MICHAEL BUZZELLI – Author, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

Mike “Buzz” Buzzelli is on ‘Burgh Vivant tonight to talk about his new book ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS, just in time for the holidays. Find it on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2WOoBuz Continue reading “MICHAEL BUZZELLI – Author, ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS”

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Seven with Sue: NICOLE GALLAGHER, folkLAB

Sue Kerr, ‘Burgh Vivant

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Seven with Sue, a Q&A series with local creators and artists. Each edition will ask seven questions (plus demographics) exploring the creator’s experience and views on all things arts and culture in Pittsburgh. The questions are crafted by our in-house Q&A contributor, Sue Kerr. Responses may be lightly edited, but we strive to allow the questioner’s authentic voice shine through. 

 

Up first is Nicole Gallagher, a resident artist with folkLAB and creator of the one woman show Mija: one bitch’s tale.

folkLAB is dedicated to creating more equity and representation in the Pittsburgh performing arts. All  shows are created in intensive 3-4 week processes. Debuting on July 21 is their current project: “Mija: one bitch’s tale” an interdisciplinary, autobiographical one woman show by miniMythologies resident artist Nicole Gallagher (co-founder of Fair Moans). Nicole is a queer, bi-racial Latina with a diverse skill set and history.

The show is directed by Ayne Terceira (Uncumber Theatrics) with videography by Julie Mallis (BOOM! Concepts).

The show runs for five short days next week: Wednesday, July 31st – Sunday, August 4th and takes place at Beauty Shoppe’s Terminal Building in South Side. The project is also sponsored by Beauty Shoppe.

Tickets: https://folklab.ticketleap.com/mija/

 

photo by P.J. Sage.

Name: Nicole Aurora Gallagher

Pronouns: she/her

Your Affiliation(s): member of Fair Moans Collective, member of Sex Workers Outreach Project

How do you describe your identity? Queer, anarchist, Latinx/multiethnic person, Native Chicagoan, Leo

 

Tell us about an under-appreciated or underutilized cultural resource in this region.

Pittsburgh has a strong and rich labor union history. Sadly, I think it is something that is fading out with older generations. When I moved to Pittsburgh nine years ago, I was told by a friend, who worked as a union organizer, that the union density in the city was over fifty percent, including service workers. Our city is quickly becoming more globalized and gentrified and with that, we’re getting an influx of new businesses and transplants, like myself, who don’t hold that history dear to their hearts, who aren’t inspired to keep it alive and revitalize it with all of the new industry. I am generalizing though. There are still pockets of workers coming together to take charge of their workplaces still. I tip my hat to all of the librarians organizing, the UPMC workers and adjunct professors and faculty in this city.

 

With whom in the Pittsburgh region would you like to collaborate?

I would love to collaborate with Moriah Ella Mason (goes by Ella). She is one of the cofounders of the SWOP Pittsburgh chapter I organize with. I think she’s such a badass, super organized, creative and just a great person. She created a one woman show a few years ago, Sex Werque, about her time as a dancer in Pittsburgh and it was fantastic! So inspiring! I’ve often thought about how I’d love to strip, but I don’t want to shave my body hair or wear heels! In conversations with Ella, we’ve bonded over the idea of creating a space for all bodies and all identities to make money being sexy in their individual ways on stage, the way strippers do.

 

Pittsburgh is a City where many identities literally intersect, but we are very attached to notions of unity and shared identity, ‘one Pittsburgh’, ‘The Steeler Nation’ ‘Most Liveable’ and so forth. How can intersectionality help all of us reconcile our individual and collective identities in this place called Pittsburgh? 

To be quite honest, I have struggled with my identity in this city. It has taken me years to feel like I connect to any larger cultural identities. I felt very alone as an ethnically mixed, Lantinx person here nine years ago. I wasn’t a student and that’s where the majority of non-white, non-black Americans where– the school campuses. I worked in corporate service industry, which thanks to the unions and job security, was full of a lot of older, mostly hetero folks (again, generalizing, not trying to box everyone in). I have found a home in different activist communities over time. It is the place where I have seen old school Pittsburgh come together with newer voices- queer, brown, artistic, beautiful freaks. It is where I see people breaking down class and cultural divisions to create something new in Pittsburgh. So I am all for people coming together in their communities, workplaces, in our city at large, to have a voice, to effect change. Through getting out and involved, people build together and move beyond superficial barriers.

 

How do the arts contribute to a livable city in Pittsburgh?

The arts are a vehicle for many diverse voices to be heard. We are able to connect and understand each other more through hearing and empathizing with one another. Sharing those stories and perspectives is building a stronger foundation for our city to rest on. 

 

Your production Mija; one bitch’s tale is part of your miniMythologies residency with folkLAB. Why did you pursue this opportunity to create and produce your one-woman show? 

I work with Abi, the founder of folkLAB, at the Ace Hotel, and she’s been encouraging me to take this project on for over a year now. I would come into work and tell Abi about things I was working on in my sketch troupe or about my stand-up comedy class, my personal life stories, my perspectives on politics and life. She would keep saying, “I’m serious, you need to consider putting this altogether in a show, Nicole.” I have been trying to find my voice as a story-teller for years. I’ve explored different arenas for years, learned a lot, but nothing has  quite stuck, so I finally agreed that this could be the opportunity I’ve needed to test all the skills I’ve acquired out. I’m very interested in writing and collaborating with other artists to create shows in the future.

 

Most people are familiar with sex worker characters or roles on stage and on-screen (Vivian Ward, Fantine, Holly Golightly, Iris, Joe Buck, Satine, Gypsy Rose Lee, Sin-Dee, Alexandra) and familiar with media created about sex in general. It is rare to experience performance art about sex work where those workers actually control the narrative and the production of their own stories. Are there any stories from Pittsburgh with sex work themes that should reach wider audiences, either as existing works of art or potential future projects?

There are a ton of sex working artists in Pittsburgh, they may not label themselves as sex workers, because that work is stigmatized, but you would be surprised how many shows you’ve seen in Pittsburgh by sex workers. My work with SWOP Pittsburgh has been to lift and unify the voices and needs of our sex working community. We had a beautiful event on December 17, 2018 to commemorate International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers where we had sex workers submit and read short stories and poems. And I just need to say: wow! It was so powerful! There are so many perspectives and identities in our community. 

I’ve mentioned the show “Sex Werque” by Moriah Ella Mason. Ella has a show coming up in a few weeks “Queer, Jewish” that I think folks should check out. I also have a friend from SWOP, Jessie Sage, who is a writer, sex worker, teacher and activist. You can find her work in the City Paper, Peepshow, and her podcast by the same name. 

 

Please list two or three local creators to whom we should be paying attention and tell us why?

 You should be paying attention to Ayne Terceira of Uncumber Theatrics. She is the director of my show and recently had the show “The Stray” an interactive show where the audience took on the roles of cats in the house of a recluse. Ayne has a unique imagination and sense of movement that really engages the audience. She’s been working in Pittsburgh for years and has trained and inspired many other production companies to use her style. She’s the sweetest, funniest weirdo I know. I feel so lucky to be working with her. 

And:

Julie Mallis-  a multimedia artist and educator working with digital media, paint, installation, performance, sound and audience interaction. Their work focuses on building community, audio-visual experiences, speaking truth to power, and imagining new landscapes. They are working on a video for my show so I’ve gotten first hand experience of how awesome their work and imagination are.  They are affiliated with Boom Concepts, GFX, Bike Pgh and they’re now program director at Repair the World Pittsburgh.

 

Thank you, Nicole. 

 

Readers can find Nicole on Facebook @fairmoanspgh and on instagram @fair_moans_collective. folkLAB is also on Facebook @folkLAB and Instagram @f0lkLab

 

 

Fall Hopes High at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater

Delana Flowers, ‘Burgh Vivant

Juggling is an art form, especially when it involves being aware of multiple, highly impactful factors that have a lasting effect on so many people and the future of their community. How do you do it successfully? Ask the Executive Director of Kelly Strayhorn Theater, Janera Solomon. She’s been juggling all of the above for 10 years now as the theater enters its 10th season this Fall. The past decade has been the longest successful run the Kelly Strayhorn Theater has seen after many thwarted starts since 1999.

“This afternoon we are joined by our friends and our neighbors, our board members, elected officials, funding partners, our donors, artist and it’s to celebrate creativity and it’s also to celebrate resilience.” Solomon added, “And here we are standing tall and looking pretty good, entering our 10th season.”

Solomon has had to juggle remaining true to the community while participating in its revitalization; honoring the past while carving out a future; supporting and creating a platform for local art while exposing your neighborhood, your city to global art; continuing inclusion in both programming and reach; keeping the organization running in two locations while remaining financially accessible to people of all economic backgrounds. She has made it her goal to continue keeping all of these balls in the air during The Strayhorn’s next season.

Fall 2018 for Kelly Strayhorn theater, which also includes Alloy Studios, is full of local, national, and international programming in a continued, concerted effort to remain committed to being a platform for new artists, a showcase of legends and all artists in between. This season is also part of an ongoing dedication to engaging the community of East Liberty with family-oriented events and being accessible with Pay-What-Makes-You-Happy pricing. “We believe that Art belongs to everyone. Everyone has the ability to express themselves and everybody deserves to have an opportunity to see the very best and be part of the very best in artistic and creative expression and that’s part of the reason we do Pay What Makes You Happy,” said Solomon.

Janera Solomon announces the tenth anniversary season.

Season 10 will be a season of new and continuing partnerships and collaborations, unique performances: some born out of research and residencies, some addressing difficult topics like masculinity and the opioid crisis. We’ll see fresh takes on traditional arts and explorations of new and nontraditional art forms. “…more importantly [we are] thinking about ways that our programming can continue to resonate here in the building but also throughout the avenue through partnerships and collaborations we’re forming.” Solomon said.

Fall 2018 highlights include family events like the 10th annual Halloween Mayhem party in October and Suite Life: Billy Strayhorn Birthday Bash in November. Additional works are created by Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s Freshworks, a series of residencies given to artists to explore and express new concepts through the creation of new projects. For example, in October Gladstone Delux Butler, the current Freshworks Musician-in-Residence, will be performing with a percussionist to create sound from the use of digital technology. This performance is an exploration that juxtaposes new media, such as Virtual Reality technology, and drumming traditions from around the world.

Live & Onstage will feature local artists of various art forms performing from a global perspective. These artists will include STAYCEE PEARL Dance project, Anqwenique Wingfield, Slowdanger, Bill Shannon, Blak Rapp M.A.D.U.S.A. and Afro Yaqui Collective. In addition to local art, this 10th season will also bring international artists like Cynthia Oliver. Her presentation is described as a dance-theater work. “Together the ensemble excavates layers of racial and gender performance, refracted through the shared lens of their Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American ancestries.”

Though Kelly Strayhorn Theater is partnering with larger organizations like New York Live Art, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Dance Place in DC to bring in national and international artists this fall, showcasing local art is still a priority. In fact, Solomon has made it a point to clarify that referring to them as local artists is no indication of their reach. It more accurately speaks to the fact that while they are headquartered here in Pittsburgh, they are also of national acclaim and some even world renown.

“Arts and culture matters to neighborhood revitalization, it’s not a side thing. It’s not what you do to get people to come and then once people are here you move the arts along and it’s not what you do just for a privileged few.”

With this responsibility in mind, Kelly Strayhorn Theater has launched and continues successful programs off stage to contribute to revitalization efforts by supporting artists and their work. Programs such as FUTUREMAKERS, designed to bring community leaders and creatives that seek to address local, social issues with their art together are a prime example. The program fosters conversations between them, while putting the artists in a process for accelerated growth as entrepreneurs. The Freshworks residencies are another example. The Strayhorn has also partnered with local art organizations such as Pittsburgh Film Shorts, Kente Arts Aliance, New Horizon Theater to be a guide and assist them in their efforts to thrive.

In addition, The Strayhorn has the responsibility of preserving a historic landmark while recognizing that it is equally as important to preserve the cultural legacy of the community. The Kelly Strayhorn building is the last of its kind in East Liberty. “We are committed to refurbishing and providing funding for long term stability and enlargement for this building.  We’re not here just to talk about it. We’re committed to funding it,” said Councilman Reverend Ricky Burgess on behalf of himself and as a representative of the Mayor’s office. Burgess made it known that the Mayor’s office believes  arts and culture play a significant role in revitalization and has therefore given money to the URA as part of a planning initiative to renovate The Strayhorn building and add to its uses.

“We want to figure out a way so that you [Solomon] don’t have to deal with the upkeep and maintenance of the building, where you can spend your money on programming. So that’s the goal. The Mayor’s committed to it. I’m committed to it and we’re going to work together to figure it out,” Said Burgess.

Certainly a building that’s been standing for more than 100 years comes with issues but the Mayor’s office is working to keep those issues from distracting Solomon and her team from the organizations goals.

“Neighborhood initiatives always need Downtown support. We need ambassadors, we need champions and the Mayor’s office has definitely been a champion,” Solomon said.

When asked how people can support KELLY STRAYHORN THEATER in addition to funding, Solomon gave a candid response about helping the organization combat the fear that exists in regards to the theater’s location. She asked for ambassadors that would attest to and spread the word that East Liberty is a safe place for entertainment. Solomon would also like to spread the word that the Kelly Strayhorn Theater welcomes everyone.

The Kelly Strayhorn Theater is located at 5941 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206. More information can be found here.

-DF

QUINTIN KITTLE – Architect, AIA

Tonight on ‘Burgh Vivant, get a glimpse inside the profession that’s making Pittsburgh beautiful through good design with architect Quintin Kittle. Learn more and stay informed at www.aiapgh.org  Continue reading “QUINTIN KITTLE – Architect, AIA”

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Press Release: New Performance Poetry Competition in West Hills of Pittsburgh

Everyone – or nearly everyone – has read a poem or two in their lives.  Some of us may have even written one. Picture your angsty teenage reflection toiling over a line about the hunky high school football star or the unfairness of an allowance reduction by the despotic leaders of your family circle.

Poetry is cathartic.  It releases the primal feelings of love and hatred, loneliness, poverty, desperation – all the feelings that come very naturally with being human and all the situations that we sometimes fail so gloriously to articulate.  Spoken words have even greater power; thrusting-out the emotions that lie two dimensionally on a page.

Pittsburgh is home to some amazing poetry slammers.  These are men and women who serenade us with the same passion, the same intensity that forced their pens to move.  Slam poetry is performance poetry, and some refer to it as three-dimensional poetry. The participants get to experience the feelings in the moment by hearing the words spoken with the same unadulterated passion the poet felt at the moment they were drawn write.

 

“Backpack” Jeff Young demonstrates his poetry prowess at the mic. Photo Credit: Stacey Christe (Coraopolis Business Association).

Coraopolis is the newest home to one of these poetry slams.  Financially sponsored and organized by Christopher and Tiffany Myler, who are the owners of a local holistic healing business, Raion Zou Holistic Healing, the Coraopolis Poetry Slam came to life on January 13th.  Some people may ask how you make the connection between the business and the poetry slam.  To Christopher Myler, who spent his formidable years slamming around Pittsburgh, the connection is simple – anything that allows us to express ourselves, who we are, and how we feel in the present moment is healing.  

The rules are simple:  all poets must bring three original poems.  Being a competition, it is a three round elimination.  Judges are selected randomly from the audience, and poets are scored on a 0 – 30 basis founded in how the poem moves each judge.  The mean of each score is used to determine who advances to the next round. In the final elimination round, the poet with the highest score wins a cash prize.    

The Coraopolis Poetry Slam has attracted the attention of slammers from all over the Pittsburgh area, and as far as Uniontown, PA.  It is hosted by Andy Theobald, owner of Anchor Anvil Coffee Bar in Coraopolis. Anchor Anvil was proud to be the host site for the poetry slams.  The Coraopolis Poetry Slam occurs on a bi-monthly basis, and it is free and open to the public.

The next slam is June 23rd beginning at noon, and sign-ups are open.  If you wish to participate or observe, for more information, click here.  

Tonight’s guest: SANTA CLAUS

We’re honored that Santa Claus took time out of his busy yuletide schedule to pay a visit to ‘Burgh Vivant. But are we on his naughty or nice list? All your queries on Cringle will be answered here! AND if you should like to schedule a visit from “the Claus” you can hit him up on Facebook: www.facebook.com/realbeardandbellysanta. Ho-ho-ho and happy holidays! Continue reading “Tonight’s guest: SANTA CLAUS”

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Quentin Crisp gets “The Last Word” – an interview with Phillip Ward

Michael “Buzz” Buzzelli, ‘Burg Vivant

On November 21, 2017, Quentin Crisp’s book, “The Last Word,” will go on sale, eighteen years after his death – to the day. Phillip Ward, author, poet, archivist and curator of the Crisperanto: The Quentin Crisp Archives, co-edited the very personal volume with Crisp and Laurence Watts.

Ward became aware of the bon vivant, raconteur and gay icon watching “The Naked Civil Servant” on television in 1975. Ward said, “While watching the film, never did I realize nor even imagine the significance or the importance Quentin Crisp would be in my life.”

Ward said, “It was February 1986 that I met Quentin Crisp, ‘live and in person.’ I was working as an editor in a production house when my secretary met him while standing in line at the East Village post office and engaged him in conversation. I encouraged her to set up a date for dinner. I would come along! Consequently, I was overwhelmed by his generosity of spirit and kindness—and with his honesty of heart. And despite his spoken adversity toward love and being loved, Quentin exuded unconditional love to those he believed in and trusted. Because of this, I enjoyed an intimate and close friendship with Quentin Crisp.” He added, “One which I cherish daily.”

Ward often escorted Crisp to galleries, movies and restaurants. He said, “We would meet up with fans that had invited him to dinner.”

Their relationship evolved, and Ward became Crisp’s assistant. He attended to many of his needs, especially as the author grew older.

In the early 1990s, Quentin lost the capacity to use his left hand because of illness. Ward said, “I was able to transcribe his voice as quickly as he spoke the words. I became his ‘Left-hand Man’ typing and readying his manuscripts.”

Ward was Quentin Crisp’s assistant, dresser, typist, editor and companion during the 1980s and until Crisp’s death in 1999. He is literary and estate executor of Crisp’s estate.

Ward reiterated, “His language and use of words were jewels for the ears to hear and the eyes to read. Quentin’s gentleness and kindness. He was his cheerleader and lived for himself and shared that self openly and willingly with me, the public and the whole world. Quentin’s love for life and sharing that happiness pulled me into appreciating and loving the person and the persona.”

Following Quentin’s passing, Ward created Crisperanto: The Quentin Crisp Archives from personal effects left to him in Crisp’s will. The archives mission  states, “To preserve and maintain the manuscripts, letters, recordings, artwork by and about, and various artifacts and ephemera related to the life and legend of Quentin Crisp, and to promote his philosophy of individuality, self-acceptance, and tolerance.”

Ward said, “Sharing his history is sharing Quentin to the world daily. His person may no longer walk among us, but his words and image continue to inform and enlighten us through the existence of the archives.”

The cover to “The Last Word” by MB Books, LLC.

Ward went on to explain the theme of “The Last Word.” He said, “The book is Quentin’s valedictory. It is his deepest attempt to tell us what the lessons of his nearly ninety-one years on the planet have been. As usual, he approaches the ‘topics’ of his life—which include old age, sickness and his nearness to death—with unflinching honesty and openness. But in ‘The Last Word’ we get what Quentin almost never permitted himself to share about his life in any other public forum: we get his heart, his untrammeled feelings about what the gift of his life has meant to him. It is a view of Quentin Crisp not shared with the public in his lifetime. It is probably the most personal and most unusual book Quentin ever wrote, and this is what makes it an incalculable gift to the rest of us.”

Ward added, “His message is clear: Accept yourself for who and what you are and be the person you are destined to be without apology. What matters is that you obtain and maintain the courage to be yourself and to construct your individualism in a style that fits your life’s needs and desires. Pinpoint your daydream and pursue it with flare and determination. Understand your sexuality and do not let societal pressures ordain who and what you are on the inside even if you’re outside does not truly reflect your interior self, your true being. ‘Be yourself no matter what they say.’ Live your perpetual daydream as Quentin did. He proved that it does pay off!”

“The Last Word,” debuts on the anniversary of Crisp’s death. Ward said, “I am delighted to finally be able to share ‘The Last Word’ with all of Quentin’s fans throughout the world. Quentin was one of a kind. He was a philosopher, an observer of life, a survivor and a beacon of hope for many. In life, his primary mission was the immediate happiness of those around him. He leaves behind a legacy of great importance to the world’s gay and straight communities of which ‘The Last Word’ is his swansong, and I feel that releasing the book on the anniversary of his passing makes it doubly appropriate. Quentin Crisp’s legacy has reached and touched all and many under a multifaceted rainbow. There is no boundary to his cause, to his action of being one’s ‘self’ at all times and without apology or any gain. Just ‘Be!’  That is what Quentin was and expressed daily: Being himself wholly. I encourage everyone to read Quentin Crisp’s works and hear him on recordings. His philosophy will have some impact on you, whether you invite it or not.”

Ward said, “He was a mentor and a friend, I listened to his wisdom and feel I am a better human for having known him. I miss the whole being of Quentin Crisp.”

Phillip Ward toasting Quentin Crisp with a glass of absinthe at his apartment at 95 Christopher Street in New York City in the mid 90s. – Photograph by Quentin Crisp

“The Last Word” (co-edited by Phillip Ward and Laurence Watts), the third and final installment of Quentin Crisp’s autobiography is available on November 21, 2017. For more information about Quentin Crisp and “The Last Word” go here. In addition to “The Last Word” the Victoria Hollis Gallery is releasing a book of photographs by Martin Fishman titled “Quentin Crisp is Black and White.” It is a photography book with over 150 images of Quentin Crisp at home and in various scenarios. Ward wrote the introduction and selected quotes from Crisp’s book to embellish the pages. Both “The Last Word” and “Quentin Crisp in Black and White” will be released on November 21, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian Edward hosts the 2017 AIA Pittsburgh Design Awards

On Thursday, October 19th, 2017, Brian Edward, host of ‘Burgh Vivant, served as emcee for the 2017 American Institute of Architects Pittsburgh Design Awards held at The August Wilson Center for African American Culture. This video was the comedic opener for the ceremonies, produced by ‘Burgh Vivant, and featuring Nick Mitchell in a very special cameo. Thank you to AIA Pittsburgh for a very enjoyable evening, and congratulations to all the winners and nominees.   Continue reading “Brian Edward hosts the 2017 AIA Pittsburgh Design Awards”

MATT PEYTON – LumberjAxes

TONIGHT – Matt Peyton visits ‘Burgh Vivant for cocktail hour and a lesson on how you can enjoy the lively art of axe throwing – now in Pittsburgh! It’s fun for all – and even Brian Edward can do it in a tuxedo. Visit LUMBERJAXES at 2 Sedgwick St. Pittsburgh, PA 15209. For reservations and more information checkout www.axethrowingpgh.com or call 412-254-4441.  Continue reading “MATT PEYTON – LumberjAxes”

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