Another fabulous holiday luncheon for the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco this year at The Metropolitan Club. Thank you Elizabeth Green Sah and Dr. Jay Xu for the invitation to again entertain at your celebration. With my ever-reliable Tom Shaw on piano, I performed a program of songs that told the story of Vanessa’s genesis as a performer, singing for Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners. My role with TTHD as a holiday hostess is one of the greatest delights of my year, and it was so wonderful to share about that joy with the storytellers of the AAM. Holiday cheer to all!
Yes indeed, the place to be happy is here on earth and the way to be happy is to to help make others happy. I just love that quote by Robert Ingersoll posted right outside of my dressing room door on Thanksgiving Day at Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinner. It was a beautiful reminder of precisely why I — and all of the volunteers who produce this annual event — keep coming back again and again.
For me personally, the metaphysical act of singing is my way of helping to make others happy. Music is such a powerful medium with which to communicate and to bring people together. My view from the microphone during the entire duration of this dinner is — every time — the most extraordinary sight to see. There is such joy in watching all of us volunteers bring tangible happiness and a real sense of belonging to those most needy at the holidays. I am honored and so proud to be part of an organization like Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners that does such good for so many. Much love to everyone in our great big extended TT family!
WHAT a night it was at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco on November 7, 2019. I was honored to co-host a beautiful annual gala for Hair To Stay: an organization that allows low-income chemo patients to keep their hair during treatments. A great cause and a FABULOUS show. I and my glamorous co-host, local drag chanteuse Katya Smirnoff-Skyy, wore stunning David More couture gowns for the entire evening. I also thought it the perfect occasion to bring out my BIGGEST hair, in keeping with the theme of the gala. Fabulous performances were given by headliner Isabel Leonard, Sylvie Jensen and Shawnette Sulker, sopranos, and singing surgeon divas Dr. Laura Esserman & Sanziana Roman. At the end of this most glamorous evening the announcement was made that we had raised over $100,000 for the Hair To Stay cause. Thank you to everyone who came out and gave so generously for the good and dignity of others.
Thank God I was born a LEO…we cats of the Zodiac know how to have a damn good time! And on the occasion of one’s birthday, it is an especially grand time to pull out all the stops and rock one’s best looks. I find that shades of purple and gold particularly suit Vanessa’s royal Leonine persona, and that is precisely what I channeled in her stage couture for our August show. And about the black flowers on the gold sequin dress…they were both an hommage to Karl Lagerfeld and the Chanel camelia AND a good luck charm for daring to wear black on my birthday!
The best part about performing as Vanessa Bousay is being surrounded with so much LOVE, both onstage and off. I am the luckiest diva ever to have so many cherished friends who support me and my performing life. I really like people who aren’t afraid to have some fun! Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who came out to my August birthday show this year…and to every show. All of YOU really are the reason that I sing!
My birthday show at Oasis this year was made EXTRA special by my collaboration with Steven Satyricon. Friends for a long time, Steven & I share a very special bond as musical, vocal and stage-creature soul mates. The alchemy that exists when we get in front of an audience — or even meet to rehearse together — is unlike any other relationship I have. Truly, we are friends through music and a shared love of performing. Thank you so much for all of your hard work and dedication to our projects, Steven. I am so blessed to have you in my life, and I can’t wait to share the stage with you again!
Vanessa’s June Martuni’s show this year paid tribute to the signature songs of some of the world’s most beloved BLONDE divas: Dinah Shore, Doris Day, Dolly Parton, Peggy Lee & Marilyn Monroe. What a line-up of PLATINUM POWER! I was joined at the microphone by guest soloist Keta Bill, who served up her own unique spin on the songs of Dusty Springfield. Special thanks to Tom Shaw & Roberta Drake for providing this diva with the best band in town. It was an evening filled with really fabulous music and wonderful friendship through music. I am so grateful to everybody who came out to share!
Of particular note to me from this evening: although the stereotype of blondes as ditzy airheads may still pervade our cultural consciousness, this show opened my eyes to another way of looking at our platinum sisters. Being blonde is really about having a certain attitude – a confident attitude, because a blonde recognizes that she is different from all the other girls. Genetically, blonde hair is the rarest of all traits. So perhaps the blonde is just naturally liberated from the stuffy expectations of being an ordinary brunette or redhead – and maybe this is why blondes seem to have more fun! Mother Nature granted them a beautiful, flaxen mane that puts them instantly in their own category. And when a blonde can sing too – like our celebrated divas from this show – that is a winning combination for FABULOUS. I absolutely love living in the music of each one of these great entertainers. Be on the lookout for BLONDES IN A BAR II!
Last evening it was my delight to attend and perform at our Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners Volunteer Appreciation party held at Manny’s, here in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood. In addition to being surprised with a certificate from California State Senator Scott Weiner himself (!!!), I had the opportunity to share with my fellow volunteers just what it means to me personally to stand there and sing for three hours at every holiday dinner we serve.
Performing for this beautiful community charity immediately takes me back to my childhood, growing up the child of a Protestant minister. Caring for the needy was something that I saw my father do as a day-to-day activity, not just on holidays. I can remember so many years when my father arrived home late for Christmas Eve dinner, because he was out delivering fruit baskets to shut-ins and the elderly. My father made charity an action as a minister, and that is precisely what we do at Tenderloin Tessie Dinners.
Another personal association I have with TT is that my mother was the church organist and frequent vocal soloist when I was growing up. So to channel my dear mom – who is a very big fan of Vanessa’s, by the way! – by assuming the role of church lady/singer person for this organization is incredibly special to me. From watching my mother’s example when I was a child, I learned the important role that music has in healing and inspiring people from every station of life. Sharing the gift of music and my singing with our guests at TT continues my mother’s legacy of music and ministry, of which I am so proud.
I am particularly grateful to TT President Michael Gagne for discovering my early efforts with creating Vanessa Bousay and for his continued encouragement and support of my performing life. I have often said that there would be no Vanessa Bousay were it not for the opportunity to bring her to life in such an organic incubator as TT. I thank you, Michael Gagne, from the bottom of my heart for the joy of being your “songstress” for Tenderloin Tessie Dinners. It is a role that I hold very dear.
Thanks to everyone involved in making last evening’s event so special. I am so proud to be part of this extraordinary love machine with all of you. We are all in this together and it is quite an amazing family to be a part of. Much love to all!
Every year on Mother’s Day it is my wonderful privilege to host a benefit show for Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners. This over 40 year, 100% volunteer organization feeds the homeless and marginalized of San Francisco family-style meals every Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. Vanessa has the unique delight of singing and entertaining at every single dinner. It is a sheer joy to be part of this wonderful organization that does such tangible good for so many people.
Thank you to everyone who came out to Martuni’s this Mother’s Day evening to contribute so generously to this cause. TT President Michael Gagne and I co-hosted the show, joined at the piano by the ever-brilliant Tom Shaw,and Absolute Empress LI Emma Peel as guest soloist & door hostess. Boy did Emma know how to work that tip jar at Martuni’s! Thanks to her magic and all of your generosity, I gifted Tenderloin Tessie with the largest donation we have ever generated from a Mother’s Day show. A wonderful evening, indeed!
On Sunday March 24 it was Vanessa and Erik’s very great honor to appear at a dinner gala for the San Francisco Opera Guild, East Bay Chapter at the Sequoyah Country Club in Oakland. With the expert accompanying of Tom Shaw at piano, Vanessa began the program with a selection of her signature songs. Then midway, with the assistance of former general manager of SF Opera, David Gockley, Vanessa performed an onstage transformation to Erik. Erik then finished the evening with classic Italian songs and baritone opera arias. What a night!
Special thanks to my dear friend Elizabeth Green-Sah for inviting me to appear at the event and for her tireless efforts to make it such a special evening. I am also most grateful to SFO-EBC board president Silvia Lin for all of her support, as well as to board members Florence McConnell and Pamela Philbert. Sold-out weeks in advance, An Evening At The Cabaret was a huge success for all.
On a very personal note, I must acknowledge that this program represented quite a daunting challenge to me as a stage performer. To inhabit the character of Vanessa Bousay — both physically and through her music — presents its own unique requirements. But to transform onstage to Erik and be suddenly stripped of Vanessa’s facade was indeed a very vulnerable feeling. Especially since Erik then immediately launched into full-on operatic baritone repertoire. Although the voice production is the same for both Vanessa & Erik, their respective music and dramatic ethos represent two extremely different characters. Never has the contrast of my two singing stage personas been on more full and extravagant display than here with the San Francisco Opera Guild. An Evening At The Opera Cabaret, indeed!