It’s no secret that women are underrepresented in the entertainment industry (though their body parts certainly aren’t.) Women are often not represented at all unless they’re representing sex and their talents involve ass-shaking. Most live music bars like Churchill’s Pub, a hub for musicians–and creatives in general– feature predominantly male performers, acknowledged primarily for their ability, not their looks. The boy-club environment is often challenging for female artists, to mention the least. So, some talented women like DJ Stephanie Zehno are creating their own spaces. Her spirit-child Blend The Femme– a monthly showcase of talented women-just hit the three year mark. Her crew celebrated with a trip to New York City for a special edition of Blend in June. At the latest “Unplugged” edition in July at Churchill’s Pub women dominated the pub’s main stage and displayed some amazing raw talent in a nurturing space. DJ Zehno and DJ Pride, who also celebrated her birthday, turned the tables on the boys and each played a set.
The multi-talented Angelica (Geli) Rodriguez performed an exceptional acoustic rendition of Tori Amos’ “Caught a Lite Sneeze,” among other songs. With her cover songs, she paid tribute to the singer/songwriter genius who expressed the feminine essence quite like no other at the height of her fame in the late 90s and early 2000s.
Chelsea Lovitt & Boys from New Orleans rocked the crowd with their psychedelic country, soul rock-n-roll.
Along with talented women performing on the stage, the festivities also featured community activism and vendors. Vegan Outreach and South Florida Vegan Buddy joined forces to educate the crowd about the horrors of factory farming and the benefits of a plant-based diet. They set up a table with virtual reality headsets and pamphlets.
A few brave souls dared to view the disturbing virtual reality of factory farms.
Yet most people refuse to watch and continue to support something they can’t bear to see, which is utterly nonsensical. Not everyone is ready to make major changes in their lifestyle and wake up to these harsh realities of life. Artist Melissa Martinez was one such attendee who like most didn’t want to look at the virtual reality and vegan pamphlets. She was on the scene tabling for her funky comic book inspired B_Hive (@bhiveart1104).
DJ Zehno is a great example of a female artist paving the way for other women in the creative community. More women need to create spaces that nurture female artists, dispelling the underlying tinge of misogyny present in male dominated venues, which is visible in imagery like the mural of a well-endowed naked female with no eyeballs on the back wall at Churchill’s. Images of hyper-sexualized female bodies rid the person of her humanity, reducing her to body parts. Objectification makes her a target for mistreatment from males, which is common in bars in the form of unwanted touching, creepily rude gazes and inappropriate, sexual comments. Unfortunately these testing experiences are also common in the entertainment industry and in society in general-just think of the catcalling women endure. Reducing a being to his or her parts is what the meat and dairy industry have been doing to animals. There is a strong correlation between feminism and veganism, especially since most of the animals exploited are females because of their ability to reproduce and produce milk. Factory farmed animals are also often ridiculed by those who will eventually chop them up. Pigs and cows are also often derogatory terms used to insult women who eat too much or are overweight. Some even say one can’t be a feminist and also a carnist. With female animals being constantly inseminated artificially on “rape racks” how can anyone expect to eradicate rape culture. Rape is present in the socially accepted food, and most people are supporting rape with their money. So, big ups to Blend the Femme for including vegan activists in their event, which blends well with its idea. A vegan world is more nurturing of the feminine essence for it’s based on respect and care for Mother Nature and her creatures.
Typically male-hosted ladies nights involve free drinks for the ladies, with the idea that they’ll be easier to get into bed. Alcohol has played a societal role in men sexually abusing women for decades, and the whole bar atmosphere plays into the “meat market” idea of trying to get some. But Blend the Femme puts a spin on ladies night, making the focus of the evening women’s talent instead. Sure there are free drinks, but women are celebrated and represented for reasons other than a tight body. Unfortunately, since women are left out of “regular nights” and the performers are disproportionately male, a few brave people have had to create nights with the purpose of showcasing female performers. Stephanie Zehno is one of those people. Ryan Carney is another who comes to mind. Stephanie also happens to be part of the LGBT community, and lesbians are often the strongest proponent of women’s rights because they don’t have the men-pleasing, internalized subjugation phenomenon ingrained into their minds like many heterosexual women.
It’s unjust that alcohol, which has been associated with violence and disease, remains the socially accepted drug of choice while marijuana, which is natural, from the earth and promotes peace and love, isn’t yet legal. But, times are changing, and Mary Jane is getting the respect she deserves, particularly at community events. One of the vendors on the scene on this evening giving these trees their proper place was HySociety. The female-owned business provides various therapeutic goods like incense and Cannabis accessories including wooden boxes engraved with images of Bob Marley, a symbol of peace and love. Herb also makes spaces more nurturing to the feminine essence, promoting creativity and healing like the earth.
DJ Zehno has been paving the way in Miami creating spaces to nurture talented women through the monthly Blend the Femme. This event brought together communities: LGBT, vegan, artistic, and pro-herb. Deep down all want the same thing, a loving and more peaceful world for all, especially the most vulnerable of our society.
Churchill’s Pub deserves some appreciation too, being quite a contraction. While often displaying overt signs of sexism (overly sexualized women in posters, murals, and promotional materials), the punk rock palace also has a history of nurturing the LGBT community, activist groups, and self-expression in general. I am looking forward to seeing what’s in store for the next Blend the Femme! Maybe it will be at the beloved shit-hole again.
BTF is a monthly event based in Miami, curated to capture feminine essence & consciousness of mind, body & soul through live arts and community activism. Check out their site for information on the next event and how to get involved.
Video Credits: Miami Chronicles
Photography from Royal Studios Courtesy of Blend the Femme
Article also written for miamiartzine.com