Staff & 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 and DJ

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 Shame and Podcasterjeannie

When Jeannie Yandel isn’t MCing the Salon of Shame, she works in radio and produces 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 chronicling each day.

Joriel, WebmasterJoriel

Joriel Foltz is a freelance writer and our webmaster. Her most memorable reading at the Salon was a poem entitled “Raindrop”, which she wrote in college when she was “not sober.”

Pam, ASL Interpreter

Pam Parham has been one of our amazing American Sign Language interpreters since our start at the Rendezvous Cafe. Of the show, she writes “You had me at the ’10 Techniques For Giving A Blowjob’ reading back at the Jewel Box Theatre.”

Jeff, ASL Interpreter

Jeff Wildenstein is our other amazing interpreter, bringing the shame into the third dimension… and that’s why he needs to know if Patrick’s “curved penis” is to the left or right. Jeff claims he was still in the closet when this picture was taken.


Frank, Sound and Vision

Frank Phillips has been guy in charge of the lights, soundboard, and everything else that requires technical know-how at Theatre Off Jackson since before we showed up. You’ll see him at every show sitting at stage right, keeping everything running smoothly and our producer drunk.

 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.

Ariel van Spronsen, Ticketing & Door Master (retired)

Ariel 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. She retired from the show in 2014 to explore points East.

 Rhoda, House Manager (retired)

Rhoda Zopfi has been one of our fave readers at the Salon for many years. She was our House Manager in 2017 before buying a van and heading south under awesome circumstances involving holographic unicorns.

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 long standing 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 November 2005 show 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 (later Producer) 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.

In 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 July of 2008, when we moved yet again, this time to the International District to partner with Theatre Off Jackson, which seats 150. Not long after, the Other Ariel (van Spronsen) joined us to help navigate the transition to paper ticketing and smoother, more consistent door policies.

Ariel Prime officially handed over the production reins to Ben in 2013 in order to focus on the mighty Offbeat Empire, while Other Ariel retired from the Salon a year later to explore points East. In 2015, we started having “extra” shows at Cornish Playhouse, playing to crowds of 300+ and giving more folks a chance to get in on the shame.

In 2016, we began offering season passes, and in 2017 the long-promised shirts materialized, followed by a second design in 2018.

2019 was a big year – the Salon of Shame went national with new chapters in Columbus, New Orleans, Jacksonville and Philadelphia, each one founded by Seattle expats!

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced us to take the Salon into cyberspace – we had our first online show via Zoom in April, and a second a month later. The May show, “Shame Across America” raised money for orgs in the five cities of shame who were struggling to stay afloat.

What’s next for the Salon? Whether we’re in-house or online, the show must go on. The last salon of 2020 will mark our 15th anniversary, and the first show of 2021 will be our 100th, so expect a party!