Organizers & History

Well hello there! We are the people that deliver the delicious doses of shame to your face every other month.

Ben, Producer of Shame, DJ & AV Club President

ben 1987Ben Haley is the Producer of the Salon of Shame. He’s also the DJ and our reader recruiter-wrangler. Ben likes unicorns quite a lot and is not nearly as ashamed of his poetry as one might expect.

Jeannie, MC of Shamejeannie

When Jeannie Yandel isn’t MCing the Salon of Shame, she works in radio and producers A Guide To Visitors. About ten years after this picture was taken, Jeannie burned all of her diaries during a drunken “rebirth ritual.” The only thing left from that night is a barely legible note promising a new and better life that somehow involved pottery.

 

Phyllis, Deaf Community Liaisonphyllis

Phyllis Fletcher is a news editor. She coordinates ASL interpretation for our deaf audience members. In the late ’80s she filled three 3-ring binders with a page for each day.

Joriel, Door and WebmasterJoriel

Joriel Foltz is a freelance wordsmith. She’s the first staffer you’ll meet when you arrive at the Salon, to check your ID and rip your ticket. She also maintains our website, which you are looking at right now.


Ariel van Spronsen, Ticketing & Door Master (retired)

arielv youngAriel van Spronsen joined the Salon of Shame staff to wrangle our ticket sales and door process, and to significantly improve the ratio of People Named Ariel at Salon of Shame. Her journals are full of lists and cross-references, and the outfit she’s wearing in this photo was probably planned a week in advance.

Ariel Meadow Stallings, Founder of Shame (retired)

18 and 37Salon of Shame founder Ariel Meadow Stallings started her first diary in 1987, thinking that someday someone would want to open an Ariel Museum. No one did. To compensate, Ariel started blogging in 2000, founded the Salon in 2005, and wrote a book in 2007. None of it really helps and she still cries herself to sleep at night listening to Enya tapes and wishing she was Blossom. She retired from the Salon in 2013 to focus on running the mighty Offbeat Empire.

 


 A Brief History Of Shame

The Salon was founded in 2005 by Seattle writer Ariel Meadow Stallings. After hearing about her friend Sarah’s Cringe event in Brooklyn, Ariel thought to herself, “Why doesn’t Seattle have something cool like that? Stupid New York gets all the cool shit.” After a few weeks of moping, she decided it was high time Seattle had something cool of its own.

A mutual friend got Ariel in touch with Jeannie and Phyllis, two of the women behind A Guide To Visitors, Seattle’s longstanding storytelling series. We decided it was a good idea to team up and make the Salon of Shame a reality.

In August of 2005, a proto-Salon was held in Ariel’s basement. Ten of us gathered to read diaries to each other and see just how awful it was … and instead of being awful, it was hilarious! The first Salon of Shame was booked at Belltown’s Jewelbox Theater.

The first show in November 2005 was a raging success! The second show in January 2006 was even better! But things went downhill from there, with the March 2006 show bringing in exactly 8 audience members and only two readers.

Admission was sheepishly returned, tears were shed into pillows, and we went back to the drawing board. It was right around this time that the Henchman of Shame, Ben Haley joined us to help out behind the scenes.

Welcome to Salon of Shame!Evidently, we’re still overcompensating for that 8 person show, because every Salon of Shame since has sold out.

With the help of some Deaf friends, we added American Sign Language interpretation to the Salon, which turned out to be a huge hit with both deaf AND hearing audiences. You really haven’t lived until you’ve seen adolescent blowjob tips translated into sign language.

marcIn mid-2007 we said farewell to our beloved Jewelbox and their delicious yam fries, and moved the show to the Capitol Hill Arts Center, doubling our capacity from 60 to 120. This still wasn’t good enough for some people, with one local journalist petitioning us to move into an even larger space.

They finally got their wish in in July of 2008, when we moved yet again, this time to the International District to partner with Theatre Off Jackson, which holds 160 people. This is when The Other Ariel (van Spronsen) joined us to help us navigate the transition to paper ticketing and smoother, more consistent door policies.

What’s next for the Salon of Shame? Nothing big. Shows with similar concepts have already done books, TV pilots, and national tours – it’s all already been done, and we’re content to just be a little Seattle show and keep doing our thing. We’re definitely not moving to a larger venue. Intimacy is crucial to the character of the show, and if it got any bigger it would lose its magic.