After a ten-year absence, legendary dance company The Holy Body Tattoo returns with a multi-city international tour, starting at Vancouver’s own PuSh Festival. Alongside Montreal post-rock group Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the company will perform monumental, its fifth and final work, on January 28 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. In anticipation of what promises to be an incredible one-night-only performance, SAD Mag spoke with renowned choreographer and Holy Body Tattoo co-founder Noam Gagnon about what to expect from monumental.

PuSh 2016_The Holy Body Tattoo_publicity image

SAD Mag: What’s the story behind the name “Holy Body Tattoo”?

Noam Gagnon: It’s a play on words. Powerful experiences leave traces on the body, they become almost like tattoos. We wanted, as choreographers, to think about experiences that change—or force you to change—your point of view or to make choices.

SM: How is this idea reflected in your work?  

NG: We’re thinking about the impact of some of those experiences, those moments in someone’s life that…leave traces. There’s so many things in our lives that we don’t have a choice [about], or we don’t have the opportunity to express. So we wanted to create a setting where we could speak about those things.

SM: Why is dance such an important form of expression for you?

NG: The body doesn’t lie. You can see that as we get older. You look at a child or at a woman who’s 90 years old. What is going on in someone’s life has an impact not only on their physical body but also on the markings of their face [and] your ability to perform your daily tasks. Even after plastic surgery, you look at someone’s spine, their hands, and there will always be something that will betray their history.

Photo by Chris Randle
Photo by Chris Randle

SM: Tell me more about monumental. What’s the piece about?

NG: The first part is based on the view of the individual being betrayed by work; it’s really this idea of the hyper-structured place where everyone has to be the same, and the strain of having to fall into the same beat at the same time. You realize at some point [that] something’s going to break. The beauty of it is realizing when it’s gone too far, picking up the pieces and realizing what we’re left with. This is part of our humanity, part of our growth.

SM: HBT is known for going almost “too far”—for pushing dancers to their limits. Can you explain the rationale behind this?

NG: The places of change and the places of growth in our lives [occur] when we push through our comfort zone, and push beyond our level of ability…The things that actually are powerful, that have the ability to create an impact in our lives are the things that require an incredible amount of effort. What I find at the end of the day is beautiful is watching people push their bodies to this extreme. The more we are challenged, the more we have a possibility of acknowledging what is really going on. And the effort to continue, to adapt in order to go on—it’s a beautiful thing. That’s what’s fascinating, because we will survive—we’ve survived everything.

hb dress 2 - 064

SM: Is it strange to be doing monumental again, a decade after its premier? 

NG: Well it’s a bit sad, because I think that as a society [today], we’re more alienated from each other, and we have less understanding of how we function within one another. History just keeps repeating itself.

[But also] I think it’s actually quite exciting that we we were able to tap into something that still has resonance. This new incarnation is infinitely better. I can’t tell you how much more powerful it is with Godspeed [You! Black Emperor]. It really is an experience of a lifetime. It’s crazy, crazy, crazy powerful—disturbingly beautiful.

SM: What do you hope to achieve with monumental?

NG: The mandate of Holy Body Tattoo is to create powerful experiences and to leave traces. We’re just leaving powerful images for people to reckon with in a setting that speaks about the world we live in.

[monumental] speaks about the best and also the worst of people. We’re not trying to make a story that it’s linear—saying people are good or people or bad—we’re trying to create a window where people can actually make their own choices.


Holy Body Tattoo performs monumental on January 28 at 8pm at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre as part of Vancouver’s PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. Tickets are available at ticketfly.comThis interview has been edited and condensed.

During its two week run at the Cinematheque, the European Union Film Festival (EUFF) dazzled cinema-goers with a variety of international films. There were some absolute gems in the mix and some unfortunate flops, but the festival was a success, overall.

Still from Gods (2014)

Poland’s official submission to the festival was Gods, a feature from director Lukasz Palkowski. The film was a fictionalized version of events which took place in Poland in the 1980s, following a young cardiovascular surgeon at a time when heart transplants were considered entirely too risky and taboo to perform. Tomasz Kot plays Zbigniew Religa, the first surgeon to successfully perform a heart transplant in Poland. The film is dramatic in its delivery, and gripping in its subject matter. Tension between Religa and his staunch older colleagues is clearly at the heart of the film’s story, reflected in the cinematography and sound design. However, I found the camerawork to be distracting at times, due to its wildly changing approach. Long takes and shaky, hand-held shots were sometimes used in the same scene, which might have been a technique to reflect the film’s conflict but was mostly a disruption to my viewing experience. My other qualm with this particular flick was its climax and ending. We watch as Religa descends into a disastrous fit of professional pressure and personal disgrace, as each heart transplant fails and the public loses whatever support they had for him and his work. All of the drunken anger and self-loathing unfolds unceremoniously on screen, until finally and suddenly, a successful operation is performed. However, this transition from catastrophe to triumph is so abrupt, and is followed so quickly by the rolling credits, that I nearly missed it. It took me a moment to realize that he had achieved his lofty goal after all. Ultimately, this film was a hopeful drama with an intriguing subject, but lacked consistency and final gravitas.

Still from The Fencer (2015)

The feature from Estonia was a much more subtle and skilled take on historical events. The Fencer, directed by Klaus Haro, was a delight to watch and felt authentic on all accounts. It tells the story of a former professional fencer, Endel Nelis, who, during Soviet occupation, hides away in a small Estonian town to avoid capture by Stalin’s secret police. He takes on the role of gym teacher to the town’s school children, and fosters a earnest relationship with them through the teaching of his old sport, despite the objections of the school’s rule-following principle. This film was a quiet and steady account of life during a time fraught with political suspicion. I felt a sincerity in the film’s delivery, both in the actors’ performances and in the visual vocabulary. I felt privy to the struggle of living with the burden of war and political transgression, and was very much taken by the subtleties between the children and their teacher. The cinematography was understated, conveying the intimate relationships between characters through close-up and static shots. However, during the film’s screening there was a short interruption, due to a few moments of disc trouble. One of the scenes in the last quarter of the film was skipped through and the theatre lights came on for a quick minute while the problem was addressed, but nothing of critical importance was missed and the screening carried on without error afterwards. Despite that slight snag, I thoroughly enjoyed this film and its affectionate portrayal of a very difficult period in European history. It was an intimate account of the values of patience and steady resolve during a time of oppression.


When I walked into the Cultch, the greeter immediately warned that the show would be between 100-120 minutes without intermission. I beelined for the bathroom, then to the bar. Not only do they serve beer (and wine) at the Cultch, but they’ll even let you bring it to your seat inside the theatre. This evening was off to a great start.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 preset
Photo by Sagal Kahin

When the lights dimmed we made our way to our seats and were pleasantly surprised at both the set up and the size. There wasn’t a bad seat in the house. When Ronnie Burkett emerged, dressed in all black, the crowd erupted into cheers and applause. It seemed everybody knew and loved Burkett already. In his introduction he talked of his past work, which again, the audience seemed to know all about, then explained his objective with the Daisy Theatre. He wanted to create a puppet show for adults that was fun; a departure from his past work, which was decidedly darker.

As far as marionettes go, I’ve only ever seen Pinocchio and Gepetto at work. This was a change of pace for me. The opening number starred Dolly Wiggler, who would dance to music and peel off her clothing one item at a time, burlesque style. I didn’t know marionettes could move like that. I was laughing and in shock, looking over to my friend to confirm that she was seeing this. Her rhythm, as created by Burkett’s hands, which moved quickly without distracting him from the song he was singing, was incredible.

Funny for the most part and provocative throughout, Burkett had the audience laughing and cheering from start to finish. I laughed a lot, but I also cringed some. Especially when Franz was on stage talking too much–at least for my liking–of inviting starry-eyed audience members backstage and humping them from behind while they were distracted by smaller cuter puppet named Schnitzel.

From the applause, to the coos, to the shouts of encouragement everybody seemed to know from the moment the show began that this was a participatory event. The length, I would learn, varies because Burkett invites the audience to hoot, holler and applaud as a way of voting for which puppets or songs they would like to see performed. This was something I quite liked. Quickly it became clear that many of the audience members had seen this play before and were keen to see some of their favourite puppets return to the stage. At one point the lights came on and he looked into the audience for a volunteer. Burkett would settle on a man named Gavin, who would learn how to make a puppet play the piano while bobbing his head to the music–“he” being the puppet. Gavin would also go on to sing on cue and even take off his shirt.

The Daisy Theatre_publicity image
It was a while before I was able to find the connection between these puppets, all telling stories or singing songs that had nothing to do with the others. In a way, it felt disjointed. I’d been in a gambling mood when I decided to see the show without first doing any research about Burkett or the Daisy Theatre, which I would realize part way through was a variety show. Even still, I struggled to make sense of why some of them were performers, while others were just there to tell stories.

In addition to Gavin, the highlights for me were without a doubt Jesus (yes, Christ) and Edna Rural. Neither sang or danced, but rather they talked to the audience. Jesus, who may actually have been performing stand-up routine, was dreading the holidays with his parents Mary and Joseph. His birthday is a tense time and his parents don’t approve of his girlfriend, he explained while weaving clever jokes, with even more clever biblical references into his story. Edna, a widow from a small town in Alberta, is an expert baker, and talks endlessly because she fears that if she’s quiet somebody will give her bad news. Everybody had a good laugh when Edna told the story of her pie crust made with dill, which of course was referred to as dill dough (read: dildo). I’m not a big fan of sex jokes. They’re popular and funny making me a minority on this one, but I can’t help but find them boring and a little too easy.

While I thought two hours was a little too long and the sexual references a little too frequent, I quite liked this play. It was smart, topical and funny. It was also sad, heartwarming and relatable. Burkett is quick-witted and truly a master of his craft. He brought each puppet to life with his voice and movement and that alone makes for twenty dollars well spent. The fact that no two nights are the same, has me curious as to who will grace the stage of the Daisy Theatre in the nights to come. In this regard, it makes sense that this is a show people come back for.


The Daisy Theatre runs until December 20 at The Cultch (1895 Venables Street). Tickets are available by phone at 604.251.1363, or online at


An artist interview by Sunshine Frère


Angela and Drew
Angela Grossman and Drew Schaffer


It is a stunning September afternoon at the Thierry Cafe on Alberni Street in Vancouver. The melancholy music that Yan Tiersen created for the French film Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulin is wistfully resonating throughout the sunny patio where I have just sat down with artist Angela Grossmann. Her longtime friend and fellow artist, Drew Shaffer, has arrived from inside the cafe. Shaffer gently places a beautiful piece of cake, with luscious raspberries adorning the top, on the table for us all to share, and off we go, tumbling into the jiggery pokery world of Angela and Drew.

Installation View
Installation View

Angela Grossmann and Drew Schaffer recently exhited their work together in a duo exhibition called Jiggery Pokery at Winsor Gallery. The exhibition ran from October 15 – November 14th.  This interview was conducted a couple of weeks prior to the exhibition opening. Grossman, who is represented by Winsor, was very much looking forward to showing alongside her longtime friend. The joining of these two sets of works in the same space, provided Grossmann and Shaffer an opportunity for their ever evolving conversation about art, language, game-play, memory and life to be experienced anew.


Angela: How I met Drew was that I rented my studio, which I am still in–it was above the Salmagundy shop store on Cordova.  I would go by and it’s a friendly neighbourhood, but its really changed. Drew was the proprietor of the shop and we got to chatting. Though, we were never never allowed to just chat were we?

Drew: No.


A: I’d walk by and I’d see a face through the window and he’d give me a thumbs up or a thumbs down if the owner was in.

D: So Ang would come in looking for photos instead.

A: And you!


D: Yes, she was looking for me, and images of stuff to do her work with. When I was first at Emily Carr we would do one of those class field trip type things, and once we went to Diane Farris Gallery and I saw her work there and was just amazed.  So it was quite exciting because I knew who she was. She would come up and buy photos and things like that, and I thought, oh yeah, this is really cool! I don’t just have a shitty job right? It was a very interesting place in those days. Those types of shops are great places for people like us to find the raw materials to make the work that we make.

AG_Balloon (1)
BALLOON, 2015, Angela Grossmann, 16 x 20”, mixed media collage (detail)

A: It was.

D: So, yeah, we both start from a similar place, we go and find something that inspires us that already exists and then talk to it, bringing it into being somehow. For me, generally it will become a 3D object and nine times out of ten for Angela its going to be something two dimensional. We use these found objects as a starting place, to start the dialogue. And sometimes it’ll be something very humble, I ask myself, why does this grab me the way that it does, and what is it about this particular object that is so inspiring?  Is it the functionality of it? What is it saying to me?


Sunshine: Do you decide instantly always what you are going to do with the found object or do you sometimes hold onto it not knowing what it will be for?


D: Yes, sometimes its instantaneous, but more often than not things have to stick around for a while. I have this massive collection of old suitcases full of things like that…. I have this recall memory in my head of what all the suitcases hold. Suitcase encyclopedias.

BLUE ROPE, 2015, Angela Grossmann, mixed media collage, 16 x 20”

A: You know, when I was in school, it was a going thing, you had to have an image bank. A bank of things, photos and images things you liked, images that made you think of things, whatever it was. And there used to be this incredible image bank at the Vancouver art gallery, that had been kept over a hundred years, but they got rid of it–I couldn’t believe it. Anyway, I’ve got my own image bank, but its not just images. It is full of  things that I like, things that I respond to, my materials. But I don’t like to collect things for the sake of collection, I only collect to use them. Because I don’t like stuff hanging around.  Sorry, I just thought I’d differentiate myself there.  (chuckles)


D: I on the other hand do have a lot of stuff hanging around that I may or may not use at one point.

A: Exactly, I get very anxious about things hanging around…

D: Yeah, you’re more purist than me.


S: Do you purge more often Angela?


A: Yes, but not of things you would think, for example, I’d never throw out my old buttons, but I would throw out a pair of old gucci loafers, no problem. But my old buttons, bits and swatches of materials are all stuff I keep, but only for collage purposes. Because I think materials make me associate and associate is what I do. It’s the very nub of what I do as an artist. I’m an associate. (chuckles)  When something is happening for me it is because I am able to make to make associations that day or in that work and can clearly see when it’s a great one or when it’s a forced one. You really learn how to associate. When you’re trying to go down those paths but it’s forced, you can tell when it is good or no good or when it’s great.


D: And, I as well as Angela do that with language. I’ll phone her up and say, I’ve got a pun, it seems to be a current that runs through my work and everything in my life. Like I call my brother up on Fridays and we trade spoonerisms back and forth. Sometimes their just sonorous, and they don’t really mean anything. But the best ones are the ones that can be read both ways and mean something, like the The Taming of the Shrew or The Shaming of the Trew. You know like that kinda stuff. And I see objects very much the same way.


A: Turn them upside down, turn them inside out, put them back to front, see what happens, see where it goes.


D: Yeah, because there is something there. Whenever you pick something up, there’s something there–you know, you know that it’s loaded somehow. You know that, that object or image has something for you. It’s the weirdest thing.

DS_I Hate What You're Doing to Me
I HATE WHAT YOU’RE DOING TO ME, 2015, Drew Shaffer, 30 x 39 x 10”, mixed media

A: I love that. It’s loaded with possibilities.

D: It’s loaded with possibilities, you see that thing and you know right away that you gotta have that because there is something there for you.

A: I think that’s true for everybody that ever collects anything, not just with art.

D: Oh yes!


S: But all the potentials that are and were there for the object disappear once you connect with it as you are taking it in one particular direction.


D: Yes, its a fork in the road I think.

A: As visual artists all we do is associate and make these connections. Poets also, because all they do is use language to open stuff up and make connections and refer to things, its always referring to things, it’s never as it is.


D: Ang and I are not exchanging images and seeing each other’s work until we install the exhibition. We’ve been wanting to do something together for quite some time and now we are.

A: We first thought of doing something together that was theme based. Where we would both do work on the same subject. But this show has morphed and it is us both doing work at the same time instead. I’m not looking at Drew’s work and he isn’t looking at mine.

AG_Puppet_16x20_mixed media collage
PUPPET, 2015, Angela Grossmann, mixed media collage, 16 x 20”

D: Those are the rules, that is the game plan.

A: That was the game because, I can’t do work about you, and you can’t do work about me. We’re just going to hope that in the show there is some kind of relationship there, as there is with us.

D: I am sure there will be.


S: How did the title for the exhibition, Jiggery Pokery, come about?


D: Ang came up with this name…

A: It’s not a word that I came up with, it exists…it’s sort of a bit higgledypiggledy, hocus pocus, jiggery pokery.  I mean it’s all word play. The reason why I think it’s nice wordplay besides the fact that it actually means something,  but also because it’s also associating sound with what we like. We like these associations… and that the sound, it …it tumbles out.


D: Yeah, it feels good on the mouth to say it. It’s really interesting because it dates back to the mid to late nineteenth century and it was a word initially used for subterfuge.

A: Like, “he’s up to some jiggery pokery over there!”


D: Yeah, its a little bit sneaky, I think it is a great word. But then that’s the first meaning and then there’s a secondary meaning that they started using in around nineteen twenty, where it started meaning to cobble things together. Like, it’s a bit of jiggerypokery that got the engine started.  And you can also spoonerize it piggeryjokery. It was also really interesting, I discovered this American poet who used these archaic words and phrases and wrote these really cool poems, purely for the fact that they had great rhyming capabilities and their sonorousness. Once again, yet another level of what we are doing. I discovered this poet Anthony Hecht who uses phrases like jiggery pokery, he did some work with another guy called John Hollander. I was pretty happy when I discovered him. Anyways, one of the lines in one of his poems describes what jiggery pokery is and he explains it as: “using whatever you’ve got around to get the job done.”


A: Absolutely! We could quote that!

D: Yeah, its great stuff! A lot of the stuff that I’m dealing with is the seduction and abandonment of inanimate objects. I find that really interesting. You come across these things and they look so helpless and you can see a vestige of what they were to somebody at one time, but they’re no longer that anymore. In the fact that they’ve been discarded, they become, to me at least, so much more interesting.

A: Ditto!

DS_And you Never Will Not While Living Under My Roof
AND YOU NEVER WILL WHILE YOU’RE LIVING UNDER MY ROOF, 2015, Drew Shaffer, 20 x 20 x 14”, mixed media

D: I’m also really interested in how we choose to define ourselves by what we own. The general view of the object when desired is that it is hip. My general view is that it becomes more interesting when its not hip anymore or when its discarded. It’s not trying to prove itself anymore. I often turn the use of a functional object into more of a narrative or metaphor rather than a practical perspective.  It’s a different kind of practicality I would say.


A: If I may interject here for everything that you’ve just said, I would reiterate that my own work uses likenesses of people who are long gone. So, they’ve got that echo of being familiar, but at the same time not existing anymore. I think I like to play between that which is still current and that which is gone, but what is it, that remains, that we have a connection to. What is the humanity that crosses over from then to now. So it’s all about that bridge.


S: The way you’re approaching the installation of the work is very much attached to the notion of game play, just like how you two approach your friendship. Drew’s objects will arrive at the gallery, Angela’s will arrive at the gallery and then the two of you will connect the dots on site.


D: Yeah.

A: It will be very fun, the thing is I have absolute respect for what Drew does, so I have total trust in whatever he does. I’m excited to show with Drew.

D: This is a great opportunity, and I’m excited too.


A: Drew and I have a lot of echoing in what we talk about and what we think about.

D: Both Ang and I are interested in fashion, people’s clothes and the items that they choose to wear to express their identities. On a small scale from a personal perspective and on a large scale. Because fashion moves at such a fast pace, the whole seduction and abandonment rate happens so much quicker. Things that are beautiful become almost instantly ugly.  Because art has this hallowed niche, people are like ‘oh it’s art, its sitting on a plinth hanging on a wall and blah blah blah’, you give yourself more time to contemplate it, or to reflect on your relationship with it in a much more sort of hallowed way. Because that process happens much more quickly in fashion it doesn’t have that chance to be self-reflexive and because of that it is very interesting in retrospect. Certainly with Angela’s work when you look at the old photographs of people and the types of clothing that they’re wearing what they thought was really great at the time and of course these things come full circle and they become great again.


A: Yes, we’re interested in that sort of stuff. But who isn’t!?

S: Who isn’t indeed!



Special Thanks to Angela and Drew for the interview. The exhibition was a great one!

If you would like to see works in person, you can visit Winsor Gallery, they can pull out any remaining works from the show.


Angela Grossman & Drew Schaffer

Winsor Gallery – 258 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver, V5T 1A6 –

Bizarre Love Triangle is an arts and literary festival happening November 27th and 28th at 552 Clark in Vancouver. The festival is a collaborative effort between Sad Mag, Real Vancouver, and Obscurior, and is shaping up to be the year end party we’ve been dreaming of. The festival is 100% totally free, but capacity is limited, so reserve your tickets here in advance to ensure you get through the door and in on the fun.


On the 27th, the festival is kicking off with Obscurior x Sad’s Point of Inflection exhibition–thirteen writers created short pieces prompted by a Point of Inflection, and Obscurior created cinemagraphs and original music to accompany each piece. There’ll be live readings, and live performances, and a DJ set by City of Glass, so bring your eyeballs and your ears for 13 generally spooky takes on a tipping point. See the trailer here.

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 12.11.58 PM

The 28th is an open gallery for you to peruse, plus artist talks throughout the day. Then, that evening, is THAT FINAL MOMENT–Sad’s and Real Vancouver’s Year End Party to end all Year End Parties! We’ve got Beer by Driftwood and Phillips, and live performances by Gay Sha and Vixen Von Flex (the beauty our Movement issue cover)!


Hosted by the lovely Sean Cranbury and Dina Del Bucchia, an evening of cheesy jokes, live readings, live performance, sweet music, and boozy drinks. Celebrate a year well destroyed, issues created, and art dispersed. This is our bizarre love triangle send-off. Party with us. 

See you Saturday!

We are thick into November and the cold, dark weather has already begun to take its toll. As the temperature drops, and the urge to cozy up inside skyrockets, many of us are watching our social lives wither and die at the mercy of our Netflix accounts.

Luckily, November also happens to be European Union Film Festival month—the perfect excuse to bundle up with friends, munch on popcorn, watch phenomenal international cinema…and actually leave bed doing it. From November 27 to December 9, the Cinematheque will be showing films from every one of the EU countries, the largest and most diverse festival roster to date. For those who can’t make it to all twenty-eight showings, SAD Mag read through the entire EUFF program, binge-watched a bunch of unsubtitled foreign trailers, and selected our five favourite picks for this year’s festival:

SAD Mag's Must-Sees for EUFF2015

By Sad Mag

  • Love Building (Romania)

    By Sad Mag

    Fourteen couples, seven days, one camp designed to fix their “broken” relationships. This low-budget indie hit takes romantic mayhem to the next level.

  • The Sinking of the Sozopol (Bulgaria)

    By Sad Mag

    A dark, brooding stranger appears in the historic town of Sozopol with ten bottles of vodka, a heart full of painful memories, and the conviction his problems will be solved as soon as he finishes the liquor. Don't lie, you've been there too.

  • A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (Sweden)

    By Sad Mag

    Sweden's submission to next year's Oscars, _A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence _is an award-winning collection of comic vignettes by renowned director Roy Andersson. But, honestly, we're just curious what they mean by that title.  

  • Simshar (Malta)

    By Sad Mag

    The first ever entry from Malta at Vancouver EUFF: an intense and dramatic take on southern Europe's illegal migrant crisis. Inspired by true events.

  • The Keeper of Lost Causes (Denmark)

    By Sad Mag

    Detectives, police raids, a mysterious disappearance—_The Keeper of Lost Causes _is about as Nordic Noir as it gets. Special bonus: this film features work by Nikolaj Arcel, the writer who adapted _The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo _for screen.  

For more information about the 18th Annual European Film Festival, visit the Cinematheque’s website


I sat down with local artist Pax North on a very chilly November evening. Before meeting, I had taken a peek at the collection of paintings displayed on his website titled “Art for the Human Condition”. The abstract portraits, painted on both canvas and cardstock, were intensely immersive, and I came to the interview eager to know more about how they came to be. North’s show (curated by Shallom Johnson) opens on Tuesday, November 10th, at Skylight Gallery. After our conversation, I am convinced it will be a rare artistic experience.

What initially drew you to the practice of painting?

Wonder. Awe. I can remember as a child in preschool, discovering the whole idea of colour in the form of either yellow or green tempura paints using vegetable prints (you know, where you cut up apples or vegetables for kids and dip them in paint and then press them onto paper). It seemed so astonishing that there could be ‘pure’ colour, divorced from an object other than the colour itself, and that one could use this to create.

Over the years I have practiced in many mediums, but painting seems to bring the most joy to people and to help them feel less alone. I try to show the vast cinema which plays across the human face, to collapse and conflate moments in life. We do this all the time, both via media imagery, which map for us an idea of what a person is supposed to be like based on their appearance, and in relationships when we commune with others.

There is also a longevity factor. We live in both a golden age and a nightmare. There are a million acts of kindness, courage, sacrifice, and horror that will be unrecorded; as Roy Batty, in Bladerunner, states, they “will be lost like tears in the rain.” I am aiming to give some record of this period in human history. A painting might be a document of such kind.


And so do you feel that painting is the best medium through which to express the spectrum of human emotion and connectivity?

Actually, I feel that crown goes to music, and to television. Right now, television is at a cultural peak: Breaking Bad, The Wire, The Sopranos, Better Call Saul, Enlightened (a highly underrated show), The Comeback (also highly underrated), and Deadwood. Even Vancouver’s own Battlestar Galactica—they really are great art.

I often use screen grabs from TV and movies as models or inspiration. I also obsessively study people’s faces, both strangers and friends. I’m sure I’ve creeped a few people out, but each human face is such a testament to some kind of profound struggle. Wendy Mass said it best: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”

I get a very mixed media or collage effect from your work. Do those elements factor in organically during the painting process?

I’ve always had this desire to have a formulaic approach to my process, but it is idiosyncratic. [My process] is purely based on what my piece demands.

I find that interesting, considering your work is consistent not only in theme but in presentation. I see your specific painting style in all of the works.

I have wanted to make a coherent body of work for a long time. That’s why I’ve taken so long to start showing the work, because I wanted a coherent style.

Who inspires you?

The whole canon of modernism and postmodernism. It’s an endless catalogue.


You mention in your artist statement that you use several cartography techniques in your work. Can you elaborate on that?

Well, I’ve done an amateur study of cartography and cartographic theory. I think that [cartography] is a very significant, cognitive, rather analytical tool that we employ while viewing the world. That fascinates me, how you have this very specialized knowledge, so much of which is cartographic or diagrammatic in nature. I also tend to think cartographically, imagining people moving through the city; I find it to be a very powerful technique for visualizing the world.

I also see references to photography, specifically time-lapse photography, in your work. Is that an influence at all?

Totally. I do think about that idea a lot, a time-lapse. Who is this person, over time and space? You walk down the street and you see so much drama on people’s faces. There’s this whole film, a micro-drama, based on all of these expressions. And it shifts so rapidly.

How does abstraction manifest in your process?

Well of course, you know, modernism. You’re competing so often against a camera for visual mimesis, and the camera wins every time, right? Jack Shadbolt had a quote about how you need to let the viewer ‘fill in’ parts of a work. At times I try and stretch it. How far can I abstract while still [portraying] a ‘face’, and one that conveys some feeling or meaning?


Do you see your works as a continuing series, or simply a collection of works functioning under one thematic umbrella?

I’m going to say both. There isn’t necessarily a defined series. I’d like to start to do more of that. But right now I would say they are more a collection of idiosyncratic works in a family. [They] riff off of each other, or are influenced by each other.

Would you consider your paintings to be optimistic about the human condition? Pessimistic? Indifferent and observational?

Fundamentally, for me, they’re optimistic. I think that no matter how dark things get, there is this light that shines, that never goes out. You don’t necessarily have to be theistic to have this view. You see it in people, in the million acts of courage that occur everyday. So maybe I’m depicting what could be seen as a dark aesthetic, but within myself, I have an optimism.

What do you find most interesting about your own work?

Well, this exhibition will only present one part of my practice. I mean, I am kind of a cliché, an artist who has been working on their practice for about twenty years in relative seclusion. Painting is a serious thing. You’re dealing with a conversation that has been going on for at least fifty thousand years. So, I wanted to take my time before I started promoting it in any kind of serious fashion. I wanted to be on solid ground. Certainly I want “success,” but for me it has always been more important to find success in making work that I feel might still be relevant two hundred years from now–wherever people are in two hundred years.


We are excited to present this show in collaboration with Hayo Magazine. Origin Stories: A Solo Exhibition by Pax North opens Tuesday, November 10th, at Skylight GalleryRead more about it here and RSVP here

Wade Comer presents “Time Passages”, a continuing series of long-exposure photos split into two series: “Mountains” and “Cities”. Taken from the decks of passenger ferries in motion as they pass along their routes, Comer essentially paints with the camera. “Mountains” is a series compiled from over two years of travelling aboard the various BC Ferries; contrastingly, “Cities” is a series that includes images from Istanbul, New York, Toronto, and Vancouver. I caught up with Comer to discuss his photographic practise and how he was able to express the emotive quality in his works.

Cities by Wade Comer
Cities by Wade Comer

How did you get involved with photography?

Finding my ‘definitive’ creative outlet was a long process, and one that I don’t think I was actually looking for until my early twenties. I went to broadcasting school, and had been an announcer, copywriter, and producer at a radio station called ‘Coast 1040’ from 1990 to 1993. I spent a lot of that time working with music, making huge tape loop experiments in the production suite after hours. Somewhere in there, I realised that my preferred way of expressing myself was via photography. I never considered myself a musician – even though I spent a decade in the music industry – but from that point of recognition onward, I have always considered myself a photographer. I owe a debt of gratitude to an old friend, Steve, who upon hearing about my desire to take up photography, loaned me his dad’s Nikon ‘F’ until I could buy my own camera. Soon afterward, I purchased a Canon ‘Ftb’, and then taught myself how to process my own film, and within a couple of months I was off trying to get a gig as a photographer’s assistant. I managed to get a job working for John Douglas Kenney, a commercial and portrait photographer, who had worked with Irving Penn, in New York. Working for John I learned a lot, and had the luxury of lots of time to myself in the studio and darkroom, which was invaluable.

What inspired “Time Passages” and using long-exposure?

I had been working with the technique of long-exposure photography for about a year, trying different scenes and landscapes, even taking workshops to see if there was something more I could get out of the technique. For all of its spontaneity, photography involves a lot of planning, and I wanted to add the element of chance into the equation. Ultimately, I found my interest in the long-exposure technique waning, as I felt that there were several good photographers out there using the process, and the subject matter seemed limited (there are only so many old docks to shoot). It was on a ferry ride to Galiano Island that I realised I could use the long-exposure technique to both ‘capture time’, and insert the chance element I was looking for. By focusing on the actions of the boat – moving, changing course, speeding up and slowing down – I could capture an image of the feeling of being in these places. From then on I was a walk-on passenger on BC Ferries for over two years, Tsawwassen to Schwartz Bay, Duke Point to Tsawwassen, Horseshoe Bay to Langdale, Bowen Island, Nanaimo… then New York ‘Circle Line’ tours, and Istanbul commuter ferries, and London water taxis.

“Light and colour,
like memory,
are details often fuzzy”

The effects of long-exposure create a painterly feel, it is interesting how photography and painting then become mixed in your works. Was this your intention?

I wanted to create a painterly feel in the images – to use the camera as a paintbrush. I do not personally have the patience for painting, but I found I could create the simulacra of a painting using the camera and photography, but would never have to spend all that time cleaning brushes.

Thinking of a single image as film, can you expand on this concept?

Film – a movie – is a series of thousands of frames of stills, hundreds of feet and minutes long,that are then played back to give the clear impression of movement, or transition… and time. “An image as film”, is the opposite effect: a single frame that captures the movement of a thousand frames of stills. Not by superimposition, but supercompression. All that time in one frame.

In this sense, your works make time a tangible entity that the audience can see. Do you think this quality enhances the theme of loss and/or death in photography? Why?

I don’t see it as about loss or death, for me, it’s more about memory. The images in ‘Time Passages’ are literal – they are of a place, or location – but it is that feeling of being there that I think is most evocative. You don’t have to know exactly where an image was taken, but it brings you to that place in your mind… especially if you have been there before. The blurring and softening reduces the place down to its basics: Light and colour, like memory, are details often fuzzy.

What is the importance of water in your works? The majority of your works contain bodies of water, you are also  travelling across bodies of water in order to document your work.

Growing up on Vancouver, water is just an integral part of the city, whether it’s the view of Burrard Inlet I had from my home in Burnaby Heights, or torrential rain. My apartment looks at Lost Lagoon, and my office looks out at Burrard Inlet and all the ships, moored and moving. I have been working on another project over the summer, photographing Vancouver’s parks, and you‘d be hard pressed not to find water nearby, or a stream, or pond. Water in Vancouver is omnipresent. Our commerce and much of our food and culture come from our relationship with the Pacific Ocean and the Fraser River. I grew up on the coast, and it has just become a part of who I am. I mean, I really love the desert too, but a desert near the ocean is even better.

Mountains by Wade Comer
Mountains by Wade Comer

What has been the your most memorable experience aboard a BC Ferry?

As dry as it sounds, I think it has been the interest people have in my camera. Using a 4×5 camera is not something most people are familiar with these days, so I get a lot of questions like, “Is that a video camera?”, or “Seen any whales?” I’ve shown people how the camera works, and described what I’m trying to do with the photos, and it has been interesting engaging with people ranging from island locals to tourists from around the world. I usually let them, or their child, look through the back of the camera to get an idea of how the camera works and how its just like your eye… except your brain does a lot of processing to turn the image back right side up. And no, I didn’t see one whale the whole time I was out there.

How does the theme of human impact on the environment and the contrast of urban existence with nature underlie the works in the series?

Many of my previous projects speak to the relationship between nature and humanity and our use of it. Projects like ‘Pyres’, where piles of flotsam from the Fraser River – remnants of BC’s logging resource industry – are piled up to await the wood chipper, represent a conversation about how we treat and interact with our world. ‘Carnage/Garages’ examines, in an abstract and literal way, our love of the car and how that has physically shaped and scarred our environment. ‘Time Passages’ is about the application of a technique, or process, and the insertion of chance. The concepts of memory and time compression came from within the work itself. If anything, “Time Passages” negates the effects we have made on our environment by blurring, or obscuring the clearcuts and highway overpasses, and by softening the hard shapes of buildings and cities. Ultimately, I have this Mark Rothko affinity, I like striations. I just wanted to create something visually appealing.

What’s your favourite “secret” spot in Vancouver?

It’s not really secret, but my living room window. I like the view. There are a couple of secret spots in Stanley Park… soon after the big wind storm in 2006, the Parks Board commissioned artists to make works out of the windfall in Stanley Park. There is a piece, now decomposed, that was off the South Creek Trail where an artist had created a ‘healing blanket’, out of medallions of a cedar tree limb, and sewed them together using cedar bark. It was placed over top of a stump of a very old tree; a beautiful piece. The other is on Squirrel Trail, where an artist has cut the fallen tree into sections, including a sphere out of cedar. The tree/void is a neat impression as you approach it from the top of the trail. On a more urban note, I like going to Iona Island and Sea Island, or roaming around Railtown and along the waterfront, underneath the Shaw tower and convention centre – lots of good urban waste and curious corners down there.

What’s next for Wade? Would you ever dabble in filmmaking? Painting?

I have several filmmaker friends and a few painter friends, and I think I’ll leave it all to them. I have dabbled, as many creative people do, but I keep coming back to photography. I have a few multimedia pieces and a large sculpture or two in my ideas book, but my next projects are kind of long-term, involving homage to Hokusai, and a series on Vancouver parks that has been a precursor to a larger project. I would also love to spend my days making money recycling beer cans I collect off the bottom of the ocean while living on a small Greek island.


For more by Comer, check out his website or visit his exhibition opening for “Time Passages” at Make Gallery on November 5th.

When Helena Marie’s masterful short film CRAZY LOVE (2013) debuted last February at the VISFF it took the festival by storm. Marie’s tense, unflinching dramatization of domestic abuse and revenge stunned audiences and wowed judges, winning every major award, including Best Film, Best Performance, Best Writing, and Best Technical. Since sweeping the VISFF, CRAZY LOVE has been touring other festivals in Canada and even won the Best Short award at the 2015 ACTRA festival in Montreal. VISFF recently caught up with Helena Marie in her current hometown of Vancouver and talked to the actor­/writer­/producer about domestic violence, friendship, filmmaking, and the importance of dreams in her creative life.


SAD Mag: You started your artis­tic career as an actress. How did you tran­si­tion to filmmaking?

Helena Marie: About three years ago I started audi­tion­ing and get­ting lit­tle parts here and there and hav­ing fun with that. But I real­ized that even though it was really excit­ing to get a part on a TV show, sometimes my part would only be for a few minutes or even sec­onds and that I wasn’t getting enough storytelling time. I wanted to tell sto­ries and actually con­tribute to these projects. When you’re an actor you don’t always get to choose what you get to tell and what part of it you get to be. So I decided it was time to make my own film.

SM: What inspired you to write the script?

HM: I hap­haz­ardly have been a writer for the last six or seven years. Never publishing anything. It was sort of an out­let for me, mostly a result of crazy dreams. I wake up and remem­ber these epic dreams and if I’m dili­gent enough, I take a pen and paper near me and write it all out. But I’d never go back to it as a story; these are just things I need to let out right at that moment not to for­get about them. I have pages and pages of half­written sto­ries, half­written dreams—

SM: Are they dark?

HM: No, they are epic.

SM: Did you base your CRAZY LOVE story on one of these dreams?

HM: No, but it was a story that I as an actor always wanted to tell. The main con­cept of the film is spousal abuse. When you’re an actor, peo­ple always ask you “why?” “Why choose this ridicu­lously hard, drain­ing career path?” And the con­cept that always came to me was, if I could tell a story, for exam­ple of an abused woman who decides to fight back, and if there’s one per­son up there who is in a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion, sees that and gets encour­aged to fight back and get out of it—then that’s the ideal out­come. You’ve touched some­one, affected them. I watch movies and TV, I lis­ten to music because I want to be affected, I want it to make me think and feel some­thing. So when I started this jour­ney mak­ing my own project, there were a few ideas float­ing around. I’m a big sci­fi fan, so I started with that, but real­ized it was quickly turning into a feature, and I wanted to start with a short film for my first time, so I decided to scale back and focus on an inti­mate story. So I chose to write about spousal abuse, because it was always some­thing I wanted to do as an actor.

SM: Do you have any expe­ri­ence with that issue?

HM: Not per­son­ally. I’ve never been in that sort of rela­tion­ship. But I have friends who have. In the first few min­utes of the movie, there’s this girls’ poker night scene. It was really impor­tant to me to show the dynamic of dif­fer­ent kinds of friend­ship that can exist around some­body in that sit­u­a­tion. One of the girls is totally aloof and has no con­cept of what’s going on. Another one hints that she kind of has an aware­ness, but when there are ques­tions being asked about Sam’s injured foot, she doesn’t want to rock the boat and get into talk­ing about it. And the third one is “that” friend who’s like “What is going on? What are you going to do about it?” I came at it from the posi­tion of some­body who’s seen friends in these kinds of sit­u­a­tions and I’ve felt like all three kinds of char­ac­ters at some point. I’ve felt like the friend who is clue­less and when I find out I’m in total shock. I’ve felt like the one who knows but doesn’t know how to talk about it, and I’ve felt like that per­son who is like “I’m tak­ing you out of this right now.”

SM: Is this how you’ve pro­gressed as a per­son or did it reflect the dif­fer­ent kind of rela­tion­ships you’ve had with people?

HM: I’d say it’s a com­bi­na­tion of both. My first reac­tion would be to say that’s my pro­gres­sion as I grow up and become more aware of what’s going around me, but the truth is that I don’t. I like to think I do, but I don’t always know what is hap­pen­ing with some­body else. And at the end of the day, it’s not always my busi­ness. Not to say that when some­one is in a bad sit­u­a­tion it is not my place to try to help them, but we don’t always know the whole story and what kind of help they need. I might assume that I need to get them out of that sit­u­a­tion and be there for them emotionally, but maybe what they actu­ally need is finan­cial support. And I might not be the best person to help them. They may need someone else and me getting involved isn’t what they want. You can’t always be a mind reader unfortunately.

SM: What do you think Sam (your char­ac­ter) wants from her friends? What is her perspective?

HM: I think she has gone totally numb after what hap­pened ear­lier that day. She’s out of it and doesn’t know what she’s done. They’re lit­er­ally play­ing this poker game as her boyfriend is lying in the back­yard and she thinks he’s dead. When she finds out he’s not, it’s a big shock to her.

SM: There must have been years of ten­sion build­ing up in the rela­tion­ship. What do you imag­ine your character’s back­ground is?

HM: I think the abuse started off sub­tly and it got to a point for her where it was eas­ier to pre­tend. If she had broken the teacup two years ago, there would have been a fight with yelling and hit­ting, but at this point, it’s eas­ier for her to turn around and do what he says. Then it’s done and she can carry on with her day. It’s really creepy when you think about it.

SM: So she’s not look­ing for help or some­one to get involved?

HM: It’s scary. You might have to look up the exact num­bers, but sta­tis­ti­cally, if there’s going to be a mur­der com­mit­ted in an abu­sive rela­tion­ship, the major­ity of the time it’s going to hap­pen on the abused part­ner after the abused part­ner leaves. That’s ter­ri­fy­ing. When you’ve got­ten to that point when stay­ing seems more fea­si­ble. I wouldn’t know what to do. You can call the cops, you ask your friends and fam­ily, every­one is going to help you…but it’s still scary. What do you do? There’s not one answer for any­body. Everyone’s dif­fer­ent, every­one needs a dif­fer­ent fix. And with abu­sive peo­ple, you never know how far they’re going to go. I’m sure she does want help – but at this point she’s so far into the abuse she has no clue how to escape – it all seems so impossible.

SM: How did the char­ac­ters develop over the time of writ­ing the script and shooting?

HM: The script went through so many revi­sions. At one point, the char­ac­ter of Alan had a much bigger part. There was even a reverse tor­ture scene where she holds him cap­tive and repeats all the violent acts onto him that he has done to her. There were a lot of rea­sons we didn’t go that way, but mostly because we didn’t want the focus to be on him. I didn’t want the abuser to get much screen time. Even if he was por­trayed as a hor­ri­ble per­son, I felt that the more time he’d get, the more glo­ri­fied the char­ac­ter would be.

SM: Funny that the char­ac­ter of the abu­sive part­ner is played by your real life fiancé. Did that have any impact on your relationship?

HM: Not at all! It’s funny. I needed some­body who could go through a whole range of emo­tions, espe­cially in the orig­i­nal script where there was a stronger focus on his character. And Jason is just really tal­ented and could do that. I also needed some­one who could be charm­ing and not come across as an aggres­sor. Some­one you’d see walk­ing down the street or hang­ing out with friends and say, oh, there’s a dude, he’s hot, he seems nice. We didn’t want a mus­cu­lar mean face with a shaved head or what­ever the typ­i­cal image of an abu­sive per­son is. And Jason did a great job, but it didn’t affect our rela­tion­ship at all, in fact it made it stronger. I once said at a party that Jason was per­fect for the role, and every­body went “Um, what do you mean?” I meant that he killed it!

SM: You said you “aim to cre­ate films which address mature sub­ject mat­ters and ask [audi­ences] to ques­tion their stance on the def­i­n­i­tions of right and wrong.” Wouldn’t almost killing a per­son be con­sid­ered wrong?

HM: Going back to the con­cept of the friends—it could be any­thing triv­ial or any­thing seri­ous a per­son could be talk­ing about, but some peo­ple would go: “Oh, I’d kill him, let’s find him and do it.” And I think, “Okay, but really? You’d really do it? Because that’s pretty seri­ous.” Just hear­ing stuff on the news, you go “I’d do this, or I wouldn’t do this.” It’s so easy to say. I wanted to see at what point the audi­ence is still okay with what’s hap­pen­ing. First, we see this woman, and her boyfriend is an abusive jerk. He’s mak­ing her walk on a bro­ken teacup. And there’s a his­tory, there’s gotta be a rea­son why she’s doing that. Peo­ple don’t like what they’re see­ing but they are not at the point where they’d say “kill him.” But by the time we get to the end of the movie, the guy is a veg­etable. Now, where’s that line? Where do you still say, “Okay I’m sup­port­ing this, or maybe this is get­ting a lit­tle weird, and now it’s too much.” I want to have peo­ple to go through the tran­si­tion and think about it afterwards. And most importantly we wanted the audiences to actually talk about spousal abuse, have it enter into our everyday conversations so they can understand a tiny amount of the difficulty that these people are going through and not be afraid to address it if they think there’s something going on with their friends or loved ones.

SM: Is there room for wor­ry­ing about Sam not as the vic­tim but as the aggres­sor who will have to face the con­se­quences of her vio­lent action?

HM: Who knows? Obvi­ously, the law is there to try to pro­tect peo­ple. But it doesn’t always. Peo­ple get hurt, mur­dered, raped, kidnapped…The law doesn’t always help. My point isn’t to tell peo­ple to go out and take a base­ball bat to the per­son who’s hurt­ing them. That’s more of a metaphor for stand­ing up for your­self. But the way our lives work now we don’t know what’s going on with people. It used to be that when some­body was an ass­hole in the community, they just took him out. Now we have all these nice lit­tle homes and nice lit­tle cars, we all do our thing and don’t know our neigh­bours’ names. We hear yelling some­times out­side the win­dow and think, “Is it just a little fight or…?” We don’t know our com­mu­nity, and the peo­ple around us anymore. It would be nice to think that the law would be on her side, but again, that’s up to the audience to see how difficult the verdict would be to make in that situation.

SM: When did you real­ize you had pas­sion for acting?

HM: I went to the­atre school after high school. I was very shy; pub­lic speak­ing was the worst. But in the­atre, I was able to express myself, because it wasn’t Helena—it was a char­ac­ter. These char­ac­ters can say things in front of peo­ple and not be embarrassed.

SM: What is the most impor­tant part of prepar­ing to get into a char­ac­ter?

HM: It took me a long time—and I’m still kinda learn­ing it—to real­ize that even if you have a nat­ural abil­ity and you’re com­fort­able doing cer­tain things, that it’s all about prac­tice and being prepared.

SM: Did you always know you want to fol­low this career path?

HM: I had a real life after I left the­atre school—a typ­i­cal nine-­to-­five life for a cou­ple of years and I stopped act­ing, danc­ing and singing. I had a great time, but at some point I real­ized I wasn’t dream­ing any­more. Lit­er­ally; I wasn’t wak­ing up with any mem­ory of hav­ing dreamt, which for me is not nor­mal. I often wake up remem­ber­ing two or three very vivid, very long and detailed dreams from that night. So that made me real­ize I was sti­fling my cre­ativ­ity; a part of me, that cre­ative per­son, had gone dor­mant. So within a few years I was back to act­ing and being cre­ative. Also, before I dis­cov­ered act­ing, I wanted to be a psy­chi­a­trist. I was inter­ested in how the brain works in terms of emo­tions and how it makes us feel things. And around the same time I was decid­ing to pur­sue act­ing, I real­ized that being an actor was a study of human behav­ior. It wasn’t just show, it’s express­ing of how we all feel. We have been sto­ry­tellers since the begin­ning of time. We relate to peo­ple through sto­ries; we want to con­nect and know what they feel, and under­stand why dif­fer­ent peo­ple feel dif­fer­ent things, and know that we are not alone.

SM: How do you treat a char­ac­ter that requires a more emo­tional background?

HM: I’m pretty open in terms of emo­tional avail­abil­ity. I cry at radio com­mer­cials if they put the right music with it. I’m a total sucker. So I iden­tity with sen­si­tive char­ac­ters eas­ily. When the char­ac­ter is tough, and doesn’t show a lot of emo­tions, that’s been a challenge for me. But I like a good challenge!

SM: What advice would you give to aspir­ing filmmakers?

HM: Work with peo­ple you want to work with. Don’t work with jerks just because they’re the “best” at what they do. If they’re mean and belit­tle other peo­ple on set, don’t give them another chance. As you get into big­ger and big­ger pro­duc­tions, there are a lot of peo­ple that are always get­ting rehired just because they were part of a suc­cess­ful film, but maybe on set they’re sex­ist or rude. You can still make a film with­out them. You’re going to be able to find other great peo­ple. Because at the end of the day, work­ing on set is really stress­ful and there’s a lot of money in the pro­duc­tion, so you should sur­round your­self with peo­ple who are pro­fes­sional and team players.

SM: How did you come to work with Math­ieu Charest (direc­tor of CRAZY LOVE)?

HM: I was introduced to Mathieu by our cinematographer Benoit Charest. Mathieu had already read the script and was so so excited that he started right in explaining their relationship (Alan and Sam) and just got absolutely everything I was going for. It was like he was in my brain. He also has decades of experience behind the camera. So it was a no brainer to work with him. I think he and I share a love of the weird and dark. Like, for me, there’s that part of CRAZY LOVE where, after she hits him, she tears up a stack of porn mag­a­zines and uri­nates on them as a sym­bol of her mark­ing her ter­ri­tory and dom­i­nat­ing him. And I per­son­ally enjoyed the fact that I got to pretend to uri­nate on a porno and people gave me an award for it (laughs).

SM: What expe­ri­ence from VISFF are you tak­ing to the next festival?

HM: If it’s a fes­ti­val where there are are awards—and I rec­om­mend this to everyone—always know what you want to say if you do the speech. Mine was the worst; I went up there and was, like, “Hey! Let’s party!” I’m not good under pres­sure (laughs). Be pre­pared, because you have every right to be proud.


You can sub­mit a film to VISFF until Novem­ber 1st, and the fes­ti­val will be held in Feb­ru­ary of 2016. Visit their web­site for more details, and their socials for updates: @visff.

POBECole Nowicki is, among other things, just some random guy standing in line with you at a coffee shop. What makes Nowicki different than all the other people waiting for their medium drip is that, supposing he sees you do something ridiculous or weird, he will write about you, and definitely publish it on the Internet.

Nowicki began creating his Portraits of Brief Encounters as a writing exercise, eventually making small drawings to accompany them. Along with his personal Instagram, which is the original site of POBE, SAD Mag has been featuring his work online since February of 2014. “They are all based in fact,” says Nowicki of his micro-nonfiction portraits,“they all have to have some sort of jump-off point: whether it’s an interaction with someone, or just an idea I’ve had. The story comes first and then [I create] the visual.”

In the portraits, Nowicki combines his love of writing with his comedic sensibility. The portraits can be simultaneously emotionally provocative and laugh-out-loud funny. His humourous, quotidian take on the human condition attracted the attention of Yashar Nijati, founder of thisopenspace. “[Nijati] commented on one of my Instagram portraits a couple years back, asking if I wanted to be friends,” recalls Nowicki. “Eventually we met up, and we talked about doing a show based on POBE.” The two developed a kind of gallery game in which a few local artists would take each of Nowicki’s stories and create an image based on one of them. Visitors to the gallery would have to match each image to the story it was inspired by, with the chance to win a discount on any of the pieces in the show.

The first show was a success, and so was Nowicki’s practice of creating the portraits. This lead thisopenspace to show his written portraits once again at the gallery, in game format, but this time paired with visuals created by eleven different Vancouver artists. “I like the collaborative aspect, I like seeing what pieces [the artists] pick out of the story and deem worthy to put their creative energy [into],” says Nowicki, who chose the artists (some of whom are friends) by scouring Instagram and artist listings he found in the online archives of Hot Art Wet City.

“If you come to the show,” says Nowicki, “it will be the most fun you have ever had in your life. And if you’re not already in love with someone, you will find someone that you will fall in love with…You’re not going to get your money back if it doesn’t happen, because it’s gonna happen.”

While Nowicki can’t guarantee that your newfound love will be requited, the show promises to be a great way to see a bunch of talented Vancouver under one roof. At the very least, it might make a good story.


The second annual Portraits of Brief Encounters Exhibition and Gallery Game takes place on Thursday, October 22 at thisopenspace (434 Columbia Street) at 6 pm. Learn more about Portraits of Brief Encounters on the official website.

 IDS West is the Pacific platform for all things design. From the IDS West website:

“During this annual event, occurring in September, Vancouver welcomes individual designers, artists, makers and design-centric brands to showcase their current works, concepts and products. In addition to experiencing installations and features, there were opportunities to hear from some of the design world’s most notable and talented personalities and to connect with a long list of world-class designers that either call Vancouver home, or call on Vancouver for inspiration.

“The Pacific Northwest has experienced a major designboom that has been especially embraced in Vancouver, where the design community has become vast and mighty. Now in its eleventh year, IDS West has had the utmost privilege of seeing it grow, supporting its members and championing it the world over. Below is a recap of some event highlights.”

IDS-1Hinterland Design’s booth stood out for it’s nature-inspired style, dramatic lighting, and bright wall colour.


IDS-2A crowd favourite, the Tidal Flux ottoman by Hinterland Design is a whimsical interpretation of crab traps.


IDS-3The L.A. Exchange booth, curated by Design Milk, brought some to star designers from Southern California to Vancouver.


IDS-4The colourful geometric offerings from Bendgoods at the L.A. Exchange booth.


IDS-21The show was replete with high end style and luxurious materials. A great place for guests to find inspiration for their own homes.


IDS-6Open Studio invited a selected group of designers to participate in a curated installation that entertains the theme of Workspace, providing each participant with 10′ x 10’ of raw space as a blank canvas. Below is a selection of the beautiful work that were on display. Alda Pereira Designs’ workspace is reminiscent of the International style movement, playing with clean lines, simple shapes and primary colours.


IDS-7This statue was damaged during the IDSWest opening party. Poor guy.


IDS-9Interior designer, Gaile Guevara, brings together a collective of makers and artisans to represent her workspace as a culmination of the community and relationships that are integral to her work.


IDS-19A chic yet relaxed workspace by Gillian Segal Design.


IDS-20Marie Joy Designs created a workspace inspired by Our Little Flower Company.


IDS-23Jonathan Adler draws a full crowd for his talk on design, branding, his philosophy of “irreverant luxury” and his progression in the industry from a pottery teacher in New York to becoming the founder of one of the world’s most sought-after lifestyle brands.


IDS-27Canadian and international designers present one-off and custom lighting, glass, ceramics, textiles and surface design in a gallery-like setting in the Studio North presentation area.


IDS-10The Portland Design Exchange featured designers and makers from it’s region.




IDS-13Port + Quarter set up a cozy firepit for anyone looking to sit down and relax. Sadly, marshmallows not included.


IDS-8Barter Co.’s line-up combines practicality with modern forms and fine natural textures.


IDS-16A stately Dinner x Design set by 212 Design Inc. is inspired by the book 50 shades of Grey and features a show-stopping pendant light fixture.


IDS-17This Dinner x Design set by Live Edge Design recalls our inner child with a beautiful tablescape under the treehouse.


IDS-18Medina Design House was inspired by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi for a “night of enchanted opulence”. Guests were mesmerized by the built-in pond and water fountain in the middle of the table.


Find more of Robert’s work here, and check out the IDS West website here.


D.R.E.A.M (Design Rules Everything Around Me)

October 1st, 2015 – October 30th, 2015

Make Gallery

257 E 7th Ave, Vancouver BC


Make Gallery is presenting their first ever hip-hop poster show, D.R.E.A.M. (Design Rules Everything Around Me). It’s a celebration of two of their favourite things: design, and hip-hop. Great design gives a visual representation to its subject, and Make has invited 15 illustrators and designers to create original posters influenced by a hip-hop song.


Whether it’s parties or politics, hip-hop gives a lot of room to play. It’s a visually rich culture of sound, colour, and larger than life characters. The show draws on those elements and turns them into eye-popping spectacle. Participating designers and illustrators are Alley Kurgan, Cesar Bañares, Patrick Connelly, Jane Koo, Tierney Milne, Tina Ng, Meg Robichaud, Pamela Rounis, Camille Segur, Shawn Sepehry, Graham Smith, Katie So, Scott Strathern, Carson Ting, and Calvin Yu.


From plays on typography to graphic interpretations of lyrics, these posters hit on every aspect of hip-hop and design. Supported by Dominion Blue Reprographics and Framehouse, Make will be producing a run of limited edition prints of the posters. These will be available for purchase, with all sales benefiting the Community Arts Council of Vancouver.


Boom. A take on Wu-Tang’s classic song C.R.E.A.M., D.R.E.A.M. aims to open up the visually rich culture of hip-hop into a platform that we can all take part in. The opening reception takes place on Thursday, October 1st from 7pm – 10pm, and it’s FREE.

Make sure to check out contributions by SAD Maggers Pam Rounis (our fabulous Lead Designer), Camille Segur (the incredible Cat Issue Illustrator + Designer), and Tierney Milne (a lovely Movement Issue Contributing Artist) .

Please RSVP to or via the Facebook event (and check to see the list of songs that influenced each artist to give you a glimpse of what’s in store! #drake #wu-tang #laurynhill).




Balance 2.1

Self-forgiveness is the first step to reconciliation–to love others, you must love yourself. This is a reoccurring theme in Ken Brown’s Balance 2.1, a weaving of two interconnected possessive narratives between a father and a daughter. The former of the two is off at sea while his daughter remains in her family home. Both are in need of one another’s forgiveness, but are geographically separated – and so, firstly, both parties are forced to work things out within themselves.

Balance 2.1, although feverishly cerebral and intelligent, lacks a spread of aspects that help support theatre. It’s lacking character development, realism, and a forefront focus. It can be understood that the piece is meant to be one sided, meaning one of the two leads has a dynamic projection – however, the balance is lopsided, and at times, too “yelly”. 

But Balance 2.1’s reconciliation is its originality. I truly haven’t seen anything quite like it. And that, in itself, makes this play worth remembering.


The Traveller

The best part about lone travel is also the worst, which is a perfect environment for a self-reflective piece of performance art.

That’s just what The Traveler articulates. The internal battle of right and wrong, one path from the other – growth and change, these are themes that are quite evident in this play. Max Kashetsky, the lead and only role, delivers an hour long, almost flawless monologue depicting life on the lone road, and the challenges you face when you go looking for something “raw”. The script is beautifully written. Wonderfully romantic, but also cerebral – this play is captivating. Instead of a soundtrack or cued transitory recorded tracks, Kashetsky brings his own acoustic guitar and harmonica to the narrative – bringing an intimate dynamic of a broken-hearted bar show. Feelings elicited by this performance, are accompanied by the acoustic melodies, and delivered almost instantly to the audience. The Traveler is also a little vague, and that’s okay, for travel is intrepid. Nothing is of solid state, everything is changing – and nothing is ever the same.

The Mount Pleasant Food Stories project is a growing collection of portraits, stories, and recipes gathered from people living, working, or simply eating in the neighbourhood. A collaboration between local residents Sarah Mathisen, Elanna Nolan, and Kerria Gray, the project aims to explore how food connects people to both new places and old memories. Mathisen, Nolan, and Gray gather their neighbours’ stories of family, ancestry and migration in the best way possible–over a kitchen table and a homemade meal.


Gabor and Eva Make Meggyleves (Fruit Soup)

“I remember that being one of my favorite meals as a kid, and it was a treat to have…”


Gab and his mother talk over Skype on a Friday afternoon. It’s morning in Australia, from where Gab’s mother, Eva, is calling. She’s just woken up to a miserable winter’s morning. Sitting in front of the computer at Gab’s home in Mount Pleasant, it is clear we are on the opposite side of the earth. It is hot. And, it turns out, a perfect time to eat one of Gab’s favourite and most nostalgic Hungarian dishes–meggyleves–a cold sour cherry soup.

“The real cornerstone of the fruit soup is cinnamon,” Eva instructs Gab. “Cloves are also key, but not really mandatory,” she explains. “When making a fruit soup it’s really all about your taste,” and, as Eva points out, getting the beautiful pink colour of the soup just right.

As a child and new arrival in Australia from Yugoslavia, Gab would ask his mom to make his favourite soup for friends when they came to play. “I was very puzzled, because I thought it was so delicious, but my friends didn’t like it,” Gab laughs. “They’d say ‘It’s kind of strange.’” But Gab wasn’t dissuaded by their distaste for the pastel-hued soup. “A lot of the food that [Australian kids] ate was gross–like Vegemite, sausage rolls and meat pies–I was afraid of those. It made me feel okay because I found their food disgusting too.” He now reflects that fruit soup is most likely an acquired taste.


When Eva and Laszlo moved their family to Australia in the late 1980s, they were confronted with the challenges of adapting to a new culture and a new climate. Finding a butcher who could make the right cuts of meat for Eva’s traditional Hungarian and Slovak recipes was difficult, as was the absence of Hungarian paprika on suburban supermarket shelves. Fresh cherries, which in Europe had been Eva’s fruit of choice for the fruit soup, were prohibitively expensive because they were hard to grow in an Australian climate. Eva and Gab both spoke lovingly of the abundance in their previous homes in Slovakia, Serbia, and Hungary.

From within the Australian Hungarian community Eva was able to track down a butcher, and paprika could be sought at specialty stores. While there were many challenges, Eva explains she began to find settling in Australia liberating. “I was under far less scrutiny, so I could get away with, for example, fish and chips on the beach for Christmas.” Although faced with the challenges of settling in a new place and missing the home she had just left, she also describes feeling that she had escaped from the customs and conformity she felt in Europe as a wife, mother and family cook.

During their Skype conversation Gab begins to assemble the fruit soup, excited at the access he now has to cherries here in Vancouver. As Gab tentatively pits the cherries, measures out the water, and begins to make the fruit stock, he checks in with Eva to make sure he’s doing it right. Eva enjoys cooking with Gab in this way, talking through practical details with him in the kitchen. They both tell us it makes them feel closer.


Emil Reflects on Tempeh, Home, and Childhood

“You show your love by feeding people…it’s almost universal in Indonesia.”


Emil lives in a lovely little house in Mount Pleasant. We sat down together at his kitchen table one summer evening, while Emil told us about his childhood growing up in Indonesia. For Emil, the most nostalgic food that brings back memories of home is tempeh, and he often finds himself craving it: “I’m not generally the most patriotic person…but it’s one of the items that when I cook it, it’s like….home.” He finds it frustrating that it is so difficult to find it raw in Vancouver, though he’s recently found a shop in the Downtown Eastside that sells it the way he remembers. He described to us a few of the ways it is prepared in Indonesia: in thin slices soaked in brine and deep fried, then dipped in sweet soy sauce, or simply eaten with vegetables and rice. In Indonesia many households make their own tempeh, but it is also readily available and affordable in stores. Here it is relatively expensive and almost always processed. “Growing up we ate it 3-4 times a week”.

Emil’s memories of childhood are tied up with particular meals, and his descriptions give us a vivid sense of the rituals and foods that brought Emil’s family together and connected them to a broader sense of identity and place. “The thing about Indonesians is we love snacks, we will have snacks all the time and most are often deep-fried, which is a problem if you are watching your weight [laughter]… If not having meals, we will just hang out on the patio and have snacks there…maybe in jars (crackers, dry fruits) and if not that, on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon we will have fried banana with coffee and tea…especially if it’s rainy. Rainy weekends remind me of sitting on the patio eating fried banana and drinking tea and coffee.”

When he was 17 years old, Emil moved to first to Malaysia, then to Victoria, BC, then to Sydney, Australia, and then finally back to Canada where he became a permanent resident. His connections to Indonesia remain strong, and food continues to connect him with his home country. “My parents would always want me to know where I come from…so they always push me to bring lots of things from home back to here…clothes, food, crackers…[mom] really wants me never to forget, and I appreciate that now.”


On Saturday September 26th, Mount Pleasant Food Stories will be exhibiting some of their photos and interviews at Metamorfest. If you’re interested in being involved in the project, you can contact the organizers at, email or drop by Metamorfest to say hello.


On opening night of the Accordion Noir Festival, I sat in an airless room on the top level of the Western Front, an artist-run centre just off Main Street. The wood paneling and stuffiness felt fitting for an evening of bellows-driven music—everything about the space seemed to call back to a time before air conditioning and electric guitar. My fellow audience members were a smattering of what could loosely be called East Vancouver types: affable-looking men and women who dressed for the space in breathable layers, and who had the presence of mind to bring cash for the improvised bar. I felt like a rube, I probably looked like one, and I was very quickly losing the appetite for whimsy that had brought me to an accordion festival on a Thursday night.

accordion logo

Thankfully, for whatever else they may be, accordionists are a punctual bunch. Shortly after the listed start time, a fedoraed emcee came out, said a few words, and badabing-badaboom—we were in business. The first performance was a “spoken word opera” devised by a band of local upstarters: Elysse Cheadle, Elliot Vaughan, Aryo Khakpour, and Jonathan Kim. According to the program, the opera was “an examination of the weightlessness of dreaming, and the gravity of waking,” which sounds like it could be right. They made generous use of experimental lighting cues and sound effects—I can still hear the slurping noises that accompanied a particular birth scene. At this point, my worst fears seemed like they were coming true: this evening was going to be weird.


Fortunately, next came a palate cleanser in the form of Steve Normandin, a traditionalist. He is described as a master of traditional French chansons, and his background boasts credits with the Quebec Symphony Orchestra and the renowned playwright Robert LePage. The word “accordion” automatically calls to mind amiable, sturdy-looking Europeans; on this, Normandin absolutely delivers. After warming us up with a few songs, he led the audience Pied Piper-style to the sidewalk, where we did our best collective impression of a Parisian street corner. At this point, the evening’s early swelter had mellowed, and the sky had turned a lovely, bruise-y purple. The coupled among us felt compelled to dance – everyone else swayed by themselves – and my terrible mood began to crack. The combination of the night and the accordion felt a little bit perfect—Normandin could perform exclusively in East Van alleyways from now on, and he would probably do quite well for himself.

accordion fest

The final performer was Angélica Negrón, a Brooklyn-based musician and composer, whose accordion was rounded out by the xylosynth percussion of Shayna Dunkelman. Negrón is all bangs and glasses, the kind of person who seems like she can make any hobby seem cool simply via its proximity to her. One wonders if she chose a deliberately old-fashioned instrument simply to test the limits of her powers. In any case, both performers were very, very good. The blend of electronica and accordion felt – for lack of a better word – floaty, and just a touch menacing. The songs themselves spanned far-reaching, upbeat topics such as “The Disappearance of a Young Girl” and “A Happy Song About Death.” These were perfect for sitting alone in a public space and contemplating the future. Despite my early doubts, I deemed the alone-at-an-accordion-festival experiment a success.


If you love the idea of an accordion festival, I’d say you should go. If it sounds stupid and terrible, go anyways. Next year will mark the 9th year of Accordion Noir Fest in Vancouver; whatever your ultimate thoughts, I can predict that it will most definitely be An Experience.



SAD Mag’s Nana Heed reviews Beira-Mar, Los Hongos and A Loucura Entre Nos, three stunning films from this year’s Vancouver Latin American Film Festival. Violence, humour, heartbreak, despair–this years festival lineup was not to be missed.



Beira-Mar (“Seashore”)

After debuting at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year, directors Filipe Matzembacher and Marcio Reolon brought Beira-Mar (“Seashore”) to Vancouver screens for the 2015 Latin American Film Festival. Their first feature-length film, Beira-Mar, presents a sweet inspection of sexuality, youth, family, and liberation.

Following his grandfather’s passing, our young male protagonist, Martin, and his friend Tomaz venture to southern Brazil to collect a document from distant extended family. The trip prompts the two boys to explore their relationship, while also providing Martin an opportunity to heal old wounds with his estranged family. Finally, the protagonist learns to overcome his tumultuous relationship with the sea.

Unfortunately, the slow pace of the film prevented it from inspiring the audience completely. I found it hard to stay engaged, even when I could tell the scene was meant to be meaningful for Martin. One conversation with his grandmother, for instance, is exceptionally long and communicates very little–though this moment of reconnection is clearly an important one for their relationship.

Despite its shortcomings, the film has the right ingredients and intention to be an insightful foray into adolescence. The stripped down nature of the scenes enhances the remoteness and despair Martin feels during his trip. Meanwhile, the rough, bare bones cinematography uses the qualities of the landscape to enhance Martin’s feelings toward the less-than-promising meet-up with his family.



Los Hongos

Los Hongos is an engaging film about two young boys, Ras and Calvin, immersing themselves deeply into the subversive world of street art. The film is set in Cali, Colombia, and the colours of the city alone make the film vibrant to watch. The story follows both boys home to their respective neighbourhoods, and then brings them back together to unfold a shared passion for something forbidden by civic authority. By the film’s conclusion, audiences will have developed an affection for both protagonists, as well as for many of the supporting, equally likeable characters.


Throughout the film, Calvin cares for his grandmother, who is battling cancer. The old woman is stunning–she easily wins the audience’s love–and the relationship between wizened elder and caring grandson is inspiring.


Ras’ mother, meanwhile, worries about her son and tries unrelentingly to bring him into the fold of her church. She disapproves of his street art, something that is hard for Ras to deal with. But as the film progresses, we learn that Ras’ mother is as lost as her son and in need of a beacon of hope. For her, this is provided by the church, while for Ras, it’s painting that provides him with this gateway to feeling alive–an escape from life’s sinister moments.


There is a sense of urgency to the film that concentrates itself in certain scenes. At one point,  police crack down on a painting session and become violent with the artists; at another, graphic footage from the Arab Spring protests inspire Ras and Calvin’s artwork. The two boys are later arrested while out painting. These moments of serious tension remind the audience of a collective struggle to survive and overcome oppressive systems; these scenes bring Los Hongos close to home.



A Loucura Entre Nós (“The Madness Among Us”)

The documentary by Fernanda Vareille takes place in Bahia, Brazil within a psychiatric hospital.  Criamundo is the name of an NGO run inside the hospital that works to reintegrate previously committed patients back into society. We listen to various patients, with a focus on two women, and get a sense from them what life is like within the walls of the psychiatric wards, what it’s like working within the program, and what their lives entail beyond the walls of the hospital.

Vareille’s depiction of her interview subjects is sensitive to avoid exploiting a vulnerable minority.  Elisangela is one of the two main interviewees with a powerful voice, a loving relationship to her daughter, and a strong desire to work hard and preserve her dignity in life.  With Elisangela, we walk through the psych ward on a ‘normal day’ and see where she sleeps, who else shares the space, and other things that happen while Vareille’s camera is rolling.  Seeing a combination of prepared interviews with various people who access Criamundo as well as what was caught on camera after Vareille seemed to have left it rolling in front of a gate, or walked through the halls holding it, builds a sense of trust towards her explorations of ‘normalcy’ and the struggle to be alive in each of us.

The film rolls along in such a way that you can be moved by each moment–there is a spectrum of humour, heartbreak, and critical commentary.  Not once is the film overly fixated on a person’s mental illness as the main point of inspection.  We become more invested in where the different interviewees wish to take us–be it the struggle to find work, or the internal struggle to identify as a person with a mental illness among other things.  I was so moved by watching this documentary and would highly recommend trying to track it down!
For more information about the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival, visit the festival website.


If you’d asked me last week whether I would like to spend my Friday night in a dark theatre watching homemade pornography with a bunch of strangers, my answer would have been a simple, resounding, “Never.”

But that was before I spoke to sex columnist Dan Savage about HUMP! Dirty Film Festival, an amateur porn festival that has been bringing surprise, love and laughter to audiences since 2005. Curated by Savage himself, HUMP! encourages everyday citizens to create their own homemade five-minute dirty videos for the chance to “become temporary, weekend porn stars” and win cash prizes. This year, Savage is taking the festival on a tour of the Pacific Northwest with 18 of the hottest HUMP! films in action. As always, the lineup for this year is diverse in style, content, and tone, and showcases a variety of sexual orientations, genders, and kinks. Highlights include Beethoven’s Stiff (2013), described on the HUMP! website as “precisely what would happen if your genitals dedicated themselves to classical music,” and Porn All The Time (2013), a rap video about excessive porn intake.

Needless to say, HUMP! got me curious. To find out more about the festival, I interviewed Savage for the scoop on the good, the bad, and the dirty of amateur pornography.


SAD Mag: Why do you think that people make amateur porn?

Dan Savage: People make a porn because they want to show off, they want to share their particular things, because whatever it is that they’re interested in–whatever it is [that] turns their crank–may be underrepresented, or not represented, in commercial porn or in mainstream porn.

The porn we get at HUMP! isn’t just exhibitionist, and it isn’t just from people with a social justice point agenda. We tell people that we’re going to do our best to make sure that they’re pornstars for this weekend in this movie theatre, not pornstars for eternity on the internet. So we get a lot of films from people who wouldn’t do this if there was an online component. A lot of it is really interesting, crazy, fun films [are] being made by people who might not make porn otherwise, but want to make a really good, funny film with a nod towards porn or erotica. What you’re seeing at HUMP! is really works of art that allow for fun sex, that allow for the representation of things, acts, activities, kinks that people wouldn’t necessarily think of as erotica.

SM: But why do people want to watch amateur porn? Why come to HUMP!?

The audiences at HUMP! don’t come to sit in the theatres and masturbate; there aren’t a lot of coats in laps rising and falling. People come to watch because it’s entertaining and interesting…they want to have a laugh, they want to be shocked. They come away from HUMP! with hopefully a little bit more than that.

We watch the audience to make sure that no one’s taking photographs or videos during the screening. This is what I see: for the first eight films, the gay guys are freaking out and thrown back in their chairs because they’re watching cunnilingus; the straight guys are like, “Wow!” because they’re watching hardcore gay buttfucking; vanilla people are like, “Holy crap!” because they’re watching hardcore kink porn. [Normally] when you sit and watch porn, you click on only what you want to see; you curate it for yourself. At HUMP!, we’re clicking for you; you don’t get to click.

And then this amazing thing happens: about a third of the way through the festival, everyone starts cheering for each film. People aren’t flinching or looking away; everyone’s loving each film. For the first handful of films, all anybody can see is what’s not their thing; all anybody can see are the differences. About a third of the way, or halfway, through, everyone’s seeing what’s the same. Lust is the same, passion is the same, humour is the same, attraction is the same. Those experiences are the same. All of [what’s] underneath the incidentals–[underneath] the kinks, the genders, the orientations–all of that is exactly the same, and all of that is more important.

About halfway through, you look out and you see that same gay dude who was very elaborately freaking out the first time he saw the cunnilingus. [By] the third time he watches it, he’s…cheering and laughing and clapping with everyone else. It’s beautiful.

SM: In an interview with Vice, you refer to the HUMP! experience as “the old-fashioned way” of watching porn. What does enjoying porn publicly bring to audiences? What sets it apart from more “conventional” enjoyment?

DS: It used to be that if you wanted to see a dirty movie, you had to go to a dirty movie theatre. You were kind of outing yourself as someone with an interest in erotica or dirty movies by walking through the door. You had to own it.

Then came VHS tapes and town got its little video rental store and a little corner of it would be erotica and dirty movies. Even then you had to out yourself by walking into the dirty movie section and choosing one and taking it to the counter. People tended to be mortified.

And then along came the internet–now we can do it in secret. Porn [became] something that we do all by ourselves, all alone. We lost that communal aspect of it, we lost that having to own it, having to walk through the door and say “This is something I’m interested in. This is what I want to see.”

HUMP! brings that back. You walk through the door and you’re saying, “I have a healthy and sex-positive attitude. I want to watch these dirty movies, and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to be seen walking into this theatre to watch these dirty movies. We’re all in this together.”

SM: To my knowledge, at least, there is still no consensus within the scientific community whether porn and sexual violence are related. Can you speak to this controversy? How does HUMP! fit in here?

DS: There’s actually a really terrific article in Scientific American called “The Sunny Side of Smut” that I think demonstrates–and there’s a growing body of evidence that demonstrates–that access to access to hardcore pornography does not fuel sexual violence. In fact, I think the opposite. When you look at the stats for sex crimes and sexual violence, those rates have been falling for decades, just as rates for other violent crimes have been falling for decades. At the same time that those rates have been falling, access to hardcore pornography have skyrocketed. If viewing hardcore pornography and violent images lead people to commit sex crimes, then we would expect the opposite to have happened.

You can’t do a controlled experiment with this, you can’t lock people up all their lives and expose them to pornography and others not. But the evidence that we do have seems to indicate that what I remember people saying when I was in college in the ‘80’s–that porn is the theory, rape is the practice–just isn’t so.

I think the porn at HUMP! is often the antidote to porn that is negative, that makes people feel bad about their sexualities. The people who make films for HUMP! are making them for fun, they’re not being economically coerced, they’re not being forced. The films at HUMP! are people getting together with their friends and lovers [to] make a porno that they’re proud of and want to share with people. Not to feed their children, not to pay the rent, but to create joy.

One of the raps against porn is that it’s dehumanizing. Once a woman came up to me after watching a HUMP! screening and told me that she doesn’t really like porn. [Then she] said, “That was humanizing porn that I watched tonight, very deeply humanizing.”

SM: Do you have any advice for first time HUMP!-ers? How can they make the experience less awkward and more fun?

DS: Have a little pot, have a drink (but don’t get drunk, though!). We’ve had shows during the festival where people will go out and get drunk and then come to the show, and I don’t necessarily recommend that. We’ve had people throw up.

Just come with friends and don’t be afraid. In all those almost dozen years we’ve been doing HUMP!, we’ve only once had to ask someone to stop giving a blowjob during the screening; the genitals are going to be up on the screen.

One of the rules at HUMP! is no assholes in the seats, assholes on the screen. We have a very strictly enforced policy of no catcalling, no jokes made at the expense of the bodies, the genders, the sexual orientations, the gender expression, the kinks, the colours, the shapes, the size of the body modifications, the anythings of the people up on the screen. People will gasp and clap and react, but [there will be] no assholes in the theatre, [only] assholes on the screen.

HUMP! comes to Vancouver’s Rio Theatre on September 18 & 19. Tickets and showtimes available here.

climb_image_croppedAn aerial rope is a surprisingly diverse prop. Accompanied onstage by only two plain white folding chairs, some sheets, and a small blue ball, the aerial rope ascends into the rafters, drawing the eye up and revealing a terrifying mass of negative space. In CLIMB, Esther de Monteflores commands that space with ease, twisting the aerial rope to her every need. De Monteflores’s range of expression with a singular rope is both impressive and stunningly beautiful, bringing meaning to the constant coiling and uncoiling of the rope. At times a cradle, a crutch, and at others a restraint, its tail end thumps against the stage like a unifying heartbeat.

De Monteflores’s acrobatics are accompanied by Meredith Hambrock’s brilliant writing in the form of voice over, bringing five different moments to life through movement, sound, and story. Hambrock’s vignettes are equal parts poetic, profound, and tragically hilarious. The decision to alternate narrators was refreshing for such a visual performance, though it did impede slightly on the cohesion of the different stories. Nonetheless, each narrative was compelling in its content and its interpretation by de Monteflores.

While the story for Adolescence was my personal favourite (it’s too good to be spoiled here), de Monteflores’s treatment of Old Age was nuanced, a delicate balance of vulnerability, delicacy, and grace. The choice to switch from aerial rope to slack rope here was apt. The switch over made for a fitting conclusion, though it would have been nice to have seen more slack rope throughout the performance, considering de Monteflores’s mastery of it.

De Monteflores’s physical performance and Hambrock’s story are strung together beautifully by Aaron Read’s score; the tension and drama of the string instruments function as a perfect parallel to de Monteflores’s use of the aerial and slack rope.

Another unexpected delight was the decision to keep de Monteflores on stage during costume changes. The choice makes sense from a practical standpoint, but also brought an intimacy to the actions. These moments turned audience members into voyeurs, enhanced by Hambrock’s eerie narration: “at any given moment you are being watched.”

For both veterans of acrobatics, and newcomers like myself, CLIMB offers a compelling, intimate, and lovably weird alternative to the way we normally experience stories and will certainly be a standout at this year’s Fringe.


CLIMB is part of the 2015 Vancouver Fringe Festival and can be seen at the Cultch Historic Theatre until September 20. Tickets are available online. For more on the Fringe, check out the festival website.

Vancouver won’t stop growing: expanding outward and spiraling back in, rebranding old neighbourhoods and finding names and spaces for new ones. New people are the overlooked catalyst for all this outward change. While a fresh condo development shoots up into our field of vision, a new city dweller slips easily into the periphery.

Zakir Jamal Suleman, director of The Belonging Project, is attempting to bring the experience of Vancouver immigrants to the foreground. Through a series of six video interviews, posted weekly to The Belonging Project’s website, Suleman and his collaborators address the question of what it takes to belong in our notoriously antisocial city.

Zakir Jamal Suleman, director of The Belonging Project
Zakir Jamal Suleman, director of The Belonging Project

Suleman, a philosophy honours student at UBC, was inspired both by his own experience as a Second Generation Khoja Ismaili Canadian and by a 2012 report published by The Vancouver Foundation. The report claimed that one third of survey participants struggled to make friends in Vancouver, and fifty percent of recent immigrants felt the same feeling of social isolation. These results resonated with Suleman, who describes his own process of belonging in Vancouver as a complex one: “You are born here, but there are still questions–where is your culture and the culture you are living in, how do they mix, where is home for me, is it here or is it there…”

He conceived of The Belonging Project as a means to help Vancouverites combat this isolation and connect with one another. Video interviews are a uniquely immediate way to break through what Suleman calls “barriers to entry,” allowing website users to hear a stranger’s story in the physical space of their daily life. Whether you are watching on your laptop or your phone, the project website creates a virtual space for immediate intimacy. Suleman hopes that these online interviews can be more than an “abstracted story,” the goal is that “those connections be something real and something that…people can gravitate to just like a real conversation.”

The interviews are certainly real. The brave participants share a lot in their interviews: stories of depression and illness, as well as revelations about the joyfulness of finding connection. All the videos are six minutes long, a challenging timeframe to try to convey something “true to the complexity of the people we were talking about.” Despite the time constraints, everyone who worked on the project does an admirable job of covering as wide a range of experience as possible.

Tien shares his story with The Belonging Project
Tien shares his story with The Belonging Project

As important as the voices of newcomers are to the project, the experience of First Nations people in Vancouver is something the project is also intent on exploring. As Suleman says in the website’s video introduction, “Vancouver is built on the traditional lands of the Coast Salish people, so that means we are all from somewhere else.”

Ultimately, The Belonging Project aims to create a point of connection based on disconnection. Suleman explains that “we were trying to explore something that is, I think, common to everybody.” The irony of dissatisfaction is that it compels you to speak up: something Suleman has noted himself. “Think about complaining about the weather, something that people in Vancouver are champions at…I think that it is actually really great that people are dissatisfied, because you can use that dissatisfaction to motivate you [sic] to do something about it…One thing you can count on is that everyone is dissatisfied in some way.”

The Belonging Project is a model for turning discontent into connection, one that Suleman hopes will continue beyond the initial six video outline. A community gathering is planned for September 19th, a way of gauging the success of the project and attempting the tricky work of translating an online platform into real space. “We want to get people together, people who have been watching… all these stories, and get them into a room,” he explains.

As quickly as Vancouver is growing, it is still small enough for the idea of a community gathering to feel apt. By asking Vancouverites to “take a moment, grab a coffee, and meet a new neighbour,” The Belonging Project reminds us how close we really are to the people who share our city.


The Belonging Project will be hosting a community art show at Untitled Art Space (436 Columbia Street) on Saturday September 19th. The event runs from 6 – 11 pm. To find out more, follow The Belonging Project on Facebook or visit their website.

I walked into Stephen Cone’s Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party at last week’s Vancouver Queer Film Fest jaded by a history of over-indulging in cheesy, vaguely LGBT films. At best, I hoped the coming-of-age film about a 17-year-old white boy and his Christian family might be cute, maybe even entertaining. But instead I found Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party to be sweetly orchestrated, intricate and smart–a meaningful commentary on what it’s like to go up against an entire community.

The film centres around young, fresh-faced Henry Gamble on his 17th birthday. Our protagonist is a blossoming gay individual and is emotionally wrought over his equally fresh-faced, straight best friend. Over the course of one day and one big pool party, Henry ushers in a new year of living and, ultimately, learns how to be himself. The film alternates between adorably funny moments and disturbing ones. Audiences will remain engaged by what makes each character tick through each scene.




Cone takes the audience to some pretty dark places, examining the heavier sides to growing up gay (or even just different). This is especially true for one of Henry’s guests, Logan, whose troubles are concentrated by a lack of real understanding from his church community. Everyone tiptoes around him because of an incident that happened at church camp and now, when he is most in need of true connection and support, he is left to fend for himself.

Another strength of Henry Gamble lies in its ability to poke fun at the fact that it’s so clearly situated within the upper class, white, Christian perspective. When wine is smuggled into the party by a longstanding church member and referred to as ‘medicine,’ I couldn’t help but smile. In another scene, the pastor (Henry’s dad) and a fellow church member fumble frantically for the remote control when a movie suddenly gets “inappropriate.” They heave a sigh of relief after finally switching the channel to good old football, and I laughed out loud with the rest of the audience.

Both focussed and honest, Henry Gamble is the kind of movie about young people growing up I wish I’d had as a young person growing up.  Even watching now, in my mid-twenties, I felt I could take a lesson from the struggles of some of Henry’s guests, slightly older but equally well-portrayed as the younger ones.


Find out more about VQFF here.

It all begins with a rainy car ride: a hauntingly beautiful scene framed from the backseat of a van; and after laughs, tears, and a standing ovation, it all ends with that same foggy drive. However, nothing else remains the same.


A Girl at My Door is South Korean filmmaker/screenwriter July Jung’s portrayal of a young female police officer and her new job in rural Korea. The film was borrowed for this year’s Queer Film Fest, but has the energy, talent, and aesthetic to reach any audience spanning from VIFF to the NY box office. To prove this, it’s already premiered at Cannes, and has been nominated for multiple screen awards. It is also worth mentioning that the film is complemented by the music of Jang Young-Gyu, a regular contributor to the musical landscape or Korean film.

During the film, a relationship is formed between a police officer (Bae Doona: Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending), and an abused girl (Kim Sae-Ron: Blue Dragon Film Award for Best New Actress). Jung creates characters, and lays out situations that are both profound like a drama, and elastic like any classic foreign animation film. Kim Sae-Ron’s performance is what really hits home in this film, as her character deals with some very raw, honest, and almost cringe-inducing scenes that offer a window into a broken world. Bae Doona’s character has her own struggles, dealing with a budding alcohol addiction, heart break, and homophobia – making her an easy protagonist to root for.

Although this is a two hour run-time film, it feels as if it’s a four hour movie. Some easy trimming would have made this film a little more captivating than it already is. Also, more time could’ve been spent on secondary characters to further enhance the storyline of the lead ones. As human as July makes these characters, they still seem a little stiff at times in the film. Nonetheless, July Jung’s feature film effort is nothing short of beautiful. Thought provoking, unhesitant, and human–A Girl at My Door is a masterpiece that will stir up your soul with both visuals and content.



Join us in celebrating the release of our 19th issue, MOVEMENT, on Saturday August 29th at the Remington Gallery (108 East Hastings). Hailed as our most vibrant (and flexible) issue yet, MOVEMENT explores movements—local literary, artistic, and animal—from a uniquely Vancouver perspective.

This free event includes an art exhibition showcasing art from the issue, including “moving’ images created through the Point of Inflection Project and Alex Waber‘s gorgeous Ballet BC photographs. Watch the magazine come to life with performances by contortionist, Vixen Von Flex, and professional dancers Christoph von Riedemann and Livona Ellis (Ballet BC). Listen to sweet beats and sway into the wee hours with a Brassneck beer in your hand.

Doors open at 7:30 PM. Issues of the magazine and subscriptions (just $30/year) will be available for purchase, as well as beer and snacks. Remington Gallery and Studio is located at 108 East Hastings St, Vancouver, B.C.


For all media inquiries, contact: Michelle Cyca, Co-Publisher /

Available for interview: Sara Harowitz, Editor in Chief (; Katie Stewart, Co-Publisher and Creative Director (; and/or Michelle Cyca, Co-Publisher (

Liz in September (Liz en Septiembre) is the story of life,  illness, the fluidity of sexuality and the complexity of female relationships.


Eva and her husband are still trying to cope with the loss of their young son when they go on a trip. Eva leaves a day earlier but her car soon breaks down and she is sent to the one hotel in town that has room: Margot’s, a seaside paradise where the women who live there drink lots of wine, go swimming, and have the most Bechdel-worthy conversations of all time (where do I sign up, amirite?). Eva soon discovers that what she at first thought was a hotel is actually a haven of lesbians. Liz (Patricia Velasquez of The L Word), the commitment-phobic player of the group, gets a bet going that she can sleep with the new, straight girl within three days. But Liz, a stoic and tough gal, is also hiding a secret from the group: she has cancer and she is deteriorating.


The plot of Liz in September is predictable, with few original twists or surprising character arcs. Most of the characters don’t get explored very deeply, and few of the women’s relationships are really portrayed in depth. In fact, the one sex scene of the film is between Eva and her husband, which is an interesting choice for a movie about lesbians, especially considering there are only two male characters (both supporting).


Despite this, the movie does deal with a number of themes that aren’t usually seen in mainstream Hollywood films–or at least in a way in which they are not normally portrayed– which is always refreshing. It explores life and death, relationships, friendships, love– all with a full female cast.


All in all, Liz in September has a lot of topics it touched upon that could have been explored further. However, it has its moments, and manages to successfully maneuver the sensitivity of humour in dark places, which is not an easy feat. This, along with the breath-taking scenery, make the film worth checking out.

This is Gay Propaganda: LGBT Rights & the War in the Ukraine follows several Ukrainian LGBT activists in the aftermaths of Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution, as they fight to survive in the face of gay propaganda laws in some parts of Ukraine. The laws, like those in Russia, label any sort of positive communication about LGBT rights and issues as “gay propaganda.” Spreading or engaging in “gay propaganda” is punishable by jail time.

The film ties together multiple themes. There is Toronto-based director Marusya Bociurkiw’s personal story, of her Ukrainian background and her identity as a lesbian. “Sometimes I felt like the only Ukrainian lesbian in the world,” she says in the film. She looks at how so many of us have our identities fragmented by circumstance.
The film focuses on the fight for LGBT rights but also heavily focuses on the intersection with the feminist movement in the Ukraine and on the violence that more masculine-presenting women experience at higher rates. After the movie, the director Skyped in from Poland for a Q&A. An audience member asked her why she focused on so many female LGBT activists, to which she chuckled and responded: “that’s sort of a hallmark of my work.”
There is the backdrop of a country at war. Ukraine in particular is a country very recently torn apart by revolution and the tug-of-war between the Western influences and the Russian ones and, as such, there are stark differences from place to place in the country, something that the film explains with such clarity.
There are the stories of the LGBT activists she interviewed: some are running away from families trying to kill them, some had to hide their whole lives and continue to do so, some got death threats from strangers, many were beaten and abused.
And then there are the scenes of hope: of a country that has organized and revolted, a people that are clearly capable of powerful change, of activist organizing of feminist film festivals and LGBT safe houses.
To watch this mere weeks after Vancouver’s city wide pride week, our richly sponsored parade with politicians, police, banks and thousands of people in attendance, is startling. Canada is not perfect. Not by a long shot. Discrimination based on gender identity is not protected by the Charter; queer POC and trans* communities are often left behind; and LGBT youth are still experiencing higher rates of bullying, substance abuse and homelessness, to name just a few issues. But watching This is Gay Propaganda is a chilling reminder of the kinds of state-sanctioned violence that activists around the world are up against. To watch it is humbling.

On August 22 the CBC Studio 700 will be taken over by the second annual Movin’ On Up-Staged Readings. Movin’ On Up presents the new works of two local, emerging playwrights and puts them on stage using top-notch, well known actors. This years works include Strip by Christopher Cook and Rogue Horizon by CJ McGillivray, directed by Brian Cochrane and starring Allan Morgan, Deb Williams, Emmelia Gordon, Yoshie Bancroft and Georgia Beaty. The event will be hosted by local comedian Adam Pateman!

Sad Mag recently had the chance to interview playwrights Christopher Cook and CJ McGillivray over email to get some insight on their writing process and the upcoming presentation of their works.

CJ and Chris-1
Playwrights Christopher Cook and CJ McGillivray

Sad Mag: Can you tell me a little bit about yourselves and your experiences with theatre?

Christopher Cook: I grew up here in Vancouver, and I swore I would never live here as an adult. (I’ve lived here for the majority of my adulthood so far–I really do love this city.) I studied theatre in Montreal, at Concordia University, and in London, at LAMDA.

My focus was always performing, and I came to writing later–I’ve been writing plays for about five years now. At the moment, I am working on an MA in Counselling Psychology by day, and playwriting by night.

CJ McGillivray: I am a young interdisciplinary artist who was born and raised in Vancouver. I went to theatre school at Capilano University because it allowed me to keep writing, acting, directing and making music. I was able to combine all of my creative passions with an interest in behaviour, psychology, interpersonal relationships, and human nature. Theatre has always been a platform for me to explore fearless expression, compassion, and absurd thoughts.

SM: What got you both into theatre in particular? Did you have your own local theatre moments to inspire you when you were younger?

CC: I was desperately shy in high school, and closeted–it was the 90s, and I knew I was gay, but I didn’t feel comfortable letting anyone else know. I felt incredibly isolated. I got involved with the students that were rehearsing plays after school so I wouldn’t feel so alone. It really helped. I made some of my strongest teenage friendships through theatre.

CM: I enjoyed expressing myself through music and saw theatre as a way to explore my creativity further. I found that studying drama in high school could be a positive method for developing confidence and empathy. Theatre is the one place where anyone can feel at home in a strange environment.

SM: How have your writing styles changed since first starting writing? Did you have any ‘aha’ moments that changed your perspective? CJ specifically: can you speak to the influence the LEAP program has had on you?

CM: I have so much gratitude for the playwriting mentors who have supported me so thoroughly in the past number of years. Through guidance and experience, I now focus less on being clever and put more emphasis on the value of honest writing. So much of that insight and self-awareness was developed under the mentorship of Shawn Macdonald through the LEAP playwriting mentorship in association with the Arts Club Theatre.

When I was younger, I pushed away from the absurdity of my writing but then it occurred to me that I could cultivate the quirkiness instead. I stopped apologizing for being eloquent.

CC: My “aha” moment as a writer is still happening–I feel like my “aha” moment is lasting for years. With each play I write, I become more and more comfortable with myself as a writer, and get a little more courageous. I am beginning to question assumptions I always had about my writing, particularly about structure and form. I am asking myself questions like: “What shape is the story I am telling?” “What sounds does it make?” “If I took it out on a first date, what would it wear, what would it be like, and where would it want to go?”

I find these are the questions that now interest me, compared to questions like: “What’s the rising action?” There’s nothing wrong with asking about a play’s rising action, but I am beginning to think of it a bit like asking about someone’s favorite color–ask a bland question, get a bland answer. And I suspect that bland questions are death in the play development process.

SM: Describe your ideal writing set-up. Do you have a favorite writing location or music playlist?

CC: A room in the woods with skylights and huge windows. No music, but the sounds of running water and nature. I usually settle for my East Van apartment–an old chair by a window and a good cup of tea.

CM: I create a playlist for each script that I am working on. The playlist for Rogue Horizon features contemporary blues and alternative folk music from Pokey Lafarge, Mumford and Sons and Jasper Sloan Yip.

SM: Where do you grab inspiration from for your plays and their subject matter?

CC: A lot of my inspiration comes from personal experiences–my plays aren’t autobiographical, but at the heart of their stories is always a personal experience. My way into my plays is through the characters–they are what I start with. I hear their voices in my head, see them together in various environments, and start writing. A version of this play, Strip, and these characters, first came up for me three years ago, after I took a trip to Vegas with my partner.

CM: I am often inspired by imagery, song lyrics, old photographs and moments of observation from people all around me. In regards to Rogue Horizon, having an older brother gave me support and laughter throughout my childhood. But the concept of sisters is so foreign to me. I wanted to explore the tensions and beauty of a relationship that I have never personally had but have embraced through close friendships.

SM: Both of your plays seem to centre around complicated and dysfunctional women. Is there something particularly appealing to either of you in writing about flawed characters?

CC: I don’t see my characters as dysfunctional–I think they’re all functioning pretty well, given their circumstances. As for flawed characters, I don’t think I would ever want perfect characters in my plays. I wouldn’t know what to do with them. I wonder if perfect characters might be reserved for commercials, and selling products.

Flawed characters are the ones I want to meet, cry and laugh with, and maybe carry with me. When I am writing a play, it’s like a romance–I fall in love with the characters, each of them, all at the same time. Really, I do. I look forward to spending time with them, and getting to know them better–and if I could meet them at a bar for a drink, I would in a heart beat.

CM: Our character flaws and personal struggles are what make people individually beautiful and compelling. Of course people are complicated and dysfunctional by nature. People run away from vulnerability and connection. People kick and scream. Theatre reflects our universal flaws in order to strengthen our compassion and understanding of the human condition.


SM: What’s it like to be able to showcase your work locally in a space like the CBC?

CC: I really believe that opportunities like Movin’ On Up are essential for emerging writers, and for the play development process. To be able to work with actors and a director, and share my work with an audience before ever thinking about the logistics of a full production allows me to really focus on the script, and gives me the chance to take risks and experiment. I never really know how an audience is going to respond to my work, and getting the feed-back of a live audience is so hopefully in the development process. To be able to do so in the CBC space, with a company like Staircase Theatre is thrilling–I count myself very lucky!

CM: There is nothing more valuable than hearing how an audience reacts to something.

SM: What do you hope people will get out of your plays?

CC: If someone has never asked questions about gender and the many assumptions around gender we have in North American society, I hope this play offers them a way to start asking some questions, if they want to. I also hope that this play reaches out to people and says, “Yes, loving your family can be one of the most challenging things. And loving your family may often require a leap of faith–faith in them, faith in you, faith that you’ll all still be there in the morning. But still, why not leap? Go on, I dare you. Try some faith.”

CM: Curiosity? I want people to embrace the sensations of escapism, aimless confusion, nostalgia, compassion and the universal longing for home in an unfamiliar place. I want people to feel compassion for my characters even when they are brutal to one another.

SM: In 5 words or less, what can people expect from your play?

CM: Heat, sarcasm, nostalgia, escapism, and tension.CC: How to love strangers (i.e. family).

Reserve tickets for Movin’ On Up (Aug 22) here. More information about Staircase Theatre can be found here.

Kiss & Tell with titleThe idea for Kiss & Tell (2015) hit filmmaker Jackie Hoffart like a whack over the head–an emotional, repeated, and unavoidable whack.

Hoffart had been going through a tough breakup at the time of the film’s inception. “There was a place where me and that person had a beautiful moment, directly at the exit of my garage,” she told SAD Mag over coffee last week.“Every time I left my house I would be whacked over the head with this memory. The memory was actually beautiful, but was in such contrast to how I was feeling–I’d have to close my eyes sometimes when I was pulling into my alley.”

What might have led to a dented bumper instead inspired Hoffart to create what she calls her first “somewhat professional” film, landing her a slot in the Vancouver Queer Film Festival’s short film showcase The Coast is Queer. Though VQFF is Hoffart’s official premiere as a filmmaker, she is a practiced storyteller. In the past, she worked as SAD Mag’s editor-in-chief and now produces, edits and co-hosts its official podcast, SADCAST. “Storytelling,” she explains, “is a kind of impulse–one that can be manifested in several modes.”

At just five minutes in length, Kiss & Tell is a compact but powerful expression of that impulse. Pairing striking shots of Vancouver street corners with poetic voice over, Hoffart crafts her own ode to the feeling she discovered in her parking garage, that feeling of “walk[ing] past a memory”. She revisits the locations of eight intimate moments, each of which she shared with a different someone. The result is a kind of cinematographic map of the city that feels both highly personal and surprisingly universal; it places viewers as witnesses–and by definition, outsiders–to Hoffart’s memories, but simultaneously invites them to revisit their own.

Jackie Hoffart
Jackie Hoffart

“What I tried to do was really whittle down what was important for me about memories that I’d had in certain, specific spaces and accept them as they were,” she says. But rather than reenacting the eight moments exactly as they occurred, Hoffart wanted to capture each intersection as it was at the time of the filming. “Those places aren’t anything like they were at the time, but those memories remain intact. You encounter them whether it’s sunny or rainy or the middle of the night–you just hit them.”

To capture the timeless nature of those places, Hoffart filmed most locations on at least two different occasions, in two different lights. Through the collaboration of her director of photography, Jon Thomas, she incorporated different frame rates at different times. “[We wanted to create] an effect of things slowing down and speeding up,” she explains. Like memories themsel, each scene is “out of place and out of time, but then also anchored to that specific place and that specific time.” Kiss & Tell stays as true to those locations as possible.

The true power of Kiss & Tell lies not in what Hoffart captures on screen, but in what it evokes off screen. Each moment she shares suggests a backstory that the audience will never hear; each memory hints at future ones that the viewer will never see. Like a first kiss, Kiss & Tell leaves you moved, curious, and hungry for more.


Kiss & Tell is not yet available for public viewing, but you can follow Jackie Hoffart on Twitter or tune in to SADCAST, now (at least) monthly at, for updates on when and where it’s playing next.

The Vancouver Queer Film Fest runs until August 23. Visit the festival website for tickets and showtimes.


A theme of breaking, splitting, and rebuilding ran through Wednesday’s QSONG (Queer Songwriters of a New Generation) showcase at the Roundhouse Performance Centre in Yaletown. It was a gloomy and drizzly summer night, but the young songwriters performing that evening created a warm, intimate atmosphere. Constructing just this type of space is the goal of the QSONG workshop, now in its second year. Musicians and mentors Sarah Wheeler and Ellen Marple met with Queer and allied Vancouver youth every Friday for a nine week period, helping them to expand their musical skill set and gain confidence in the nerve-wracking art of sharing deeply personal compositions on stage. The result was Wednesday’s showcase of original work, comprised of collaborative pieces and solo songs. It was the collaborative numbers that really shone; the energy and camaraderie of the group was palatable. In contrast, breakups and destructive love were at the core of much of the solo music, experiences which so often drive people to make music. QSONG alumni Gaby Lamoureaux provided one of the best performances: singing and playing the ukulele, the 25-year-old performed a song about moving on from a past relationship, but peppered the sadness with enough upbeat moments to keep the audience feeling hopeful.

When the lights came up at end of the evening the audience wasn’t quite ready to leave. Most people milled around the foyer, taking in the art on display, before bursting the bubble and venturing back into the world. The Roundhouse Performance Centre provided an attractive and supportive space for the musicians to showcase their work. Judging by the poise of all the young performers, it won’t be the last time they enjoy such an opportunity.


Follow the Queer Arts Fes­ti­val on Twit­ter or visit the fes­ti­val web­site for updates about future events.


Faced with the pile of submissions for this year’s Vancouver Queer Film Festival, Director of Festival ProgrammingShana Myara had her work cut out for her. “The struggle of curating the festival is really when to stop,” she told SAD Mag in a recent phone interview, “We only have ten days!”


Myara’s work has paid off, however; with over 70 films from 21 countries included in the final bill, and themes ranging from transgender athletes to gay camboys to bearded ladies, the 27th VQFF promises to wow audiences with a seriously stacked international lineup. Throw in a handful of Q&A’s with visiting filmmakers, a series of free workshops, and three special galas, and you have the creative smorgasborg that is this year’s festival. Film fans, mark your calendars: August 13 to 23 is going to be a busy–and eclectic–ten days.


It’s this eclecticism, Myara believes, that sets the festival apart. “We see so much of the samey-same out there that individuality is really quite a strength,” she explains. “That’s what Queer film festivals are all about.” Instead of selecting films by theme, Myara selects them by quality, and only later organizes them into categories.


The categories or “spotlights” that emerged this year are Canadian queer films, DIY Gender, queer youth culture and queer films from Latin America. Among the festival highlights are: a showing of Cannes-award-winning Korean filmmaker July Jung’sA Girl at My Door(and accompanying Q&A with the artist, Aug 19); a tailor-made archival program, Still Not Over It: 70 Years of Queer Canadian Film(Aug 18);and an 87 minute collection of shorts–made entirely by youth, for youth–called Bright Eyes, Queer Hearts(Aug 18).


The transformative power of film is one reason Myara likes to keep the bill so diverse. “Film really has the power to help us change our worldviews–to experience a life in another way,” she says. “At VQFF, we’re really mindful of those intersectional stories that speak to life told from the margins–stories that have the potential to make you feel more accepting, rather than close-minded–stories that don’t necessarily have all the right answers, but ask the right questions.”


VQFF takes their mission out of the cinema and into the classroom with the Out in Schools program, run through Out on Screen. The program brings age-appropriate queer films to schools, using film as a “springboard for a discussion around acceptance and understanding.” By helping to create an accepting learning environment through film, Out in Schools hopes to prevent bullying, exclusion, and violence.


In a city that’s been called the gay-bashing capital of Canada, it’s easy to see why these discussions are so important. “Unfortunately violence against the community is a very real part of our history and our present,” Myara sighs. “But I often look at violence as having a rebound effect; violence against a few creates a feeling of solidarity in a community.” And community, she continues, is what VQFF is all about. “From the beginning it’s been very open-armed; everyone who wants to come is welcome.”


“It’s a really exceptional feeling to feel welcomed when you arrive somewhere,” Myara observes, and her smile is almost audible over the phone. “The festival, first and foremost, brings people together.”

The Vancouver Queer Film Festival runs from August 13 – 23. For showtimes and locations, visit the festival website.

In the moments before the event began, a digital image of a living space, like a cartoon combination of IKEA and the Sims, was projected on to the floor-to-ceiling screen at the back of the stage, a representation of the normativeness that would be shattered throughout the night.

The event was a pairing of emerging and professional artists. First, PROX:IMITY RE:MIX, a performance by a group of queer youth, aged 15-24, fresh off a two-week mentorship with MACHiNENOiSY, and second, Kinesis Dance performing Night, by Para Terezakis.


Image from
Image from

PROX:IMITY RE:MIX was an array of individual and ensemble pieces, ranging from free movement to choreographed dance, spoken word, performance art and monologue. The performers interacted with their images, which were recorded live and projected onto the screen behind them. The imagery was often colourful and created both concrete and abstract depictions of them. It was all underpinned by a rich and diverse soundscape.


PROX:IMITY RE:MIX was a synergy between imagery, physicality, sound and story. Namely, the personal stories of the youth: “My name is ______, I am ______ years old and my pronoun is ______”, was an echoing refrain throughout the performance.


It touched upon the rigidity of binaries, the process of coming out, victim blaming, the beauty of home and love, and the triumph of being your true self. It was the authenticity, the vulnerability and the strength of the youth that carried the show. Young people, telling their stories, sharing their truth, being brave.


Some youth were at the beginning of their artistic journeys, while others already had their wings and were flying. Together though, they had continuity, both working within their respective abilities and pushing their edges.


Night was a journey through the darkness, a ride through the peaks and valleys of the nocturne: excitement, chaos, lust and love, connection, shame, voyeurism and the collecting of one’s self and their things afterwards, at sunrise, to begin anew.


At its best the performance was compelling, moving and provocative, but at times also frenetic and flat. That said, it was mostly pop and fizz. The piece grappled with the sexual fluidity of roles, partners and gender, feelings of shame in desire, and disconnection from normative values of sex, beauty and attraction.


The narrative of the performance was driven by an eclectic mix of music switched, often abruptly, by different performers from a laptop sitting on a desk on stage. Stark changes in lighting and the use of each of the character’s possessions: clothing and other personal effects carried in a bag, punched through the movements and feeling of a night in many vignettes.


Its seams were left intentionally unfinished and showing, the fourth wall was broken, and the viewer, and the other dancers for that matter, was given free reign to gawk and stare at the creatures of the night, their movements communicating their intent and emotion with clarity. With red lips they embarked on a metamorphosis from dusk till dawn, the only remnants of which were a pair of red heels and a row of lipstick cases, standing on end.



Flerida Peña’s Sister Mary’s a Dyke?!, which featured at this year’s Queer Arts Festival, is a fun and energetic show with potential. Set in an all-girls Catholic school, the one-woman play follows 14 year old Abby as she adjusts to life at the Crown of Thorns Academy. We watch as she discovers her sexuality, falls in and out of love and joins a guerrilla organization founded by one the nuns (“Communal Living In Tents,” or to keep it brief: “C.L.I.T.”).

The first act is introspective and focuses on Abby’s coming out and her disillusionment with the Catholic Church. She prays to her “BFF” (Jesus) and tries to understand what two of her classmates were doing together naked in bed. It’s honest yet self-censored, like reading someone’s diary who worries their mother may find it.

The second act takes a dramatically different turn. Abby joins C.L.I.T. and parachutes into the Vatican to help Sister Mary become Pope. The action was exciting but felt at odds with the first act, almost as if the two acts were part of two different productions.

The plot is forwarded by Abby posing rhetorical questions to herself, to Jesus, and to the audience. While these concerns are valid, they becoming tiring and predictable as the show progresses. Abby wrestles with common knowledge, most of which is hard to believe she hasn’t encountered previously. For example, at age 14, she has never questioned why women can’t be ordained.

Aside from Abby, we only see other characters briefly. The play could have been strengthened by their presence, because, as is often the case, the protagonist was not the most interesting character. I craved more of El (an endearing jock and Abby’s first love) and Sister Mary (a radical, unapologetic nun). If nothing else, including more of them would have diversified the monologue format of the show.

For all its brilliant moments, Sister Mary’s A Dyke!? lagged behind in dialogue. Though the situation, characters and ideas are intriguing and unique, I would love to see them expanded on.


Follow Flerinda Pena and the Queer Arts Festival on Twitter for updates about this event and more. For more information about QAF, visit the festival website.

I entered the Queer Arts Festival’s opening gala art show, Trigger: Drawing The Line in 2015, not knowing what to expect. I’d attended an all-girl Catholic school for 13 years, where topics of sexuality and DIY gender were rendered taboo and offensive. Though a socially-conscious liberal arts education later broadened my initial black and white worldview, I was still unsure how I’d react to an exhibit specifically aimed at ‘triggering” its visitors with challenging, explicit artwork.

Equal parts community education and artistic expressionism, it’s easy to see why this exhibit attracts a diverse audience of all sexual orientations. Personal narratives by local and international artists highlighted some of the Queer community’s trials and triumphs, both historic and contemporary. Many artists incorporated mixed media and found objects into their work, making their stories more tangible and connected to the community at large. Curated by SD Holman, the show drew from and contributed to a long history of powerful sociopolitical arts activism through interactive performance and visual art.

I was especially impressed by Coral Short’s emotionally-laden opening performance art piece, Stop Beating Yourself Up, and Amy Dame’s thought provoking series, Fallen Heroes: Drawing the Line. As Short, armed with a pair of boxing gloves, (literallybeat herself up on stage, I was reminded of Fight Club’s unnamed protagonist, the Narrator, and his fight against his own inner demons. Meanwhile, Dame’s intricately sewn portraits invited the public to draw–or, rather, sew–their own lines across the faces of well-known Queer personalities using bright red thread. Dame’s “lines” examined the difference between shame and admiration: When can a person no longer be viewed as a role model? How far is too far?

By placing works by more than 15 radically different artists side by side, the exhibition explored some of the challenges continually faced by those who identify as Queer. From navigating identity politics to resisting ongoing violence and discrimination, the Queer community has always pushed boundaries in order to produce exciting, provocative and edgy art; Trigger: Drawing the Line in 2015 is no exception.


Trigger: Drawing The Line in 2015 (SD Holman) runs until August 7 at Yaletown Roundhouse Community Center, and is by donation. For a full listing of Queer Arts Festival events, visit the QAF website.

When I first read the summary of Cosmophony, a collaboration between the Queer Arts Festival and the Powell Street Festival, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. After all, how is an auditory representation of space manifested? How does one describe space and the cosmos through music, much less through music played only on a piano by a single artist? Would it be an epic space theme a la Star Wars‘ opening credits? Or an ethereal and ominous soundtrack that captures the vast darkness that is our universe?


Earth, photo by NASA
Earth, photo by NASA


It turns out, it was much more than that. Pianist Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa commissioned 11 Canadian composers to create this beautiful musical journey through our solar system. Each composer focused on a different planet or space entity. The result was that each planet sparked in its audience a different affect and atmosphere. However, through Iwaasa’s beautiful and skillful musicianship, each composition was tied to the next in a cohesive performance that felt perfectly natural. Iwaasa truly managed to do justice to each and every piece she played, holding the audience captivated for the full hour-long performance.

The performance took place in Firehall Arts Centre, a space with an intimate and communal atmosphere. The set was simple: Iwaasa at her piano, with a screen playing images of each planet as the backdrop. The audience’s full focus could be on the music being performed, with pieces by composers including Rodney Sharman, Marci Rabe, Alexander Pechenyuk, Jocelyn Morlock, Chris Kovarik, Jeffrey Ryan, Stefan Udell, and Jennifer Butler. The show opens with Denis Gougeon’s passionate Piano-Soleil. From the sun, we are taken through the planets, over epic Mercury and gentle Venus, over the Asteroid Belt described by Jordan Nobles’ Fragments, and over to Gliese 581c, a faraway planet that is one of the human race’s only shreds of hope for relocation once we burn through all of our own natural resources—a theme which composer Emily Doolittle depicts with great passion. The performance is not just a piano concert; it is a social commentary on the ways in which we abuse our own planet, as well as an exploration of not only the vast cosmos itself, but of the human race’s role in the solar system.


Mercury, photo by NASA
Mercury, photo by NASA


Through this journey, Cosmophony manages to encapsulate multiple themes: human awe at the vastness of space, the continued exploration of space, the mysteries of the cosmos, and the environmental havoc that we have wreaked upon our own planet. Whether you are a space buff, a classical music fan, a lover of community art, or a combination of the three, Iwaasa’s stellar performance and the beautiful collaboration of talent managed to create something that will speak to everyone.


Cosmophony was put together by the Queer Arts Festival and the Powell Street Festival. You can find Rachel Kiyo Iwaasa’s website here.

Image courtesy of Rosamond Norbury
Image courtesy of Rosamond Norbury

In 19th century France, Paris Salons were the predominant way in which the bourgeoisie could view art. The Salons were heavily censored, as they were juried by the Academy of Fine Art. Pieces that were rejected by the Academy–pieces that didn’t uphold the standards of what constituted as ‘traditional’ art–were displayed in the Salon des Refusés. As a result, the Salon des Refusés of 1863 housed the works of many important Impressionist and Realist painters.

With this at the forefront of my mind, I had certain assumptions about what I would find at the Queer Art Festival’s Salon des Refusés, co-presented by Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium. I was surprised to discover that Little Sister’s was, in fact, a sex shop. The show itself consisted of a single line of photographs hung on a wall above some objects depicting male and female figures performing erotic and sensual acts–nothing like the Salon I had expected to visit.

When Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium was established in 1983, it sold banned magazines and books to the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities of Vancouver. Since then, Little Sister’s has become a landmark case for the Supreme Court of Canada in the fight against censorship and discrimination; the history of the shop itself can be seen as avant-garde. Once I realized this, it became increasingly obvious that the exhibition wasn’t meant to be a literal translation of the original Salon; instead, it represents the values and intellectual freedom associated with the Salon des Refusés. Salons–whether they take place in a sex shop or not–challenge the way in which viewers engage with art by placing it into an unexpected context.

Just as Impressionist painters began to observe the world using light and colour, Salons provide visitors with an opportunity to alter their perceptions of how art ‘should’ be viewed. The viewer’s gaze shifts from a pair of handcuffs to a black and white photograph of a man in bed, then back to a 16” double dong. In this way, looking at sex objects and looking at art become parallel acts, such that ‘art’ is translated into the vernacular. In this context, art becomes widely accessible in a way that the works displayed in the traditional Paris Salons never were.


Salon des Refusés runs until August 7 at Little Sister’s Book and Art Emporium. For a full listing of Queer Arts Festival events, check out the festival website.  


When I first met international Queer performance artist Coral Short at the Queer Arts Festival’s opening art party, she was wearing boxing shorts and a determined expression. Donning her gloves, she walked onto stage and began to perform her opening piece, Stop Beating Yourself Up, a literal boxing match fought entirely–and mercilessly–against herself. When I met Short a few days later for our interview, she was a radically different person. Relaxed, smiling, and as I discovered later, a little concussed, Short was nothing like the fierce fighter I remembered from a few nights ago.

As we talked performance, meditation, and travel over afternoon coffee, I realized that Short is actually both of these people: open and friendly, but also strong and, honestly, intimidating. Despite her gentle nature, Short clearly has no problem being ruthless when it comes to what really matters: creating powerful, boundary-pushing art.

Coral Short performs Stop Beating Yourself Up, photos by Katie Stewart
Coral Short performs Stop Beating Yourself Up, photo by Katie Stewart

SAD Mag: You first performed Stop Beating Yourself Up in 2013 at Edgy Women in Montreal. In a recent interview with Daily Xtra, you said that you chose to add some modifications to the piece for this year’s performance: decreasing the length from the original three hours to one and keeping a paramedic on hand. Why did you choose to perform the piece again, if it was so damaging the first time?

Coral Short: I actually never wanted to do this piece again, but Artistic Director SD Holman, through the General Manager, Elliott Hearte, really wanted me to do the piece and offered to fly me out here. And my little sister Amber just had a baby–the first baby in the Short family, so I said, “Okay, I’m going to do this for this nephew.”

SM: You mean, beat yourself up for her child?

CS: Basically! After [the performance] I sent my sister a text that said, “This will make a good story one day, but my head really hurts.”

SM: Did you get anything new out of repeating your performance? Has your original intention or relationship to the piece changed since 2013? 

CS: I think it did. The first time I did it, I didn’t do it with full body awareness. Since that time I’ve been to three vipassanas–ten day silent retreats–and I have a daily meditation practice. Being more inside my body than I used to, [the performance] was more impactual on the cellular structure than it did originally. Each time has been a ritual, but I think this [time] was more like a closure: “I will stop doing this now–stop doing this very literal performance–stop beating myself up.” We all need to move forward from this internal struggle, myself included!

It’s also really, really hard on the audience. This performance, people are more with me than any other performance I’ve ever done. They’re horrified, but they’re with me. There’s blood spurting out of me, but people try to stay the course with me. Psychologically, it’s really hard on people. I can’t make eye contact with them, so I have to look at the wall or the cameras or the floor. I’m a channel for the audience–a visceral symbol for the struggle inside themselves.

They want to protect me–they want to stop me. But no one does. When I first did the piece in 2013, I was asked by my curator, “What if someone stops you?” And I said, “It will just become part of the piece.” But no one stopped me then, and no one stopped me now. I think the audience becomes transfixed with a hypnotic morbid fascination.

Photo by Katie Stewart

SM: Do you think that’s because it’s art, or do you think that’s just human nature?

CS: I think there’s a “This is art” thing going on. But, I think if someone would have tried to stop me, I would have stopped. I think all it would take is just one person.

I think people almost want to see it play out. If you look back across humanity, or to Game of Thrones, there’s always been a love of fighting and blood. The fighting pits, the colosseum, the beheadings –I think there’s an element of humanity that wants to see that. Blood is powerful.

SM: In addition to performing at the festival’s opening party, you also curated a film night this year called TRIGGER WARNING. How did you find the “fearless Queer video art” for that event?

CS: I travel a lot. I have about ten home bases. I move with a lot of ease in the world due to the privilege of being a triple passport holder. I have all these different communities that I have lived and worked in, so I meet so many more creators than the average person. While I’m moving, I talk to other curators, interact with other festivals, other artists, everywhere I go. I come across incredible filmmakers some of whom I have been working with for almost a decade.  I’m part of a huge Queer network of cultural producers in Asia, North America and Europe who I can reach out to at any time on the internet. We are all there for each other.

Photo by Katie Stewart
Photo by Katie Stewart

SM: And how did you choose which ones to include? What qualified the videos as too triggering–or not triggering enough–for the event?

CS: It’s actually really hard to find triggering work. I cut out pieces that I found problematic in terms of race and trans issues. I didn’t want anyone to feel unwelcome in the space. In the end, I created a bill that I felt comfortable with and I felt other people would be comfortable with, but there were definitely pieces that push the limit in terms of sexuality.

SM: Were there a lot of strong reactions?

CS: Well, actually it’s funny, I feel like my bill was not triggering enough. Perhaps I have to try harder! There was blood and piss and someone kissing their parents and performance art on the verge of self harm. But it was a fine line, because I didn’t want to make anyone feel so uncomfortable that they would walk off in a bad state alone into the world.

SM: What’s been your experience as someone who works both with film and performance? Do you think people react very differently to the two art forms?

CS: I think people are wary of performance art, because they feel that it’s an unpredictable medium–which it is – that is the joy of it!  A lot of my video curations make performance art more palatable in a way. And video makes it possible to get all these artists with dynamic personalities from different locations on one bill. That’s why I love video: all that talent within three minutes. It’s amazing. For example: Morgan M Page, Eduardo Resrepo, and local artist Jade Yumang.

Photo by Katie Stewart
Photo by Katie Stewart

SM: In that same Daily Xtra interview, you refer to Vancouver culture as “very PC compared to the east coast,” and in another interview with Edgy Women, you describe Montreal as “one of the few remaining metropolises that is affordable to live cheaply and create art.” Vancouver culture receives a lot of this sort of criticism–among the well known, of course, is the Economist‘srecent inclusion of Vancouver in the list of “mind-numbingly boring” cities. Do you think our attitude will ever change, or are we forever doomed to be small-minded, unaffordable and ultimately, boring?

CS: I feel like the Vancouver art community is thriving these days! There’s been a much needed show of city support: a bunch of money given to VIVO and the art organizations in that area. There seems to be some new stuff happening; there’s always some great work. I always like to find out what’s happening here–who the new upcoming artists are, like Emilio Rojas, Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling.

Photo by Katie Stewart
Photo by Katie Stewart

SM: Obviously you’re familiar with the theme of this year’s festival: drawing the line. As a performer and artist, you’ve crossed many lines: from hole-puppet protests to physical self-abuse, you don’t seem afraid to “go too far” when it comes to your craft. This might be cliche, but where (if ever) do you draw the line? And why?

CS: When I was a young artist, I used to repeat some kind of mantra that went something like this:  to keep pushing through my limits to go to the other side. I really wanted that to be my work: to not be afraid of anything. Push it as far as you can go and then push it farther.  That’s where it begins and where my practice has grown – when I take risks and walk my own path.

But my artistic practice has changed since I did vipassana. I’ve started to make places for people to sit down, because people want to relax; it’s a really fast-paced life. So I made a giant, portable nest. I give people rides with these brown, velvet cushions while they hold this egg, and they become very birdlike. People love to sit in it. I’ve also started making this incredible earth furniture that is opulently growing with plants on radical faerie sanctuary land in Vermont and at IDA. I’m building places for people to repose, relax and be comfortable.

SM: Is this experience of comfort something you’re trying to communicate in your art? Is that your intention?

CS: I think it just kind of happened. I have almost 15 years of sobriety, and each year I grow into my body and cellular structure a little more. That’s coming through in my work. It’s all tied into meditation and slowing down. The Queer scene is soaked in substances and lack of self-awareness, so living inside our bodies as queers is revolutionary. Self-love is radical.


The Vancouver Queer Arts Festival runs from July 23 – August 7. Event listings are available on the festival websiteFor more information about Coral Short, follow her on Twitter and Facebook, or visit her website.


For the past seven years Vancouver has been home to the Queer Arts Festival. Originally a small community event, QAF has grown dramatically since it’s inception. It now celebrates a wide range of artistic expression—visual art exhibitions, musical performances, and workshops. Held at the Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre in downtown Vancouver, the festival continues to challenge gender and sexual norms through unabashed, intimate Queer art.

Must-Sees for the 2015 Queer Arts Festival

By Sad Mag

Queer catholic schoolgirls, musical queens, and everything in between—this year's festival is absolutely stacked. Finding it hard to choose? We've whittled things down to our five top picks, just for you.

  • TRIGGER: Drawing the Line in 2015

    By Sad Mag

    In 1990, a collection of Vancouver artists put together a boundary-pushing exhibit called “Drawing the Line”. Now, 25 years later, a curated exhibit of the same name pays honor to the spirit of the original project. The show pairs works by 19 different artists with ones from the 1990 exhibit.  

  • Queerotica

    By Sad Mag

    Expect to be titillated by this evening of steamy, literary reads. Steeped in anti-censorship rhetoric—and of course, saucy scenarios—Queerotica is not to be missed!

  • Sister Mary’s a Dyke?!

    By Sad Mag

    This one woman show takes the classic coming of age story and queers it in a major way. Abby is a Catholic school girl who falls in love and is forced to reexamine everything she thought she knew. Drama, drama, drama!  

  • A Queen’s Music: Reginald Mobley in Recital

    By Sad Mag

    Throughout history the amazing work of both gay composers and people of color has been nearly lost. In A Queen's Music, composer Reginald Mobley and musician Alexander Weimann stage some of the work that has been pushed aside for centuries.  

  • Salon des Refusés

    By Sad Mag

    Not your grandma’s art exhibit! This community art show features a selection of explicit art by queer local talent. Its name pays homage to the Parisian Salon des Refusés of 1863. Held at Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium, the exhibit is entirely by donation.  

  • Still finding it hard to choose?

    By Sad Mag

    It's worth checking out QAF's Flex-Pass deal. Hit four shows for $69. Bring a friend (or three), or enjoy all four shows yourself—you deserve it!


The 2015 Queer Arts Festival runs from July 23 – August 7. For a full event listing, visit the QAF website

Anders Nilsen is the Minneapolis-based cartoonist responsible for publishing a universally adored series of mini comics called Big Questions that features tiny birds with really deep thoughts on life.  His newest book, Poetry is Useless, is a collection of images and doodles from the last several years of his personal sketchbooks. There are no birds in Poetry is Useless, but there are a lot of big questions—about art, why we make art, how we value it, and what it means to be an artist. Marc Bell is a Canadian cartoonist and fine artist who is perhaps most well-known for blurring the line between fine art and doodling. After four years of working in the art world, he’s made what everyone (who knows anything) is calling a “triumphant” return to the world of graphic narrative by publishing Stroppy—a madcap adventure tale about a song writing contest gone wrong. Stroppy also has thoughts on poetry.

Anders Nilsen by Anders Nilsen, Courtesy of Anders Nilsen
Marc Bell by Marc Bell, Courtesy of Marc Bell




















Nilsen and Bell are at Lucky’s Comics in Vancouver on July 17th at 7:00 pm to launch their respective books. Shannon Tien from Sad Mag had the chance to talk to them about authenticity, capitalism, and self-help for writers, among other things. The best of their lengthy phone call is what follows:

Shannon Tien: Something that I think ties both of your books together is thinking about the process of creating art, or poetry specifically. How do your philosophies cross over or differ on this subject?

Anders Nilsen: Boy, that’s a tough one.

ST: It’s a heavy question to start with. I’m sorry.

AN: [laughing] I don’t know if I could do a capsule description of Marc’s philosophy. What do you think Marc?

Marc Bell: Well we made our books independently, but somehow they both ended up referencing poetry.

AN: That’s true.

MB: We did a tour together a few years ago so this is like a reunion tour…I don’t know how to answer that question either [laughing].

AN: I mean I think we both have a little off-the-cuff playfulness in our work. And probably a little—I don’t know how to put this—a little snottiness or something?

MB: Yeah we’re both sarcastic when we reference poetry.

I like writing poetry if I know it doesn’t have to be good. So for example I wrote Clancy the Poet’s poetry and that was super fun because I could do whatever I wanted and I didn’t have to worry if it was good or not. I could write reams and reams of Clancy’s poetry.

ST: But I love Clancy’s poetry!

MB: Right? It’s pretty good, in it’s way.

AN: I think it’s actually extremely deep.

But I think we’re both artists and we’ve both planted ourselves in that existence, but we’re both a little sceptical and like to make fun of ourselves…and the potential for being pretentious.

MB: Yeah and then I can’t exactly knock poetry so much because I do all these drawings and they have random text in them. They’re sort of poetry. Like my stuff is not that far from poetry really.

AN: Yeah, so I think we’re both sort of making fun of the thing we’re also actually doing.

MB: [laughing] Yeah, you got it.

AN: I actually sort of think of my book as my poetry collection, if there is such a thing, you know, making comics.

Clancy Recites a Poem from Stroppy by Marc Bell

ST: Ok. I guess I was thinking that Clancy, he’s a poet, and all his poetry ends up doing for him is…

MB: He’s sort of co-opted by the Schnauzers.

ST: Right. So it’s like the opposite of the idea that poetry can save you.

MB: He was against the song contest idea. He was against all of it. But I don’t want to ruin the end! There’s a twist to the story.

AN: Basically, poetry is a tool of the oppressor and we’re both in revolutionary mode against the aggressor. Right Marc?

MB: That’s it, exactly.

AN: Capitalism.

MB: Society!

Refer to Clancy’s poem called “Society”.

ST: Okay so this is more a question for Anders, but your book is fragments of your old sketchbooks. What ties the fragments together?

AN: Really the only thing that ties the fragments together is the fact that they all were in my sketchbooks. They were all just things that either kind of happened or ideas I had that were worth putting down but not worth turning into an actual book.

Poetry is Useless by Anders Nilsen

ST: And how many years back does it stretch?

AN: I think the oldest pieces in the book are probably from 2008. There are 22 or 24 books. There’s a funny thing about sketchbook collections because you know that they’re sort of bullshit a little. You know the artist is editing a little and not showing you the really crappy pages, which I’m not showing you either.  So each of those notebooks, there’s maybe 6, 7, 8, or maybe 10 pages from each of them.

MB: We did a couple crappy pages in one of them.

AN: Yeah last time we went on tour together we made some crappy pages together and I didn’t show those. We promise to be better on this tour.

ST: Speaking of editing, what’s the point of leaving your editorial marks in the published version of your sketchbook?

AN: I try to maintain readability. So if there’s so much crossing out that it feels like it’s going to make it hard for the reader to understand what I’m writing, then I clean it up a little with Photoshop. But in general, it is my sketchbook so part of what may be appealing about it is the fact that it’s a record of me kind of thinking out loud, on the page. So the mistakes are an important part of that.

Also, part of that work is me responding to my own process. So as I’m doing a drawing and then it turns to shit, I sort of have this idea that I want to still turn that page into an interesting page if I can. So if it goes in a weird direction, I want to try to work within the stakes of those unexpected failures.

ST: One of your stick figures in the book asks how to maintain authenticity after the death of the author. Does this sketchbook have anything to do with that question?

AN: [laughing] Ah, you’re probably calling me out for not being as smart as I pretend to be.

Poetry is Useless by Anders Nilsen

ST: But it’s a good thing to think about.

AN: I mean, I sort of don’t believe in authenticity and, you know, the sketchbook has a sort of fake authenticity, as I was saying…you always wonder what’s getting edited out and you’re always getting this sort of idealized view of the artist’s supposed candid moments, which is partly why I’m showing the whole spread of the sketchbook, to show that I’m not picking and choosing the little bits, but the truth is I am. I am not showing the crappy pages. It is work for a finished book. So yeah I think authenticity is highly overrated.

ST: What gave you the idea to draw the back of people’s heads for their portraits? Are they people you know?

AN: Some of them are people I know, but a lot of times when I’m in an audience, like at a poetry reading [laughing], or other events with live speakers, I just want something for my eyes and my hands to do, so I’m drawing them. And also when I’m in public, I don’t always want people to notice, so it’s easier if they’re turned away from me a little bit. I guess I’m a little bit of a coward.

MB: A poet and a coward.

AN: All poets are cowards.

It’s sort of funny. People’s hairdos are really fascinating to draw, as are ears.

ST: I think because you can’t look at the back of your own head, it’s like the most vulnerable part of your appearance.

AN: Yeah sure. That’s a nice idea.

ST: So if poetry is dead, comics are…

AN: Um…stupid?

Actually comics are fucking awesome.

ST: What would you say Marc?


ST: How was the transition moving back to narrative, Marc, after working in the art world for a while?

MB: It was difficult. I’ve mentioned this in a few interviews I think, but I was kind of scared and I started reading self-help books. The equivalent of a writer’s self-help, or if someone wants to get into the film or TV industry, this is the equivalent of self-help books, like books about writing screenplays. They sort of helped, I think.

ST: Do you mind me asking which ones?

MB: I wish I could remember the titles. One I looked at, it was very basic. It was just about the 20 different kinds of stories people tell.

AN: Which number is Stroppy?

MB: Oh man. I don’t even know if Stroppy…

AN: Maybe it’s 22.

MB: Maybe it’s 23. I made a new form of story for Stroppy.

AN: By the way my new graphic novel is going to be number 16, so…

Stroppy by Marc Bell

ST: Oh yeah? Is this book called STORY? Because I feel like I was reading the exact same book earlier this year when I was trying to write a novel.

MB: That could be it. Was it an orange book?

AN: Marc doesn’t care about titles. He only remembers the colours of books.

MB: Not interested in titles!

ST: No, mine was purple.

MB: Maybe it was a different edition! They were like the orange one didn’t sell so let’s throw purple on there. People LOVE purple.

Did it help you with your novel?

ST: No, not really.

MB: Well I actually wanted to try and find a formula to follow, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to do that.

AN: I’m trying to find a formula too. And I was thinking of inserting one of Hans Christen Andersen’s tales into my new graphic novel.

ST: Oh yeah! That would be great. He’s a weirdo. So the formula didn’t work out for you Marc. Did any other self-help books help you with building narrative?

MB: Oh no. There was one I was supposed to read…

AN: The Bible?

MB: [laughing] No. I never got around to reading the one I was supposed to read. I just started.

ST: Well, I think it turned out well. I like Stroppy.

MB: Thank you!


This interview has been edited and condensed.

Nancy Lee and Kiran Bhumber are the creative brains behind Pendula, an interactive art installation that uses the movement of swings to create music and projections, which premiered at Vancouver’s 2015 Jazz Festival. Nancy, the swing set builder, is a VJ, filmmaker and new media artist. Kiran, the music programmer, is a composer and performer whose artistic interests lay at the intersection of technology and music.  Below, Sad Mag’s Shannon Tien talks to the duo about agency in art, teamwork, and the community value of swing sets.

Still from Pendula by Nancy Lee and Kiran Bhumber


Shannon Tien: Tell me about Pendula.


Nancy Lee: Pendula is a multimedia, audio-visual, interactive installation. We use both hardware and software to take the swinging motion and turn them into audio or visual parameters, which means their effects that can be seen and heard during our installation. Using swing sets.


ST: How did this idea come together? What was the inspiration behind it?


NL: I started building outdoor swing sets as a public interactive installation piece. And then I did an event where I installed 8 swing sets indoors during an electronic music night that I organized. And there I met Kiran for the first time–Kiran was there swinging on the swings. And at that time she thought, “Hey, maybe we could make this swing into an interactive piece.” I’d also had projections installed. At that time it wasn’t an interactive piece, I just had projections over the swing area.


And then we later met again at New Forms festival working as production assistant volunteers. And that’s when we had time to sit down and talk about the project and our vision for it. The swing set I had at the event wasn’t my full vision that I had for it in my mind. I wanted the projections to reflect the social interactions that happened within the swinging area.


Kiran Bhumber: Having seen the swings at Nancy’s party, not interactive, I was very inspired by the idea of making the visuals interactive and also adding audio elements [and a] musical performance element, which was amalgamated into the installation at Jazz Fest. We had a musical performance at the top of every hour where I played clarinet and we had a cellist and I programmed the swings to be an actual instrument and act as an effects pedal. We had the swings changing the sounds of these acoustic instruments.

Still from Pendula by Nancy Lee and Kiran Bhumber


ST: What was the timeline for this project to come to total fruition?


NL: About 8 months on and off.


ST: Can you tell me about the experience of performing it at Jazz Fest? Was anyone allowed to go in and swing?


NL: Yeah, after every performance, we invited people to come use the swing sets. And it was interesting, during the performance, because I’m playing the swings, it was interesting to see people’s facial expressions, how they reacted to the piece. You could see their “aha!” moments when they figured out what the swings were actually doing. I enjoyed seeing that moment.


ST: And how did you start working with swings? I’m just wondering because there used to be a public installation by my bus stop in Montreal where swings played different musical tones.


NL: Oh yeah I’ve heard of that! I started working with swings because I like climbing trees and I like building things out doors. Swings are kind of an easy thing to build. You just need rope. And I was dumpster diving and salvaging construction wood that I would use for swing seats. It costs very little to build a swing and the kind of return you get for the community or user is so much greater than the financial cost of building it. It is a really great investment for the community to build swing sets. You generate so much joy from it.


Usually we’re used to art installations being behind glass or a “do not touch area”. There’s a very definitive boundary between the observer and the art piece. And with this swing set, people do come up to us and ask, “Are we allowed to touch it?” But when people can play on the swing set they kind of become the piece. And some of the people who were using the swing sets, they kind of understood that, you know, “I’m becoming a part of the installation.”


KB: And also the addition of individuals on each swing. The piece is going to be different depending how many people are on the swings. So, the social adaptation and amalgamation of their swinging motion to create more aspects of the piece.


NL: We have three swing sets, so they’re kind of a three-piece ensemble. And [the people] all play the swings in a different way so the collective audio-visual output is different every single time.


ST: Did anybody get really into it at Jazz Fest?


NL: I think at the Jazz Fest, because of the setting, people were into figuring out the swings. People tested out different things. I think with public art installations, people are still pretty shy. People were more into figuring out how it worked than playing it as an instrument.

Still from Pendula by Nancy Lee and Kiran Bhumber


ST: Is this the first time you’ve set this piece up?


NL: It’s the first time that we’ve done the three swing sets with the audio and visual.


KB: It’s been challenging incorporating the audio into a space that will allow it. So there’s no sound bleed. That’s an issue we had with Jazz Fest as well. The previous installs have been just visual because of that.


ST: How did you overcome that challenge at Jazz Fest?


KB: We got bigger speakers.
ST: Have you two collaborated before?


NL: This is our first collaboration together, but this is just the beginning of something. We plan to do more interactive musical pieces and performance pieces as well. We have so many ideas in our head that we would definitely like to explore in the future.


ST: Do you have any upcoming events?


KB: I just had my upcoming event today actually. I curated a show for Jazz Fest that was all based on interactive works. So technology and music. But at this moment Nancy and I are going to Kamploops in a couple days to start working on a new project. It’s kind of more vague now. We’re just going to check out the site.


NL: It’ll also be interactive, but more on the exhibition side of things, rather than a performance.


Watch: Pendula by Nancy Lee and Kiran Bumber

Pendula was on exhibition in Vancouver June 20 and 21st as a part of the Vancouver Jazz Festival. Visit for further information on the Pendula Exhibit, and for more information on the festival.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Thank you to Jelissa at Classics Agency.

On Thursday, June 18, the front page of the Vancouver Sun illustrated the results of a recent Angus Reid poll of Vancouverites with four bright yellow emojis. One with the beaming smile represented “happy”; another, less enthused smiley stood for “comfortable,” another for “uncomfortable,” and finally, one for “miserable.” The poll focused on how Vancouver residents felt about their current housing and transportation situations. Someone with my demographics (a renter aged 18-34 with a university education) was apparently inclined to be thoroughly miserable. The “happy” category described my parents: retired with no daily commute and living in a mortgage free home purchased before 2000. Would I only achieve happiness in some kind of Freaky Friday scenario where I assumed the lives of the people who raised me?

Photo courtesy of Sagmeister Walsh
Photo courtesy of Sagmeister Walsh

As luck would have it, I was headed to the Museum of Vancouver that night for a Happy Hour talk on Money and Happiness. Researcher Ashley Whillans, who works out of UBC Department of Psychology’s “Happy Lab”, presented her findings on the relationship between money, time and happiness in a twenty minute lecture. Her first core finding was that those who use money to outsource tasks they dread experience a boost in happiness. Technology has made it possible for those with the time and inclination to connect with those who are willing to pay for comfort. Whillans’ conclusion seems especially relevant given the rise of Uber and the sharing economy.IMG_20150607_112328

Maybe money can buy happiness after all? Whillans’ research certainly seems to suggest it does; she presented data from another study in which study participants demonstrated a greater increase in happiness when they spent money on others rather than on themselves. Interestingly, these participants were horrible at predicting what would make them happy. Given the choice between spending their money on themselves or on others, the majority predicted that spending the designated cash on themselves would yield the greatest boost in well-being, when just the opposite proved true. Perhaps I need to stop looking to Hollywood for happiness; the answer might be as simple as hiring someone to scrub my toilet next weekend while I treat my nearest and dearest to mimosas. IMG_20150607_105318

Ms. Whillans also referenced Vancouver’s last place ranking in a nationwide poll of happy cities, along with The Economist’s recent pronouncement that our city is “mind-numbingly boring”. Part of the mandate of the MOV’s Happy Hour talks is to foster dialogue and mingling amongst our citizens. The palatable length of the presentation and the presence of a bar created an informal vibe. But the true inspiration for the Happy Hour concept comes from the Museum’s current exhibit, Stefan Sagmeister: The Happy Show, curated by Claudia Gould. The exhibit, which opened on April 23 and runs until September 7, displays the award-winning Austrian designer’s decade long exploration of what happiness is and his own quest to attain it. With a giant inflatable monkey, walls covered in academic study results and clips from Sagmeister’s upcoming documentary The Happy Film, the multi-media show engages visitors in a myriad of ways. Museum-goers are invited to experience  a personal journey towards happiness, filled with memories and musings unique to Sagmeister, but end up recognizing his yearning as their own. The exhibit taps into a universal struggle: it seems that as long as there have been people, people have had a problem being happy.

Courtesy: Museum of Vancouver

I may not have exited the museum that evening with a prescription for happiness, but I did have many new ideas to consider. My friend and I stood in a surprising summer rain shower and contemplated what bus route to take back to our rented apartments. A yellow taxi approached and without much deliberation, we hailed it. For a few dollars each we got to forgo a long damp ride on transit. As I watched our wet, boring city glide past from the back seat, I was happy. For a while, anyway.

Within the emerging movement of community queer choirs, Cor Flammae has a distinct voice. There are many opportunities for queer people to sing together, but not many opportunities for audiences to listen to a professional queer ensemble perform queer content. Cor Flammae performs both modern and historical classical music with the aim of shifting the assumed perspective from a hetero-normative one to a queer one.

Sad Mag sat down with Missy Clarkson, who founded the ensemble with her wife Amelia Pitt-Brooke, and friend Madeline Hannan-Leith to talk about the choir, upcoming concerts, and re-queering the world of classical music.

Cor Flammae, Photo by belle ancell photography
Cor Flammae, Photo by belle ancell photography

Sad Mag: When and why did you start Cor Flammae?

Missy Clarkson: We came to the idea two years ago when we attended the Queer Arts Festival. There was a lesbian opera called “When the Sun Comes Out” by Leslie Uyeda. We are into classical music and opera subscribers. We didn’t know what was going to happen with lesbian opera. We didn’t necessarily have expectations. But it was amazing. It was sweeping and grand, poignant and lovely,  and not too sad–sometimes queer work is very lament-y. Many of us are in ensembles in the city, and we wanted that for choir.

SM: It sounds like there was a niche that needed to be filled, and you found it.

MC: We were surprised with how much momentum it had. There are a lot of places for queer people to sing together in the city, but there aren’t a lot of places where an audience can experience classical music at a professional level with a queer ear.

SM: What can audiences expect from a performance?

MC: Last year, we introduced ourselves as quite secular. We chose secular works because there is baggage with queerness and organized religion. It can be an unsafe space for queer people. Because there is rich religious traditions to choral music–it was written to be performed in churches for the most part–it is an interesting genre for queer people to be exploring and doing professionally. This year, we didn’t want to miss out on having that conversation so we’re approaching the relationship between the sacred and the profane through a queer perspective in our performances. Queers have not necessarily felt welcome to choral music because of the religious traditions associated with it that have often labeled the queer body as profane, obscene, or unholy. We want to show our audience queer spirituality–all the composers we’re performing were/are queer and many were/are devout.

We’re producing two concerts. One of them is at the beautiful St. Andrew’s Wesley Church where we’re performing the music in the place for which it was written. Then we’re taking the same works and performing the next night in a social play space–a bath house essentially. It’s hat tipping the bathhouse tradition of queerness. Canada’s queer history started because of the bathhouse riots in Toronto. Where the United States had Stonewall in 1969, Canada had Operation Soap in 1981. Police officers raided bathhouses and arrested about three hundred queer men just for being queer. The public didn’t take well to that, and thousands of people took to the streets and marched the next day. It was first pride parade in Canada essentially. Cor Flammae is interested in how the listening experience changes when we perform choral music, historically deeply spiritual music, in the historically queer space of a sex club like Club 8×6.

Photo by belle ancell photography
Photo by belle ancell photography

SM: The audience gets to experience the music in a religiously charged space and a politically charged space.

MC: Totally. Obviously the acoustics are different in each space. And there’s going to be a dance party in the sex club after the performance so it’ll be a little different for that reason. [Laughs.]

SM: What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming set of concerts?

MC: Our outfits! They are a secret still.

SM: Don’t say any more about the outfits. It will be a teaser. Who has been your favourite historical composer to revive through Cor Flammae?

MC: There are so many composers that are hotly contested by scholars. [Franz] Schubert has been an interesting one for us because he was probably bisexual. He was hanging with lots of ladies, and probably hanging with lots of guys too. It’s a scandal to bring it up with any of the scholars. Really straight, traditional scholars are like, “No, not my Schubert.” We’ve also rediscovered Ethel Smyth, who was known for opera choruses. She was friends with [Johannes] Brahms, and she also had a complicated relationship with Virginia Woolf. She was loud, proud, a suffragette, and an out lesbian. She was rich so that made it easier for her to be all over. She had privilege that afforded her opportunity. She got to spread her works around, and make out with everybody. [Laughs.]

We also work with living queer composers. Classical music celebrates the past more often so new works don’t get traction. People want to hear things they have heard before. They want to hear Beethoven’s Ninth [Choral Symphony]. New music is less sellable. Cor Flammae can combine these two worlds. We can celebrate the past and connect it to the present.

SM: How does your experience in Cor Flammae compare to your experience in other ensembles?

MC: It’s illuminating. The first time we got together as an ensemble after our auditions was at our photo shoot. We had oranges and brandy and hung out for hours getting makeup and hair done. There was comfort and understanding immediately. That’s translated to this year. We had our photo shoot a few weeks ago, and we were all half-naked. I don’t get half-naked in front of just anybody. The queerness factor causes that comfort and connection, and that relates to the music as well. People have said, “Oh, I didn’t know this person was queer or that person was queer.” It’s not mentioned elsewhere. When we were researching [Gian Carlo] Menotti’s “The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore” to perform last year, we found queerness wasn’t mentioned in the scholarship. There’s a unicorn in it so it’s pretty gay already, but it’s the story of a weird guy in a castle who dares to parade around with his unicorn. It was written in 1956. It’s a very queer narrative. Any research we did seemed like it was grasping at heteronormative straws when the guy is clearly gay. Doing Menotti has been illuminating. Benjamin Britton has been illuminating. The way I listen to music has changed so that’s what I want to give our audiences.

SM: What music are you listening to right now?

MC: Personally, I mostly listen to music I’m going to perform so I can get it in my ear. We always make a playlist for our singers because we have limited rehearsals. We have seventy-five minutes of music in our upcoming concerts, and to build it up to the level it needs to be at, we have to work hard. I have to stay pretty focused with what I listen to. If I need to clean my ears out though, it’s almost always Beyoncé.

Photo by belle ancell photography
Photo by belle ancell photography

SM: Do you have a comment you would offer to queer performers of classical music? Maybe people who don’t live in the city or don’t know about a queer ensemble.

MC: This has been so freeing for us. We’re trying to be as visible as possible because visibility is a powerful tool in helping other people feel less alone. I’ve sung in choirs that are probably 30 per cent queer but don’t identify as a queer choir. Because of the connection in Cor Flammae, we feel less alone. My wife grew up in a musical family–her father was a choral conductor and her mother sang in choirs, but the women were taught to sing this and the men were taught to sing that. A women would have to wear a muumuu, and she could not wear a suit when she was more comfortable in a suit. We want to be visible so that everyone feels invited, even if they are not here. We’re pretty prevalent online, and we hope that we’re reaching people.

SM: You spoke earlier about the instant comfort and understanding your ensemble felt when you got together for your first photo shoot–that says it all. How has Cor Flammae affected your own queerness?

MC: It’s helped me articulate my own queerness. I’ve always identified as a chorister. I call myself a queerister now. It’s actually a thirteenth-century word that used to mean chorister. I feel like I’m different things that don’t necessarily intersect, and this ensemble helped with the intersection.


Cor Flammae’s concert set FALLEN ANGELS: Sacred + Profane Works will be at St. Andrew’s Wesley Church on July 17th, 2015 at 8pm and Club 8×6 on July 18th, 2015. Tickets go on sale June 1st 2015 at 10am. For more information, visit Cor Flammae’s webiste or subscribe to their mailing list.



When I first laid eyes on the works that comprised Kate Duncan’s ADDRESS Assembly, I felt that I had walked into someone’s home. A very stylish someone. Certainly not my home or any I’ve been in before, but definitely some place I would like to live, or at the very least visit. It looked like something from Pinterest, which for those who may be confused, is the highest form of compliment I could offer. A collection of things so beautiful, you’ll want to remember them when you finally have a grown-up home to decorate and a budget that allows you to shop somewhere other than IKEA.

Photo by Sagal Kahin
Photo by Sagal Kahin

Mouth open and eyes wide, I resisted the urge to touch everything. Ceramics by Heydey Design were a highlight. Made to look as if woven from cloth or straw, they were so convincing that I felt obliged to touch them all and confirm that they really were made from porcelain. The Hendrik Lou blanket knit from wool and rope made me wish everybody else in the room would leave me to nap. The side table which doubled as a terrarium; the speckled Lissu Linen pillow cases; the thumbtack stools; the ring dishes–I wanted all of it, including the plants I know couldn’t ever actually keep alive.

photo 3 (1)

photo 2 (2)

The works complimented each other so well, one might have thought they were made to exist here in this sun filled space. Together these pieces, made by a collective of 15 makers and designers, brought outside in. So did the light, which flooded the room thanks to the Waterfall Building’s floor to (two-storey) ceiling windows. Wood. Leather. Clay. Wool. Glass. It was picture perfect, but approachable. All together or on their own, these were works I could see occupying spaces in which real people lived. And yet the rugs were so beautiful they forced me to wonder (a few times): are we supposed to take our shoes off?


ADDRESS is an assembly of designers/makers, deeply dedicated to their craft presenting expertise and exceptional work. The 12 day home and design show is part-gallery, part-pop-up shop, and part-showroom, curated and produced by Vancouver-based furniture designer/maker Kate Duncan. Located at the prestigious Waterfall Building, 1540 West 2nd Avenue, ADDRESS runs from May 20-31st 2015.


The poetry scene in Vancouver is huge, and the amount of local talent staggering. On May 16 at the People’s Co-op Bookstore, poetry fans had the opportunity to experience some of the coast’s best poets with The Poetries: 5 West Coast Poets. The intimate night of readings featured work by Vancouver poets Jordan Abel, Jordan Scott and Chelene Knight, as well as Seattle poets Elizabeth J. Cohen and Deborah Woodard.

Jordan Abel kicked off the evening with a performance piece from his book Un/inhabited, a collection based off of passages from 91 Western Cowboy and Indian themed works. Abel selected words relating to the politics of land and ownership from these books to inspire his poems, paying particular attention to the terms “frontier” and “colony.” Rhythmic recordings of Abel’s voice intermixed throughout the performance, in sync at times, overlapping at others. The performance was humbling, with multiple voices resonating throughout Abel’s politically charged work. I’ve seen Jordan Abel perform before, but the way in which he hypnotizes his audience is always astounding.

Jordan Scott is another poet who reads his poetry with humbling beauty. Scott’s poetry plays with words and setting. He read from his most recent publication, Decomp, an “extended photo–essay and prose poem” written in collaboration with Stephen Collis. In contrast to Abel, Scott stood alone in front of the audience with his poetry on sheets of paper. But his poetry still read as performance; words bounced off the walls, forming vivid imagery in the mind to a rhythm like no other.

Chelene Knight, a graduate of SFU’s Writer’s Studio, was the third poet of the evening. Knight opened with a poem dedicated to a deceased friend and then moved on to read from her first book, Braided Skin. With a liquid voice, Knight read a selection of work focused on issues of race. She was expressive as she moved through her poetry with ease, reading also from her upcoming collection, Dear Current Occupant, which promises to be as exceptional as Braided Skin.

Next up was Elizabeth J. Cohen, the first Seattle poet to read. Using lyrical essay in poetic form, Cohen incorporated elements of biography and prose. Cohen is a magnetic performer; her poetry created an intimacy with the audience that was simply captivating.

Deborah Woodard, a Seattle-based translator and a poet, read last. Woodward uses erasure, a form of poetry that involves erasing words from existing texts, to create new works from borrowed words. Reading first from her own work, with poems such as “Maiden Flight” and “Gorilla Girl,” Woodard then moved on to a translated collection by Amelia Rosselli. Though originally written in Italian, the poems did not lose their eloquence when recited in English. Her vibrant performance was a strong finish to an incredible evening.


I meet with Vancouver-based artist, consultant and event planner Jamie Smith at her sunny Main Street studio above Gene cafe. Glancing out her window, I count six toques, two Hershel backpacks, and one beautiful, black fixed gear. Yep, I smile, turning back to my host, we’re definitely in Mount Pleasant.

People-watching aside, I’m here to interview Smith about ROVE, the community art walk she’s planning for May 22. From 6 – 10 pm this Friday, seven local galleries will open their doors to the public. Armed with ROVE maps—complete with instructions for finding the closest breweries, of course—ROVE-ers can gallery hop to their hearts’ content, mingling with artists, curators and other artsy folk. The best part? The entire event is 100% free.

SM: So tell me about ROVE. How did you get involved in the project?

JS: I made it up! It started when I went to Portland in the fall of last year. Every first Thursday of the month, they do an art night. There’s a map, and you walk around—it’s called the Pearl District—and it’s all really close together. That’s what I liked about it; it was going to galleries, but all in one area.

Some cities have these art walks every month. I think that’s a very exciting thing, because it becomes a part of people’s month; they have something to look forward to and they see a lot of different work. I thought that would be very cool for Vancouver.

At first, I was like, “Every first Thursday: ROVE!” but it’s so much work. So I’m doing as many as I can. They keep getting easier and easier, and hopefully, at the end, it will just keep going.

Rebecca Chaperon (on display at Gene Studios, 2412 Main Street)
Rebecca Chaperon (on display at Gene Studios, 2412 Main Street)

SM: Can you tell me a little about the event? The venues look amazing.

JS: I’m definitely excited about the venues; they’re great. There are people in Mount Pleasant always doing openings, always doing things. But something like this—like ROVE—really brings it all together. Hopefully we get a lot of people out who normally wouldn’t come to just one art opening.

SM: How do you choose the venues?

JS: It’s kind of been developing over time. The first time I did it, I just went to people that I knew were doing things in the area and tried to find places around here. And then throughout this time, people have actually come to me, which has been really nice. I’ve started going to openings at BAF (Burrard Arts Foundation) and Field Contemporary, so I just approached them and said, “This is what I do.” This is the first time I’ll be working with some of these galleries, but I think it will go well.

SM: Is there an overarching theme to the evening?

JS: The way ROVE works is that these spaces are doing their own thing all the time, so when I say I’m going to do a ROVE, it’s what they’re displaying at that time. It’s actually kind of nice because Kafka’s and Make both have photography showing, Field and BAF are all painters, in here (Gene Studios) we’re all painters, and then there’s Lawrence Yuxweluptun and Graeme Berglund. Lawrence is one of the most famous painters in Canada—a First Nations artist—so it’s a real treat that they’re going to be around. Actually grunt is doing a show of First Nations art as well. So there’s actually some really lovely cross-overs, but that was just luck. I’m really excited about it.

SM: What are you most excited about for this upcoming ROVE?

JS: What’s really cool is this time around, is that if you’re roving around and you have your map, you can go into Brassneck or 33 Acres and get a drink special. And then there’s the after party at 10 pm at the Projection Room, above the Fox.

People just need to go on the website and pick where they want to start. I think you should start at Gene Studios (2414 Main Street), because it’s central.It is an unique experience to see artist’s studios where the work is actually made. The other locations are galleries which is a more traditional way of viewing artwork.

Steven Hubert (on display at Field Contemporary, 17 West Broadway)
Steven Hubert (on display at Field Contemporary, 17 West Broadway)

SM: Do you have any other advice for first-time ROVE-ers?

JS: The event is from 6-10 pm, and you can definitely do it in that time. It’s fun if you start at the beginning, because then you have the full four hours. The breweries are going to get really busy, because it’s Friday night, so I’m encouraging people to actually get out here at 6 and start at Brassneck, even. Most locations are going to have some wine that you can buy. It’s seven galleries, so you can do it all in one night, and you shouldn’t be rushed. And it’s Friday night, which is fun!

SM: Why do you ROVE?

JS: What I like about ROVE are the conversations that happen, because instead of going to one show and seeing that work in one way, you’re going from location to location. It’s really interesting to have a comparative, where you can go and see photography and think, “Why did they take these photos?” and then you can go see a painter. They’re both artists, but why do they work so differently? I’ve heard lots of different things, like, “I really didn’t like that show,” and that’s good to hear, or “That was the best.” I think it’s interesting as artists that we can hear the feedback from people attending—especially from people who don’t always come out. The art scene, especially for opening nights, is a lot of the same people. I like ROVE because it’s a totally different crowd. You get a lot of different people who aren’t necessarily here because of art, but it can often become that. I’ve had people show up to [later] openings because they were there for the first time at ROVE, which is really amazing. We just want more people to come out.

SM: Will all the artists be attending on Friday?

JS: They should be. Definitely at the studios, and then the galleries have asked the artists to come. You’ll [also] meet the gallery owners and curators.

Mira Song (on display at Gene Studios 2412 Main Street)
Mira Song (on display at Gene Studios 2412 Main Street)

SM: What do you look for when you view art yourself?

JS: When viewing art, I think it’s looking at it really open-mindedly and taking it for what it is. But when it’s buying art, it’s just, you see it, and then you just feel something, and that’s really exciting. And I don’t think it matters who it’s by or why it’s there. It’s just those feelings.

I think buying original art is a very important thing for humans. Especially locally, if it inspires you and it’s a special night, I always encourage people to actually—actually—buy it! Because these are the stories you tell people when they come over for dinner, not the ones about the Ikea print.

SM: So all the art will be for sale?

JS: Yeah, it will be, but ROVE is definitely a community event. The hope would be that people would have this experience and want to purchase something, do, because supporting the artists just keeps these things going. But it’s really just about coming out and enjoying. Sales definitely happen, but it’s not the focus.

SM: What would you like to see more of in Vancouver’s art scene?

JS: The galleries here are doing a great job, and they’re showing really quality work, but I’d like to see more events like this that bring people out. I’d like to see an enlivened art scene, not just for people who feel really comfortable in it and go every week. I would just hope that events like ROVE make this possible.


This interview has been edited and condensed.
ROVE takes place May 22 from 6-10 pm in Mount Pleasant. For more information, visit ROVE’s website.


150505_PID-5 YR Poster - smallJoin Poetry Is Dead to celebrate five years of poetry and the launch of their 11th issue “Youth Culture.” Poets and performers will take on the subject of youth culture, from high school to Tiger Beat crushes.

Hosted by: Cynara Geissler & Daniel Zomparelli

Readings, Stand-Up and Performances by: 
Dina Del Bucchia, Sara Bynoe, Kayla Czaga, Cass Keeley, Richard Kemick, Curtis LeBlanc, Poetry Is Dead’s Drag sister Shanda Leer, Geoff Nilson, Shannon Rayne, Mallory Tater, and Alicia Tobin.

When: Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 8:00 pm
Where: Historic Theatre at The Cultch
1895 Venables Street, Vancouver

Tickets: $22.00 (adult) / $19.00 (student)
Tickets available at or at The Cultch box office.

All tickets include a one-year subscription to Poetry Is Dead.

Do you remember being a sweaty kid, sitting around your basement with other sweaty kids watching WWF (Now WWE), trying out sleeper holds on each other until your parents forced you all home? No? Doesn’t matter. That nostalgia will hit you like an elbow drop to the gut when you attend Ring-A-Ding-Dong-Dandy. Comics Graham Clark and Ryan Beil host Ring-A-Ding-Dong-Dandy at the Little Mountain Gallery, just off of Main Street: a show that can only be described as a couple of grown-up kids joking over the weirdest wrestling clips pulled from the internet. After attending a few of these nights, Sad Mag caught up with the hosts to find out more about the event.

Ring A Ding Dong Dandy
Photo by Graham Clark

Sad Mag: If someone was to attend Ring-A-Ding-Dong-Dandy, what could they expect from the evening?

Ryan Beil: A collection of dynamite wrestling clips (curated by Graham Clark) projected on the medium screen with comedic comments sprinkled throughout.

Graham Clark: You can expect to laugh, first and foremost. You can also expect to learn at least one thing about wrestling. It’s Ryan and I providing a running commentary over classic wrestling clips. It’s a gas.

SM: When and why did you two start up this event?

RB: I don’t remember when but I remember why: because it made so much sense.

GC: We started the show a few years ago because both Ryan and I love wrestling. I kind of moved away from watching wrestling, and then when I started again, I realized how much I missed it. Also, after meeting some wrestlers, what stood out to me was how much the wrestling mirrored the comedy world: tough road gigs, little pay, and filled with people who can’t think of a better way to spend their time. The one difference is that these wrestlers live the road life but still have to be in shape. It’s insanity.

SM: Who is your favourite pro wrestler?

RB: Ultimate Warrior cause he’s the Ultimate. RIP.

GC: Oh man, this is a real Sophie’s choice. Hulk Hogan and Bret Hart brought me to wrestling, so they will always have a special place in my heart. As far as gimmicks go, Ravishing Rick Rude was my favourite. He would kiss a special lady he selected from the audience and then she would pass out. He also wore tights with his own face on them. As far as the best when it came to promos, I love me some Jake the Snake.

SM: In a wrestling match against each other, who would win?

RB: Graham. Cause he’d tickle. And he’s stronger.

GC: I would, because I would cheat. I would blind the ref then I would cheat.


Ring-A-Ding-Dong-Dandy is coming up on Wednesday, May 13, 8:30pm at Little Mountain Gallery (195 East 26th Ave). You can follow @_LittleMountain on Twitter to keep up with their events. Or you can catch Graham Clark at the Laugh Gallery, every Monday at Havana’s Theatre on Commercial Drive.

The 5th annual Verses Festival is not a mere celebration of words, but a celebration of voices and viewpoints from poets across Canada. Since undergoing rebranding three years ago, the festival continues to get bigger and better each year. The recent transition has led to a more diversified festival lineup that includes a wealth of spoken word performances, slam poetry events, and poetry workshops spread throughout Vancouver for first timers and seasoned poets alike.

New to the event this year is a curated exhibit of visual poetry entitled That One Thing You Said,  a collaboration with local poetry magazine Poetry Is Dead. Tucked away inside a Latin American restaurant along Commercial Drive, the quaint gallery features works by five Canadian visual poets: Jordan Abel, Dina Del Bucchia, Lindsay Cahill, Helen Hajnoczky, and Eric Schmaltz.

14031994273_c3ca31a947_zThe exhibit blurs the lines between visual art and poetry while taking a closer look at how the role of language has shaped each poet’s worldview and relationships on an interpersonal, social and global level. Some pieces are illegible and undecipherable to the viewer, hinting at the transformative power of language as a tool for communication, or rather, the lack thereof. And isn’t this what poetry, at its core, really achieves? This art form is unique in that it can speak to readers without requiring them to fully understand the context of its symbolic reference points.

At the heart of the festival is the Hullabaloo series, a competitive youth slam that kickstarts the season. Fueled by spirited energy and infectious enthusiasm, aspiring teams engage in friendly interschool competition to see whose school has the best poetic chops and is most deserving of the coveted shark trophy.14012444024_5e7fe8981c_z

According to Hullabaloo Events Coordinator and local Vancouver poet RC Weslowski, it is important for today’s youth to get involved in the poetry scene because these events create situations where young people are validated and listened to in a way that goes beyond being seen as “target markets” for corporations. One of the most pleasant surprises for Weslowski is seeing youth poets surprise themselves with the power of their own wordsrealizing that what they have to say resonates with others, that their work can connect people on a larger scale.  


Get a sneak peek of this year’s festival line up at the Hulla-Verses Remixer opening gala this April 26 at 7:30 pm at the York Theatre.

The Verses Festival of Words runs from April 23 – May 3, 2015. For more information and  a complete schedule of events, visit the festival website.

Sister Spit began in 1997 as a lesbian-feminist spoken word and performance art collective founded by Michelle Tea and Sini Anderson. Since then, Sister Spit has toured North America’s theatres, universities, and festivals, performing at the Casto Street Fair, Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and San Francisco’s LadyFest. Today, the legacy continues with Sister Spit: The Next Generation, a no longer exclusively female continuation of the original collective. Renowned writers and poets hit Vancouver’s Wise Hall on April 14 as part of Sister Spit’s 2015 North America tour.

Sister Spit
Sister Spit North America Tour

Hosts Esther Tung and April Alayon introduced Sister Spit and ran through the preliminaries of the night before passing the mic on to Virgie Tovar. Virgie, ‘a hot fat Latina femme’ writer and activist, M.C.’d the show and broke up the string of poetry with engaging, hilarious and quirky personal stories. An excellent story teller is rare to find, and she has the talent to unearth something sparkling and extraordinary in everyday life situations. Poets Myriam Gurba, Mica Signourney and Tom Cho surprised the audience with the diversity of their styles and their dedication to performance. Each artist was honest and unabashed, able to express their uninhibited thoughts through performance and movement. Sister Spit established a strong sense of community throughout the night; the audience was comprised mostly of friends, family and Commercial Drive locals, and all bathrooms were gender neutral.

The content of the program was generally amazing and, most often, hilarious. Poets’ use of voice, tone, volume, accents, facial expressions, and gestures added so much to their words; it was a completely different experience to watch, rather than read, their work. This is why Sister Spit is so brilliant; it is obvious that these artists belong on stage, sharing what they love and hate and think about the world. Their performances were inspiring, empowering, and educational, wrought with humour and strong opinion.

The next time Sister Spit rolls into Vancouver, I’d like to be there, because I know that this brilliant collective will continue evolving, creating, and finding original ways to express itself to whomever they encounter along the road.

This month, the annual Capture Photography Festival in Vancouver welcomed exhibitions to galleries across the city. The festival focuses on celebrating local and international photography and lens-based art, making it a great way to get acquainted with Vancouver-based art galleries and artists.

The Hadden Park Map Exchange
The Hadden Park Map Exchange

On Friday, I attended the opening reception at Access Gallery for their exhibition Field Studies: Exercises in a Living Landscape. Walking into the gallery space, I was immediately confronted with a dozen maps of Hadden Park, a local park at the north end of Kitsilano Beach. The series of unconventional maps were produced by specialized practitioners and community members as part of the Hadden Park Map Exchange, a project orchestrated by local artists Rebecca Bayer and Laura Kozak. In this “field study,” each practitioner used the same template to organize the park according to his or her own background. Each map highlighted different aspects of the park, ranging from an exploration of the sensory experience of walking through it to a tally of electrosmog emissions in the area. By using identical templates for each map, the artists called attention to the subjectivity of individual interpretation. The collection successfully documented the inventive ways in which our everyday landscape can be experienced and imagined.

by Emilio Sepulveda
The Act of Constructing a Telecommuning Object by Emilio Sepulveda

The next wall housed a video installation by Eden Veaudry, a multi-disciplinary artist based in Vancouver. I watched as the artist’s hands wove together still photographs and tapestries on screen. Next to Veaudry’s work were beautiful weather kites by Emiliano Sepulveda, another Vancouver-based artist originally hailing from Mexico City. His works emphasized the way in which photography operates, documenting everyday landscapes through the interplay of light and colour. Both Veaudry and Sepulveda effectively used the gallery space to create a landscape of their own, allowing viewers to immerse themselves in their own perceptions of the works. Much like the Hadden Park maps, the installations encouraged viewers to develop unique interpretations and perspectives. The eye, these artists remind us, is just another lens with which to “capture” the environment.


Field Studies: Exercises in a Living Landscape takes place at the Access Gallery  until May 23rd. The related Hadden Park Open Field Mapping event will take place on May 9th, followed by and an artist talk on May 23rd.

Capture Photography Festival runs until April 29th. For upcoming events and current exhibitions, visit the festival website.

David Balzer’s thought-provoking new book, Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else (Coach House Press/Pluto Press), explores what it means for the verb “curate” to be adopted by popular culture. Whether liking a friend’s post on Facebook, purchasing a cookbook on Amazon, or interacting with one of Subway’s “sandwich artists,” we’ve all become “curators” of our own identities. And with the advent of the Internet, it seems like we have more power over the choices we make than ever before. But is that really the case? And if everyone is a curator, then what is art? Is there any room left for spontaneous experience?

Balzer tackles these massive existential queries in the pages of his book, and will be exploring them during a talk at Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery on April 10. Sad Mag’s Shannon Tien sat down with Balzer for a sneak peak of Friday’s event.


Shannon Tien: Can you explain how the term “curate” has changed over time?

David Balzer: So there’s the traditional curator who studies art history, gets their PhD, does a museum studies certificate, and then they work in the back rooms of museums with restorers and they’re kind of custodians of art historical works. That isn’t really what I’m interested in.

I’m interested in the contemporary curator. That idea can be traced back all the way to the Roman Empire. The Latin root of “curator” means to care for something. So the curators in the Roman Empire were basically caretakers. Balzer Curationism

The curator has never been easy to define; it’s only nowadays that we think of the curator as a “real” job. So I argue that the curator becomes super contemporary when the curator’s asked not just to care for things, but to give value to them. That happens in the early to mid-20th Century. Then the real birth of the curator in terms of how we understand it happens in the conceptual art movement of the 1960s and 1970s. And at this point, curators are not just giving value to objects, but they’re also performing the value of art. That aspect of performance in curating is the thing I think is kind of key in understanding how curating transitioned from the art world to popular culture.

Basically, using “curate” as a verb—saying that you’re going to “curate” something, or that “I curated a collection of hats”—the Oxford English Dictionary traces that usage back only to the early 1980s. And the usage that they find for their draft edition is from the world of performance art, which I think is really telling. It’s a dance performance at this New York avant-garde space called The Kitchen being written about by The New York Times. From that point on you see the word “to curate” or “curated by” used in the context of dance or music festivals and then by the 1990s, when the contemporary curator becomes a really important part of the institution, that word is used more and more and then the Internet happens and everyone sort of appropriates its use.

ST: When exactly did our own cultural consumption become a curatorial act?

DB: You know the saying in retail, “The customer’s always right”? I think that it’s changed to, “The customer must always feel as if they’re choosing.” When you “curate” something you’re “choosing,” and businesses have really latched onto this as a means of superficially empowering consumers. I think we can pinpoint it in the late 1990s going past Y2K, when all of a sudden we were made to choose a lot as consumers. There’s deep sociological and demographic research that needs to back it up, but generally the Internet has become a fact of life for a lot of people. At the same time there’s a crisis in terms of cultural consumption. In the art world, art institutions are not being funded the way they like, and in other spheres such as book buying, for instance, you’ve got these huge chains emerging in the ‘90s like Borders and Chapters and they just swallow up the little brick and mortar stores. So culture’s getting really homogenized at the same time that everyone’s going online and wondering who they are and interacting with people in a more active and global way than ever before. But whenever I’m talking about “choosing” I’m being a little ironic because I think that the idea of cultural curating is not necessarily the most empowering thing in terms of giving us choice. It kind of provides us with this illusion of choice.

ST: Can you talk about the rise of “normcore,” or the idea that taste is irrelevant because the Internet makes everything available to everyone?

DB: I don’t think the idea of curating would ever become completely obsolete. But what I do argue—and these ideas are present in the work of K-HOLE, the group that birthed the term “normcore,” and they’re present in post-Marxist Italian theory—this idea that we’re online and we’re asked to perform what we like and what our taste is. But people who are thinking about it, who are aware of possibly inhabiting the Matrix or whatever, can easily sense that what we’re doing online is prompted by similar algorithms, and what we like is highly influenced by what other people like. In fact we’re encouraged to like what other people like. When we buy something on Amazon, Amazon tells us what other people bought in addition to what we’re buying as a prompt to see if we might want to buy that too. It’s a bit of disingenuous uniqueness that online curating promotes. And if you think of it for five seconds, you realize that the sorts of choices you’re being asked to make as a social media user are pretty flattening.

ST: Are algorithms robot curators? Are they the future of curating?

DB: Well in a way I think that the algorithm is curatorial but also anti-curatorial. If you program something that can do the choosing for you in a semi-cognisant way, this choosing is only based on what’s been chosen before. But I like the idea that a program can show us that curating is not the most unique or difficult thing that one can engage with. I think that it can really call into serious question our precious notions of what it means to curate. But I also think that a good thing to come out of it would be to bring us back to a more thoughtful meditation on what it actually means to curate or choose. It’s maybe the end point of this discussion where curating has reached such an accelerated moment that now we’re getting computers and software to do it for us.

ST: How has this book affected your own “curationism”?

DB: I think that as someone who as been a critic for a long time, who’s a voracious consumer of film, art, music, literature, and talks about it all the time, I’ve sort of reached a moment, and it was when I was writing the book—and maybe it had to do with a personal element of this [which] was that I just exited a very long term relationship that was very much built around the expression of taste—where I thought, “Why is taste so important? And why am I always trying to perform what I like for everybody? Why does it matter? Isn’t there a better way to engage with culture and show how much it means to me?” So this book maybe represents that existential crisis.


This interview has been condensed and edited. Catch David Balzer at Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery on April 10 at 7 p.m.

Throughout April, bookstores, libraries and publishers in BC are encouraging the public to “Read Local, Buy Local, Think Global” as part of a three-week campaign. Launched by The Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia (ABPBC), Read Local BC features more than 25 free events with local authors throughout the province, including nine fiction, poetry, non-fiction and children’s readings in Vancouver.

In the spirit of Read Local BC, and the sharing of stories, ideas and histories that are bound to transpire between Vancouverites, Megan Jones sat down with Poetry is Dead editor, Can’t Lit podcaster and Davie Street Translations author Daniel Zomparelli to discuss local books, literary events, and why he still chooses to live and write in Vancouver.

Photo by Rob Seebacher

Megan Jones: So many dedicated, award-winning writers call Vancouver home, and many choose to publish locally. Our writing community is stronger and more supportive than ever, it seems. But for someone who’s not a writer or publishing industry expert, it doesn’t always feel that way—readings and book launches have the reputation of being exclusive and even intimidating. How can we involve and include the non-writing public more in Vancouver’s literary scene? Does it even matter?

Daniel Zomparelli: Yes, it does matter. It’s always nice to have people outside the literary community at events, and I’m interested in how to make that happen. For example, we try to create Poetry Is Dead events that get everyone interested [such as the well-attended “Humour Issue” launch, with performances from poets and local comedians]. Does it always work? No, but when it does, it’s a great event. There’s always ways to make readings less intimidating for people outside of the literary community, such as: host it at an interesting venue and have a cash bar. Also, maybe avoid words like “ontological” in your event info.

MJ: Vancouver-born authors often choose to relocate to Toronto or Montreal, where there’s proximity to New York, and comparably cheaper rent (and beer and wine, which is perhaps just as important). Why have you decided to stay in Vancouver?

DZ: I stick to Vancouver for several reasons, but the main reasons are my family and my anxiety. As you’ve pointed out, there’s a great community in this city, and as a result I have a strong support system. Rent and food might be expensive and I might constantly play chicken with my credit card bill, but there is something about being close to the ocean that keeps me calm. Like, at any point if I wanted to, I could just walk out to the ocean and keep going (I basically want to reverse TheLittle Mermaid myself). My friend Alicia Tobin said it best with “I missed my bus stop & got off at the ocean & let the waves of a million years of losses and victories wash over my tired body. Sorry I am late.” (Quote thanks to Rebecca Slaven).

MJ: How does the province of BC – its wilderness, people and cities – inform your work?

DZ: People and how they relate to each other and to nature and the city inspires and informs my work. I’m concerned specifically with happiness in my work, and considering how Vancouverites are sometimes conceived of as “cold,” there’s a lot to work with here. For this reason, I’m looking forward to the Read Local BC event, Roughing It in the Bush, because a lot of the readings will deal with BC’s landscape in unexpected ways. Plus some of the writers are major influences on my own poetics. I’m very excited about this event, which I happen to be hosting!

MJ: What’s one thing about BC’s publishing industry that you love, and what’s one aspect you’d love to see changed?

DZ: I love that work composed and produced in BC is not afraid of specificity. I love writing that explores small town histories, writing unafraid of locating a reader. Small presses within BC make this possible.

If I’m going to be honest about what I’d love to see changed, it would be the choice of author photos in books.

MJ: What local book are you currently reading? What’s your favourite BC book ever?

DZ: I’m reading Leah Horlick’s For Your Own Good. I just finished Matt Rader’s What I Want To Tell Goes Like This. I have said it before and I will say it again: Artificial Cherry by Billeh Nickerson is a fucking delight. If you haven’t purchased a poetry book before, give that one a try. One poem has the word “anal” more times than I’ve said it my entire life, and I’m anal-retentive.

MJ: What’s been your favourite literary event in Vancouver in the past year?

DZ: So far, my favourites are events put on by the Real Vancouver Writers’ Series. I’m obviously biased, since I’ve been a reader, but they always choose a great space and host so many amazing writers, and their events are always jam-packed. Plus, hosts and dreamboats Dina Del Bucchia and Sean Cranbury let me (and others, too) read whatever I want. The audience is always receptive.

I’m also looking forward to the Read Local BC events. Basically all of my favourite writers are reading this month for the campaign, so I’m excited to see what happens at the events, especially An Evolving City with literary super duo Wayde Compton and George Bowering on April 9 at Pulp Fiction.


Read Local BC Events in Vancouver

Writing About First Nations with Jean Barman, Paige Raibmon and Jennifer Kramer
Tuesday, April 7 at 7 pm: Book Warehouse, 4118 Main Street

Three celebrated UBC Press authors discuss their discoveries in research, how writing about First Nations people has changed over time, and the challenges and successes of the process.

An Evolving City: Writing Vancouver’s Past, Present & Future with George Bowering and Wayde Compton
Thursday, April 9 at 7:30 pm: Pulp Fiction, 2422 Main Street, Vancouver

Join two of Canada’s literary heavyweights for a conversation exploring Vancouver’s vast networks of people, streets, and change over time. From the storied streets of East Vancouver in the 1960s to a haunting, speculative vision of the city of glass, these two renowned authors reveal their probing impressions of a beloved yet flawed city.

Roughing it in the Bush Revisited with Jordan Abel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Evelyn Lau, Daphne Marlatt, W.H. New and George Stanley

Wednesday, April 15th at 7:30 pm: Artspeak Gallery, 233 Carrall Street, Vancouver

As big industry and increased construction continues Vancouver’s sprawl into nature, do we give thought to how we invade and modify our own natures through technology? Or to what happens when wilderness creeps back in, reclaiming the crack of a sidewalk or the corner of an abandoned lot? Five Vancouver poets explore the ever-evolving representation of urban and rural spaces in Canadian art. Hosted by poet and Poetry Is Dead editor Daniel Zomparelli.

Secrets, Booze & Rebellion: Vancouver’s Unknown History with Eve Lazarus, Daniel Francis, and Aaron Chapman
Wednesday, April 15 at 7 pm, Lynn Valley Public Library, 1277 Lynn Valley Road

Discover the historical underworld of Vancouver and the adventures that took place in many of the buildings and streets still standing today. Three of the city’s finest historians share its rollicking history, from cops turned robbers, to rum-running entrepreneurs during prohibition, and the glamourous yet naughty history of one of the city’s oldest nightclubs.

Read Local BC Children’s Readings
April 13-18 with various authors and locations


“It’s time for men to step up and play a bigger game,” says Dwayne Klassen from centre stage at the Imperial last weekend. “We must own our authentic masculine power and be Champions to women, heroes to children and brothers to each other.”

In all honesty, I had no idea what to expect from Vancouver’s BIL Conference, an alternative and more accessible spin-off of the increasingly popular TED events. Klassen’s presentation on “Man Champions and Woman Heroes,” was just one of more than 60 to grace the stage at Vancouver’s second ever BIL Conference, which took place March 21 – 22. In under two hours, I watched presentations by a scientist, an entrepreneur, a politician and even an ex-monk. The best part? As a by-donation event, attending BIL was completely affordable.

“Unlike TED, our event is open to the public, widely accessible and fully participant driven. When participants arrive at the venue, they help with the creation of the event from setting up chairs to organizing the day’s schedule and everything in between,” says Michael Cummings, co-founder of BIL. “Everyone at the event actively shapes its outcome. It’s about building community and taking ownership of the event as their own.” Founded in 2007, this “unconference” has been hosted across the globe, in countries as far as Afghanistan, India, England, France, and Tunisia.

The schedule for BIL was as flexible as the admission price; speakers could sign up to participate as late as the day itself. In theory, says Cummings, anyone “knowledgeable or incredibly passionate about a certain topic” could opt to speak. Not that this diminishes the quality of the line-up; Luke Nosek (Founder of Paypal), George Whitesides (CEO of Virgin Galactic) and Blake Mycoskie (TOMS Shoes) are just three former speakers to have participated in a BIL conference. Highlights from this year’s conference include Beauty Night Founder and Executive Director Caroline MacGillivray on building a community around a cause; Green Party candidate Lynne Quarmby on science and activism; and General Fusion Founder Michael Delage on fusion energy.

In February and March, fashion capitals around the world including New York, Milan, London, and Paris hosted prestigious week-long fashion marathons where influential and highly-respected designers showcased their collections for the upcoming fall and winter seasons. It’s a high point of the year for style connoisseurs around the globe.

Although not one of the “big four,” Vancouver also holds a successful fashion week of its own. This year’s show took place from March 16 – 22, marking the 12th year of the Vancouver show. A total of 62 emerging Canadian and international designers gathered to flaunt their fall and winter lines. Included among these talented creators were a handful of Vancouver-based designers who brought a fresh, new outlook for fashion in the city.

Alex S. Yu
Designs by Alex S. Yu

One local standout this year was Alex S. Yu.  Having appeared at Vancouver Fashion Week once before in 2014, Alex is asserting himself as a creative, passionate, and talented local designer. The playful and youthful garments from his brand ALEX S. YU matched the upbeat energy of the room, as attendees cheered and clapped. His innovative use of brightly coloured fabric transformed the modern garments into quirky, attention-grabbing, yet wearable works of art. Alex seems to have found his niche as he continues to create garments that explore the fine line between fantasy and reality.

The youngest and perhaps most audacious designer was Kate Miles. This mere 15 year old travelled from Oregon for the launch of her brand, Kate’s Couture. Her collection astounded the audience; models floated down the runway dressed in romantic, avant-garde wedding gowns. Each and every dress was a treasure in itself, with the detail and precision Kate had poured into it. Sequins, tulle, and velvet were the dominant elements of her work, creating a beautiful juxtaposition between old and new. Kate made great sacrifices to be able to present under the marquis at the Queen Elizabeth Theater, as she reportedly sold her horse and several gowns destined for future college savings to fund her debut appearance.


Vancouver Fashion Week was a great success due to the diverse range of collections. Each designer brought a unique style aesthetic and concept to the table, while remaining true to a common theme of texture. The bold and unconventional concepts displayed throughout the week eliminated the unfashionable Vancouver stereotype of fleece, gore-tex, and yoga pants once and for all!

Swedish director Ruben Östlund isn’t letting us get away with anything. Watching his work, viewers are pushed to examine their weakest moments, to relive their failures and regrets, and to acknowledge themselves as they are—for better or for worse. Best-known for his acclaimed breakthrough feature, Force Majeure (2014), Östlund has directed a variety of films, each challenging, poignant, and darkly funny. This month at The Cinemateque, audiences can experience some of his finest at “In Case of No Emergency,” a retrospective dedicated entirely to the award-winning director.

On the program are four features and two shorts. Highlights include Play (2011), which won a Swedish Oscar for its controversial account of black teenagers harassing white and Asian youths, and Ostlund’s award-winning debut, The Guitar Mongoloid (2004), a story of nonconformity enacted by a non-professional cast.

The grand finale, of course, is Force Majeure, the winner of last year’s Grand Jury Prize at Cannes. Set against the impressive backdrop of the French Alps, Force Majeure is the story of a family torn apart by one man’s irreparable mistake. In this powerful and surprising production, Östlund demonstrates how the consequences of an isolated incident can touch and threaten to destroy the lives of many. Like the very avalanche around which the film is centred, the events of a single moment quickly grow into an awe-striking and all-consuming force of destruction.

In Case of No Emergency: The Films of Ruben Östlund takes place March 12-14, 19-21 at The Cinematheque. Click for details and show times.

There were three experts and then there was me, on the fringe. We huddled in chill February air around a clutch of worksheets made for ranking denim; a scale from 1 to 5, which referred to a host of measures I’d neither heard of before nor would have considered valuable had it crossed my mind. Lined up along the sidewalk, backs to the brick, stood seventeen bold humans, in seventeen pairs of admirably worn-in jeans. It was our job, experts plus me, to judge.

The reason? Gastown’s dutil. Denim runs a yearly “Fade-In Contest,” in which the moderately cultish world of raw denim celebrates fidelity to the jean.

Fade February 2015_7
thanks to Jenn Campbell for all photos

If you don’t wash your raw denim jeans for a year, maybe more, then they will be rank and dutil. Denim will rank them. There were actually a total of seven judges, since dutil. runs an online version of the contest as well. But for our in-store purposes, there were just us four, and I’ll happily admit that I was hopelessly outclassed.

These are men of passionate expertise, whose sartorial acumen is second only to their deep understanding of denim production processes: where the cotton is grown, how the cloth is manufactured and under what conditions the prototype is tested. These are men whose business cards reflect their denim-based ideologies: a penchant for durability, weight and style. Matt Townsend, from Nudie Jeans, David Strong from Freenote Cloth, and Jeffrey Lee from Doublewood Project each came, in their own ways, close to proselytizing, so fervent was their belief in their product.

Mathes, Townsend, Strong and Lee

And why not? If blue jeans are the most democratic of wearables, then these hard-working, sophisticated men were making a claim for inclusivity even as they made clear that raw denim is about one thing, and one thing only: that those who wear it be passionate, too. So passionate, in fact, that the prohibition against washing has been elevated to an art.

Perhaps not democracy, then, but pure meritocracy.

winners of dutil. denim's 'fade in' contest
winners of dutil. denim’s ‘fade in’ contest

For the measure of a perfect pair is contrast, which means preserving that dye—never letting it seep out in the wash—in all the right places, and letting the white of the weft come through in others.

The marks of a perfectly worn-in pair of raw denim jeans? Patterns of wear and preserved dye that attest to the patterns of a body in motion. Honey-combing, behind the knees, from the denim bending and crinkling; whiskering, a kind of starbursting out from the top of the thigh and over the front pockets, which is produced by sitting, bending at the waist, picking up that which has fallen, tying your shoes. There is stacking, marks that form when the jeans are too long and bunch along the ankles, and then there is pocket fade, front or back, in the shape (almost exclusively) of an iPhone.

Fade February 2015_18

The winners walked away with new jeans, c/o the brand sponsors, and I walked away with a sense that, if one means to live a life of strong and passionate ideals, one could do worse that to take up selvedge denim as a symbol of that intention.

Photo Credit: Zed Studio7
Catwalk dream-team, Yuriko Iga and Keiko Boxall. Photo Credit: Zed Studio7

Yuriko Iga is the dreamer behind and founder of BLIM, everyone’s favourite hub of creativity in Chinatown. She curated our #Catwalk launch party, and regularly hosts the lovely BLIM markets around Vancouver. BLIM is undeniably a space that could’ve only originated in the loveliest of brains. This is Yuriko’s take on how BLIM came to exist as it does today, and her goals for moving forward.



1. You were crucial in organizing our fantastic Cat Issue launch party. Could you describe your role for me? What was your favourite part of planning the Catwalk?

I designed and created some of the items, the rest I curated – fashion curator or stylist. Favourite part is putting together the outfits, and choosing the music.


2. Tell me about BLIM. What is it? How would you describe it as an organization?

BLIM is an independent, family-run art and craft facility now located in the heart of Vancouver’s Historic Chinatown. Our aim is to help build community through the spirit of fun and creativity, making the arts and crafts accessible to a wide range of skill sets and aims.

Blim retail consists of unique cosmic apparel handmade and hand printed exclusively by Blim. All product is made in our Blim studio and print shop. We also have a very selective line of vintage and dead stock as well at


3. How long has BLIM been around? How did it come to be?

Since 2003.

[From Blim’s website] Imagined at age 4, Blim founder Yuriko Iga created her imaginary animal kingdom of humanized animals wearing funky clothes called Blim Blim. She kept her imaginary world a secret until her early adult years. She eventually realized that she wanted to share her vision with the rest of the world. She dropped the other Blim and made it one.

Yuriko is very inspired by early 80’s hip hop style, japanese pop aesthetic, avant garde fashion, new wave music, animals, 80’s graphics, candy, and bright colors.


4. What are your goals for BLIM?

1) Maintaining studio and fun workshops for the creatively hungry.
2) Maintaining the shop to serve all your cat, sloth, unicorn, dinosaur, weed, goth, pop, comic, holographic, rainbow, metallic, egyptian, aztec, harajuku, neon, animal needs.


Fashions from the Catwalk: curated by Yuriko Iga and Keiko Boxall. Photo Credit: Lily Ditchburn
Fashions from the Catwalk: curated by Yuriko Iga and Keiko Boxall. Photo Credit: Lily Ditchburn

5. What’s something that people don’t know about BLIM that they should?

35% Blim made, 15 % local artists brands , 25% Japan and Asian import, 10% designer deadstock, 15% vintage, = 100% random awesomeness!


6. Is there a certain culture that BLIM promotes?

Culture from another dimension. That was what someone who came into the shop said and it stuck with me! But in a nutshell, [Blim is] 80’s 90’s hip hop style, japanese street fashion, avant garde fashion, new wave music, cats, dogs, wild cats, unicorns, sloths, dinosaurs, fast food, animals, 80’s graphics, candy, and bright colors, rainbow, Lisa Frank, cult art, comics, cartoons, texture, Marble print, psychedelic art, raver culture.


7. How and when did you start putting together the monthly BLIM markets? We love them.

Since 2003. We used to do them in the penthouse of the old electrical building. The ceiling panels were painted in ornamental stencils, there was a 10x10x10 white cube to display objects or use as gallery. The pong room was black lacquered and house the ping pong table with the same palette. Out of the pong room we served grilled savoury mochi with nori and cheese, vegetarian quejos with avocado and umbeboshi salt, and special shortbread cookies…



You can catch BLIM’s next market at Heritage Hall this Sunday! SAD Mag will be there with our new Cat Issue and discounted subscriptions on sale for $20! 

12–6 PM | at Heritage Hall
Entry by Donation
Scout Mag thinks you should go, and so do we.


Sean Cranbury
Sean Cranbury

Sad Mag sits down with the founder and master of literary “Realness”, Sean Cranbury, about their five year anniversary party this Saturday.


SAD Mag: First of all, congrats on turning 5! We are co-toddlers in this city, also turning 5 this year. Can you tell me a bit about where you were in 2009 and how Real Vancouver started? There are rumors that Real Vancouver was born in a burning building. Is that true?


Sean Cranbury: Thank you for the kind words. In 2009 I was beginning to build projects like Real Vancouver Writers’ Series via my main project Books on the Radio, a radio show, blog, and literary project incubator.


That year (2009) I had created BOTR, helped to plan the first Bookcamp Vancouver Unconference, created the Advent Book Blog, and I also started writing and speaking publicly on things like digital file-sharing, piracy. It was a creative time and I had a certain amount of momentum.
In early 2010, with the Olympics on the doorstep, I helped to create the Real Vancouver Writers’ Series as a response to the Vancouver Cultural Olympiad’s decision to ignore our city’s incredible and world-class literary community with their programming during the games.


Fire with Fire by Isabelle Hayeur
Fire with Fire by Isabelle Hayeur

The original Olympics Editions of the RVWS were held in the Perel Gallery in the W2 Culture and Media House at 112 West Hastings Street. The building was the site for an installation by Quebec artist Isabel Hayeur. The piece was called Fire with Fire and it consisted of a digital projection of flames looping across the windows of the building’s top three floors.

It’s a powerful image and one that reflects the circumstances of our origin.


SM: Give us a snapshot of where you are now:


SC: Real Vancouver is growing but still very much a grassroots, volunteer-based literary reading series. We are now a non-profit society with a Board of Directors that we’re very proud of and who will help to steer the series into the future.
We’re still putting on events with the best writers in the city and we’re still collaborating with the likes of Project Space, Verses Festival of Words, Geist, SAD Mag, and others.

We’re still learning but we’re getting there.


SM: And what’s on your hit list for the next 5 years?


SC: We’re looking at doing unique events and collaborations that draw in other art forms and interesting, perhaps unexpected, venues. We’ll stay true to our roots by supporting emerging writers and more contemporary voices from across genres, schools, and sensibilities, and mixing poetry with non-fiction, fiction, memoir, spoken word, short stories, whatever people who are talented with the language are producing.

We’re going to get better and we’re going to try new things and we’re going to try to change people’s perceptions of what a literary reading can be.


SM: Tell us what we can expect by attending the 5 year anniversary party this Saturday at 434 Columbia.


SC: Good times! You’re going to be in a room full of good music, great writing, and even better people. We’ve got lots of prizes and gifts to give away. We’ve got a special occasion license and we’ll be selling beer and wine. And books. But even those things are beside the point.

We’re going to have a warm room full of great and talented people.

You’ll hear some of the best contemporary writing in the city and country and you’ll get to meet great new friends. It’s going to be an amazing night.


SM: All of your authors at these events are outstanding, but is there one particular reading you are extra excited about?


SC: I’m more interested in the chemistry that we can create on the stage and in the room by curating the placement of the writers throughout the night. Any time you can put put Chris Walter on same stage as Jennica Harper and Jen Sookfong Lee you’ve got yourself an interesting mixture. Sun Belt is a very interesting project and I’m curious to see what they do. I know that Daniel and Dina have something weird and probably ridiculous planned. The roster is stacked. I can’t wait.


SM: In your opinion, what is the single most important thing someone can do to help the literary scene in vancouver become the pinnacle of awesome?


SC: Come out to one of our events, or to any of the other amazing literary events that are currently being put on in Vancouver, and meet writers. Talk to them, listen to them reader their work, buy their books, take them home with you – the writers and the books, I mean.

We want to reduce the distance between the writer and the fan. We want to create a new kind of intimacy in the world of literature and books. Books and writing are very sexy things and we want people to understand and explore that perspective.

Read the books, share them with your friends, get to know the writers. Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Get involved. Treat it like it matters.


SM: What do you do when you’re not working on Real Vancouver?
I work on my radio show, Books on the Radio, and my podcast, The Interruption, which is a collaboration with 49th Shelf. I also freelance as a communications consultant and I advise arts organizations on technology, social media, and stuff like that.

I am also the General Manager of the Storm Crow Tavern where I work with the greatest team in the city.



Hosted by Dina Del Bucchia and Sean Cranbury.
Doors at 7PM. Saturday February 28th.
434 Columbia Street, Chinatown.

$5+ donation PWYC. All funds raised go to paying the writers and supporting future RVWS events. 


Carleigh Baker – indefatigable bookseller, canoeist, confidante of Carrie Brownstein, crafter of memoir.
Jennica Harper – poet, RVWS alumni from the original Olympics Editions, pure sunshine.
Jen Sookfong Lee – novelist, broadcaster, RVWS alumni from the original Olympics Editions, haunter of hospitality suites.
Amber McMillan – poet, islander, friend of many Easterners, our friend, too.
Rachel Rose – Poet Laureate of Vancouver, award-winning poet, essayist, fictionist, literary sh*t disturber.
Sun Belt – experimental literary multi-media project.
Chris Walter – the O.G. of independent authors. Been doing it since before you even thought of it. He wrote East Van, Beer, and I was a Punk Before You Were a Punk. Self-published under GFY Press. RVWS Alumni from the original Olympics Editions.
Daniel Zomparelli – yes, that Daniel Zomparelli. Honcho of Poetry Is Dead Magazine, author of Davie Street Translations. Serial collaborator. RVWS Alumni.


REal Vancouver poster

The Cat Issue, launching February 21st at Make Gallery (257 East 7th Ave)
The Cat Issue, launching February 21st at Make Gallery (257 East 7th Ave

Come celebrate SAD Mag’s latest release: the Cat issue (no. 18), dedicated to our feline friends (somebody had to do it)!

WHEN: Saturday February 21, 2014 from 7:00pm – 10:00pm
WHERE: Make Gallery (257 East 7th Ave)

A 48-page full-colour stunner filled with original art, photography, and stories by Kristin Cheung, Dina Del Bucchia, Ola Volo, and more!

We’ll be kicking things off with a feline-inspired fashion show, curated by Blim and Keiko Boxall, at 9PM. Then we’ll knock your cat-themed socks off with a dance number by the infamous Light Twerkerz dancers ft. MC AutoKrat and DJ Rich Nines. 

Party hosted by Cynara Geissler: writer, editor, book publicist, and fierce defender of the selfie. Cynara is a print enthusiast (in both reading material and frocks) and her closet houses a litter of cat dresses. She co-hosts Fatties on Ice, an independent feminist podcast on pop culture, film, and new media.

Sweet beats by Philip Intile of Mode Moderne
Banner illustrations by Portia Boehm
Poster design by Pamela Rounis
Photography by Lily Ditchburn


CatWalk Banner

Come early to see the magazine & check out the art show (by Ola Volo), stay late for tunes and drinks. This magazine was created through the generous contributions of countless Vancouver artists, writers, photographers, and cat enthusiasts including:


Contributing Writers

Kristin Cheung

Dina Del Bucchia

Alice Fleerackers

Jackie Hoffart

Megan Jenkins

Adrienne Matei

Kaitlin McNabb

Genevieve Anne Michaels

Nina Paula Morenas

Pamela Rounis

Rebecca Slaven

Farah Tozy

Jennifer Truong

Daryn Wright


Contributing Photographers


Jackie Dives

Angela Fama

Robyn Humphreys

Shane Oosterhoff

Sarah Race

Gilly Russell

Rob Seebacher

Katie Stewart

Jennifer Truong


Contributing Artists


Portia Boehm

Kamila Charters-Gabanek * (not placed)

Kristin Cheung

Shannon Hemmett * (not placed)

Andrea Hooge

Roselina Hung

Pascale Laviolette

Coreena Lewis

Jessie McNeil * (not placed)

Aili Meutzner

Sherwin Sullivan Tija

Ola Volo

Carrie Walker


Contributing Stylists


Leigh Eldridge, Makeup Artist

Jenny-Lynn of Oh Hey Style, Hair Stylist

Monika Koch Waber, Stylist


Contributors to


Alexandra Bogren

Cianda Bourrel

Alice Fleerackers

Kyla Jamieson

Megan Jenkins

Shmuel Marmorstein

Lise Monique

Cole Nowicki

Shannon Waters


SADCAST: The SAD Mag Podcast

Jackie Hoffart, Producer, Host, Editor

Stu Popp, Co-Host


Board of Directors

Sean Cranbury

Megan Lau

Mac Lugay
Amanda McCuaig

Amanda Lee Smith

Pamela Sheppard

Daniel Zomparelli


Thank yous

The Cobalt

Lily Ditchburn

Rommy Ghaly

Yuriko Iga of BLIM

Lizzy Karp & Rain City Chronicles


Madeleine Michaels + Luna the Cat

Mr. Diva

Patrick Winkler

Teresa Watling + Enoki the Cat


Bijou, Nico, Frankie, Mr. Darren Lovenstuff, Indy & Eliot


SAD Mag chats with Jamie Smith about her upcoming collab involving 18 local artists, hundreds of anonymous letters and a whole lotta love.


Shannyn Higgins Photography
Shannyn Higgins Photography

SAD Mag: Hi there! So tell us who you are, and a little bit about how the Love Letter Project came to be:


Jamie Smith: I am Jamie Smith. I am an artist myself and I have started getting more involved in creating shows and experiences for people, such as ROVE.  Within this community-based art activity I naturally meet lots of different people, one of them being Fiona McGlynn.

Fiona and I met because we were at a little dinner with a group called Loaded Bow, run by a group of sweet ladies who do lots of interesting things in the city. At the dinner, we all had to share a story and so I shared a confession. I had just finished a project called “Confessions” where I painted different anonymous confessions and so I read someone’s anonymous confession as my story. Fiona read a love letter from someone else–also anonymous—so afterward we both came together and thought, “Ok, who are you and what do you do?” (laughs).


She had started a project and a blog, based on her own experience. She was going through a difficult time and didn’t really have a lot of direction and people gave her all sorts of advice, but a mentor said to her, “Why don’t you stop worrying so much about yourself and instead think about how you might make something better for someone else?” And that clicked, so she thought about her life, and difficulties, and her parents’ divorce when she was young, which was really hard on her. So she decided to write a children’s book, to help kids navigate around divorce. Surprisingly, there are very few books that deal with divorce.


The book is beautifully illustrated, so very kid-friendly, but really about communicating the message: “it’s not your fault.” So this jumpstarted her life in a totally different direction: then she thought, what if I gave people a platform where other people could write letters about an experience they had, but directed at someone else going through a similar problem? So that’s how The Love Letter Project blog, started! Now it’s been a year and there have been over 180 letters from all across the world.


SM: And so are these old-school letters, with pen and papers and coming through the post? Sorry, I’m totally an analog girl over here.


JS: No actually, most of them come through online. That being said, they’ve done different letter-writing parties at a community center and that’s all hand written letter writing. Whether they’re submitted online or in person, the letters are written to help others overcome life’s greatest challenges. Topics cover many areas of life including relationship, loss, self image, illness, and many others. Authors can write anonymously or under their own name. Letters are then posted on where readers can go to find support and encouragement, and be inspired to create change in their lives.


SM: That sounds amazing! What can people expect at the opening tonight at Omega Gallery


JS: What you can expect is a spectacular little event in a cute, small venue that is perfect for an art show/book launch.  The art show includes all of the works which appear in the book, with the letter displayed beside it. Each artist chose a letter that resonated with them and responded to it in a 20 x 20 canvas. If you feel moved to purchase a piece, all of the funds go directly back to the artist and the book sales go back into producing other Love Letter Projects. We’re going to have beer and wine for $5 and cupcakes for $3–then of course all of the art with the letters.



Friday February 6, 2015 from 6:30pm – 10:00pm
Omega Gallery (4290 Dunbar St.)
RSVP here


Contact Information


Love Letter Project  painting by Jamie Smith
Love Letter Project painting by Jamie Smith

The Capture Photography festival is in the works, hitting Vancouver full-swing with a knock-out line-up of photo shows, events, and workshops during the whole month of April. But for now, you can support the festival–and help make is even more amazing–by attending their fancy-pants Capture Photography Festival Annual Fundraiser.

For those who love all things miniature (as much as we do), Capture’s Annual Fundraiser marks the launch of ‘Mini” Artist Editions, while being hosted at the MINI Canada dealership in Yaletown. Along with the chance to go home with a mini photo series, you could also have yourself immortalized in mini-bust form by  local 3D-printing company Tinkerine.

The Tinkerine team will be onsite capturing scans and printing complimentary miniature 3D busts of each attendee. In addition to cocktails and canapés, guests will graze on food and wine from Gotham Steakhouse and premium wines, and have the opportunity to speak with Capture’s participating artists and galleries.

Funds raised go towards Capture’s programming and installations, including major works at the Dal Grauer Substation, Lonsdale Quay, and other public spaces. Tickets for the Annual Fundraiser are on sale now through Eventbrite. Though the ticket prices may not be “mini”, we still think this event is going to be an amazing boost for the photo community in Vancouver.

The Essentials

The 2015 Capture Photography Festival Annual Fundraiser

When: February 5, 2015, 7:30–10:00 pm
Where: MINI Yaletown, 1039 Hamilton Street Vancouver, BC, V6B 5T4
Ticket price: $175


Game Genies getting real

I’m painfully on time for everything, so I arrive at Yuk Yuks for Yo! Vancity Laughs Vol.9  with a friend at 7pm sharp. Which is great, except it turns out that it doesn’t actually start until 8pm. So we grab a seat and chat as we watch the night’s comics filter in.


Two of the comics, who turn out to be the show’s MCs (and who will later transform into their glib hip hop alter egos, Game Genies, complete with literal money bags, a Tupac mask, and a comically large watch that I could have used earlier…) come over and introduce themselves.

Gracious and welcoming, they joke that they want to say hello because, in a minute, we’re going to think they’re “really ignorant.”


And in a minute the show does start, but they don’t start it – because no proper hip hop show starts without a hype man. As I learn the minute the show starts. Then, once we’re all hyped up, Game Genies take the stage.


“If you’re here tonight this means you must love comedy, and you must love hip hop,” they exclaim. “Who is your all time favourite hip hop artist?”


With their pick of people who look like they hail from Kitsilano, they choose a young woman who doesn’t manage to dart her eyes away fast enough.


“I like musicals?” She says, in the kind of adorable upspeak that gets the other guy the job.


But the hosts are charming and adept at loosening up a crowd, and the diverse pool of talented comics doesn’t hurt, either: Devon Alexander, Kwasi Thomas, Jonny Paul (who is never more charming than in those improvisational moments brought on by “helpful” audience members), Brendan Bourque, and headliner, Patrick Maliha (who does one dope urban impression that is as natural as me typing dope – but it was hilarious).


By the end, the audience is as comfortable screaming “How old school iz you” as they are asking if that loaf of bread is gluten free. The only thing the show was wrong about is that you have to love hip hop to have a great time – you don’t. You just have to love comedy and let yourself get swept up in the hype.


For information about upcoming shows, visit:

The annual Blim Holiday Market is back! Join us and 48 local vendors at the Fox Cabaret on Saturday December 20th from 12 – 5pm for shopping, snacks, and Santa Garfield.


The Blim holiday market is the place to be, even if you’ve managed to finish your holiday shopping in November like a champ – it’s a cozy, intimate gathering of some of Vancouver’s most thoughtful and talented creators and collectors. You can expect handmade accessories, jewelry, vintage clothes and knick knacks, cards, gifts, and sweets to be abound amidst the glorious glow of the Santa Garfield photobooth.


There’ll be hot food prepared in-house by Japanese cook Open Sesame, and two free raffle draws at 2pm and 4pm. We’ll also be there selling back issue magazines, subscriptions, and gift packs at a discount! Feel free to swing by for a hang out or a high five.


As per usual, our vendors are going to be on top of their game. Here’s three to peruse:

Sleepless Mindz
Sleepless Mindz

Sleepless Mindz will be selling short- and long-sleeve T-shirts, denim jackets, denim shorts, and bandanas. Some of them are reversible, some of them are patched, and all of them are awesome.


Rachel Rainbow will be attending, selling accessories and jewelry! Shrink-plastic geometric unicorn earrings, tassels, and necklaces. Rachel Rainbow is grounded in whimsy, nostalgia, and fanciful colours, and as described by Rachel, is created for pretending.


Aomori Workshop will be on site with natural body soaps, shampoo bars, chapsticks and more. From ginger to australian coral, these handmade goods are perfect to check off the rest of the friends on your gift list. Everything is reasonably priced and smells delicious. Aomori also takes orders for bridal showers, weddings, and other events.


To find out more about the Blim Holiday Market, follow @blimblimblim and hashtag #blimmarket on Twitter. Admission is by donation.


Adjustable Strand Ring by Heavy Meadow
Adjustable Strand Ring by Heavy Meadow

It’s here! The first of two Blim Markets before the end of the year. Blim Markets are famous for offering a cozy, handmade treasure-trove of the sweetest Christmas, birthday, and just-because gifts you can find at a craft market in Vancouver. Between 12 and 6pm, Heritage Hall will be packed with things like lovingly crafted stationery, jewelry, apparel and a few owls, foxes, and your other favourite hinterland creatures.

We’re really excited about our vendors! Here are a few that’ll be attending:


Ora Cogan will be hanging out, selling her hand-cut, polished, sterling silver jewelry. Heavy Meadow jewelry is inspired by the natural, the supernatural, and the interconnectedness of things. No two pieces are the same, making each of the minimalistic designs unique to the person that purchases it – perfect for the friend that deserves a gift but already has everything in your price range. On Ora’s table, you’ll find scalene triangle and tetrahedon necklaces, triangle studs, and flawlessly constructed stackable and knuckle rings.


Mortimer Gravely will be set up and selling infusion kits! Gravely and Sons kits are sold with a high quality 500mL swing top bottle, “pre-filled with the perfect mixture of dried botanicals” and detailed instructions to infuse your regular post-work libation into something beautiful. Elderberry, lavender, spike and pathogin infusion kits will pair perfectly with the vodka or rum (or any neutral spirit) of your choice. Gravely and Sons also tries to send a unique recipe card with every purchase. Pick some up for your next gathering!


English Lavender by Product of Science and Art
English Lavender by Product of Science and Art

A Product of Science & Art combines high quality ingredients with affordable pricing to make their fresh formulas available to everyone. They pride themselves on reviving the classic practice of soap making in the face of a skincare market chock full of low quality attempts at grabbing a few dollars. Each product is handmade in Canada, and each small batch is subjected to rigorous quality control. PSA produces 100% natural products, and tries to use organic ingredients whenever possible, sold in recyclable and compostable packaging. When you wander over to PSA’s table, you can expect to find formulas like local oatmeal, lavender, and bay rum, to name a few!


Last but not least – yours truly will also be set up with a whole whack of mags, subscriptions, and gift packs! Pick up a copy of the Suburbia Issue for $10, back issues for $5, and gift certificates for Christmas subscriptions for $20, and past issue gift packs. We’ll also have live painting by Mettlelurgy (!!), and open edition prints from our upcoming Cat Issue by the lovely and talented Roselina Hung. For each one of these prints purchased before the end of the year, Roselina will be donating $5 to the BCSPCA.


Come hang out! Free high fives!


12 – 6pm at Main x 15th in the Heritage Hall on November 23rd. Be there!



This Halloweekend we’re gonna party like it’s 1995. No doubt, it’ll be the sweetest escape of the month.

Don your plaid pants, suspenders, crop tops, corn rows and wallet chains and join us at the Cobalt where her Blondness, Shanda Leer, will host an evening of skankable, rock-steady pop hits.

Beats by DJ G Luv and Kasey Riot, and special drag performances by Jane SmokerLeroy Wan and Bust Sass!

Want to perform your own Gwenny Gwen Gwen impression? Hollaback at with your song pick.

Saturday, November 1 at The Cobalt, 917 Main St, Vancouver
Doors at 9pm, show starts promptly at 11:00pm

Cover $10 before 10pm and $12 after .
$8 in advance through Eventbrite. What you waiting for?

TEDx Vancouver is here this Saturday October 18th for your mind-expanding pleasure.  Inspired by the infamous TED talks, TEDx is a program of self-organized events that bring together a diverse group of people in the spirit of “ideas worth sharing”. Rest assured that TEDx is not akin to a little brother desperately aspiring to be like his pimple-faced older brother. TEDx Vancouver is in its fifth iteration and is proving to be the largest TEDx to ever hit Vancouver.


The folks at Sad Mag are stoked to hear an incredible line-up of speakers including sexologist Dr. Jessica O’Reilly on the commandments in the New Sex Bible (2014), Victor Chan on coming face to face with the Dali Lama, and Lesley Kim on loosing an eye to Halloween firecrackers. Even though the conference itself is stacked with 12 speakers, TEDx is also dedicated to sharing the stage with 13 different performance groups, including a 30-person Indie Rock choir, The Kingsgate Chorus, hailing from East Vancouver. Please take a look at the soprano section for a gander at Pamela Rounis, Sad Mag’s Lead Designer and the reason our new Suburbia issue will blow your mind.


Considering this line-up, the theme of this year’s TEDx is “Tilt” or the notion of changing perspectives, altering experiences, and launching outside of your comfort zone. To assist the common Vancouverite in this task, the TEDx menu is stacked with exotic exoskeleton-riddled salads where a “bug bar” awaits you. Hopefully this won’t tilt and sway your belly in the bad way. Make sure you take a peek at #TEDvan to see what the buzz is about. Oh! Punny!


Tickets to TEDx are $99 and available here.TEDxVancouver 2012



Get your high kicks ready—it’s going to be a exciting night.

Come out and get your hands on the latest (DOUBLE!!) issue of Sad Mag featuring interviews with the Jealous Curator, Michael Hingston, Adbusters founder, Kalle Lasn, and RAFFI (yes, your favourite childhood rockstar). 

The event takes place THIS Saturday, October 4 at Make Gallery (257 East 7th Ave) from 7pm. Come and look at some art, conversate with some beautiful people, and drink some drinks.

Also, this is your chance to celebrate the Vancouver Art/Book Fair–which is pretty much one of the coolest book fairs you could ever go to. Spend your day at the Vancouver Art Gallery and your night with us at Make Gallery. 

Music by DJ Cherchez La Femme

Delicious beer by The Red Truck

Stylish double issue by Sad Mag! (That’s us!)

Need more details? Check out the Facebook event.




Contributing Writers

Claire Atkin
Portia Boehm
Rachel Burns
Colin Cej
Adam Cristobal
Sara Harowitz
Landon Hoyt
Phil Intile
Carmen Mathes
Murray Mckenzie
Kristine Sostar McLellan
Kaitlin McNabb
Genevieve Michaels
Michelle Reid
Katie Stewart
April Thompson
Farah Tozy
Daryn Wright

Contributing Artists
Colin Cej
Adam Cristobal
Douglas Coupland
Jeff Dywelska
Dana Kearley
Carmen Mathes
Amanda McCuaig
Pamela Rounis
Shelley Stefan

Contributing Photographers
Victor Anthony
Megan-Magdalena Bourne
Sylvana D’Angelo
Lily Ditchburn
Angela Fama
Rommy Ghaly
Kerria Gray
Jackie Hoffart
Robyn Humphreys
Brian Lye
Jennilee Marigomen
Ryan Ming
Michelle Reid
Pamela Rounis
Katie Stewart
Daryn Wright

You know we love books, you know we love art, so it only makes sense that we’re hosting the official after party for the Vancouver Art/Book Fair this October. Coinciding with the launch of our Suburbia issue, come on out to Make. Studios on October 4th from 7-10pm. There will be music, there will be beer, there will be beautiful people, and there will most definitely be a stylish double issue of Sad Mag. Oh, and celebrations too.


Art + books = match made in Sad Mag Heaven.
Art + books = match made in Sad Mag Heaven.

What’s this Art/Book Fair all about?

Free and open to the public, the Vancouver Art/Book Fair is the only international art book fair in Canada and one of only two on the West Coast. In 2014 the event launches with a Members Preview on October 3 from 6–8pm and takes place on October 4 and 5 from 12pm to 5pm. It is anticipated to attract over 1,500 visitors from across the Greater Vancouver Area and beyond.

Who organized this supreme sounding event?

Presented by Project Space, VA/BF is a two-day festival of artists’ publishing featuring nearly one hundred local, national and international publishers, as well as a diverse line-up of programs, performances and installations. Featured artists travel to Vancouver from across Canada and the globe, and produce everything from books, magazines, zines and printed ephemera to digital, performative or other experimental forms of publication.

Details of the issue launch are as follows—

  • What: Suburbia (double) issue launch + Vancouver/Art Book Fair after party
  • Where: Make Studios, 257 East 7th Ave., Vancouver
  • When: October 4, 2014 from 7-10pm
  • Why: Art, books, magazine, beauty
  • Who: You, duh.
  • RSVP: Of course, right here

Enjoy the Fair and then, of course, enjoy the party with us Sad Maggers! More details can be found on our Facebook page, so invite all y’all friends and join us for an autumnal (no festive gourds guaranteed).

Don't miss this designers next show. F'real.
Don’t miss this designers next show. F’real.

After all the success from completing the 68 lb. Challenge at Eco Fashion Week back in April, Sad Mag friend Evan Ducharme has invited us to witness his very first liberating collection ICONOCLAST, where everything—from music to venue—has been designed by Evan. This VCAD alumni has been featured in Fashion Night Out Vancouver with his collection Crepuscule, as well as Eco-Fashion Week with his collection Belladonna; both lines received immense positive feedback. I have no doubt in my mind that his upcoming Made to Measure runway show on Friday August 22nd at East Van Studios will be stunning. I had a chance to chat with Evan before the big day.

SAD MAG: What should we expect on Friday August 22nd? 

EVAN DUCHARME: This season I started with an approach to Prohibition-era mechanicism. I merged a dystopian society with 1920s-30s silhouettes in the style of the silent film Metropolis. The narrative compares the cataclysmic decline in Metropolis to Sunset Boulevard’s Norma Desmond and her descent into madness as she clings desperately to her sinking film career. The collection consists of 10 looks for the womenswear and unisex markets.

SM: What three words would you use to describe this new collection?

ED: Industrial. Streamlined. Elegant.

SM: How excited are you to showcase all of your hard work?

ED: Very! It’s my first solo presentation, having full control of the environment and mood is a privilege. I’m blessed to have a great team of people alongside me to help bring my vision to the catwalk; I hope it’s well received.

Check out more info about Evan on Twitter or Facebook.

It’s fair to assume that the majority of people in Vancouver like being outside during the summer. Besides being an ideal time to appreciate the city’s many outdoor amenities, the summer also happens to be a wonderfully generous time in the sense of yielding opportunities to appreciate local artwork. Each of these warrant our support and appreciation I would argue (and I encourage you to investigate as many as you have occasion to), but one such opportunity is perhaps in particular worth getting excited about. That is, the currently debuting ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ exhibition, showing from now until September 7th at the Ayden Gallery (88 W. Pender St., Suite #2103).

Pandora’s own work hanging above onlookers at the Ayden. Image: Ayden Gallery

Billed as a visual exploration of pleasure, the exhibit showcases an impressive range of original illustrative works independently conceived and curated by eight local female artists of varying artistic backgrounds. The combined collection aims to evidence a diversity of different artistic meditations on the topic, and can be expected to offer an intriguing look at some of the impressive works to recently emanate from Vancouver’s emerging class of enterprising young female artists.

Over the weekend I caught up with the chief curator of the exhibition, Pandora Young, to quickly glean from her some further details about the show.

Sad Mag: Right—so if you don’t object, we’ll start by briefly treading over some biographical details, then from there we can proceed with more inquiring questions concerning the artwork you’ll be exhibiting along with your peers at the Midsummer Night’s Dream exhibition. I gather that you’re a graduate of Emily Carr University and that you currently work and reside here in Vancouver; aside from those details however, I can’t speak much to your background. Can you tell me where you’re from?

Pandora Young: I was born in Victoria, British Columbia, and enjoyed an unorthodox upbringing. When I was young my parents brought me along to nude beaches, Star Trek conventions, Renaissance fairs. I grew up among Klingons and Vikings, suspended between 1500 and 2500. The period I was least adjusted to was that in the middle.

SM: What school(s) did you attend here and/or elsewhere? Were you enrolled in a specific program, or concerned with any particular area of focus?

PY: I spent a year in Japan as an exchange student at 16 due to, as my mother might have put it, an unhealthy preoccupation with the Japanimé. Immersion into such an illustratively versed and illustratively permeated culture was thoroughly enriching. I can’t think of a time when I was more ravenously, feverishly, ragingly inspired. I was surrounded by things that were so devastatingly cool to a teenaged kid, I knew what I thought was sick and what I exactly wanted to make, and I couldn’t draw fast enough to get it all out.

I spent two years at the University of Victoria in my early twenties, majoring in Anthropology, and studying linguistics, history, archeology, comparative religions, and more. Basically if it was a science you wouldn’t get paid for, I was there. In the end, I felt that Anthropology was too academic, though methodized as it needed to be, and ironically lost touch with the very humanity it studied. That in part led me to finally pursue art as more than a hobby, and to find a livelihood where humanity not only has space, but is requisite.

SM: You previously mentioned that ‘A Mid Summer Night’s Dream’ has an artistic lineage that to some extent dates back to your involvement with Rain City Illustration a couple of years back. Can you explain to me what Rain City Illustration was and or is, and clarify the specific nature of your involvement with it?

PY: A few years back, Emily Carr introduced a small new major, Illustration, anticipating little interest. They received well over a hundred applications for around two-dozen spots. Rain City Illustration was created as a space for the tremendous amount of passion we were made aware existed within the student community.

My involvement began when I took on manning their social media channels. In their third year I became president for the group. By that point we were the largest student group on campus with well over a hundred members. It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been part of. I was posited at the nexus of the numerous individual practices that bled into illustration, helping them communicate and cross pollinate, and from the vantage that hub provided the view was ceaselessly inspiring. Where others might only be witness to their own departments, entrenched in our own work as we often become, I saw unquantifiable creation happening in parallel, everyday. Over a hundred artists, each with their own heritage of media and method, all growing and evolving around me. I can’t imagine how a career professor of art isn’t overwhelmed by it.

Jane Q Cheng showcases her art. Image: Ayden Gallery
Jane Q Cheng showcases her art. Image: Ayden Gallery

SM: It’s been a few years since you ran Rain City Illustration, and now your expertise are being solicited to host and curate an exhibition at the Ayden Gallery. Can you explain to me what the show—‘A Mid Summer Night’s Dream—is about, and detail to me the exact capacity in which you are involved?

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a visual exploration of pleasure. Each of us, myself and the seven other women involved, we’re given the theme, and will bring back our own interpretations. I was asked to curate a show by Ayden Gallery, and it was a real fantasy come true for me as I’d often day dreamed what my perfect roster of favorite artists would be.

SM: What would you identify as the primary intellectual and artistic inspirations for the show?

We wanted to take pleasure and turn it over and over in our hands, investigate it. It seems like such a simple thing, but it’s so inalienably intertwined with pain, with drive, with creation, with mistake, with loss. It’s possibly the second most basic and universal impetus after feeding one’s self. […] Escaping poverty of pleasure, is the drive behind just about anything you can name; why human beings migrate to unknown continents, why one empire takes from another, the motive behind why human beings strive to do just about anything we do. It can also be the thing that hurts us the most, as the Buddha would tell us. The Greeks venerated Melpomene as the goddess of celebration and despair. So obviously there is a rich conversation there, and at its heart is an anthropological body of work we are creating.

SM: What does ‘pleasure’—the underlying conceptual focus of this exhibition—mean to you, and how has that interpretation of pleasure informed your own art submissions?

My own take on pleasure has been a darker one. I feel like, with the struggles in my life, I’ve had nine parts pain to every one pleasure. And yet, there’s been pleasure in that too. That string quartet quality of sublime heartbreak, the clean, perfect beauty of bottom of the pit sorrow, of harrowing pain. There’s something exquisite even in wretchedness. The very best love songs come from heartbreak, and poetry. Our humanity is universalized through it. I count myself lucky to be the kind of artist who thrives from this, because these are the inevitable aspects of life. I’ve always been one whose sails are filled by pain. I suppose you could call me a masochist. I tend to think of it simply as having a refined palette for a certain bitter wine.

SM: In what sense(s) are your submissions cohesive with those of the other contributing participants? Do your works share many similarities besides their common topical focus, or do they demonstrate a fairly wide range of aesthetic tastes and techniques?

In truth, I’ve yet to actually see. There’s a wide range of specializations involved: two oil painters, several illustrators, and a print maker. We’ve shared progress shots with one another, but each woman has worked from her respective studio, and the day of hanging was like opening a present on Christmas morning for me.

SM: Do you have any discernable tendencies in terms of where and when you like to practice art?

At home, in total solitude.

SM: Right—ok so before we wrap this up, I have left just a few slightly more personal questions concerning your life, and your aspirations and interests outside and beyond this particular exhibit we’ve been discussing. Have you in mind any plans for after the conclusion of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’? Are there yet any other projects you’re planning or working on that we can look forward to?

I have an upcoming show in January with Vancouver artist Nomi Chi at Hot Art Wet City that I’m really excited for. There is no theme, and for the first time in ages I won’t have to work around school projects, which means I can finally attend to the list of ideas I’ve forever wanted to explore—in my mind, that list is something like an old tattered papyrus scroll which unfurls comically across the floor and out the exit.

Tina Yan's pieces mix realism with bold colour and pattern. Image: Ayden Gallery
Tina Yan’s pieces mix realism with bold colour and pattern. Image: Ayden Gallery

Q. What are some of your interests besides art?

Sudoku. History. Science. Languages.

SM: Are there certain artists/people/things from who/which you derive most inspiration?

[…] I love Schiele, Klimt, Ingre, Rackham, Dulac, Dore, Parrish. I cannot express enough love for the work of Norman Rockwell, whose works timelessly bring a tear to the eye and tell an entire story in an image. I think Canadian artist Kate Beaton is a genius beyond measure. I love Brad Kunkle, Vania, Yoshitaka Amano, Katsuhiro Otomo, Sachin Teng, Jeff Simpson, my teacher Justin Novak, Yoann Lossel, Michael Carson—Just to name a few! And of course, all the ladies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream!

Q. Lastly, who, if anyone, would you identify as your hero or role model?

My personal hero is Sponge Bob. Yes, seriously. He is enthusiastic, caring, thoughtful, eager to excel at his profession, loves his friends, and is insurmountably sincere.

A Midsummer’s Night Dream runs from now until September 7th at the Ayden Gallery (88 W. Pender St, Suite #2103) For more information about the show and its featured artists click here. 

Samuel Lange as “Junior”

Imagine that every day of your life is a bad hair day. You’re a nine-year-old dreamer, living in the hostile city of Caracas with your recently widowed mother and baby brother. You’re poor, rejected, and decidedly “different” from the other kids. Add a possible identity crisis into the mix, and you’re beginning to understand what it means to be Junior, the star of Mariana Rondón’s award-winning Pelo Malo (“Bad Hair”), now playing at Vancouver’s Queer Film Festival.

The plot is simple: a new school year is around the corner and Junior must decide how he wants to take his class head shot. Will he don the socially respectable button-down and trousers, or the flashy, straight-haired singers’ getup he dearly longs for? Making things harder, Junior’s singer fantasy is complicated by his impossibly curly mop of “pelo malo” that won’t lie flat no matter what he does, his family’s inability to pay for the photo shoot, and most importantly, his mother’s insistence that Junior start acting more like one of the other boys.

Torn between winning his mother’s love and honouring his own sense of self, our young hero’s choice becomes the audience’s own. Forced to examine our own lives under the lens, we wonder what our head shots say about us. What costumes have we put on? What roles are we playing? And what have we given up to become who we are? Prompting questions of identity and gender, love and suffering, survival and responsibility, one little boy’s snapshot thus becomes a tool for seeing the bigger picture.

Missed the showing? Pelo Malo will be playing again at The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival on August 29 (7 pm) and September 7 (3 pm) at The Cinemateque.

Click here to check out the other films playing at this year’s Queer Film Festival.

Performing in tonight's QSong, the insatiable Leroy Wan (Love-bots not pictured). Photo by
Performing in tonight’s QSong, the insatiable Leroy Wan. Photo by


Haircuts, seeds, and electricity: three topics I hadn’t expected to cover during last night’s interview about Queer Songwriters of a New Generation (QSONG), the song writing workshop debuting at this year’s Queer Arts Festival in Vancouver. Sarah Wheeler, one of two artists leading the project, tells me I should have seen it coming. I’m interviewing with a group of aspiring song-writers, after all; a few rogue metaphors are only to be expected.

Over the past 16-weeks, Wheeler and her co-mentor Melissa Endean have been leading free weekly drop-in sessions where queer, trans, and allied youth learned to write, record, and perform music professionally. As part of the workshop, students worked intensively with top professionals in their industry to develop their technical skills, creativity, and artistic confidence. By building lasting relationships with established queer songwriters like Wheeler and Endean, QSONG offered students a non-prejudicial space to grow as artists. For queer youth, student Vi Levitt explains, this is hugely important. “That kind of space,” Levitt feels, “doesn’t really exist for queer artists outside of situations like this.” Student Jude Bartlett agrees. “It’s a very open, supportive community,” she says, “everybody here stands on a common ground.”

Wrapping up the workshop, students will be headlining at tonight’s QAF closing party, Loud and Queer. When I ask what to expect from the show, Wheeler, Levitt, and Bartlett are unanimous: “It’s going to be amazing,” says Wheeler. “But, that’s performing,” she explains, “what makes you bullied in life makes you awesome on stage.”




See QSong performances at Loud & Queer, The Queer Arts Festival Closing Gala

Date: Saturday August 9, 2014
Time: 7:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Venue: Yaletown Roundhouse
Cost: $5 – $10 suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds



Break out the swan dress! On Saturday August 16th, Sad Mag and Electric Circus present: Bjork versus Robyn Nordic-goddess showdown!

Featuring a drag show (!!!!) there will be performances by Tran ÀPus RexVera WayLeroy Wan and more! 

Sweet beats by DJ Ruggedly Handsome and your regular EC hotties!

The Cobalt, 917 Main Street, Vancouver, BC
Doors at 9pm, Drag Show at 10pm (come early, the line’s always long)
Tickets $10 at the door / $8 in advance


Don’t stay at home dancing on your own (but feel free to tell your girlfriend).

Every year a little festival comes to town. Though it’s not as big as some of the music festivals that draw crowds in the tens of thousands, it has a lot of heart. This year, the Queer Arts Festival (QAF) brings the same spirit to Vancouver as it has the years prior.

In it’s sixth year, QAF features a curated visual arts show, a community art show, and three weeks of performances and workshops from all artistic disciplines, including music, dance, theatre, literary, and media arts.

Scroll through the list below to see what you expect and what you need to attend. Click each image to find out more details about each event.

QAF 2014: Must-Sees

By Sad Magazine

What’s tickling your fancy? There so many events to see, we’ve narrowed it down to a few you have to catch over this three week festival. 

  • Ongoing – X

    By Sad Magazine

    With the tagline of "Ever seen a drunk puppet?" we are both intrigued and already chuckling at this one man show. 

  • July 25 – Colin Tilney Celebrates LXXX

    By Sad Magazine

    A keyboardist with chops beyond your wildest imagination, Colin Tilney, in partnership with the Vancouver Early Music Festival, will tickle the ivory and your ears with this performance.

  • July 23-August 9 – Queering the International

    By Sad Magazine

    An arts fest without a visual arts exhibit? Don’t be silly. This exhibit curated brings together works by queer artists who creatively expand possibilities of how to be Queer in the Large World. 

  • July 31 – Alien Sex: A Gala(xy) Fundraiser

    By Sad Magazine

    An innovative multi-generational and multi-genre collab between artists, this fundraiser for the festival is a must. Prizes for best dressed queer aliens are only PART of the incentive. 


Find the full schedule here.

You can also find out more about the festival and organizers, the Pride in Art Society, here.

Screen Shot 2014-07-22 at 11.25.32 AM

We’re gonna push it, push it good, with the biggest, baddest Diva Showdown to date.

TLC takes on Salt-N-Pepa in a drag battle of ’90s street-wear and pop-hip-hop that will make you wanna talk about sex, baby.

Drag show starts at 10pm sharp with performances by Celestial Seasons, Jadis Vanity and Fly Girl, followed by sweet beats at the mercy of DJ Nancy Dru, DJ Ruggedly Handsome and your regular Electric Circus all-stars!

The Cobalt, 917 Main Street, Vancouver, BC
Doors at 9pm, Drag Show at 10pm (come early, the line’s always long)
Tickets $10 at the door / $9 in advance


Come on, you know you wanna shoop.

Get yer moustache on and head down to the Fox Cabaret for the Official After Party for East-Side Pride, hosted by sexy-town residents Tran Apus Rex and Shanda Leer!

1 ticket = 2 queer dance parties: Freddie Mercury MAN-GLAM Dance party + ROUGH TRADE

Entertainment includes:

Freddie Mercury drag show!

DJ Ruggedly Handsome
DJ Bella Lugosie
DJ Jef Leppard
DJ Daniel Pitout

Moustache photo-booth! BYOM (just kidding, we’ll have them)

Tickets $12 at the door or $10 in advance. RSVP and get your tickets right here.

We have to admit we were warned. The chatter around Mo Wave’s main venue, Chop Suey, was awash with promises of filth and butt-holes from Headliner, Christeene. Hailing from Austin, Texas, Christeene is equal parts musician and performance artist with a penchant for mixing precise choreography with sloppy raunch. Even before Christeene was paraded onstage draped over the shoulders of her masked back-up dancers, the stage set-up (consisting of 6 tiny water bottles and toilet paper rolls) was a fairly accurate indication that shit was gonna get filthy.

Christeene at ‘Mo Wave 2014

And while photos of Christeene display a striking trans woman with long black locks matted together with sweat, smeared mascara, and a random application of lipstick across her lips and chin, it didn’t quite prepare us for our first sight of the artist: ass-first, with a cluster of helium balloons tied to a butt plug graciously wedged in her asshole.

Think Bambibot meets Bloody Betty plus more butt-holes than the House of Commons.

Sad Mag had a chance to sit down with Christeene before the show (and before—in what seemed to be a moment of sincere connection between performer and audience member—bitch spat in our face).

Where are you from, and how long have you been play­ing together?

What draws you to ‘Mo-Wave?

What do you think can be done to make more stages for queer artists?

Christeene will be performing on April 26th in Austin,TX as part of the FUSEBOX FESTIVAL. You can read more about Christeene Vale here:

Ballet BC dancer Racheal Prince_ Photo Michael Slobodian

If you were among the many doing pirouettes of grief that you missed the three-day run of last winter’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, there’s still time to catch the ballet one more time this season.

Ballet BC’s 2013/14 season closer, UN/A runs April 24–26, 2014, at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre. It marks the premiere of three brand new works by three international choreographers: vibrant new voices from Spain, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano and Cayetano Soto, and Montreal’s award-winning Gioconda Barbuto, who returns to Ballet BC with a full-company commission with music by Gabriel Prokofiev.

Visit for details and purchase tickets ($22.25 to $70.00) through Ticketmaster.

Sitting down with Alex Waber and Lynol Lui, friends of Sad Mag and skilled photographers, was quite an adventure. Discussing everything from selfies to country music, this unstoppable duo is on their way to success in the photography world. With various similarities and an abundance of differences in their art, they’re definitely going to make their Fashion No.1 Photography Show diverse and unforgettable. 

FN1_Postcard_print-02Sad Mag: Tell us about yourselves.

Alex Waber: My dad was a photographer, so when I was really young, he gave me cameras to play with. I learned on film, which was good because I learned to focus on something; granted at the time there were lots of photos of my dog and toys. My fascination with photography turned into a fascination with video in high school. I went to Capilano College for cinematography and worked in the cinematography industry doing safety videos, like “why you don’t wear ear buds when you’re working.” Ultimately I learned I didn’t like film because there are too many people and egos involved, and the hours were crazy. I ended up taking a step back into photography since there is so much more freedom in photography.

Lynol Lui: I did my undergraduate degree at the University of Lethbridge, where I came from. I started out doing fine arts, mainly drawing, then I got into photography through my sister and her partner at the time. They were based in Hong Kong, so I was fortunate enough to take a trip out there during my second year of university. They got me my first professional camera and her partner let me do my first shoot. All he said was “have fun,” and I just started firing away. I was so nervous, but that was my very first publication. That’s when I fell in love with photography and started to mend it with my drawings.

SM: What kind of set up do you prefer (music, tea etc.) when you’re photographing or editing?

AW: Music is crucial. Aside from country and hip-hop, I listen to everything else. I’m really into ambient noise right now. Through the editorial shoot I did for Sad Mag, I got wrapped up in the scene of experimental noises. It’s probably made a shift in my fashion photography. Before, I was inclined towards certain shapes, now I’m becoming more abstract. I can do my work on the bus, at a café, or at home, as long as I have my music to keep me in the zone.

LL: It’s interesting how influential music is. I always put hip-hop on, grab a coffee, sit in my office and I’ll literally be working for eight hours straight. When I’m doing a shoot, I like more of an intimacy of just the model and me. If someone else is there, she might feel uncomfortable.


SM: Do you prefer film or digital photography?

LL: Mostly digital. This technology is here right now so I might as well use it.

AW: Digital for clients, and film for my own personal stuff.

SM: How do you feel about Instagram?

LL: It’s a new way of marketing. It’s been an amazing platform for me; it’s opened so many doors. I’m taking advantage of it as much as I can. I know a lot of photographers that use it as a platform to showcase their art. They have two accounts, daily life and work life. I actually did a shoot once, Instagram specific. It was just to see if we get recognition from the brands we were photographing and we did get recognition. Just recently, I was reading about NY

Fashion Week and how some designers take advantage of Instagram. Some don’t allow pictures, while others like Tommy Hilfiger were inspired by Instagram, and had hashtags everywhere.

AW: I have a mixed relation

ship with Instagram. I’ve argued this with a lot of artists about this. It disguises mediocrity (iPhone camera photos) with a trendy filter, but then a lot of the filters are based off of the deterioration of photos. So it makes it look like the photos were taken ages ago. It kind of plays with a sense of time, this photo taken now, happened in the past. I like the way it dabbles with the sense of time in that way. Seflies are another trend I find fascinating.

SM: What should we expect at your upcoming art showing on Friday, February 28th?

AW: We got a DJ, a bar, a wicked bartender that makes wicked cocktails, and wicked beer. Tons of people are coming like friends, family, and people we’ve never met that have become attached to our work.

LL: People that I’ve worked with, people in the industry. The public. It’s a good night to come out, listen to some music look at some beautiful pictures.

SM: What does the future look like for you?

LL: I told myself I would start printing more this year. I’m also going to keep submitting to editorials. I’d like to do more shows since this is my actually my first show in Vancouver. Last year, I was in local editorials and a few magazines in the US, so this year I hope to expand to bigger US magazines, and maybe even European editorials.

AW: Pretty much the same for me. I think Warhol said, “Make something, and while everyone is busy criticizing that, make something else.”

Make sure to stop by Remington Gallery and Studio at 108 East Hastings on February 28th from 7pm to 1am to see the fabulous photos by Alex Waber and Lynol Lui. Follow Alex Waber on Facebook and follow Lynol Lui on Facebook to keep up to date on their art, lives, and future shows!  

A few snaps from dutil.’s denim contest on Saturday, February 20. Thanks to dutil. for the invite and thanks to Hush Magazine and Rawr Denim for sharing your judging expertise with us.  Congrats to the winners and a special thanks to sadall the participants for showing us their butts. IMG_1820 (1)IMG_1818IMG_1831 IMG_1823 IMG_1828

It’s difficult to find a pair of jeans that work for all your wobbly bits without giving you saggy bum, mom waist or love handles. Dutil denim helps you avoid asking your partner with the struggle by finding the perfect pair for your body type. Specializing in both women and men’s jeans, they have become a leading supplier of quality denim in Canada with a Vancouver store that opened in 2006, and a Toronto store that opened in 2011. They carry various types of cuts such as skinny, straight and boyfriend, in addition to different types of styles like low-rise and high-rise. The best part is that they come in different raw and washed denim colours, so the options are legitimately endless! You can see over 25 brands such as Levis, Cheap Monday, Naked and Famous, Baldwin, and more at the Gastown location on West Cordova and Cambie.

I got to chat with Thalia Stopa from dutil denim to discuss everything behind everyone’s favourite material. (Make sure to read til the end—there’s a contest down there!)

All dat denim. Come get some.
All dat denim. Come get some.

Sad Mag: Why did you decide to focus solely on denim?

Thalia Stopa: To focus on one thing gives us the ability to know so much about it. When people shop here, it’s almost like a personal shopping experience. We know so much about denim and how everything fits, so we can easily steer people in the right direction.

SM: Tell me about the shopping experience at dutil.

TS: Everyone comes in for something different so we try to have something for everyone. Someone will come in, they’ll have an idea of what they like. We’ll grab a bunch of brands for them to try. They come out, and we give them our honest feedback on what works and what doesn’t. Everyone’s has his or her body issues, so we’re really good at trying everything on beforehand. The only way to know if something really fits is to have it on your body. We have all that knowledge, and we use it to help people.

SM: What are some of the more unique brands that you carry?

TS: We tend to give start up brands a chance. Like Wood and Iron, it’s a brand new brand from a little mining town out of Quebec. It’s their first production run ever. Same with Tortoise, a brand out of LA that has limited quantities. The jeans are made by hand.

SM: What are the best selling jeans at the moment?

TS: For women’s, it’s boyfriend cut jeans, they’re back with a vengeance. We have a boyfriend/skinny hybrid, which I love! For men, a longer rise and a tapered leg is in but with a lot of room in the thighs.

SM: What is the upcoming trend in men and women’s denim?

TS: I’m definitely seeing a lot more tears, distressed, and repair details. In the past few years, it’s been steered clear from due to liability issues when people are trying on the jeans. For men’s, it’s more washes. Our store used to be mostly raw denim, but now it’s 50/50.

SM: What should we look forward at the Saturday February 22nd event?

TS: There’s still a strong subculture of denimheads that are devoted to buying the smallest size possible, breaking them in and never washing them. The jeans are customized to their body. For example if someone has had a wallet in his or her back pocket for years, you’ll see an imprint of that. Basically we’re gonna see people who are passionate about the whole process, people who are proud of their subculture and what they’ve done.  It’s wearable pieces of art.

With hopes of adding tailoring and additional artists on their record label, dutil denim is on the way to becoming a pioneer denim supplier for North America, and maybe even the world. Make sure to follow dutil denim on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more denimhead filled fun! Make sure to stop by their store on Saturday Februrary 22nd to either enter the Fade February contest, or watch our awesome Sadmag judges decide which top three denimheads win a free pair of jeans.

There’s also a contest! Share your favourite style of denim (skinny, highwaisted, bellbottom—the options are endless!) in the comment section on this post (with your email too), and you’ll  have a chance to win a $100 gift card from dutil. Winner will be announced on Sunday, February 23. 

Mixing art with the past and present.

Phantoms in the Front Yard is an arts collective dedicated to the pursuance of figurative, representational forms. This is a unique intention today as contemporary artists flourish into new mediums, embracing abstraction, fragmentation, and concepts that live behind veils—or sometimes duvets.

Lots of people who aren’t interested in art tend to posit themselves as victim, expressing the naïve and arrogant ideals expressed in “my kid could do that”. There is a cultural aversion to artwork which does not obviate itself to the viewer straightforwardly.

While Phantoms in the Front Yard chooses to work with forms considered more traditional (figurative, representational paintings), they by no means slander the non-traditional forms and approaches that have largely come to define contemporary art today. They’ve simply worked to create their own place in it, hearkening to the potential in the ideals and approaches of times past. They attempt to breathe freshness into the recognizable figure, one that modernism deemed passé and left in its wake.

The group includes Jonathan Sutton, Jay Senetchko, Marcus Macleod, Michael Abraham, Jeremiah Birnbaum, Paul Morstad, in collaboration with curator Pennylane Shen. They just opened up a show at Leigh Square Community Arts Village called Phantoms, a sort-of retrospective which takes advantage of this large venue to reflect on their work as a collective in seven different shows over the past four and half years. Check it out before it closes on February 17th.

Sad Mag: What did it feel like to realize that your artistic expression was changing mediums, from theatre and performance to painting?

Jonathan Sutton: I was drawing and painting all along, and meanwhile acting was becoming less of a means than I had thought it was to express the things important to me. It had seemed an obvious way to enter into an imagined space was to perform in it. I find though, that more space exists for me in the solitary arena of my small studio, and with far fewer stops between ideas and their developed expression.

SM: How did the group come together?

JS: Jay Senetchko and Marcus Macleod initiated the idea and fairly soon there was a core group. We are also committed to working with other artists in both the short and long term.

SM: The group’s artist statement mentions, “Figurative art has become the phantom of the fine art world, haunting Modernism and Postmodernism with its ties to a classical tradition, refusing to be dismissed, ignored, or forgotten.” Can you speak a little more about the current status of the figurative and representational in contemporary art from your perspective?

"Representation will continually reinvent its own aesthetics because people and our surroundings are changing quickly enough..."

JM: It would be easier—for any of us in the group—to speak a lot more about that! Here goes a little …

We all have wide-ranging tastes and references, but a common thread is our respect for artists who reckon with history and traditions as they pave new directions in their own work and era. Jay Senetchko has written eloquently on the over-rating of originality as an end in itself, and we believe the more profound contributions are to be made by artists who distinguish their own voices within the larger dialogue of art history, and in doing so move the whole dialogue forward. It is counter to this process to accord any particular status to the figurative or representational per se—whether over-prioritizing these forms or shunning them. Our particular collective has gathered around an existing interest in figurative work and within this we have a very broad mandate, but this is not to say that we place it above other approaches in our appreciation of art in general. Our decision to embed the figure in our mandate is that there is much territory still to explore here—and create—and we are excited to share our discoveries. Now this position happens to have much counterpoint in contemporary trends that would dismiss the figure, or painting and drawing altogether. We didn’t decide to commit to figurative work to create a reaction to this line of thinking though; we were doing this work in any case and couldn’t find substance in trends that would place it outside contemporary art.

Representation will continually reinvent its own aesthetics because people and our surroundings are changing quickly enough—not to mention artistic media and technologies—that even straight journalistic depiction will continue to reflect novelty. Brian Boulton’s graphite portraits, to name one example, and a local one, reflect accuracy and fidelity of rendering, while looking arrestingly current and familiar by virtue of the very contemporary figures they examine.

SM: This idea is quite noticeably linked to the name of the collective. Can you tell us about the inspiration for the name? Why “the Front Yard”?

JS: We recognize these tendencies that would hold figurative representation, and traditional media associated with it, as phantoms in the art world. Even within this reading, which isn’t everyone’s, and certainly not ours—we’re interested in ushering such phantoms into full view.

SM: Part of your philosophy as a group is based on the idea that representational, figurative art is easier for people to find connection with because the elements are familiar and easily identifiable. However, lots of this kind of work also comes equipped with strong concepts and compositional complexity. How do you deal with the challenge to make people see as far as possible into the work?

JS: One aspect of the work in this collective that really impresses me is how often I see a balancing of immediate visual impact against dense underpinnings of suggestion, narrative, reference, concept, and philosophy. I’d say we find in figurative art an irrepressible history, and in the best cases, universality, without necessarily finding or seeking ease of connection. Aquinas held wholeness, harmony, and radiance to be requirements of beauty; these would strike a viewer as strongly upon the first impression as through prolonged scrutiny.  We work to weave complex and diverse thinking into one image whose first impression is complete and integrated. We admire the kind of conceptual and compositional complexity you mention, in all manner of art forms whether figurative or not; in fact another layer to our mandate is to incorporate non-representational influences in our own representations. The act of depicting one or more bodies is constantly invigorated by ever-new responses that non-figurative works invite, be they abstract expressionism, collage, photo-conceptualism, or anything else.

Phantoms collectively creates art.

SM: Since 2010, Phantoms in the Front Yard has been developing shows based on themes initiated by one of the members, which then prompts the creation of works by each of the others. There is also a lecture component, where you bring in an expert on the topic at hand. Why is dialogue important to you as a group?

JS: There is a beautiful solitude in creating and beholding a piece of art. We also want to include viewers, beyond this, in the spirit of dialogue and exchange that we invest in our processes as a collective. The development of each show starts and continues around our own conversations, research sharing, critiques of works as they progress, and general interaction, even while most of the time we spend on the pieces themselves is solitary. We want these parallel lines of private engagement and public interaction to run through the whole exhibition experience.

SM: What do you hope to achieve with this show?

JS: This particular grouping of pieces, in this space, with the artists, viewers, and interactions that create the exhibition will only come together in this way through this event. Our intention is to do the same thing a single work of art should do – create a lasting impression of a fleeting moment.

Phantoms is on now and runs until February 17th at Leigh Square Community Arts Village. Gallery hours are Mon, Wed 10:00am to 6:30pm; Tue, Thu 10:00am to 7:00pm; Friday 9:30am to 6:30pm; and Saturday 2:00pm to 4:00pm; Closed on Sundays. 1100-2253 Leigh Square (Behind City Hall) Port Coquitlam, BC, V3C 3B8. Call 604-927-8442 for more info. Please note the show is displayed in two adjacent buildings.


Octopus Studios on Powell St. seems unapproachable with its whitewash exterior and barred windows, but it was busy and humming inside with the Eastside Culture Crawl the weekend of November 15-17.

There was a DJ in the corner near the entrance and 16 artists installed in the two-storey, open plan studio—one of 85 buildings involved in the Eastside Culture Crawl this year. It had a diverse selection of artists—weekend and fulltime artists, graduates and students, and art teachers promoting public art classes. One artist adjusted flickering projections on the wall and others lingered near the booths, where ceramics, paintings, illustrations, leatherwork, and stringed instruments were exhibited beside each other.

Studios open their doors and let us in on the secrets behind the artwork.

The Eastside Culture Craw is focused in the area bound by Main Street, 1st Ave., Victoria Drive, and the Waterfront, and featured over 400 artists this year. As someone who doesn’t live in the area, or even as someone who does, the official map is a requisite in the hunt for the little studios many of us didn’t know where there.

Now an annual 3-day visual arts festival in November in which artists from the Eastside open their studios to the public, it began as a series of open studio fundraisers in the mid-90s. Paneficio Studios on Keefer St. held a fundraiser for Clayoquot Sound arrestees’ travel costs to Victoria – the series of logging protests that occurred over the summer of 1993 in Clayoquot Sound resulted in over 800 protestors arrested and many put on trial in front of the B.C. Provincial Court in Victoria.

Another fundraiser was held the following year to support Eastside artists with AIDS, and it was divided between Paneficio Studios and 1000 Parker St. Studio in order to host more work. It expanded the third year to include two more studios, Glass Onion and Apriori Studios, and the proceeds went to restoration following an Eastside neighbourhood fire. It expanded again the next year, with 45 artists and over 1000 attendees, and Eastside-based artists and founded board member Richard Tetrault named it the Eastside Culture Crawl.

The Crawl attracts people from all over the Lower Mainland.

While the Eastside Culture Crawl still seems imbedded in the Eastside where is began and continues to be focused, it is representative of the diverse communities of artists, both emerging and internationally recognized, currently working throughout Vancouver. I hope next year word about the event will spread further, as I think it is a show of Vancouver-based art more people should see.

For more information about the Eastside Culture Crawl or the Eastside Culture Crawl Society, visit them online. We hope to see you there next November.

Tran APus Rex // images c/o belle ancell photography

It’s been a couple of weeks now since I saw the riveting performances of those who participated in Jen Crothers and Kristina Lemieux’s Queer Arts Festival production, Reflection/Refraction.  Before the night of the performance, I knew the production’s format but I didn’t really know what to expect: the individual performance pieces were to be completely subjective interpretations and responses to one of five short queer films assigned to each performer.  These short films whimsically or charismatically provoked a number of ideas and issues associated with identity, gender, sexuality, intimacy and community. The films included galactic docking, “Miss Chief” dancing, choreographed “brother-herrd,” bus passing and Hawker anime.  The performers, having had several months to reflect upon their personal responses to the short films, were to share their reflective and refracted pieces with the audience.

The first piece was performed by the enthusiastic Ralph Escamillian, who started the show off with a baring it all reverse strip tease, which he described as being his response to the “stereotypes of homosexuality” after refracting his assigned short film, Galactic Docking Company.  The disco pop track “The Beat” got the audience in the mood and Escamillian’s energetically sensual display of layering clothes made me feel that this was now a revolutionary disco docking celebration.

“There’s more between the earth and sky than we can understand,” Mette Bach repeatedly projected.  Bach was assigned the short film Dance to Miss Chief which directed her, surprisingly she admitted, towards a desire to dance that has been something she has struggled with since losing a loved one.  Bach embraced her response to her assigned short film and gave a moving, insightful and honest speech about her loss.  Having lost my Mother recently, Bach’s monologue reminded me that losing someone does produce a period of grievance but can also produce beautiful art by which we can celebrate and still dance with Miss Chief.

The third performance swayed me back into dance mode when Tran APus Rex appeared on stage.  Responding to the assigned short film Herr, Tran APus Rex put identity, gender and sexuality back on the interrogation table by playing around with pieces of clothing, strip teasing and jumping out of a giant blue vagina.  Tran APus Rex’s performance piece, much like Herr, made me wonder about this performer’s identity but care less as to what that meant to me and care more for what that meant to the individual.  It was a lovely display of gender and sexual interaction, and I felt that Tran APus Rex had self-birthed into herr own.

Ralph Escamillan // image c/o belle ancell photography

The Bus Pass evoked a musical response in rising star, cellist Cris Derksen, who took the short film and reworked the scenes whilst creating an original electronically fused performance piece accompanied by her cello.  Derksen told the audience she felt some awkwardness in the film that she wanted to work out.  The intensity of Derksen’s music amplified the room in such a way that made me feel those thoughts circulating and consuming the film actor’s mind.  I felt a tension in the performance piece much the same way that I did when watching the film and in both, that tension had been resolved.

Last, but not least, came David C. Jones’s fishing fiasco.  Jones’s performance was a response to the short film, an animation titled The Hawker.  Jones focused on themes of love and loss and was inspired by the fish in the film to tell a story as a person at sea through a physical mime piece.  I watched Jones’s character spread ashes into a sea of water and cope with what felt like feelings of estrangement and a restructuring of identity.  Without dialogue and scene structure it felt difficult to know precisely what was happening but that was the magic of this performance for me – that in losing someone you might often feel lost and struggle with knowing the way or with knowing how to deal with your emotions and loved ones.  The grieving period of loss is different for everyone and I felt that Jones was successful in displaying a subjective and natural response to self-identity, loss and grief.

It was a pleasure to watch the queer short films and witness the emotions, responses and inspiration evoked in these five performances.  A good life involves reflection but a great life is formed through refraction.

Inspiration strikes. Like lightening? Or something much less dramatic? This year, at Vancouver’s Queer Arts Festival, a group of inspiring and inspired writers has been brought together for “A Literary Soiree: A Celebration of Poets and Writers.” It will be hosted by Rachel Rose at the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall at 7:30 on August 6th.

Rebecca Brown c/o Andrea Auge

Of the five participating writers, the following four: poets Rachel Rose, Billeh Nickerson, Betsy Warland and writer Rebecca Brown, were kind enough to allow Sad Mag glimpses into the inspirations for their new or forthcoming works (Gregory Scofield will also be there on the 6th). Sad Mag asked about new projects and favourite Vancouver moments, in order to glean a little about what compels these writers’ interest and engagement. Reading over their responses, it became clear that to be inspired is the most flexible and atemporal of feelings: a response that might occur immediately or might take years and decades to coalesce. Like lightening, then, but with a slow burn.

For Rebecca Brown, who is the author of twelve books of prose, inspiration means being elevated by others: “Though I am not ‘inspired’ as an artist, other artists’ work inspires me,” says Brown, “I am rarely, if ever, ‘inspired.’ The word suggests someone filled with urgency or commitment. Or the simple, necessary act of breathing. On the one hand art making/writing is necessary to me (though not as necessary as breathing…). On the other hand, it is for me usually quite labored and erratic; hardly as even or regular as breath.”

“I used to have this notion,” continues Brown, “[which was] inspired, that is to say, misinformed, by romantic notions of an artist being possessed, as if by a god or passion, to make something. That some muse or spirit comes upon one, possesses one, and gives one some message/object/word. More like some divine madness than the sweaty slog I go through to find words. Having said that, though, I am inspired, in the sense of being encouraged or sustained, by others’ art and words. When I see the amazing things my friends create or do, when I read and read again work by Kafka, Woolf, Stein, Flannery O’Connor, Fanny Howe, I am moved, elevated, encouraged to live more.”

Brown’s newest project is the curation of a group show on the theme of “Devotion” at the Hedreen Gallery in Seattle on August 7th. Participants in the shown include professional visual artists, as well as “folks who don’t think of themselves as artists,” notes Brown, such as “a beekeeper, a teenage boy who collects sports caps, a librarian, a priest, a dj, a restauranteur– but each of whom is lovingly devoted to something.”

Rachel Rose is similarly inspired by those outside forces, past and present, with whom and with which she has engaged. Her newest project, which comprises writing poems about “mythic and monstrous women,” aims “to give voice to the female beast.” It was inspired “by many things,” says Rose, “studying Beowulf 20 years ago; VIDA and CWILA, rage and hope and curiosity and wanting to honour those women who misbehaved, whether literally or mythically, and who were transformed into fearsome legends in order to keep the rest of us in line.”

Billeh Nickerson

Betsy Warland, in contrast, recalls the exact moment that inspiration struck. Warland, who has been writing “Oscar of Between” since 2007, describes her inspiration as that moment “when a trapdoor of understanding sprung open beneath my feet when seeing the Camouflage Exhibit at the Imperial War Museum in London.”

Warland explains “Oscar of Between” as a series in which “Oscar, who routinely is addressed as a woman, then as a man, then man, then woman within seconds apart in public [finds] a label for herself that finally fits: a person of between.”

Billeh Nickerson, whose fifth book, Artificial Cherry, will be released by Arsenal Pulp Press this upcoming February, was inspired to return to “the naughtier side” of his writing. After books about fast food and the Titanic, Nickerson’s newest is an offering that he describes as “cheekysweet.”

What strikes me most about all these different inspirations, is the way they expand and contract over time. Some inspirations become recognized only retroactively, or, in Brown’s case, one notion of what it is to be inspired is dismissed and other notions taken up. When I met Rose the first time, it was at the Vancouver 125 Poetry Conference, which was organized by then-Poet Laureate Brad Cran. At the time, I was tasked with interviewing poets who were involved with the conference, and I had decided to ask each one of them the same final question: if you could describe your work in one word what would it be? Rose’s answer, which broke my “one word” rule, did so beautifully, and has really inspired and stuck with me. She said her work was about “Connecting-yearning. Yearning to connect.”

Connecting, and yearning to connect, is so often about finding confluences and points of shared interest. When I asked the QAF poets about their favourite aspects of Vancouver, I received responses that gave me that thrill of recognition for all the inspiring moments that the city has to offer. For Rose, it is “the flats at Spanish Banks at low tide…” which, of course, go on for what seems like infinity. For Betsy, there was “No question about it = The Drive!” and for Nickerson, Betsy’s answer provides a kind of coincidental connection: Nickerson noted “I live on Commercial Drive. I love it when a large shipment of fruit comes in and the grocers sell big bags of the older stuff for a dollar. Once a thrifty artist, always a thrifty artist.”

For more inspiration, connection and yearning (and thrift! It’s only $5 suggested donation!), come to “A Literary Soiree: A Celebration of Poets and Writers” on Tuesday.  I hope to see you there.

The Queer Arts Festival is here! Co-curators Kristina Lemieux and Jen Crothers have come together with their production, Reflection/Refraction, which will be showcased on August 1st. Chatting over antipasti and casual drinks at Charlie’s Little Italian Pizzeria on Main, Sad Mag correspondent Monika Malczynski learns more about Kristina and Jen and how they found their inspiration.

Kristina Lemieux

SAD MAG: Who are you?
KRISTINA LEMIEUX:  My name is Kristina.  I am originally from Edmonton, well [laughs], Drayton Valley.  I’ve lived in Vancouver for about seven years now and I’m an arts and cultural manager and thinker.  Currently my primary project is with Brief Encounters -we take an even number of artists (ranging from opera singers to architects) and we pair them together and give them two weeks to create a five to twenty minute performance piece.  I also am working on Reflection/Refraction. I also am a co-director of a community dance troop called Polymer Dance.  And I host a dialogue series called SANKASET where I get arts professionals together to talk about directed topics in the arts.  Lots of things, all kinds of things!

SM:  Sounds like it!  And what about you, Jen?
JEN CROTHERS:  I am Jen Crothers. Crothers rhymes with brothers, not that you need to know that in a written document

KL: [Laughs] It’s going in there now!

Jen Crothers

JC: [Laughs], yeah. So I guess I’d say I’m an artist and an organizer.  I am the treasurer on the board on the Queer Arts Festival and I’m pro-curating the show in the Queer Arts Festival with Kristina.  I am an organizer with the All Bodies Swim which is a regular private event at Templeton pool where people who might feel normally feel awkward or excluded from swimming pools are invited to come and swim and have fun in the pool. We invite all kinds of people – fat people, people with scars, lots of tattoos  – and we run this occasion every six weeks or two months.  I’m a filmmaker as well; I made a couple of films one of which is called “Butch Tits” and it’s been around a bit.  I also organize Queer Bodies Film Night which is a semi-regular film night that I show short films that deal with issues such as gender, sexuality, mental health, those kind of things.  So yeah, you know, random projects.  And I’m, obviously, not from here [since she speaks with an accent].  I’m from Australia, from Tasmania, and I traveled to a bunch of places before I got here but I’ve been here for six of the last eight years and I will stay here for the foreseeable future although Australia kind of has my heart.

SM:  You two have paired up to co-curate Reflection/Refraction for the QAF.  How did you begin working together and what is this production all about?
JC:  Kristina and I knew each other before the project.  We were friends for probably about six years before the project began and we sort of connected over the love of spreadsheets, organization and ‘geekery’.

KL:  [Smiles] Yeah, and I think we were just talking one day about how we both wanted to do more organizing or more programming in the arts as we were seeing a bit of a gap in what kind of programming was happening in the queer communities and Jen loves films and I love performing art – although we both love films and performing arts – but in terms of expertise, we thought we could blend the two together and bring both of what we are most passionate about.  So we came up with the idea of having five short films by five queer filmmakers that would then be responded to by five queer performing artists.  We did this back in 2011 for the Queer Film Festival and then our lives got busy last year and we realized that we didn’t do anything for 2012 so we thought we should definitely get involved again and approach the queer arts festival and we did.  So, here we are.

SM:  So essentially the shorts will be shown and then each performer, having spent approximately four months coming up with their own interpretation or response to their film, will  perform. Is that right?
JC and KL:  Yes, that’s right.

SM:  So if you can recall, because you originally came up with this idea in 2011, where did your inspiration come from?
JC:  I think the inspiration- we were sort of just talking and all of a sudden it kind of just came.  We were doing a lot of this: eating a restaurants, have some casual drinks and ideas were being discussed.

KL:  Yeah, and I don’t think it came out in the way that it was a completely laid-out format, that this was going to be the way it was done, but that after some conversations back and forth we sort of figured things out. We were brainstorming ideas and ways which a performance could address certain issues. And the other thing we both really like is creativity within certain boundaries: time frames are limited, time performances are limited, what happens when you sort of constrain the creative process.  And that’s how we came up with Reflection/Refraction; it was something that we thought could fit into that creative boundary.

JC:  Yes, and we talked quite philosophically about it.  We talked a lot about the difference between film and performance and we found that when a filmmaker makes a film, at some point it becomes fixed.  That first you edit, then show some friends and you might edit it again and again but at some point it becomes a fixed piece of art that you can no longer change again.  Whereas with a piece of performing art, you perform it and you have an audience reaction and you might tweak it and then you have another performance then talk to someone or have another reaction and then you tweak it again. I mean, this doesn’t always happen, sometimes people perform the exact same thing. But even on a good night a performer might respond to the energy of the audience.  If the audience is giving a lot of responsive energy, the performer might give a bigger performance.  Whereas film is fixed and it’s flat.  So when we were thinking about the idea of putting people into the position where they were kind of forced to be inspired. It was somewhat of a theoretical approach. Kristina is a total theory nerd and I’m a bit more scared by her intellectualism but nevertheless, I try to keep up [they both smile].

SM: Have you seen the progress that the performers have made with their approach or will you be seeing their performances for the first time next week?
JC:  We did want to curate the performances; we did want to interact with the performers, critique them, give them suggestions of how what they’re doing might work or not.  So we did meet with them once about their initial ideas about the films.  Some of them were like “yes, I’ve got an idea of what I’m going to do” and others were like “I have twenty ideas and don’t know which one to choose” and other people were like “uh, I have no clue what I’m going to do.”  This weekend we are going to see them again and see what they’ve come up with and give them some feedback again and then they’ll have a chance to fine tune their performance and then yeah, then we’ll get to see it again.

all photos c/o Monika Malczynski

SM:  Having been involved with many creative projects over the last several years of living in Vancouver, and coming from different cities, how do you feel about the “creative scene” in Vancouver?  Do you think this city poses challenges for artistic people or do you find there to be easy and creative avenues to explore?
KL:  There is a lot of amazing stuff happening in the arts in Vancouver but I think that if anything could be improved that there be stronger avenues to communicate with people on what they’re doing.  In the last eighteen months we’ve lost, like three cultural reviewers?  Don’t quote me on that but a good chunk of cultural reviewers from our major publications.  And not that I think our general public is reading print media but because where we are getting our information from is in flux, there’s nowhere to go to get a curated list of what’s happening.  Almost every week I’m asking myself, “which one of these amazing productions do I want to pick to go to tonight?” which shows there’s a lot going on.

JC:  Yes, and just to clarify that – in a sense that information is out there like with Sad Mag, Vancouver is Awesome, the Province and so on but it’s just so across the board that you have to be reading all of those publications to get the full sense of what is going on.  I personally hear about things through friends, Facebook, social media and word of mouth.  Usually, unless I know someone who’s involved with something or unless someone suggests we go to an event so it makes such a difference when someone says to me “you should really see this show.”  So, word of mouth is really important.  And being a smaller city, Vancouver is good for word of mouth but there still lacks a space where people, critics, are giving opinions and suggestions about the arts.  There’s just an overwhelming amount of choice which is both good and bad.  Vancouver is a lot smaller than Sydney, for example, but there’s usually a lot of choice so I personally get overwhelmed and that’s why that personal connection or suggestion really pushes me and makes a difference for me.

KL:  Yeah, and just to also point out, I’ve personally been involved with arts management for the past 15 years and one of the reasons I moved to Vancouver is because it is a city that does allow one to make a living in an artistic field.  Sure, I may not ever own a home but I’m not sure that that’s important anyway.  And in the smaller cities, at least the more isolated ones, you don’t have the same level of municipal and provincial support that you have from the government so there are lots of opportunities for the arts here.


For more information and to buy tickets, check out Reflection/Refraction on Facebook and on the QAF website.

Photo c/o Brian K Smith Photography

Dean Thullner is my neighbour. He and his husband, David Veljacic, opened Volume Studio Gallery Ltd.’s doors a couple of months ago, only a block from my apartment. What was once a flower shop has been turned into a bright and sparkling hair salon-cum-art gallery. And they’ll still sell you flowers (with 10% of the florist’s annual profits going to St. Paul’s Hospital, no less). It’s been sidewalk chats, pink tulips, and puppy love ever since. 

I mean the puppy-love part seriously. Whenever I walk by with my boyfriend and our dog, Safie, she scrambles along the sidewalk to get to Dean’s door. There Dean will be, with his husband or one of his stylists, with a dog treat in hand and a word about the beauty of the day. The shop is always filled with people, fresh art hangs on the walls, and they even have a shop dog whose “stage name,” Sweetie, is a testament to her geriatric gorgeousness. 

Volume Studio is an important addition to the West End, and to Vancouver. It represents a new kind of gay lifestyle in Davie Village, one that brings health and community-involvement to the fore. Dean speaks about a generation of men who suffered during the HIV epidemic of the 1980s, who fell, perhaps, into drugs and alcohol as an escape, and who, in many cases, are no longer with us. Dean, given three-months to live at age 29, is now, along with his husband, taking community-building to the next level through their involvement with St. Paul’s Hospital, Brilliant! A Show of Love for Mental Health, HIV and AIDS, and Pride Week 2013.  

Sad Mag: Who are you?
Dean Thullner: I’m Dean Thullner—community enthusiast, creativity curator, HIV-positive thriver—I am also a founding partner of Volume Studio Ltd. at 1209 Bute Street, in the heart of Davie Village.

Volume Studio is my seventh business, and it is also my favourite business, because this business isn’t about me. I turned 50, and all of a sudden I’m in the latter part of my life, and so this business is about giving back. I love it.

But, as you know, in my late twenties I almost died. When you are told that you only have three months to live, and you are HIV positive during a big epidemic, you really learn to take care of yourself. Oddly—and people don’t like to hear this—but being diagnosed HIV-positive was probably the single most wonderful thing that ever happened to me, in hindsight.

I’m not judging anybody. But having to live your life for the everyday, having to think that each small illness might be the beginning of the end, and not really knowing that I was going to be here until November 11, 2011 when St. Paul’s Hospital announced that HIV is about living and not dying. Up to that point, I really didn’t want to sustain a future. Now that I am 50 and I have this second chance—and I have the community’s backing—I really want to say thanks to the people who have helped me, and who’ve helped others living with HIV/AIDS.

SM: Can you describe the support networks and caregivers that have helped you recover from your HIV health crises?
DT: I survived the worst of the epidemic. Now, thanks to St. Paul’s—and St. Paul’s Hospital, a lot of people don’t realize, are one of the leading hospitals that came up with the cocktail, a treatment known as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy or HAART. They changed the world. Whereas other hospitals may have opened their doors, at St. Paul’s they opened their hearts and their doors. In the 80s, St. Paul’s opened up a whole floor for gay men suffering with HIV/AIDS and St. Paul’s looked after them until they died. And the Hospital did that for the first twenty years of a thirty-year epidemic, without even knowing what the repercussions were going to be.

It was a really unique situation. Because Vancouver had probably one of the highest gay demographics in the country…we really felt [the HIV epidemic]. In the early 80s, when I moved here, Davie Street was filled with gay restaurants and coffee shops and flower shops and drag queen revues and then, bang. All the older men were gone. All these younger men, with no mentors, were basically living fearful lives, and this really contributed to [gay drug culture in the 1990s.] It was a difficult time in the community.

Now, we are turning it around. I see [in the West End] not at 80s or 90s version of what Davie Village was, but a new, fresher version of healthier choices, healthier lifestyles, and younger people wanting to give back to the community. It is exciting! And I hope that I can help out.

SM: What does community mean to you?
DT: It means recognizing where help has come from, and giving back. Volume Studio believes in the fortitude of the organizations that it supports, and we give back to those organizations.

SM: What is Volume Studio and how does it help build community in Vancouver?

DT: Volume Studio is a hair salon, an art gallery, and a flower shop.

At Volume, we really support all levels of the artistic community.

The first Friday of every month we invite a local artist to show their work. The artist donates 20% of their proceeds to the ward of their choice at St. Paul’s Hospital or to the charity of their choice.

[I have been throwing] Brilliant! A Show of Love for Mental Health, HIV and AIDS, every year, an event which reaches out to as many artistic people as possible. This year we’re featuring fashion, hair, makeup dance, theatre…we’ll have an art auction where we take local art. Everything is community-community. 

SM: What hurdles or challenges has Volume Studio had to overcome?
When we took this space over on a sub-lease, we thought that we would get a couple months free rent and we would just put some glitter and feathers around and it would be fine. Instead, it was filled with dust and mould and rats. We couldn’t go near it for three months. That saga [getting it cleaned up and passing the health inspection] went on and on and on.

The other thing that happened was that no one has ever had a flower shop and a hair salon and an art gallery in one, and because of the city’s colonial laws, we had to fight for our right to sell flowers and art in the same building we were cutting hair. Now, anyone can get a license to open a hair salon and a flower shop or gallery space.

SM: People often accuse Vancouver of being “no fun city.” Do you agree or disagree?
DT: I don’t believe that at all! I came here from a small area in Winnipeg and, when I arrived, it was during Expo and I’ve had fun every day since.

SM: Favourite Vancouver person place or thing?
DT: My husband David. I love him. He’s my best friend and he’s the florist at Volume. He’s an amazing person…we’ve been together eight years. We’ll be together forever.

SM: What are you most excited about right now?
DT: Brilliant! A Show of Love for Mental Health, HIV and AIDS, I am so excited. I’m so excited about how excited the community is. The theme is “Fashion Through the Ages” this year, so we’re celebrating 120 years of fashion and music and talent and iconic figures. We’ve drag queens, we’ve got singers and dancers and choreographers and performers, not to mention all the fashion: the hair and makeup and clothes.

It’s going to be probably about 168 people in a 55-minute fashion show that’s going to blow Vancouver away.

Tickets are only $75 and you get a $50 tax receipt.

I am also very excited that, this year, the Vancouver Fireworks [the Festival of Light] has finally decided to recognize that Gay Pride begins at the same time, which they’ve never ever recognized before. So, the community reached out and I took it and decided to host the event with Simone [drag queen Christopher Hunt]. So Simone and I are doing a “Sport a Speck of Pink” party—you have to wear a speck of pink to get in—and it will be at Brand Live, which is sponsored by the Keg. Partial proceeds from the fireworks ticket sales go to St. Pauls’ Hospital.

The party is on August 3, in a huge tent, and it’s is usually just a party for the Keg, so primarily heterosexual, but it came up that why, on the evening of Gay Pride’s launch, we never recognized it? So that’s what we’re doing! Next year it’ll be even gayer.

The other thing that I’m really excited about is that John Ferrie is showing at Volume Studio and he is one of Vancouver’s hottest artists. We are expecting a great turn out —it’s on the 2nd of August.

help support BAM

Bam! What do you get when you mix a fashion show, live music, and a bow tie tying contest? BAM: an Alopecia Awareness event happening at Ginger62 this evening, Wednesday June 19th. Partnering with Suki’s Hair Salon and Knot Theory, Erin Leach and Tanya Huang are fundraising for the non-profit organization BAM (Bold Alopecia Movement), by mixing sugar, spice and everything nice in order to create a fun and memorable event that is close to their hearts. Two of Erin’s favorite bands, Their There and Dogwood & Dalia, will entertain, and Tanya’s tie tying contest—as well as a fashion show featuring hairstyling’s by Suki’s hair salon—means the night is sure to be a hit.


Being a lover of dance parties, hair, bow ties, fashion and great music, I jumped at the opportunity to support BAM. Not only is BAM increasing awareness about the autoimmune condition Alopecia Areta, it’s actually one that will get you involved! BAM’s Alopecia Awareness Event is not your typical fundraising dinner or auction: this dance party will keep you on the edge of your seat. Fortunately for me, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the ambitious and always smiling Tanya Huang. As the founder of Knot Theory and one of the organizers of BAM, Tanya found the time (somehow!) to chat with me on a hot sunny day about her business, BAM, and of course, about Tanya’s experiences living with Alopecia Areta.

FT: When did you find out you had Alopecia Areta?

TH: I was in Taiwan [when] my hair fell out completely. They didn’t tell me what it was. They just said, have a baby and it’ll be okay…. I was 10 years old. The last time I had my hair [was at] age 16 when I went on this diet. I was about 90 lbs. I ruined my health [because] I thought if my health were down, my hair would grow back. [However] six months later, I lost my hair again! So three years ago, the same time I started Knot Theory, I started a support group. [Right now] we have 45 members in BC and we meet every month in person. Not everyone is brave enough to come to a meet up; it takes time. Because of this group, it helped me become more open about [Alopecia]. No one knew I had Alopecia. I thought I was confident [but] there was still something I was not okay with for my whole life. There are some people in the group that totally impress me. This girl, who’s had it for two years. She lives in a suburban area, she came downtown one time, and thought ‘hey, I don’t know anyone here. I’m going to Starbucks without my wig on!’ She did that for the first time and said it felt great. I thought, wow, I couldn’t do that! I think that listening to stories like that [really] helps. I started going to hot yoga without my wig. It was really good, because everyone was still blow-drying his or her hair and I was done!

 FT: What reaction did you get from friends and family when you posted the Alopecia coming out video on YouTube? 

TH: [It] was overwhelming! I didn’t expect so many people to reply and post something nice. I didn’t expect my friends to react badly of course. [However,] I was worried about the people who would find me attractive. The sex appeal! I’ve always thought this doesn’t look good; guys would see no sex appeal since hair is so strongly associated with beauty and femininity. It took me a long time to [think] I could rock this. This one guy I was seeing at the time, I told him about it [before the video], but I didn’t show him. After a couple of months, he asked me to see it. He was so turned on. This was one of the hottest guys I’ve ever been with!

FT: How was your experience on Dragon’s Den? Did it teach you anything?

TH: It was a lot of fun [leading] up to going into the den. […] It was kind of nerve-wracking preparing for it, but once I was there, I was so excited! I wasn’t nervous at all. The dragons were nice. I got all five of them to say yes to me; I thought I was getting airtime for sure! I [honestly] cared about two things: the image of Knot Theory was good, and that I get aired in front of 3 million viewers. I know a lot of people thought we got funded, but almost no one I know [that goes on the show] gets funded […] I learned what I already knew going in… it’s show business. It’s not really a show, about business, it’s [just] reality TV. My plan was if I got an offer, I’d say yes. If they were mean to me, I would make a scene, scream and cry. Maybe get a reality show offer! It was a good experience…the process of being in the studio was fun.

FT: How did you come up with the concept of re-inventing ties and why hasn’t anyone ever thought about changing it up before?

TH: I studied computer science [in University] even though I’ve always loved both art and science. I always wanted to do fashion. I kept saying, I’ll do it I’ll do it! It got to me one day [that] I was all talk! I quit my job after six years. [That same] month, I was looking at my old sketchbooks and came across these ties that didn’t look like ties. I actually hated ties! This is something I admit to more now. Before I wouldn’t want to say that because a lot of my fans like ties. I developed an appreciation for ties. They [actually] haven’t changed in centuries; they went through a lot of forms in the last few hundred years. Everything else [in fashion] has changed but ties are just ties. [One night] I was watching Battlestar Galactica and came up with twenty designs. I made a prototype; [this was] the first time I put on a tie. I thought that it looked good on a girl too. I could pull this off based on something artistic that you could wear. Ties don’t have to be functional. [For example,] pants have to be comfy, but ties are just ties. You get to have a lot of freedom with it. When I started it, I wasn’t thinking functional. I designed something very architectural. Then I thought people would like it if I changed the colours. Some people like the knots, some like the art of it. The first design took 11 months; it took a year to start the company. That’s why no ones done it, because its too hard!

FT: How did you get involved with BAM?

TH: I was talking to Ken Takagi [the president of] Suki’s last year, and it got me thinking, we have a pink bowtie that’s the same colour as their brand; maybe we can collaborate! In March, I decided to do the video [about having Alopecia on YouTube]; it got a lot of response. So [this year] I talked to Ken, and I said ‘hey, how do you feel about a hair salon donating to people without hair?’  He said ‘Okay love it! Let’s do it!’ At the same time, Erin Leach from my support group wanted to do a fundraiser to celebrate alopecia. So I thought ‘Let’s all combine!’ So its Erin, Tanya, Knot Theory, and Suki’s! We wanted to do something that’s actually fun; we have a fashion show, a bowtie tying contest, and a light-hearted alopecia Q&A. The idea of BAM is to get people more exposure. [When you] give more exposure to the public about alopecia, it becomes more sexy.

see you there!If you want to support the cause, hit up BAM’s Indiegogo page to either contribute to the fund, or buy tickets to the event happening June 19th at 7pm. Tickets are $10 dollars to get into Ginger62, PLUS you get a free drink when you enter. 100% of the proceeds go to charity. Such a steal of a deal!

Sad Mag loves the team behind the new Chinatown Night Market  and is excited to announce that the market’s main events programming begins on June 1st!  

For the love of Chinatown, come to the Night Market! 


“Now that the weather is warming up, it’s hard not to get excited about the night market and to see everything we’ve been working on become a reality,” said Tannis Ling, managing director of behind the new vision for the Night Market. “The buzz has grown quickly and the response from everyone has been extremely positive. People are looking forward to the changes but also their returning favourites so there is literally something for everyone.”

To kick off the new program, ping pong enthusiasts–novice and expert alike–are invited down to take part in the inaugural Chinatown Night Market Ping Pong Club. Some highlights to catch in the weeks following include Rain City Chronicles; Hip Hop Karaoke; The Chinatown Mahjong Social; Night Vision: Projection Photo Show including works by Fred Herzog; a Dumpling Festival; Weekend Leisure Karaoke; Chinatown Outdoor Cinema; Sonic Boom! The Street Fighter II Tournament.

There’s so much to see and do (and eat!) including some of the best outdoor entertainment and shopping in the city as well as a weekly on-site food truck gathering organized by the Vancouver Street Food Society and will include favourites like Vij’s Railway, Roaming Dragon, Le Tigre, Tacofino, and Mogu.

“This summer is unlike any other in the history of the Chinatown Night Market,” said program director, Ken Tsui. “The team and I are proud to be collaborating with organizations in the neighborhood–places like The Vancouver Public Library, The Carnegie Community Center, Girls Rock Camp, Vancouver Moving Theater and Project Limelight–in creating culturally unique entertainment on the market stage.”

This spring, Sad Mag mailed disposable cameras to various Canadian electro-pop bands so we could see what they see and wander where they wander. Maya Postepski, drummer of Austra and one half of goth duo TRST, was one of the lucky participants in Sad Mag’s Disposable Camera Project.

Get a sneak peek–before Saturday’s  Mad Mad World Party–of the various objects, subjects and locales on Maya’s radar, and read her thoughts on music, feminism and feeling like a rock star.

Maya Postepski


ARIEL FOURNIER: Maya, you toured with Vancouver artist and musician Grimes, who holds strong opinions about stereotypes in music.  What did you think about Grimes’ open letter about sexism in the music industry? Did you identify with any of her points in particular?

MAYA POSTEPSKI: Touring with Grimes was awesome, I think what she’s doing is relevant and interesting. Her open letter was brave and refreshing. So many female artists or public figures are afraid to even say they’re Feminists—I found her letter very intelligent and compassionate, and powerful. I liked how she specifically explained how being a feminist does not make one a ‘man hater’ and how she went into details about her family, her father and brothers. Being a feminist does not make one a man hater. I am in line with that and I think the word Feminist has way too many negative connotations, which is a such a shame. Being a feminist, in my mind, means I’m looking for women and men to gain equality

AF: What was it that grabbed you about The Organ’s music before you went on tour with them?

MP: I liked the sound, the aesthetic, [and] the nostalgia in Katie’s performance of the vocals. I loved how sad and romantic the songs were. I also loved how greatly they’re crafted—the pop structures in each track are impressive and sophisticated. Each song is barely over three minutes long and hits you where it hurts. Wicked songwriting and awesome musicianship.

AF: How influential was The Organ for you?

MP: They took me on my first real tour. That’s a huge deal—I felt like a real rock star, like my dreams came true, like they saved me from all the horrible thoughts I had of failure as an artist. I felt like I was finally real, like I mattered, and that was very empowering. As a fan I was also very inspired because I finally found a band that I looked up toward, that I could relate to on some distant level, and that I believed was writing music for people like me: young, gay, and confused.

AF: Maya, we talked about how Vancouver used to be less associated with an innovative music scene in your mind. Did Vancouver seem like a more interesting place to you when you were a teenager or when you joined up with The Organ’s tour? Do you feel now that that has changed?

MP: I don’t know Vancouver intimately enough to comment that deeply but I think it’s been a city that people in Canada consider to be kind of sophisticated or fancy, bourgeoisie. I guess it’s quite expensive and getting really developed with condos and the nouveau riche, as is Toronto. With money comes innovation, so there you go. I don’t think any of that affects the art scene though. In fact, I think it draws artists away because artists are generally not wealthy so they leave and go to cheaper cities like Berlin or Montreal. I might do that soon as well, heh.


More photos from the Disposable Camera Project will be on display at The Gam Gallery on May 18th. Come hang out with us at the Mad Mad World Party and peruse photographs by HUMANS (Robbie Slade), MODE MODERNE, AUSTRA and CITY OF GLASS; Lauren Zbarsky, Alex Waber, Brandon Gaukel and Matty Jeronimo.

{cover photo of Maya c/o Hannah Marshall}

“Sad Mag’s Disposable Camera Project is like a behind the scenes from the folks who are in the scenes you wanna get behind.” –Katie Stewart, Sad Mag’s Creative Director.

photos c/o Christop Prevost


with special guests


MAY 10th

Doors at 8pm

$10 at the door
Cheap beer
Stunning visual FX
A truly unique and rare concert space

Arrive early! This amazing and intimate studio has extremely limited capacity.

Click for beautiful videos of past Anchor shows:

103-339 Railway Street
Vancouver, BC

Pop melodies, minimalism and dance

Music – Film – Art – Sound and Vision

Tannis Ling, Paige Cowan, Michelle Fu, Hannah Reinhart, Ken Tsui, Michele Guimond and Megan Lau at Bao Bei // photo c/o Leigh Eldridge

Vancouver Notables is the ongoing interview series where “No Fun City” shows off. More like burlesque than a talent show, Vancouver Notables wants you doing what you do best, but with sequins on your nipples. Tell us who you are, what you’re doing that’s of note and why, oh why, are you rocking that boat? 

Sad Mag cornered the team behind Vancouver’s new Chinatown Night Market and asked them all sorts of questions about the history of the Night Market, how it’s going to reemerge (re-surge!) this year, and the challenges they’ve faced in getting it there.

Alright, team: introduce yourselves!

ML: I’m Megan Lau. I’m Sad Mag alumni and family. I read, write and sometimes take pictures.

MG: I’m Michele Guimond. I work for a big organization by day doing marketing PR etc… but by night I like to use my marketing powers for good, connecting with people with a good idea that want it heard.

MF: I’m Michelle Fu. I’m an artist and designer, and the co-founder of 221A, a non-profit artist run centre based in Chinatown, Vancouver.

KT: I’m Ken Tsui. I’m a filmmaker and host of pop-up events around Vancouver. I currently have the honour of working with the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants’ Association as a program director for this year’s Chinatown Night Market.

HR: I’m Hannah Reinhart. I’m an arts administrator in Vancouver, and am thrilled to be able to say I’m a part of this crazy talented group.

TL:  I’m Tannis Ling.  I own Bao Bei Chinese Brasserie, which is a restaurant that sits on Keefer St. where the market happens every year.  I’m the [Night Market’s] Managing Director.

Photo c/o Chinatown Night Market & Glasfurd + Walker.

ML: I grew up in Vancouver. As a kid, I went with my parents on their grocery trips in Chinatown every weekend. Back then, the neighbourhood was loud and alive. Those memories have a big place in my heart. I got to know the market around 2006, when I got involved with a magazine that was based in Chinatown. The Night Market meant we had tasty and affordable eats outside our door. When Ken asked me to join this team, I had to do it. This has been one of those rare opportunities to work with creative, generous and like-minded people.

HR: Ken recruited me to the team. We met about a year and a half ago when I was working in the neighbourhood, and I have always had a ton of interest in and admiration for his pop-up events and general zest for community building. I’d expressed this to him in the past, so I guess he knew I’d share his interest in bringing new life to the Night Market.

MG: Ken and I know each other through a shared love of food. Despite eating together for a couple of years we never really discussed the details of day jobs, of which mine happens to be marketing. Over a meal at Bao Bei (of course) he told me what he was planning for the market with Tannis. Seeing Ken turn most of what he touches into gold, including his pop up restaurants, I was excited to offer help with some marketing, social media, PR, etc. I am really excited by helping people get the message out about an idea that adds to the cultural landscape in Vancouver. This project was a great opportunity to get involved with a team of people dedicated and passionate about the same things.

MF: I’ve been actively working in Chinatown since 2008, and since then I’ve spent many nights working late into the evening. In the summer the Night Market is a welcome excuse for a stroll, a treat and the inevitable chance of running into a neighbour or friend. Moving here last year really cemented how much I love the neighborhood, and my desire to immerse myself even more increased. I’ve tried on numerous scales to create community engagement, and it’s a fun dilemma I’m constantly rethinking. Ken and I worked together once in the past, and have since kept an eye on each others’ projects (at least I did — is that creepy?), so when he approached me about working together again for the Night Market, he knew I’d be more than interested!

TL: I always knew that I wanted to open Bao Bei in Chinatown for the obvious reason that a Chinese restaurant belongs the best in Chinatown. I also loved the neighbourhood and felt that, unlike other areas of Vancouver, it had a gritty realness to it that I was attracted to and felt at home in. There’s also nothing handier than getting most of your produce, dry goods and smallware within a couple blocks of the restaurant.

When I opened the restaurant and realized that the night market was going to happen outside every summer, I couldn’t believe how lucky I had gotten with that location. I’ve always had a great love for markets and was excited to have the summer weekends on our street imbued with a sense of liveliness and fun. However, I think once the two night markets in Richmond opened up, a lot of business went over there and the market started to feel a bit sparse. My opinion was that there was no point for the Chinatown Night Market to compete with Richmond and that it should be its own entity, reflecting the emergence of a very exciting, young, entrepreneurial and creative spirit in the neighbourhood yet still preserving its cultural identity. I went to the Vancouver Chinatown Revitalization Committee (VCRC) and suggested the idea to give the night market an update which seemed in line with their mandate of bringing life back to the streets of Chinatown. They in turn introduced me to the Vancouver Chinatown Merchants’ Association who has organized the night market for the last 17 years, and welcomed me and a group of volunteers to facilitate this new vision.

What is the history behind the Chinatown Night Market?

KT: The Chinatown Night Market has been a summer cornerstone for the neighbourhood for almost 20 years. For years, the market was a bustling and full of energy. However, what was once a three-block market is now just a single block. Despite scaling down, the market still maintains a cultural significance to the city that the new market team is excited to be a part of it.

TL:  This was also the first night market in North America.

Things have really changed in Chinatown; even in the last five years there’s been a huge turnover in the types of businesses and events that are making Chinatown their home. How is the Chinatown Night Market walking the line between old and new?

MF: This is exactly what got me interested in working with the Night Market this year. I wouldn’t say its been a turnover of businesses in the area; I’d rather say that there is more diversity side-by-side. Though we do have to be realistic about the changing neighbourhood, we can also be very sensitive to everyone living and working here. It’s something I’m very aware of, having been part of the initial change five years ago. So our main thing is to make sure that diversity and accessibility are at the top of the list. We’re not replacing traditional with new; we’re adding to it. We’re keeping it as affordable as it was before, but making it more engaging. We want the Night Market to be a place you can buy a plate of shrimp dumplings, then finish it off with homemade ice cream while listening to Chinese opera, or trying your hand at Hip Hop Karaoke.

Can you recall some of the challenges (overcome or not) that you’ve faced while organizing this endeavour?

HR: Time has been the big one. Annual summer festivals of this size usually take the entire year to plan, and we’ve been working since January (Ken and Tannis started a bit earlier). We’re playing catch up this year and looking forward to getting a head start on next year!

MG: I knew from the start that this was going to be a marketing challenge. How do you get people engaged with something that isn’t happening yet? It is hard to get people focused on an event for summer in the middle of a long, drizzly winter and spring. However, every week as ideas turned into concrete plans and so much amazing talent started signing up, it became clear we just needed a way to help people see what was coming. We are now covering the programming on the wesbite/ blog weekly and activating social media with announcements about what’s coming. Soon we will have a full program up for the summer. We have had so much great support from collaborators and press. Overall, when people hear about what we have planned they are super excited! It’s not hard to convince Vancouverites about the value of a new cultural event. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for announcements throughout the summer.

MF: Working with people from all different backgrounds! That’s been an enlightening challenge — working with different generations, cultural backgrounds, language barriers, different interest groups, and the list goes on…

TL: I’ve realized that creating something from the ground up like the restaurant is difficult but that trying to take an existing event and altering it after 18 years has its own set of challenges.

Okay, team stuff: complete the following “Mad Libs” with the appropriate activity/member of the team…

“Getting it done,” means getting great, crazy, overworked people on board.

Tannis’ cat always manages to make meetings about driving Ken crazy.

The absolute best answer to any question that anyone asks is always ”let me talk to the team about that and get back to you”.

What are you all most excited about right now?

HR: I think I’m most looking forward to seeing Rain City Chronicles perform on the stage. I just went to one of their events a few weeks ago on the theme of “Fame and Fortune,” and it blew me away.

MG: I am really excited about Hip Hop Karaoke hosted by HHKVan. Ken was saying these guys have been looking for way to make these nights accessible to a younger audience. To date, their nights have drawn huge crowds at legal age venues like Fortune Sound Club, but the market is now offering them a way to invite younger kids up on stage. I have no doubt this event is going to be huge.

MF: Outdoor films, and dumpling weekend! Who doesn’t want to know more and eat more dumplings?

ML: I’m with Michelle. Dumplings forever. It’s also going to be beautiful to see Keefer Street transformed and the neighbourhood bustling at night. I want to experience something like the vibrant Chinatown of the 1950s and 1960s that I’ve heard and read about.

KT: I’m excited to see Girls Rock Camp and Green Burrito Records’ band The Courtneys on share the stage. Nothing says summer jam more to me than The Courtneys’ “90210.” Am I allowed two? Screw it. Of course, I’m allowed. I can’t wait to shout “Warrrrrrriorrrrrs come out and playyyyyyyayyyayay” on the mic during our Street Fighter II: World Warrior tournament.

TL: New vendors! We have have a slew of new sellers with products that range from jewelry, laser cut crafts, vintage sunglasses, books, design magazines, ceramics, flowers, chocolate, ice cream sandwiches, and chutney. We also have a couple of collective stalls, one being run by the popular design blog Poppytalk, and the other by China Cloud, a neighbourhood studio/gallery space, that are planning to showcase different artists every week for the entire summer.

The Night Market begins May 17th and runs every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until September 8th. Check out the action on the 100-block of Keefer Street from 6pm-11pm!

On April 21, Sad Mag writers Jessica Russell and Farah Tozy went on assignment for Vancouvers Eco-Fashion Week with the intent of discovering how fashionthat most of ephemeral and wasteful of pursuitsjustifies its involvement in the eco-friendly scene. How do luxury and consumerism co-exist with frugality and restraint? Over the following days, Jess and Farah discovered quite a lot that is new (most of it vintage!) in fashion and the green movement. Part 1 of 3.


 GOING GREEN // Eco-Fashion Week // P.1

Jess and Farah here, reporting from Robson Square on season six of Eco-Fashion Week, where we got a taste of Vancouver’s fabulous fashion scene, and started to feel a bit like celebrities ourselves. (Can you say complimentary Noodlebox and cocktails?) We discovered that eco-friendly fashion has a wide variety of incentives, initiatives and styles, which demonstrate just how inclusive eco-fashion and sustainable clothing’s development has become. EFW showcased designers and products not only from Vancouver, but from all around the world.

But before the good life goes to our heads—all those free carbs!—let’s turn to the people who are actually talented: raw material designer Madera Elena, Diana Svensk with her warm stylings, and Evan Ducharme with his polished looks.


'Merely Me' by Madera Elena, photo by Jessica Russell and Farah Tozy


“This woman radiated positive energy. I felt an honesty that is hard to come by.” -Jess

“Grace.” That is the word New Yorker Madera Elena chose to describe her collection, “Merely Me.” Elena believes that everything we have in this world is given to us, and it is our responsibility to reuse, recycle and protect the earth we live on. Her spiritual outlook influences every aspect of her collection; this season, she placed her focus on earth tones, pure whites and grays.

From Elena we learned that the most common reason people throw away their clothing is because it doesn’t fit anymore. Which is why, instead of using buttons, all of Madera’s pieces are tacked with a floral pin that is adjustable and allows the body to be free and comfortable. Each of her versatile pieces is reversible, convertible and can be worn in at least three different ways. In order to reduce her carbon footprint, she uses 80% recycled fabrics for her clothing in addition to recycled paper for her shoes and accessories. Her fabrics are light, breathable and simple.

According to Elena, we should recycle our clothes, just as we recycle our experiences throughout our lives, by taking the ugly things that don’t “fit” and making them positive. She left us with these inspiring words: “Being conscious of who we are is just ‘Merely Me.’”


Diana Svensk, photo by Jessica Russell and Farah Tozy


“Diana was such a riot to talk to! I honestly wanted to hang out with her after the show, and of course, borrow all her clothes!” –Farah

We have never met a more down-to-earth designer than charismatic Swedish designer, Diana Svensk. Svensk creates knitwear that is fun, flirty and wearable, focusing on warm and comfortable feel-good clothing. Svensk began her business making bow hats, and now she incorporates her velour bows as a trademark into her skirts, jackets, sweaters and winter accessories.

In her words, her style is “what you see is what you get.” Her designs are straightforward and are easily worn with a pair of black leggings. This one-of-a-kind designer embraces feminine colours such as pale pink and mustard yellow in combination with bold patterns. What makes her clothing eco-friendly is her use of 100% organic alpaca wool which is hypoallergenic as well as seven times warmer, three times stronger than sheep’s wool.

When asked about Eco-Fashion in Sweden, Svensk replied that it is developing and hopes that her appearance in Vancouver Eco-fashion week will help her generate awareness back at home.




'Belladonna' by Evan Ducharme, photo by Jessica Russell and Farah Tozy


“We knew he nailed it, and so did he. Fighting back tears of happiness, Evan melted our hearts and we were there to witness his first huge success!” –Jess and Farah

VCAD graduate Evan Ducharme blew us away with his collection “Belladonna” featuring feminine silhouettes, detailed tailoring, and a sophisticated modern style. This 20 year-old Manitoba native started connecting with the fashion world by volunteering at Eco-Fashion week. He was then approached by the head of Eco-Fashion week, Myriam Laroche, to present his first eco-friendly collection. Designing in East Vancouver, he utilizes reclaimed fabrics as well as natural fibres and transforms them into reworked form-fitting garments.

Together with inspiration from style icons Bette Davis and Audrey Hepburn, Ducharme aims to create a look for women of all ages who are strong and independent. Ducharme explained that military jackets had a big impact on his vision for this collection; he wanted to focus on accentuating the waist by cinching it in and having fuller skirts on the bottom. We look forward to seeing what this young designer does next!


come check it out!

Artistic expression is one of life’s joys. Whether it’s painting, writing, or organize your underwear chromatically, aesthetic satisfaction is undeniable. Which is why Sag Mag is thrilled to let you know about On Your Mark, the Langley Fine Arts’ Alumni Exhibition. 

Beginning Friday May 10th 2013, On Your Mark is an art and design exhibition taking place at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre.

This exhibition is a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the 1st graduating class from the Langley Fine Arts School.

Running through to Wednesday, May 22nd, the show will feature over 70 artists, from a multitude of disciplines.

It will be eclectic, inspiring and sure to thrill!

Vancouver-based company CineCoup offers $1 M

Sad Mag loves a good show-and-tell almost as much as we love independent arts and culture. In fact, if showing off could be an independent art form… well, we would be doing it, now wouldn’t we? So when Sad Mag heard about CineCoup, we thought, “What better way to strut your Canadian film-making stuff, than competing for one million dollars via social media?”


“At it’s most basic level, the CineCoup Film Accelerator is sort of like American Idol, except for indie film in Canada,” says Sean Horlor, co-founder of Steamy Windows Productions, CineCoup contestant, and organizer of the CineCoup West Coast Party at The Queen’s Republic on April 25th. “Between now and June 11, filmmakers get to showcase their filmmaking abilities every week on and in June, one filmmaker will be selected for a $1M production budget and a 2014 release in Cineplex. Fans and critics will vote their favourite filmmakers to the top.”

A pretty sweet deal, and one bankrolled by J Joly, founder and CEO of OverInteractive Media and dimeRocker. Joly’s project puts the curatorial power of social media to the test, so that filmmakers who participate gain valuable audience feedback based on their film’s trailer and concept. Rather than relying on film competitions or focus groups, it’s really the team’s social media savvy and the professional online pitch package which will bolster fan support. In the end, the Top 10 projects will be optioned for development. A jury of industry professionals and a “CineCoup Superfan” will select one project for up to $1 million (CDN) in production financing and guaranteed release in Cineplex theatres in January 2014.

Is there a need for such a competition in Canada? For Horlor and his team, the answer is, “Definitely.” Says Horlor, “my team joined this year because the barriers to entry to the filmmaking industry are huge. Only 3% of the films screened in Canadian theatres are made by Canadian filmmakers.”

CineCoup gives indie filmmakers a chance to tell stories that might never make it to screen through the traditional filmmaking model in Canada. It’s a novel concept that, according to Horlor, has really changed the game: “So let’s say you’ve shot a few short films or done a ton of commercial work. You’ve got the skills to make your film. You have a great feature script, access to the best talent, and a great crew…now what? If you don’t have connections to investors or distributors or have a film that’s suitable for federal grants, your project will never find the money to get made.

CineCoup has changed that model. We’ve been connected to fans before our project has even gone to picture and they have helped crowdsource our concept and screenplay by interacting with us in realtime. CineCoup is also finding investors on our behalf and connecting us to their industry network. CineCoup will pitch the Top 10 projects this year at Cannes and the Top 5 filmmaking teams will be going to Banff to pitch industry reps themselves.”


Horlor invites fans to come to the CineCoup West Coast Party at The Queen’s Republic April 25th. It will be a night of celebration and great drinks. Help all eight of these West Coast teams reach the Top 15! Teams in attendance are:


Our third ‘Mo-Wave interview also comes to you from the very noisy but very friendly Chop Suey greenroom. Tyler Morgenstern stole a few moments with Bryn, lead vocalist and guitarist of so-called “queermocore seagaze” four piece Wishbeard, who hours before hard charmed the room with their dreamy, heavy, driven, noirish pop.

How long have you been playing together as a band, and where are you from?
March 17th was our one-year anniversary as a band! I’m from Seattle, Brighton (bass) is from Marysville, Washington, Res (keys) is from Florida and Jude (drums) is from Maryland. And I guess I moved here from Mississippi.

What draws you to ‘Mo-Wave?
Well. Being gay for one. But also I think a lot of us recognized, around the issue of marriage equality, when we were having that conversation in Washington…there were a lot of fundraisers and benefits and shows and concerts for marriage equality, but there were no queer bands. No gay bands. Not that it’s not good to be behind a cause, and it’s important to have allies, but I think that, at least for me, I see ‘Mo-Wave as an opportunity to be queer and be with other queer musicians and be just as good as anyone else.

But also, being queer is a part of who we are, but it doesn’t define us. And I hope that even though we’re recognized as a queer band, that we’re seen as a really great band, and that people hear our music for what it is. I think all my band mates would say that.

What do you think can be done to make more stages for queer artists?
I think a lot of that is our responsibility in identifying as queer. There’s been a lot of shows we’ve played that have not been queer-oriented. And it’s funny, as a band, we joke. Because it’s always the shows where we’re playing to straight bro-ey dudes with beards (which is funny because we’re called Wishbeard), but they’re always the ones who come up and go “Oh man I love your stuff! It was so good!” And it’s funny for us, but I still think that there’s a lot of responsibility for queers to be visible.

We have to make an effort to be visible, and something like ‘Mo-Wave gives us an opportunity and a platform to do that. We all identify as queer in our bands, and it’s something that we talk about and hold close. But we still take being good musicians as something really important–practicing good musicianship and being a good band and being dedicated to that. If people connect with us for being queer, that’s awesome. But if they connect with us for being queer and for our music, that’s awesome, too.


in which paper feathers, bowler hats, and patterned collars queerily coexist

On April 12, the Sad Mag crew piled into a car and headed for Seattle to take in ‘Mo-Wave, Seattle’s brand new, all-queer music festival. In between comically oversized whiskeys and late night street meat breaks, we found some time to interview a few of the festival’s outstanding artists. We took the same (sort of) three (or so) questions to all of them to see what made this amazing celebration of queer art and culture tick. 

Over a beer at The Wildrose, Tyler Morgenstern chatted with Jordan O’Jordan, a Seattle transplant with bluegrass charm and a penchant for the personal as political. 

Read on! and have a listen to Jordan O’Jordan seduce you with his banjo

How long have you been playing as your current project and where are you from?
My name is Jordan O’ Jordan. I’m originally from Ohio, but I live in Seattle now.

What brought you to Seattle?
Originally I wanted to make the pilgrimage to the Mecca of grunge rock. Long ago, after college, I thought, “I wanna get out of Ohio, where do I wanna go? Oh. Seattle.” So many bands. Singles is one of my favorite movies of all time. And I know it’s not actually Seattle. It’s like falling in love with LA from movies like LA Story or like…watching Joan Crawford in LA. It’s not real LA, just as watching Singles is not real Seattle, but I still really liked it.

This project (Jordan O’Jordan) started in 2002. So I’ve been doing that for about 11 years now.

How do you go from making a cross-country migration to the city of grunge and end up playing blue grass and doing slam poetry?
I grew up in southern Ohio—in Appalachia—so I grew up listening to a lot of blue grass music. But I played in a bunch of punk bands in high school, then went to college. And it’s hard to play solo punk drums in your dorm room. So I thought “I’ll pick up a string instrument. I’ll pick up the banjo so I can take my culture wherever I go.”

What do you like about ‘Mo-Wave?
One, it’s a bunch of friends of mine who put it together. And it’s always nice when your buddies do something really cool. And I think it’s awesome to have a queer music festival in Seattle. There’s a ton of queer artists around here and we’re all playing music, so just to have a space that’s specific for a moment is awesome. To just say “hey, we’re integrated most all of our lives. But every once in a while we just want it to be us. This specific, tiny, discrete moment–for just a moment–where we can feel completely comfortable.”

As an artist, how do you think we go about creating more queer stages?
Sometimes I think it’s about making specific choices. Touring according to specific choices, about who we listen to, who we are around. It’s so easy to go into a town when you’re on or booking a tour and be like “Who’s gonna draw the most people? Who’s the popular band I wanna play with so lots of people will be at my show? I don’t care if it’s straight people.”

But then sometimes you think, “You know what? No.” Let’s contact our friends who are the queers and the gays in town and let’s play the dive gay bar, rather than the cool, hip joint. Let’s take these spaces, where we’d be anyway and then let’s make them into show spaces or let’s do guerilla art stuff. Some of my favorite shows have been in non-traditional venue spaces like queer houses, parks, galleries, or in tattoo parlors, or on top of a building. People put it together just for a moment.

And it builds community, too. Those spaces are more close-knit. And at the risk of sounding preachy, it’s not about selling booze. When you play a bar or a venue, the goal of why you’re there is to sell booze. Let’s call a spade a spade. You need to pay all the bartenders, you need to pay the door people. You need to sell a lot of booze.

Which, thank God. Everybody likes to get fucked up. But every once in a while, it’s important to make specific choices about the things we’re saying with our careers…that maybe aren’t the things we want to say.

If you’re only playing venues or only playing with straight people…take a minute. Get a little political. Get a little meta.

Seattle's First Annual Queer Music & Arts Festival

The Sad Mag crew is thick into production of our next issue, MadMadWorld, and we’ve picked a great city to go over our copy in! We are going to Seattle baby! (We are. For realsies. Like today.) The Seattle Queer Music and Arts Festival, and Sad Mag is taking a road trip!

From Mo-Wave’s Website: “We live in an age where pride parades are ubiquitous and queer culture is portrayed across all media outlets.  Yet for some, televised and marketed gay culture is a vapid and self-deprecating representation of queerness.  In our efforts to matriculate into mainstream American culture, we queers sometimes forget what makes us powerful: our ability to challenge the status quo, to push cultural boundaries, to redefine and set global definitions of art and music.  Uninspired by mockeries of reinforced stereotypes, ‘Mo-Wave is an attempt to showcase queers as tastemakers and rule breakers in modern society.  Additionally, ‘Mo-Wave aims to highlight the particular flavor that Seattle and the Pacific Northwest offers the rest of American queer culture, both historically and today.  The inauguration is coming. April 7-14: Seattle, WA!”

Positive Negative, an artist-run gallery on Chinatown’s Columbia block, packs the room (and often the sidewalk out front) every month with clever shows that highlight local and international art and design talent—tonight’s opening will be no exception.

Lost in the City is a collection of photographs that portray the experience of navigating life in Canadian cities. Curated by Ben Knight, creator of DontLook printshop, with the help of local photographer Lauren Zbarsky, the show features ten artists from Vancouver and Victoria who explore issues of identity, control, knowledge, and reality within the chaos of a metropolis.

For Knight, it’s all in the details. He screen-printed each piece by hand onto a custom panel of sealed mahogany wood; each will be available for only $60.

Lost in the City opens tonight, Thursday, March 21, with a party at 7:00 PM (all are welcome), and runs until April 6.

Lost in the City
Positive Negative (436 Columbia)
March 21st-April 6
Opening party March 21st, 7PM-11PM
RSVP here 

Never fear, you didn’t miss ANYTHING YET. The Laugh/Cry Comedy show is March 16th, and we’re all getting real excited/weepy thinking about laugh-hyperventilating through our tears. THIS WEEK, on this website, right here, we will be celebrating our comic line-up with a series of interviews so STAY TUNED. For today’s special, check out the wildchild whimsy of our host, Tegan Verheul.


Laugh/Cry Comedy Show

++Ivan Decker
++Cameron Macleod
++Rachel Burns
++Andy Kallstrom
++The Bobbers – Queer Comedy Improv
++Instant Theatre Improv

…and more!

Doors at 8:00pm / show at 9:00pm
$7.00 admission / $3.50 beers

648 Kingsway, Vancouver


Don’t forget: !!! UGLY CRY FACE CONTEST: Post your best ugly cry face to Sad Mag’s facebook page and get free tickets to this show ¡¡¡

let it all out, Claire.

At Sad Mag, we know all about the ugly cry. 

On March 16th, come celebrate shamrocks and Irish charm through the lucky rainbows of your tear-filled eyes at the Laugh/Cry Comedy Show at Toast Collective. Sample the Laugh/Cry Photo booth, ginger themed cocktails + Beerz (“Ginger” Ale) and all the cry-your-face-off funny stuff you can handle.

Laugh/Cry: designed for optimal facial contortions by your friends at Sad Mag, and hosted with tender sarcasm by Vancouver’s very own Tegan Verheul.

++Ivan Decker
++Cameron Macleod
++Rachel Burns
++Andy Kallstrom
++The Bobbers – Queer Comedy Improv
++Instant Theatre Improv
++Taz VanRassel and Sunday Service

…and more!

Doors at 8:00pm / show at 9:00pm
$7.00 admission / $3.50 beers

!!! UGLY CRY FACE CONTEST: Post your best ugly cry face to Sad Mag’s facebook page and get free tickets to this show ¡¡¡

Mieke Matzke of She She Pop and her father, Manfred Matzke

Bringing new meaning to the term “daddy issues,” She She Pop explores William Shakespeare’s King Lear in a modern way in Testament.

On stage with their actual fathers, three members of this Berlin-based performance collective explore the trials and tribulations, not only of the child-parent relationship, but the struggle of power that can occur as one generation steps down and the other steps in. One lonesome performer, sans father, then explores the idea of an absent parent.

Delving into issues that are seldom spoken about, let alone performed on stage, Testament is not for the thin-skinned. Melding funny, raw, and frank scenes, She She Pop doesn’t hold back in terms of familial stresses, much like the intensity of Shakespeare’s original work.

Bringing up issues that you probably only discuss with your closest relatives in hushed whispers in the kitchen after Christmas dinner, the most powerful scenes in Testament explore disappointment, love, the act of caring for a loved one, and more importantly, forgiveness. These blunt scenes will make you laugh, think, and cry.

Poignant comments about life, success, love, and giving are made light while maintaining and edge of sincerity confirming the realness, and rawness, of emotions that came up during the rehearsal process for these performers and their kin.

Mixing contemporary music with projections, a German version of the King Lear script, and some dancing, She She Pop delivers a veritable feast for the eyes. This includes the subtitles that run across the top of the stage translating their quips. Utilizing the whole stage in innovative ways, She She Pop definitely delivers a full-blown performance, breaking the fourth wall and divulging to the audience their behind the scenes work and process.

Testament also translates Shakespeare into relatable terms. Cutting through the heavy language and antiquated examples, the members of the group get to the key issues of the story through game-show like examples they illustrate on a flipchart that is projected on a screen. From physics formulas explaining Lear’s predicament to creating lists of wants the children express, the use of multimedia is seamlessly integrated into an already multifaceted play.

Utterly charming, at the end of the piece, you feel connected not only to the performers and their aging fathers, but to your own family as well. Taking a moment to consider your own familial situation, there is definitely something about this piece, barring the language difference that is sure to hit home.

And that’s where Testament’s success is born.

Relatable, charming, hilarious at times, raw, and blunt, this piece is more than a translation and adaptation of Shakespeare, but rather a work of art, a performance that incorporates all you could want in a piece of theatre. Including three men dancing in boots to Dolly Parton. Really, you don’t want to miss this.

Testament is on as a part of PuSh Festival until January 26th. In partnership with SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, it plays in the Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts. More information and ticket details can be found online.

Amy Fox, Michele Tolosa and Dan Dumsha as Some of The Rogues

Queer comedy comes sharper and sweeter when improv rules the night. Between the 2nd  and the 12th of January 2013, catch Queer Arts Society’s The Gay Mafia at the Jericho Arts Centre.

When “The Don” of the Gay Mafia decides to step down, the members of the mob vie for a chance to replace him.  Through improv games designed to put his potential replacement’s strategy, wit and theatrical mettle to the test, The Don will name his successor nightly. The Don, who will alternately be played by Pearce Visser and director David C. Jones, will pick the winner rather than the traditional audience vote.

Pearce Visser as The Don

The Kingsgate ChoirOn Sunday, join Sad Mag and the Kingsgate Chorus at the Cobalt (917 Main) for a holiday fundraiser.

Also featuring Mount Pleasant Regional Institute of Sound (MPRIS) and DJ Ruggedly Handsome, you can look forward to boozy holiday crafting, sing-a-longs, a dance party and a photobooth.

Entry is only $10 and it all goes straight to the Crisis Centre. Doors at 8PM!

The Crisis Centre has been providing emotional support to youth, adults and seniors in distress since 1969. As a safe place to turn when there seems to be no hope, the Crisis Centre is operated by 385+ front line volunteers and a small team of professional staff who support and empower individuals to see their own strengths and options, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In 2011, the Crisis Centre impacted more than 93,000 lives across BC through its three core programs: 24/7 Distress Phone Services,, and Community Education. Learn more about the Crisis Centre.

not so silent night

Canzine Vancouver

November 17, 2012
W2, 111 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
$5 Admission (includes the fall issue of Broken Pencil Magazine)


1-7pm: Zine Fair

Over 50 of Vancouver and BC’s best zines and underground publications!

1-7pm: Get in Where You Fit In

A Participatory Drawing Show with curators Alex Stursberg and Brennan Kelly. There will be a series of original drawings and large-format prints that people can colour in. Keep your eyes peeled for this.

2pm: 1-2 Punch Book Pitch

Live on our main stage in front of a crowing crowd, you get two minutes to pitch your book to our panel of judges. They get one minute each to tell you why you’ll never get published in a million, billion years, or why they want to see your manuscript in their inbox ASAP.

4:30 Dissent Chill: The Chill Against Political Dissent in Art

As the conservative government threatens art grants and rejects funding for artistic projects and centres that support projects it sees as anti-government or “glorify[ing] terrorism,” are artists and art centres afraid to create controversial works for fear of losing funding? Our panelists will discuss the perceptions and realities surrounding this topic.

6 pm: W2 Real Vancouver Writers Series at Canzine

Featuring Hal Niedzviecki, founder of Broken Pencil Magazine reading from the collection of short stories Look Down, This is Where it Must Have Happened (City Lights, April 2011). AG Pasquella reading from his latest novel NewTown (AGP Books, 2012). Teresa McWhirter reading from her new novel Five Little Bitches (Anvil, 2012). Jean Smith, novelist and singer in the underground rock duo Mecca Normal. Sarah Leavitt reading from her graphic novel about her mother dying of Alzheimer’s, Tangles.

9:30: Official Afterparty & Sad Mag #11 Launch

Also happening at W2, the Canzine West afterparty features a DJ set by Top Less Gay Love Tekno Party, drag Performances by Tranapus Rex and Beaux Vine, and music by traditional Turkish folk band Something about Reptiles! Admission is $10 and includes a one-year subscription to Sad Mag. Details on Facebook!

Human Library. Photo: Liesbeth Bernaerts

How do you identify? What makes you passionate about who you are?

How do express your identity? Asexual, Anarchist, Athiest?

Do you want to talk about it?

Put your book in our library and share your story!

As part of the 2013 PuSh International Performing Arts Festival in partnership with grunt gallery, Vancouver will be hosting a Human Library.

We are currently looking for people who self-identify as being parts of communities that are often met with prejudice, misunderstanding, stereotype or hatred.

The Human Library is an international phenomenon, having appeared in sixty-five countries over the past twelve years. Originating in Denmark, the project was introduced to fight hate in communities through an innovative method designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding. The Library enables groups to break stereotypes by challenging the most common prejudices in a positive/humorous manner.

Our Human Library project allows audience members to “check out” a human book for 20 minutes for an informal one-on-one conversation. This gives the human books a platform to tell their story and converse with a single audience member at a time.

Where: Vancouver Public Library Central Branch
When: 12 pm-4 pm, January 18-20, January 25-27, February 1-3
Minimum requirement: One day/weekend

Additionally, the Human Library Curator (Dave Deveau) will be hosting two workshops leading up to the festival to help prepare the books for the experience and help them all shape their stories.

In total, being a Human Book represents a 20-hour time commitment. It is important to note that as part of the stipulations of the Human Library Organization this is a volunteer opportunity.


  • Send us your Human Library title(s).
  • Share with us what kinds of stories, challenges, anecdotes and/or stereotypes you might interface with as your Human Library title.
  • Can you engage an audience member in a 20-minute conversation?
  • What makes you passionate about this project and about who you are and what title you may represent?

Applicants must be available for the 20-hour time commitment including workshops. Please send your materials to Human Library Curator Dave Deveau at Apply by December 1st, 2012 at 4:00PM.

I’d lived in Vancouver my whole life, but I’d never seen anything like this.

Hundreds of people coming together under the north side of the Cambie Street Bridge dressed in the brightest colours and craziest costumes: banana suits, 80s inspired office wear, workout clothes, and faux fur body suits were just a few of the attire choices. Some had chosen to bring props: workout equipment, hula-hoops, streamers and fake palm trees. Everyone was dancing like it was the first time they had ever heard music. “How are they getting away with this?” I wondered. Living in No-Fun-City, it isn’t hard to believe that this was the first thing that crossed my mind.

A good friend of mine had told me about the party. “It’s is one of the most amazing things you will ever experience,” she said, and she was right. There were people everywhere, laughing, dancing, singing. It was loud, free of charge and made me feel like the city wasn’t just an empty concrete space. This was the Decentralized Dance Party and it had transformed the city into a thriving celebration of life.

As the spell of the DDP’s intense party atmosphere faded I also wondered who the masterminds were behind this unique concept. The DDP project is the brainchild of Tom and Gary (last names withheld for privacy reasons). In 2008 Gary began working on the Decentralized Sound System. The System works by combining the seemingly antiquated technology like FM radio transmission, 1980’s and 1990’s boom boxes and 1970‘s disco mixers with modern iPods and wireless transmission technologies. They link up their digital music to the FM transmission, then set a boom box set to that transmission, and boom! A party is born.

The system has no central audio source and no central location. “All the equipment is compact, inexpensive and readily available. The DDP is based on the autonomy of the individual. With no central authority it is incredibly difficult to corrupt and impossible to shut down,” says Gary.

This group of party enthusiasts is dedicated to throwing public dance parties in public spaces, welcoming everyone into their celebration as they go. After just a few minutes at the party, I could see that the DDP had an incredible ability to bring people together, and out of their social shells. The main goal was to drop the standard of social behaviour and just have fun. You can be whoever you like and express yourself however you like, as long as it is peaceful and safe. By upholding this value the DDP creates a positive atmosphere that is impossible to destroy and gives everyone the opportunity to participate. Whether you stumble upon the party and want to let your hair down, or if you are a DDP veteran and want to put on a show of your own, everyone is welcome and able to truly be themselves.

The DDP uses social media to broadcast their “party route” in whatever city they are in and have held 15 parties in Vancouver alone, and 51 in total across North America. Their ability to rally the masses in a peaceful way can only be attributed to practice and the help of the Bananas. The Elite Banana Task Force is a group of eight dedicated party animals that are the muscle behind every event. They control the crowds, fix stereos, sell merchandise, and most importantly encourage participation and high energy. As it grows the DDP has proven to be more than just a party: it’s an interesting social experiment demonstrating that thousands of people of all ages, cultures and social groups can come together to celebrate and get crazy in our public spaces without causing any disturbance.

As for what’s next for the DDP, Tom and Gary are working towards a global celebration, in which one party will be held simultaneously across the entire world. This feat would require different technology and a lot of hard work, but somehow I know that they will succeed.

Photos by Jonathan Spooner, Words by Richenda Smith

From the creators of the Steven Seagallery, Bill You Murray me? and the Zig-a-Zigallery comes the pimpest mutha-effin art show to hit Vancouver: Drop it Like it’s Hot, an S-N-Double O-P Lion art show.

While you’re sipping your gin n’ juice, get down to the sensual seduction of our chronic-lovin’ Doggfather. Weave us some corn rows marinated with ganja and Dr. Dre. We want the Doggfather lining the walls of The Fall in his iconic plaid while bouncing in his ’64 Impala on canvas. No talent necessary, fo shizzle, just represent the iconic king of Doggystyle in whatever medium you preferizzle. Dress up and get down to DJ’s Jonathan Igharas (Bike Trike) and Wyndom Earle!

Opening November 9th 2012
7:00PM – 2:00AM
By Donation
RSVP on Facebook

Sponsored by CiTR and the Arts Report

Vancouver International Writers Fest is in its last days of its 25th Anniversary season, but don’t fret, there’s still a plethora of events remaining.

Taking place on Granville Island, the focus of the festival, besides writers, of course, is to celebrate story. With just over 115 authors in attendance, the six days of the festival are jam packed with 77 events to satisfy everyone with a love for words.

If you don’t think writing is your thing, think again. This festival is not just authors reading books: it includes authors, poets, spoken word performers, graphic novelists and more showcasing the diversity of words and writing. Along with a variety of word-oriented events, there are also musical collaborations and theatre pieces on Granville Island to please every attendee.

An integral part of the Vancouver literary scene, Writers Fest also holds it’s own on the international stage seen through the big names this year, including Margaret Atwood (who was at the very first Writers Fest 25 years ago), David Suzuki and Linden MacIntrye.

The festival has proven to be popular among Vancouverites with many events already sold out. Take the time this weekend to see what the buzz is about and catch some of this weekend’s highlights:


Chan Koonchung in Conversation with Charles Foran , 10:30AM, Improv Centre – check out this discussion of Chan Koonchung’s book described as “radical satire” dealing with the Tiananmen Square protests.

Electric Company: Initiation Trilogy (6) , 3pm, Anderson Street Space – get your theatre fix with this piece leading you through three short pieces inspired by poetry.


Journey with No Maps with Sandra Djwa, 10:30AM, Studio 1398 – learn about great Canadian Poet, P.K. Page through Djwa’s stories.

The State and Fate of This Small Blue Planet with Tim Flannery and David Suzuki , 7pm, Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage – closing off the festival, don’t miss this discussion focused on hope the our environmental future.

Wondering what to do after the festival is over and your passion for words has grown three times the size? To keep a presence in Vancouver, the Writers Fest holds other events throughout the year including incite, an exploration of books and ideas in partnership with the Vancouver Public Library, starting again mid-January, special events featuring writers and the Spreading the Word education programs at various schools through the Lower Mainland and smaller communities.

Vancouver Writers Fest
Granville Island

Oct 16 – 21, 2012
Ticket prices vary (details)

For full festival details, check out the Vancouver Writers Fest online.

The 18th annual literary festival will take place from Friday, September 28, to Sunday, September 30, 2012. Enjoy a weekend jam-packed with author readings, exhibits, performances, and all-round literary mayhem.

Events will be taking place around the city, from Banyen Books in Kits to the Carnegie Centre on Main & Hastings, with the majority of events happening around the Central Library (Homer & Georgia).

Sad Mag will be part of Magazine Mews with other great BC magazines, such as Poetry is Dead, Ricepaper and Geist. Plus, Sad Mag’s own Katie Stewart will be giving a talk on Sunday, September 30th, at 2PM on our Sea Legs Pinhole Photography workshop! We’ll have copies of Issues 9 & 10 to share and would be thrilled to talk to aspiring writers, editors, artists and magazine enthusiasts alike. Hope to see you there!

Visit the official Word on the Street website!

The work of Tobias Wong, a self-declared “paraconceptualist” and category defying artist-slash-designer (or designer-slash-artist), is intimately and revealingly documented in the latest exhibit from the Museum of Vancouver.

The show follows his progression as a sly critic of consumerism and marketing and a playful innovator, beginning with his early work as an art student to his most renown and subversive work. In light of his sudden and tragic death two years ago, it’s even more impressive that the show is bright and celebratory where one might expect gloominess. The pieces on display are captioned by those who loved or worked with Wong, sharing their perspectives on his creativity, ideas and dreams; each one is a lovely tribute in miniature, a revealing glimpse into a clever, iconic mind.

Fall is here and the long grey days have set in until June. When you’re feeling uninspired and are dreaming of dropping your projects to stay in bed all day, swing by the MOV instead. There’s no way you won’t leave with a fresh source of inspiration and a few great ideas.

Object(ing): The Art/Design of Tobias Wong
Museum of Vancouver
1110 Chestnut St
10AM – 5PM Tuesday to Sunday
Thursday 10AM – 8PM

The Vancouver Fringe Festival (Sept 6-16) is a fantastic annual showcase of independent theatre, easing the transition out of summer with comedy, drama, astonishing feats of burlesque and remarkably versatile one-man-performers.

This year there are a staggering 754 performances! Amazing! Overwhelming. Where to start? No worries- we will be bringing you reviews and performer Q&As throughout the festival, and to kick off two weeks of great original performance, here are some of the shows we will be lining up for. Look out for reviews of these (and more!) later this week.

Three More Sleepless Nights – Familiar relationships; unfamiliar spaces. A piece about ever changing human relationships, in dialogue with various apartments and houses in Vancouver. An intimate evening for a small audience, actors and audience will enter the performance space for the first time while bringing Churchill’s dynamic one-act play to life.

Fishbowl – Shockingly funny and equally moving,Fishbowl slyly reveals the connections between four wildly different “and outrageously hilarious” characters, all played by Mark Shyzer. Created and premiered at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre to great acclaim (Toronto 2009), then a festival favourite on tour, and Audience Choice Award winner (New York 2010).

Chlamydia dell’Arte: A Sex-Ed Burlesque – You’ve never taken a sex-ed class like this one! Learn about safe sex, STDs, sexual orientation, menstruation, and much, much more through striptease, comedy, songs, dance, and all the parts of a traditional burlesque show.

Peter ‘n Chris Explore Their Bodies – They’ve saved the world. They’ve been murdered in a motel. Now Vancouver Pick of the Fringe comedy duo Peter ‘n Chris are going to explore their bodies. Chris’ Body. Peter ‘n Chris are going inside Chris, in a brand new show from the critically acclaimed, Toronto SketchFest Audience Choice winning comedy duo.

What are you excited to see? Tweet it at us or share on our Facebook Wall!

Sad Mag: Where did the idea for What I LOVE about being QUEER come from?

Vivek Shraya: Queer-based or queer-inspired art is often rooted in or weighted by some form of tragedy, as seen/heard in coming out narratives, stories relating to homophobic bullying, gaybashing or HIV/AIDS. These narratives are incredibly important and powerful as they provide healing, visibility, access to equal rights and remind us of our history, but as an artist who has explored similar themes and told similar stories, I found myself hungering for the other side of the spectrum, stories that celebrate who we are.

I decided that one way to approach this gap was to directly pose the question: “What do you LOVE about being QUEER?” To answer this question is essentially to think of queerness queerly, as for many queers, we first learn how to answer the opposite.

My other inspiration came from the work I do at George Brown College, where queer youth often disclose how much they are struggling with this part of their identity. I wanted to create something that didn’t ask them to wait for ten years to pass for things to get better, but rather, provided some reasons, here and now, why being queer is special and worth celebrating.

SM: Where did you find your subjects?

VS: In honesty, the first people I asked were my friends as they were the ones whose answers I was initially most interested in hearing. The other participants are activists, artists, educators and people who inspire me, mostly living in Ontario.

SM: What do you hope an audience goes away talking about after seeing your movie?

VS: The hope is that through this short film, viewers will engage in the often overlooked or undermined, positive aspects of being queer through a spectrum of queer voices and bodies. Positive representation and stories about queers are vital to a global community where “tolerance” and “acceptance” are still held as ideals versus genuine understanding and celebration of diversity. It is also my hope that queers struggling with this part of their identity will connect with an answer (or many!) that allows them to look at this complicated part of who they are a little differently.

SM: Is this your first film?

VS: This is my third short film. My first film explores racism in the gay community and is called Seeking Single White Male and the second film, Ache In My Name, is explores the challenges of immigrant identity.

SM: Is this your first film in the Queer Film Fest?

VS: No, I was very fortunate to have Seeking Single White Male screened at the festival last year. Amber Dawn, the festival’s Director of Programming, has been incredibly supportive of my work.

SM: How important is it for platforms like the Queer Film Fest for filmmakers such as yourself?

VS: Platforms such as the Vancouver Queer Film Festival are incredibly important because not only do they allow the opportunity for artists to have their work exposed to a broader audience, there is nothing quite like watching your film with a theatre full of people who end up providing direct feedback to your work via their laughter or oohs! or silence etc. So much consumption of video/film happens via the internet and that immediate connection to the audience is lost.

Also being part of festivals is a wonderful opportunity to meet other artists, engage with other art and be inspired! Being at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival last year actually provided the inspiration for What I LOVE about being QUEER and I began filming shortly after, so this screening feels like lovely completion of the circle.

SM: What’s next for Vivek?

VS: Aside from planning more screenings of What I LOVE about being QUEER, my main focus right now has been working on my second book.

For more info, RSVP on Facebook!

Moonshine is not a type of liquor, it’s a catch-all term for any spirit that has been made illegally or by using a backyard still. Whiskey, rum, brandy, vodka are all commonly referred to as moonshine if they meet the basic requirement that they are made by some guy in his backyard. People think of moonshine and 90% alcohol comes to mind (also its terrible taste). It’s true, what comes out of our still is that strong, but we pay close attention to taste and fermentation. We water it down and charcoal filter it. Finally, we age with fresh fruit and toasted oak chips to give it flavour. It doesn’t taste like a commercial product. It tastes more personal and not as neatly categorized as liquor store aisles.

The process of making liquor is a little like alchemy. The whole thing is a steam punk’s wet dream. Huge copper containers with pipe and hose jetting out every which way, steam flowing through the pipes and, somehow, dripping out pure alcohol. In actuality, it’s science 101. The entire process is based simply around the idea that alcohol and water have different boiling temperatures. We make a wine, heat it up enough to turn the alcohol into vapors and then turn the vapors back into liquid. That’s it, the rest is details.

Distilling is slow. I get up at six in the morning to turn everything on and I finish around nine in the evening. The day set aside for distilling is a sort of forced leisure, where all I can do is sit around and slowly watch alcohol accumulate drip by drip. The whole process could be an art history diagram to explain minimalism; we’re getting down to the essence of something, stripping away all the unnecessary to get to the pure form. It exists in accordance with my own life in that I need a device like this to allow leisure. I wouldn’t set aside an entire day to slow down if it was not for distilling.

We always intended this as an artwork before we started. We are not interested in the artisan craft of the distilling process, although, we have been doing it for a year and after drinking many of our “artworks” we have become significantly more concerned with the craft. Our upcoming exhibition “The Secrets of Building an Alcohol Producing Still” will bring our still to a local gallery and to ignite this project in a public and critical setting.

The Everything Co. is a collaborative art project started in Montreal. We are interested in the dichotomy of work and leisure; we see all art as a playful process of work. For now, our identities must remain anonymous because the nature of our current artwork is illegal.

The Everything Co. will be holding 12 speakeasies throughout the city at various locations in coming months. Please email to get on the mailing list and be informed of these upcoming events!

A new performance inspired by slides of a family trip to Banff National Park. Blending sonic reverberations with performance installation, ‘remarkable concussions’ releases memories of the snow to be sensed, sounded, and mixed with imaginative wanderings, created by Mirae Rosner and prOphecy sun.

This show is a part of of Mirae Rosner’s Parks Canada series – an ongoing set of performance and video investigations into the relationships between bodies and landscapes. Previous developments have occurred in collaboration with dancer Holly Holt and media artist Jesse Scott, including I am a star: universal landscape detection methodology, a video performance that aims to mimic scientific instruments with the sensing body.

Remarkable Concussions and Other Memories of the Snow
August 4th, 2012 
Hammock Residency (1923 Graveley)
RSVP on Facebook

Hammock Residency is an emergent based arts residency program, where artists spend time with their ideas, and if they want to, present them.

On August 2nd, join Sad Mag at the Gam & Remington Galleries (located side-by-side at 110 E Hastings @ Columbia) for an incredible group show to celebrate the release of Sad Mag #10, VANIMAUX. 

The theme of the issue (“Food. Fur. Foraging.”) was inspired by the first Vanimaux show, held in October 2009 at the AMS Art Gallery.

The exhibition includes photographs, illustrations, and installations by local artists: Jeneen Frei Njootli, Jeff Dywelska, Sarah Clement, Julie Andreyev, Angela Fama, David Ellingsen, Monika Koch, Rachelle Simoneau, Cody Brown, Lenkyn Ostapovich, Everything Co. and others.

Come drink local brew, see the latest issue, and take a look at our examination of Food, Fur, and Foraging in Vancouver.

Vancouver. Animals. VANIMAUX.

Gam Gallery & Remington Gallery (110 E Hastings)
RSVP on Facebook
Official Afterparty: The Pride Ball at the Cobalt (917 Main St)

Poster by Pamela Rounis

Local institution Burcu’s Angels re-opened as a pop-up shop on Main & 17th on April 13th, filled with furs and fabulousness to the delight of vintage lovers everywhere! Now Burcu and her pals are throwing a closing party on June 17th!

June 17th just so happens to be Car-Free Day, so you can check out all the fun outside on Main St before coming inside for performances by your favourite drag queens Isolde N Barron and Peach Cobblah! Throw on your mama’s fur coat and your highest heels. Open to everyone!

Burcu’s Angels Pop-Up Shop (Main & 17th)
Live music!
$10 Tarot readings
Free box of vintage goodies



Pinhole photo by Judith Hoffman

On June 20th, from 4-6pm, Sad Mag will be hosting a pinhole photography workshop with youth from Qmunity at the Vancouver Aquarium!

Youth will use pinhole cameras, made by Sad Mag volunteers from 100% recycled materials, to photograph sea creatures in the educational wet lab. Thanks to the generous support from our pals at The Lab, we’ll be able to develop, scan and share the images, which will be posted online in a Sad Mag photo gallery. Some will also appear in the Vanimaux issue (#10).

This is an awesome opportunity for youth to learn about the arts and the environment around them, as well as share their finished work with an audience.

We’re so excited about this collaboration and the event that we want to open it up to as many youth as possible. Sad Mag is a non-profit that is able to host events and create magazines thanks to our subscribers, as well as donations from community sponsors such as The Lab. To support this event, we are donating the proceeds from subscriptions between now and June 20th to sponsor youth to attend our workshop!

The cost of attendance for one participant is just $12, the same as a year-long Sad Mag subscription. Buy one for yourself or as a gift (a magazine subscription keeps on giving all year round!) and feel the glow that comes from not only supporting your local arts scene but also the work of the Vancouver Aquarium and fledgling queer photographers.

Order your subscription today!

On June 1st, queer voices are taking over the airwaves!

Tune in to CITR 101.9FM for a whole day of LGBTQ programming that starts at 6:00AM, including Barb Snelgrove, Ryan Clayton, David C. Jones, DJ Lisa Delux, Jennifer Breakspear, Miss Meow, Spencer Chandra Herbert, Kate Reid, Dean Nelson, not to mention your favourite unofficially-queer magazine Sad Mag!

QueerFM has been broadcasting on CITR for almost 20 years, making it one of the longest running queer radio programs in Canada. We caught up with Aedan Saint, QueerFM Broadcast Coordinator and Rainbow 24 organizer,  to ask him for the story behind this event. We are glad we caught him just before his departure to Hawaii, where he’ll be kicking off a new Hawaii edition of QueerFM!

“I took over for QueerFM founder Heather Kitching in 2010 as she went off to Ottawa while I was hosting Fruit Salad (30+ year LGBTQ radio show on Co-Op Radio 102.7FM) for 16 months during and after my year as Mr. Gay Vancouver XXX.  Juggling two radio shows on two stations was… interesting.

“I’ve been producing & hosting QueerFM since then… as well as creating the spinoff shows QueerFM Arts Xtra and QueerFM QMUNITY – AND coordinating the broadcasts of the closing of the Odyssey Nightclub in 2010, WinterPRIDE at Whistler 2011,  The 2011 OutGames and Rainbow 24: LGBTQ Voices 2012.”

“I saw an old flyer from the early 1990s on the CiTR Programmer’s office wall. I thought it odd that no one had produced such a marathon in all the intervening years.  As I planned to make my departure from CiTR and Canada in early June [for Hawaii], I thought…why not create a love letter to the LGBTQ community of Vancouver?  Rainbow 24 is a snapshot in time of our community and its many voices.

“Why June 1st? Simple. US President Bill Clinton first declared June PRIDE Month in the US on June 2nd, 2000 which was re-signed by US President Barack Obama in 2009. Being an American and leaving to go back home, I thought it a poignant way to express the FAMILY that both Canadian and American LGBTQ Communities are, and that we’re stronger together.”

How can you get involved with QueerFM? You can listen on CiTR 101.9FM Vancouver, Like QueerFM on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. Also check out, or email them your love letters or requests to be a guest on the show!

What’s next for QueerFM after Aedan’s departure?

“QueerFM 2.0 launches just after my departure on June 5th to continue the legacy Heather and I have created and nurtured.  Our NEW Producer/Host Jared Knudsen is a great guy, and when you add in the other hosts (Barb Snelgrove, David C. Jones, Ryan Clayton and Velvet Steele) there are not many topics in the LGBTQ community and beyond that they couldn’t handle.  They’re a fantastic collaborative team. CiTR has been pretty fantastic in their support and we appreciate their continued commitment to diversity and support of the LGBTQ Community in Vancouver and beyond…

As for me, I’m headed home to Hawaii, and have a great little show called QueerFM Hawaii that I’ve already scheduled to start when I arrive as well as cross-show content between Vancouver, Victoria and Hawaii.  So we’re expanding the rainbow… one city at a time! :)

“Thanks SAD Mag & Vancouver…it’s been quite a ride.”

June 1st 6:00AM – 6:0oPM
CITR 101.9FM
Listen online at | Twitter | Facebook

Tara Mahoney is one half of the Gen Why Media Project dream team, a “community building project that uses public art, participatory media, events and intergenerational dialogues to engage society in new forms of civic participation.” Given their commitment to community engagement, it makes perfect sense they would be part of the force behind this Monday’s Reimagine CBC Celebration. We talked to Tara about the event and why you should get involved in your public media.

Sad Mag: Hi Tara! Who are you and what do you do?

Tara Mahoney: I’m the co-founder and creative director of the Gen Why Media Project. The GWMP is a community building project that uses media, public art, events and intergenerational dialogue to engage society in new forms of public participation.

SM: Why did you get involved in the Reimagine CBC Celebration?

TM: We strongly believe in public media. We need a non-commercial provider to conenct us with the rest of our country, promote democracy and explore knowledge about ourselves and our culture, even if it’s not profitable. Commercial broadcaster cannot do that to the same extend as public media can. So that’s why when Open Media approached us about hosting Reimagine CBC event, we were totally on board. It’s an honor to be a part of a movement that encourages people to come together in a creative and generative way around such a deeply Canadian institution.

SM: How did  OpenMedia and get involved? How do your organizations fit together?

TM: OM and LN both exist to promote civic engagement (in one way or another) and so do we. We have different approaches and focuses but ultimately we are trying to accomplish the same the goal, so it makes sense for us to join forces. Plus they are wonderful people and good friends.

SM: The CBC has such longevity as a Canadian institution. What makes it so beloved? How do they stay relevant?

TM: The CBC does many things very well and it has done a good job of innovating with technology – especially with their radio offerings. I think the one thing that keeps them relevant is that they reflect our Canadian identity back to us. They feel like a family member – a reliable and trusted source of knowledge. That is a profound and strong foundation to build on.

SM: What are you most excited about with the Reimagine CBC Celebration?

TM: Hm, that’s a hard one. I’m really excited about everything, we have an amazing group of participants. It will be great to see Wade Davis speak and hear a story from Ivan, and Steve Pratt always dazzles with his visions for innovation and the music will be great, it’s all exciting!

SM: What is your hope for the dialogues generated during the event?

TM: My hope for the dialogues is that people walk away feeling good and positive about how we can shape our public media together. I want people to feel like they have a stake in the CBC and responsibility to protect it, while also imagining the possibilities for the future.

SM: Do you have a vision for the future of the CBC?

TM: I think I’d be cool to see it be more open and integrated into communities so as to promote more cultural production. There is so much talent in this country, it’d be great to see the CBC as a platform that encourages and promotes crowd-sourced cultural innovation.

Get all the details on the Reimagine CBC Celebration here!

The best way for the CBC to thrive is to build a community of supporters who have a true sense of ownership over the organization. To this end, as part of a national campaign led by media advocacy groups Open Media and Lead Now, Gen Why Media is bringing together seasoned professionals, up-and-coming CBC talent, outside experts, media innovators, and citizens in a celebratory event that will add new energy to the CBC and help articulate a fresh vision for public media.

Opening Performance: Intercultural performance that showcases Canada’s diverse talent, cultural innovation, and artistic excellence.

Storytelling: Three cultural creators tell stories about their lives as Canadians, and how the CBC has been pivotal to their goals, careers and understanding of their country. Stories from:

  • Christine McAvoy (local music blogger and photographer)
  • Ivan Coyote (writer, storyteller, performer)
  • Wade Davis (author, anthropologist, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence)

Dialogue: On-stage “living room conversations” where participants reflect on the CBC and progressive media platforms, asking questions such as – How do we imagine the future of Canadian media? How will the CBC grow over the next 75 years? What areas for growth, change, transformation, and innovation could it pursue? What ideas or models could inspire its next generation of work? Participants:

  • Jarrett Martineau (independent cultural producer)
  • Kathleen Cross (Professor at SFU School of Communications)
  • Sean Devlin (of Shit Harper Did)
  • Steve Pratt (Director of CBC Radio 3)
  • Nettie Wild (acclaimed documentary filmmaker)

Closing Performance: Local super group of indie musicians. Performances by: Dan Mangan, Aidan Knight, Hannah Epperson, Zachary Gray (of the Zolas).

May 7th, 2012
The Vogue Theatre (918 Granville)
Doors at 6PM, Event at 7pm (sharp)
Buy tickets here
RSVP on Facebook

Learn more about the campaign.
Learn more about Gen Why Media.

At Sad Mag HQ we take an interest in all art forms, or at least we try; personally, I can’t sit through a musical unless it was penned by Joss Whedon. But when we heard about a velvet art show, we were curious: velvet art? What is that, anyway? We inquired with Peter Short, one of hte curators of The ILL’N Velvet Show, about this rare and beautiful (one might say unicorn-esque) art form.

Sad Mag: Why velvet?

Peter Short: Velvet is so soft and smooth. It feels good against your mustache. It’s sexy yet sophisticated. Many people who hang velvet paintings also climb mountains and drink only the finest scotch. These are just a few reasons.

SM: What made you decide to do a whole show with velvet art?

PS: I think its safe for us all to admit just how bomb velvet paintings are. It’s true that the factory production of velvet paintings that existed in the 1970s was a bit of a bummer. Everyone was left with a cheesy impression of what velvet paintings could be but its just an unfortunate misconception. It was only a brief moment in the long history of paining on velvet. The medium has endless possibilities. We wanted to offer art lovers a different kind of gallery experience. The show is a celebration of the ILL’N Club’s second successful year in operation so we wanted to do something fun and unexpected.

SM: Is velvet art making a comeback?

PS: There has always been a desire and interest in velvet paintings. It never really went away. The problem is that the average art lover has to depend on the thrift or antique market for their supply of works on velvet. Quality paintings are only getting more scarce and desirable. Even ‘bad’ velvet paintings can have an outsider quality to them which is very sought after for some collectors. It’s sustained popularity has even necessitated a velvet museum called Velveteria which is now relocating to LA from Portland due to its growing popularity. They are seriously carrying the flame as well as the collectors of this great art form. Collectors whom we can only assume are mostly spies and secret agents. They like to come home after a hard day and puff on their pipes while getting the evening news from Ron Burgundy and the Channel 4 News Team.

SM: When was it in style, anyway?

PS: We’re not even sure, really. Archeology can only tell us so much but we know that it popped up soon after velvet was invented in Kashmir. It was once treated quite seriously and the paintings mostly dealt with religious iconography. Sacred images painted on what was then a seriously luxurious material. There are velvet paintings that are hanging in the Vatican to this day. Who knows. Maybe all the popes smoked the dope.

The ILL’N Velvet Show: Closing Party

7:00PM, April 21st, 2012

Chapel Arts (304 Dunlevy)

$5 at the door

Free moustaches to the first 100 guests.

RSVP on Facebook

(If you can’t wait til April 21st to see the show, you can arrange a private preview. )

Read Part I (an interview with RC Wes­lowski) here.

The second annual BC Youth Poetry Slam championship, Hullabaloo, is coming to Vancouver April 10-14!

The creation of RC Weslowski and Chris Gilpin of Vancouver Poetry House, Hullabaloo brings young slam poets from across the province together to compete on stage. Not a fan of regular poetry readings? Don’t worry– slam poetry was actually conceived as the answer to the boring poetry recital.

As we covered in the last post, there are few rules to slam poems (no props, no music, nothing over three minutes) and winners are selected by randomly-chosen audience members. That ensures each event will be unpredictable, exciting and nothing like the last. Don’t miss it!

The Teams:

15 teams from around the province will be competing- one of which will be formed April 9th in the Last Chance Slam Cafe Deux Soleils, as youth ages 14-19 who are not yet registered for Hullabaloo will compete for a spot on the Wild Card Team.

Details on the Last Chance Slam.


April 11th and 12th
The Vancouver Art Gallery (750 Hornby)
Free (Details)

Finals – Individual

April 13th

The Rio (1660 E Broadway)



Finals – Team

April 14

Granville Island Stage (1585 Johnston)



Visit Hullabaloo to get your tickets now!

Sad Mag: Who are you?

Tim Rolls: Hi! I’m Tim Rolls, a passionate designer, instructor at Vancouver Film School, and founder of Art Not Ads. We’re a collective that works to make public space beautiful through installations and community projects.

SM: What is Captures about?

TR: Captures is about giving Mount Pleasant residents a chance to tell stories about their community through photographs. Each participant becomes a thread in a visual tapestry that shows the diversity of the neighbourhood. The exhibit allows visitors to create their own stories as they connect with the photos, and we hope it helps paint a better picture of what the community is about.

SM: How did the idea form between the three of you? Have you done other work together in the past?

TR: After hearing about the Neighbourhood Small Grants program, I started researching communities, how they’re defined, and what really makes one. It seemed everyone had their own response, so it became the perfect subject to explore for the project. I went to college with Celia, and we’ve worked on one major project called Solstice, for the Illuminate Yaletown festival in 2011. I had worked with Matt in a studio capacity before, and when I told him about the project, he was eager to help in any way he could. All three of us had our own strengths that contributed to making this happen, and it was great to see it unfold that way.

SM: How did you fund the project?

TR: Our initial grant was through the Vancouver Foundation’s Neighbourhood small grants program. As the project evolved and grew, we got a print sponsor to help with the growing final production costs. They fell through at the last minute, so we turned to crowd funding through Indiegogo to make the project happen. The response was phenomenal, everyone was very supportive, we even had local blogs and publications helping to get the word out. We raised over $2100 in about 2 weeks, surpassing our goal.

SM: How did you come up with the idea of a scavenger hunt?

TR: We wanted to give participants a starting point, to get them thinking about the things that make their community great. Even for myself if worked well, because the list would stick in my subconscious, and I’d see something while walking around and think “OH, that’s perfect!” I think that’s the fun part, like urban treasure hunting.

SM: Any that didn’t make the exhibition that stood out in some way?

TR: We tried not to filter the images, these are other people’s ideas, and it was important not to censor them. There were a couple that we had to take out, due to being really low quality and hard to make out. I was definitely surprised by the number of bicycle photos… this community really loves their bikes!

SM: What’s your favourite thing about Mount Pleasant?

TR: My secret spot, the climbing tree. It’s this enormous, beautiful old conifer on top of a hill. It looks normal from far away, but you can pull the branches apart and inside is a clearing where the branches are all worn smooth from years of climbing. About halfway up is a net installed like a hammock, where you can lay and see all of downtown and the whole north shore. It’s pretty magical.

SM: What’s your hope for the future of Captures?

TR: Captures grew so much from our initial concept, which was based around distributing disposable cameras to a small group of residents. It would be great to take it even further, maybe featuring entire cities. With the internet and digital photography being so ubiquitous, I’d love to see where we can go with it.

SM: What are some of your other favourite public art projects in Vancouver?

TR: I really love the work Alex Beim and his crew at Tangible Interaction are doing. They’re great guys, too. They did a temporary installation during the Olympics called “Seed of Truce” that allowed participants to write their thoughts on a “seed” that contained an LED light. The seeds were shot up into the air and fluttered down into a net, where they collected and grew as more people contributed. Like a modern wishing well of good intentions.

SM: Do you think Vancouver is No Fun City or is it a good home for creative people and communities?

TR: I moved here from Edmonton about 3 years ago, and it was definitely the creative communities and energy that drew me here. There is also a very money-driven, business oriented side to the city, but whatever you’re into artistically, there’s a community for it here if you look for it. Toss in the mountains and ocean for great energy and inspiration, and you have an amazing place for creative people to live.

Check out Captures, now exhibiting on the corner of Kingsway and E Broadway, across from Our Town!

To follow the work of Art Not Ads and get involved in their next project, find them on Twitter & Facebook

Vancouver’s favourite storytelling night returns on Thursday, March 29th, with an evening of stories about border crossing. With our upcoming Issue 9 themed around geographic borders and identity boundaries, well, we’re pretty excited to hear what they have to say.

Rain City Chronicles has been enthralling audiences since December 1st, 2009, when their first show was staged at Little Mountain Gallery. Featuring speakers from all walks of life sharing five-minute stories loosely organized around the theme and punctuated by musical performances, the nights are entertaining for their unpredictability, honesty and intimacy. Rain City Chronicles is the creation of two ladies, Lizzy Karp and Karen Pinchin, who impressively orchestrate a flawless, uniquely entertaining event every two months, wrangling new storytellers and winning larger audiences each time.

This coming Thursday promises to be spectacular as usual, with musical performances from The Ruffled Feathers and Christopher Smith. Storytellers are yet to be announced, but the mystery is part of the fun. Bring your friends or come alone and make some new ones- but don’t miss it!

Rain City Chronicles: Crossing Borders
Thursday, March 29th, 2012
The Western Front (303 East 8 Avenue)
6:30 PM

There are a few simple rules to slam poems, in case you were wondering: no props, no costumes, no musical instruments, and nothing over three minutes. Beyond that, anything goes. “Someone could do a haiku, or a hip-hop piece, a rant, a lyrical love poem, or a mix of comedy and poetry,” says RC Weslowski, founder of the Vancouver Youth Slam and c0-creator of Hullabaloo. “By definition, there isn’t really a type of poem called a slam poem.”

So what distinguishes a slam poem from the garden variety? Apparently, it’s not about the poet so much as the audience. Weslowski is wary of laying down any definitions (“there’s a bit of an argument between the poetry slam circles”), but tells me, “What the poetry slam does is encourage poets to engage with the audience. At the Youth Slam we have poets getting up and talking about the teachers’ strike- they are talking about stuff that’s relevant to an audience, and relevant to their audience, the youth of today.  You’re not just dong it for yourself, you’re trying to avoid being self-indulgent and appealing to your own tastes, you’re attempting to make a connection with the audience.”

A little history of the slam poem.

The origin of slam poetry dates back to the 1980s, when American poet Marc Smith realised how bad poetry readings could be. “He was going to readings and poets were just getting up and reading into their papers, and not paying attention to the audience,” says Weslowski, “And they were boring the people who were there.” He devised a different method that would keep the audience interested and provide a new challenge for the poets.

A poetry slam revolutionizes not only the poetry reading, but the universal competition metric of a scoring system. Instead of experts or trained individuals, the judges are five audience members, picked at random. They get cards with scores from 0 to 10 (10 remains the highest score) and vote for their favourites based on whatever criteria they decide matters, be it style or content.

“Everybody acknowledges that it is a gimmick, and it’s entirely arbitrary, because the next night there’s five different judges and the poem that won the night before won’t win. That’s why we encourage people to experience in style, in writing and performance, and not to talk it too seriously. Only take seriously working on your skills as a writer and performer,” explains Weslowski.

Hullabaloo and the Vancouver Youth Slam

Weslowski has been mentoring young poets for years, including as the founder of the Youth Poetry Slam (A Vancouver Poetry House project), now in its fifth year. The Poetry Slam convenes every fourth Monday at Cafe Deux Soleil for a slam. He also works with Wordplay, another Vancouver Poetry House program, that sends poets into schools to do poetry workshops with students and introduce them to slam poetry.

A few years ago, he and fellow Vancouver Poetry House member Chris Gilpin were watching Chicago high school poetry-slam competition documentary Louder Than a Bomb and decided to emulate it in Vancouver. The result was Hullabaloo, a competition inviting teams from around BC to compete in Vancouver and as a by-product building a provincial community of young poets. Impressive for any new arts venture, the first year was a success, which Weslowski attributes partly to the “critical mass of interest” generated by the Vancouver Youth Slam and Wordplay.

What does Weslowski hope the competitors, from Grades 9-12 around the province, will get out of the experience? “They’ll be encouraged to continue their writing. To know they have lots of peers within the province who are into the same thing that they are. If you’re into poetry and writing and books, you can often feel alone and isolated, like a big geek. And maybe you are a big geek, but then you come to this event and find out that there are other geeks just like you out there, and they’re totally into poetry as well.

“I hope they’ll keep on writing and be inspired by the other poets, the featured performers. And they’ll know that if they chose to, this is something they could keep on doing. This is something they could do with their lives.”

And what of the slam poetry neophyte who attends Hullabaloo- what can they hope to get out of it? “They’ll get to see that the kids of today are able to speak for themselves. They’re smart and articulate and they know what’s on their minds. They don’t need interpreters to speak for them. The audience can get inspired and feel a sense of pride about kids. It’s great. That’s kind of what we’re in it for—all the mushy reasons.”

Sounds pretty good to us!

Check back at the end of March for full details about Hullabaloo 2012, or for info and advance tickets to the semi-finals and finals now, visit their website!

Everyone loves gingers! We love them so much we fear that they are going extinct, even though that is a baseless rumour. Fortunately, there are plenty of redheads in Vancouver, and they are all coming to Ginga Ninjas!!

Ginga Ninjas is first and foremost a celebration of  gingers, featuring the Greff Band, the Isotopes (with redheaded guests!), and the Dead Voices. It’s also a celebration of ninjas, who are also cool. Come for the music, stay for the ninja photobooth by Christine McAvoy and St Patrick’s Day shenanigans!


St Patrick’s Day!
17 March 2012
The Cobalt (917 Main)
Doors at 8PM, Show at 9PM
$8 at the door (gingers get in free!)

RSVP on Facebook

Project Runway is great and all, but wouldn’t you like the chance to see a crazy fashion competition and subsequent fashion show live? Of course you would, you’re not a soulless robot! Costumes, cocktails and a merciless panel of judges are three of the finest pleasures in life, and you can have them all on March 9th at Walt Street Fashion Design Competition.

The Art Institute of Vancouver is hosting this no-sew design competition and fashion show. According to the press release, Walt Street is a “fusion of classic Disney characters with icons of popular culture,” including a tantalizing-sounding Lady Gaga/WALL-E combination.

Key words in the press release included: homemade glue paste; cat suits; polka dots; capes; and blue hair. Sounds like the most amazing fashion show ever to us.

Friday, March 9th
Vinyl Retro Lounge (455 Abbott)
Doors @ 8PM, Show @ 9PM
Tickets $10**
More info on Facebook

**available at the door or in front of the AIV Art Gallery from 12:30PM to 1:30, March 2nd-8th

Ryeberg Curated Video is a Toronto event featuring writers discussing their favourite YouTube videos. In March, its first show ever is happening outside of Toronto– right here in Vancouver!

The line-up is great, with featured writers and web curators Charlie Demers (author of Vancouver Special); Miriam Towes (author of A Complicated Kindness); Michael Turner (author of Hard Core Logo); Stephen Osborne (publisher of Geist Magazine)

Don’t miss it!

Ryeberg Live Vancouver
The Waldorf (1489 E Hastings)
March 6th, 2012
Doors at 7PM, show at 8PM
$12 in advance, $10 at the door (includes a copy of Geist)
Full details at

A Venn diagram of art enthusiasts and Bill Murray lovers would have a very large overlap indeed, considering that both indisputably make the world a better place. And while attending an art show can be an intimidating activity for those of us who would rather be at home watching Ghostbusters, the folks who brought you the Steven Seagallery are back with Bill You Murray Me, an art show that celebrates the man, the legend, the one and only.

The show was originally planned for February 11th, but after being overwhelmed by submissions (anyone and everyone was invited to send in their best Bill Murray-themed work, in any artistic medium), the show was pushed back a week in order to find a larger space. The Fall (644 Seymour) will be hosting the event, which also includes drinks and music.

Bill You Murray Me: Group Art Show
The Fall (644 Seymour)


By donation
Full details on Facebook

On Monday night, Vancouver’s swaggering funk-rap group Panther and the Supafly will be playing live instrumental versions of hip-hop classics while karaoke hopefuls get live on the mic. If you’ve never been to Fortune Sound Club’s Hip-Hop Karaoke, widely considered to be Vancouver’s best Monday night out, this is an excellent opportunity to check it out. And if you’re already a Hip-Hop Karaoke fan, you shouldn’t miss the chance to see the night go unplugged like Jay-Z and the Roots on MTV. Panther and the Supafly will also be rocking tracks from their debut EP “Nikazi.”

Sad Mag’s exploration of the complex motivations of Hip-Hop Karaoke performers continues here:

Tim Mortensen

Shmuel Marmostein: What got you into Hip-Hop Karaoke?

Tim Mortensen: I was at a Nice ‘n Smooth show here wearing a Gang Starr t-shirt, and they pulled me on stage.It was right after Guru died and they were pouring out orange juice on stage, it was crazy! A friend of mine who knew about HHK saw that and suggested we perform DWYCK, the song Nice n’ Smooth were doing.

SM: What was your favorite song that you performed?

TM: Halftime by Nas, on Halloween. It was one of the hardest songs I’ve ever done. It was fun because I was dressed as b-boy priest in gold chains.

SM: What about by another performer?

TM: A Busta Rhymes song by local MC Kaboom Atomic, he did it perfectly.

SM: That’s hard! How much do you usually practice?

TM: It depends on the song. For some of them I’ve already liked the song for a while, so it’s easier. I usually practice the song 15-20 times. I always rap over the vocal, and then I switch to the instrumental, which is a lot harder! For the Nas one, I did it 30 times or more.

SM: What do you love about performing here?

TM: The good vibe, and the fun I always have at the night itself. It’s a privilege to perform. You do it once or twice and you get addicted. It’s great experience if you want to be a performer because you have the spotlight on you. And I love hip-hop, so I get to do what I love.

Chad Iverson, event organizer and co-founder

Shmuel Marmostein: What made you start the Hip-Hop Karaoke night?

Chad Iverson: Paul [Gibson-Tigh, the other founder and organizer] told me about the HHK night in Toronto, and said we should do it here. It was just a drunken conversation on Third Beach, and I though hhk sounded like the illest idea.

SM: What was your favorite song that you performed?

CI: Earl by Earl Sweatshirt, or the one I just did, Tried by 12 by East Flatbush Project. I love that song and I’ve been wanting to do it forever. It’s an underground classic.

SM: It was awesome, you killed it! What about by someone else?

CI: That’s a really hard question…maybe Kyprios doing Passin’ me by at the one-year anniversary show?

SM: How much do you usually practice before performing?

CI: Way too much. If you take a look at my lastfm site, all my top songs listened to are ones I’ve performed!

SM: What do you love about performing here?

CI: The ego boost. It feels good! It’s a rush being on stage. I’m also paying homage to a genre of music and a culture I love. I never thought I would be running a hip hop night in Vancouver, that’s for sure.

SM: How has putting on this night changed your life?

CI: Well, this night has made Fortune a second home. I do promotion here and I’ve learned a lot about, I don’t want to use the term, the “clubbing scene.” It’s a potential career changer. The changes have all been positive, definitely.

Hip-Hop Karaoke: Panther and the Supafly

Fortune Sound Club (147 E Pender St)

$4 cover before 10:30PM, $8 after

Full details on Facebook

What would make a person want to perform hip hop karaoke?

Fortune Sound Club’s monthly Hip-Hop Karaoke night sells itself as the best time you can have on a Monday night anywhere in Vancouver. DJ Flipout hosts with a mix of soccer-coach positivity and sharp banter, and DJ Seko plays booming instrumentals on a full sound system. The crowd is loud and focused on the performers, and enjoys dancing, waving hands in the air, and yelling. The stage has been blessed with “rappin’ ass rappers” (Flipout’s term for professional rappers) such as Jaykin, Kyprios, and the Rascalz paying tribute to the songs that inspired them to pick up the mic. But it’s equally welcoming to amateurs, shy girls who bust out eerily accurate Li’l Wayne or Nicki Minaj impressions or nerdy dudes transforming themselves into gangsta rap superstars.

Yet there’s still an intimidation factor. Unlike regular karaoke nights, Hip-Hop Karaoke has no tinned canny instrumentals. There’s no video screen showing incongruous men in suits running on a beach at sunset. Most importantly, there are no lyrics with a bouncing ball for performers to read. Performers need to memorize rap songs (which tend to have a lot of words, spoken fast) well enough to spit fire in front of hundreds of people. The crowd is patient with mistakes, but screwing up can still be pretty embarrassing. I asked four regular performers why they loved Hip-Hop Karaoke.

Diana Theodora Christou

SM: How did you first hear about hip hop karaoke?

DTC: I saw a poster on a telephone pole and felt like the sky opened up and my destiny was calling to me!

SM: What was your favorite song that you performed?

DTC: Das EFX – They want EFX. It’s a really fun and tricky song, and I love how they rap.

SM: What about by another performer?

DTC: That’s a hard question, there’s been so many. But there was an Asian girl doing (sings) Whatta Man Whatta Man whatta mighty mighty good man!

SM: How often do you practice a song before going on stage?

DTC: I usually listen to it every day for the two weeks before Hip-Hop Karaoke. I play it over and over again on the way to work.

SM: What do you love about performing here?

DTC: It’s a big release, and it makes me feel good about myself.

SM: Do you do any other live performing?

DTC: No, but even when I was four I loved to dance around and entertain my family. This is a great way to express that side of myself.

Lawrence Lua

SM: What was your favorite song that you performed?

LL: Breathe by Fabulous, because it’s the one I screwed up the least!

SM: How did you get into Hip-Hop Karaoke?

LL: I came here for a few shows and then started to rap. I love rap and I love performing, it’s fucking cool! Before doing it, I wondered how it would be, to go through the stage fright and the whole experience.

SM: How long do you practice for?

LL: A week or so. I usually cram the night before.

SM: What do you love about performing here?

LL: The people. The vibe.

Next Friday: Part 2, interviews with two more veterans and a preview of the Feb 13th show!
For more on Hip-Hop Karaoke, visit their Facebook Page.

Usually we comment on things that make us un-sad, but there’s a fight going on between the Rio and the LCLB that’s making us sad and mad. Fortunately, the Rio’s Corrine Lea is not backing down, which is making us glad. As does rhyming but I digress.

On Thursday, January 26, the Rio was supposed to be celebrating their success in achieving a liquor license, an achievement which was an integral part of continuing as a viable business.  Instead, the event became a fundraiser to offset their losses and fund future resistance to the restrictions out on the Rio due to that very license.

Lea has had to cancel film screenings as venues classified as “movie theatres” cannot serve alcohol. Lea maintains they are a multi-media venue and so are misclassified. She also notes that her license only runs from 6pm to 1am, and she is not insisting that liquor be served at screenings, only that screenings be able to take place. After they screen the “Rocky Horror Picture-less Show” on Friday, January 27th, when the soundtrack will play and the film enacted by a  shadow cast, they don’t have anything scheduled until February 4th. “As far as the blank days go, we’re just going to scramble and try to figure out what to do. We might have an open mic night every night or a karaoke night…If the government were to reverse their decision I could have movies in those slots like that.” She snaps her fingers with the type of gusto required when going up against said government.

Since being told about the caveat on her license, there have been many statements issued – by Lea, by Solicitor General Shirley Bond, and by Liquor Control and Licensing Branch general manager Karen Ayers – but little constructive communication seems to be happening.  Ayers has made many comments in the media about the various reasons the Rio is in this predicament and not, say, Roger’s Arena. Ayers touts public safety and notes the arena’s security as a reason for venue’s such as that being licensed. Lea notes that she was never given the option to increase security as a means to secure the licensing she needs.

My opinion, and the opinion of groups like CAMRA, is that the province and the federal government are maintaining prohibition era statutes. I would add that even the LCLB’s rationalizations seem outdated, not to mention inconsistent. It would better serve public safety to ban alcohol at violent sporting events than at the movies. I’d definitely put my money on not seeing see any post-event riots at the Rio, screenings or otherwise. While Ayers has been answering objections one at a time, there are easy fixes to these, which Lea is more than willing to put into place. For example, worrying about minors having liquor in the dark could be assuaged if the Rio doesn’t serve alcohol during film screenings. Lea notes she simply wants to serve liquor at events, not movies.

Bond has issued a statement, picked up by several outlets, that her office is “aware of the challenges,” are “considering what changes may be appropriate” and they “look forward to having more to say about this in the near future.” While this may signal progress, the lack of specifics are worrisome to Lea. As of Sunday, January 29th, Lea has yet to hear from the Solicitor General’s office or the LCLB on any options she might have going forward. The Rio is consulting with the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association as to whether their civil liberties have been curtailed.

The Rio is scheduled to host films from the Vancouver Island Film Festival, which begins February 10th. This is just one effect the Rio operating without screenings will have, and represents a real deadline for action. The Rio supports a variety of communities beyond film – music, comedy, burlesque, dance and more – by being a unique and accessible venue. It also represents a part of Vancouver history, as the Tyee points out, an architectural and cinematic history that is being demolished.

Thus it’s not surprising that people are raising their voices not just in the street forums (which is what I call coffee shops and facebook comments), but in the press (simply Google “the Rio Theatre Vancouver” for a flood of stories) and among politicians (Jenny Kwan and Heather Deal are both speaking out on the Rio’s behalf). It even transcends political affiliations, with Leo Knight,  “Law and Order” opinion columnist, to agree on an issue with a Vision Councilor “for the first time in living history.”

This issue is hot, not only because the Rio and Lea are so supportive of and beloved by Vancouver’s arts community but because, especially to that same arts community, it represents major issues in Vancouver and BC. It’s a hard place to succeed as a small business, and is full of demolished unique cultural venues, archaic liquor and public safety laws and a general disregard for what access to arts does for a community both socially and economically. The story at the Rio has become a point of reference  the changing of BC liquor distribution, but it’s truly a point of reference for the intersection of arts, business and government.

On a positive note, the Rio fundraiser née celebration was a success. “We had 200 people attend  – it was a beautiful event. Pandora and the Locksmiths made for a really classy evening with a little bit of tease. On a personal level I found it really uplifting to see everyone face to face. It was really great to personally go around and thank people. It was a real good night for people to talk about the issue,” says Lea, sounding hopeful despite her losing thousands of dollars every day her theatre is closed.  MLA’s Jenny Kwan and Shane Simpson were in attendance, as was Leonard Schein, the president of Festival Cinemas.

Along with the return (kind of) of gaming based arts funding, the controversy and support the Rio’s latest battle has drawn may herald change. But to win, Lea needs our support. Here’s how you can help: raise your voice and write to your MLA, the Solicitor General and the LCLB; on January 31 Heather Deal is presenting a motion at City Hall to have the movie ban removed, and you can come and speak for the Rio; and support the Rio financially by attending their amazing upcoming LIVE events. Find the addresses and emails, up to date info, FAQs and next steps on Rio’s Facebook group.

The Rio may not be screening movies right now – but there’s still amazing events coming up. Let’s wrap up this chapter of the ongoing saga with a few events coming up. You can check out full details online including advance tickets, but Lea had a few extra tidbits to share with Sad Mag readers.

Saturday, February 4: Patrick Maliha presents the Legion of Stand-Up Comedians
Tickets: $10 Doors: 7pm Show: 8pm

“This is a really exciting night because Patrick Maliha is a well known comedian about town and always puts on an excellent event. Graham Clark will be a special guest, which is amazing, people love Graham Clark. He’s added something like 23 burlesque dancers last minute, so it’s going to be fabulous.”

Friday, February 10: Tongue N’ Cheek: Sex, Dance and Spoken Word
Tickets: $12 advance $15 door Doors: 8pm Show: 9pm

“We’re very excited about this show because it features my four favourite burlesque dancers in town, [Sweet Soul Burlesque’s Crystal Precious, Lola Frost, Little Miss Risk and Cherry On Top].  This is kind of my baby, this particular show, because I’m combining two of my favourite things, burlesque and spoken word. C.R. Avery, Mike McGee and Jamie DeWolf are three really powerful spoken word artists and we’re getting them to collaborate, it’s not ‘here’s a dance, here’s a poem’, we’re getting them to work together. [Plus] there’s 8 local poets who will be competing in the Dirty Haiku contest. … It’s coming up on Valentine’s Day weekend so it’s a good date night.

Tuesday, February 14: The 2nd Annual Sweet Heart Serenade
Tickets: $10 advance, $14 at the door Doors: 8pm Show: 8:30pm

“Last year we attached it with a movie, and we had planned to show Shakespeare in Love but with the predicament we find ourselves in, we are not going to be allowed show it with a movie. So, now it will just be live music but it will be a special night because we’ve hand picked performers from some really great bands in town. It’s a more stripped down, intimate performance which makes it perfect for a date night. It’s adults over so they can have some wine to enjoy during the evening.”

Other events coming up:

Thursday, February 9: David Choi with Special Guests (General Admission/All Ages Show)
Tickets $20 Doors:8 pm Show: 9pm

Saturday, February 12: The Rio Theatre & NightHeat Present: Chali 2na MC
Doors: 8pm Tickets: $18 + S/C advance

Friday, February 24: Comedy Fest: Marc Maron (WTF) with David Cross and Bob Odenkirk
Show: 7pm Tickets:

Valentine’s Day is a time to cry, whether it’s because you have no one to swap romantic sentiments and/or body fluids with, or because your swapping-partner gave you a box of chocolates with the best ones already eaten. Whatever your reason for resenting the holiday (just a little, you’re not bitter) join us for Sad Comedy to laugh and drink away the pain!

Happening at our favourite hangout (The Cobalt), the show features a stellar line-up of comedians and is hosted by Ghost Jail’s Caitlin Howden.

If that isn’t awesome enough, a full-on dance party is happening after the show, with DJs Jef Leppard and Robo Santa spinning tunes until close. We’ll have a crying booth and a kissing booth set upfor photo ops all night.

The $10 cover gets you a year’s subscription and admission to the show and dance party! So gather up all your Valentines and get your crying face ready for Sad Comedy!

Sad Comedy: Valentine Edition

The Cobalt (917 Main St)

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Doors at 8:00PM, show at 9:00PM

Cover $10 (includes subscription)

RSVP on Facebook