Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio

Nancy Fowler

Arts and Culture Reporter

Nancy Fowler is a veteran journalist whose career spans television, radio, print and online media. Her passions include the arts and social justice, with a particular delight in the stories of people working in that intersection.

She received a regional Emmy Award for news writing at WXYZ-TV in Detroit, and the Pride St. Louis' Felton T. Day Award for service to St. Louis' LGBT community. Her numerous fellowships include USC Annenberg’s NEA Arts Journalism Institute in Theater, and the Wake Forest University Addiction Studies Program for Journalists.

Email her: NFowler@STLPublicRadio.org

Follow her on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: You might not think someone the size of “The Blind Side” character Michael Oher would have a problem with bullying. But Quinton Aaron, who played Michael to Sandra Bullock’s Leigh Anne Tuohy in the 2009 Academy Award-winning film based on a true story, was once afraid to walk home from school.

Now 28, Aaron is telling his story with the launch of the Quinton Aaron Foundation’s 31-city Anti-Bullying Tour. On Sunday, April 7, the tour stops in St. Louis for a bowling event at AMF Dick Weber Lanes in Florissant.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: When you enjoy a dance presentation, you expect to be moved, emotionally. But in an upcoming Leverage Dance Theater performance, the audience actually travels with the modern dance concert to three separate locations.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Money is the subject of many a popular song: It “Makes the World Go ‘Round” in “Cabaret.” Dire Straits laments “Money for Nothing.” Money "is a hit,” according to Pink Floyd.

Money will also be explored in literature, film and theater in the April 4-6 Greater St. Louis Humanities Festival. “Money, Money! Need, Greed and Generosity” is sponsored by Cinema St. Louis and a dozen other organizations. The 2013 event is St. Louis’ second annual festival. It’s the brainchild of Washington University English professor Gerald Early, who was inspired by the Chicago Humanities Festival.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Winter weather has stretched this year’s chili-eating season into spring. But even after temperatures warm up, chili will continue as a good choice for philanthropists, and those struggling to find enough to eat.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Forbidden love often finds itself on stage. In “Conviction,” an upcoming New Jewish Theatre presentation about a real-life, ill-fated romance, the stakes are particularly high.

“Conviction” is a story-within-a-story, set during the Spanish Inquisition, a period in which Jews were forced to convert to Catholicism. It centers on the true tale of a Spanish Jew turned Catholic priest who surreptitiously married and raised a family with a Jewish woman. After Father Andres Gonzales confessed his double life to a priest, he was burned alive.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Kaitlin Niewoehner tumbled through childhood as a promising gymnast in Columbia, Mo. Competitions often brought her to St. Louis, where her family of five enjoyed going to the Zoo, the Arch and Cardinals games.

But in Niewoehner’s early teens, gymnastics’ toll on her body and her dad’s job transfer to the 49th state changed the rhythm of her life: Hello 14, hello Alaska, hello dance lessons.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum (IPHF) collection has arrived in St. Louis, after carefully traveling 500 miles in five moving trucks, toward the goal of an August opening.

If the experience were tallied up in a MasterCard commercial, it might sound like this: Transporting 30,000 images and 6,000 cameras from Oklahoma City: $25,000. Having them on display year-round in Grand Center: Priceless.

St. Louisans and other visitors can visit roomfuls of transformative photographs at the new IPHF in Grand Center, including Edward Steichen’s “Garbo,” Margaret Bourke-White’s “Fort Peck Dam” and Dorothea Lange's “Migrant Mother.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Brooks Brantly, a Belleville native who plays a veterinary officer in 'War Horse' at the Fox Theater, helps students from Grand Center Arts Academy meet Joey. 

As a Belleville East High School student, Brooks Brantly was into martial arts, not musicals. But as a freshman at Atlanta’s Morehouse College, he signed up for an acting course. It turned into a passion, the pursuit of an advanced degree, then a career.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: David Robertson’s "red phone" isn’t red at all. A black cell phone handles all urgent communications between St. Louis Symphony Orchestra music director and his family. 

During our interview, his wife, internationally acclaimed pianist Orli Shaham, rings Robertson from New York.

“Hang on, this is home. It might be important,” Robertson says.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Remember in the 1960s when being married was a woman’s holy grail, often achieved through incessant performances of just the right “bend and snap?”

Oh, wait, that was the 21st-century musical “Legally Blonde.”

Once upon a time, there was a world where the color pink peacefully coexisted with the ability to fix toys with motors.

In Wesley Middleton’s play in progress called “Unsorted,” characters Sweater, Slacks and Swimsuit dance happily together. But when Jacket demands the “clothings” be divided into Zums and Zing Zings, they become confused, and worry about which pieces of themselves they’ll have to cut off.

Will Copeland, at left, with his brothers at age 3 and, at right, age 4.
Provided by the Copeland family

The last time transgender teen William Copeland wore a dress was to his aunt’s commitment ceremony. The 5-year-old caved to parental pressure but on his terms: no bow in the back and only for the vows, not the reception.

“Big mistake! Huge mistake!,” his mother Laurie Copeland winces. “Why did he need to wear a dress to a lesbian wedding? They wouldn’t have cared if he’d worn a tux.”

Despite any early missteps, if you could special-order a family for a transgender child, it would be the Copelands of Creve Coeur.

Dieta Pepsi, aka Leon Braxton, leads a conga line up North Grand Boulevard.
2013 File Photo | St. Louis Beacon

If you’re thirsty for a tall serving of sassy drag queen, Dieta Pepsi hits the spot.

For nearly three decades, Dieta’s performed all over St. Louis, raising many thousands of dollars for local causes. Whether Dieta — aka Leon Braxton — is calling out bingo numbers or trivia questions, her unmistakable deep laugh and glamorously attired six-foot-three presence are ubiquitous in the St. Louis LGBT scene.

Kelly Hamilton
2013 File Photo | St. Louis Beacon

When Kelly Hamilton was 5, he stole his little brother’s tighty whities. He hid his bathing suit top, swearing it was lost when it was really stuffed in a drawer.

Once, in their shared bed, he was surprised to hear his older sister say, “You know the doctors can turn you into a boy now.”

Hamilton, a transgender man, doesn’t ever remember telling his sister he wanted to be a boy. Sometimes family just knows. But in 1980s Dallas, Texas, parents weren’t exactly embracing gender variance.

Lindsay Toler
2013 File Photo | St. Louis Beacon

Twenty-six-year-old Lindsay Toler of Tower Grove calls herself queer.

The Mizzou alum and journalist embraces this label even though she’s in a long-term, monogamous relationship with a man, and presents as the proverbial “girl next door.”

“I was a debutante growing up, I was in a sorority in college; I’m really blonde, really white — I’ve got a lot of privilege,” Toler says. “But you don’t have to be ‘other’ to be queer — everybody gets to be queer.”

Wait, what?

Birago, 7, Ajani, 9, and Jumi,12, sit on the couch with parent Cbabi and Reine Bayoc behind them.
Nancy Fowler | file photo

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - Every day, St. Louis artist Cbabi Bayoc spends eight hours painting fathers and 24 hours being one.

He and his wife Reine Bayoc have three children: Jurni, 12, Ajani, 9, and Birago, 7. As Thanksgiving draws near, the family is thankful for each other and for many aspects of the “365 Days with Dad” project.

"Y'aba" by Yvonne Osei, Portfolio's "Skin Stories" exhibit
Provided by the gallery

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Art can change lives. For example, “365 Days with Dad” Artist Cbabi Bayoc hopes that when people view his positive images of African-American fathers, they’ll fold those perceptions into their belief systems. 

But you can’t be changed by what isn’t there. For many years, African-American art was absent or spotty in many collections.

A series of performances at Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts will blur the lines separating art, theater and social work to break down barriers among people and communities.

Courtesy of the Pulitzer

 

Emily Piro, case manager at St. Patrick Center, works with "Staging Reflections of the Buddha."

A series of performances at Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts will blur the lines separating art, theater and social work to break down barriers among people and communities.

Courtesy of the Pulitzer

 

Emily Piro, case manager at St. Patrick Center, works with "Staging Reflections of the Buddha."

In “Briefs: A Festival of Short Lesbian and Gay Plays,” the list of local theater celebrities is anything but brief. 

The Feb. 24-26 weekend festival includes such veteran and award-winning directors as Edward Coffield, Annamaria Pileggi and Ed Reggi, and actors Donna Weinsting, Troy Turnipseed and Ken Haller. Even burlesque performer Lola Van Ella gets into the act. 

Where: La Perla (312 N. 8th Street), 63101

Actors in David Mamet’s “Race” aren’t the only ones talking about race at the Rep this month. This Monday, the Rep hosts a free, one-night event using theater scenes to spark discussion about the issue.

An upcoming performance at the Edison is kind of like two shows in one, featuring a sketch comedy team that also sings.

The New York-based Water Coolers bring their songs and satire to the Edison for one Saturday night show. The group was created by husband-and-wife duo Thomas Michael Allen, co-creator of Off-Broadway’s “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” and Sally Allen, a corporate trainer. The Water Coolers initially played to audiences at professional conferences but quickly found their niche Off-Broadway and on tour.

An upcoming performance at the Edison is kind of like two shows in one, featuring a sketch comedy team that also sings.

The New York-based Water Coolers bring their songs and satire to the Edison for one Saturday night show. The group was created by husband-and-wife duo Thomas Michael Allen, co-creator of Off-Broadway’s “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” and Sally Allen, a corporate trainer. The Water Coolers initially played to audiences at professional conferences but quickly found their niche Off-Broadway and on tour.

For time immemorial, theatrical renderings of adolescent angst have revolved around typical themes of boy-meets-girl, or occasionally, boy-meets-boy or girl-meets-girl.

But boy-meets-horse? Though the premise is a rarity, the play’s not exactly new. “Equus,” first produced in 1973 and presented by St. Louis’ HotCity Theatre Sept. 10-25, tells the story of 17-year-old Alan Strang (Drew Pannebecker) and his sexual and religious preoccupation with horses.

Almost everyone knows of renowned author Samuel Clemens -- especially here in Missouri, where we're proud to call Hannibal his home.

But the life of the man whose pen name was Mark Twain is far from an open book.

For example, few people realize that a chance meeting in his early 20s with a young girl may have sparked and sustained his writing career and provided the inspiration for the character of Becky Thatcher in his most famous novel, "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer."

For four years -- more than twice as long as an elephant's gestation period -- Karen Brody labored over her play about the ultimate conclusion of pregnancy. Then, "Birth" was born.

 

Newly engaged artist Arthur should be walking on air. But as a fetishist who's missing his favorite footwear, he's in a quandary.

So begins "Psychopathia Sexualis," a comedy revolving around an anxious soon-to-be groom, his wealthy socialite fiancee and his father's argyle socks.

Only within proximity to the socks is Arthur able to make love. However, in an unorthodox therapeutic move, his psychiatrist snares the potent pair.

Waiters whizzing by on skates was exactly what a scene from “Footloose” needed in the Stages St. Louis 2005 production, thought choreographer Dana Lewis.

In rehearsal after rehearsal, the performers rocked and literally rolled all over the stage without a hitch.

But during a technical rehearsal just prior to opening night, a bad fall left actor Zoe Vonder Haar with a broken arm, and put the kibosh on the skating idea. Theater-goers never knew what they’d missed.

Matt and Tom Smith
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

In high school, Matthew Smith busied himself designing websites, taking photos and making pottery. His younger brother, Tom, played trombone in the school jazz band, worked on his Eagle Scout badge and concentrated on honors classes in math, physics and geometry.

Like most teenagers preoccupied with their own pursuits, they didn't really notice anything unusual about their dad. But their friends did.

"They'd say, 'Your dad doesn't have any hair on his legs. Your dad's hair is really long'," said Matthew, 23.

Michelle and Debbie Smith
Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Beacon | File photo

Growing up with three brothers in a cramped house just outside Chicago, Michelle Smith delighted in the rare chance to slip into her mother's bra and black wig. As her heart pounded, her excitement was tempered only by the terror of being discovered. Had she been caught, Michelle feared her mother would not be amused by a 6-year-old's attempt to imitate mommy.

That's because Michelle was being raised as a son.

Pages