She Does The Interview: ArtStars* host NADJA SAYEJ

She describes Art Stars* as the TMZ of the art world, we describe Nadja Sayej as the boobalicious sassy critic who will barge down your art party door at 5am to call you on your bad art. Toronto’s coolest thing right now – Art Stars* reinvents the way we view art…it’s fun

What made you decide to start ArtStars*?

The utter lack of sexy, fun arts reporting out there –from mass media to blogs and back again, I’m not saying you have to go tabloid trash in order to pique the interest of the grant-grubbing artist-run crowd, but you gotta say something more than just a) Welcome to another boring art review, b) Here’s a bit of art history, and c) Whoa! Check out this weird and crazy artist! Now that I’ve founded the Toronto Alliance of Art Critics with the city’s finest art critics, Yawnsville no more. The time is long overdue for a Queen of Sassmaster like myself to step up from the black-clad turtleneck-and-minimalism world for something more ArtStars*: MTV meets MoMA with a mouthful of Nerds.

Toronto Alliance of Art Critics

What’s the best art show you’ve been to in the last year?

Uh, depends. Are we talking party-wise or art-wise? Because everyone knows that ArtStars* is about hitting up the best parties and covering everything except the art: dish the dirt! The get up! The catfights! The people walking into art! Good art parties (if you can windle your way on the guest list – or sneak in through the back door, as most artists do) include the Power Plant’s annualPowerball bash which is rammed until the last bottle drips dry (FYI this is also where we met Paper Bag Presidente Jen McNeely) to packed parties at Clint Roenisch. Next up we’re crashin’ the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Massive Party in April – my team of stylists definitely want me to go all out Gaga for this one. Stay tuned for bubbles and Barbie chic, bitches!


Clint Roenisch

What is the weirdest thing you’ve caught on camera?

ArtStars* is all about the strange, eerie, poignant and offensive – from gallery goers knocking over art (and not apologizing) to Douglas Coupland talking about himself in third person, we’ve had bizarre interviews with artists peeing out of windows, squeegee kids saying they hate the art and dads proclaiming at the end of an interview: “I know you don’t care about what I’m talking about.”

The most popular quote we probably hear is: “What TV station are you from?” Duh! Internet TV is the boob tube of tomorrow! Check out the Hamburger Sandwich Show, Food Bomb, Food Party, Late Night in the Bedroom, Notable TV.

Gallery goers knocking over art (and not apologizing)
Douglas Coupland talking about himself in third person 
Hamburger Sandwich Show

Food Bomb

Food Party

Late Night

Paper TV  

What makes you tick? In art and in general.

Yes, the faux-high brow snobbery that runs rampant in the art world is less than admirable – especially when it’s directed in the form of: “I don’t do camera interviews.” But more so: Being removed from the Nuit Blanche press list after we made an episode – featuring drunk teenagers so wasted they were taken away by an ambulance – about them. Now that’s classy.


Nuit Blanche episode

What is happiness to you?

Breaking big news. It’s kind of like opening a Christmas present that everyone wants and you being the first to hold it up to the light. I’d also like to expand

It was also super cool to interview Alex Grey about the purple pill (who knew?) and do a secret handshake with him, and meet the cats at a Vice magazine party.

Alex Grey ep 

Vice magazine

What can people expect from your night Press Pass?

Bust out the newsroom scowl! Press Pass is a drink night for journalists I co-host with my pal Sarah Lazarovic at the Press Club every other month – Shawn Micallef, Hannah Sung and Darren O’Donnell have clinked glasses here, as do Globe and Mail fashion editors decked out in mohair, sexy National Post editor in crisp white collared shirts, an eclectic array of plugged-in bloggers andphotogs snapping their way through conversation – we drip the bar dry (no jokePress Pass III we ran out of gin).

This Wednesday I’m unveiling the Art Fag – an art critic who has been reviewing shows anonymously since 2003 – at Wrongbar. The afterparty is sick, stick around for sets by DJ Vaneska, Kevin Ritchie and Derek Mainella, glowsticks and projections by Jeremy Bailey and a fabulous appearance by Sharon Mirrors.

Every Sunday I’ll be hosting StarGazing* at Baby Huey, the art world never sleeps, but especially on Sunday nights. Hello! Art galleries are closed on Mondays so star light, star bright, Sunday is the new Saturday night. Check out the rad pics from our first night on Valentine’s Day with DJ Paul Petro by Paul Terefenko.

Press Pass !
Sarah L

Press Club

Plugged in bloggers


Press Pass III: ugh, you find it.
The Art Fag

Wrongbar Vaneska

Kevin Ritchie

Derek Mainella

Jeremy Bailey

Sharon Mirrors

Paul Petro

Paul Terefenko

If you could throw the biggest party ever – what would that look like?

It would probably take place in a cookie warehouse and be something along the lines of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory meets Alice in Wonderland with a ton of drag performances and free magazines. Oops, did I just break news? Next up is the Dead Magazine Ball where we celebrate – or mourn? – magazines of yesteryear with a funeral performance by Istvan Kantor and a wicked dance party led by a few secret magazine DJs. April Wozny from Business Women’s Special would be there, the snarky kids from Wham City and perhaps Joseph Drapell, because everyone who owns their own museum deserves red carpet treatment.


Istvan Kantor

April Wozny

Wham City

Joseph Drapell

What are you obsessed with right now?

Honey, in the land of Scorpios, everything is obsession worthy, just ask Toronto artist Micah Lexier and you see what I’m sayin’. Right now, I’m listening to Javelin who Primary Colours are bringing to town March 30, DJ Stephen Schramm who weaves together a post punk dance party for Off White at the Beaver, posters abound poles by Neelam Kler and and as always, Bruce LaBruce because he understands the Scorpio obsession, as you’ll see in our interview.

Micah Lexier


Primary Colours

Neelam Kler

Stephen Schramm

Bruce LaBruce

Where did you get the *snap* from?

The ArtStars* *snap* intro came from Church Street. After recording the first ArtStars* episode, in May 2009, I was sitting in our first editor Ryan Edwards’ editing suite bedroom, and he said: “We need an intro.” And I said, “Ok, lets do a snap.” We set up the camera and tripod facing a blank wall in his room and I tried on different outfits and did *snap* after *snap* until we were both cracking up laughing – the diva *snap*, the “bitch don’t make me” *snap*, the Ru Paul *snap*, the snobby *snap* and the original snap credit belongs to longtime high school soul crooner Derrick Valenzuela. He is the master snapper – louder than any clap!

Anyway, snapping the *snap* is my philosophy for living, girlfriend, if you can’t find the words to step up and defend yo’self, then just *snap* at ‘dem bitches! *SNAP!* Let me tell you: The best *snap* in my opinion is the Cruella de Ville *snap* from the Trip Print Press episde beware: the *snap* is contagious. My friend Kyle Kofsky has a cat named Snaps* but wouldn’t a tabby named GingerSnaps* be better?


The first ArtStars* episode 

Trip Print Press

Derrick Valenzuela

Kyle Kofsky


The most exciting art scene or artist right now – anywhere is – why?

Carl W. Heindl is the best photog around Toronto – stand before his otherworldly lens and you’ll make history. This guy is onto something: He shoots fashion and bands and eerie street shots on his Flickr page, but my favourite are his self-portraits. Too often shutterbugs are afraid of their own lens, but Heindl steps up and delivers the goods: Intimate, strong, raucous and profound. Better than anything you’d find at CONTACT, that’s for sure.


Carl Heindl


Self portraits


BONUS QUESTION: What’s next?

Duh! The new ArtStars* Clique Club where you get all access to the hottest ArtStars* parties, an artist multiple mailed to you each month, invites to exclusive dinner parties and insider art news.

If you drop us a line at artstarstv at gmail and fill out our survey, you get 30% off the annual membership for the ArtStars* Clique Club and a spot on the guest list for our Wrongbar party on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Don’t delay! Get your *SNAP!* on today.


Photo credits
Studio shots: Faye Carmella Mullen
Yellow background logo shot: Connie Tsang, ardenstreet.ca
Still: Kriistina Lahde episode


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