After three dreary Pandemic years, it was a thrill to resume Vanessa’s annual Mother’s Day show at Martuni’s Piano Lounge last evening. As always, this show was a benefit for Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners: an over 40 year, 100% volunteer organization that serves family-style meals to the homeless of San Francisco on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day & Easter Sunday. Joined at the piano by Nicolas Perez, Vanessa co-hosted the show with President of TTHD Michael Gagne. Special guest vocalist Absolute Empress LI Emma Peel dazzled at the microphone and as door hostess for the evening. Heartfelt thanks to so many friends who came out to support this wonderful charity including John & Carol Hull, Robert Sanchez & Jerry Lowe, Dominick Wesegin & Steve Sparagen, Ross Neville & Bo Ayres, Elizbeth Green-Sah, Linda Lee, Troy Arnold, Max Schroeder, Tony Tabangcura, Linda Ostrom, Susan McWhirter, Denise Gindoy, Martha Ann Vielle, Alejandro Flagger & so many more. Photo by Linda Lee.
As always, it is one the greatest joys of my life to entertain for my great big extended family at Tenderloin Tessie Holiday Dinners. Easter 2022 was no exception. Thank you to Michael Gagne, President of TT for getting us as back to normal as possible with this Easter’s seated, completely indoor dinner. Serving our dear guests family-style is really how we communicate the love that is the Tenderloin Tessie volunteer organization. From my vantage point at the microphone, watching the afternoon unfold, I was reminded once again of what a basic human need it is to come together and feel connected to others. The simple act of sharing a meal and a song is a cherished gift that we can again offer to those who feel least connected and seen in our community. I send out all my love to the countless volunteers who make this dinner happen each holiday and to our precious guests. To quote from Dreamgirls: “It’s more than you, it’s more than me, no matter what we are, we are a FAMILY.”
Vanessa’s Water Couture for her H2O April Showers show spanned the wardrobe from full-on gowns to a white terry cloth bath towel and turban. What does a diva wear in any moist context? This show delivered the answers! So many personal favorite of mine were on display: the lavender/gemstone, Esther Williams-inspired headgear created by my dear Lizzie Dierken; the lavender “raindrop” dress and stole sewn for me by my love Robert McLoud; the shimmering “raindrop” paillette gown procured just for this water show – of course!; & the white netting poncho created by Erik Chalfant many moons ago for his Cabana Couture resort collection. So many different life story-lines wound up together on the Oasis stage this evening. What a blast! Photos by Devlin Shand.
It is truly a delight to sing for an audience of familiar faces. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful group of supportive friends who come out and see me perform. My H2O April Showers show at Oasis was no exception. My deepest gratitude to everyone who attended, but particularly to my dear friends pictured in this post: Ross Neville, Bo Ayres, Michael Gagne, Steven Satyricon, Andrew Darling, John & Carol Hull, Jeffrey Doney, Adam Thier, Johnny Vargas, Cicero Braganca, Michael Ackerman, Linda Ostrom, Susan McWhirter, Denise Gindooy, Alejandro Flagger, Lizzie Dierken, Michael Pere and of course, my darling Linda Lee. Hugs and kisses to all! Photos by Linda Lee & Devlin Shand.
For me personally, the best part about being Vanessa Bousay is the opportunity to make music through song. I have been singing my entire life and have two degrees in voice performance to show for it. Since the beginning of my performing life as Vanessa, I have been blessed to know and to collaborate with two of the most amazing musicians any singer could EVER ask for: Tom Shaw & Roberta Drake. We have performed countless shows together in a variety of venues, and it is always pure performing delight.
The hallmark of every rehearsal period and performance with Tom & Roberta that I appreciate most is attention to detail. Getting tempi, vibes, cuts and segues absolutely rock-solid allows me total freedom as a singer/entertainer. I never have to wonder what will happen; I KNOW what will happen: great, focused music-making between friends. Tom & Roberta thank you so much for the joy of collaboration. It is always the most incredible time in “music-land” with the two of you! Photo by Devlin Shand.
It was such a hoot collaborating with the fabulous Countess Katya Smirnoff-Skyy for our H2O water-themed show at SF Oasis. Katya brings such wit, polish and PRESENCE to any stage she graces, and to share the stage with her during this show was just epic beyond words. Two larger than life divas bringing it to one little stage! Thank you to Katya for so graciously appearing in the show, for learning “Stormy Weather” as a brand new addition to your Popera repertoire and for making the whole experience of collaborating so fun and collegial. Our finale of the Streisand/Garland “Happy Days/Forget Your Troubles” duet absolutely brought the house down…and Katya just happened to have the Streisand sailor costume hanging in her closet! Photos by Devlin Shand.
April showers bring May flowers…or so the saying goes. Our H2O water-themed show at Oasis definitely showcased songs about the rain, but also included snow, mist, fog, steam, the ocean, bath water and – of course – vodka! I just love these pre-show backstage photos by Devlin Shand. Vanessa definitely knows how to work LAVENDER! This insanely fabulous raindrop headgear was created by my dear love Lizzie Dierken. There are just too many gorgeous photos from this magical night, so I will share some more posts soon! Photos by Devlin Shand.
The luck of the Irish was in full force at our magical St. Patrick’s show at Martuni’s this year. With my cherished pianist Tom Shaw marking his first appearance back at Martuni’s since the Pandemic, we performed this delightful show to a packed house of fans and friends. I must say that from a purely musical perspective, this program of traditional Irish tunes, interspersed with classic Broadway ballads, is one of my very favorite shows to perform. I was in fine voice that evening – if I say so myself! – and the audience could not have been more enthusiastically responsive. “When IRISH EYES are smiling, sure they steal your heart away!”
After two very long years away, it was simply AMAZING to again return to Martuni’s Piano Lounge for a festive holiday show. Thank you to owner Skip Ziobron for the open door invitation to come back and start Vanessa’s shows again. Pianist Nicolas Perez and I had our first chance to collaborate together with this show, and we had the most delightful time in rehearsal and in performance. It was my very great pleasure to have in the audience my real-life cousin Anna Palmer-Robinson. And no diva has more loyal fans that Ross Neville & Bo Ayres. The room was packed with so many friends. What a magical night of holiday cheer, reunion with friends and family and LOVE up-close-&-personal – the way only Martuni’s can deliver.
Tenderloin Tessie Thanksgiving Day Dinner 2021. Things weren’t quite back to normal, but we got a little closer. The Pandemic still kept our guests socially distanced, but seated at tables indoors and outdoors. It was so good to sing for my great big extended family at TT. Too long apart. Thank you to Michael Gagne, President of Tenderloin Tessie for providing such a lovely dinner and safety protocols, and to James Campbell for his ever-faithful accompanying at the piano.
I love this photo taken by my love Robert McLoud. Each holiday dinner that I sing at Tenderloin Tessie, I bring a candelabra to light on top of the grand piano. I always light the candles before starting my first song of the afternoon. This is a family tradition from my childhood. My mama – always the impeccable hostess — always took a moment before serving any special holiday dinner to light the candles on the dinner table. This was followed by her asking each guest to share the thing that they were most grateful for that holiday…then a blessing for the meal…then we finally got to eat! I really feel the love of my dear mother so close to me every time I light the candelabra to entertain for Tenderloin Tessie Dinners.