Staff & History

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

Yelahneb, Producer of Shame and DJ (they/them)

ben 1987

Yelahneb is the Producer of the Salon of Shame; they got their start as Ariel’s faithful henchman back in 2005 before being handed the reins in 2013. They like unicorns quite a lot and is not nearly as ashamed of their poetry as one might expect.

Jeannie, MC of Shame and Podcaster (she/her)jeannie

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 Liaison (she/her)phyllis

Phyllis Fletcher is a podcast 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.

Ariel van Spronsen, House Manager (she/her)

Ariel van Spronsen joined the Salon of Shame staff in 2008 just before the move to ToJ. 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, only to return in 2022!

 Joriel, Webmaster (she/her)Joriel

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.”

Julie, Curator of Shame (she/her)

Julie Davidson is a longtime reader who first joined the staff to help zoom us into cyberspace after the pandemic threw the vaudeville hook. She served as president of her HS band “The Tacoma Wind Ensemble” when they toured Europe back in the 90s.

Pam, ASL Interpreter (she/her)

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

Jeff, ASL Interpreter (he/him)

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.

JoAnna, ASL Interpreter (she/her)

JoAnna is our dedicated sub for when Pam or Jeff aren’t available. She was on the drill team, *not* the cheerleading squad. When asked if she kept a journal at the time: “I tore up all of my diaries when I was in high school out of fear that my parents would read how many times I told them to fuck off.” Our loss, but sensible!

Frank, Sound and Vision (he/him)

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 laughing.

Cat, Sound and Vision (she/her)

Catriona Urquhart is a new addition to the staff helping us out with sound and lights! She loves being part of the Shame and wanted to share that she got her first period the exact same day her family’s cat got neutered. Coincidence? Who can say.


Ariel Meadow Stallings, Founder of Shame (she/her, retired)

18 and 37

Salon 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.

 

Rhoda, House Manager (she/her, retired)

Rhoda Zopfi was 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, the folks behind A Guide To Visitors, Seattle’s longstanding storytelling series. They 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 friends 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 took place in Belltown’s Jewelbox Theater on November 8th, 2005.

That first show was a raging success! The second show in January 2006 was even better! But then came the third one, in March, with 8 audience members and only 2 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 (later Yelahneb), 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 seats from 60 to 120!

This still wasn’t good enough for some people, and The Stranger started a petition in an attempt to convince us to move to a larger space (don’t miss the comment section of the post).

They finally got their wish in 2008 – after CHAC closed down, we found a new home in the International District at Theatre Off Jackson, which seats 150. This was also when another Ariel (van Spronsen) joined us to help navigate the transition to paper ticketing and smoother, more consistent door policies. Said Ariel Stallings, the morning after that first ToJ show: the smoothest-running, logistically easiest Salon we’ve ever had… we did sell out, but the door never got crazy!”

In 2010, we celebrated our 5th anniversary by moving from the downstairs theater-in-the-round to the cozier, chiller upstairs (aka “The Canoe Club”). Everyone liked that! Sofas, in-room bar, tables… ahhh. Also: cake.

Ariel Stallings officially handed over the production reins to Yelahneb in 2013 in order to focus on the mighty Offbeat Empire, while Ariel van Spronsen retired from the Salon in 2014 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 to accommodate our hardcore fans.  In 2017, longtime reader Rhoda Zopfi served as our House Manager for a time. The long-promised shirts materialized that year, 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 2020 show “Shame Across America” raised money for orgs in the five Cities of Shame who were struggling to stay afloat.

We took a depressing 2-year hiatus while the pandemic raged until we finally returned to the stage for our 98th show in August 2022, with the proceeds donated to Shout Your Abortion. Before year’s end, our beloved Ariel van Spronsen came out of retirement to manage the house once more!

We held our one hundredth show in January of 2023, with a raffle to support Theatre Off Jackson. How on earth are we still doing this 19 years and 100+ shows later? Because of you, of course, dear reader. We love you!