Name: Shawna Kenney, author of I Was a Teenage Dominatrix
What is your job? I’m a writer, author and creative writing instructor. I teach for UCLA Extension and co-own the company, Life’s a Bitch Books.
What social causes are most important to you?
I’m down with anything that helps to end suffering and promotes art.
I use whatever I can, wherever I am. Many punk shows I booked in the 80s and 90s in DC were benefits for the Washington Literacy Council, where I was tutoring at the time. In LA I performed at a benefit for Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center and booked readings to raise money for the Jenesse Center, a domestic violence shelter and prevention program.
In North Carolina I worked for an amazing non-profit called Dreams, teaching writing and photojournalism to economically disadvantaged teenagers. Last summer I went to Denmark to help journalists from the Middle East work on a magazine together through an NGO called Crossing Borders.
Why do you have a passion for these, is there a personal tie?
All of these are close to my heart for various reasons. I found myself in an abusive relationship as a young woman, and a shelter saved my life, so I am drawn to the cause of helping to end the cycle of domestic violence, but if you think about it, all of these things are tied together; poverty, illiteracy and lack of love are all violent to the human spirit.
Is there a particular way you would want to encourage readers to be involved?
Start local. Start small. Focus on feeding a neighbor or mentoring underprivileged kids if the idea of ‘saving the world’ seems too big. It doesn’t have to be money—not all of us have money. Time and energy are just as valuable.
How would you define social responsibility? I like the slogan “Stop bitching and start a revolution!”
Quick list of your tattoos – do any represent your charitable beliefs?
I have script of the words ‘Los Angeles’ by Mark Mahoney, some sunflowers done by Chris O’Donnell long ago, and some old tribal stuff by Linda Lee Tobin. None are directly related to an organization or cause, but my husband and I both wear our hearts on our sleeves, literally—we both have the Slayer pentagram embedded into a heart on our arms, done by Juan Puente, because we met at a Slayer show. That one to me represents love, which is what it’s all about, right?