For lack of a better word, I will be referring to Vagina Slims as a podcast. But it exists in a world apart from the idea that comes to mind when you think of a podcast. Vagina Slims gives me old school radio DJ vibes. That one hour hosted by your favorite radio DJ, sharing their thoughts while playing some favorite tunes.
I still stand by this sentiment, but as you get deeper into the interview, you might find it amusing how I was instinctually was picking up on the intent behind Lauren’s refreshing form of expression.
When I was crafting the interview, I was trying to figure out a category to put Lauren and Vagina Slims into, find a way to T-up, or justify my outreach to her. However, the truth is simply that she doesn’t fit into some “creative box”. I just enjoy seeing the world through her eyes, and she mostly shares that viewpoint via her Instagram or Vagina Slims, which up until recently (aka pandemic free-time) was more sporadic. Years and years ago, I stumbled on her YouTube, maybe a month or two before she shut it down, which then led me to follow her Tumblr to than listening to Vagina Slims after she started that project. I’ve always been drawn to her taste, and in my eyes, I believe she moves through the world with an artist’s spirit.
Yes, you could say this interview is designed to support the effort of Vagina Slims, but really I just wanted to know more about a person that I found interesting.
(internal dialogue: do we always need some profound justification or reason for simply finding out more about the people we find intriguing?)
I digress – Please do not go and listen to Vagina Slims with the expectations associated with the structure of a podcast as it is in 2020. If anything, pretend you’re on a long road trip flipping through the radio stations and somehow landed on the frequency that is picking up her radio waves. She answers questions from listeners, plays fantastic music, sometimes shares her thoughts on recent movies she watched or sources of inspiration, and always confesses her musing on life in general.
My favorite part of road trips is flipping through radio stations. I’ve found a Majauna themed station in Northern California, a preacher comparing a woman’s sex life to KFC chicken in Lousiana, and a weird Christian storytime in the plains of Kansas. Vagina Slims is how I enjoy the magic of a happenstance radio program from the comfort of my home. Plus, I’m aesthetically amused by her dreamy walks and wherever she roams via her IG Story.
Without further ado – I hope you enjoy meeting Lauren Rose as much as I have over the years via the internet.
Name &/or Nickname:
Zodiac Sign (bonus points if you know your moon and rising sign):
Rising: Aries (I swear I’m not crazy!!)
Helen Hunt in the movie “Twister”
What inspired you to create Vagina Slims? Do you remember how you were feeling 5 years ago when you started this project?
I initially had the idea for Vagina Slims after watching a 1990s film called “Pump Up The Volume” starring Christian Slater. In the film, his character runs this underground pirate radio station that is more or less stream of consciousness talk and his related music picks. He actually pitches his voice while on air so no one can recognize who he is and it suddenly becomes super popular at his high school and starts this revolution of sorts.
In a sense I wanted to create something similar, an open diary “My So-Called Life” format that allows for change, growth, and dissection of topics that I’m into. I’ve always been an internet kid in some way or another growing up so this was a great medium for me to talk about music/movies/life without exposing myself too much. I felt very charged when I first started it like I was finally getting closer to the truths that I’ve wanted to speak about for so long. Years later I still upload in varying degrees, I haven’t tried to capitalize on it and that’s what I cherish the most. It is just for me and the listeners and no one else.
From what I’ve gathered from your commentary on the podcast, you work in film and events, working festival circuits. What was the first film festival you attended? And what do you remember from that experience?
Totally, I’ve been working the festival circuit for around 4 years now in combination with Art Department gigs for film and TV. The first festival I ever attended was in my home town of Minneapolis, Minnesota when I was in college. It was run by the Film Society there along the Mississippi River. I kind of felt like a kid in a candy store when I first went because I’m a huge film lover and I didn’t recognize anything that was playing. It was so exciting to see hordes and hordes of people come together to see rather obscure independent films that typically wouldn’t play in our country/region simply out of curiosity. I ended up volunteering at the festival to get free ticket vouchers and everything began after that.
Sundance is pretty big in the film festival world, even if you’re not really into films, I feel like people know what that is — the first time you went to the Sundance Film Festival, was there something about it that didn’t meet your expectations in a good or bad way – was there something that surprised you?
I didn’t think that I’d actually get to see my idols walking around – just as normal people. I remember seeing directors like Gus Van Sant or Gregg Araki around town or at their premieres and I would well up with tears because I never thought I’d see the day. There is something so special about being in the same place as some of your favorite artists, especially when you’re from a small town and their movies got you through high school. Everyone is there to support each other and their projects, midnight movies are insane, it also is so magical because you’re up in the mountains in Park City surrounded by skiers and brilliant vistas. It will always be my favorite festival.
If your life would be turned into a movie, who would you want to direct that film and could you provide a visual example of the aesthetic / color palette?
Gosh, this is a great prompt! It is so hard. I’ve always been a fan of the photographer Nan Goldin, I’d love to see a full-on feature from her. All of her photographs are so intriguing and full of story. That mixed with a bit of David Lynch. Something that subverts the suburban. Technicolor mixed with the banal. Something actually close to Gregg Araki’s work as well.
Who are some of your creative influences?
I’ve always had a fondness for photographers because they can capture the most absurd things and I really appreciate the act of documentation. As mentioned I love Nan Goldin, Stephen Shore, and William Eggleston. I also love Cindy Sherman and her portraiture transformations. Then there are musical artists like Dev Hynes who I adore or the Cocteau Twins. I could go on and on. It is hard for me to narrow down folks because I’m influenced by so many, but when I step back they all share a similar vein. I like darker / grittier material that is contrasted with what we perceive as to be more traditional, especially Americana and its influences.
Do you have a memorable meal you could tell us about? Whether it’s the food that was mind-blowing, or if it was the people or place that made the meal so amazing.
There was a time in Minneapolis where my friend Willie and I would go on day trips and fly fish together. He and I have been friends for a long time and he is an artist as well. The best part of those trips was finding a restaurant or bar in the middle of nowhere after a long day of fishing. I remember we went to a random place maybe somewhere in Wisconsin, I’m not sure, but the bar had been there for ages. It looked like a shack from the outside with pinned beer memorabilia, faded pictures of Elvis, etc. It is always a bit nerve-wracking going to these small-town places because you’re not sure if they’ll be friendly or not. Turns out we came during their weekly bingo day and none of the locals even looked at us because they were so fixated on the game. I don’t even remember what we ate, probably fries and cheeseburgers since that is all they made, but nothing compares to sitting out on a patio with a cold beer while the sun sets listening to crickets and bar chatter.
Last three artists played on your preferred form of music consumption. (Spotify, iTunes, soundcloud, record player etc… )
Love a good ritual, do you have a morning or evening ritual you could share with us?
I love rituals too! I’m a scattered person so any form of routine is good for me. Truthfully it has been hard with the pandemic right now, trying to keep to some sort of semblance of life without staying up super late and vegging out. I try to start out every morning the same, when I wake up I avoid my phone/computer and just head straight to the shower. When I get out I always moisturize and put on sunscreen because I’m living in LA now and I fry instantly. Making my bed is 100% necessary for me as well or else I’ll just crawl back in. After that, I head to the kitchen and make some coffee and finally open my computer. Sometimes I scroll Twitter but I usually try to have up some sort of research video on a topic that I’m interested in (production design lecture, cake decorating tutorial, etc). From then on I just try to make the day as fruitful as possible including taking a walk around the neighborhood to get my body moving and to see new things.
Do you have an awesome book or documentary recommendation to share?
“Paris Is Burning” directed by Jennie Livingston is an absolute must-watch if you’re interested in former ball culture in NYC and the socioeconomic factors of the era. I also really enjoyed the documentary “The Punk Singer” directed by Sini Anderson. It centers around Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill and the Riot Grrrl movement.
(hot tip from bekka: i’ve included youtube links to both docs and to skip ads just refresh your browser)
What are some of your favorite podcasts you listen to?
It is a bit twisted but I’m not huge on podcasts because of my attention span (I know!), but I’ve always been a fan of You Must Remember This. There is also a great Youtube channel called Be Kind Rewind that does amazing critiques on cinema throughout history.
Who are some of your favorite artists, creatives, makers etc – you follow on Instagram?
@nadialeelee : filmmaker / artist
@junobirch : drag artist
@rinnyriot : writer / artist
@gabriel_held_vintage : stylist / vintage dealer
@thegeminibake : dessert stylist
@nosajliar: hair / makeup stylist
Best “hole in the wall____” you’ve discovered? (it can be bar, restaurant, store, club etc…)
A vintage clothing store in Salt Lake City named Decades! Every fashion historian’s dream come true.
I’m not a professional critic of movies or television, but I love a good story or insight into the human condition. And the fastest way to enjoy a good story these days is in front of the tube*.
*Do people even know what that means? And can you say tube if half the content is streamed from your laptop?
Below is a recap of what I recommend you spend your valuable time on when it comes to selecting material to stream.
Please note, I do not promise we share the same taste, nor that I specifically have a taste that you will enjoy. To try and determine if our taste is aligned, I recommend checking out my previous What I’ve Been Watching — have you watched any of those titles? If yes, do we share similar feelings? If no, you’re just going to have to roll the dice.
3 TV SHOWS x 4 MOVIES x 3 DOCUMENTARIES/COMEDY SPECIALS
📺: indicates the service i used to watch said tv, movie, doc, or comedy specialContinue Reading
This playlist is brought to you by Drunk History, Insecure, Betty, Skate Kitchen, my husband, and a guy walking down my street at the same time I was walking my dog. No joke, I used Shazam on half of this playlist and stopped a man to find out what he was playing on his Bluetooth speaker (it was The Dells).
I’m all about giving proper credit where credit is due, and I wasn’t listening to nearly as much music in June as I usually do. So, if it weren’t for the above — this playlist would be twenty-minutes tops.
Top Five of June:
“Elastic” – Joey Purp
“Magnificent Romeo” – Basement Jaxx
“When The Going is Smooth & Good” – William Onyeabur
“Slippin” – Quadron
“Run For Cover” – The Dells
📷: July 1, 2020 – Self Portrait
On July 1st, I was in bed when I remembered to take my self-portrait. Fuzzy front-facing camera phone self-portrait it is what it is…
Roses & Thorns
- Getting a necessary wakeup call & realizing I could be doing so much better
- Learning and growing – working towards being a true ally
- My sister’s birthday and getting her a TCO “No Bitch” mug to celebrate
- Police Brutality
- Violence Against Trans People
My last snail mail was written only two weeks ago. I don’t have a lot of new things to say or a fresh take on the monumental shift that occurred within our society and myself in June.
I talked about in May’s Snail Mail.
I explain my mental space in the intro leading up to an awesome interview with the band Draag. Thank you again to the band for being so gracious with the delay in posting their interview.
I’ve added banners to my blog that links out to Black Lives Matter and Transgender resources. I want to be a part of a solution, not perpetuate a problem. In June I received the harsh wake-up call, like many (but not enough), that my complacency was actively harming the people I love.
Yeah, not cool dude. Not cool.
Anywho, I write this snail mail to mark the start of this month on this here corner of the internet and go on to post much more interesting content. 🙂
The sound of a cold morning where the dew on the leaves has frozen.
I usually do a write up about how I know or discovered the person or band I’m interviewing. How the music makes me feel or the images it conjures in my mind, but today I’m called to go in a different direction.
I had reached out to Draag for an interview on May 17th, before our country and world took a sharp turn toward collective radical social justice reform. Radical because I think a majority of society was sleepwalking. A shift has occurred, and whether that shift makes you excited or you’re just waiting for things to “go back to normal,” a fundamental shift has happened so buckle up. I view this time as a moment filled with growing pains good and bad. One of the bad growing pains is cancel culture, I’m not here for it and I hope we evolve past it. But I do think there should be more accountability for the voices you give a platform to, and that is a responsibility I am taking on by publishing the voices of other creators. I’m happy to share I did a little social media sleuthing, and Draag is black lives matter aligned. Because I only want to highlight the people who believe in making the world BETTER for other people.
Jessica, the vocalist for Draag graciously responded to my request for an interview quickly after I reached out. I was excited to read through the band’s answers and was looking forward to getting Draag’s interview up, but Camari Carter had also sent in her reply quickly and she had an event coming up that same week that I wanted to help support.
Then I was asked to pause and listen, and I did – happily. As I work towards creating what my new reality will look like and the content I share, I’m VERY excited to share this great interview with Draag. I’m not sure how I came across them but their track Trauma Kit was added to my February playlist, and I’ve been getting into their dreamy escapism sound ever since. I don’t know what you call the wee hours of the morning, but if there is an A.M golden hour – that is the time in which I’d want Draag to be my soundtrack.
Name &/or Nickname:
Zodiac Sign (bonus points if you know your moon and rising sign):
Adrian: Cancer Sun, Cancer Moon, Virgo Rising
Nick: Taurus Sun, Aries Moon, Virgo Rising
Shane: Pisces Sun, Virgo Moon, Aries Rising
Ray: Pisces Sun, Virgo Moon, Taurus Rising
Jessica: Leo Sun, Pisces Moon, Aquarius Rising
When was Draag born into this world? What is the origin story?
Adrian revived some songs he wrote when he was 9 years old on his karaoke tape deck in September 2013. He wanted to condense everything he loved about music into this project, so he recruited a bunch of audiophile toneheads, female vox, and a lot of synths and guitars. Our first EP Nontoxic Process was released in 2018, but we buried our first two mixtapes, made during a time that felt like a completely different band.
Who are some of your creative influences? They do not have to be music related, just creative people who have developed work and put themselves out into the world in a way you admire and perhaps subtly influences your own creative choices?
Kobe Bryant, Ed Templeton, Anna May Wong, Alexandro Jodorowsky, John Carpenter
Do you have any rituals that help you tap into a creative flow?
Shooting free throws in my backyard. To be honest, eating a delicious and nutritious meal actually really helps.
You had a residency at The Echo the month before LA went into “shelter-in-place” mode. First, how was the residency and secondly, does the residency and those shows hold a different meaning knowing they were some of the last live in-venue performances for at least a solid chunk of 2020.
That’s exactly what’s been running through our minds. The residency was everything we could have hoped for, and more. Initially, we declined the offer out of fear. We’re happy to be a part of that tradition – I think Silversun Pickups also had an Echo residency at some point. Despite van problems, amp tubes going out, guitars and drum pads giving out, the stress and pressure of handling all our gear onstage and the meticulous sound checking that we require, the opportunity to play music or be a spectator in a live setting is a blessing, as we’re even more-so realizing now.
Have you guys been doing any virtual/digital performances during this time? We live-streamed (just two of us) for Cancelled Fest with Goon, Reggie Watts, Alaska Reid, and among others.
Favorite comfort food, is it homemade or at a certain place?
Authentic mariscos (Mexican seafood). Shoutout Rosarito Fish Market (San Fernando), Mariscos El Viejito (Sun Valley), and Mariscos El Jato (Boyle Heights)
What’s a song that always makes you dance or instantly puts you in a good mood?
“Down” by 311
Do you have an awesome book, documentary, or general “you must watch this” recommendation to share?
“The Last Dance” makes me want to dominate every aspect of my life.
If you could have the power to read people’s minds or talk to animals, which power would you choose?
The power to summon any music recording gear or instrument imaginable at any time.
If a song off your latest EP inspired an ice cream flavor, what song would it be and what would be the ingredients in the ice cream? “Ghost Leak” is Melona (Honeydew flavored Korean ice cream bar): the bittersweet taste of nostalgia
Apparently my dog really mellows out to “All Mirrors” by Angel Olsen…
Top Five of May :
“Quarantine” – Levitation Room
“Twenty Four Hour Party People” – Happy Mondays
“Cynical Girl” – Marshall Crenshaw
“Jewelry” – Blood Orange
“Hope to Die” – Orville Peck
*Bonus: “Automechanic” – Jenny O.
📷: June 1, 2020 – Self Portrait
A seam in the space-time continuum has burst, and we are in a new dimension.
My eyes are glazed and red from the tears. My face – puffy and pink from the crying. Our country is screaming out in pain, and this was my self-portrait for June 1, 2020.
Roses & Thorns
- Moved our mattress into the den for a Friday night sleepover
- Went on a beautiful long drive
- Watched Julio Torres Zoom Fundraiser “My Sun Aquarius”
- Watching a woman use her whiteness as a weapon on Christian Cooper
- Watching the life drain out of George Floyd
An hour before I took this self-portrait, I had done some breathwork. The exercise triggering an avalanche of pain and gratitude to pour out of me, my face soaked with tears. I cried over the victims of police violence. I cried over the hatred that people spew. I cried over the chosen ignorance of those who refuse to recognize the system of racism in our country. I was crying because I felt guilty and filled with shame for the times I participated in a system that has oppressed black people. My intentions were good, but I wasn’t practicing anti-racism in my life. I was failing the people I love because I had grown apathetic and convinced that I could never take down our countries system of abuse – I certainly couldn’t solve this problem.
The apathy translated into a complete ignorance of our local and state governments. A total unawareness of how city budgets get allocated to departments. Asleep at the wheel focused on the federal system, instead of paying closer attention to the dumpster fire in my own backyard. I would pay attention to the props in state elections, but not the weekly city council debates. Blind to my influence over the judges who decide how to sentence non-violent criminals; probation and rehabilitation or maximum sentencing because the person fit into the box of “societal nuisance.”
I wasn’t ready to write my May Snail Mail Letter until now. Twenty-days from when I snapped the self-portrait and twenty-seven days since the death of George Floyd.
It’s hard to think about how to write a recap of May when it feels like a completely different world. A seam in the space-time continuum has burst, and we are in a new dimension. One where people are brave enough to protest amidst a deadly pandemic. All walks of life coming together to risk their health and breath to make sure no black man gasps “I CAN’T BREATHE” on camera again. The chance at a new kind of society. A new approach to equality. An end to the allowances made for the generations before us.Continue Reading
I am an imperfect ally. I have a full post on this statement on page 2 but first the art.
An Instagram friend @joannathejoyful shared out a powerful quote about art and protest, that I wish I remembered/recalled, but its sentiment has been with me this entire week and inspired me to curate a collection of art and graphic design work from Instagram. I searched the #GeorgeFloyd and #BlackLivesMatter hashtags on Instagram and pulled the pieces that resonated most with me.
I have not reached out to the individual artists for permission to share. I will happily remove any artwork from individuals who do not wish to be featured in this post.
🎨 currently unknown artist x please let me know
🎨 Arty B: https://www.instagram.com/artybraud/
🎨 Broobs: https://www.instagram.com/broobs.psd/<center>
🎨 Monyee Chau : https://www.instagram.com/monyeeart/
the artist has made a very important update to her post/art acknowledging the complicated racial implications of the image she created and the damage of the “model minority” narrative has had on black people.
🎨 Nikkolas Smith : https://www.instagram.com/nikkolas_smith/
🎨 Shirien: https://www.instagram.com/shirien.creates/
🎨 Rudy Willingham : https://www.instagram.com/rudy_willingham/
🎨 Jess Bird : https://www.instagram.com/blessthemessy/
🎨 Danielle Coke : https://www.instagram.com/ohhappydani/
🎨 Sakina Saïdi : https://www.instagram.com/heyimsakina/
Click to page 2 for more thoughts on being an imperfect ally….
Please excuse my lack of words and ability to string them together in a fancy sentence structure.
I’m feeling drained.
I’m feeling tired.
Brain = Jello
But I have a great interview with the band Draag that I’m excited to post and I have a weird hang-up about back to back interviews. So thankfully I have this Sounds Like post I can put up between Camari Carter’s interview and Draag.
I admit this Sounds Like post is a bit of a reach, but I swear there is something here. I am picking up on some musical patterns and I hope you are too.
Harry Style’s ‘Sign of the Times’ sounds like Dr. Dog’s ‘Abandon Mansions’
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.