A thrilling, high-energy, and explosive interpretation of the centuries-old Taiko Japanese drumming tradition. Jhonetsu — Passion captures Yamato’s virtuosity, strength, spirit, and sheer endurance. With an infectious sense of joy and entertainment, this past season marked Yamato’s 25th anniversary, celebrating over 3,500 performances in fifty-four countries, to over eight million fans young and old.
The American melting pot came together in the River City with The World Heritage Festival’s stop at Brown’s Island.
The World Heritage Festival is dedicated to sharing and experiencing a variety of foreign cultures, and it visited one of its new centers for sharing on Brown’s Island in Richmond this past Saturday for a day full of traditional dances, goods from countries like Ecuador and Kenya, and foods from a variety of places around the world.
The World Heritage Festival visits a number of locations yearly in both Maryland and Virginia. After Richmond, they wrapped up their 2019 trip with a visit to the Manassas Museum on September 14.
In addition to being a cultural event, The World Heritage Festival is also paired with the Festival of Kites. So along with the cultural melting pot of vendors and performers came an army of families, flying kites and enjoying the nice weather.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to get out,” said Mike, a Richmond father of two. “We love kites. We love the open doors, so we decided to come out.”
But while some attendees were there simply to soak in some sun and have a good time, many people were there to highlight more serious worldwide issues.
Chaka Trading Co. is a small Ecuadorian-American business that ran a booth during the festival. Their mission is to donate to foreign students in need, and for every Ecuadorian-made product they sell, they donate a backpack.
“Chaka stands for ‘bridge’ in Quichua, which is the indigenous language of Ecuador,” said Chris Perez, the CEO and co-founder of the company. “Our goal with Chaka is to bridge cultures through trade.”
This goal has led the newly-founded company to pursue reciprocal business deals with various countries across the world, including Rwanda, Turkey, and Cambodia. It’s also perfectly in-line with the World Heritage Festival’s goal of sharing between cultures.
“To me, America is a melting pot of cultures, and venues like this give an opportunity for people to show what they bring to the American melting pot,” said Perez.
The creatives behind Quirktastic grew up without a space for black youth in nerd culture… so they made their own.
“You’re not really the right race to dress up as that character.”
“You don’t really look like a geek.”
“Are you pretending just for guys’ attention?”
Lauren Grant has heard everything in the book. But together with Bryanda Law and Larissa Orakunda, she’s cultivated an inclusive space for geeks, nerds, and weirdos to freely be themselves with no judgement.
Quirktastic is a website dedicated to all things alternative, featuring articles, videos and quizzes on everything from anime to crystal healing. Beginning as a blog in 2014, Quirktastic has grown into a full fledged, LA-based media company.
Law’s goal when creating Quirktastic was to make an outlet that people wished existed when they were growing up quirky, alternative, and black.
“There was no other site dedicated to creating black-business lists that cater to quirky black women, or anyone writing love letters to black men who play with LEGOs,” Law stated in a 2017 interview. “I wanted to be that site.”
Grant, a VCU Broadcast Journalism alum, joined the team in 2017, two days after leaving the worst job of her life. One of her best friends tweeted her Quirktastic’s call for writers. When she saw the website, it was love at first click.
“When I clicked on the website, I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of Quirktastic before!” says Grant. “Quirky black girls like myself were writing pieces that related to me, pieces I actually wanted to read not only from the perspective of a nerd, but from the perspective of being a woman of color.”
Grant has moved through the ranks and is now the Chief Content Officer of Quirktastic, producing all of their video and podcast content.
Grant has always known life as a geek. She first remembers getting into the culture at about seven years old, when her childhood friend Amanda introduced her to Sailor Moon, a popular Japanese cartoon and comic book about a group of magical teenage girls saving the Universe.
However, largely due to her gender and race, many people have looked at her interest with an air of skepticism.
“I wish I could say that it’s stopped, but even as someone who has worked in a geeky space for years, I still am hearing, ‘You don’t look like a geek.’”
Even black female celebrities have recently come under fire for their interest in nerd culture. Rapper and singer Lizzo dressed as Sailor Moon for a concert. Megan thee Stallion did a photoshoot for Paper magazine as Todoroki, a character from the anime My Hero Academia, and has multiple mentions of anime in her lyrics.
Both celebrities, especially Megan thee Stallion, were accused of faking their interest in order to chase “clout” and exploit “real anime fans.”
This strict gatekeeping has been one of the greatest hurdles that the Quirktastic team has tried to overcome since relocating to LA. During many investor meetings and networking events, they keep hearing, “Well, you don’t really look like geeks.”
Quirktastic has made strides in creating a community for those who feel ostracized. With the creation of a friendship app and the hashtag #thisiswhatageeklookslike, the Quirk community has a strong emphasis on inclusivity.
“We give everyone a chance to shine, especially women, people of color, and the LGBTQIA+ community — but our platform doesn’t just cater to minorities like ourselves,” said Grant. “We don’t care who comes into our nerdy space, as long as you come in with empathy and respect… and often that’s all anyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, wants.”
When it comes to advice for young black nerds who might feel alienated, Grant has plenty.
“Find your tribe! Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you don’t belong in this space. There’s room for all types of geeks! YOU are what a geek looks like!”
Top Photo via Quirktastic
Summer is alive in the River City, and the latest issue of RVA Magazine is here with it to tell the stories of arts, music, politics, and culture across Virginia.
It’s August, it’s hot, and it’s only going to get hotter here in the River City with the arrival on the streets of RVA Magazine #37, our Summer 2019 issue! This one’s bursting all around, with plenty of art, music, news, politics, and more. From the far corners of the Commonwealth to right here in Rich! Mond! Vee! Ay!, RVA Magazine is on point with the coverage of Virginia’s street-level culture that you’ve known and loved for the past 14 years.
The biggest news of the summer here in Richmond was the reunion of Avail, the band who defined Richmond’s music scene in the 90s and helped put the river city on the musical map throughout the country and beyond. After 12 years away from the stage, they brought a hotly-anticipated two-night stand to the National and blew fans’ minds all over again. In the run-up to that memorable weekend of rock, we had an exclusive conversation about their reunion with vocalist Tim Barry, and you’ll find it all in this issue of RVA Magazine!
We’re also bringing you an in-depth profile of Trevor Frost, a photographer and Richmond native whose work with National Geographic and other world-renowned publications has taken him to every corner of the globe. You’ll learn what Frost has seen and discovered in his voyages, and why he keeps coming back to Richmond every time.
We don’t just focus on Richmond, though — our reporting takes us to the farthest reaches of the Commonwealth this issue, where we learn about Tennessee-adjacent Lee County’s attempts to create a policy based on comments from political leaders about arming teachers to prevent school shootings. Why does this rural county at the very tip of Virginia’s panhandle think such a policy is a good idea? And how do they intend to put it into practice? We’ll give you a deeper look.
We’ve got a lot more in store for you in this issue as well, from a GayRVA report on the recently-released documentary capturing and honoring the life of legendary Richmond cult figure Dirtwoman to an exclusive conversation with up and coming postpunk band Unmaker. We’ll also learn about the hip hop and skateboarding connection with Richmond’s own Washington Avenue Skateboards, and take a closer look at the history of the city’s underground graffiti scene — a major influence on the mural boom RVA is undergoing today.
All of that is in store for you when you grab your very own copy of RVA #37, available in all your favorite local businesses around town. Get yours now… they’re going fast!
Check out the digital version on Issuu here.
Spring is here, and so is this year’s first issue of RVA Magazine!
This week, RVA Magazine #36 is on the stands all over town, welcoming spring with our first brand-new edition of 2019. It’s chock full of arts, culture, music, politics, news, and more. From across the state to right here at home, RVA #36 brings you the first-rate coverage of central Virginia’s street-level culture that you have come to expect over RVA Mag’s 14 years of existence.
Richmond’s artistic community is drawing a lot of attention this year, and in this issue, we dug into the stories behind the art. From longtime local fave Chris Visions, who has caught the world’s eye with his work on Marvel’s Spider-Verse, to gothic princess Abigail Larson, who is currently involved in the creation of Neil Gaiman’s latest Sandman project, we’ve got some serious heavy hitters to introduce you to in this issue.
Richmonders getting out and exploring the world is also a big theme this issue. From local hip-hop sensation Michael Millions’s improbable experience performing in small-town Kentucky to our own Madelyne Ashworth’s travels around Europe and Asia, we bring the unique perspective of our home city to events all around the world.
There’s a lot more in store as well, from a GayRVA report on the queer resistance movement in rural Appalachia to an exploration of independent filmmaking in the river city with the creators of upcoming feature Last Call, which was filmed on location at Richmond’s own The Answer.
All of that is in store for you when you grab your very own copy of RVA #36, available in all your favorite local businesses around town. Get yours now… they’re going fast!
RVA Magazine closes out its 13th year curating culture across the Commonwealth.
This week, RVA Magazine #35 is fresh to the stands, closing out 2018 with a brand-new edition full of arts, culture, music, politics, news and more. From across the state to right here at home, RVA #35 tells the stories of Virginians and wraps up the year with the Commonwealth’s best.
Here in Richmond, hip hop is heating up, and this issue brings you the stories and photos that’ll give you an inside scoop on the scene’s growing momentum. However, it’s not all good news for the RVA music scene, as long-running, well-beloved venue Strange Matter closes its doors. We bring you a fond farewell from the musicians and music fans of this city.
Meanwhile, we’re delving into the always-fertile world of #rvadine with the latest updates from the world-dominating craft beer community of the river city, as well as an in-depth look at the women who are redefining what it means to be head chef at one of the city’s top restaurants.
The city’s visual artists also get some shine, from the digital neuromancy of artist and photographer Chris Smart to the powerful hip hop-focused work of muralist Nils Westergard.
Beyond the River City, we’ve traveled from the shipyards of Norfolk to the mountains of Appalachia to tell the stories of the Commonwealth. From the desk of our sister site, GayRVA, we get a report on Norfolk’s Knight Hawks, an old-school leather club finding their way into the 21st century. We also take a close look at Appalachia, where communities are attempting to move beyond their economic dependence on coal mining and create a sustainable future for rural western Virginia.
Don’t sleep — grab a copy around town. RVA #35 is on the streets now.