From Aris with Love, Music, and Film

Losing a loved one is unthinkable. Knowing it could have been prevented makes it even more horrific. The people responsible not taking responsibly is unacceptable. There are no words to comfort someone who has suffered such a loss, there are no actions that can bring a loved one back but there are ways we can help to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else. If you don’t already know him, I want to introduce you to my friend, Aris Ziagos, and I would like to share his story and the story of his mother, Virginia.

I met Aris after the loss of his mother and from what he has told me of her, I’m sorry I never got to meet her. She was an interesting, kind, loving soul and someone I would have LOVED to interview! I know she was amazing because she raised one amazing son. I’m so proud of him for taking on this latest project and I want to help him to make the film a reality.

In his words:

“On October 29th 2012 Bellevue Hospital was crippled and left without power in the aftermath of hurricane Sandy. My mother was a patient in the ICU, and died in the aftermath of the storm. In the midst of the worst tragedy that has struck my family, the biggest storm ever to hit NYC changed our lives forever and revealed cracks in our emergency management and health care systems. This documentary is so important, for learning from the lessons of these events, for grieving and healing.”

You all know I have always felt entertainment and social media are best when we are telling stories that help others and this is definitely the case here. Please enjoy our interview and visit the fundraising page if you can help. Even one dollar can assist and hopefully prevent this tragedy from happening to others.

Q: Your project, From Virginia With Love: A Documentary, is a labor of love and the story of your mother. Can you tell us a little about your mom?

Aris Ziagos: Yes, thank you! My mother was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and travelled around the country a lot in her youth as the daughter of an army family. In her 20′s and 30′s she toured as a belly dancer across America, finding a home in New York City. It amazes me that an Irish American girl from Ohio taught herself Greek, how to dance and sew, and made a career out of it. As she approached 40, she went on to real estate work and had me. I grew up around all these amazing photos of her from her belly dancing career, and it definitely influenced and inspired me to find my own way to the stage. When I made this choice and at every step along the way afterwards, my mother was my biggest fan, attending every show and offering any help she could.

Q: You suffered such tragedy during hurricane Sandy, and it seems like it could have been avoided if the hospital was better equipped to deal with natural disaster. Is part of the motivation behind the film to try and correct this for others going forward?

Aris Ziagos: Yes, that’s exactly what sparked my desire to make this film. The hospital (Bellevue Hospital) where my mother was an ICU patient did not make the necessary modifications to their emergency power systems or infrastructure for a tropical storm or hurricane in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. Worse yet, because the hospital is run by a corporation and the city, they worked in lock step to keep their failing infrastructure out of the news, until the entire hospital was unable to function with doctors unable to wash their hands, medication not reaching patients, toilets not being able to be flushed, no food for anyone. It was an absolute nightmare. We can’t change the past but we can learn from our mistakes by addressing exactly what happened and what could and should be done differently going forward. Anyone who lives in a coastal area should be thinking about ensuring the safety of the vulnerable in emergencies like this.

Q: We hear so often that “it gets better” but that surely doesn’t happen all on it’s own. Where did you find the strength to go on after all of this? What advice would you give to people who are grieving right now?

Aris Ziagos: My biggest motivation has been living in a way that would make my mother proud, and also finding a way to transcend the tragedy and find a way to honor my mother’s legacy of love. Her passing was so tragic, and I got stuck in that for a while in deep depression as could be expected. A big motivator for my life moving forward from that was to make sure my mother was remembered by her amazing spirit, not just by her passing. That’s been the inspiration for a lot of my music, and definitely for bringing this film to the world. The arch of tragedy to grieving to healing to finding purpose is one everyone can take something away from, and it’s one that plays out during the documentary.

Q: Since you have gone public with the story, what responses have you been getting from fans and friends?

Aris Ziagos: Everyone has been very supportive, encouraging and sympathetic. A lot of people were surprised to hear about the events surrounding my mother’s passing, because very little of the information made it to mainstream news. It was a week before the 2012 Presidential elections, local elections, and the entities that hold New York City together were very careful to present the story in a way that would not cause public outrage.

Q: Has anyone from the hospital contacted you since you started the campaign?

Aris Ziagos: No, not a peep. The hospital’s official story is they triumphed through the disaster with no loss of life. In spite of a great deal of independent reporting, and some good mainstream reporting exposing the hospital’s faults, there has been no accountability for the choices made. They have made some improvements to their infrastructure as defense against a future Hurricane Sandy, but we’ll have to see how thorough those defenses are in a future hurricane.

Q: How can people help you to get this story told?

Aris Ziagos: I’m raising funds for the documentary on IndieGogo:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/from-virginia-with-love-a-documentary/x/260537

I’m offering some really cool merch, like vintage photos of my mom’s belly dancing years, original music, tickets to advanced screenings and fun experiences, as well as pre-selling the documentary.

Q: What are some of the greatest lessons your mom taught you that you can share with us all?

Aris Ziagos: So many things! Love can move mountains. Never stop believing in yourself. You can achieve anything if you keep trying and learn from failure. Be of service to others and give back often in different ways.

Q: I know you have other projects you are working on as well. Can you tell us about some of those?

Aris Ziagos: I’m finishing up work on a few new songs and remixes which I’ll be releasing on the deluxe edition of my album “Pulse” in a few months. I’m also excited to finally release my collaboration with Paula Cole as a single in 2018.  It will be a year that will also see me focused on completing this film, and some new music to accompany it. I have a lot of other songs in the works for future releases, so there’s a lot on the horizon for the next 24 months.

Q: Where can we find you, your music, and your projects online?

Aris Ziagos: You can find me on my official site at http://aris.fm

and on social media at -

http://twitter.com/arisziagos

http://youtube.com/arisziagos

http://instagram.com/arisziagos

http://facebook.com/arismusic

Q: Do you think you will be doing more film work in the future? Would you stick to the social good theme or perhaps branch out into other genres?

Aris Ziagos: I can definitely see exploring film more in the future, a short film, more documentary work. I tend to put my heart into things that inspire me that I can get fully passionate about, who knows what the future will bring?

Q: I always ask people to give me one thing they absolutely cannot live without and one thing they wish we could all live without.

Aris Ziagos: CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT IT: MUSIC!

WISH WE COULD LIVE WITHOUT IT: TRUMP!

Q: What’s up next for Aris the artist?

Aris Ziagos: Next up is the deluxe edition of my album “Pulse” and some new singles in 2018!

I want to thank Aris for taking time to talk to me and for being a part of my NYC family. Take my word for it, he’s one of the good ones. Here is the Indiegogo page if you can make a donation:

And, for your enjoyment, here is the video for his song ‘The Music’:

Make a Statement of Equality and Style with Gay Pride Bow Ties

When I think of style, class, and high profile events, I have always thought of bow ties. For some reason, they just give me the feeling and look of sophistication, so I have always included one in my outfits for any major event I attend in the past few years. Recently I met Jorge Santana, President of Gay Pride Bow Ties, and he shared with me that he would like people to think of equality when they see, wear, or think of his ties. The mission of his company is to unify people and make a difference in the world.

Gay Pride Bow Tieswere recently at Kansas City Pride, the PFLAG National Convention in Portland, and I’m sure quite a few same-sex weddings. I am so excited to wear mine this fall and winter for the formal events I know I’ll be attending.

John Raphael from the digital comedy series 'A Brit and a Yank'

The neat thing about these ties is that five dollars from each tie sold is donated to various non profits, depending on the style you purchase. This means you look good and do good at the same time!

Gay Pride Bow Ties are made of fine silk and are high quality pieces to add to any dapper guys wardrobe. With the various styles, there is sure to be one that fits your personality perfectly and there are even pre-made ties for those of us who just can’t get the hang of tying a perfect looking bow tie.

How many of us like to wear something that stands out and makes a statement? I’m sure most of us would love to have a special piece in our collection that will make us look sharp and grab attention wherever we go. Plus in the age of selfies, I must say, Gay Pride Bow Ties make for quite a picture and post! And trust me, they aren’t just for same-sex weddings, you can rock these classy ties at any wedding or event!

James Stapleton from the digital comedy series 'A Brit and a Yank'

When I asked Jorge about what he hopes for for the future of Gay Pride Bow Ties he responded, “The next step is to create the best bow tie for breast cancer and that for every $400 donated it will help 12 women battling breast cancer to get a wig. If people start purchasing the product and don’t care about the name Gay Pride Bow Ties, then we have done our part. We hope to create more bow ties like this in the future.“

How do you wear your pride? Pick one up for yourself and show the world.

You may recognize him.. had to show off mine as well.

WINGS Helps Domestic Violence Victims become Victorious

You may have seen me tweeting about an organization called WINGS. I wanted to take some time to explain what they do a bit further and invite you to join in showing your support to victims of domestic violence. Many times a person who is in such a situation feels hopeless, alone, and embarrassed. I believe, and so does WINGS, that with the proper encouragement, and the option of a safe place to go, victims can become victorious. So many times being heard and understood can inspire people to make difficult choices and turn their situation around.

WINGS has become one of the largest domestic violence service and housing providers in the state of Illinois. Single women and women with children are able to receive temporary safe shelter through WINGS housing. The staff provides assistance on an individual, one-on-one basis that allows women to set personal goals which enable them to work, continue education, and take care of themselves and their children.

The statistics are staggering, 19.3 MILLION women in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime. With those numbers, I am sure almost all of us know someone who has been affected by the issue.  The programs WINGS offers helps give them back their lives and their courage.

What WINGS wants to do for Mother’s Day is to give everyone an opportunity to show support for the women and children we know in our lives that have had to deal with this. You can be a part by participating in the campaign, #WINGS2beBOLD. Simply upload a photo of yourself or one with your Mothers holding a poster or paper displaying the hashtag  #WINGS2beBOLD to Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. It’s an easy way to offer some encouragement and possibly inspire strength in someone who desperately needs to know we are with them in spirit.

I’m sure you have heard me say that each of us should take any opportunity we have to be a voice for the voiceless. Fear, shame, and hopelessness rob so many of their own voices. Any support we can offer may just help someone to take the steps necessary to turn their lives around and in many cases, even save someone. While we are all enjoying Mother’s Day with our own loved ones, we can surely take a few moments to extend a virtual hug to someone who truly needs it.

If you want to take it a step further, you can also donate to WINGS and find out more about what they do. Their website is full of valuable information and you can donate here: WINGS Program.

VP JOE BIDEN AT GROUNDBREAKING OF WINGS METRO:

Friend Movements 2nd Annual Stardust Soiree

The time has come for the 2nd Annual Stardust Soiree from Friend Movement. I am so honored to have been in attendance at the very first last year and extremely thrilled to be a host this year. All the preparation is really paying off as you will see from the official press release below. There are some amazing sponsors, fun raffles, amazing performers, and lots of friends gathering for the event.

There’s still time to grab a ticket at any price point so you get to enjoy some part of the festivities. I would love to see you there since my time in LA can get quite busy these days. This is a perfect time to catch up for a great cause! Check out the details here:

2nd Annual STARDUST SOIREE – OCTOBER 24th, 2015

Friend Movement in collaboration with AFU Productions, KSP Systems, Bodvar, and Go Channel is proud to present our 2nd Annual STARDUST SOIREE – Black-Tie VIP Dinner & Concert Fundraiser

SCHEDULE
5-7 PM VIP Cocktail Reception / Purple Carpet Arrivals + Interviews
7-7:30 PM Seating (Dinner & General Admission)
7:30 – 10 PM Dinner & MAIN EVENT Concert
10PM – Midnight DANCE PARTY concert

MAIN EVENT concert PERFORMERS (8 PM – 10 PM)
♥ The Summit
♥ Frenchie Davis (AMERICAN IDOL / RENT/ DEAD 7 / WE ARE FAMILY)
♥ Ryan Boone

DANCE PARTY concert PERFORMERS (10 PM – MIDNIGHT)
♥ Aylin Bayramoglu (GLEE PROJECT / CHEERLEADER DEATH SQUAD)
♥ Abraham Lim (GLEE PROJECT / HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS)
♥ Lily Mae Harrington (GLEE PROJECT / SOME FREAKS LOSERVILLE / PEE – WEE’S BIG HOLIDAY)

SPICE AFFAIR
50 N La Cienega Blvd #120, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
5PM – Midnight

Proceeds benefit the work of:

Born To Act Players: a unique theater company comprised of professional performers with and without disabilities. The concept came about when two young men with Down syndrome became friends. Both young men lovedacting and they realized one’s mother was an actor and a drama coach and the other’s worked as a representative for professional talent with disabilities. In 1996, in a small studio space in North Hollywood, California, a handful of young people with Down syndrome began meeting weekly to memorize lines and play theater games.

Friend Movement’s heART Therapy workshops: a form of expressive therapy that uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The creative process involved in expressing one’s self artistically can help people to resolve issues as well as develop and manage their behaviors and feelings, reduce stress, and improve self-esteem and awareness.

$20 – DANCE PARTY (10PM – Midnight)
♥ Drink Specials
♥ Dance Party Concert
* Dance Party ticket holders are welcome to network & enjoy the wonderful drink specials at the main restaurant bar at any time before the DANCE PARTY portion.

$50 – GENERAL ADMISSION (7PM – MIdnight)
♥ Drink Specials
♥ MAIN EVENT Concert
♥ Dance Party Concert
* GENERAL ADMISSION ticket holders are welcome to network & enjoy the wonderful drink specials at the main restaurant bar at any time before the MAIN EVENT portion.

$100 – DINNER & GENERAL ADMISSION (7PM – Midnight)
♥ Dinner (Mushroom Cappuccino, Punjab Connection, Saffron Rice, Fresh Seasonal Vegetables & Dessert. Note: Vegan option available – please note a request during ticket purchase. Vegan option must be noted by Oct 16)
♥ Hosted Wine at dinner
♥ MAIN EVENT Concert
♥ Dance Party Concert
♥ Swag Bag

* DINNER & GENERAL ADMISSION ticket holders are welcome to network & enjoy the wonderful drink specials at the main restaurant bar at any time before the MAIN EVENT portion.

$150 – VIP RECEPTION & DINNER (5PM – Midnight)
♥ Hosted Wine & Apps Reception + Talent Meet & Greet
♥ Dinner (Mushroom Cappuccino, Punjab Connection, Saffron Rice, Fresh Seasonal Vegetables & Dessert. Note: Vegan option available – please note a request during ticket purchase. Vegan option must be noted by Oct 16)
♥ MAIN EVENT Concert (front rows)
♥ Dance Party Concert
♥ EXCLUSIVE VIP Swag Bag

Master of Ceremonies
♥ Ronnie Kroell
♥ Laughing Eddie Lobo
♥ Jeanie You

HOST COMMITTEE
♥ Tommy Geraci
♥ Louise Masin Sattler
♥ Henie Reisinger
♥ Ashlee Marie Preston
♥ Mary Rings
♥ Jerry Silverhardt
♥ Kyle Chan
♥ Monica Danielsen
♥ Roberto Quinn
♥ Karamo Brown
♥ Nina Boski
♥ Santwon McCray
♥ Dean Hale

SPONSORS
♥ AFUproductions
♥ Kettle Glazed Doughnuts
♥ Perfectly Afflicted
♥ DIABOLO Beverages

♥ VIVA GLAM MAGAZINE
♥ Bodvár of Sweden
♥ Blue Chair Bay Rum

SILENT AUCTION
♥ THE STUDIO | 1 day photo/film rental – Monday – Friday from 8am – 6pm ($2500 value)
♥ Francesco Scavullo | Liza Minnelli Limited Edition Print ($2500 value)
♥ KSP Systems IT Consultation ($750 value)
♥ A set lunch for “Goodnight Marilyn” April 2016. Meet the cast and crew. (Priceless)
♥ Walk-On Role in “Child of the 70′s” web-series. (Priceless)
♥ Garnet & Rose Quartz Necklace by Hector Camacho ($250 value)
♥ Canvas print Tulips and Fountains by Robin Magee 20″ x 16″
♥ One-HourProject Consultation & Strategy Session with Debra Eckerling, Guided Goals.
♥ Andrew Christian Gift Basket

RAFFLE
♥ $100 Cake & Art Gift Certificate
♥ Kyle Chan Design Bracelets (5)
♥ Organic Teeth Whitenening Treatment | Studio City Ortho ($99 value)
♥ $50 Kettle Glazed Gift Card (3)
♥ $50 Amoeba Music
♥ Perfectly Afflicted T-Shirts (10)
♥ Bella Dots Collection 2.0 | 12 Cup Coffee Maker ($50 value )

You’ll also have a chance to bid on some hot and trendy shoes like these from Guilhermina ShoesNA:

Be sure to get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-stardust-soiree-tickets-19003560160

Friend Movement and Modern Oats join forces for Friendly Meals

Each month, my friends at Friend Movement feed the homeless and hungry in Los Angeles. It’s one of the many programs they are adopting to help the community and let people know there is someone out there they can count on. To do this they need sponsors, donations, and help. Each of you can help out by donating here: Friendly Meals.

You can also get involved by attending events held in the Los Angeles area. One such event, the Stardust Soiree will be held this coming Saturday, October 24th and I will be there as cohost. I would love to see some familiar faces and meet some new ones! There will be music, auction items from some amazing companies, and so much fun with the most amazing hearts around. Join us by going here: Tickets for Stardust Soiree.

I have been actively involved with Friend Movement for years now because I believe in all they do and are striving to accomplish. I’m always willing to get others involved in any way I can. I especially love when I mention the organization and people respond positively. that was the case with my friend and PR wizard, Joey Hodges. I mentioned friendly meals to him and he immediately brought the idea to Modern Oats, the gluten free, all natural oatmeal.

Yesterday for the monthly Friendly Meals, Modern Oats donated their individual packets to the cause. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to know that people would have a little extra, much needed, nutrition. Modern Oats is truly a generous and socially conscious company. I sincerely hope that other companies will get on board. It’s great PR and you get the satisfaction of knowing you really are helping someone who needs it.