Tonight we’re not going to talk about modern Vampires… well maybe just a smidgin, later on. No, tonight we are going to talk about the arts and, in particular, one artist, Goddess Rosemary Sahjaza. A prolific artist, a creator, a visionary and an explorer.
In speaking of Temple-House Sahjaza she notes, proudly,
“We are big supporters of underground theatre and theatrical companies, such as, La Commedia del Sangue: Vampyr Theatre”, she goes on to say, “The Sahjaza have been putting on events since the 70’s such as Cirque de Erotique and the most recently the Undead-A-Go-Go. Over the years Temple-House Sahjaza has done everything from Ghost Tours to Whale Watching.”
As a businesswoman Goddess Rosemary “owned one of NYC’s first notable Computer Graphic Corporations in 1985 and paved the way for groups to follow such, as Kinko’s.”
The Sahjaza Matriarch is also an actress, filmmaker and “champion of women’s freedom of expression, personal growth and rights.” As an artist, Goddess Rosemary has exhibited art in shows in NYC from the Andrus Gallery at Carnegie Hall, to the Salmagundi Club and other notable galleries and venues.
She has directed award winning films that she calls “in-depth and psychological works like Fritz Lang or perhaps even David Lynch” and her most noted work, “The Elegant Spanking”, explores fetish themes and celebrates the female form. She is a fan of “cult classics, film noir and dark movie format” and often works in black and white. She also designs her own sets, having studied art direction for film at the New School as well as acting at HB Studio in NYC, and dance at the Leslie Dance School, also in NYC.
Goddess Rosemary, apart from all this, is also an “advocate for lost and homeless shelter pets, spay and neuter programs and education.”
Coinciding with the release of the “Goddess Rosemary Ankh” today RVL is greatly honoured to be granted her first in-depth interview in almost a decade and we are very proud to welcome Goddess Rosemary Sahjaza.
RVL: Good evening Goddess Rosemary, thank you very much for agreeing to spend some time with us. I suppose that the first, and perhaps most common, question that artists would get is when and where did you first become interested, and involved in, artistic pursuits?
GR: I first started drawing horses and made a book for my mother out of some yellow paper tied with bread ties, later I took to drawing and writing on old computer paper my Dad brought home they had a hard time in those days keeping me in paper, I always find the paper is just not big enough for the “movies” that play in my head thus my becoming a film maker, and studying art direction for film at the New School in NYC. Nothing is big enough not paper, neither is the canvas, I love doing huge wall murals the largest became 60 foot long and 8 foot wide in a tavern.
RVL: It is well known that you are among a large number of artistic people in the modern Vampire culture, in many diverse fields from literature, to hand arts, to music and to film making – what’s your favourite art form to work in?
GR: I touched on that a bit in the first question but I will give more detail now, I love computer graphics also photography, being a living art form in figure study modelling that I have done with a variety of wonderful photographers.
I love colored pens, pencils, charcoal, and acrylic, I do not use oil anymore due to the toxicity of the oils and the mediums used with oils but at one time I loved to use them, I like cutting out paper with sharp scissors and making things 3D and using a variety of mediums to create illusions of depth and texture. I have some brushes that I have had for over 30 years they are tools that I know exactly what they do and what particular act of painting they will perform, painting is like dancing it’s an art that is music to the canvas and the paint is the song, it’s creating a world that draws people in and makes them respond. It’s energy transferred to canvas and when I paint I paint very, very fast it’s an energy and almost like feeding, or a form of energy charging. As I do this it’s somewhat akin to the same idea of some fast type of automatic writing, it’s a bit hypnotic and I do not like to stop in the middle as it’s sort of hard to regain the same pace if you stop.
I enjoy doing erotic studies of women, not always because they are perfect, or perfection but in their own beauty, and I enjoy landscapes and creating a story on canvas.
My film “The Elegant Spanking”, a 16 mm black and white, 30 min duration fetish film, played all around the world in film fests in the early 90’s, it is still a hot topic in the debate forum at the University of MD where it’s in the library and they discuss yearly, Is it pornography or art? I believe its art as to me it was all artistically channeled, inspired by art and life, and it’s the story of a woman vampyre and her female companion, or serving girl. It reflects my life and the life of every mistress and maid, the wheel in the wheel, one made for the other, for without the serving girl how can you have the mistress of the house? Without the mistress of the house how do you have the serving girl? Each knows their role and without each other neither role works, it’s my version of Metropolis perhaps, or Fellini.
It was featured for a time in Playboy Catalogue with the caption, “Not for the faint hearted”.
I also adore Kubrik and Lynch, film and art run together for me and I loved Walt Disney, wanted to be an illustrator and animator, my film desire to animate comes directly from his old cell by cell methods.
RVL: …and, for those who may not have chanced upon our June articles, how long have you been involved in art culture and its comings and goings?
GR: I have been involved in art all my life and won my first art award at age 12, I won a Waterford crystal bowl and I sold my first work of art sale to Godfrey Anderson Rockefeller at about the same age. I was also influenced by Leonardo DaVinci’s works, by my friend Salvador Dali and my dear friend Andy Warhol, I actually met Andy by accident we both went to the same Dr and met in the Dr’s office …
Other of my art favorites are, but are not limited to, John Singer Sargent, Goya, Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Martin Johnson Heade, Winslow Homer, Andrew Edward Hopper, Newell Wyeth, Georgia O’Keeffe, adored, then gone too soon, Patrick Nagel.
My friends Keith Haring and Andy Warhol influenced me greatly on so many levels including giving me the freedom to be me along with my friend, singer and song writer, Jim Cowan and Reb Stout who showed me that I could express myself with the freedom and abandonment of a strong and passionate spirit and to let myself be me in all ways, breaking out of society and social norms, in my art and my artwork and I thank them greatly.
I love collaborating with other artists, writers, and musicians, electrical energy generating and creative types. Thus the vampyre archetype, and lifestyle, is a more than perfect place for a living art form life-form being to be.
Toulouse-Lautrec was a huge influence on me, my grandmother had four pieces by him and they are mine now but they both terrified and attracted me. Some of the figures were silhouetted and scary but others, bawdy female figures, in acts of a bit of naughty play I adore them and had them re-framed in black frames, they are beautiful and among my most personal treasures. These are the actual ones i have lithographs of –
GR: My own personal style today is, I would say, “evolving”, as I am and seem to be ever evolving, are we not always evolving and changing, blending and becoming more? Well, hopefully more…
There is one artist who deeply influenced me I can’t recall his name, I will fill it in later… a British painter, he painted scenes of romantic women lounging around pools with leopards and such ritualistic baths and other attire romantic columns and the grandiose rooms or outdoor courtyards like the later Hollywood films took to heart as much as I did I’m sure. His work influenced my set design within my own rituals and within the work I did in set design for film, videos and photo shoots in NYC.
RVL: Without revealing any trade secrets, can you give us a little insight into what you are up to these days?
GR: I am currently working on two charity pieces one for the local animal shelter and the other for another charity for the preservation of wetlands.
I am also going to release some of my drawings in poster format and I am working on a compilation photo book of me by a variety of photographers which will also contain assorted writings by myself and others.
As well as these, we have released, this morning, the long anticipated “Goddess Rosemary Ankh” it will be available on TempleHouseSahjaza.com in a Rhodium plate and in Stainless Steel.
RVL: …and, quite apart from any sort of ‘nightkind’ influence, where else do you draw your inspirations from?
GR: Everything I see is art, a portent of, for or to create art. I feel that we are all living art as we are all the living Sahjaza, it’s the same principal.
Nature, people, animals, birds, the sky, the earth, everything, buildings and I particularly love old ghost towns and decayed buildings that were once a glory just like I love old houses, they were a work of art not “cookie cutter” buildings like modern houses; give me my 100 year old fall-down house with her plank wood floors and crooked walls any day. To me ‘Sanctuary’, where I live, is a canvas in renovating a 100 year old house as well as the grounds one tree at a time.
RVL: Where can our readers view your work and do you have an outlet for retail?
GR: My art display at Temple-House Sahjaza is a work in progress, that’s not on line yet though posters of the “Woman with a veil” can be obtained from me at Temple-House Sahjaza and there’s some artwork on my YouTube channel, YouTube/ShannonAvalon that I have created, and play with. I collaborate with many friends, musician, author, playwright and ritual conspirator Tony Sokol , journalist, musician, composer, and song writer Creek, Joe Cerna of Black Virgin fame, Dead Eddie, Carlos Vivanco, The Madame Webb in Digital Dream, and so many wonderful others whom allow me to use their original music for my creations; creations which are sometimes only limited by my own personal computer equipment. I hope to someday build a proper computer lab. Incidentally, I owned one of the first three computer graphics companies in NYC, I was actually somewhat a pioneer in the field of computer graphics.
RVL: Do you have a favourite piece, or pieces of work amongst what you have done so far?
GR: “Woman with a veil”, an artwork with pen and ink and the totem pole that was at my gallery show at Carnegie Hall, NYC called “Into my web” a multimedia show. My painting called “Mother Nature” is also a great favorite.
RVL: What advice would you give to any budding artists looking to get their own work ‘out there’?
GR: Just keep creating!! Dream big.
When we travel a creative path, and live creatively, feed on creativity, become the dark muse, the universe provides a wealth of food for creativity – it’s self-perpetuating and will always push creative types to create, regardless what distractions are out there.
RVL: Do you consciously confine yourself to one or two art forms at a time or do you like to explore and create as the whim takes you?
GR: I am involved with as many as 15 to 20 art projects all the time it never stops, never sleeps, never enough time, or canvas, or paper everything is an inspiration, I drink it all and pour it out onto, and into, my work regardless of what medium I am working in.
The last thing I did was hand make the place setting cards for the Sahjaza Family Reunion Dinner. They were created them out of computer generated artwork printed on parchment paper put on heavy card stock with attached gems I acquired some 30 plus years ago from famed costume designer Edith Head, in L.A., at a venue once owned by famed fashion designer, fetish fan, and my lifelong friend and mentor (and member of the Black Rose) Reb Stout. I decided to glue some of them on for decoration to give them a NOLA flair they also have some authentic black photo brad attachment corner things that must be about 40 years old.
Reb, by the way, was the owner of my white dog Mo-Mo you may have seen with me in photos. I inherited him in November 2007 when Reb, a former Navy Seal, succumbed to lung cancer after fighting a great battle
He and I were dog people and I inherited his dog whom I love dearly and is best mates to my dog Merlin who is an Australian cattle dog and has rounded him up from day one.
My Consort assisted me in making the placement cards helping me with some of the more difficult measurement and cutting and gluing of the pieces I was pleased with them when we were done, and I had the last of the glitter on them – who said vampyres don’t like glitter!
RVL: Do you find, or think, there is a large niche within the modern nightkind culture for the expression and appreciation of art such as you produce or, do you think too much has gone the way of “instant gratification” to the point where many are losing the ability or desire to really appreciate physical art pieces?
GR: people are either inspired by them or they lose touch with “touch” and “feel” and “see”. There are those who are glued to the addiction of instant gratification of “likes” and “selfies” and do not even look up from the phone to see real life, or go to a wedding and see it via the lens of a camera, taking a film they most likely will never even watch again to record it for some time in the future when technology will no longer play that medium. I am more concerned with the loss of our culture when technology passes our mediums by and our recordings, photos and archives are no longer compatible.
I believe the Russians, I heard, had a 30 day “detox” and almost “AA style” place for people who were too addicted to “Second City” to do their day to day jobs, are we addicted to social media or are we using it to create how connected is too connected? When you read of someone who is out buying toilet paper, and they feel the need to post it, they could be doing something creative.
I am inspired by much I see to be, and become, creative and what others are creating, I view – on social media – there is never enough time of course to do what I want to do or create but, for example, the film directed by a woman, Wonder Woman, that I viewed on opening night at a theatre, was HUGELY inspiring to me and made me remember so many reasons I wanted to become and artist, I think DC comics is hugely inspiring to creative people.
One must get off the behind and do so to not let the massive amount of outside stimuli, and easy gratification, monopolize their creative time, rather use it as a time to connect, to bond, to use as a tool, to learn to read papers, articles, hear music and experience using the tools, don’t let them use you. One of the things that takes much time is the internet and the purposeful attempts of internet trolls to tie up and chaos your time thus taking you away from valuable real-life interaction.
RVL: When you aren’t creating the art yourself what forms of art do you like to kick back and enjoy?
GR: I don’t know that I am ever not creating, Dali said once to me, “You are art” however, for enjoyment, I am going to the Blood Lust Ball, in NOLA on October… what is it 29th Sunday? This will be me appearing for the first time in a public venue ball since NYC in 2013!
RVL: What would you say is the most “extreme” art form you have ever embraced, or moved in the circles of?
GR: Performance art, live on stage art in NYC at the Hellfire, Paddles, the Vault and other clubs and venues, at my own events, and others. I love NYC because unlike most the USA with a few exceptions such as L.A., San Francisco or Las Vegas, you can be naughty as ya wanna be – and it’s still art!
RVL: Naturally, I would suppose, we would like to touch, at least once, upon your knowledge and history within the nightkind culture; have you any wise words for modern living Vampires dear lady?
GR: Be elegant, be compassionate and play hard. Never stop creating, inspire and be inspired.
RVL: Thank you very much indeed for sharing your thoughts, advice and insights with us today. We greatly appreciate your time indeed, it has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you.
GR: You’re so very welcome it was my pleasure and so fun to close my eyes re-live moments when we, as Z/n, used to gather and sit in big high back chairs by the fire and fondly remember days at the, Algonquin hotel in NYC, and a former Corporate Technology Chief of the NYSE, my friend and co-author of many projects, Chris Keith, who recently passed over the veil. I remember him telling me like it was yesterday,
“When you’re old and full of sleep these will be the days you remember”, as we all sat there trying to capture some of the inspiration or channel some dreaming of the ghosts of past patrons Mary Shelley and her friends trying to catch the vibe of Dracula, Sherlock and Frankenstein.
If people wish to contact me they can do so on my FB page RosemarySahaza, or Temple-House Sahjaza on FB.
My personal twitter account is @goddessrosemary and @SahjazaZn
We also have @templeSahjaza on twitter and Sahjaza on Instagram.
People can order the Goddess Rosemary Ankh on TempleHouse Sahjaza.com or, if they want to catch up with me, come see me at the Blood Lust Ball in NOLA.
Preparing this presentation was an exhilarating experience because it was the first time that I have done a “live”, of sorts, interview… Goddess Rosemary and I sat down before our monitors on Sunday evening and we let this roll its own way, it could have gone on much, much longer.
It was also exhilarating because when you are in touch with this lady in such a manner you actually get to feel the energy, the vibe, the passion of the artist coming right at you, grabbing you by the shoulders and shaking you ‘til your teeth rattle…
Of her accomplishments there can be no doubt, her awards speak for themselves. Of her in person, one can only sit and marvel at the friends that have graced her artistic circle through her life thus far and wonder what more is to come from such an amazing lady but despite the glamour of the situation one can instantly recognise the true soul-passion for her arts, the adventurous spirit of her creation and the fearlessness of her approach.
I don’t know but honestly I’d rather try jumping in front of a speeding train than try and stop Goddess Rosemary from doing, and achieving, whatever the hell she wants.
Copyright RVL & Goddess Rosemary Sahjaza, 2017
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