Back To What's Real

By: Tonya Kay

Transitioning to Raw While Touring in Stomp
The gorgeous young man on my right could tap dance a dreadlocked symphony in his sleep.  The tattooed guy to my left sang opera underneath his breath.  My parents taught me to give silent compliments to everyone including myself, so luckily I knew no jealousy.  But there we were – the most prolific, audacious, and magnificent of Manhattan artists all vying for one job: to make music out of trash cans, make history in live theater, and claim a spot on stage in STOMP.
I was feeling rather exposed, as only an auditioning performer can, being expected to be brilliant on command.  My compliment mechanism kicked into overdrive as one by one we were directed to take center stage and improvise music using only our hands and feet while Luke Creswell, STOMP's creator, took notes in the empty audience.  “Wow, that Japanese girl sure can solo!”   “Sweet, did he just do a standing back flip?”   “Great...I guess it's my turn after Ringo Starr, here...”   The jazz musician panted, the African dancer paced, and I did what any starving artist in an overly tense situation would do: pulled up my sports socks, stepped center stage, and screwed up.
I was not the best dancer at the audition.  I was not the best percussionist.  I was not the best at anything at all - except being myself.  In fact, I was the only one who could possibly do it.   And with that heavy responsibility upon my shoulders - that if I did not express myself fully in this very vulnerable moment, a unique creative opportunity would be lost forever - I got down to what was real and gave the only thing that anyone really has to give: the authentic me.
Six hundred of Manhattan's finest artists attended STOMP auditions in March 2002.  Three women were hired.

Watch Tonya Kay on this VIDEO Right Here Right NOW!
If you had told me when I was four, hosting tea parties with my stuffed animals, that at twenty six I would be rolling out of bed and into the back of a limo to do morning radio appearances, I would have dropped my lump of sugar.  If you had suggested to this Midwestern firefly catcher that someday she would be signing autographs in a different time zone every week, she would have absent-mindedly set the glowing captives free.  
Never in a million childhood imaginations could I have daydreamed a life so fulfilling, a career so rewarding, a fantasy so real as touring the nation in STOMP.  And a year and a half later, as I stand center stage soloing music using only my hands and feet this time in front of 2,000 people, I am reminded of why I am on this stage at all.  It is not to “act” and  "perform" - words implying falsity or illusion.  No, if these 2,000 fans wanted façade they would be zoning out on reruns in their living rooms.  Instead, they have chosen the red velvet seat of live theatre and are opening up to experience me, asking me to affect them, inviting me to change their lives.  The audience gives me their attention and in return, I give them the only gift anyone really has to give, the only thing anyone is really interested in receiving, the only reason to live and breathe at all: the truth... myself... what is real.  
Every night the challenge to become a better performer is the challenge to become a better human being, through knowing myself more deeply and expressing myself more fully. 2,000 watching eyes keep a girl honest.
Now to live on the road, sacrifices must be made.  You have a mailbox, I have a laptop computer.  You have a blender, I have a laptop computer. You have family and friends, I have a laptop computer. Yes, the road is a grueling place exposing loneliness, addiction and all the most attractive human qualities.  So when I arrived on tour in January 2003, Little Miss Sunshine claiming to eat only raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables, my new cast mates smiled with a knowing look in their eyes - they'd seen spouses and the devout sink quicker.  Placing their bets, they welcomed the new girl aboard.
I remember early in my touring career playing Danville, Kentucky.  You know you are off the grid when Verizon doesn't get reception.  Or when there is no local dial up number.  Or when the only grocer within walking distance is Super Wal-Mart (which surprisingly did offer a small organic produce section down the aisle from the car batteries and next to the disposable diapers, I believe).  Disheartened and famished, I opted instead to wait for catering at sound check, only to be thwarted yet again by parmesan on the iceberg salad and, well...let's just say fruit isn't “what's for dinner” in Danville.  
I remember some of my early hotel rooms having refrigerators....some not.  And fondly, I remember my new cast mates lovingly calling me “rabbit.”  It is a way of reaching out, this friendly teasing, but somehow it just leaves one feeling different, which is probably the main obstacle to maintaining a raw food diet - feeling socially isolated when in your heart of hearts you believe you are normal.
But any goal worth striving toward is as difficult or as effortless as we perceive it to be.  Embracing the dramatic adjustments to my routine, instead of cursing them, has rewarded me three fold with health, education and experience.  I learned quickly that even the smallest cities have a co-op or health food store, and there is no cab ride too expensive that is not worth the organic persimmons eagerly awaiting my arrival into town.  
I learned also that nice hotels will gladly deliver a refrigerator and a handsome bellhop to your door upon request.  And I learned that Mexican joints and fine dining restaurants are a raw foodist's greatest allies when eating out with friends.  Guacamole or a chef's surprise salad consistently exceed my expectations, and more importantly, remind me that I am not a victim of raw food, hiding in some hotel room, peering through a peek hole at the world's social web. Rather, I am in the center spinning, spinning, spinning patterns of friendship and connection.
Which brings me to my absolute favorite part of touring as a raw foodist - yes, friendship and connection.  The STOMP company I travel with is nineteen individuals strong - all exceptionally extraordinary people, to say the least.  Out on the road, sometimes all we've got is each other - we celebrate birthdays together, mourn deaths together, create art together.  And because I view the raw food diet as an ever evolving personal experiment that this scientist would abandon completely if unsatisfactory results came back from the lab, I acknowledge that my cast mates may be getting the precise results they desire from their chosen lifestyles and therefore I have nothing but respect for their personal paths.  
Yes, I adore my brother and sister STOMPers and all of our glorious diversity, yet there are times when I need the support of a fellow raw fooder.  I need to discuss the femininity of the pomegranate or the neutrality of dino kale.  I need somebody to suck on a coconut with me.  And it is precisely at these times, with the aid of my faithful laptop computer, that this traveler has reached out and discovered a monumental truth about America's raw food movement: we are everywhere!  From potlucks in Central Park to festivals in Oregon, from Karyn's Fresh Corner in Chicago to Rawsome Café in Phoenix, from the Favor family in Austin to a treasured cyber pal in San Francisco, I am fortunate to report firsthand that our community is vast and rapidly growing.  We are the artists, the musicians, the healers, the parents.  We are the innovators, the educators, the leaders, the dreamers.  We are role models in society, we are muses for growth, and we are the emerging counterculture of the 21st century.
So unto all my STOMPer friends I say, “you gotta know when to fold  'em,” for the bet has been won and even improved upon.   Not only am I traveling full-time and enjoying an unstoppable social life as a raw foodist, but I am doing it all while maintaining the intensely physical lifestyle of a professional athlete.  The cast mates who once called me "rabbit" are now complimenting my  "solid" figure and inexhaustible energy.  And this time it is I giving the silent, knowing smile...
I eat raw food not to transcend the human experience, not to cheat death, defy aging, or attain some enlightened spiritual state.  I eat raw food because it brings me joy right now.  And it is precisely by getting back to what's real and living in the moment that I effortlessly become the giving performer, the thriving athlete, the authentic human being it is natural for me to be.  If I am blessed enough to live a century, seeing only one hundred autumns, feeling only one hundred springs, then I refuse for even one day to delay life's pleasures.
TONYA KAY is an actress, pro dancer, danger artist and raw vegan renegade appearing this year on the Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, Showtime's Live Nude Comedy and the History Channel's More Extreme Marksmen.  Look for TONYA KAY later this year on Comedy Central's Secret Girlfriend and starring in Jim Balent's comic book series Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose.  For a complete nutritional analysis of TONYA KAY's athletic raw vegan diet, visit


Greening Hollywood: Jeremy Piven Says "All Actors Wish They Were Athletes"

By Paige Donner

At ESPN's ESPY Awards last month, Jeremy Piven, who plays the irascible and popular "Ari Gold" character on the Entourage TV show said that, "All actors wish they were athletes."

Maybe that's why he was working the carpets that were otherwise reserved for real athletes - not just the ones who play one on TV.

Photo by Paige Donner

In the just-out-now Time Magazine article, he answers questions about what it's like to play the character of the brother of the White House Chief of Staff, Ari Emanuel, who used to head up his own talent agency but has now been folded into the venerable William Morris Agency. Notably, it's the greenest talent agency in Hollywood.

ESPN has its own green agenda, one that goes deeper than Piven's not eating certain fish. ESPN kept a scorecard of their carbon footprint reductions for this year's XGames and ESPYs. That's something they've done for the past 5 years - reduce, reuse and reinvent - at their high-profile action-packed sports events that take place in L.A. in the summer.
By the way, catch the totally rad amped The Crystal Method soundtrack that's laid down on XGames3D: The Movie which opens tomorrow all across the nation. Movie opens theatrically for one week only so catch it this weekend! And go to The Crystal Method to download your free single of Drown In The Now. Listen to it on the movie trailer here:

Multiple Olympian, Dara Torres, Photo by Paige Donner

Misty May and Kerri Walsh, Dynamic Olympic Volleyball Duo, Photo by Paige Donner

The 2009 ESPYs represented a major step in ESPN’s continued commitment to environmentally friendly productions as the event, for the first time, will be carbon neutral. And, by implementing stringent recycling and composting measures, the ESPYs will again be virtually waste free.

"The ESPYs celebrate the best in sports every year, so it makes sense for us to raise the bar and make this event as green as can be," said Maura Mandt, executive producer. "Each year, we will find new ways to improve our efforts.”

ESPN's Green Score Card for ESPYs and XGames:

In 2008, 6.3 tons of CO2, equivalent to driving approximately 13,000 miles, was avoided through use of alternative fuels, non-petroleum products and other energy saving tactics in the staging of ESPN's XGames and ESPYs.

Awareness and Education Campaign

ESPN developed an environmental awareness campaign to encourage individual participation beyond the scope of the event, inspire future productions and create lasting impact.

  • Staff specially trained to explain and implement environmental efforts

  • Sustainable products featured throughout the production, with the environmental benefit of using each item explained;

  • Eco-facts played in-theatre for all ESPYs attendees during pre-show;

  • Environmentality section on to share environmental best practices;

  • to see eco-facts to explain everyday efforts that benefit the environment.

Additional Environmentally Responsible Elements


The following recyclable materials were sorted on site at L.A. Live in custom designed recycling containers and sent to a specialized recycling facility for maximum recovery:

  • Beverage containers (including, aluminum, plastic and glass);

  • Mixed office paper (including copier paper, newspaper and magazines);

  • Organic waste (food and plant waste) and all compostable products;

  • Cardboard;

  • Construction materials (including wood, drywall, and metal);

  • Used cooking grease;

  • Electronic waste (including printer cartridges, batteries, copper wire).

For More Information please refer to:
Paige Donner is the publisher/founder of Greening Hollywood and The Green Blog Network


Greening Los Angeles: LABC's Sustainability Summit

By Paige Donner
August 3, 2009

Let’s start by mentioning a few of the wonderful things that the Los Angeles Business Council and its fabulous President, Mary Leslie, are doing: They are corralling the city’s public and private heads of agencies and businesses into a forum where they can engage in conversation. This corral has taken place at the Getty Museum for the past 3 years under the moniker of the Los Angeles Business Council’s Sustainability Summit.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, Photo by Paige Donner

On August 10th, Leslie hosted a similar event specifically for our film industry. The LABC is shepherding our City’s prominent, if not still #1, industry – the film studios – and getting them all together to talk about the business of sustainability.

I’m all for conversation. When we sit down and talk with each other, a wealth of information can get shared if all parties engage and are engaged. Personally I’m convinced that it was through these types of pow-wows that the notion of “creating fire” was spread among humankind.

But talk, as they say, is cheap, and unless it’s backed by action, giving business and industry leaders yet another forum upon which to pontificate and sing their own praises only furthers the spin – not the “change.” So far, the summits are being used for both purposes: dialogue for spin and dialogue for change.

Paige Donner and President Bill Clinton, 2009

There couldn’t be a better President for the Los Angeles Business Council than Mary Leslie. By her own account, she is “obsessed with the business of sustainability. It’s a better business practice; it’s not philanthropic,” she says. Her pedigree spans from Clinton’s West Coast Finance Director in ’91, to Riordan’s Deputy Mayor for Economic Development during the Northridge earthquake era (i.e. the influx of $11B in Federal Aid funds into L.A.), to her present day position of liaison between L.A.’s public and private sectors. And let’s not forget her ties to D.C. that now span a generation and reach to the highest echelons.

Recently I was afforded the opportunity to have a sit-down conversation with Ms. Leslie, who was fresh off a family cruise vacation in Alaska. Reinforced during this meeting, was, once again, the value of person-to-person discourse.

In her own words, Leslie wrote in the LABC special supplement to the Los Angeles Business Journal about the Getty Summit Corral: “…the event also made clear the need for the public and private sectors to collaborate in achieving solutions.”

Hoorah! Hoorah!

So now the real, overarching, question is, Are we going to go about this public-private collaboration as “business as usual”? Or are we going to open up the closely-guarded, lobbyist dominated pipeline to something else like, best practices, open bids and a transparent, city-wide procurement mechanism here in Los Angeles?

Tweet This Post

Case in point: Water Conservation

“Water conservation” is the phrase that, without exception, our various City and Municipal water kings refer to when they point to our greatest water resource in the face of declining water reserves. They refer to the fact that our citizens’ conservation efforts have resulted in our water usage rates remaining at the same level for the past decade despite the significant rise in population in our city.

One would think, then, that an agency such as LADWP would have a mechanism by which they can explore and vet new products and vendors that could help save even more water in city-wide public-private partnerships. Right? Especially now that they have been under such fire for using the “stick” of fines and tickets for wasteful water usage – some even calling the leadership of LADWP as orienting itself towards “police state” tactics.

Well – let’s see – Is there an open procurement procedure at LADWP? Hmmm…if there is, after a full year of texting, emailing, meeting with and having the Czar of DWP over to my house to talk about the issues, I can honestly and confidently say, No, there’s not. Even after I was able to pointedly make this issue clear at The Israel Conference attended by Nahai and a number of his business associates from Israel, I was dismissed out of hand for bringing to their attention such a low-tech, low-investment business proposal that was U.S. borne as opposed to originating elsewhere. [My business proposal involves a waterless carwash product which replaces the need to use water – even a drop of water – for washing vehicles. Likewise, it requires no investment in machinery and it’s locally manufactured, is non-toxic and is biodegradable. It also offers a partnership with Youth Employment services to give youth green jobs.]

After a year of talks, emails, phone calls and even an in-office pitch at LADWP have I been successful in getting anyone from the DWP to even look at a demo of the product? No. I have not. However, I was invited recently to watch a demo of a competing product that a) requires the investment of $10 - $15K in machinery per car wash location and b) is manufactured in Korea that LADWP had sent its representative on a Saturday to check out. Of course, LADWP has money to burn now; they are lending the bankrupt City of L.A. money from their $4B kitty while pledging to aggressively go after Federal stimulus money. Someone please explain this to me?

In my discussions with Mary Leslie, two questions regarding this sort of “business as usual” behavior arose: 1) What’s it going to take to establish a transparent procurement mechanism for agencies operating under and answerable to the City of L.A.? How can we get this up and running now? Now, when the economy and entrepreneurs and small business owners need a shot at staying in business and feeding their families.

And 2) Do we need Charter Reform? This, of course, has to do with renewable energy generation and feed-in tariffs. But are the days of DWP being the sole owner/operator of electricity in the City of L.A. numbered? For example, Safeway Inc., with its owner-operated, self-sustaining, solar generated feed-in tariff system for its vast California grocery store operations, could not implement their very successful sustainable energy business model within the city of L.A. – because of DWP’s lockhold on electricity generation. Historically, whenever there’s been an attempt towards distributed energy generation, that attempt gets squelched or killed here in Los Angeles. Are we ready for some change? People, are we really ready for some change?

Another example – this week’s Brand X publication, put out by the L.A. Times has a story about Sylmar-based lithium-ion battery manufacturer, Quallion. The owner of the company, Alfred Mann, has a personal net worth of $1.4 billion. His company expects to earn more than $25 million this year thanks to their U.S. military contracts. But that hasn’t stopped him from getting the support of the L.A. Board of Supervisors in going after $220M in Fed. Stimulus Funds from the D.O.E. to set up a battery manufacturing plant in Sylmar. My question: If he gets this money from our taxes, are we, meaning EVERYBODY in the State of California, automatically paid shareholders in Quallion?

The answer, I hope for all our sakes, is Yes.

This closed door, backroom handshake way of doing business is a mindset. It’s not capability. It’s not a question of good business. It’s not best practices in business. It’s not a matter of philanthropy vs. profit-yielding methodology. And it’s certainly not a question of a better energy efficiency (or water conservation for that matter). It’s a mindset. Does that mindset any longer have any place in our city if we are going to be, as our Mayor has stated on many occasions, “coal free” by 2020, use 40% renewable energy for the city by 2020 and be the center of a Clean Tech Corridor with a healthy, employed population who can pay their mortgages and feed their children? Another accomplishment: L.A.’s Green Building Ordinance. Read here about L.A.s Green Building Ordinance

Indeed, one of the keys to L.A.’s economic development is the growth – and support of – indigenous renewable programs for our city. This is the Next Wave. Everyone who voted for change, here’s your chance. Let’s see some change.

Paige Donner writes the popular Greening Hollywood Blog and is also the Owner-Operator of the eco-consulting business, Greening Hollywood. She is the Founder/Publisher of The Green Blog Network.

Tweet This Post


Saying Goodbye to Synthetics

By Suki Kramer


I’ve posted my recommended skin care regimens for various skin types & conditions, (click here for my skin prescription quiz so you can find out what products work best for you by answering some simple questions) but first, a word about transitioning from synthetics.

Many people who have been relying on skin care products with synthetics in them – often for many years or even decades – go through a normal period of detoxification when switching over to pure products. See…the body is a remarkable machine & your skin adjusts to the ingredients you put on it. But more, manufacturer’s of synthetic products put ingredients in products to cover up symptoms, masking our normal physical reactions to things. Which is why, when you detox, you are uncovering years of buried toxic buildup – & that’s a GOOD thing!

You can also think of it like eating junk food. If you’d been living on sugary snacks year after year, you might feel tired or agitated when you cut the bad stuff out & switched over to a whole food regimen. But you’d know that you were on the right course & it wouldn’t be long at all before you began to feel so much better than ever.

Same with your skin. If you’ve been treating your face to the Twinkie diet – or at least its equivalent – you’ve got to give it a chance when you get real. Your face will thank you for it.
No matter your skin type, if you’ve been using synthetics, be prepared for a possible detox period at the start. remember, you are eliminating that which those products has allowed to be built up over years…
Then, get ready to look & feel amazing!

Suki Kramer is the Founder and Owner of suki® advanced. organic. science.®   Find Suki Pure skin care and cosmetic products at Whole Foods Markets across the nation.  suki® advanced. organic. science.®