Vanessa's Words of Wisdom

These are the musical moments of my life…

Irish Eyes

Shamrocks, rainbows, pots of gold…our Sunday March 10 Irish Eyes show had it all for St. Patrick’s Day celebrating. Just one week ahead of the big March 17 date, we filled Martuni’s with the luck-o-the Irish in song. Thanks to Tom Shaw for his expert accompanying – as always – and to my dear Carol Hull for her cheeky door hostessing.

I must say that the magical, mystic music of this particular show truly takes my breath away. It was such a delight to sing “Danny Boy” once again, and my favorite moment of the evening was our seamless musical segue from “Evergreen” to “Bein’ Green”…why not? Many thanks to everyone who came out to support Tom and me and to get your St. Patrick’s Day groove on early. See you back at Martuni’s in May for our Mother’s Day Tenderloin Tessie benefit show!

Read more →

Country Roads at OASIS

Vanessa’s first solo show of 2019 was a real hootenanny of an old-school country western cabaret – what a way to start the new year! Thank you to everyone who came out to support the show and to share in all the down-home fun. I was joined on the OASIS stage by co-star Steven Satyricon, Tom Shaw at piano and Steven Bolinger on drums & guitar. We sang and strummed our way through songs of the most legendary country divas & divos of all time: Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Johnny Cash & Glenn Campbell – just to name a few. A real highlight of the evening for me was getting to wear so many gorgeous sequined dresses with some serious FRINGE action goin’ on…and of course, such big hair! Vanessa truly is an old-school 60’s country diva at heart, afterall. I am so glad y’all came!

Read more →

Vanessa’s Cowboy Satyricon

“Mammas, don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys…” – unless they are as HOT as my friend Steven Satyricon! Steven was absolutely a force of nature onstage in our Oasis Country Roads show. Classic cowboy suits his very natural, sharp-shooter stage presence and easy, laid-back voice. In fact, there would have been no country music show for Vanessa had Steven not suggested it to me some time ago. I told him “I can’t sing country…I’m a proper singer!” And laughingly he replied, “Oh Vanessa, you are also a great storyteller – and that’s what country is all about.” I am so glad I listened to my Cowboy Satyricon’s advice and expanded Vanessa’s repertoire and performance genre range. Steven, you will always be my Rhinestone Cowboy, darlin!

Read more →

Tenderloin Tessie Christmas Dinner 2018

“I’ll be home for Christmas, you can count on me…” Those words never rang more true than Christmas Day 2018 at Tenderloin Tessie Christmas Dinner. I am so proud to be part of this over forty-year, 100% volunteer phenomenon that feeds the homeless of San Francisco every Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. To create “home” for our dear guests is one of the greatest joys of my entire year. We seat and serve every table family-style, with each person being treated as a personal guest in our home. The energy in that big room of the First Unitarian Universalist Center is absolutely electric, and as one fellow volunteer expressed after this year: “if you can’t feel the love and happiness here, you should go see your doctor!” Truly, it is better to give than to receive, and I shall always consider Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners home-base for my heart and my better self as a human on this planet. Much love to all of our friends at TT and HAPPY HOLIDAYS all year ’round!

Read more →

AAM Holiday Luncheon At The Metropolitan Club

Monday December 10, 2018 was a delightful day for the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco’s annual docent holiday party. Thank you to Elizabeth Green-Sah for the invitation to perform for this lovely group of people at a most elegant venue. At Elizabeth’s request, Vanessa transformed into Erik Chalfant right before the audience’s very eyes, with the keen assistance of Dr. Jay Xu, Director of AAM San Francisco. This special moment only punctuated the gender-fluid aesthetic of numerous Asian deities housed in the museum’s collections. The program ended with a rousing audience sing-along led by Erik, which included familiar Christmas songs, Chanukah tunes and even a Kwaanza folk song. Tom Shaw at piano was as articulate and fabulous as ever. Happy Holidays to all of my new friends at AAM!

Read more →

Tenderloin Tessie Christmas Cabaret Spectacular 2018

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas everywhere you go…” Indeed, the season of giving arrived in the most fabulous packaging at the doors of Tenderloin Tessie’s 2018 Christmas Cabaret show, last Friday November 30. With my dear friend and co-host Michael Gagne (President of TT), we featured an array of local performing talents who ushered in the holidays with humor, variety and generosity of spirit and funds. A big, heart-felt Tenderloin Tessie THANK YOU to Sister Roma, Sister Bella Donna Summer, Bebe Sweetbriar, Mutha Chucka, Absolute Empress LI Emma Peel, Grand Duchess XXXVI Davida Ashton, Kippy Marks, Terry Gauchat, Steven Satyricon, Forest McDonald, Laura Simpson, James Campbell, Sergio Fedasz and John Hull for contributing your time and talents to our show this year. And of course, thank you to all of our friends and TT family who came out to support our cause so generously. To donate to Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners please send your contribution to: TTHD 2261 Market Street, #494 San Francisco, CA 94114

Read more →

Tenderloin Tessie Thanksgiving Dinner 2018

Singing for Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners is always the best part of my holiday seasons. Thanksgiving Day 2018 was no exception. I am simply amazed by the energy of this over 40 year, 100% volunteer organization that makes its sole mission to feed the homeless and most marginalized members of our community. The joy is in giving, my friends, and the love that flows between all of us volunteers with each other and with our guests is a sight to behold. My personal delight is standing at the microphone on stage and watching the afternoon unfold, table by table served family style, one life touched at a time. If you have not had the unique opportunity of giving of your time and heart to Tenderloin Tessie, please contact our President Michael J. Gagne at for information about how you can be a part of our great big loving family.

Read more →

24 Hour Fitness ZUMBA IN PINK!

Thank you so much Robert Melani and Norma De La Fuentes (General Manager, Castro 24 Hour Fitness) for inviting Vanessa to entertain at Saturday morning Zumba class this weekend, in celebration of Party In Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month. What a gas! And I can officially check off performing at a gym from my bucket list! At Robert’s request, Vanessa sang Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and “Colors Of The Wind” from Disney’s Pocahontas — each song reminding us of how much stronger we are together. It was a delight to be part of this fun event, and I did not miss the chance to mount a cardio machine in my crystal stilettos before leaving the gym — no pain no gain, darlings!

Read more →

Hair To Stay on the Runway

It was my great honor to appear as both an entertainer and model for the first annual Hair To Stay on the Runway fundraiser this October, at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. A wonderful organization that allows low-income chemo patients to keep their hair during treatment, the Hair To Stay crew knows how to throw one FANTASTIC party! In addition to all the delectable food and libations, the evening featured an incredible live auction that raised over half a million dollars.

My dear friend, Dr. Laura Esserman, invited me along for the evening to join her in singing a duet from the musical Hairspray, to which she wrote chemo-specific lyrics for us to dazzle the crowd. The standing ovation was most delightful!

But the highpoint of the event was unquestionably the brilliance of David More’s sensational runway couture. I was blessed to wear three of his fabulous looks throughout the evening. The sumptuous fabrics and the genius of his draping technique are hallmarks of his clothes, and the aesthetic beauty of his designs is matched only by his magnificent heart. At every step of the process David was magnanimous, fun-loving and so generous of spirit. I was mesmerized by his love of each and every one of us who modelled for him and how that translated into the most amazing backstage comradery. Truly this was a splendid evening not soon to be forgotten!

Read more →

Witchy Friends

No witch can do it all alone — no matter how powerful her spells! And Vanessa was joined at our Martuni’s Bewitched! show this month by two of the BEST fellow witch sisters any diva could wish for. Thank you to the fabulous Carol Hull for so expertly inhabiting her role as our BEE Witching door hostess — you know that I absolutely adore you, Carol, as we all do. And brava to the exceptional Vandana Bali for dazzling us with her amazing vocal prowess. Power was at every turn of this show with my witchy friends always at my side. I love you ladies!

Read more →