Photo courtesy of McCabe Slye

In Communion with Pleasure


By Cath spino


It’s midnight on a Thursday, now a Friday morning, in late October. I work a 9-5, so on a regular night, I’d be fast asleep in a CBD-inspired slumber at this hour. Instead, I’m in a car with two of my pals. We pull up to an unassuming East Williamsburg warehouse, save the ground-shaking bass coming from within. I am in a mesh top with no bra but as soon as I enter I realize I am one of the more dressed attendees in this funhouse-esque space. As DJ Dave wraps up her set, two tall men in masks grab her and drag her offstage as the theme music of Squid Game plays over the soundsystem. The lights dim as the masked men star down the audience with flashlights, clearing the main stage. The crowd lets out these blood curdling screams akin to young girls shrieking at the peak of Beatlemania in the sixties as the event host (and my main event) Von struts onstage, dressed in a killer kinky two piece and ready to perform. Only I can’t seem to imagine The Beatles ever performing at a kink-friendly warehouse in Brooklyn.

“I’m Von,” she says into the mic as the screams keep rolling in.

“I’m that bitch who makes music with her vibrator. Welcome to Bloody Fucking Mary.”

Photo courtesy of McCabe SlyePhoto courtesy of McCabe Slye

That wasn’t the first night I’ve found myself at a kink-friendly concert. This past summer, I was in the backyard of the Bushwick event space h0l0 and heard murmurs of Pussy Riot headlining a show inside so a couple of my friends and I hung around and snuck in. This concert was one of the first Bloody Mary events held and it opened my eyes to a music scene I was completely unaware of: concertgoers dressed in leather, lace, bunny ears, and baby diapers staying up all night dancing to bass heavy tunes and hypnotic beats. Bloody Mary events were founded and produced to inspire an inclusive sex positive community and feature incredible performers and DJs: past lineups include Pussy Riot, UNIIQU3, BIGKLIT, DJ Dave, live boxing in between sets, and more. I’ve been dying to get to another one of these shows and am heavily obsessed with one performer off the event’s lineup: the Brooklyn based dirty pop star (and one of Bloody Mary’s event producers) Von, or “that bitch who makes music with her vibrator.” When I found out she was hosting another event this past October, I knew I had to be there so I prepped my weekly sleep schedule to stay out past my bedtime on a school night.

But before we dive into the event, I got a chance to connect with Von herself and it is my absolute pleasure to introduce you all to this fearless musical maverick, because I think one day she could take over the world.

Photo courtesy of McCabe Slye

Von is a Brooklyn-based music producer, performer, events producer and bonafide badass. She puts gritty, pulsating baselines under glittery synth riffs paired with varying vocal treatments that “define sexual confidence as what you always wished your misogynistic aunt read it as: powerful” (her words that, as a music journalist, I back). She’s been a musician since she was young, originally wanting to be a classic pianist but making a sharp pivot in her college years at NYU to taking center stage as a performer and producer. She made her performance debut in a bespoke Berlin club during her time abroad and knew there was no turning back. “My first performance was electric, I thought ‘wow this is where I need to be, I’ve never felt more validated and like all of me can exist in a space”. Once she came back to New York, she began working on the next stages of Von, throwing ideas at the wall to see which one stuck.

The one that stuck was using her vibrator to make beats for her songs. Von is the first artist that works with her orgasms to inform her song’s instrumentals. Von uses the Lioness App to record her muscle contractions when she masturbates with her vibrator. Once her session is over, she goes into the app to select a certain wave pattern to input into Serum (a wave table synth) where she can explore sounds, keys and other sound parameters until she’s satisfied with the result (no pun intended).

Once I found out how Von’s music was made, I immediately thought of the late feminist performance artist Carolee Schneemann and her famous piece, “Interior Scroll”, where she reads from a long scroll stored in her vagina. Just like Schneemann’s performances, there isn’t a way to discuss Von’s music without talking about sex, specifically sex centered around the female/femme experience. “If you want to talk about my music, you have to be willing to talk about [sex]... When I play my music at meetings, you wouldn’t know that’s how my music was made unless I told you. Part of making the music for me is dissecting the contrast in response from the time someone first listens to it and they say ‘oh this is cool!’ and then I tell them how I made it and they go ‘oh…’ I feel like that is just as important in gauging people’s excitement or discomfort or both [for my music]” What’s pretty remarkable about this process is that Von’s songs are wholly hers, her beats aren’t manufactured by machine or software but rather her own muscle contractions. Sure, anyone could mimic her process or create these beats on their own, but knowing that her music begins with her vagina, the center of creation, adds another gorgeously vulnerable layer to her work. Von’s creative process starts with being in communion with her body and her pleasure versus utilizing a counterpart in her musical journey.

Her first single created using her vibrator beat making technology “Action” was released back in 2018 but the sentiment is timeless. She croons the chorus “Don't need you to make it happen, one woman show with the action” and acknowledges that she doesn’t always need a partner who will make her feel small in order to feel love or pleasure; she can do it herself.

“I talk about [sex and sex education] for a living so I’m extremely comfortable with it but I still find myself in romantic situations where I’m left feeling like ‘I’m nuts, I’m too much, I shouldnt have said anything’ and it’s just someone else projecting their discomfort onto me… and projecting their anger onto me to stunt [my growth].” Outside of making her own music and producing killer events, she is also the creative director of Vondom Labs, a 360 production house, record label and online tech marketplace that transparently showcases an agenda to move towards a more sex positive universe. Her website has a specific tab on resources and readings, promoting education on sex workers, black sex educators, supporting sex workers affected by COVID and more.

Von shares that she grew up in a strict Catholic home with little to no sex education; in one of her Tik Toks, she mentions she was even scared to carry a tampon. Like Von, I grew up in a Catholic home and felt pigeonholed into a certain lifestyle that robbed me of formative years to understand myself sexually.  It was only when I left for college that I began to explore my sexual needs but even then, it was all centered around my cis male partners experience; I lacked the sexual education and the ability to vocalize my needs in the bedroom. Hearing Von’s music, understanding her creative process, and witnessing the community she’s building, I only wish I had found something like this sooner. “The biggest critique I got [with my music and working with sex tech] was merging all of this tech is going to make us cold and shelled up and lacking connection.” Von explains to me. ”In my experience it has only done the opposite: it has created more tools and more skill sets to harbor really deep and meaningful human connection.” The work Von is doing goes beyond the job description of a pop star; it is the work that is incredibly crucial for sexual empowerment of generations to come.

One topic we discussed heavily was the Virgin Mary, who Von considers to be “the biggest martyr for the biggest cause that nobody’s in on yet”, in that she became the impossibly figurehead of the perfect woman. “It was brilliant, if you think about it [through the lens of] the patriarchal agenda: it’s like how do we hold women to a standard they will never be able to reach? You strip sexuality from motherhood and tell women their neverending role is to be maternal. Intercourse and the maternal can never interact with one another, which is funny because one informs the other. To be the perfect woman is to be childbearing and virginal… which is not real.” Von feels an unexplainable connection to the Virgin Mary, having her tattooed on her upper arm and sharing her middle name with the patron saint. “In a strange way, I feel this duty to help uncover more about the Virgin’s life and teachings surrounding her that have created a lot of the problems in society we are trying to dismantle”. Von admitted to me she’s hoping to lead these academic conversations when she’s too old to hump a mic stand, so until then she’s woven the Virgin Mary into her events.

This is where Bloody Mary comes in.

Photo courtesy of McCabe Slye

“I don’t love [seeing] live music.” Von confesses. “It’s nuts to me that I go to shows at forward thinking venues and there’s three acts: there’s a first opener, a second opener and a headliner and in between each act there’s 30 minutes of silence. This is archaic, how are we still doing this?” Instead of pandering to event promoters for spaces to play her music, she and her good friend and co-event producer Isabella Danzi created a space that feels like a community, a space to be challenged, and a space to let loose and have fun. “My dream show was always to have something move with a dynamic story arc that keeps people moving and keeps people constantly in momentum. The goal was always to foster a space where that could happen on a bigger scale with more people.” And Bloody Mary accomplished all that and more. Von and Isabella pulled in incredible artists, performers and sponsors on their events making them the nights you don’t want to miss out on: live boxing matches, a dark room to fool around in by Bound, a dab bar to grab joints in between sets, and of course a powerhouse lineup including Von herself.

Which takes us back to the beginning: where I’m in a warehouse in East Williamsburg past midnight waiting for Von to take the stage. And when she did, it felt like it was a sin she wasn’t on it the whole time. From the moment she took the stage, it felt like I was witnessing something special. Von commanded the stage instantly wearing a sexy custom Mikki McMann costume and an intricate Motion Capture Suit. Behind her, we see a figure in her visuals that seems to match her movements. Thanks to Alexander Baumann and Rob Ruth of, Von’s every move is captured and live-crafted in her set’s visuals using motion capture technology. Very much like the imagery for the event flyer, I also noticed her performance visuals included images of the Virgin Mary, a mystical presence watching over Von as she performed. Von was born to be up there with all of her fans, myself included, going hoarse from yelling her name. At one point I looked over at my friends who took the plunge and came along with me, completely blissed out and dancing, only to say “I LOVE MUSIC” as I swayed to Von performing DJ Dave’s remix of her single “Dealer’s Gone” (a song that has taken me to the finish line every time i pop it on when I’m running). On top of that, I consider this show one of the safest events I’ve ever attended and as the music industry is still dealing with the aftermath of Travis Scott’s Astroworld, that safety speaks volumes to the security and community involved in hosting Bloody Mary.

Photo courtesy of McCabe Slye

The song I was most excited to hear was Von’s “Tiny Boy”, a single yet to be released but a song she has teased on her Tik Tok before the show and in my opinion, one of her best songs yet. This was her first time performing the song written about a recent ex and one she was interested to see how it would come to life in her performance. “I have such a wall I put up when I perform because I think it’s what’s necessary [for my safety].… but I haven’t been able to get through that song without crying and I’m so intrigued to see what my body will do when I’m back [onstage] where I’m so used to having my armor on”. As the audio of her call with her grandmother played on the speakers, Von’s body grows still as she gazes over the audience and listens. I could see her bite her lip, holding back emotion, but keep a steel gaze, a gaze that knew its purpose. Once the song ramped up and hit the chorus, she was ferocious in her performance. Ferocious for herself and what she deserves. It was like watching a Phoenix victoriously rise from the ashes and the audience was there to cheer her on.

Photo courtesy of McCabe Slye

One of her previous press pieces likened her work to artists like Peaches and Charlie XCX but I’d consider her on the level of Lady Gaga. She is redefining what it means to be a pop star not only for herself, but for society as a whole. There is so much depth and introspection in her work; it would be a disservice to just call her a “dirty pop star” and ignore all of the parts of herself she weaves into her process, from her iconic orgasmic beats to her trailblazing lyrics to her incredible circle of collaborators and loyal audience. Von’s work is similar to the act of sex itself: it’s hot, it’s emotional, it’s vulnerable and ultimately brings people together to explore intimacy and connection. She’s been able to literally pleasure herself and fill her cup with power and self realization to the point where she is ready and able to give that pleasure to others.. As I was perusing Vondom Labs website, I stumbled upon a Bloody Mary T shirt for sale with their manifesto printed on the back. After reading the shirt, I’m instantly struck with the sheer power and potential this community has to create meaningful, inclusive change in the music industry, in event spaces, and in society as a whole. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: someday Von will take over the world and I cannot wait to see that day.

Until then, you can find me resting up for the next Bloody Mary event.

From Von’s Instagram

You can stream Von’s music on Spotify. For all news on future Bloody Mary events, you can follow Von and Bloody Mary Events on Instagram as well as find information on Vondom Labs website.