. And I think that’s always the way to go,” he said. Tracking down Andy’s date to the prom yielded no juicy nuggets. “She didn’t get much action, I can tell you that,” he laughed.

“Andy is driving his dad’s old 1972 Buick Skylark convertible, canary yellow with white interior. And he has a posse of people in the car. And we’re on the roof of the Famous-Barr parking lot, maybe doing things we’re not supposed to be doing up there. Then we’re going to Steak and Shake on Brentwood Blvd.,” he said.

His chatter has served him well on the air for the last half-year on “Watch What Happens,” but the seeds of performance were planted decades ago, Mama Evelyn shared. “When he was little, there was a thing called Pop Rocks. You put them under your tongue. Channel 4 came to the pharmacy on the corner by our house and he was in hysterics with these Pop Rocks. He was on TV then,” she said. “And he worked for (Sen.) Tom Eagleton when he was 13, and they took him to this thing where Jimmy Carter was and they gave him a question to read, so he was on TV then. I think he really liked it.” “He’s always been a bit of a drama queen,” she added. “He accuses me of that, (but) he got that from me.” Lying in bed in Clayton all those years ago, teen Andy dreamt of being a big, gay TV host, and like all boys in 1985, desperately sought face time with Madonna. Now, both dreams have come true, as Andy recently had a date night with the former Material Girl for the premiere of Tom Ford’s directorial gay-but, “A Single Man.” “I’m definitely working through my bucket list,” he said. “She smelled great. Her fishnets were perfect.” And there was the requisite goodnight smooch. No tongue. But, maybe next time. Andy said, “A boy can hope.”

Doorways’ Red 2010 on Broadway will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark. Visit for more information.

GATEWAY Reaching Beyond the Rainbow Written by Colin Murphy Photography by Richard Nichols

i·con: One who is the object of great attention and devotion Hillary was right—it takes a village—and the St. Louis lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community is replete with leaders, allies and movers-and shakers who toil each day for the betterment of our tribe. For in each generation there is a cadre of individuals who step up to the plate. At times, it is thankless work but the sum of their efforts is history making. To that end, Vital Voice Magazine honors these home town heroes with our first annual Icon series devoted to the LGBT and allied voices that reach beyond the rainbow to shape our prismatic community. There were many deserving individuals to choose from, both past and present, and we look forward to visiting their stories. But in the meantime, we welcome the Inaugural Class of 2010 to the pages of our publication. Many of them were instrumental in the planning of the Dec. 4 vigil, march and rally against violence in The Grove. We honor you—your efforts, and all that you do.


DIETA PEPSI Leon Braxton, Jr.’s illusion of the incomparable Dieta Pepsi was realized at the home of his Drag Mother, Jeff Noble (Mona Desmond) in 1987. Noble suggested Braxton’s unique moniker after noticing that the Kansas City native’s natural complexion matched that of the glass of watered down Pepsi that sat on a nearby makeup table. A relative unknown in the late 1980s, Braxton would soon drop jaws at the 1991 Miss Gay Missouri America Pageant by becoming the first plus sized contestant to legitimately capture the coveted crown. But the critics were soon quieted as Braxton proved that a queen with a funny name could achieve great things. Braxton’s Dieta Pepsi remains one of Missouri’s most beloved and accomplished female impersonators having collected a trophy case of titles throughout the big four systems. He placed in the top five at Miss Gay America five years in a row and is the only entertainer from St. Louis to place in the top five in three national contests in one year. Upon retiring from competition, Braxton had captured every state-wide female impersonation title in Missouri and has also made a name for himself in male pageantry.

Indeed, Braxton’s altruism mirrors his accomplishments having served on the Board of Directors of the St. Louis AIDS Foundation and as a master Guardian with Project Ark since 2004. He has raised millions of dollars for various charities including St. Louis Effort for AIDS, Doorway, PAWS, Food Outreach and Stray Rescue and most recently helped to raise money for the Equality Bus for the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. this past October. A Mortgage Banker by day, Braxton’s alter-ego has hosted St. Louis Pridefest for the past 18-years and enjoyed success as a stand up comic at Union Station. He currently hosts HOMO BINGO at Just John’s on Monday nights and regularly shines in “The Dieta Pepsi Variety Show” and the “Super Sunday Show” on weekends at the Complex. Braxton has performed in several community theatre productions in St. Louis throughout the years, including Beyond Stonewall: Why We March.

BERT COLEMAN What gay man wouldn’t have wanted Tina Turner to be their baby sitter or to count the equally iconic Bette Midler among his friends? Such is the life of Bert Coleman. The St. Louis native who majored in Theater and Political Science at Webster and Washington Universities will be the first to tell you—he’s led an interesting life. In the 1970s Coleman moved to New York earning roles in the National Tours of Hair, Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar. He worked for Disco hit-maker, Polydor Records which soon gained him entre into New York’s nightlife, including Studio 54 and later worked for various record labels promoting, among others, Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross.

Brett Daniels shows no signs of slowing down. He remains active with Change for America, the organization responsible for the National March, as well as focusing on a personal passion of his—racial diversity and inclusiveness within the LGBT community.

It’s a fair statement to say that entertainment lies at the heart Coleman’s prolific activism—for the industry was one of the first to feel the ravages of AIDS and the disease’s decimation of the gay community in the early 1980s. Horror struck and angered at the death and government inaction, Coleman was one of the founders of LIFEbeat -The Music Industry Fights AIDS. He worked with the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and was instrumental in holding myriad high profile benefits and events in New York. Coleman’s activism continued in California where he worked on the first Radio sponsored AIDS Dance-A-Thon with Powr106 and Madonna and, in 1990, joined David Mixner and thousands of LGBT citizens in marching against Gov. Pete Wilson. Returning to St. Louis in 1993, Coleman was one of the co-founders of the local chapter of the Human Rights Campaign Fund and served as co-chair for their Black Tie Gala. He has worked with Pride St. Louis, served as the first Restaurant Chair for Dining Out For Life and been involved with countless organizations, benefits and vigils oftentimes calling on friends from the entertainment industry to lend a hand. Most recently Coleman served on the Executive Steering Committee for last year’s National Equality March where he was put in charge of selecting the official March song and helped to organize the HIV/AIDS Vigil and Candlelight Memorial at the Ellipse. Coleman, who presently runs B & B Music Group and manages country singer,


BECKY ROTHMAN Becky Rothman may be St. Louis’ “Queen of Carpet” but to her many gay friends and lesbian daughter, she’s the Queen of Hearts. Rothman can be counted among the many thousands of LGBT allies who reside in the Gateway City; an oftentimes underreported facet of our community.

Rothman’s ties to the LGBT community began in her early 20s—so when her best friend and daughter Rachel worked up the courage to tell her that she was a lesbian during an emotional car ride at age14—Rothman’s reply was, “Oh honey, I was worried you were going to tell me something awful.”

Best known as the zany ringmaster of the magic-carpet-riding commercials for Becky’s Carpet & Tile Superstore, Rothman is a camp icon in The Lou, a title she embraces whole heartedly.

Rothman has participated in a multitude of LGBT events and, in recent years, has accompanied her daughter to PrideFest and the LGBT Youth Prom sponsored by Growing American Youth (G.A.Y.).

“To this day, people still dress up like me at Halloween,” admitted Rothman. “…I’m very approachable and more comfortable with my gay friends than most people.”

“Just love them,” is Rothman’s advise to parents whose children have recently come out to them. “Just love and support your kids.”

“It’s wonderful—I just love it,” offered Rothman of Pride. “It’s just so great to see everyone so happy and everyone coming together.” Rothman is easily recognizable and oftentimes approached in LGBT settings by young people who have just recently or are preparing to come out to their parents. True to form she greets them with a warm smile, listens to their stories and is at the ready with a big hug and supportive words.

GREG LUKEMAN Answering his community’s call to action, St. Louis native, Greg Lukeman started volunteering for Food Outreach in 1989 and has served as the local charity’s Executive Director since 2001. With professional experience in the for-profit sector, including stints at Monsanto, Ralston Purina and Maritz Research Company, the UMSL alumnus applies his business acumen to the daily operations and strategic initiatives of the beloved nonprofit, which was founded in 1988. Food Outreach is the only organization in metropolitan area devoted to providing nutritional support and healthy meals for men, women, and children living with cancer or HIV/AIDS. They provide 410,000 meals annually. Leading a team of 11 staff members and a group of over 600 volunteers, Lukeman is responsible for a budget of over $1.4 million. Under his leadership, two Illinois food programs were opened to address the disparate level of nutritional services, the client base has swelled to 1,600, and the mission was formally expanded to also include all cancers in 2006. True to his entrepreneurial spirit, Food Outreach entered into an agreement with a start up cookie business called Batter Up cookies which has since grown to occupy a larger space than the Food Outreach kitchen. Within the last year, he created partnerships with both Walgreens and Schnucks Specialty Pharmacies so clients could have access to pharmacists twice weekly. Lukeman also serves on the National Board for the Association of Nutrition Services Agencies (ANSA)—an organization established for the advocacy of the complex nutritional needs of people living with HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. He travels to Washington, D.C. several times a year to advocate for federal dollars for the HIV/AIDS community through the Ryan White CARE Act. Recently, his efforts helped change the definition of medical nutrition therapy to include both nutritional counseling and medically appropriate food. Through ANSA, he sits on its International Committee which raises money for two food programs in Africa—one in South Africa; the other is in Namibia.

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PAMELA SCHNEIDER In the Jewish faith there is a tradition called mitsvot(s) or “good deeds” which pretty much sums up Pam Schneider’s philosophy of serving the LGBT community. “I believed if I helped one person feel a part of a larger community and make him or her feel like they belonged it was worth the cost,” said Schneider of her foray into the financially precarious world of publishing. A native St. Louisan, Schneider began her career in 1978 as a registered nurse working primarily in the emergency room. She held various positions in the health care industry until 1996 when she embarked on a career in realty and subsequently purchased St. Louis Network, LLC. St. Louis Network, LLC was established in 1994 with the intent to publish the St. Louis Community Pride Pages, a business directory of gay owned, gay operated and gay friendly businesses. In June, Schneider will publish the 16-annual Pride Pages which enjoys a wide circulation throughout the metropolitan area. Knowing the importance of continuity in our community, Vital Voice was added to St. Louis Network, LLC’s list of publications to fill the void of the recently shuttered Lesbian and Gay News Telegraph, founded in 1981. Vital Voice debuted at PrideFest 2001 and under Schneider’s stewardship, raised the bar for LGBT journalism in St. Louis. This was epitomized in 2004 when nine of the Democratic presidential candidates, including nominee Sen. John Kerry, granted exclusive interviews to the publication. Schneider sold Vital Voice to current publisher, Darin Slyman, late last year Over the past several years, Schneider has received many accolades for her service to the LGBT community including the 2009 Humanitarian of the Year Award from St. Louis Black Pride and the 2008 Individual Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign. Schneider looks forward to publishing Pride Pages and expanding its reach to the LGBT community in addition to building up her real estate business. Currently plans are under way to make the old Vital Voice building on Manchester available to non profits to rent to have a “real address.”

ED REGGI & SCOTT EMANUEL Any list of LGBT difference makers would not be complete without Scott Emanuel and Ed Reggi. After all, the recently married couple has been omnipresent over the past decade in terms of their advocacy work whether leading the charge or showing support. Emanuel is a Development Associate for the ACLU of Eastern Missouri and a graduate of St. Louis University with a Masters in Social Work. For the past eight years he has been an Adult Advisor for Growing American Youth, a St. Louis support group for LGBT and questioning youth 21 and under and was a member of the Host Committee for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s 2004 Creating Change conference held in St. Louis. A graduate of the Edward R. Murrow School of Television and Communications, Reggi is a nationally known actor, director, producer and educator. Following the passage of California’s Proposition-8 in Nov. 2008, the Brooklyn, New York native founded Show Me No Hate, and along with Emanuel, immediately organized the successful Nov. 15 rally where thousands of protestors converged at the Old Courthouse downtown to decry the passage of the Amendment revoking same sex marriage in California.

Since the founding of the LGBT rights organization, Emanuel and Reggi’s visibility has only grown. Making use of new media, the duo’s Twitter and Facebook accounts are frenetic with action whether drawing attention to a little known news story or rallying the troops to protest en masse. Over the past year the couple have tirelessly championed myriad causes and political actions on behalf of the LGBT community ranging from taking two bus loads of same sex couples to Iowa to legally marry and a third bus to shuttle St. Louisans to the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. to counter protesting the virulent homophobe, Rev. Fred Phelps at area schools and most recently, holding a protest outside of St. Louis’ Cathedral Basilica in opposition to the Archdiocese’s funding of the anti-gay marriage effort in Maine. Emanuel and Reggi, who celebrate 11-years together this month, are currently featured in the documentary, Heartland Transport, a film detailing same sex marriage in Iowa. Show Me No Hate’s next Marriage Bus will be Iowa bound, March 12 in conjunction with Reggi’s next side project, “10,000 marriages by 2012 in Iowa”.

1 Out of Ten

Ain’t Bad! Continuing the Proud Legacy of Local LGBT Media Written by Colin Murphy With the relaunch of Vital Voice Magazine, we continue the proud legacy of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media here in the Gateway City. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved over the past nine years under former Publisher, Pam Schneider and am equally excited about the new direction and style the publication is taking as Darin Slyman takes the helm. Like our predecessor, The Lesbian and Gay News Telegraph, Vital Voice has always been considered our community’s newspaper of record. Indeed, we were born out of the Telegraph’s demise and its founder and editor served in the latter capacity our first year. So let there be no mistake—we will continue to be the source for local LGBT news, politics and features at The website not only offers unlimited space but it allows us to be timely, which is key. As Senior Writer, I will personally be heading up this effort so feel free to contact me with your suggestion, inquiries and press releases. We also hope to make use of video and audio reports down the road in addition to revamping the website. As you see, the print publication—which is monthly at the moment—has been totally redesigned. Within these pages you will find entertainment and lifestyle, features and commentary, dining, nightlife, home and hearth. It will be a cornucopia of interest to the LGBT community and most importantly, fun to read. We’re striving to harness a hybrid in media—the popularity of an entertainment and lifestyle publication married with our charge to provide accurate, timely, and thought provoking news. Accordingly, by making the best use of our print and web editions, I believe we’ll do just that.

soon changed the publication’s name to Gay St. Louis—a daring and empowering title for the day. It published until 1978.

Each of us in the LGBT community stands on the shoulders of those who came before us and Vital Voice is no different. We owe a debt to the generations who helped to prepare the ground before us. For the rise of the LGBT press throughout the latter half of the last century is a uniquely American tale. At that point in time—and some may argue, to this very day—the mainstream media had no interest in reporting our stories. Local publications wouldn’t place our ads. Undaunted, we created our own publications that despite slim budgets and demanding deadlines, began to flourish. They are a slice of urban individuality that helps to inform, celebrate, entertain and shape our community.

1970s “It [queer life in the early 1970s] was all word of mouth,” recalled LGBT activist, scribe and Left Bank Books proprietor, Kris Kleindienst in a 2002 interview with Vital Voice. “There wasn’t much else—you went to bars, you went to parties and you read of national things in underground newspapers and books. There was no radio, no paper and nothing in the mainstream news. There was a lot more fear, discretion, and actively-expressed self-loathing. We were homosexuals. The language was archaic.” Kleindienst was part of a lesbian collective in the early 1970s which met in houses up and down Westminster, Washington, and McPherson in the Central West End, which was run down at the time. It was called “Women’s House” and together they published an underground newsletter which many consider to be the first LGBT publication in St. Louis. Moonstream was first published in 1973 on a printing press in the collective’s basement and would run for several years. In 1975 the first issue of Primetime was published by the Mid-Continent Life Services Corporation (MLSC), an early gay rights organization that operated the St. Louis Gay Hotline. The organization

Realizing the importance of having a LGBT publication, Gay Life Magazine was founded in 1978 by the late, Bill Cordes to fill the void of its predecessor. His would become a full-size, color publication that was extremely popular, and included various local talent such as the late, Lisa Wagaman (MoDyke). But due to the fact that advertisers were reluctant to purchase space in a gay magazine, a one dollar charge was levied at newsstands throughout the city—including one at Lambert Airport—a first for any St. Louis LGBT publication. Gay Life ended its run in 1979.

1980s The 1980s proved a defining decade for LGBT publications. No Bad News hit the streets in 1980 and ran for five years. The Lesbian and Gay News Telegraph started its 19-year run in 1981. Viewpoint debuted in 1986 publishing for a couple of years. Plus premiered and disappeared in 1987 and The Show Me Guide enjoyed a healthy run from 1988-1992. These publications played an intricate role in informing a frightened community in the face of AIDS. In the early days of the disease the mainstream media mirrored the government’s silence and inaction. It was the LGBT media who rang the alarm. It was the LGBT media who postulated on whether the disease was sexually transmitted, reported the body count, and investigated new drugs and therapies. Despite the decimation, it was the LGBT media’s finest hour.

tongue-in-cheek National Enquirer spoof. Lookout published from 1997-1998 as did GALLIP, the first all glossy publication. And Outlook rounded out the decade publishing in 1997 and then sporadically for a couple of years. The 1990s also saw the embrace of other forms of media such as local gay cable access programming and Coming Out of Hiding on radio’s KDHX. It was the decade that gave birth to the Internet and its myriad websites, including St. Louis’ oldest gay offering,

2000 & Beyond By the dawn of the Millennium it was clear that people were getting their news and information from cable and Internet and the gay community was no different. For what was a boom for webzines and blogs meant lean times for many LGBT publications. TwiSt.Louis made a run for it in 2002 and was shuttered after two years and Kansas City carpet bagger, St. Louis Exposures fell flat in 2007/2008. Today, Vital Voice, founded in 2001 and Saint Louis Unlimited, which made its debut in 2008, are the lone LGBT print publications in the Gateway City. Indeed, both publications stand on the shoulders of giants and we at Vital Voice Magazine look forward to serving the next generation of LGBT St. Louis and beyond. You can email Colin Murphy at

1990s The 1990s were the pinnacle for LGBT print media. Lestalk was published “by womyn for womyn” throughout the early 1990s before changing its name to the short-lived Kolours in 1996. The St. Louis Advisor premiered in 1991 publishing for a few years. TWISL ran from 1992 -1996 before becoming EXP and running for another decade. Slam! Magazine proved popular from 1995-2000. For a brief time there was Slam! Extra, a


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Written by Mark Webber

“The best thing that ever happened to me was me losing my job.” This is what he says to me. While America struggles to endure the heavy burden of a recession that has caused so many to lose their jobs, this is what this man said. Sure, 10 years ago in a prosperous economy these words seemed possible, but not now, not anymore. Yet, this isn’t the story of a man who hit the jackpot on a lucky scheme or the story of a man with amazing talent that allowed him to make it big while everyone else continues to endure America’s economical lapse. No, that isn’t this man at all. When he tells me that losing his job was the best thing that ever happened to him, the sincerity and anguish beam from his grey-blue eyes. This man has felt the recession as much as of any us. After working for the corporate side of Starbucks for years, James St. John decided to make the move from Seattle to Saint Louis so that he could live with his partner. 21

“I didn’t want my move to Saint Louis to be completely based on him,” St. John says. “I wanted to make sure that the decision I was making was not based just on emotion, but that I could be self-sufficient.” St. John did just that. He talked to corporate heads at Starbucks and set up a move to St. Louis that would allow him to take part in the ever-growing Starbucks franchise that was, at the time, steamrolling across the Saint Louis-Kansas City area. It was a great opportunity and a seemingly impregnable one. The economy was still a moving train and Starbucks was leading the way. Yet, not even the great Starbucks machine could evade the recession’s ravenous appetite and many stores quickly began to shut down. Along with the consumption of stores, of course, came St. John’s career. St. John was devastated. So what did he do? He reorganized his home. Many of us might go to a local pub or seek the support of a loved one. Not James St. John. And from it, was a moment of enlightenment. He felt so much better about himself after he reorganized his home that he decided to do it as a career. For almost anyone, a home can make or break your overall mood. If your home is messy, you feel lousy. If your home is clean, you feel great. It is a simple concept. Yet, St. John knows that it goes much deeper than that. He knows that it isn’t just about cleanliness and organization. He believes it’s a matter of necessity.

the thousands of dollars that it might cost for most interior decorators. “It isn’t that I have any problem with interior designers that do it professionally,” he says. “I just think that people need to be very cost-conscious at this time. Re:Do provides a service that allows them to do that.” And even if you were to spend the money buying new furniture and decor, what happens to all of your stuff that was there before? St. John offers an affordable way to reorganize and redesign homes so that clients can love their homes and, therefore, love their lives. His business offers people hope. And if hope is too empty of a word these days, than perhaps motivation is better. Re:Do gives clients the motivation to keep moving strong during tough times. Yet, what is remarkable about Re:Do hardly stops there. St. John refuses to throw away anything, if possible. Things that are removed from homes are often sold, donated, or recycled. “I don’t want clients to feel like they need to throw their things away just to buy something new. If there’s a use for it, find it and make it happen. The thought of going through your home and throwing things away is annoying to me. I’d rather recycle or donate to Salvation Army, sell it to someone else or even give it away as a tax write-off. You can always find a method around the trash can.” Re:Do is most definitely a business for the new decade, one that offers a service to those who are conscious about their finances and those who are conscious about their environment.

Just as St. John found strength during a devastating time for him, he believes others can as well.

St. John might be doing much better now than the day he lost his job. Yet, it wasn’t easy. Like many others during the recession, after he lost his corporate job at Starbucks, he held his head up high and took a parttime job at Starbucks serving customers.

“There is a lot of fear and concern,” says St. John. “I think people get stagnant if they think that they can’t do something which can give them some small claim of home.”

Today, he still works part-time at Starbucks for health benefits, but Re:Do is his career. And it’s the best thing that has ever happened to him.

This is the whole point of Re:Do, St. John’s fast-growing self-made organization and design business. St. John is hired by clients to reorganize and redesign homes and offices on a budget. He does this by mostly using what clients already have instead of spending

D/a/ PLACE: Written by Mark Webber. Photography by Richard Nichols

Bobo Noodle House

Think about the best date you’ve ever been on. What was it that stood out to you the most? Maybe it was the romantic setting, the delicious food at a restaurant, or perhaps it was that your date was so adorable it didn’t matter where you were. Of course, if none of this is familiar to you, then perhaps it is easier to think of the worst date you’ve been on. Think loud annoying atmosphere, unflattering lighting, food that made you ill by looking at it, neglectful or rude service staff, a face on the other side of the table that you’d rather forget… The point is that there is a lot that can occur that can make or break the quality of a date and whether or not you wish to cherish it or wish to hide it away in the deepest, darkest corner of your memory. Lucky for us all there are places that can help make the date pleasant before you even arrive. One of those places is Bobo Noodle House on North Skinker Boulevard in St. Louis. Both fresh in style and easy on the wallet, Bobo Noodle House is an attractive place to take either the love of your life or someone you think is kind of cute. The restaurant, placed just outside of Washington University, is perhaps best suited for the young (however, I witnessed an elder couple who looked like they absolutely loved the set up). It is designed for counter service, so customers order their food before seating.

Yet, this is no fast-food joint. While the meals are affordable (9 – 12 bucks for entrees, 5 – 8 bucks for appetizers or side dishes), the quality is far from cheap. The food is attractive so you won’t have to worry about grossing out your date, but more importantly it’s delicious! The food is South East Asian, but I don’t believe you have to be a lover of South East Asian food to enjoy your meal. There is enough of an assortment to find something that’ll make your stomach happy. Side note: If you are not a fan of spicy food, just ask to be sure. And if you are a fan of spicy food like I am, get the Spicy Salmon with Vermicelli Noodles along with the Spicy Cucumber Salad and a big glass of water; you’ll be loving life. While the food is both delicious and inexpensive, it is the style and atmosphere that might best make it a great place to take a date. I thought about this counter service set up and decided it is really quite nice. There is still a helpful staff that brings food, refills drinks and takes empty plates. It isn’t like you have to walk around crowded seating to get to the counter or to your table. You see, in this design your food comes quicker because there is no waiting to order or waiting for the waiter to process the order. Basically, there is no neglect. And everything else about fine dining is there. The seating is both very simple and intimate. You can sit across from one another at a table that is large enough to fit your food dishes, but not so large to where you can’t reach across and steal a

bite of your date’s Mango Salad. Or you may choose to snuggle in close on the booth seating. The atmosphere is wonderfully soft, with dim lighting and perfect sound. That is, you can talk casually or intimately with your date without any noise drowning out your conversation. Yet, it isn’t so quiet that you’re uncomfortable. The walls are bare white and the floor is concrete, but there is nothing boring about the design. It is simple and attractive and allows you and your date to focus on each other instead of distractions around you. This design also allows the paper chandeliers that hang above you to really stand out. They are made of small pieces of paper connected together with writing on them. When I asked Michael Briggs, the manager, about the pieces of paper he replied, “They’re notes about love, both good and bad.” Is that not perfect or what? Favorite dish: Crispy Pork Spring Rolls with Lime Soy Sauce (6 bucks).

March Against Violence

Over 150 LGBTers’ and allied St. Louisans’ braved the Dec 4th chill to march down Manchester road in one voice to decry violence against all. The candlelight march kicked off outside Erney’s 32 (Manchester and Boyle) as a sea of red hats, scarves, ear muffs and coats made its way toward Vandeventer where a rally followed at the Commerce Bank parking lot.

Red-Hot Soiree


Scene Styling

Girl Friday promotions packed the house at Nancy’s Place on December 11, 2009. The REDHOT Soiree was the perfect mix and mingle under the mistletoe this season. For upcoming Girl Friday events log onto

A Holiday Fiesta

Vital VOICE was invited to the home of Jay Perez and Bill Donius for their 2009 Holiday Fiesta. The guests were treated to an array of guava based, tropical and traditional libations. Merriment and mayhem ensued as an entire roasted succulent pig was presented to complete this fiesta de Navided.


Vital VOICE dedicates this issue to our Non-profit of the month

FOOD OUTREACH We all need proper nutrition to thrive. For persons undergoing treatment for a life-threatening illness, nourishing food can mean the difference between a rapid decline in health or the opportunity to best optimize their medical treatments. Add to that, limited financial resources and the access to nutritious food can be out of reach – often an insurmountable situation. For 21 years, Food Outreach has continued to be the only organization in the greater St. Louis area that focuses on providing nutritional support to low-income individuals living with HIV/AIDS or cancer. In 2009, Food Outreach expects to provide 410,000+ nutritious meals to more than 1500 clients, currently ages 5 to over 90, who reside in 137 Missouri and Illinois zip codes. The nonprofit organization began with a small group of concerned friends who prepared meals for their friends diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. At a time when information about the virus and the dietary needs of those infected was limited, the goal was simply to provide convenient high calorie meals to people who were often too ill to cook. Today, armed with research data from medical and scientific studies, the focus is on the tailored nutritional needs of its clients. In 2006, Food Outreach voted to expand its mission to include cancer clients, a logical decision as both cancer and HIV/AIDS are diseases characterized by malnutrition and share similar dietary requirements. Food Outreach’s on-staff Chef and on-staff Registered Dietitian develop menus that help clients maintain their strength and cope with disease and treatment side effects to improve their clients’ quality of life and best optimize their treatments. Each client meets with the Dietitian at enrollment into the program (and at subsequent visits) to receive a nutrition status assessment and personal nutrition counseling. Clients may receive the equivalent of two meals per day through a combination of scratch-made nutritious meals and groceries. Up to 28 meals are ordered every two weeks, year round, from a changing menu. Food Outreach also provides group nutrition education and cooking classes, a weekly congregate hot meal lunch, nutrition status monitoring, and meal home delivery to homebound clients. Food Outreach is located in a 10,000 square foot facility in midtown St. Louis. A dedicated staff and a team of volunteers work side by side preparing nutritious meals and distributing groceries to those most vulnerable in our community – low income men, women and children battling a life-threatening illness. Although Food Outreach is experiencing a record-breaking need for its services – more than 1100 meals per day – it remains committed to its tradition of never turning away an eligible person from its doors. Through corporate, foundation and individual giving, combined with canned food drives and revenue from special events, such as the upcoming A Tasteful Affair on April 18, Food Outreach continues to meet the needs of its clients. To learn more about Food Outreach services, volunteer opportunities, or to make a donation, visit or call 314.652.3663 (FOOD).

we’re back

January 2010  

The ICON Issue, Vital VOICE Magazine, St. Louis, MO

January 2010  

The ICON Issue, Vital VOICE Magazine, St. Louis, MO