Showing posts with label Stacie Joy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stacie Joy. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

A visit with Moxie, a nearly 8-year-old East Village photographer with an eye for nature

Text and photos by Stacie Joy 

I recently walked around the neighborhood with East Village artist and fellow photographer Moxie.

She carefully loads her pink Instax mini instant camera and cheerfully informs me she’s in second grade and is 7-and-a-half years old. She said that she likes to photograph nature. So our walk included a visit to La Plaza Cultural community garden on Ninth Street and Avenue C, where Moxie was inspired by some koi fish, birds and squirrels.

We then walked over to Tompkins Square Park for some candid dog photos and posed (people) portraits.
When we run out of time (and are getting low on film), Moxie shows me the images she’s shot.
We wrapped up by talking about her history with the craft and her photo plans for the future.
“Well, I’ve been doing photography for about 2 years. I really wanted to try photography because I’ve been doing art my whole life. I love painting, making jewelry and crafting, so I thought it would be great to try photography. I like taking pictures of people and animals around the East Village. 

Sometimes I take pictures of flowers too. Taking pictures of people is interesting because people are interesting. I like to capture a moment of me and my friends together. I keep every photo that I take in my albums, even if they’re weird or silly. And I plan to keep taking photos. I want to try changing the colors on the lens, and someday I want to try other kinds of cameras.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

A visit to Azaleas, celebrating 20 years in the East Village

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

As I walk over to meet Azaleas NYC Lingerie & Swimwear shop owner Cindy Kahng, I remember the last time I saw the woman-owned and -operated boutique lingerie shop during a tense period in NYC’s pandemic history. 

It was June 2020 when stores were just reopening during Phase 1 of the PAUSE restrictions. 

I’m eager to see how Cindy is doing, how the shop at 140 Second Ave. is holding up, and to hear about the 20th-anniversary plans.
Congrats on the 20th anniversary! What are your plans to celebrate this milestone? 

Lingerie boutiques may be a destination store, but we try to cultivate the idea of Azaleas being your neighborhood boutique. Reflecting on the past 20 years, I know that I couldn’t have done it without the support of the community and the neighborhood. I’ve seen customers come in with baby strollers; their babies have grown and are shopping with us! 

We wanted to celebrate by celebrating the neighborhood and the community. We will be having an event [on Nov. 17] for this momentous occasion with a party at our neighboring Ukrainian East Village Restaurant. We hope to do more events with other neighborhood businesses or organizations in the upcoming months. 

How has it been keeping the shop going in recent pandemic years?

COVID was a huge test for my small business. Unfortunately, I had to shut down my second location in the West Village after four years. It was a difficult decision to make, and whilst that store was dear to me, I knew that the East Village was our home and where we wanted to remain. 

It was so nice to see our regulars come in post-vaccine and want to support us. In general, our dressing room serves almost like a therapy session, and it did even more so during the last two-and-a-half years. People needed connection and had lots of changes in their lives during those first two years and would occasionally have their hand held. 

There was a shift in customers’ needs during the pandemic; physical changes (covid weight), different work environments (WFH), and a desire for more comfort (loungewear). But this fall, it feels like people are finally returning to their daily lives and need basics for work and school. 

What would you tell people who may be intimidated by visiting a boutique lingerie store? 

Lingerie boutiques don’t have to be intimidating at all! Sure, we carry your special date-night items, but we also have your everyday cotton bra and undies. We try to make it feel like you’re shopping with your friends because shopping for innerwear is an intimate experience. 

Looking good also means feeling good so trust us to help you! If price is ever an issue, just tell your salesperson what your price range is — there’s never any shame in that! The salespeople know the product and can best steer you in the right direction.
Any plans for the next 20 years? 

Not sure yet, but we are planning on sticking around the neighborhood.
You can keep up with the shop on Instagram. Azaleas is at 140 Second Ave. between St. Mark's Place and Ninth Street.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

A short walk with a tall man

Text and photos Stacie Joy 

Chances are that you've seen Bobby ambling around the neighborhood. And how could you not?
We recently had the chance to take a short stroll with him. It took longer than expected, as many passersby stopped us to ask if they could take a picture or a selfie with him.
Bobby was super friendly with everyone he met ... a gentle giant with the starpower of a Marvel character.
Getting to know more about Bobby was not easy. However easy-going, he was evasive about answering questions, admitting to being from "upstate" and "walking to downtown NYC" but said he didn't know his age, last name or any other pertinent information. 

He said he likes ladders, Twizzlers, carrots, trees, skyscrapers and bananas and doesn't care for rain. He also said he gets pain in his hips and knees from being so leggy at 6-2. He insists he's "just very tall."

He later attempted to prove his height by using his own homemade measuring tape. 
So we went with it and enjoyed his good-natured company, stopping in a few shops along Avenue A and Avenue B... including Ben's Deli, where he obligingly turned on the hard-to-reach ceiling fans, watered the plants and enjoyed a cold drink...
We popped by Mast Books, where Bobby seemed crestfallen when told the store didn't have any books about skyscrapers...
A highlight from the excursion was the trip to Key Food, where Bobby helped manager Richie with signage installation ahead of the "Re-Grand Opening" celebration (Keyapalooza) earlier this month...
You can follow Bobby on Instagram here.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

A visit to Aliens of Brooklyn on 9th Street

Photos and interview by Stacie Joy

It’s 7 p.m., and I’m meeting Joseph Angel Tijerina, the artist/owner behind the Aliens of Brooklyn clothing and accessories brand, which recently opened its first storefront at 305 E. Ninth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue, as he closes up for the day. 

It’s his birthday, but he’s agreed to chat with me about the history of the pop culture brand, his Mexican heritage, his ’90s-era Taco Bell inspiration, and his love of collabs with other brands — all before heading out to celebrate.
What is the origin of Aliens of Brooklyn? How did you arrive at the name, and what was the inspiration behind the brand? 

As a child of the ’90s, I recall watching the original “Ghostbusters” movie, going to my mother and telling her that I would live in New York City one day. And she then would shoot me down with a simple “No.” I would ask why, and she would say, “It’s too far and too big.” Plus, she’d miss me too much. But in my mind, all I did was dream big. 

I would later graduate from Wade College art school in Texas, and my mom would pass away from a heart attack. That was the catalyst that led me to move to New York. I had never even been to the city, just watched movies and dreamt about it.

Aliens Of Brooklyn came alive the moment I moved to Crown Heights in 2012. The culture, the vibe, the space where an artist could complete their puzzle of whatever it was that they couldn’t convey anywhere else. All my puzzle pieces were finally connecting. I was finally healing. 

The people in Brooklyn were so vibrant, and everyone dressed however they wanted. I never knew I could come to a place where trends were ever-changing and there felt like no rules. I think this is what they meant when they said to find your tribe. And I have no idea who “they” are. 

This brand is absolutely inspired by the people I’ve met and the ones I people-watch. I did Google to see if actual aliens were living in Brooklyn, and some articles popped up about sightings. I sort of knew this name was special, and so it stuck. 

It’s something about constantly feeling like an outsider and creating a world where everyone is actually invited to the party. Being in Texas was great, but I realized being in NYC was better. I could be OK with where I came from, who I’ve become, and who I was becoming. 

And although there is so much more to me than my race and sexual orientation, I absolutely embrace that I’m a Mexican American and an LGBTQIA+ brand. It makes me brave, and it might make people struggle to be brave too. I think the thing I’m really proud of is that I’m a Mexican who owns a successful business. I’ve always wished my mom could see me at this stage of my life because of how far I’ve come. I’d like to think that she’s around working through me somehow. 

You recently opened a shop in the East Village. How has a brick-and-mortar location differed from your pop-up and Artists & Fleas vending background? 

Well, the locals are this tight-knit community who basically have welcomed my brand with open arms, which is something I’ve always needed. We don’t always have to be pushed away. We can treat each other with respect and kindness. It shows with the East Village, and I was pleasantly surprised. I think they might recognize that I’ve come with an interesting point of view. And to me, art is exactly that. In my eyes, the East Village is always a place where the artists migrate, and I find that sacred and want to honor the history already created here. 

Pop-up markets can be really hard but also fulfilling once you hit your sweet spot of being satisfied with your brand, and it’s not always about the money. I think those are big lessons that many artists struggle with because what you love may not pay the rent at first, although it can. You just have to go back to the drawing board and problem solve for a bit. 

Doing markets for almost 10 years gives you a lot of experience. I’m so happy that the customers helped the brand become so successful by buying hats and beanies at our pop-ups. But having a hit item in markets doesn’t always translate to having a hit brick-and-mortar store. I am still learning, but with a store, I get to have a fully realized concept and aesthetic. I’m enjoying every moment of it.
Your Instagram teased the inspiration for your shop décor was ’90s Taco Bell. Has that come to fruition? 

[Laughs] A picture of Taco Bell in the 1990s was actually on my vision board for the store. I was inspired by the pastel motif, so I painted those exact colors on our walls. My brand is known for neon colors and tie-dye, but it is always evolving and ever-changing. 

I love the 1980s, 1990s and Y2K era. So, Taco Bell walls one day, and then we might be inspired by Blockbuster the following week. Who knows? I just know I’m going to try to make the customers smile and laugh when they walk by. 

You have done some collabs with other brands. Do you foresee future collaborations? And what’s next for the brand?

Collaborations are so fun and a lot of work as well. But it is great working with other small businesses or artists and cross-promoting your audiences. You gain all these wonderful people who only discovered you because of that collaboration.

I for sure can see myself doing many more collabs in the future. I will always pay it forward — some of my first gigs were popping up in front of another small business boutique and selling hats outside their front window on the sidewalk. 

I want to grow the business in a way that customers can customize anything they see in the store. Leonardo da Vinci said, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” So, to me, that leaves space for all of us to make things happen. 

And there’s still so much art to be made and work to do. I can’t wait to see what happens next with the brand!
You can keep up with what’s happening with Joseph and the shop here.

Aliens of Brooklyn is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Friday, August 5, 2022

A visit with Hemingway, the sleepy kitty in the window on 3rd Street

Text and interview by Stacie Joy 

We’d long-admired Hemingway’s insouciance as he catnapped in a north-facing window on Third Street between Avenue B and Avenue C...
Hemingway’s human companion, Alex Smith, recently granted us an audience with the playful feline and answered some questions as Hemingway allowed himself to be admired.
How did Hemingway come to be a window mainstay on Third Street? When did the two of you arrive here and how did his lounging antics start? 

We arrived in NYC in April 2021, and the lounger was one of the first things I set up. We moved here from New Orleans, where he used the lounger on our front door in a quiet neighborhood. I honestly didn’t think much about putting the lounger up on the window when we moved in. 

Not long after setting it up, he took right to it again, and very soon after, the passersby started, and the phones came out. My mom had come to help us settle in, and we would laugh at everyone’s reactions to Hemingway in the lounger. 

What has been the reaction of passersby? 

The reactions range from surprise and amazement over the lounger and cuteness of Hemingway — for those who haven’t noticed it/him before — to people slowing down right as they check if he’s in the window. Some people pick up their dogs and bring them up to the window, which I always find hilarious, and Hemi doesn’t mind. I can hear people talking to friends saying, “Oh, wait, come see this cat,” some even call his name after reading it on his collar. 

If someone is walking by and on FaceTime, they will flip the phone view to show the person on the phone. The most consistent reaction is smiles. It’s hard not to look at a kitty in a window and not smile.

How does Hemingway react to all the attention? 

He loves it. He’s never been a shy cat and seeing the number of people he’s come into contact with over the last year has been so fun. The same children will come to the window every day, and if he’s not at the window, they call for him, and he runs to them. It’s so cute to watch. I also like that it keeps him stimulated. He also loves to sunbathe and nap, which also makes people stop to ooh and ahh.
What does he do during his “down time” when he is not lounging in the window?

If he’s not in the window, there’s a good chance he’s either sleeping in his heated bed — I know, I know — playing with his toys or trying to get my attention for treats, pets and playtime. 

 Best viewing times to see him? Is there anything special he likes or doesn’t like? 

You can usually find him in the window from midmorning to around 3 p.m. daily. Sometimes a little later. It also depends on the weather and temperature. He loves when people talk to him through the window. He also enjoys it when people bring their dog up to the window — as long as the dog doesn’t bark too much. 
You can follow Hemingway on Instagram at @hemi.inthecity.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

A visit with East Village singer-songwriter Jim Andralis

Photos by Stacie Joy; Q&A by EVG

Jim Andralis is an East Village-based singer-songwriter ... and trauma-focused psychotherapist in private practice — a unique combination for a unique talent. 

His body of work, starting with 2016's debut, "Your Dying Wish Came True," shows Andralis as a pop craftsman, a songwriter of rare melodic gifts. Live, he has been joined by Julie Delano, Lesia Graves, Susan Hwang and Jessie Kilguss — not to mention his husband, artist-designer Larry Krone. (They opened for Bikini Kill on July 9 at Irving Plaza.)

Next Thursday (Aug. 11), Andralis plays at Rockwood Music Hall on Allen Street (it's also his birthday). His proceeds will go to the Yellowhammer Fund, which promotes reproductive justice in Alabama and the Deep South

Ahead of the show, we stopped by Andralis' East Village apartment, where we took a lot of photos of Dory, who graces the cover of his forthcoming LP, "I Can't Stop Trying," and the album's promo T-shirts. 
Here, Andralis talks about his career ambitions, life-changing accordion lessons and love of the East Village.

What was your earliest career ambition?

I had jobs since I was 15 but nothing resembling career ambition until I was well into my 20s. Until then, I think my sole ambition was trying to pass as heterosexual. 

Once I moved here at 24, the dream became performing on some kind of stage — ideally singing. The shows I loved the best were Kiki and Herb, The Talent Family (Amy and David Sedaris) plays, Jeff Weiss and Carlos Martinez’s insane serialized stuff. 

The people I looked up to the most were hustling in some kind of service-industry job while attempting to carve out some kind of creative life. Imagining I could do that here felt pretty fucking ambitious. 

When did music come into the picture? 

I had been in a couple off-off Broadway musicals and stuff, but in the early 2000s, I started taking accordion lessons with Walter Kuhr at Main Squeeze Accordions on Essex Street. I’d always been really drawn to the accordion, particularly in the context of a band. But it’s also completely self-contained. You can play the accordion in your apartment, sing along and you can do just do that right away. Playing chords is really easy. 

Anyway, you can draw a direct line from accordion lessons with Walter to everything I love about my life here. I was tending bar at Phoenix on 13th and A. Two of my favorite bar customers, Ben and Clint, found out I was taking accordion lessons and asked me if I wanted to be in their band the Isotoners. I started really writing and singing songs in that band. Bridget Everett would usually sing a couple songs with us whenever we performed, so that’s when Bridget and I got to be friends. 

Also, the whole reason I met my husband Larry Krone is that he asked me to play accordion with him at one of Julian Fleisher’s nights at Starlite Lounge on Avenue A. So music coming into the picture also coincided with love and family coming into the picture. 

You work as a trauma-focused psychotherapist. Do you consider your music to be more of a side project or perhaps a second career? 

It’s definitely a whole second career. But it’s not, to be clear, two actual revenue streams. It’s more like, “You want a vinyl pressing for this release? Take on two more clients, motherfucker.” 

You're a longtime East Village resident. What first prompted you to move here? What keeps you here?

Long before I actually lived in this neighborhood, I worked and spent every minute I could here. It wasn’t until I first entered The Bar on 2nd and 4th in, like, 1994 that I felt like I could be myself in any kind of gay context. Soon after that, I started tending bar there, then Gold Bar, Dick’s and finally Phoenix. But I mostly lived in Queens. 

When I started dating Larry in 2004 I put in an application for a place in the HDFC where he was already living. I was able to move here (and actually afford it) in 2007, all thanks to our HDFC! This neighborhood has felt like home to me for way before I lived here. I just feel lucky to miraculously have an apartment here, friends nearby, tons of live music within a 5-10 minute walk.

In conclusion, I believe I shall remain here as long as possible! 

I try to live in the moment as much as I can. But I've always been a nostalgic person. Do you find yourself being more nostalgic about the East Village and NYC, in general, these days, or can you balance the present and past to a healthy degree?

It depends on the moment. Some days I walk around and feel the history of our neighborhood existing in this weird, beautiful harmony right alongside the present. Like I’m part of something complicated and beautiful that extends beyond me in all these different dimensions. 

Other days, it’s almost like panic because I can’t remember what used to be where this nail place is. Was Little Rickie on First or A? And if I can’t remember fill-in-the-blank, how the hell will anyone remember I was ever here? 

It feels very linked to my feelings about mortality. In other words, yes completely healthy! 

Sometimes, though, it’s a really sweet nostalgia, like you could get a goddamn soy patty platter at Dojo for 5 bucks in my day, honey! 

Tell us more about the recently released single "New York City Spring" and what was going on when you wrote it. 

I got COVID pretty bad in March 2020 when the city was just hit so hard. 

I don’t think "Working Girl" is the BEST movie, but I like it. It came on TV when I was really sick. I watched the opening with Carly Simon singing, and a million people taking the Staten Island ferry to go work with, like, the Twin Towers on the horizon and I lost my SHIT. It was like this enormous wave of grief and terror came over me, this awareness of how vulnerable this little island is and how much it’s been through. 

I write a lot of songs about New York, and I love art that loves New York and New Yorkers, like my friend Neil Goldberg’s gorgeous work. “New York City Spring” is my experience of New York in 2020, when it felt like a scared, wounded place where all these things used to happen. But it ends up kind of a pep talk for us both and an attempt to conjure some sort of magic to come save us.

 

You and the band opened for Bikini Kill on July 9 at Irving Plaza. Most memorable moment of the evening for you? 

The entire feeling just felt like this enormous, insanely fun moment. We were just ecstatic to have been invited by Bikini Kill to do it and so overwhelmed by how welcoming the venue and crowd were.

But if I had to pick one particular moment, it was being with my band just ecstatically dancing during Bikini Kill’s incredible set. We’d already done our set, loved every second of it, and just got to celebrate the whole thing together as friends while watching the most amazing Bikini Kill show. Plus Kathleen dedicated “For Tammy Rae” to me and Lar. That also felt like heaven and made me cry. 

Your birthday is Aug. 11. (Happy early birthday!) You're playing a show that night at Rockwood Music Hall, and you're donating everything you make to the Yellowhammer Fund. Can you tell people more about them and why you support the organization? 

The Yellowhammer Fund is doing amazing reproductive justice work helping people in the places being hit the hardest right now. They help marginalized communities get health care. One way I can help is by supporting organizations like Yellowhammer. I’m just grateful they exist. They are doing beautiful work that is saving lives, and also fucking dangerous. 

And thanks for the birthday wishes! 

Your LP, "I Can't Stop Trying," is due out in early January. Will there be a tour with it? Any special plans?

I mean, I hope so! I’m proud of this record. My friend, producer and engineer Tom Beaujour set up this insanely safe and quarantined recording experience, and making this record really helped me survive that year. 

In terms of plans, we usually do a record release at Joe’s Pub. That’s not locked in, but we have our fingers crossed. I have never toured. I’m dying to do it but can’t quite afford it. But it’s something I feel like I’ll make happen if not for this record definitely the next one, which we’ll be recording this fall! 

Larry and I are doing a show in Andes with Julian Fleisher, Neal Medlyn and Julie DeLano on Aug. 6. Can we call that a tour?? 
You can keep tabs on Andralis via his website or Instagram.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

At the rally to go 'All Out For Abortion Rights'

Images by Stacie Joy

Thousands of people gathered to "voice their fears and anger" in Washington Square Park early last evening hours after the Supreme Court officially reversed Roe v. Wade, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion upheld for nearly 50 years no longer exists.

Published reports put the crowd size between 10,000 and 17,000. 

EVG contributor Stacie Joy shared these photos ...
The assembled protestors eventually split off into different groups, with some going up Fifth Avenue to Union Square, where many continued on to Midtown ... while others headed downtown to Foley Square before eventually crossing the Brooklyn Bridge...