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Little Shiva

Little Shiva

some people think she's in the wrong city

Weird Charlotte: Are you originally from Charlotte, or did you come here from somewhere else? If you came here from somewhere else, where was that, when did you land here, and why?

Little Shiva: I was born in Chapel Hill but left North Carolina after a few months for the life of a seaman's daughter. We lived in Navy ports on both U.S. coasts, then spent most of the 70's in Europe (Greece and Belgium). Came back to the States for high school in Coronado, CA and Eugene, OR. After that I went to Parsons School of Design in NYC and loved the city so much I stayed for a total of 17 years. The drugs were too good up there, so eventually I had to leave. That was in 1999. My Danish grandma Ella – also known as Hot Rod – had room for me down here, where I now live a life of leisure on the family estate in Derita.*

WC: Of all you've contributed to the cultural fabric of Charlotte, what are some of your personal favorites?

Little Shiva: QZ (the Queen Zine) is my baby: I'm real proud of that. I was so pissed at having landed in this cultural wasteland and couldn't find a freak to save my life, so I started QZ as a beacon, figuring that if I put it out there, the freaks would find me. It worked. Up until issue 100, it came out twice a month, then I slowed it down to just once a month. It comes out now every first Friday, and I've never missed a deadline. It's matured to a sixteen page publication, 500 copies a month (as well as random national and international distribution), featuring as much original content as I can wring out of people.

Another favorite contribution is the Dotmobile, my polka-dotted BMW, which I started in 2003. I'm proud of this website and the energy it's generating in the creative community. Oh, and also my contributions to Z-Axis World Famous Homemade Television. My content features local performance artists and miscellaneous cultural events, usually leaning towards smut appreciation. I really liked filming Mistress Autumn, for example, and running that footage on the same public access channel that airs 90% religious programming. I also have a column in Creative Loafing called Hot Linx.**

WC: What strengthens your dedication to do what you do, in spite of the fact that Charlotte has not yet developed a critical mass of creatively-attuned people?

Little Shiva: Just that: the fact that we desperately need to cultivate this critical mass.

WC: What sometimes discourages you about Charlotte and makes you dream of living somewhere else? And where would that somewhere else be?

Little Shiva: The thing that brings me down the most is when other people in the so-called underground turn on me. It doesn't happen often, but I can think of two or three cases where someone has just not gotten what I'm trying to do and has been totally uncooperative and even downright nasty. If we can't cooperate amongst ourselves, how can we accomplish anything in the culture at large? I sometimes dream of living in some tropical or semi-tropical location, a place that's flat so I can ride a bike everywhere, close to the ocean and with some sort of happenin' cultural scene. It may not necessarily be in the United States. It would also have to have a fast internet connection.

WC: What would help make Charlotte a more vibrant cultural city?

Little Shiva: Water, water, water! I can never get enough. Charlotte has torn down almost everything charming and old, and lacks the vision to commission and build truly daring new architecture. We could at least exploit what little we have in the way of natural charm by re-routing all nearby waterways to run right up next to and through the city. Pull the Catawba over from the west, open up Little Sugar Creek all throughout town, then build pedestrian zones and small waterfront parks at every opportunity. Actually, I've felt very claustrophobic the few times in my life when I've lived inland. I really crave being on the coast. A city with water is automatically a city with charm.

WC: What can we do right now to make Charlotte a more vibrant cultural city?

Little Shiva: Acknowledge that there's underground culture everywhere, seek it out, and support it by going out to cultural events and spending money in the mom-and-pop shops, restaurants and venues instead of in chains and corporate establishments. A lot of times I'd much rather stay home and make things on the computer, crochet strands of plastic trash into outrageous costumes, work in my garden or just do popcorn and a movie, but I make a point of getting out quite a bit because if we don't do this ourselves, who will? Best of all, initiate and nurture a creative cultural endeavor yourself! There's so much room to do that here. I've created more here in six years than I did in 17 years in Manhattan, because NYC was so stimulating I spent a lot of my time consuming culture, not creating it. Here I create to fill the void.

WC: Let's say there's some creative person out there who's considering moving to Charlotte. If you could say one thing to them, what would it be?

Little Shiva: Unless you have a pressing personal reason to come here, run like hell and don't look back. I only try to make the best of it because I'm stuck here for a while. Really, though, Charlotte needs you. Make yourself an art car and come on.

shivita@mac.com

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1/29/06

* Little Shiva moved to Belgium in the spring of 2007 but continues to have a presence in Charlotte through work and friends.

** Hot Linx is out of print but still online in the Creative Loafing archives.