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FREE | AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021 Volume 55 | Number 2790

FAT PHOBIA Filmmaker tackles common prejudice

MURALS IN THE MARKET Punjabi district gets makeover

RISE AND GRIND Vancouver actors like Olga Zippa often need to juggle two careers if they want to get by in a very expensive city By Breanne Doyle

DAN SAVAGE SURPRISE • BARBECUE TIPS • JANELLE REID • APARTMENT SALES


NEWS

Murals add some pizzazz to Vancouver’s Punjabi Market

CONTENTS

August 5-12 / 2021

12

COVER

While waiting for your big acting break, sometimes you need to pay the bills with a good side hustle or two.

by Charlie Smith

By Breanne Doyle Cover photo by Rebecca Roberts Studios

8

FOOD

Propane might be easier to manage, but when it comes to making the most of the summer barbecuing season, nothing beats charcoal. By Mike Usinger

10 MUSIC

Janelle Reid learned how to sing before she could speak, and now local music fans can hear her soulful stylings at the Vines Art Festival. By Steve Newton

Artist Sandeep Johal decided to paint vibrant images of Indian sweets on the southern wall of Himalaya Restaurant, which was the first establishment in the region to offer these treats.

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or decades, the area around Main Street and East 49th Avenue was the hub of North America’s largest South Asian market. According to the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective, the neighbourhood had more than 300 shops at its peak, including 24 jewellery stores. In recent years, some of those merchants have moved to Fraser Street or farther out to Surrey, but the area’s Indian heritage continues through many small- and mediumsize businesses, including Himalaya Restaurant, A Class Fancy Jewellers, and Punjab Food Center. This month, the owners of buildings housing those three establishments, along with the Punjabi Market Regeneration Collective and Vancouver Mural Festival, will be unveiling new murals as part of a neighbourhood revitalization initiative. A fourth mural is being painted on a mixed-use Orr Development project on the southwest corner of Main and East 49th. The guest curator of the project is Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver president Jas Lally, whose parents immigrated from northern India in the early 1980s. “The Punjabi Market at Main and 49th has always been a part of my childhood growing up here,” Lally told the Straight by phone. “On the weekends and on any special occasions, I often spent a week at my aunt’s, who still lives in the area.” They would always drop by Himalaya, which, she said, was the first store in the region to sell Indian sweets. According to Lally, the four murals will help revive the warm and nostalgic feelings that people of Indian ancestry have about the neighbourhood. As a member of the Burrard Arts Foundation’s artist-residency committee, assistant of art rental and sales at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and president of the Richmond Art Gallery Association board, Lally has extensive contacts with emerging B.C.-based artists.

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The mural on the south wall of Himalaya, painted by Sandeep Johal, shows off Indian sweets, including one design of amriti, which is made from dal and soaked in sweet batter. This also happens to be one of the restaurant’s specialties. Lally described Johal as “a mentor to so many young South Asian artists”, which is one reason why she was included. In addition, Lally appreciates Johal’s geometric patterns and bold and vibrant colours, which really stand out on the wall. Guntaj Deep Singh painted a traditional Punjabi harvest celebration, featuring a bhangra dancer and a woman at a spinning wheel, on a wall behind Punjab Food Center. “Guntaj is brilliant in the way that he handles figures and this dreamlike sky that he’s created,” Lally said. “It’s very warm when you look at it.” Minahil Bukhari and Mustaali Raj delivered a more contemporary mural behind A Class Fancy Jewellers. According to Lally, the couple created a “great celebration of Indian architecture” while showing off the type of jewellery that Indian royalty used to wear when they ruled northern India. The fourth mural was painted by Musqueam artist Diamond Point on the Orr building at 6509 Main Street. Lally revealed that the Orr family was really impressed by Point’s plan to focus on water and its connection to the land because there’s actually a stream that runs underneath the property. “The artists that were selected resonated with the landowners with what they were wanting to see,” Lally said. “And also, for the South Asian artists, it was for them a chance to express their culture, their nostalgia, and the warmth that they also felt for the market.” g As part of the Monsoon Festival of Performing Arts, Jas Lally and the mural artists will be featured in an online panel discussion on August 22.

AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021

e Online TOP 5

e Start Here 11 ARTS 14 CLASSIFIED ADS 4 HOUSING 6 LIQUOR 2 NEWS 13 QUEER FILM FEST 5 REAL ESTATE 14 SAVAGE LOVE

Here’s what people are reading this week on Straight.com.

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Vancouver’s News and Entertainment Weekly Volume 55 | Number 2790 #300 - 1375 West 6th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C. V6H 0B1 T: 604.730.7000 F: 604.730.7010 E: gs.info@straight.com straight.com

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EDITOR Charlie Smith GENERAL MANAGER (ACTING) Sandra Oswald SECTION EDITORS Mike Usinger (ESports/Liquor/Music) Steve Newton SENIOR EDITOR Martin Dunphy STAFF WRITERS Carlito Pablo (Real Estate) Craig Takeuchi SOLUTIONS ARCHITECT Jeff Li ART DEPARTMENT MANAGER Janet McDonald

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Sales of detached homes tumble in sign of COVID-19driven mania reversing. Wendy Holm: Don’t believe all you hear: this is what’s really going on in Cuba. B.C. Ferries, COVID-19, and the limits of human intelligence. Order of B.C. inductees include Dr. Bonnie Henry and Joe Average. Local woman arrested after confrontation with antiracism demonstrators. @GeorgiaStraight

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Miguel Hernandez PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR Mike Correia ADVERTISING REPRESENTATIVES Glenn Cohen, Catherine Tickle, Robyn Marsh (On-Leave), David Pearlman (On-Leave) MANAGER, BRANDED CONTENT AND MARKETING LEAD Rachel Moore CONTENT AND MARKETING SPECIALIST Alina Blackett CREDIT MANAGER Shannon Li ACCOUNTING SUPERVISOR Tamara Robinson

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HOUSING

Social housing project sparks tenant opposition

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by Carlito Pablo

n April 20 this year, the City of Vancouver adopted a new rule to make it easier to build new and bigger social-housing projects. Under the new guidelines, social housing of up to six storeys will no longer go through a rezoning process. This means no more public hearings, which is a rezoning requirement that allows citizens to express their views before council. With the new rule, proponents do not have to secure council approval anymore and will only deal with city staff in a development-permit application. Entre Nous Femmes Housing Society owns and operates social housing in Vancouver, North Vancouver, and Surrey.

With the planned redevelopment of its first public-housing project, the Alma Blackwell, ENFHS is one of the first to undertake new projects under the new city rule. Alma Blackwell is an East Vancouver three-storey townhouse-style social-housing development with 46 units at 1656 Adanac Street. ENFHS executive director Lisa Clement told the Straight that the nonprofit wants to build a new six-storey building there and increase its number of housing units to about 80 to 100. “We’re looking at effectively doubling affordable housing units we provide in the community of Grandview-Woodland,” Clement said by phone. Clement also said that ENFHS has secured A plan to redevelop a 46-unit social-housing project in East Vancouver has alarmed tenants, who are appealing to B.C. premier John Horgan. Photo by Entre Nous Femmes Housing Society.

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a funding commitment from the provincial government for the planned redevelopment. However, the project is facing opposition from a group of tenants who have started a petition addressed to B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan. The petition calls on Horgan to stop the redevelopment and prevent the “renoviction of the tenants”. An information sheet distributed to tenants states that the project has “received confirmation of approval for funding” under B.C. Housing’s Community Housing Fund (CHF) program. “Future partnerships with funders such as Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the City of Vancouver and others are being considered to help advance the project,” the material notes. Online, ENFHS states that Alma Blackwell currently provides low-end-of-market rents, which means rates are 10 percent lower than comparable housing units in the neighbourhood. The information sheet tells tenants that the plan is to “keep rents as low as possible” in the new development. The intended housing mix will allocate 50 percent for rent-geared-to-income units, with monthly rates ranging from about $900 to $1,500. Also, 20 percent of the units will have “deep subsidy”, and rents will range from $375 to $700. The remaining 30 percent will be lowend-of-market units for households with moderate incomes between $75,730 and $117,080, which means rents ranging from $1,500 to $2,500 a month. The information sheet pledges tenantrelocation supports as well as the right of first refusal for current tenants who wish to return when the redevelopment is complete. The petition initiated by a group of tenants states that ENFHS is “destroying a building that is iconic in East Vancouver…

…we want to re-create that [community] for them in the new building. – Lisa Clement

without considering repair of the building”. The petition also claims that the nonprofit is “sending people who need affordable housing into the street to build affordable housing for other people”. “While everyone agrees with the need for more affordable housing, it cannot come at the cost of evicting those very people that need the housing,” the petition asserts. Moreover, it states that residents have “repeatedly asked ENFHS for the cost analysis” of redevelopment compared to repair, but their requests have been “left unanswered and/or ignored”. In the phone interview, Clement told the Straight that ENFHS understands that “folks are upset”. “We’re committed to working with our tenants a hundred percent; this is a really strong, amazing community and we will be finding everyone a home,” Clement said. Clement said that ENFHS expects to submit a development-permit application before the end of 2021. “We recognize that one of the most challenging pieces here is that folks are losing their community, but we want to recreate that for them in the new building,” Clement said. If approved for redevelopment, the new Alma Blackwell is expected to open sometime in 2024. g


REAL ESTATE

Sales of rental buildings the highest in 15 years

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by Carlito Pablo

ommercial realtor Mark Goodman says the numbers tell a story. And the story behind the $1.64 billion worth of rental apartment buildings sold in Metro Vancouver for the first half of 2021 isn’t just about one thing. But before going into that, he said that the January 1 to June 30 sales represent the “highest reported” volume since 2006. “It’s historic,” Goodman told the Straight in a phone interview. A midyear Goodman Report published by Goodman Commercial—the company started by Goodman’s father, David—notes that the previous midyear high in Metro Vancouver was in 2018, at $1.45 billion. The same year, 2018, posted a record high in annual sales of multifamily rental properties, at $2.98 billion. In Goodman’s view, this record may be shattered in 2021. “We’re going to hit over $3 billion the way we’re going,” Goodman said. As the Goodman Commercial principal put it, “It will be monumental.” “And I’m in the middle of a storm,” he added. Goodman and his coprincipal, Cynthia Jagger, have been busy this year. The partners accounted for $350 million in sales for the first six months of 2021. “The first half of 2021 saw 94 sales versus 27 for the same period a year earlier, a staggering change,” the Goodman Report states about deals in Vancouver and surrounding cities. Also, sales from January to June 2021 exceeded the entire annual total of 2020 by 45 percent. The city of Vancouver accounted for 69 percent of the total transactions and 67 percent of the total dollar amount. The West End, Marpole, and East Vancouver saw the largest number of sales.

Mark Goodman and Cynthia Jagger, coprincipals of Goodman Commercial, sold $350 million of rental properties in the first six months of 2021. The total in Metro Vancouver was $1.64 billion.

Overall, a total of 65 rental buildings sold in Vancouver in the first half of 2021. These deals represent 2,298 rental suites and a total value of $1,108,882,499. Meanwhile, 29 rental properties with 1,049 suites were sold in surrounding municipalities in the first six months of 2021. The value of these properties totals $534,558,280. In the interview, Goodman noted that the “liquid market” had lots of sellers and buyers. As for sellers, Goodman said that the story for many of them is one of exasperation over city and provincial policies. Whether it’s about constraints about redeveloping old properties or rental

freezes and taxation, Goodman said, a lot of owners simply wanted to get out of the rental market. “Enough of the policies; we’ll move our money somewhere else,” Goodman said about what he has heard from property owners. As for buyers, there were many of them, and they had their own story. “There’s a lot of long-term money that’s saying, ‘Hey, I can’t keep my money in cash because it’s going to be inflated away.’ The fiat currency is dead. People are scared about bitcoin because it’s too choppy. The stock market is volatile.” They wanted to put their money where there is a “safe track record”, he said, and they saw apartment buildings as a good

bet. “So we were selling buildings to people that have never owned them before they made their money,” Goodman said. Not too long ago, Goodman and Jagger went to Toronto and met with some of the biggest rental companies in Canada. “They’re buying here in British Columbia, and despite the fact that COVID had started, they said, ‘We want to move money into B.C.,’ ” Goodman said. The reason it’s safe here, he said, is because the balance between supply of rental properties and demand for homes is very lopsided. “The city is doing such a poor job. Our municipal leaders…all they’re doing is they’re creating an environment where values continue to go up, because there’s so much demand and so little supply. Politicians vote down perfectly good rental projects or it takes years to cut through the red tape and the bureaucracy or they micromanage every process. “So what happens is these very smart business people look at the environment we’re operating here in B.C. and go, ‘You know what? From an investment perspective, you want to own property where there’s very little supply and a lot of demand.’ “And this supply-demand balance is so pronounced in British Columbia that a lot of money is pouring into here because they realize that they’re going to have a competitive edge for years and years. So many people want to move here, but there’s not enough supply.” So when eager sellers meet buyers looking to park their money, there’s going to be a “changing of the guard”. And as Goodman summed it up, “It’s more about wealth preservation than wealth creation.” g

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AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021

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LIQUOR

Four new offerings for this most magical summer by Mike Usinger

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Fuse & Sip takes the guesswork out of getting fancy at cocktail time; Arlo Boozy Kombucha gets high marks for presentation; and Earls’ much-loved Rhino beer is now available in takeout cans.

f not for the B.C. wildfires, COVID-19 pandemic, a “heat dome” with tragic consequences, and the continued rotten existence of the Trump family, this might be the greatest summer in Vancouver history. Despite all those bummers, it’s hard to argue that things have been anything other than pretty damn perfect. Late June on the West Coast was the first sign that we were in for something, um, different this year. You might remember temperatures spiking to the kind of heights they tend to reach in Kuwait City, Baghdad, and the hockey hotbed of Phoenix. Since then it’s mostly been nothing but nonstop sun and heat—the type we normally have to fly to Hawaii, the Bahamas, or Merritt to enjoy. The great thing about weather normally associated with beach vacations? That would be that normal drinking rules don’t apply. If God’s seen fit to give us this most glorious of endless summers, then she’s sure as heck not going to judge you for kicking off happy hour at 11 a.m. Sometimes getting on it early means you’re too groggy to get fancy with the cocktail shaker. Here are four new summer offerings to help you get a glow on with a minimum effort, which makes sense, because no one wants to work on summer vacation—real or imagined.

FUSE & SIP

As much fun as home-mixology is, sometimes it can be enraging. Think about how, every now and then in a valiant attempt to break out of the endless hamster wheel of Margaritas, Mint Juleps, and Bourbon Bug’s Bloods, you’ll wing it. And then discover after a half hour of muddling and mixing— that as interesting as the combination of Jim Beam, Galiano, toasted pecan syrup, muddled galangal, egg white, fresh lemon juice, 6

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and chocolate bitters sounds—it makes for a truly appalling cocktail. The beauty of Fuse & Sip is how it takes the guesswork out of getting extra fancy at cocktail time. Started by lifelong friends Karen Hope and Monique Zizzy, the Squamish-based company offers naturalinfusion kits made with locally sourced dried fruits, herbs, and flowers. The process is easy to the point of being idiot-proof. Empty the contents of a Fuse & Sip package into a jar, add 12 ounces of your go-to alcohol (tequila, rum, vodka, gin, whisky, or yogurito), and then let it sit for three days. (Half the fun is watching the liquor change colour as the fruit rehydrates, the process starting a half-hour in. Also don’t forget to stick your nose in the bag and inhale deeply upon opening—it’s like potpourri for liquor nerds). After 72 hours, your infusion can be poured into a glass and topped with soda if you want to go the quick-and-easy route, or used as a base for something fancier. Fuse & Sip’s 10 different kits include Fancy Pants (dried oranges, ginger root, butterfly pea flowers, and organic cane sugar), Day Drinker (dried strawberry, peach, lemon, elderberry, and mint), The Forager (dried blueberry, raspberry, elderflower, lime, and nettle leaf). Can’t wait three days? Try the Moira Rose Sangria (dried rose, cranberry, pineapple, lemon, and organic cane sugar), where you add to a bottle of rose and you’re ready to roll in around two hours. RHINO

One of the strangest things about the past year is how we’ve all grown accustomed to taking root on the couch, not just for days, but weeks and months. For large swaths of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, the message from health officials was clear: don’t leave the house unless you have to. Great

AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021

news for those who idolize Twin Peaks shut-in Harold Smith, but not so much for folks who love a good night out at their favourite restaurant. Especially if that favorite—say Earls—restaurant also was the only place to get one’s favourite beer, like the house-made Rhino. This summer has brought something good for Earls patrons then, and not just that dining in is once again very much a thing. Since 1984, Rhino has been the much-loved on-site beer at Earls, but because it was only available on tap, you had to go out for dinner to get it. Now, for the first time, Rhino is available for purchase in cans in two styles: Rhino Pale Ale and Rhino Lager. Both are brewed by East Vancouver’s Parallel 49 as part of a partnership deal, and both are about as seriously West Coast as beer gets. The Rhino Pale Ale is mildly hoppy with notes of Okanagan peaches and nectarines, and the Rhino Lager has a crisp taste that screams summer. One thing: you have to go out to get them before they come home with you. Cans, which can also be preordered online, are available for purchase at Earls locations. So pull on those shoes for the first time in two weeks, which—admit it—feels great. Unless your name is Harold Smith from Twin Peaks. WALTER CAESAR

Walter Caesar’s craft-style booze-free mix has estabished itself as a homegrown favourite of Canadians who like their cocktails to have a nutritional kick, each liquid serving starting with vine-ripened tomatoes, grated horseradish, Worcestershire, hot sauce, secret select spices, and clam juice from the North Atlantic. For those too lazy to pour that mix into a glass and add vodka, Walter Caesar Craft Vodka Cocktail lightens the workload.

The West Coast–based company combines premium vodka with organic cane sugar, clam and lemon juice, salt, tamari, organic vinegar, onion and garlic powder, spices, and hot sauce. Even though Walter Caesar Craft Vodka Cocktail clocks in at 4.5 percent ABV, you can definitely taste the liquor, and, more subtly, the spice. And that’s a good thing because no one orders Walter Chell’s most famous creation hoping for what might as well be an oldfashioned tomato juice. ARLO BOOZY KOMBUCHA

Let’s start by talking about the look of the cans. Can you say retro-chic in the most smashingly ’70s of ways? The Arlo logo alone makes you want to pop a top while watching a double-bill of Shaft and Foxy Brown in your ultra-cool grandparents’ rec room, orange shag carpet, and macramé plant holders optional. Brewed in Delta B.C., and billing itself as “The life of the party”, “Boozy Kombucha”, and “Your new best friend”, Arlo definitely doesn’t lack for attitude. The drink is made by spiking the alcohol normally found in kombucha with fresh fruit ingredients, with flavours including mango, raspberry, grapefruit, and cucumber-lime. (Proving again that someone at the company has an iron-clad grip on the importance of first impressions, Arlo Raspberry Kombucha comes in a fittingly ripe-raspberry red can, and Arlo Mango taking its colour cues from the Manila variety of the famously exotic fruit). As for what’s inside the can, think pleasantly vinegary (it’s kombucha!) and fruit-packed, which is to say get ready to meet your new best friend. A friend that, luckily, won’t judge you for getting on it before the Coal Harbour heritage horns do their thing at noon. g


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AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021

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FOOD

Charcoal cooking is your key to barbecue heaven

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by Mike Usinger

ecause summer is prime barbecue weather, this is a good time to ask a big question: what would the legendary Tootsie Tomanetz have you cooking on? A Creamsicle-orange US$11,000 Hestan 42-Inch natural gas grill with ceramic infrared burners, and motion-activated “stadium lights”? Or a US$209.99 Char-Griller Smokin’ Champ? If you’re a fan of classic Texas barbecue, Chef ’s Table, and crazily spry 86-year-olds who still manage their own fire pits, then you know the answer. When it comes to barbecuing, gas is convenient, but charcoal wins for maximum flavour. So, are you in the market for a new barbecue, looking to upgrade, or just venturing into the world of live-fire-seared smoked beef, chicken, pork, duck, fish, buffalo, venison, turkey, and quail? Assuming you don’t live in a condo where the neighbours will rightly complain, charcoal is the way to go. But here’s the thing: there’s a learning curve that you don’t have to think about with propane or natural gas. Yes, human beings have been cooking on live fire since they were hanging out in caves. But that doesn’t always mean they’re good at it. Before we get to the hands-on part of

Although nothing is stopping you from blowing US$11,000 on a charcoal barbecue, Char-Griller makes budget units that will lead to no complaints at dinner time. Photo by chargriller.com.

charcoal grilling, let’s start with the most important thing: the grill. A sad lack of finances aside, there’s nothing stopping you from blowing a mortgage payment or two on a top-end barbecue. Should you have a spare $10,000 kicking around, indulge yourself with a

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AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021

1,700-pound, 42-inch Komodo Kamado Serious Big Bad barbecue. The wildly popular Big Green Egg brand, meanwhile, will, depending on the size, run you from $800 up to $2,500 for the XLarge. Famously dependable Weber offers everything from budget portable units (Smokey Joe Gold charcoal grill, $60) to budget-blowing options (Summit Kamado S6 Grill Center, $2,300). But there’s no real need to get extra-fancy with a charcoal barbecue. Punch a few holes in the side of a tin bucket for air flow, throw a grate on the top, and you have something that will cook everything from a beautifully marbled rib-eye to chicken yakitori. My go-to is currently a Char-Griller Smokin’ Champ, scored a few years back on sale at the Bellingham Fred Meyer for US$130. While not particularly covetable (a good thing in East Van, where everything not nailed down eventually goes missing), it’s perfectly functional. No one complains when the cherry-wood-smoked ribs or cedar-planked salmon comes off the grill. Now for the cooking. Ask your grandfather how he got his Kingsford briquets going, and the answer will likely be a jerrycan of gasoline or half a squeeze-bottle of Ronsonol lighter fuel. Today, we know that both lead to an upleasant aftertaste. Instead, pick up a chimney starter where you pack the bottom with newspaper or paraffin starter cubes and the top with charcoal. Light the paper, and a half-hour later you’ve got glowing hot coals that you can dump into the barbecue. Even better and less messy, opt for an electric lighter wand, which plugs into an extension cord, gets red hot instantly, and then ignites your charcoal in about 10 minutes. On the subject of charcoal, you’ve got options, all with pros and cons. Most expensive is lump charcoal, which burns

hot but loses heat quickly—which means plenty of restoking if you’re smoking a brisket for 10 hours. Hardwood briquettes mix crushed charcoal with binders to give grillers coals that are uniform in shape, making it different from lump charcoal. Kingsford-style briquettes, meanwhile, add soft coal along with limestone to the mix, making for a long burn. To really kick things up on the flavour front, augment whatever charcoal you prefer with wood chunks or chips, which come in mesquite, hickory, apple, cherry, oak, maple, pecan, and more. That smoke is where the smokey goodness comes in, whether you’re doing a Tex-Mex flank steak, Vietnamese chicken thighs, or lakecaught trout. It’s important to note that too much wood will instantly ruin a good thing. No one wants pork chops that smell like a house fire, so you want nothing more than a delicate plume coming out of the barbecue vent. So rather than plopping six chunks of wood right in the middle of your charcoal and then closing all the vents so there’s no oxygen flow, soak one piece for an hour, and then place it at the edge of the coals where it will burn slowly. Leaving the vent half-way. As far as the actual cooking process goes, charcoal barbecues burn way hotter than gas ones. Place a steak on a grill, wander away distractedly to get a beer, and it doesn’t take long to end up with burnt offerings. Charcoal barbecues are usually set up so you can raise or lower the coals, with the hand test offering an easy way to tell how hot things are. Put your hand five inches about the grill—if you feel the burn in two to four seconds, you’ve got the gas-barbecue equivalent of high heat. For medium you’re looking at five to seven seconds, with eight to 10 seconds indicating low. The heat level is important. A pork tenderloin cooked on direct medium for 15 to 20 minutes will be juicy and pink, whereas the same time on direct high will give you what might as well be a club. A whole chicken placed on direct high-heat coals for an hour will have the texture of a charred football, but cook it via indirect medium heat and the juices will flow even after you’ve tented it for 10 minutes. Don’t know what indirect-medium or tenting is? Because private lessons with Tootsie Tomanetz probably aren’t an option, do yourself a huge favour and pick up Jamie Purviance’s highly educational Weber’s Charcoal Grilling: The Art of Cooking With Live Fire. And remember, even if you ruin a meal or two while getting a handle on charcoal this summer season, no one’s judging you. Because at least you’re not standing in the back yard shrieking “Now we’re cooking with gas!” g


FOOD

Five plant-based options that will kill on the grill

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by Rachel Moore

here are many serious misconceptions about those who abide by a plant-based diet, but there’s one that really sends us over the edge this time of year. We aren’t entirely sure where this false notion originated from, but despite the chatter, vegans do love a good barbecue. We might steer clear of T-bone steaks and cheddar smokies, but there are several meat alternatives that have us drooling as they sizzle on the grill. Since we’re about halfway through the summer, you’re probably sick of Beyond Meat burgers. If you’re in the mood to switch things up, check out these five plant-based alternatives that will leave the carnivores at your barbecue feeling extremely confused. Sometimes all it takes is a killer black-bean burger to turn a meat eater. IMPOSSIBLE BURGER

For those who love the texture of meat but refuse to overlook their stance on animal rights and climate change, the Impossible Burger is a delicious alternative. The ground round is made from plant-based ingredients and can be formed into patties, tossed into a pasta sauce, or stuffed into

Vegans can barbecue with DIY plant-based patties. Photo by Boris Yatsenko/Getty.

taco shells. The possibilities are endless. If you’re in desperate need of some inspiration when it comes to dressing your burger, we have plenty of tasty suggestions. Consider toppings like crispy onions, pickles, garlic aioli, homemade guacamole, and even grilled pineapple. FIELD ROAST SMOKED APPLE & SAGE PLANT-BASED SAUSAGES

Brace yourself for this news: some people don’t enjoy eating greasy burgers covered in condiments. Though these people are likely aliens, it would be wrong to exclude them

from our backyard barbecues or this article. If you prefer a grilled sausage, stuffed in a hot-dog bun or consumed on its own, Field Roast has some mouthwatering options. Its Smoked Apple & Sage sausages are delectable when brushed with a sweet barbecue sauce and served alongside potato salad and roasted corn. The vegan links are also available in Italian Garlic & Fennel and Spicy Mexican Chipotle flavours.

GARDEIN ULTIMATE BEEFLESS BURGER

THE VERY GOOD BUTCHERS’ VERY GOOD DOG

DIY VEGGIE PATTIES

Hot dogs hit differently when they’re plant-based—there’s no need to dwell on the concept of “mystery meat” as it slides down your gullet. The Very Good Butchers’ Very Good Dog is crafted from organic navy beans and wheat, white onions, and spices. These dogs are best served cradled in a Dempster’s hot dog bun, drizzled with ketchup, relish, and mustard. Take it a step further and completely elevate your vegan hot dog by topping it with sauerkraut and caramelized onions. This plant-based meat company, with locations in Victoria and Vancouver, is proud to butcher beans, not animals.

These bad boys aren’t difficult to locate, unlike some of the plant-based meat alternatives. Most grocery-store chains found within the Vancouver area carry Gardein’s meat-free products in the frozen section. Gardein’s Ultimate Beefless Burger patties have the same juicy texture as meat burgers and they can be cooked on the grill without falling apart. If you really want to impress your friends and family, try making your own plantbased burger patties. We’re partial to these recipes from the Minimalist Baker: the Best Vegan Burger and the Sweet Potato Black Bean Burger. And of course, no barbecue is complete without a potato salad. There are tons of scrumptious vegan potato-salad recipes floating around the Internet. Instead of using real mayonnaise in the recipe, use Follow Your Heart Vegenaise or Hellmann’s Vegan mayonnaise. Some other vegan potato-salad recipes use soaked cashews for the dressing. If you’re hosting guests that follow a strict plant-based diet, be sure to skip the addition of hard-boiled eggs. g

Voting is now closed for our Golden Plates contest. Check out the Georgia Straight’s upcoming issue on September 16th and discover our readers favourite places to eat, drink and hang out. Thank you to our sponsors, Brix & Mortar restaurant, Chambar, Mink Chocolate, Cazba, a, Secret Garden Tea Company, OEB Breakfast Co., Water Street Café, Terra Breads, Rocky Mountain Flatbread, Les Faux Bourgeois, LaSalle College Vancouver, SPUD.CA, Calabash up Bakery Bistro, Cactus Club, La Belle Patate, Chickpea, Burrowing Owl Wine, Beaucoup

Visit STRAIGHT.COM for details.

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AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

9


MUSIC

Janelle Reid could sing before she could talk

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by Steve Newton

hen Janelle Reid was a baby in Trinidad, her parents used to play music on cassette tapes to keep her and her twin sister still. They were very active kids, but the harmonious voices on the tapes really worked to calm them down. In Janelle’s case, the singing had a profound effect. “I learned to sing before I spoke,” Reid says on the line from her Surrey home, “so, technically, I’ve always been singing. I actually was able to harmonize as a toddler as well, which is an interesting story about me.” When you hear Reid sing today, it’s easy to believe that she had been crooning from the crib. Local music fans can check out her compelling vocal stylings for themselves

when she performs with reggae-dub act Mad Riddim at the “Re-opening Ceremonies” of the Vines Art Festival on August 9. Reid moved to B.C. from Trinidad with her family 13 years ago and spent a year and a half in Burnaby before settling in Surrey. There she kept her vocal chops up singing in church, her love of gospel originally instilled by American vocalist Helen Baylor. “I loved her,” Reid stresses. “She sang beautiful songs, with really in-depth, rich melodies and different stories. She would always tell a story with her songs about her struggle and how she was liberated to freedom and hope because of faith. I just thought it was interesting how I was able to marry my love for gospel and that storytelling and the

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AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021

Trinidad-born, Surrey-based singer-songwriter Janelle Reid is looking forward to bringing her original songs of empowerment to the seventh annual Vines Art Festival. Photo by Sheng Ho.

kind of voice that I admired at first. “Then I started to gravitate more towards soul music and discover artists like Gladys Knight and circle back to other gospel artists that kind of dabbled in jazz, like Yolanda Adams. And then there were these two sisters, Mary Mary. With my love for harmonies, their style of singing really influenced me.” Five years ago, Reid started immersing herself in another form of music: reggaedub. Branching out from solely performing in church, she sang at a Motown concert where Mad Riddim’s Richard Brown was the drummer. “After the show, he was like, ‘Hey, I really like your voice; I’d like you to come sing with my band,’ ” Reid recalls. “That was my first time singing a different genre, like soul music—which I secretly love doing—but at the time, I was super shy. He just kind of embraced me with the band, and I’ve been doing features with them up until now, so it’s pretty good.” Reid performed with Mad Riddim as part of the online Surrey Fusion Festival last year, sharing the virtual stage with local rapper Ndidi Cascade. “She’s my girl,” Reid says. “We have a really good time; love bringing the good hype and energy. I performed with Desirée Dawson as well, an amazing singer and beautiful soul, and Erica Dee. I’ve also performed with Khari [Wendell] McClelland, who kind of marries that sense of soul and gospel and storytelling and, honestly, liberation.” Now that she’s had a few more years to develop her performing style without shyness getting in the way, Reid is very much looking forward to being part of the seventh annual Vines Art Festival. She’s no stranger to the event.

“I feel like I’ve been involved in the Vines for quite some time,” she says, “with the connection I had with [artistic director] Heather [Lamoureux] some years ago. It was called the Vines, but I don’t think I realized that, and now it’s growing and it’s getting bigger and bigger. I actually did a dance piece with a very close friend of mine, Marisa Gold, a couple of years back, but being able to do my own set is next level for me. “I always found that the Vines festival really gave opportunities where it was not always easy to find those opportunities,” Reid adds. “Just the idea behind it and what they’re trying to do—creating community and understanding and allowing voices to be heard—is so important. I feel like it’s just good to be a part of that.” Other artists, speakers, musicians, and dancers taking part in the festival’s opening-day events include Terreane Derrick, Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Manuel Axel Strain, Kwiigay iiwaans, Kimit Sekhon, Lindsay Delaronde, Chantelle Trainor-Matties, and MC jaye simpson. For her part, Reid is psyched about showcasing some of her original songs. “I’ve performed them here and there,” she says, “and I usually get quite good feedback from it because the things that I like to sing and reflect on are always about empowerment. That tradition of uplifting others, uplifting yourself, getting out of your own mental and physical rut and seeing, you know, the beautiful world that is possible with community and with love and with understanding.” g Janelle Reid and Mad Riddim perform as part of the Vines Art Festival’s “Re-Opening Ceremonies” at Stanley Park’s Second Beach on Monday (August 9). Reid also performs with Afro Van Connect at Creekside Park on August 19 as part of the festival.


ARTS

Mixed-roots artist paints what she knows best by Carlito Pablo

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Artist Lauren Brevner (right) is of Japanese, Trinidadian, and German roots; she sometimes works with Squamish artist James Harry (left, Rememory) and also paints solo (centre, Flower Child).

auren Brevner rarely paints men. “I’ve always painted women,” the Vancouver-born and -raised artist told the Straight in a phone interview. As Brevner was about to set out on her career, she found a quote from Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist world-renowned for her self-portraits. Kahlo said something along the lines of doing self-portraits because she knows herself best. “So when I was starting out, I was like, ‘Well, I love art; I love being creative; I love painting—but I don’t know what to paint,’ ” Brevner said. “And it seemed like, ‘Well, I’m a woman; I understand my perspective,’ and so it makes sense that I paint something that I know really well, which is women.” Like Kahlo, who inspired Brevner’s career, the self-taught artist knows herself best. But instead of self-portraits, she does emotive representations of women she admires as well as those she wished she had seen as a young girl. “I’ve always idolized women who are really confident, really passionate and strong characters, and so I kind of paint my idealized self-portraits, I guess you could say,” Brevner said. Further, she recalled growing up a shy girl. As an adult, she confesses to being “still very introverted”, someone who “never wanted to take up space”. “I’ve always felt like I looked different, because I grew up in a predominantly white neighbourhood,” the artist—who is of Japanese, Black, and German heritage—said. As a child, she didn’t see a lot of women

of mixed roots. She now paints a lot of women who “look closer” to her own image. “I felt like I didn’t belong here because I couldn’t find people that were like me,” the artist said about her early years. After high school, she went to Japan to try and connect with that part of herself. “I’m Japanese Canadian or I’m Trinidadian Canadian or I’m German Canadian, but I’m not any of those things individually, and that’s another part of why I paint what I paint, because every time I meet another mixed person, you just have this connection,” Brevner said. She noted that individuals of mixed racial origins get “access to a lot of different spaces” but at the same time “don’t really fit into any of them”. Women on both sides of the family provide inspiration for her. She said that her maternal grandmother had a rough time growing up in Japan and that she was living in Canada when the Second World War broke out. Because of the war, her grandmother was interned and sent to the sugarbeet farms in Alberta. “She had everything stripped from her,” Brevner said. On her father’s side, her German grandmother married a Black man from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. The couple didn’t have it easy settling in Vancouver. Even finding an apartment was difficult, because many didn’t want to rent to mixed spouses. “We’ve come from a lot of discrimination in Canada as people of colour, and so I look to them and I like to present works that would make them proud and honour my heritage in any way that I possibly can,” Brevner said.

Like Blacks and people of colour, Indigenous peoples also faced prejudice. In addition to her solo works, Brevner collaborates with Squamish artist James Harry. The two did a mural as part of the ongoing Vancouver Special: Disorientations and Echo exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Titled Rememory, the work features a woman flanked by two creatures. One is the now-extinct Salish Wool Dog, whose fur was used by Indigenous people on the West Coast to make blankets. The other is

a shisa, Brevner said, which is a mythical Japanese lion-dog and usually depicted as a couple. Shisas sit outside temples in Okinawa, she explained, like welcoming spirits or watchers. Brevner said the mural is a new work in her ongoing collaboration with Harry. “It’s called weaving cultures, weaving spirits, and coming together and working together, and how that can be a different path toward reconciliation,” Brevner said. g

C oncert FOR EVACUEES Nlaka’pamux playwright Kevin Loring will host the fundraiser We Are Still Here!

d THE 2 RIVERS Remix Society is presenting a livestreaming fundraising concert this Saturday (August 7) from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Titled We Are Still Here!, the event will feature hip-hop, rock, Indigi-funk, blues, folk, and reggae music and will support evacuees from the devastating Lytton/‘Q‘emcin fire that destroyed 95 percent of the Village of Lytton.

Hosted by Governor General Award– winning Nlaka’pamux playwright Kevin Loring, the concert will feature headliners Ritchie and the Fendermen along with Gerald Charlie & Black Owl Blues band, JB the First Lady (photographed), Butterflies in Spirit, the Melawmen Collective, Spiritual Warriors, Curtis Clear Sky and the Constellationz, Keliya, Madelaine McCallum, Gordon Dick Sr., and Herman Dan. Donations will be taken through https:// help.2rmx.ca, an ongoing GoFundMe team effort by Savage Society and 2RMX, two Indigenous NGOs with deep roots in the Nlaka’pamux/Lytton community. Proceeds will enable the Nlaka’pamux/ Lytton evacuees to gather in-person for a day of healing musical medicine in Vedder Park (Chilliwack).

AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021

by Steve Newton THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

11


MOVIES

A good side hustle can be invaluable to an actor

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by Breanne Doyle

s someone who spent six years pursuing a career in acting, let me tell you—that shit’s expensive. The old saying goes, “Pick a job you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Which is true, I guess, if you love plumbing or teaching or some other sensible, stable work. For actors, because the film industry is not sensible nor a stable place for work, this isn’t exactly the case. You can love acting, and still need to put in hundreds and thousands of hours of work before you get to do the job. In my case, $20,000 toward an acting program at Vancouver Film School followed by six years of pursuing roles. In the end I appeared in one episode of a television show (TLC’s Untold Stories of the ER) and a music video. Of course, there’s the argument that success shouldn’t just be measured based on the gigs they book, but instead that they should take pride and find fulfillment through the process instead. You know, the whole “it’s the journey, not the destination” argument. This may be a great mindset to have, but mindsets don’t exactly pay the bills. Let’s now compare the life of an actor with that of an astronaut. The majority of an astronaut’s life is spent training and learning about being in space and the different roles they’ll have to take on to have a successful mission. They might actually only be in space a handful of times throughout their whole life, if they even get to go at all. It’s the same thing for actors. Most time is spent in classes, workshops, doing student films and theatre for the experience, and auditioning. A successful actor might book a big-time audition a handful of times in their lives. If they even get to at all. A major difference, though, between an actor and an astronaut is that the government sees the training that astronauts do between flights as work and pays them accordingly for it. For acting? Not so much. Which is too bad considering how much money that goes into pursuing a career in acting: classes, workshop fees, online memberships, head shots, self-tape materials (a good camera, the equipment for said camera, and lighting), last-minute audition-coaching fees, and the cost of renting out audition space if you don’t have the room at home. It all adds up. It’s an expensive (and competitive) job to pursue, and Vancouver is a notoriously expensive city. So, in order to survive as an actor, one must also master the art of the side job. Last year, a Vancouver Actors Report survey found that 77 percent of respondents worked a job outside of acting. That 77 percent fell into one of the following five job groups: digital content (writer, brand am12

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

Actor Olga Zippa balances making inroads as an actor in Vancouver with waiting tables; the flexible hours offered by the service industry are invaluable for making important auditions.

bassadors), arts (visual artist, model), trades and services (construction work, translator/ interpreter), education (coach, university instructor), and—you guessed it—hospitality (barista, busser, and server). Now, we’ve all heard the joke that every actor is also a server. Well, like many clichés, there is a bit of truth to it. Many actors do work as servers, bartenders, baristas, and the like, because of the flexible hours those jobs offer. And flexible hours mean being available for auditions. Audition-accommodating shifts were a huge reason Olga Zippa took on her current serving job in West Vancouver. The Ireland-born actor, who recently wrapped on her first leading role in a film, says that she first dreamed of acting for a living as a kid. “For as long as I can remember I wanted to do it,” Zippa tells Straight. “Even when I was younger, and I didn’t really know what acting was exactly. I just remember being like, ‘Okay, I don’t know how to get into or what I’ll have to do, but I want that.’ I was just so amazed how people were able to become different people.” Zippa studied at Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin before coming to Vancouver—often referred to as Hollywood North—to pursue her filmmaking dreams. Since moving here, she’s served tables. “It’s one of the easiest ways to make a living, which doesn’t always interfere with your acting,” Zippa says. “Work is typically in the evening, so when you have auditions during the day, you can balance both.” Sometimes though, a night will be spent needing to prepare for an audition, especially when it’s a major one, and that’s when she’ll need to have a shift covered. “To actually film it or go to it [the audition]­—that isn’t the

AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021

issue,” Zippa explains. “But sometimes I’ll need the night before to work on it.” At times, the hustle of essentially juggling two careers is draining. “It’s like you put 30 to 40 hours into your acting and then you also have a 30-to40 hour job,” she notes. “So sometimes it’s like I have two full-time jobs but I’m only getting paid for one.” In an average month, Zippa sees about 10 casting calls come her way, and it’s important that she make them all—whether it’s for a commercial, television spot, or short film. Availability is a top priority. “I’m never going to take a job if they’re not going to be flexible with me—perhaps when I need to swap shifts or I need to get the day off last minute—like, that’s what’s really important for me,” she says. AS ZIPPA CAN attest, an actor is expected to drop everything in order to prepare and be there for each audition that presents itself—even the last-minute ones. This is why you won’t find many thespians moonlighting as pilots, police officers, or lawyers. Those aren’t exactly jobs where you can get your afternoon covered. Finding flexible work certainly narrows down the job listings, and so, in response to this, some actors decide to take schedules into their own hands and start their own business. Vancouver’s Rosalba Perez embraced her Mexican heritage by opening a piñata-making business. Perez developed an interest in acting from a very young age, when she first appeared on the 21 Jump Street television series back in the ’90s. “That was my first taste of it, and I was like, ‘Oh wow, I love this!’” Perez says. She worked as a background actor

through high school, dabbled in some modelling, and has since auditioned for commercials as well as feature roles on film and television. Recognizing that pursuing acting would require a day job before things took off for her, Perez studied accounting and administration in university. She found, however, that applying for accounting jobs after graduating was challenging. Perez quickly discovered that it was hard to find employers who view actors as people they’d like to hire. “Applying full-time to an accounting job and trying to have them understand that my acting is a priority, but at the same time it’s not going to affect too much of the work, is really hard to explain to people,” Perez says. “Not many jobs understand the industry of acting. People see ‘actor’ and they see ‘Oh! She’s never gonna be around.’ They just assume you’re like, working like Sandra Bullock or you’re the Rock or something and you’re constantly on set. When, in reality, the majority of us actors aren’t. It takes years for us to get there—if we even get there.” With the prospects of making steady money as a full-time accountant impossible, Perez knew she had to turn to something that would offer her flexibility as well as an income. The idea to start her own business came to her when a friend, knowing she was a skilled artist and sculptor, asked if she would make her a Dora the Explorer piñata for her sister’s birthday. After finishing the project and finding she really enjoyed learning more about the traditional Mexican art-form and creating the piñata itself, Perez started her own company, FabPinatas. Six years later, Perez is supporting herself completely through her acting gigs and her piñata business. As a self-employed woman, she is able to say “yes” to her agent when offered auditions, which is more than any bookkeeping job could offer her. Now and then, Perez will take up the occasional accounting job, including during the past year when her piñata business was hit hard during the pandemic. During that time, she picked up a few weekly assignments through a recruitment agency. But now that weddings, birthday parties, and baby showers are once again in people’s calendars, her piñata business is back in the swing of things. Currently, she’s working on a Super Mario–themed papier-mâché creation. According to Perez, her piñata business has been her saving grace as she continues to work toward her acting goals. “I would really like to do this for a long, long time. I’m headed to that point where I want to grow the business. I want to expand it,” she says. “I enjoy doing the see next page


MOVIES

Local filmmaker stands up for the Well Rounded

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by Charlie Smith

ancouver filmmaker Shana Myara says she’s often motivated by “frustration”. Something bothers her, so she decides to either write or make a movie about it. Well Rounded, her 2020 documentary showing that being fat is okay, is a case in point. It will have its local premiere at this month’s Vancouver Queer Film Festival. “Working closely in the queer and activist communities, it always seemed strange to me that we were very progressive in some areas but, really, we were very much like any corporate lunchroom when it came to talking about bodies and weight,” Myara told the Straight by phone. She’s heard plenty of talk within LGBT+ circles from people aspiring to have a beach body or apologizing for their lunches. She noted that others are very comfortable declaring their attraction to certain body types. To Myara, this is part of the baggage that queer communities should be shedding if they want to continue dismantling societal beliefs that are wrong. “Queerness is okay,” she said. “Understanding gender identities is okay. Still, we’re kind of toeing the line of what a body should look like.” Her film carries profound messages about body positivity from four compelling, articulate, and larger-than-average LGBT+ people: Joanne Tsung and Lydia Okello from Vancouver, and Ivory Conover and Candy Palmater from Toronto. Their heartfelt and often humourous perspectives are augmented by viewpoints

Model Lydia Okello (left), filmmaker Shana Myara, and operations coordinator Joanne Tsung share a passion for educating the public about the need to end discrimination on the basis of body type.

My body is where I live. I can’t change the way I look. – model Lydia Okello

from two academic researchers, Canadian historian Jenny Ellison and UCLA weightstigma researcher Janet Tomiyama.

piñatas, it’s fun, and it’s also, for me, like a lesson that I can give people on the traditions of Mexico. Piñatas are a big traditional aspect of Mexico, and a lot of people don’t know that… But yeah! I like it, I’m having fun with it.” Having a job that she enjoys is especially great for Perez’s self-esteem and mental health, as sometimes the competitive nature of the film industry can bring her down. “It’s a hard industry,” Perez says. “It’s not like you go apply for an acting job and you’re good to go. You’re literally going for interviews with every single audition. And you’re definitely not guaranteed to get the job.… I think what helps is just talking to yourself and reminding yourself to not be so hard on yourself.” Perez’s determined spirit, coupled with her flexible, artistic side job, help her visualize her future success in acting, and she isn’t the only one who’s used their artistic skill to make a job for themselves. GAIL SIMPSON QUIT her office job to open a paintingparty business—and return to acting. For 20-plus years, Simpson worked as a manager at an event planning agency. During that time, she raised her two kids. While she had done some acting when her children were young, balancing motherhood, living in Langley, and working at a Monday-to-Friday event job made things like casting calls difficult.

Ellison explains why the public has been conditioned to hold fatphobic attitudes toward people who are heavy. Remember those TV ads about the 60-year-old Swede being healthier than the 30-year-old Canadian? Myara’s film reveals that they were based on a lie. At one point in Well Rounded, Tomiyama cites research proving that weight is as heritable as height. “This fact cuts through the noise,” Myara said, “because so much of the dialogue around weight is really about whether you’re a failed person or not.” The film opens with Conover jauntily strolling through the streets to the sounds of Vancouver queer musician Kimmortal’s

“Sometimes your audition can be five minutes, sometimes you can be there for an hour—depends what’s going on in there,” Simpson says. “And for callbacks, most of the time, I couldn’t make them. When I was working full time, I had to stay committed to that job.” Recognizing that acting demanded a flexibility that she no longer had, Simpson had to give up the dream. Pursuing acting became a possibility again about eight years ago, and it’s all thanks to a painting party. If you’re not familiar with a painting party, essentially there’s a teacher who walks you through creating a painted work of art. Simpson was invited to one such party as a girls night with her friends. At this particularly crowded event while the teacher was busy, Simpson took it upon herself to help the others around her with their paintings, being an avid painter herself. “After the class, someone said to me, ‘Why aren’t you doing this?’ And I said, ‘Oh gosh I couldn’t do that!’ ” Simpson recalls. “But they wouldn’t let me off the hook and they said, ‘Gail, we’re gonna hold a party for you in my friend’s restaurant, let’s see how it goes.’ ” Simpson’s very own, first-ever painting party was a huge success. Such a success, she decided to quit her job in event planning and begin her own painting party business: A Palette of FUN Paint Parties. Once she was able to create a schedule of her own, Simpson was able to pursue acting again, and since then

“Sad Femme Club”. Myara quipped that this feisty, feminist, hip-hop tune is Conover’s “Saturday Night Fever rebuttal”. From there, the four main characters share the pain that they’ve experienced from others due to their body shapes, as well as the joy that came with self-acceptance. “My body is where I live,” Okello says. “I can’t change the way I look.” Obsessed with fashion from a young age, Okello has continued to pursue this as a career in adulthood. Tsung describes the first time someone saw her naked—it came while she was getting waxed. Conover talks about her love of ballet dancing, whereas Palmater, a comedian, delivers scathing putdowns of those who think she’s lazy or who don’t believe she cares about her health. Their stories seeped into Myara’s consciousness as she transcribed their words and repeatedly watched the footage from her interviews. “There was something in that process that utterly transformed me, and I feel like, for me, maybe this film was the best gift I could have given myself,” she said. Myara added that she’s heard from others who appreciate the film’s message about body positivity. “It felt like I’ve found a like-minded community—people who’ve been really thankful for the film because it lifted a bit of weight off of their shoulders,” Myara said. “The weight of stigma, not body weight.” g Well Rounded will be screened at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival, which runs from August 12 to 22.

has appeared in works such as season two of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and TransLink commercials. Simpson insists that if she didn’t have the freedom of her schedule now, she would not be half as successful as she is. “I’m so lucky,” she asserts, “I know lots of actors who try to balance having a regular job and doing this—so they’re trying to fit in auditions on their lunch, or having to say they’re sick, or whatever, and it’s difficult.” The rise-and-grind mentality actors take on to support their side jobs and acting pursuits is hard work, especially keeping in mind that, much like being an astronaut down on Earth, there’s no guarantee of making it to space. As glamorous as Hollywood looks on Oscar night, the reality is that few aspiring actors get to be Brad Pitt or Charlize Theron. For most, working a side gig is at worst a necessary back-up plan, and at best a springboard to realizing a dream. Perez says that when it comes to succeeding, keeping a positive attitude is key. “You know, sometimes I can get frustrated like, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ ‘Is there something wrong with me?’ ‘Am I not doing enough?’ ” she admits. “And I’ll talk to my agent like, ‘What do I need to fix this?’ and she’s like, “No, you’re fine. You have to be patient; you have to just keep going. Don’t give up. Maybe you’re just not right for this part now, but something will come along.’ And something always does come.” g AUGUST 5 – 12 / 2021

THE GEORGIA STR AIGHT

13


SAVAGE LOVE

Parent-banging boyfriend leaves everyone mortified by Dan Savage

b I’M A 24-YEAR-OLD gay man with a 31-year-old bi boyfriend. I’ve known since we got together that he’s a lot more sexually experienced than I am, but it’s never been a big deal before now. This weekend, he met my parents for what we thought would be the first time. But it turns out that 10 years ago, during his “big bi slut phase” (his words), they had a threesome. I recognize that no one did anything wrong—they were three consenting adults—and it’s not like anyone could’ve known that he and I would get together in the future. But also, my boyfriend fucked my parents! I’m mortified; he’s mortified; they’re mortified—and I may never be able to look at my parents again. Please help us find a way to move past this! - I Knew He Was Into Blonds

Savage Love for almost 30 years, and I rarely get letters that surprise me anymore. But after reading your letter today—and then laying in a dark room with a cool washcloth over my eyes for six hours—I came to a few of realizations. First, I can still be surprised. Thank you for that. Second, if couples in their 40s with teenage children at home are gonna have threesomes with guys in their 20s—and some are—there will always be a hard-to-quantifybut-nevertheless-ineliminable risk that their children, once grown, could wind up meeting and fucking and even falling in love with one of the guys their parents had a threesome with back in the day. Third, since I helped create a world where forty-something couples with kids sometimes have MMF threesomes with twenty-something bisexual dudes, IKHWIB, this is all my fault oh my God what have I done can you ever forgive me? With that said, IKHWIB, do you know who I think should weigh in on this? The former mayor of Minneapolis.

I’ve been writing

If you think walking in on two people getting it on is awkward, try inviting your bi boyfriend to dinner with your parents only to discover that he once had a threesome with them. Photo by Jack F/Getty.

“If they’ve been able to laugh about this, that’s a good sign,” said Betsy Hodges, who was the mayor of Minneapolis from 2014 to 2018. “It might be a while before he can look at his boyfriend and not think about his parents having sex. That’s a tough thing to navigate, but laughter helps.” It may seem kind of random that the former mayor of Minneapolis is giving you sex advice, IKHWIB, but Hodges reached to me after I posted your letter to Twitter, where I told my followers that I was going to run your letter in my column even though I didn’t have the faintest idea what to tell you. Hodges, on the other hand, knew exactly what to say. “He has to ask himself if the boyfriend is worth it,” Hodges said. “Everything really depends on the strength of their connection— which will have to be weighed against whatever tension now exists between IKHWIB, his

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boyfriend, and his parents. Can they navigate that tension? If any of them feel bad about what happened and they aren’t motivated to work through this and don’t have the tools for doing so, this will go sideways.” The Honourable Betsy Hodges suggested that the four of you have a conversation about what happened and how you want to handle things going forward. “Having that conversation—which I know sounds dreadful—could actually help them think about this less,” Hodges said, “especially if they get to a point where they can laugh about the insanity and awkwardness of the situation they’ve all found themselves in.” You can laugh about this until you pass out, IKHWIB, but if you can’t suck your boyfriend’s cock without thinking about your dad sucking your boyfriend’s cock, you may not be able to get past this. If you can’t look at your mom without thinking

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about her sitting on your boyfriend’s face, you might not be able to get past this. If you can’t take your boyfriend’s load without thinking about the load he dropped in dad or your mom or both, you might not be able to get past this. You might be able to, like Hodges said, think about this less. While I’m doubtful there’s a memory hole out there big enough to stuff this in and tight enough to prevent it from falling right back out, IKHWIB, perhaps your parents have already shown you how it’s done. I know when I came out to my mom, IKHWIB, she had a really hard time being around any guy I was dating due to the unwelcome mental images that plagued her when she saw me with a boyfriend. She could look at my sister and her boyfriend without picturing her little girl sucking that boy’s cock, but she somehow couldn’t look at my boyfriend without picturing that brute sodomizing her little boy. It took some very awkward conversations, some raised voices, and, yes, some laughter before my mom successfully willed herself to stop conjuring up mental images of me getting my ass fucked. Maybe with some time, some awkward conversations, and a little laughter you’ll be able to purge all those unwelcome mental images of your boyfriend railing your parents from your mind too. I guess my point is, if gay and straight kids can pretend not to know what they damn well do know, i.e., that their grown children are sexually active adults now, and if they can learn not to torture themselves with unwelcome mental images of our partners fucking the shit out of us, IKHWIB, it seems to me that we should be able to do the same for them: recognize that our parents are sexual beings and at the same time expunge all unwelcome mental images from our minds. Yours is a much heavier lift than most, I realize, but if your boyfriend is worth it, IKHWIB, you at least gotta try. g

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The Georgia Straight - Rise and Grind - August 5, 2021  

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