The Fear Girls

Category: Author: Sophia

Interview with Artist, Vanessa Teodoro

Vanessa Teodoro is an illustrator and street artist living in Lisbon, Portugal. “My art is a reflection of what’s going on in my life and the way I wish things were. Sometimes you can find some headless men (ex-boyfriends) and chubby ladies that kick ass flying about in my work.” Tedodoro’s characters manifest from her own life experiences as well as the thing she loves – graffiti, tattoos, African patterns and even comic books. Many of her pieces feature strong female icons such as wonder woman, but often with a humorous and colorful twist.

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    Born in Cape Town, South Africa, Vanessa moved to Lisbon and worked for 3 years as a art director for advertising agencies. The commercial arena gave her a knack for self-promotion and taught her how to handle selling her artwork.

“I’m quite the feminist myself,” says Vanessa. One of Vanessa’s defining attributes as a street artist is that she is a woman. “It’s not a common thing yet, seeing girls with spray cans that are not afraid of breaking a nail. I’m trying  to show younger woman and other female artists that there’s a whole world out there (on the big empty walls) and that it doesn’t have to be illegal either…. All the work I’ve done so far on the street has been commissioned and legal. So the world needs more female street artists and maybe joining ‘forces’, collaborating and not always having that female competitive vibe going on, we can rule the world (and the walls)”

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    Vanessa has worked with brands such as MTV, Vodafone, TMN, Optimus, Citroen, WESC, Eastpak, Playboy, Compal B and Canon.

You can check out more Vanessa’s work via her facebook & her website,

Interview with Vanessa Teodoro

Sophia/Q: When did you begin making street art and when did you decide you wanted it to be your career?

Vanessa: The street art adventure started as a curiosity, I asked a writer friend of mine if he wanted to do a collaboration. It was to paint a large outdoor area in a city hall organized event. He said yes, and that’s how I started to intervene in a more urban outdoor environment. This was back in 2008, which is not that long ago. At the time I was working in advertising agencies as a junior art director, so if was a breath of fresh air to get my hands dirty again. Now I work professionally as an illustrator that by the way also does street art. I don’t think that I can make a career out of this, but while the “hype” of it all is making people and companies pay for it, keep ’em coming!

Q: How would you describe the street art community in Lisbon? Is it in general collaborative, or is there more emphasis on individualism?

Vanessa: Lisbon is a big-small city and everybody know one another (in a good or bad way), and because of that you would think that collaborations would be more frequent, but they aren’t. People here are more concerned about their own self-exposure / “individualism”. Of course you can find the whole “krew” art scene going on, where the writers work together, but not always. With artists that aren’t writers, things are more of a “do what you can to make it”, so you can imagine that, plus being a chick in a “man’s world”.

Q: Who are some of your favorite artists & where do you draw inspiration?

Vanessa: I don’t have a particular style or artist that I get inspiration from, sometimes it’s more of a random web search or going through books and magazines. But, I do have favorite artists that inspire me to go that extra mile, such as: Yuko Shimiso, Remed, Broken Fingaz, Aryz, Miss Van, Lister and soooo many others. (I’d love to have more female artist in that list) I just discovered this cool magazine that only promotes creative woman: Curvy.

Q: What are your hopes for the street art community in the future?

Vanessa: That it won’t be used as just a way to show your name, but to do something useful for the urban environment.

Q: What has been your favorite project to date?

Vanessa: It was this 70m wall I painted with 3 other artists in Lisbon, for the Pampero art foundation. First because it was huge and I love collaborations, painting alone is so lonely.

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She’s Not For You

sophia_bicon By Sophia Rowland

Lena Dunham is the writer, creator and star of the best show on TV, Girls. In a culture whose TV and movies are so completely based on fantasy, Dunham dares to write television that captures a reality. But it is Dunham’s reality that seems to be bothering everyone, because the fact of the matter is, Dunham is writing about privileged white girls living in New York. Of course, this seemed mighty OK when we had Carrie Bradshaw, the journalist who could somehow afford a nice apartment and designer shoes… but somehow it’s different for Dunham. According to critics Dunham is a racist fatty who writes about trivial, boring, whiney bitches. Yes, how DARE a 26 year old woman write, create and star in anything while not somehow managing to look like Megan Fox all at the same time. Rawr.

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When defending herself against the ‘racist’ comment, Dunham basically states that she wanted to write what she knows. She grew up in a Jewish/WASP land and two of her characters are Jews and the other two are WASPS. She did not intentionally exclude minorities but she didn’t want to make ‘token’ characters either.

Of course she got criticized for this comment too, but I thought that was a pretty honest and fair answer to a hard critique. Why would we want Dunham to write a minority character? For the sake of political correctness? And let’s think about how many shows have several characters and one of them is the token ‘ethnic’ one. That doesn’t solve the problem with minorities being underplayed in TV shows… it just sets up formulas and it makes for boring television. There are plenty of shows that have all white casts that suck … and Dunham’s doesn’t, so why are we yelling about the one that is good?

Another critique seems to be how ‘unrealistic’ the show is because Dunham gets laid and naked and has sex with hotties (this critique, which has been voiced mostly by the pre-pubescent boys who write for Esquire and apparently Slate.) But what baffles me, is that it is actually very realistic for people of varying degrees of ‘good looks’ to have sex… because attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder – and that seems to be the real problem. When it comes to women in their 20s on TV, they are either the hottest of hotties, perfect 10 bod, etc. OR they are fat and sassy (AND USUALLY A TOKEN CHARACTER). Dunham is neither. She is actually quite average looking with the body of someone who doesn’t constantly diet or spend hours at the gym…. you know, like all us regular folks. And for whatever reason, critics can’t handle it. I think because TV and film in our culture tend to focus on elements of fantasy. If we want to watch a realistic movie with realistic looking people, we head to the foreign section. Popular American films tend to have fast cars blowing up and sex scene montages with Muse playing sexily in the background. Dunham threatens our world of fantasy and shows us honest realities – and sometimes reality is not TV pretty.

For those who don’t ‘get it’ – then guess what? She is not for you. Dunham’s characters are complex critiques on a generation – my generation, in fact. They manage to be unlikeable, sympathetic and relatable all at once. Clearly she’s studied up on her Woody Allen… who for the record, also gets criticized all the time for various bullshit reasons.

Dunham dares to bare her bod every week and get a variety of put downs for it. Few could handle that kind of treatment. She deserves to be applauded for it. But mostly, she deserves respect – here in front of you stands a twenty-something woman who is writing incredible television. If you don’t like what you see, then go away and get over it, because she isn’t for you.

But she is certainly for me.

Virgin Mary on the Dash

sophia_bicon By Sophia Rowland
I am not religious. My parents came from Catholic families, but it didn’t stick for them so no religion was ever pushed onto me. Certainly at times I have been interested in religion from scholarly perspectives, but that’s about it. I wouldn’t call myself an all out atheist – I just don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. Perhaps this is why my friends think my relationship with the Virgin Mary statue on my dashboard is funny…

My car is a 20+ year-old Lexus. It came with a ‘coexist’ bumper sticker and a statue of the Virgin Mary on the dashboard. When I first got the car, I was pretty decided they both had to go. But then when the guys at the car wash asked if I wanted to take off the bumper sticker, I was filled with guilt. The same guilt I encounter when I occasionally ‘almost’ unsubscribe from Obama’s emails. ‘Come on, is coexist such a bad message?’ I found my inner dialogue saying ‘Of course not!’ And so the sticker stayed.

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Virgin Mary is about 2.5 inches high, earthquake puttied on, and looks like the previous owner burnt a cigarette on her once. It would be so easy to just pull her off and stick her in a box headed for the Goodwill… Yet, there is something about VM that is kind of like the ‘coexist’ bumper sticker. It isn’t the same kind of statement that a statue of Jesus-on-the-cross or some other controversial religious image… it is just Mary. And Mary was pretty chill. Maybe we can even go out on a limb and call her an early feminist. Yeah that’s right, Mary was pretty feminist in a ‘mother-to-all’ kind of way.

Mostly I think the statue has magic bruja (witch) power. Which is hard enough to say out loud but a little harder to admit to the internet. But seriously… First of all, I do NOT get parking tickets. I have not pushed this theory, but there have been several times where I have accidentally parked my car on my street without putting the parking pass in my car – and no ticket. I have also even seen other cars ticked around my car when I should have been ticked too. No one wants to mess with the Virgin Mary/Coexist combo pack. So what’s the explanation to all this? Clearly Parking enforcement must think I’m a peace loving old lady and they take mercy on the car…. Or the statue is looking out for me. You know, either one.

Taco Truck Kitten Rescue

sophia_bicon By Sophia Rowland
There is a taco truck I frequent in Los Angeles. Not too long ago I realized there was a colony of feral kitties living in the alleyway behind it. Not a lot of people realize, but the Humane Society/the city of Los Angeles does not go around taking care of that cat colony problem. There a thousands of cats living on the streets in LA alone. Not only that, but if animal services is called, baby or adult, the first thing that happens in many shelters is the cat is euthanized. If the colony is left alone, the cats breed like bunnies and a situation of 3 cats can easily turn into 30. And if really left alone that 30 can become 300. It is a very tough problem, and with over crowding in shelter it may seem like euthanizing is the only option… but it isn’t and it shouldn’t be. There are cat groups throughout LA that attempt to rescue from kill-shelters and also take cats off the street. If the cat is feral, you trap it, get it fixed and then re-release it. Honestly, it is the best and most humane method – and it works.

Back to my taco truck – the guys working there were risking getting in trouble with the health department because there were so many cats. Not only that, but a previous batch of kittens had been accidentally run over by cars pulling in and out to park for the truck. The guys were desperate. Mama had 4 kittens (about 5 weeks old) – they needed to be captured, rehabilitated, and adopted out. And mama needed to get spayed and released back to the colony as she is very feral. The guys at the taco truck had called shelters but they were getting no responses and no help. After seeing me hand over some taco meat to mama kitty, they asked me if I had any ideas. Fortunately, I had done some rescue/fostering as a teenager. I told them I would make some calls…

I called dozens of rescue groups / no-kill shelters. I asked if they knew anyone who could foster, or at least help me trap them. No one would help me or even call me back. Even groups I had volunteered for in the past! But right as I was feeling hopeless, I got a reply from the group Luxe Paws. With their help we were able to trap two of the kittens and mama. Later today we will hopefully get the other two kittens. We’ve been going every night, and it is amazing the kind of response we get from the guys at the taco truck. It is not in the safest area, but the guys working there have been so helpful. Even the guys on the side selling bootleg dvds are rooting us on. I’m talking big latino dudes, who you would not expect to give 2 cents about tiny kittens asking us what we are doing this and why while getting totally invested as the kittens inch towards the cage. “Did you get the kitten, blanca? Oh the you got that one – he is the prettiest!” I think I think witnessing that gives people hope. The support I personally received from Luxe Paws gave me hope.

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Lenny is a 5wk old male orange tabby and he still needs a home! If you live in the Los Angeles area and know anyone who is interested please email me -> thefeargirls@gmail.com

Trap, fix, release is a great method. Contacting Luxe Paws (if you are in the Silver Lake area) or any cat group and learning how to set traps, foster kittens, etc. is such a wonderful use of your free time. It is also a great thing to do as a teenager – it certainly gave my hormonal, angsty self a sense of purpose back in the day… Maybe you don’t have the time to do trappings or the space to foster (I know I usually do not) – however there are ways to get involved. These organizations are totally non-profit and get hardly any help. The women who rescue and foster often pay all the vet bills themselves (the city does not help to control the feral cat population at all). Simply liking the group on FB and sharing some of their ‘adopt this kitten’ posts makes a huge impact. Your friend of a friend of a friend may see the picture and decide they want an adorable kitty! It is as simple as that. I know how getting involved can seem daunting but keep in mind that a little bit goes a very long way!

Also – please LIKE Luxe Paws on FB and contact them if you are interested in getting involved/ volunteering / adopting!

Girls With Mopeds

By Sophia Rowland

Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to The Egyptian movie theater in Hollywood. I was there to see the screening of “The Gaskettes” a 15-minute documentary about a group of girls who ride mopeds in Los Angeles. The moped culture in Los Angeles has definitely become a notable addition to the hipster scene in Echo Park. As a Los Angeles native, and a documentary connoisseur of sorts, I was very much intrigued.


The documentary itself does not attempt to really explain or historicize moped culture; rather it serves as a sort of time capsule. It preserves a moment in time with a particular group of moped loving ladies. The Gaskettes themselves are women in their early to late twenties who ride and fix bikes. They wear gold jackets with their Gaskettes emblem, reminiscent of the pink ladies in Grease. In the film we see the girls wear red lipstick, or even tutus (almost certainly paired with combat boots) all the while zooming on vintage bikes. The girls maintain a sort of ‘adorable badass vibe’ – and it is awesome! For 15 minutes you are initiated into the cult (or rather, secret club) of moped-sisterhood.

Before watching the documentary, I admittedly knew very little about mopeds, and I’m not sure if I’m that much wiser now that I’ve come out the other side. However, that is almost beside the point as the real charm to the film is the relationships these young women have with their bikes and also, each other.

The media loves to paint the portrait of the modern young women as vain, bitch and always ready for a cat fight; So it is refreshing to watch real girls just flat out enjoying each others company and having a shared interest that is pretty freakin’ cool. Each young woman interviewed comes off as very real and likable while they also maintain the cool, hipster LA vibe… in a non-pretentious way.

I also had an opportunity to interview two of the Gaskettes – Hilary and Devo. Check it out….

Interview with Hilary and Devo:

Sophia/Q: You’ve been riding and fixing mopeds for awhile now. In the film, you mentioned how sometimes you even help your guy-friends work on their bikes. When talking about it, Hilary said it was like ‘the reverse damsel in distress’. So with that in mind, do you feel that riding mopeds has been an empowering experience?

Hilary: I remember for the spring fling ride there was a fairly new rider who came out and his bike wasn’t running the best, so I pulled over to see if I could help him out; I always try to carry whatever tools I think I’ll need on me. Turns out his jetting was off I was able to diagnose the problem, give him the specific jet size he needed for his carb and set up, and help him install it with a few simple tools and kind words. In the end it was nice to realize that in the moped world I was on even ground with my male counterparts; we were with two of his male friends who were unable to help him.
As far as the gender-gap between guys and gals when it comes to mechanical stuff, there really isn’t any physical reason why one is more traditionally drawn to it than the other, just that a lot of young men because it is socially expected learn basic things about tools and mechanics that younger girl aren’t expected to, and so usually don’t. It is empowering; it’s just one of those many little things that makes you realize, yeah all the stuff we’ve been socially taught to think should be this or that way don’t need to be. He wasn’t offended or emasculated that I helped him, we were just two people with a similar interest in mopeds, and I happened to be a girl, which is awesome I think.

Devo: It’s funny I just stopped to help out these guys on a scooter the other day! They had one of those battery powered bikes, but the battery wasn’t making a connection, and didn’t have the tools to get to it. voila! I never leave home without tools. I’m not sure if empowering is quite the term I’d use? But every once in awhile, I’ll see another woman on a bike & in passing and we give each other that nod or one of those ‘air fives’ it kinda gives me a sense of community. I’m also usually going ‘Hell yeah lady rider!’

Sophia/Q: Where were you in your life, pre-moped, and how have you changed since?

Hilary: In a lot of ways my life is very similar to before I got my first moped in early march 2009, I live the same place, have the same job (although with a pay raise or two thankfully) and am still in school, although my major has changed… but what is important is that I have found a great new group of friends and a new way to have fun and explore my surroundings through mopeds. Before I got my moped, although I had lived in LA my whole life I barely knew my way out of my neighborhood. Now by moped I could lead you on all my favorite routes around the city to Glendale, eagle rock, Pasadena, Silverlake and Echo Park, downtown, Westchester and everywhere in between – all without a map.
And my world has expanded much farther beyond LA area as well. The moped community is very tight, likely because many of the bikes are vintage and to learn to repair or find a replacement for a part, you are going to need to turn to somebody who is also into the same thing; moped people are generally like minded.
So there are many events around the country where the local gang or crew plans a weekend of routes and parties; a “Rally”. It may sound weird but many of my favorite experiences in the past few years have been in Portland, Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach, Tucson, hanging out and riding with brand new friends right along side my old ones. Since many people attend multiple rallies in different cities each year you tend to form really close friendships with people cities or even states away. In the end this has made me far more extroverted, and confident in all kinds of aspects of my life from talking to a stranger about mechanical things, to navigating my very large city on side streets, to being social and outgoing in new situations or with new people. Which I think is what your 20s are for.

Devo: Pre moped I just got out of high school & was studying acting. Before, I just knew about mopeds through Hilary, and her brother Danny. I had no idea it was such a big community! Now, I’ve been riding for a couple years and have had the chance to go out to rallies and meet other mopeders from across the country. I guess the best sum of it is I’ve gained a lot of ridiculous moped lingo (‘Throw a kit on that shit!’), plenty of life experience points, engine grease under my nails, and a group of amazing people whom I couldn’t imagine life without now. I still am going out on auditions and castings, now I’m just doing it on a moped!

Sophia/Q: Has the group dynamics changed at all since the making of the documentary? It was refreshing to watch a film (albeit, a documentary) about a group of girls interacting together with little to no drama – was that a realistic depiction of how you guys are together? And/or do you agree that groups of girls, in fiction and real life, are often depicted as catty and drama-ridden? Does having a unifying love like mopeds bring together more focused individuals?

Devo: I feel so lucky to have been absorbed into this group of phenomenally badass ladies. Each one of them is talented, unique, and fierce in their own way. Sometimes it’s hard getting us all together in one room (we all have insane schedules!), but when we do get together it never feels like much time has passed at all between us. These girls have really become my family. In the past year or so since I became a Gaskette, we’ve all laughed together, shared sadness together, (not to mention a few shots of whiskey) and made awesome memories. I have always had more guy friends than girls, but I know that if I ever need to borrow a wrench or pour my woes out these girls got my back!

Hilary: The group has changed, we now have Zoey, who I think is in some of the footage but wasn’t a Gaskette at the time, but we also have lost a lot of girls. Kelly moved to Portland, and both Saras are in the Bay Area now. It’s weird to watch a film that was started so long ago, because its like a time capsule of a period in time that is different now.
The film also shows a slightly more glammed up, shiny, girly version of us… but I guess that comes from a bit of vanity and knowing you are going to be filmed.
I like that you mention how we are all getting along, because that is true, I love all those girls, and have depended on them for all kinds of things from a bit of girl chat over a glass of wine to serious cry fests over a breakup. Some of us are closer than others, and we don’t spend as much time together as I would like but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fight or heard bickering or negative words from one of us to or about any others; it’s really refreshing because there is no competition or need to prove ourselves to each other.
My moped friends fast became my family. They are who I spend my birthday with, go camping with, who I have thanksgiving dinner with, who I take silly Christmas card photos with, and who I do all the small things in between those big moments with. We ring in the joys of New Year’s together and sit by the fire and contemplate the losses our family has had together. It’s a sense of family I don’t think I’ve ever had before.


If you are in the San Francisco area be sure to check out the next screening on November 16th / click ‘here’ for details.