A local movie director named Suzuya Bobo has put together two upcoming shows at the new East Williamsburg club No Aloha that she says will raise funds for the Washington D.C. nonprofits NARAL Pro Choice America and the Human Rights Campaign. Both are headlined by Naia Izumi, a guitarist from Los Angeles who won NPR’s “Tiny Desk” contest four years ago.
According to Bobo, who directed a movie called “Family Games” around then too, she’s framing the shows around news of a leaked draft of a Supreme Court opinion that outlined the intention of the court’s conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade. She says she was already planning on visiting family in Washington, D.C. when she read the headlines.
“When I found out about the news, I moved my trip dates up so I could go to the Supreme Court and protest,” said Bobo. She was underwhelmed. “There were a lot of 15-year-old girls, but there were more cops than people and they were putting up more barricades.”
“It was so anticlimactic that I decided then that I had to do something more,” she says.
The shows at No Aloha take place Friday night and on May 28th. The second one pairs Izumi alongside a singer named Anni Rossi and a band called Female Genius. Vic Sin, a dragleque artist, will be MCing the show, which Bobo promised also includes a still undisclosed lineup of women comedians. The fundraising efforts will be further assisted by an online art auction.
Bobo said she met Izumi, a self-taught guitar virtuoso, when she was living in Los Angeles. Izumi says he learned to play while hiding in a closet, avoiding his father, who disapproved of Izumi’s passion for the instrument. He was busking on the streets in the city when Bobo said she offered to make a music video for him and later suggested that Izumi apply to the NPR’s annual “Tiny Desk” competition. After winning that, Izumi was signed to Sony’s classic music imprint, which put out “A Residency in the Los Angeles Area” last year.
NARAL, one of the groups collecting money from the event’s proceeds, sent over a statement testifying that “reproductive freedom in our country faces an urgent crisis.” Bobo says volunteers from the group will be there, distributing their literature regarding abortion access and registering voters.
The owners of No Aloha, the 5,000-square-foot bar that opened this year where El Cortez used to be, said they rented out the space free of charge.
“This is more than just a cause, it’s about human rights and equality,” said No Aloha co-owner Tessie Carroll. “I am a human and I don’t want anyone telling me what I can or cannot do with my body. It’s pretty simple.”
Bobo added that she was moved by fears that the upcoming ruling from the Supreme Court could signal the court’s willingness to overturn other landmark cases such as Obergefell v. Hodges and Lawrence v. Texas.
“It’s not just affecting women,” said Bobo, “I don’t think people realize that this will unravel gay rights.”
Tickets for the shows range from $30 to $129 for the show on Friday and from $25 to $99 for the one one the 28th. Bobo, however, emphasized that she doesn’t want the price to be restrictive to those that can’t afford it and says she will take donations at the door, space permitting.
“My mentors were all political activists, and they’re older or dead. I just can’t complain about something and not do anything,” said Bobo. “They don’t need to fight this fight again. So, it’s up to us.”
Update: The first of the two shows was lated canceled, citing an issue with Izumi’s health.
Top image via No Aloha.
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