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Ladies First LA garners diverse crowd to honor femme artists

The confluence of artists, skaters, queers and BIPOC gathering to celebrate principally Latina artists is a notable achievement

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Ladies First LA Multi-Media artist showcase (Photo Credit: @skitzlbc Instagram)

By Alex O’Connor |  REDONDO BEACH, CA. – The intrinsic power of community and art was unmistakable during the second ever Ladies First LA Multi-Media artist showcase on Saturday evening, April 17 in Redondo Beach.

Explicit in purpose “to highlight Different femmes in All Art Forms,” over twenty-five artists and vendors gathered in the outdoor space provided by Vintage Dirty Laundry to showcase their works of art and merchandise.

Lucy and Wink, the curators of Ladies First LA (find them on Instagram @ladiesfirstla), felt it was necessary to create a space specifically for women artists, and Latina representation and pride was an equally important ingredient to the night’s energy and success.

Ladies First LA came to fruition through women supporting each other, and the intergenerational and distinctly maternal support was discernible. Exceedingly friendly, stylish and very pregnant owner of Vintage Dirty Laundry, Mallory, offered her store’s backyard to host the event at no cost (find them on Instagram @vitage_dirty_laundry).

Before acquiring her own store, Mallory and her mother, Magda, frequented flea markets and grew a devoted patronage. After COVID-19 forced all large gatherings to end, Mallory pivoted to showing her curations to smaller groups at her mother’s home, and her successes culminated in her own storefront.

The majority of patrons and contributors were BIPOC millennials enjoying the art and atmosphere with their friends. It was a family friendly event too and many brought their kids. Vendors included parent and child team, “Of” and their daughter, who each had their graphic designs displayed on a shared table.

(Photo Credit: @skitzlbc Instagram)

This was 17 year-old Lili Tobarr’s first event (find her on Instagram @lilis.jewelrybox). Men had an opportunity to display their goods, but only as collaborators with femmes. A husband and wife team, Jenny and Alex’s vintage, custom dyed 90s/Y2K tees are a reflection of Jenny’s retro-chic, grunge and hip-hop inspired style she developed growing up in Hollywood during the 90s (find them at sinningpretty.com or on Instagram @sinningpretty). 

Lucy and Wink’s idea for an all-women’s showcase became a reality because they recognized the absence of opportunity for women to show their art in the male-dominated street art community. Wink is an acclaimed (and humble) artist who mentioned to Lucy how, in her over 25 years of painting, she has never come across a show that honored women. 

Lucy recounts the conservation with Wink that sparked the birth of Ladies First LA, “the few times that I’ve actually been a part of a show is because I had to ask my partner, ‘Hey, can I just say something?’ And they had to ask. The fact that they had to ask for me to be in the show. So she’s telling me this, I’m standing there like, well, that’s wack. Let’s do something. I don’t like that. So, she had that idea, and we both just kind of harnessed our energies.”

The women rightly predicted this unmet demand and worked tirelessly to activate their network of artists. They held their first show on Feb. 22, right before the pandemic, “We started last year, [Mink] brought 10 girls, I brought 10 girls, and we just put in all our money and made a show at Montana Shop. And it was actually a better outcome than our one year anniversary show, and you have to realize that Montana is the only shop in the United States [Montana Colors is a worldwide spray art brand, their LA store is their only U.S. location]. So for Ladies First to be a bigger outcome than our Montana Colors Show was ridiculous.”  

They were intentional to make this Ladies First more inclusive than the first. The range of arts forms featured and various gender presentations represented this growth. River Kim, an editorial photographer and Lucy’s colleague at Montana Shop said, “I think this is a really good platform, this is a really big step for her, and I’m really stoked because she said she wanted to bring more people who aren’t just in her circle of friends.”

The confluence of artists, skaters, queers and BIPOC from all across Southern California gathering to celebrate principally Latina artists is a notable achievement in and of itself, understanding femmes of color accessibility to space and recognition for creative allocates is far from equitable.

Ladies First LA Multi-Media artist showcase (Photo Credit: @skitzlbc Instagram)

Many historically marginalized groups relate to this notion and often find solidarity and comfort in these spaces. River’s roommate, Brandyn, adds, “Lucy’s mom being here and supporting her, helping with the booth, and Lucy, being here, talking to the public, greeting us and everyone else here, that’s when you have the real support of your family who are really lifting you up in what you’re doing. Because I feel like my family, most of the time, doesn’t know what I’m doing.”

Brandyn is an actor and beauty expert, and both they and River were artistic contributors to the event (find River on Instagram @bakedrivs and find Brandyn on Instagram @itsbrandoncross).

“Homegurlism,” a term Lucy coined for resilience, was the theme of the night, “in the beginning, we asked all the ladies in the show, to tell us why they’re resilient. And based on that it really gave a different perspective.” 

Homegurlism was seen through the invocation and celebration of Latina identity throughout the night, elevated by the event’s performances. 

Hip-hop trio Bruxas Brew brought the party and energy for their first live performance since the pandemic, “It was great to see so many people come together for a great cause and still see their excitement,” said Zzay of Bruxas Brew. 

They performed unreleased material and finished with their hit, “Encanto” (find them on Instagram @brexasbrew and find their individual handles there too). Seeing the crowd’s elated response to their music, Bruxas Brew’s Kiddo commented, “It was beautiful to be back on stage and embraced by our music community again. This event was the start of an exciting new chapter for all of us.”

Attendees were also treated to a dynamic rendition of spoken word poetry by esteemed author, speaker and teacher, Angela Aguirre (find her at www.millennialmija.com). 

 There was a vibrancy throughout the evening as both patrons and artists showed their appreciation for one another. This sentiment was captured by Bruxas Brew’s Eyerie, “It feels like true comeUnity persevered and will thrive and flourish once again.”

Alex O’Connor is a queer journalism student at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY

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Elton John and Years & Years give a fabulous performance at the 2021 Brit Awards

Elton John’s & Years & Years’ BRIT Awards 2021 song ‘It’s a Sin’ released in support of Elton John AIDS Foundation

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Elton John and Years & Years 2021 Brit Awards (Screenshot via YouTube)

LONDON – In a show stopping performance Tuesday, Sir Elton John and Olly Thornton both who are British musicians, singer-songwriters, actors, and LGBTQ advocates- Thornton performs as Years & Years, rendered their new version of the Pet Shop Boys classic single ‘It’s a Sin’.

John’s and Years & Years’ BRIT Awards 2021 performance of the Pet Shop Boys classic single ‘It’s a Sin’ was released in support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

WATCH:

LISTEN TO It’s a sin HERE: https://EltonJohnYearsandYears.lnk.to…

DONATE TO EJAF HERE: https://donate.eltonjohnaidsfoundatio…

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Ellen DeGeneres announces she is ending her show after 19 years

Ellen will sit down with Oprah Winfrey on Thursday to discuss her leaving daytime TV

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Ellen (Blade photo by Michael Key)

BURBANK – The Ellen DeGeneres Show known simply as ‘Ellen’ is ending its 19 year daytime television run next year in an announcement made to the show’s staff yesterday and in an interview DeGeneres gave The Hollywood Reporter published Wednesday.  The show debuted on September 8, 2003 but has been plagued with problems over the past year after staffers alleged a toxic work environment and accused producers of sexual misconduct last summer.

“When you’re a creative person, you constantly need to be challenged – and as great as this show is, and as fun as it is, it’s just not a challenge anymore,” DeGeneres told the Hollywood Reporter.

Last July, online webzine Buzzfeed reported that the toxicity in the workplace had created a hostile environment for the show’s production staff. “Most of the former employees blamed executive producers and other senior managers for the day-to-day toxicity, but one former employee said that, ultimately, it’s Ellen’s name on the show and “she really needs to take more responsibility” for the workplace environment,” Buzzfeed wrote.

There were also accusations of racism directed against one former staffer and sexual misconduct and other problems behind the scenes. Some of the problems according to reporting by Variety in addition to the Buzzfeed article stemmed from allegations stating that DeGeneres herself created strive by being notoriously difficult to deal with.

Last March as the pandemic closed down production, there were complaints by staff about being shut out without a fall back position further exacerbated when DeGeneres taped several of the shows with an outside crew at her home.

A spokesperson for Warner Bros. Television, which distributes the show, told Variety that the crew was consistently paid during the pandemic, although at reduced hours, and “acknowledged that communication could have been better, but cited complications due to the chaos caused by COVID-19.”

Adding to the turmoil last Spring, comedian Kevin T. Porter started a Twitter thread asking people to share “the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen [DeGeneres] being mean.”  which had a significant thread of replies.

In August Variety reported that three senior producers executive producers Ed Glavin and Kevin Leman, and co-executive producer Jonathan Norman — have been ousted from the Warner Brothers after the allegations raised in the reporting by Buzzfeed and Variety.

DeGeneres’s contract with Warner Brothers for ‘Ellen’ runs through 2022. The chat show host has publicly reflected on stepping away in recent years.

 She will sit down with longtime pal and daytime predecessor Oprah Winfrey to discuss the news on Ellen‘s May 13 show

She has also broadened her workload, having made a standup comedy special for Netflix and reaching a deal with Warner Media to create new shows for its streaming platform, HBO Max, among other projects.

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NBC Universal cancels Golden Globe awards broadcast for 2022

NBC Universal announced the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes awards ceremony

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Screenshot NBC coverage of the Golden Globes from previous years on YouTube

BURBANK – In the wake of an in-depth investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organization responsible for the Golden Globes by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed a lack of racial diversity among its voting members and various other ethical concerns, NBC Universal announced Monday the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony.

This past February ahead of the HFPA’s 78th Annual Golden Globes ceremony, HFPA board chair Meher Tatna told Variety magazine that the organization that the organization of international journalists which covers the film, television, and entertainment industry has not had any Black members in at least 20 years.

Actor Sterling K. Brown,  a Golden Globe winner and two-time nominee, posted to Instagram; 

Criticism of the HFPA, which puts on the Globes and has been denounced for a lack of diversity and for ethical impropriates, reached such a pitch this week that actor and superstar celebrity Tom Cruise returned his three Globes to the press association’s headquarters, according to a person who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the decision, the Associated Press reported.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” a spokesperson for NBC said in a statement.

“As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” the spokesperson added. “Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

NBC’s decision comes as Vogue reported that the backlash to the HFPA came swiftly and decisively. Some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Netflix, Amazon, and WarnerMedia, announced they were severing ties with the organization until efforts were made to increase diversity and stamp out corruption, while a group of more than 100 of the industry’s biggest PR firms released a statement in March in which they pledged to boycott the ceremony for the foreseeable future. 

The HFPA did not immediately respond to inquiries by media outlets requesting comment about NBC’s decision.

In February, the organization said it was “fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV, and the artists inspiring and educating them.”

“We understand that we need to bring in Black members as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible,” it said.

HFPA also announced a full timetable through this summer for implementing promised reform initiatives in response to NBC’s decision.

“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly — and as thoughtfully — as possible remains the top priority,” the HFPA board said in a statement. “We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”

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