Stevi VonMaydon and Kurtz Frausun are combining their artistic talents to set off a ‘Sex Bomb.’ (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)
Artists and LGBTQ allies Stevi VonMaydon and Kurtz Frausun are joining forces for a special project exploring femininity
Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
What do you get when you take put together two cisgender heterosexual creatives, each with their own history of and reasons for being LGBTQ allies. That’s an easy one: You get Sex Bomb. But what is Sex Bomb? That answer is a little more complex.
One answer is that Sex Bombs are the hand-made bath bombs created by Stevi VonMaydon, a “unicorn of witches” and a “creative artist with unique styles and focuses,” and “the CBD oil girl.” That last part is because she incorporates CBD oil into her bath bombs and extolls its healing virtues in workshops she offers at Spayse Studios, where she offices.
But most importantly, Stevi is the mother of a soon-to-be-11-year-old trans boy named Jonas.
Jonas came out to his mother as transgender when he was 7, and Stevi said that at first, she didn’t understand why things like what pronouns you used mattered so much. Her “daughter” usually dressed like a boy but didn’t seem bound to that kind of gender expression. In fact, Stevi said, “her” favorite Halloween costume had been a Buzz Lightyear outfit, finished off with a tutu.
But then came the day when the truth finally begin to be clear. “’She’ told me ‘she’ had a boy brain,” Stevi said. “Then, ‘she’ got her hair all cut off, and looked in the mirror and said, ‘I’m such a handsome boy.’ That’s when I really began to understand.”
At first Jonas continued in public school, but when that situation became untenable, Stevi moved him to a private school. That wasn’t working out either, so Stevi left her corporate job to be able to homeschool Jonas.
Stevi said that she was already using CBD oil herself, and that Jonas also used it on occasion to combat the anxiety he sometimes faces as he moves through his transition. So when she left her job to focus on Jonas and was looking for a way to make money, it seemed an obvious choice to become “the CBD girl.”
“I saw this as a way to help people, especially transgender people find out about CBD and how it can help them, and to educate them on how to use it,” she said. “It started out with that idea, and now it has morphed into this whole new world for me.”
She at first started selling CBD oil, and then, when a customer suggested it, she decided to incorporate the CBD oils into bath bombs.
“I didn’t know anything about it, but I said I’ll figure it out,” Stevi said. “So I started out in my own kitchen. I have a degree in painting and drawing, so I put that to use to make the bath bombs as creative and artistic as possible. It made a huge mess in the kitchen!”
So one of her first steps was to find space in which to base her new business venture. She found one space and made an appointment to go and check it out. But before she even made it to the appointment, she said, the owner called to let her know he wouldn’t rent to her.
“He told me, ‘I’ve done an extensive Google search, and you’re not an artist at all. You just sell health products, and I will not have my studio used as a store front.’ I wanted to tell him that just because I don’t have my art work on line doesn’t mean I am not an artist, but I decided I didn’t want to rent space from him anyway.”
Then her search led her to gay filmmaker and entrepreneur Israel Luna, who was just moving his Spayse Studios into a new space on Manana Road, and who had a small office to spare. The two hit it off, and Stevi moved her bathbomb/CBD oil into Spayse Studios and now offers workshops there on CBD use.
Another of the people that Stevi has met on her journey into activism is Jeffrey Payne, owner of Dallas Eagle nightclub and of International Leather Sir/boy — International Community Boot Black, Inc., the nonprofit that each year at the end of summer presents the ILSb/ICBB contests here in Dallas.
Jeffrey, Stevi explained, suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, but has chosen not to take the sometimes-toxic medications used to treat the autoimmune disease. Through Stevi, though, he learned about using CBD oil to treat his RA, and he was so impressed by its effectiveness — and by Stevi herself — that her offered her a free booth at the 2019 ILSb/ICBB event, being held Aug. 29-Sept. 1 at Crowne Plaza Dallas — Market Center.
So Stevi set herself a goal — to make as many of her Sex Bomb bath bombs as possible to sell at ILSb/ICCB and to then donate a portion of the proceeds to an organization focused on helping the transgender community.
It was during her search for an organization to which she could donate that Stevi had another epiphany. She saw posts on social media promoting a fundraiser for another mother with a transgender son who needed money to fund a legal battle against her child’s biological father, who doesn’t support her son’s transition.
“I saw that and I thought it was a great cause,” Stevi said. “But then, at the same time, I realized, hey! I need that too! I have my own child to look after, and it’s very possible that I could end up in a court battle, too.
“Yes, I have every intention of doing whatever I can to help’ other people, to help the transgender community and the LGBT community overall,” she added. “But I have to be able to help myself and my son, first.”
So as she began searching for a what to put her various forms of creative expression to use, Israel put her in touch with Kurtz Frausun, an award-winning experimental filmmaker/photographer/artist who owns Studio Frausun in the Design District. Although he is heterosexual himself, Kurtz has long been an ally to the LGBT community and has two LGBT films to his credit: Candid Love, about a gay couple in Plano dealing with relationship struggles and the death of a parent; and Transpose, a documentary following several people as they transition.
Kurtz also has published several books of photography and has had several exhibits of his photography, much of which focuses on the BDSM/kink world.
He said that he has had several exhibitions at JR.’s Bar & Grill, which is “my favorite bar in Dallas.” His work as an artist often brings him into contact with the LGBT community, and signs at his studio make it blatantly obvious that “everyone is welcome here.”
In his work as in the rest of his life, Kurtz said, “I have no filter, no shame.” He focuses, he said, on art for the sake of the art itself, without regard to imagery or symbolism that some might find offensive. But at the same time, he noted, “I know that other people have a different experience, a different point of view. I understand that and respect it.”
Still, he said, he won’t shy away from controversial subjects or imagery. And Stevi is, she said, “in the same frame of mind. If it’s legal, we can work with it.”
So the two have set about combining their different artistic talents — from painting to photography to, of course, CBD and bath bombs — into a project focused on how people across the whole broad spectrum of gender express their own femininity. It will be, they promise, thought-provoking at the very least.
The purpose of art, Kurtz said, isn’t to stay in a safe zone, but to — as Finley Peter Dunne said of newspapers — “to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. Every piece of art should be a sledgehammer, something that shakes things up and makes you pay attention.”
And that, Stevi said, is the goal of their Sex Bomb project — to make people pay attention. “If we can do that, if we can unite our art with beauty, we can create something really important.”
Stevi VonMaydon will be selling her CBD-based bath bombs at the International Leather Sir/boy — International Community Boot Black event Aug. 29-Sept. 1 at Crowne Plaza Dallas/Market Center. Stevi and artist/photographer/filmmaker Kurtz Frausun will unveil their joint art project, Sex Bomb, in the weeks following that event. For more information and to follow their progress, visit VoodooUnicorn.com and KurtzFrausun.com.