The Kitchen Sisters Lay the Foundation For Localore's The Making Of…

pop-up magazineWhen they arrived at a Pop-Up Magazine event in late April,  producers Davia Nelson and Nikki Silva—known jointly as The Kitchen Sisters—didn't realize they'd be closing the show.

Like a magazine, the performances start out short and snappy and get longer and meatier as things progress. Maintaining suspense about the lineup is just one of the ways organizers keep these popular live events fresh—tickets for this "issue" were snapped up within 12 minutes. Nelson and Silva were surprised to find they’d be featured in the longest slot, allowing them seven-and-a-half minutes to preview the Localore project they are producing with incubator station KQED, titled "The Making Of…"

"I don't know if we'll ever get that much time on the radio," Nelson notes.

The Kitchen Sisters have been presenters since the very first Pop-Up Magazine event, where they offered a sneak preview of  their previous project to an audience of about 250. "How beautiful," said Nelson, "to start The Hidden World of Girls with their startup, and now to launch The Making Of… in front of a jam-packed crowd of 2800 at San Francisco's Symphony Hall.

"Our approach, in the run-up to The Making Of... is to go to large-scale events like this, where you're getting huge confluences of people who span what we're trying to capture in this series," says Nelson. The concept is to "disseminate the idea of the project quickly to people with big ideas and big mouths, who are big thinkers."

homobilesThe story the duo shared was titled "The Making of the Homobile: A Story of Transportation, Civil Rights and Glitter" In it, they explored the genesis of a volunteer car service for LGBT passengers who might face discrimination from cabbies, or late-night street violence. This was not just the tale of a vibrant and much-appreciated resource, says Silva—but about “the making of a community, a state of mind.”

Normally here’s where we’d link to the piece, but no dice. Pop-Up is “the world’s first live magazine, created for a stage, a screen and a live audience. Nothing will arrive in your mailbox,” they promise on their site, “no content will go online.”

Like radio in the old days, it just happens and it's gone and becomes part of the oral tradition," Nelson says.

In that troubadour mode, Nelson presented a variation on the story a few weeks later at a “jam session” held during the 38th annual International Features Conference. She describes the lively scene: a London pub “smashed with people,” who had spent all day at the BBC Broadcasting House in panels, and then gamely came over to hear “radio being deejayed from around the world.”

While the Homobile had received an enthusiastic hometown reception at the San Francisco event, she says, it was “really interesting to play something so local in the context of an international audience.” But the crowd liked it, boding well for stories to come.

All Together Now

Each performance offers the chance for fertile collaborations. "You'd think you'd do the series and a ways into it people would say ‘let's partner,’ but it seems to be happening at the front of the project," Nelson observes.

At the Pop-Up Magazine event, the producers were approached by representatives of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, which includes a performance space featuring prominent storytellers and writers. The Making Of... is now on the docket for next spring. Next February, they’ll also be appearing along with collaborators in the project at the San Francisco MOMA—”Citywide tour!” joked Frank Smigiel, Associate Curator of Public Programs at MOMA , when he heard about the JCC gig.

In mid-May, Silva went prospecting for interesting stories at the Maker Faire, which she described as “Mad Max meets Burning Man meets county fair,” and when we spoke later in the month month, they were gearing up for promising presentations in Oakland and Marfa, Texas.

The Kitchen Sisters are also drawing on their strong network of colleagues and collaborators from around the Bay Area. For example, they first heard about the Homobile in the living room of author Armistead Maupin—best known for his classic San Francisco series, Tales of the City. They’re also in conversation with illustrator Wendy McNaughton about doing some work in conjunction with the project. Interested in a preview? Click on the image below to see a larger version of the handy visual notes she took during a Kitchen Sisters recording workshop.

Wendy M. illustration

Making Of poster

What's Next?

Along with KQED public radio, the Kitchen Sisters will soon be opening a listener phone line to gather stories from the community about what people are making and why in this region where some 112 languages are spoken. They will also launch a project site/blog being created in collaboration with KQED and Zeega. Sylvan Brackett, of Peko Peko, a Japanese pop up catering project, is collaborating with the team in creating posters and the logo for the project. See a work-in-progress of the graphic at right.

All of this prep work will feed into the project’s first KQED on-air piece: an array of voices telling short stories that reveal “from the get-go how multifaceted the project is,” Silva says. The site and line will be up in the next month or so, and the first piece airs in the late summer—check back here for details.

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