Random Memories From 9 Years Of RVA Magazine


RVA Magazine celebrates our 9th anniversary with a huge party tonight at Gallery 5! To get you hyped for the shindig, here’s our publisher, R. Anthony Harris, with a rundown of some of his hazy memories from the past 9 years of RVA Mag.

Forgive me as I think back into the void and pull from it all my recollections. There have been so many great friends and moments that it’s way too much to encapsulate all of it in a single article. Honestly, there is a 300 page book in here somewhere. Such an amazing group of talented people have poured their efforts into getting this thing going, and it’s only because of them that RVA Magazine has made it this long. To those people, I’d like to say thank you. And I’d like to thank all of you reading this now for your support. Here are 9 of my favorite memories from the past 9 years.

Meeting Amanda Robinson at Gallery 5

This was before we put together the first issue back in 2005. It was January of that year. Jeremy Parker [aka Parker Galore] and I had started the process of getting a magazine together, but we didn’t have a release date scheduled yet. Parker told me I should meet this lady who was opening a gallery.

It turned out she was a 20-something artist with a ton of crazy, creative ideas. Everyone hit it off right away. On that first day, we climbed onto the roof of the gallery, stood there overlooking the city, and proclaimed that Richmond needed new blood, and we were going to change everything. It was more bravado than anything, but looking back and knowing what I know now, I realize there were people all over the city thinking the same thing.

That night, on that rooftop, was the true birth of RVA as we know it now. Our magazine provided a platform, and the gallery provided a place for everyone to come together in those first few years–to dance, meet like minded individuals, and get loose, away from city restrictions.

A few weeks after that initial meeting, Gallery 5 and RVA Magazine had a joint opening and release party. The rest is history.

The Cary Street Halloween Warehouse Parties

In the early days, we had some amazing Halloween parties. We had a group of friends that converted an old cinderblock warehouse into their personal living space and garage. For a few years, they let us throw our main Halloween party in that spot. I remember the second year, one of the guys, who was a real scientist, had brought pure grain alcohol from the lab to use in the jungle juice. He explained it was being used for growing a human breast in a petri dish as he poured 2 gallons of it into a mix of Tang (for flavor), cheap vodka, and whatever else we had lying around. The result was the most potent concoction imaginable.

For hours before the party started, we all sipped on that foul brew as we worked on setting things up. By the time the party started later that night, I was drunk. At one point, I fell into the DJ booth while dancing. I vaguely remember the police showing up. DJ and future RVA co-owner John Reinhold related to me later that the police showed up and he asked everyone to be quiet. To his surprise, 400+ raging, dressed-up freaks all went dead silent while we were discussing things with the po-po. Meanwhile, DJ J5K pulled out the Beastie Boys classic Licensed To Ill to put on the decks. He waited until the “all clear,” then dropped “Fight For Your Right to Party” and everyone went apeshit. The rest of the night I don’t remember at all. It was probably the best party we have ever thrown.

The RVA 2008 Year In Review Issue

“Apparently in 2008 Richmond’s brain exploded and splattered itself all over the walls and stages of our strange city. So we did what any self-respecting publication would do, and sopped up the carnage with crumpled scrap paper and some photographs we found in the aftermath. The result you see before you is a culturally ADD rundown of everything you did, should have done, or better check the fuck out before the rest of the world catches on and it’s not cool anymore. Noah Scalin, WRIR, Nathan Joyce [Aww. RIP buddy–ed], The Catalyst, Pedals On Our Pirate Ships, Tricycle Gardens, and The Ghostprint Gallery, just for a tiny taste.”Volume 4 Issue 10; “Year In Review”

Our lead designer Brandon Peck and I were brainstorming on how to make this issue really special for everyone in the city when he blurted out that we should do it all by hand. Write the articles out longhand and make each page separately in a yearbook/collage style. I agreed, thinking it wouldn’t be that hard, but we only had about 20 days to do it since we were a monthly at the time. Brandon did an amazing job on the design and it ended up being the most unique issue of our entire run thus far. It was an absolute masterpiece, and so many people had to come in to write and design that I was amazed it got finished at all. It’s my favorite issue to this day and one that will never be duplicated.

Parker Becomes Dirtwoman’s Campaign Manager

There was a time when Donnie “Dirtwoman” Corker wanted to run for mayor of Richmond. Christian Detres and Parker thought it would be fun to be her campaign manager. Parker called and pitched it to Dirtwoman, and she accepted. Then Dirtwoman kept calling. And calling. And calling. Soon, the media was calling Parker too, to get quotes and discuss the candidate’s platform–which was so outrageous that it got out of hand for all of us. I made a killer t-shirt design, and we tried to help, but eventually it became overwhelming for everyone involved.

Also, Dirt Woman pooped in Parker’s ride and that was it. Ask him about it. We learned a lot from that experience–mostly to leave the politics to the politicians.

Ian Gets Arrested at Occupy

Ian M. Graham was quasi-retired from the publication at that time, but he went down to take photos of the Occupy Richmond demonstration for us anyway. He was dressed in his usual Southern Gentlemen sport coat/shorts and flip-flops attire when the police asked him to not cross the street and take photos. Ian, being Ian, decided to cross the street anyway, and he got arrested. Sure enough, someone took a photo of him being arrested, and for a few days, Ian became an Occupy Richmond semi-celebrity. I remember this being a bigger deal than it probably actually was, but it happened.

RVAlution Takes Over Richmond

To explain this to someone who wasn’t there is gonna sound ridiculous but we threw one of the biggest parties on the East Coast for almost 2 years on a Tuesday. We were asked to come in and meet with the owner of the Hat Factory at the time. Their idea was to feature the Party Liberation Front burner crew of street performers, combined with the Audio Ammo crew who were doing the Brain Drain parties, then surround them with carnival-themed dancers and side games. They wanted to call it RVAlution and wanted RVA Magazine to promote it.

I remember sitting there at the dancer tryouts, watching Ian doing a photo shoot with burlesque girls and Parker working on his ringmaster routine, thinking, “This can’t work, can it? Who comes out on a Tuesday?” Well, the first one drew 700+ people and had such a good vibe to it, we all felt the second one would be really good. That was an understatement; it spilled beyond the Hat Factory’s 1500+ capacity for almost 20 straight weeks, and started to draw big name talent from all over the country (Dave Nada, HeavyGrinder, Designer Drugs, etc).

To this day, I feel that RVAlution single-handedly created the EDM scene in Richmond, and helped launch the careers of dozens of photographers, DJs, and performers all over the city. It just goes to show that when people are appreciated for their talents, and compensated for it, the level of professionalism goes up very fast–and the energy level goes with it.

Interviewing Dave Brockie, Randy Blythe, and Neil Fallon, Then Losing The Recording

We had just started the magazine when Adrenaline PR invited us out to a festival in Virginia Beach. The headliners were Lamb Of God, with GWAR and Clutch both in the lineup somewhere. So I went out and bought a nice new voice recorder, and Ian, Parker and I went to the show. It was awesome to get the all-star treatment – backstage, with free food and beers for the first time; having PR people escort us around to meet different musicians. At that time, we were all still working our day jobs, and this was our first glimpse at the other side of show business. I was stoked, because these were going to be my first interviews for the magazine. Oderus Urungus of GWAR. Randy of Lamb Of God. Neil Fallon from Clutch. I was so excited to talk to these guys, and hang out with them after getting the interviews.

We got back to Richmond thinking we had scored this huge win. Then my recorder wouldn’t let me listen to the audio. I had plugged it into my Mac, but it was built for a PC, and it locked up on me. After calling the company and everyone I knew to help, I gave up. I was utterly defeated. I called the PR people to try and do a follow-up with Randy, but of course he was way too busy. Double crush. Luckily for me, a year later they gave us an exclusive with the whole band. Of course, when I saw Randy again, he made sure to give me a hard time. Lesson learned: always understand your equipment!

Artist Gary Johnson Almost Ended The Magazine

“Some of the most attention-grabbing and powerful art can be work that sarcastically parodies the materialism of our culture, the façade of the “perfect” family, abusers of power and corruption in politics and religion, and the boundaries of our sexuality. Gary Johnson got most of his artistic steam from being a radical youth in the sixties. His generation was one of experimental rebels standing up and displaying their disdain against all areas of American life, especially where authority was seen as oppressive. The humdrum of middle-class life that annihilated the self in narrowness of vision and smallness of heart was railed against. Johnson was in college in Richmond in the sixties and felt compelled to creatively comment on the irritations he experienced. Gary enlisted friends and coordinated scenarios with costumes and props, and photographed these darkly comedic “cartoonish” narratives that poke, prod, and push the viewers’ buttons.”excerpt from RVA Vol. 2 Issue 7, 2007

Reclusive artist Gary Johnson had a treasure trove of controversial art, and we had to get it in the magazine. The question was, how could we do it and not upset all of our readers and advertisers? We had so many internal discussions about this. On top of that, it was really hard to get hold of Gary, since he didn’t use the internet at all. For years, he made these postcards in his studio to get a laugh and get on people’s nerves, and we were not allowed to see him. I can’t remember every detail, but when we released the cover with two crossdressing men, it created an uproar. I honestly thought it was over for a while, but always felt proud that we took a stand to show this man’s incredible work.

The Queen Of England Interview In RVA Magazine

One of my good friends, Paul Lazio, got the scoop with the Queen when she came to town back in 2007. The following is a true story.

What Americans don’t know about Queen Elizabeth II could (and does) fill many, many books. The smooth-talking 81 year-old who recently visited our little corner of the globe has been just about everywhere and seen just about everything, with the thankful exception of a Tijuana donkey show. The only other significant item on the Queen’s shortlist of things not done is that, until just recently meeting me at a small studio apartment in the Fan, she had never given an official interview to the press.

How did I, Paul Lazio, succeed where so many have failed? The answer is long and complex, much like the Queen’s own reign. Without giving away too much I can say this: I have yet to meet an elderly English woman who can resist a man with a captain’s hat and the offer of a free glue-on beard. It’s more or less their kryptonite. One more thing—I don’t care how many more taserings I get from the British secret service, because once you strip away the brick wall that is her highnesses chilly exterior, Queen Elizabeth is one stone cold fox.

Paul Lazio (PL): Let’s get some basics out of the way. Favorite album of all time?

Queen Elizabeth (QE): Meatloaf’s “Bat Out Of Hell”. Hands down.

PL: I understand completely. Favorite word in the English language?

QE: Jubilee.

PL: Least favorite?

QE: Magna Carta. I’m repulsed by the very sound of it.

PL: Gotcha. Why only two days in Virginia? The next weekend is the official anniversary weekend.

QE: Honestly, I only came for two things: racing, and to see what the younger Bush has done with the White House. I heard that they have thoroughly updated the dungeon.

PL: Dungeon?

QE: I’ve said too much.

PL: Uh huh. And the racing?

QE: I have always harbored the desire to witness two of America’s greatest sporting spectacles: the Kentucky Derby and NASCAR. Phillip and I were quite disappointed to learn that the “Jamestown 400” is not in fact a NASCAR race. I’ve got a few Euros on Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the cup this year.

PL: You’re a hardcore gambler, aren’t you?

QE: How did you know?

PL: The shape of your head—square in front and pointy in back. It’s the mark of a heavy bettor. What’s something else the general public doesn’t know about you?

QE: Quite a lot actually, considering that I’ve never given a proper interview before. Let me see… I stopped shaving my legs in 1966. Oh, and I keep the skull of Oscar Wilde on my bedside table. Phillip hates it when I make Oscar sing.

PL: Thank you very much. I’m going to try and forget I ever asked that question.

QE: It’s probably for the best.

PL: Any thoughts on the terror?

QE: Young man, until you’ve watched your own children mix a thousand years of pure royal blood with that of mean-faced commoners, you don’t know the meaning of terror.

PL: Point taken. Last question: final thoughts on America?

QE: Please put downs your guns and behave more like your little brother Canada.

*(may not have been the real Queen)


I want to thank the business that have supported us from the beginning: Gallery5, World Of Mirth, Need Supply Co., Kulture, Mekong, Ellwood Thompson’s, Katra Gala, Sticky Rice, Weezie’s Kitchen and The Camel, to name a few. Without their unwavering support in the beginning RVA Magazine would not exist. Thank you so much for making this possible.

Thank you to the following people – Jeremy Parker, Christian Detres, Adam Sledd, Ian Graham, Tess Dixon, Kathryn Whitley, Marisa Browne, John Reinhold, Brad Kutner, Andrew Necci, S Preston Duncan, David Kenedy, Ken Howard, Jeff Smack, Kim Frost, Brandon Peck, Jonathan Martin, John Yamashita, Thea Brown, Rand Burgess, Amanda Robinson, Bizhan Khodabandeh, Adam Juresko, James Callahan, Mickeal Broth, Bryan Woodland, Long Jawns, Doddie, Bobby La Beat, Shannon Conway, Todd Raviotta, Ben Muri, Rachel Whaley, Kevin Clay, Prabir Metha, Eric Shell, Hunter Haglund, Rich Holden, Peter Szijarto, Shannon Cleary, Landis Wine, Micheal York, Brandon Crowe, Justin Vaugh, Lander Salzberg, Hamooda Shami, Shane Pomajambo, Andre Shank, Tony Lynch, Jake Cunningham, Ward Theftt, Todd Shall Vess, Michele Dosson, Chris Lacroix, Yoseph and Benyam, Thea Duskin, Randy Blythe, Dave Brockie, Tony Foresta, Aldo, Kevin Wilson, Tyler Williams, Tyler Bass, Randy O’Dell, Drew Snyder, Matt Goins, Josh Kadrich, Pete and Liz Hume, Pat Hull, Lisa Sims, Chris Bossla, Gabriel Riccioppo, Robbie Player, Jimi Foster and Dan Anderson.

Special thanks to Alyssa Arrjenzio!

R. Anthony Harris

R. Anthony Harris

I created Richmond, Virginia’s culture publication RVA Magazine and brought the first Richmond Mural Project to town. Designed the first brand for the Richmond’s First Fridays Artwalk and promoted the citywide “RVA” brand before the city adopted it as the official moniker. I threw a bunch of parties. Printed a lot of magazines. Met so many fantastic people in the process. Professional work: www.majormajor.me

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