Ladytowne revival inspires local women
Local live podcats returns to the stage, highlighting and empowering women
By day, Miranda Schubert is a 33-year-old academic advisor in the physiology department at the University of Arizona.
But by night, she is a roller derby superstar known as Pariah Carey, a substitute DJ for KXCI and the iconic host of the feminist variety/talk show, Ladytowne.
Downtown Tucson is home to rich art, music and comic scenes. The only thing it seemed to lack, according to Schubert, was more women.
“I wanted to highlight female artists and the diversity within women and women-identifying individuals producing music,” Schubert said.
Ladytowne has been on a hiatus since its last show in December due to insecurity about the previous venue, the Flycatcher Bar, but returned Wednesday, May 30, to Club Congress.
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Schubert had been planning the night since January and kept a running list of people she wanted to include in the show. The homecoming premier was introduced by local comedian Rebecca Tingley, followed by a performance by burlesque dancer Lola Torch.
Schubert conducted live interviews with dynamic women in their respective communities, like Marina Cornelius, founder of the fitness dance studio Floor Polish, and Amanda Nicole Bickel of AZ Trees Please, a community effort dedicated to native desert habitat restoration and sustainable living practices — culminating with musical performances by local bands Taco Sauce and Bex WestOasis.
For much of her adult life, Schubert wanted to host a radio show of her own. She loved music and creating playlists and was fascinated by other people’s lives.
A friend of Schubert’s created a Low Power FM radio station and Schubert was inspired to begin brainstorming ideas for a radio show.
“It just seemed like a really good opportunity because I always thought it would be fun to do radio, but it never seemed very accessible to me, I didn’t even know how one went about doing that sort of thing,” Schubert said. “I love being on the radio, I never want to stop doing that.”
In 2015, Schubert pitched a concept for a feminist radio show that strived to empower local, female artists to Downtown Radio. The idea was a hit and Schubert lived her dream of being on the radio as the regular host of Ladytowne.
The show ended after the first year, but was far from over. Justin Miller, a friend of Schubert’s who organized events at the Flycatcher Bar, suggested she record Ladytowne live and offered her a time spot.
“The live show is super fun, I love doing it,” Schubert said. “Each one is completely different. [The show in December] was the best show by far, with each one I felt a little less nervous and worried about how it was going to turn out.”
According to Schubert, the prospect of a live show opened up a surfeit of new and exciting avenues. It meant that her guests could not only be heard, but seen.
“It felt like the stakes were higher because people can see you,” Schubert said. “I guess I kinda like the challenge of having to have a conversation with somebody and have it be natural and not weird or forced.”
Schubert introduced visual performers like cinematic musicians, videographers, dancers and comedians — and she was rather excited about the latter.
“At some point I decided that it would be cool to have comedians open up for the show, like warm it up, and that’s been great,” Schubert said. “It’s a crazy, vibrant community – the comedy scene, I have this huge list of female comedians I can reach out to and every single one I’ve encountered so far has been funny.”
Previous guests like Gabriella Montoya — a recurring guest who plays for the 80s garage style girl band Taco Sauce — and Clarissa Sarabia — the drummer for the local band La Cerca — have all enjoyed their experience on Ladytowne and recognize the importance of the show’s existence.
“I love that there is a concerted effort to make sure women are getting equal exposure in the local scene,” Montoya said.
Montoya said that she had felt that the music scene generally spotlights “male-centric” shows and “all dude” bands. It made sense to her that Schubert felt the need to make an all-women show.
“It’s really great that eyes have been opened up to how many really great, diverse artists and musicians and activists and female business owners there are in Tucson,” Montoya said.
Sarabia believes that Tucson is a very inclusive city compared to some of the places she has encountered on her west coast tour with her band.
She noted that in one week, La Cerca played six shows and only three female musicians had been a part of them, while there had been 18 or more male musicians.
“Female musicians often have to be as good or better than male musicians to be recognized in the industry,” Sarabia said.
Schubert’s goal for Ladytowne was to build a community that recognized female artists and entrepreneurs for their accomplishments in fields often dominated by men. According to Montoya and Sarabia, she succeeded..
“Whenever I come across an individual I think is doing amazing things, especially when they have anything to do with a community, I just want other people to know about it too and I want those people to know each other,” Schubert said. “That makes me excited.
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