Vanessa's Words of Wisdom

These are the musical moments of my life…

San Francisco Civic Symphony “Love In Any Language”

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What an extraordinary experience it was to appear on stage at The Nourse Theater with the San Francisco Civic Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Maestra Jessica Bejarano. My deepest thanks to Jessica and to all the members of the orchestra for making that moment possible. To sing “Love in any language, straight from the heart, pulls us all together, never apart…” at this time of such sharp national division was a message for all of us to forever remember. I am so honored to have been the messenger at this beautiful Sunday afternoon concert.

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Golden Child Birthday Soiree

DSC03090 DSC03101 DSC03104“Happy Birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy birthday DiVanessa, happy birthday to me!” Thank you to everyone for making my Leo birthday celebration the most fabulous party of the year! What a grand time we had. Special thanks to my dearest of friends, Jodi Goble, for coming out to accompany me, AND for bringing your amazing friends, sisters Shelby and Ashley Sievers, to sing such glorious operatic repertoire for me…by request! I am one lucky diva to have so many amazing friends and colleagues. Cheers to one and all!

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San Francisco Night Ministries Cabaret

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What a wonderful way to spend my birthday evening with San Francisco Night Ministries! Thank you Lyle Beckham (also an August 12 Leo!) for inviting me to participate in the ever-fabulous cabaret event, now in its 7th year. Special thanks also to my dear friend Michael Gagne, President of Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners, for your very special birthday serenade to me and Lyle: “Diva & The Beast”! What fun! And for such a wonderful cause.

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VANESSA: A new short film by Daniela Carias Bendaña

My very deepest thanks to my dear friend Daniela Carias Bendaña for choosing me as the subject for her student film documentary. What a joy to collaborate with you on this, Daniela! You captured Erik & Vanessa’s story with such honesty and artistry.  Many thanks, also, to my friends Michael Gagne, Troy Arnold, Krissy Dorn, Tom Shaw, Roberta Drake & Suliman Nawid for appearing in the film.

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Tenderloin Tessie Thanksgiving 2015

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It is so good to give thanks, always… but especially on Thanksgiving day, especially with family. I had the best Thanksgiving Day ever this year, celebrating with all my friends at the Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners here in San Francisco. Thank-you to everyone who volunteered their time and energy to produce one of our best holidays yet! Much love to all from Vanessa, and I will see you at Christmas Dinner in just a few weeks.

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Sensational Suliman!


What a wonderful time I had with the magnificently talented Suliman Nawid in the creation of our Black Magic Woman image. Thank you, Suliman, for sharing your consummate artistry with DiVanessa! I do believe that you practice your own unique form of sorcery on the hearts of men, darling. So as a galactic witch, I was in such powerful, capable hands.

Special thanks also to the exceedingly brilliant Michael Smith for the amazing photography from the shoot. Kisses for days to you both!

Please don’t miss my Black Magic Woman show at Martuni’s on Sunday October 11 @ 7PM.  I will be accompanied by the fabulous Tom Shaw Trio (Tom/piano, Roberta Drake, drums and Paul Eastburn bass) for this voo-doo-fab-song-fest!

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Ladies Night, Indeed!


Mother’s Day 2015 will forever be the fondest of personal memories for me. What an honor to perform at Martuni’s, representing the Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners with my dear mother in attendance all the way from Chicago! Thank you, mama, and all my extraordinary friends for supporting me and our shared great cause. I love you all!

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Disco Diva Night


“‘Cause when the working day is done, girls just wanna have fun!” And what a fun time we all had celebrating with the fabulous Claire Solot at the California Tennis Club earlier this May. Thank you, Claire, for inviting me to entertain your guests and for being so generous in your support of the Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners. You are, without a doubt, the hostess with the mostess — Disco Divas Unite!

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Left Magazine: My Mother, Phyllis Curtin & Tessie

[Reproduced from Left Magazine March 2015]

[Reproduced from Left Magazine March 2015]

Mother’s Day has always held a very special place in my heart. As a child, I fondly remember celebrating my own mother with our annual family traditions: gorgeous flowers, her favorite chocolates, a new dress (or two or three) and brunch at the Four Seasons, of course. Still a vital part of my adult life, my dear mother continues to inspire me to consider what is really good and true about this iconically American holiday.

For me, Mother’s Day is a very broad celebration of womanhood, at its most epic hour. With ever-evolving concepts of gender roles in our society, designating a specific day to acknowledge and celebrate pure female power seems more cogent than ever. Whatever one’s personal experience with his or her biological mother, every one of us has inevitably been touched by the life of some strong woman who has influenced us in a positive way. We articulate this adoration culturally throughout our unabashed esteemed of such female luminaries as diverse as Eva Peron, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diana, Jacqueline Kennedy, Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie — iconic women whose legends and personal mystique inspire each of us to reach for our highest goals and to contribute genuinely to the betterment of a world in need. At a more intimate level, that strong woman may be a sister, a teacher, a colleague or a friend — someone who’s life example has shown others an enlightened path.

On Mother’s Day, we celebrate all women who have made a difference — great or small — in the quality of our lives. When I reflect upon the women who have most profoundly impacted my life, three beautiful ladies come to mind. First, of course, my dear mother herself. With her typical effortless aplomb, my mother fulfilled the role of provider for me from an early age — a gift for which I will always be grateful. She was my first music teacher, my most extreme critic and my greatest fan. But perhaps the greatest lesson learned from my mother was the value of cultivating an inquisitive mind. This capacity to grow and dream — when groomed by an exemplary education — is perhaps the greatest gift a mother can give to a child. This Mother’s Day, I am thrilled to welcome my mother to our beautiful San Francisco, where we will celebrate her special holiday together at my Martuni’s benefit show for the Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners. I love you mama!


The second woman to touch my life in an indelible way was my beloved voice teacher, operatic soprano Phyllis Curtin. As a young singer I was mesmerized by the glamorous mystique of this legendary lady. But I now realize that what Phyllis taught me was actually much more than a solid vocal technique and artistic refinement: Phyllis taught me to take ownership of my unique inquisitive mind by “doing it my way.” So many singers want to be told what and how to do things — Phyllis had no interest in that. She was there with the strength of her own example to demonstrate that listening to one’s own artistic voice and instinct and following it is — ultimately — true freedom and the source of real joy in life. Thank you, Phyllis, for so elegantly granting me permission to become whoever and whatever I choose to be as an artist.

The third female icon that I must mention here is a lady who I actually never met, but someone who is directly responsible for the creation of my performing persona, Vanessa Bousay. Over 30 years ago a lady named Tessie started a tradition in San Francisco that we now know as the Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners. In an effort to better the world and the community that she saw, Tessie reached out to those most in need, at a time of year when hearts are most often lonely — the holidays. Because of her work, thousands of bodies and souls have passed through the doors of the Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners, where they have been served, fed and loved by the dedicated volunteers who still share Tessie’s beautiful, inclusive vision.


As a drag performer living and working in San Francisco, I am humbled to represent the Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners in the spirit of Tessie herself. As I sing to my extended family each Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter holiday — in my own voice, just like Tessie did — I realize a dream fulfilled by the ladies who have mattered the most to me. As Vanessa Bousay, I can share my inquisitive mind, my cultivated performing talents and my love of communicating with people in the most tangible and remarkable ways. I am so thankful to all the women who have influenced the person that I am…the person who allows me to make a difference where it matter most — in the hearts of those in need. So as I prepare for my upcoming “Ladies Night at Martuni’s” benefit for Tenderloin Tessie, I am immensely grateful for the examples of strength that I have been shown by the women in my life. It is my hope that Vanessa Bousay will continue to inspire others to live fully and to love with an ever open heart. For love is not really about gender — it is about giving. Let’s all give lots of love to the women who inspire us this Mother’s Day. And everybody come and celebrate at my Martuni’s show!


[Reproduced from Left Magazine, March 2015;]

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