Thursday, May 10, 2018 was a magical day. I didn't win the lottery, or suddenly lose 20 pounds or have every single thing go right. What did happen, is that I witnessed the magic and the power of women not once, but twice in one day. It rocked me.
For weeks, I had anticipated with insane excitement, an interview with a well-known artist based in New Orleans. This is a woman who is brash, honest, inspiring, positive and bold. I had been following Ashley Longshore on Instagram for a couple of years, and love all of her posts. They are silly, outrageous, hysterical, beautiful, uplifting and poetic. Thursday, the time had come and I could hardly contain myself. I had a list of questions prepared and more often than once, I stumbled...I could hardly contain my glee.
The renowned artist is unabashedly herself and makes no apologies. This is a woman who wears a gold necklace that says "I'd Fuck Me". Longshore has encountered her share of mean girls along her journey and says there is just no time to be around them, take note of them, mind what they say or worry about any of it.
"There are only about 28,000 days on this planet...we gotta make the most of them!"
Longshore decided long ago that she wasn't going to work with any galleries, who generally take about 50 percent commission on anything sold. She forged ahead to secure her own studio and has never looked back. It's a business model that is somewhat unorthodox but again, for which Longshore has no regrets. She also supports other artists by purchasing their art and wares, promoting their work and collaborating.
Her soulful, bold, salty posts are often brutally honest but never insulting. She doesn't make fun of celebrities but happily pokes fun at herself. Her posts about dangerous birds are cheeky and clever pokes at uptight, unkind women she's known in her past but there are never any names mentioned.
I had never met an artist so inspiring they made me want to burst with joy...but she did. Does.
Leaving on an unbelievable high, I headed home ready to sit down at the computer and get writing immediately before the euphoria wore off but, remembered that another bold artist was performing in my neighborhood. How could I pass up a night of fabulousness with Valerie Sassyfrass?
It's difficult to describe the wonder that is Valerie. She sings, she plays instruments and has pre-recorded tracks. She dances, she has a multimedia show playing behind her. She has puppets. She's a senior, in age only. Her spirit is ageless and her show is one for the ages. It was delightful; I took notes. Her show is themed, having to do with outer space, the planets and all things heavenly. Dressed in glitter from head to toe (including a pair of pants that I also own), Valerie knows how to shine a light on herself.
Many of her songs are about the heavens including "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus", "I Want to be a Cocktail Waitress in Outer Space" and "Meet me in the Green Room on Planet Mars". During her show, Valerie has images of planets with her face superimposed over top, floating across the screen. It's surreal and hysterical. And, clever.
Many of her songs seem inappropriate (some would think) for a woman her age, including "Girls Night Out" which talks about being horny and wanting to hit the town. Valerie sings it with gusto and makes no apologies. She has a dance routine for this song, among many others, and her fans follow along.
In fact, that was one of the most inspiring things I saw. An entire row of women standing in front of Valerie, laughing and singing along with her, secretly wishing they had the guts to get up there and sing and dance too. How many of us spent countless hours in our bedrooms with a pretend microphone, singing our favorite songs in front of a mirror or in front of a Teen Beat poster?