Lessons Learned From Producing the V-Day San Clemente 2011 Benefit Performances of ‘The Vagina Monologues’

One month ago today, V-Day San Clemente 2011 gave our first benefit performance of “The Vagina Monologues” at Knuckleheads. Although we’d prepared and rehearsed for several weeks, none of us knew quite what to expect. It was a first for us all.

We had no specific financial fundraising goal in mind. My main goals for our events were to have all three events go smoothly and be filled to capacity with attendees.

While we didn’t quite accomplish both of those goals, the events were still a tremendous success.

We filled the bar close to capacity, about 150 people, at both evening performances. Our matinee wasn’t full, but it wasn’t sparse either. I estimated we had about 50 people for that performance.

When all was said and done, we raised more than $5,000. After expenses, we were able to donate about $4,200 to Laura’s House and the V-Day Spotlight Campaign, which for this year was the women and girls of Haiti.

We couldn’t have done it without the help from our wonderful sponsors: Buds Famous Hot Dogs, Mathom House Books, Knuckleheads and San Clemente Patch.

It was such a joy to watch the whole show come together. The actresses did beautifully, and we brought dozens of new people to my and Mr. Man’s favorite local bar. As we liked to joke with the bartenders and owner Brick Bailey, it was probably the most vagina Knuckleheads had ever seen.

In fact, when we’ve been back a couple times since the performances, I’ve seen a bunch of new faces at the bar. I haven’t had a chance to confirm with the staff, but I would say business has definitely picked up at Knuckleheads, which makes me ecstatic. Everyone at Knuckleheads helped us so much; I want to see them doing well.

Never Give Up – A Solution Will Come

I didn’t have a chance to write much about the process of organizing the events while working on the V-Day San Clemente benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues.” As usual, I underestimated how much time and energy producing the performances would take. However, along the way I faced two large obstacles:

  1. Find a fiscal sponsor.
  2. Secure a venue.

When I signed up to produce “The Vagina Monologues” I did so with the knowledge that Patch, where I am employed as a freelance writer and Mr. Man is the editor for San Clemente Patch, expressed interest in being our fiscal sponsor. That would make putting on the production much easier since I would have their help with costs on things like the venue, merchandise and promotional materials.

However, when the deadline arrived, Patch was unable to help us. Their nonprofit arm, Patch.org, was not operating yet and for whatever reason the for-profit part of Patch couldn’t be our fiscal sponsor either.

Fortunately, San Clemente Patch agreed to be one of our regular sponsors.

Try as I may to find another fiscal sponsor though, I came up empty-handed.

As the shows’ producer and organizer, it was my responsibility to make them happen, so I decided I would be our fiscal sponsor.

That had me more than a little nervous when I faced the second obstacle: Secure a venue.

V-Day encourages its organizers to work within the communities where the events are hosted.  The San Clemente Community Center had a theater, and it seemed to be a perfect fit. Yet because we weren’t a recognized local nonprofit, they refused to give us the nonprofit rate (even though 90 percent of everything we raised was going to a local nonprofit). Plus, they wouldn’t let us sell tickets at the door, and they wanted us to get permits to sell food and alcohol. We also would need to purchase insurance for serving and having alcohol and food available to the public.

To make a long story short: They wanted to charge me a total of more than $5,000 to use their venue for all three performances.

Clearly the San Clemente Community Center was not going to work if we wanted to have any money left over to actually donate to the charities.

The ladies at the San Clemente Community Center recommended that I try the San Clemente Elks Lodge. I did, and it would cost around $2,500 to go with them, but they couldn’t give me a definitive answer by my Monday deadline.

I didn’t know what to do.

It was a Friday night with a month to our show, and we had no venue. I went home defeated.

I told Mr. Man who was about to go meet a friend at Knuckleheads for some drinks. While talking to our friend at the bar, he mentioned our predicament to Brick who said we could do all our performances at Knuckleheads for free.

And just like that, at the very last minute when all seemed lost, a simple solution appeared.

Face Your Fears

Another personal goal of mine with the V-Day San Clemente benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” was to do the introduction. My small “role” was to thank everyone for coming, explain how and where our proceeds went, and thank our sponsors – a speech of maybe two minutes.

Just visualizing speaking in front of a large crowd sent my pulse racing.

But I wrote out my piece, practiced it and – although I was still extremely nervous – delivered it just fine. (Although I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the help I received from the couple of drinks I downed before getting on stage.)

If You Build It, They Will Come

Who doesn’t love “Field of Dreams,” right? I always liked the premise of the movie, but I believe in that iconic phrase more than ever now.

I had zero theater experience and only the support of Mr. Man when I put the call out for help with putting on the production of “The Vagina Monologues.” And yet I attracted a dream team of a cast and crew for this passion project. I could not have asked for a more talented, accomplished group of people to help me.

When you have a pure and noble goal in mind, people will help you; you just have to ask.

So that’s it for V-Day San Clemente 2011. I may have had my moments of terror and panic, but I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. May your next passion project bring you as much joy and personal growth as mine did for me.

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‘The Vagina Monologues’ in San Clemente

It’s tomorrow. I can’t believe our first V-Day San Clemente benefit performance of “The Vagina Monologues” is really tomorrow.

This is a passion project I’ve been working steadily on for more than four months now, as has actress Joan from The SC Vibe.  I have no theater experience, but after this weekend, I can call myself a bona fide producer.  

Here are the details of our benefit performances:

When: 7 to 9 p.m., Friday, April 8, 2011, tickets: $15
2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 9, 2011, tickets: $10
7 to 9 p.m., Saturday, April 9, 2011, tickets: $15

Where: Knuckleheads Bar
1717 North El Camino Real
San Clemente, CA

Why: These V-Day 2011 San Clemente performances benefit Laura’s House www.laurashouse.org and the V-Day 2011 Spotlight Cause: the women and girls of Haiti. Learn more about V-Day at www.vday.org.

You must be 21 or older to attend this event.

(Check us out on Facebook)

Buy Tickets: scvaginamonologues.eventbrite.com

The award-winning play is based on V-Day Founder/playwright Eve Ensler’s interviews with more than 200 women. With humor and grace the piece celebrates women’s sexuality and strength. Through this play and the liberation of this one word, countless women throughout the world have taken control of their bodies and their lives. For more than twelve years, The Vagina Monologues has given voice to experiences and feelings not previously exposed in public.

Thank you to our sponsors Buds Famous Hot Dogs, San Clemente Patch and Knuckleheads Bar.

Knuckleheads and Buds Famous Hot Dogs are donating 20 percent of bar and kitchen proceeds to the charities, so eat and drink up!

Come support us if you’re in the area!

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6 Ways to Make Valentine’s Day Last All Year Long

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is on my mind.

What makes relationships work and how can they be improved?

I consider myself a lucky, happily married woman, but I was also curious to know if there was anything my husband and I were missing out on when it came to maintaining a healthy relationship.

(And by the way, if you’re single, please don’t mope! Use Valentine’s Day to get together with your single friends and have a fun night together. That’s still spending quality time with people you love, which is what Valentine’s Day is all about.)

I turned to Kerreen Chau, M.A. and licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) here in San Clemente for answers.

Common Relationship Complaints

One of the main reasons couples seek counseling is because of communication issues. Couples often talk about living parallel lives, meaning each has his or her own, separate agenda each day, Chau said. They may share the same bed, but feel they don’t share the same lives.

Another reoccurring lament Chau hears from many veteran married couples is a sense of isolation. They say there’s no exact problem, per say, it’s just that they’re not connecting, and each partner feels alone.

So how can couples avoid these scenarios? Continue reading …

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Kung Fu and Back Rubs: The Art of Massage

I cannot wait to go back to the Talega Day Spa.

I’d been there once before about a year ago, but after this interview with Minh Luong, massage therapist and spa coordinator for the Talega Day Spa, I am a ready to espouse the benefits of massage with the fervor of a religious fanatic.

Sure, the sauna, steam room and multi-faucet shower are a pampering bonus, but with the massage, you can actually feel the tension leave your body.

Watch Minh in the three videos work magic on my back and head and get the secrets on how and why it works.

And that’s exactly what Minh wants. To him, massages are about maintaining wellness, not offering a luxury.

“My clients don’t come for a fluff massage; they come because they want to feel better. Unless they get that ‘good hurt,’ they don’t feel they’ve gotten their money’s worth,” he said.

Types of Massages

Massages are like martial arts in that many countries have their own styles. Different countries have special martial-arts disciplines: the Japanese have karate, Chinese have kung fu, Koreans have tae kwon do, and Thais have muay thai, Minh explained.

With massage, Japanese have shiatsu, the Chinese have tui na, Thais have Thai massages, and Europeans have Swedish massages, Minh said.

A typical Swedish massage uses light to medium pressure to improve blood flow and circulation. A Thai massage is traditionally performed with the patient on the floor, fully clothed, and incorporates more stretching. It allows the massage therapist to use his or her knees and feet in addition to the hands, which creates varying degrees of pressure and the massage therapist can be more creative, Minh said.

Shiatsu and tui na both follow the meridian lines, which are paths of energy that flow through our bodies, to find and expel the bad energy in our bodies (such as tension and stress).

In fact, the same pressure points used in tui na to promote healing are the same points kung fu masters use to inflict pain, Minh explained; it’s the person’s intention that matters. Continue reading …

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Hangin’ Tough

Considering I hadn’t exercised at all for the last six weeks (I had cancerous moles removed, and sweating was strictly forbidden during the healing process), I was more than a little nervous to try the TRX suspension training class at the grand reopening of Functional Fitness last Saturday.

When I got up Sunday morning, it felt as if someone had replaced my calves, quadriceps and triceps with stones.

 But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The grand reopening served as an introduction to the merging of the Outdoor Fitness Adventure Club with the indoor studio of Functional Fitness, also known as the Outdoor Fitness Adventure Club’s indoor studio.

The Outdoor Fitness Adventure Club store will be closing and moving its merchandise online, while the Functional Fitness studio will be adding more programs and classes, founder Elaine Gjonovich said. Check out the latest schedule here.

What Is TRX Suspension Training?

Intrigued by the curious belts with stirrups hanging from pipes along the ceiling, I lured my friend and San Clemente local Jenny White (you may remember her from when we had our fitness assessment) with the promise of buying her a drink at Knuckleheads afterward if she came to class with me. Continue reading …

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Why We’re So Tired

Well, another week has passed and I still haven’t conducted my annual goal review or pondered my goals for 2011.

I have made a lot of progress on V-Day San Clemente 2011: “The Vagina Monologues.” We’re holding auditions next weekend.

I also had my stitches removed from having three cancerous moles removed. Man it feels good to have those out! I’m now able to exercise again, which I will be doing for my next column.

Speaking of my columns, here’s my latest:

I’m exhausted.

I slept nine hours last night and took an hour nap today, and I still feel as if I could curl up in bed and fall fast asleep.

It’s not that I don’t know why I’m so tired today in particular—two nights of back-to-back drinking and celebrating birthdays will likely catch up to you—it’s the greater overall concern that I’m tired most days.

Most nights I get seven to eight hours of sleep, which is what most experts recommend. Yet every morning, I hit the snooze button an average of three times. I don’t drink a ton of coffee (I have one, maybe two cups in the mornings), and I exercise fairly regularly. So why am I so tired? Continue reading

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A Little Background About Me You May Not Have Known

Me playing tennis at the Ohio State Championship tennis tournament for Lexington High School in 1999.

Happy 2011, Everyone!

I was all set to work on my annual goal review at the end of last month, but between writing for Patch, working on V-Day San Clemente 2011: “The Vagina Monologues,” and visiting family and friends over the holidays, I failed.

And I’m OK with that.

I had one of the best trips home ever. I saw almost everyone I set out to see and was there to help my friend Kate Thorn find her perfect wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses.

So the bad news is that I’m way behind on Tenacious Lee.

The good news is that I am loving my freelance position as the health and wellness columnist for San Clemente Patch. (Reminder: Patch is still hiring writers!)

Here’s a snippet from my first column:

I’ve always been moderately healthy. I grew up in Lexington, Ohio, with a mom who held a degree in nutrition and a dad who encouraged me to play tennis. My older sister played tennis and was a runner, so I was fortunate that well-balanced meals and exercise were healthy habits instilled in me from childhood.

Then came college at Ohio University.

While working toward my degree in magazine journalism, I was more than happy to help the college maintain its prestigious Princeton Review ranking among the top five party schools in the nation. It turns out that a diet based on D.P. Dough calzones and Natty Light is not offset by an occasional half hour on an elliptical machine. Continue reading …

How was your holiday?

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Posted in Freelance Work Goals, Goals, Happiness Goals, Volunteer and Service Goals, Writing Goals | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments