We communicate on Second Life through a group message system. The majority of the time it is an effective way of announcing events. Sometimes it informs us of our losses. Though we are a community of 90,000 individuals, we have become an extended family.
A Great Loss To SL Arts Community
On Dec. 5, a group message from Synapse Joubert and The Art Messenger flashed across my screen and I immediately knew the significance of the loss to the arts community.
Circe Broom was considered, by many, as the First Lady of Second Life. She had numerous friends and followers over the years. Through a series of contacts, I was led to Serene Bechir, Poetry Libre’s co-host who shared memories of this great lady.
According to Serene, Circe was the first person to stage a live music show in SL. Circe was a creative thinker, always pushing the limits of what could be done on a virtual world.
“Whenever someone said ‘that won’t work,” Circe was there finding a way to make it work!” Serene stated. “By the time I came to SL, which was June of 2007, Circe Broom was famous on the SL music scene and frequently called a star maker. Some musicians even came to SL looking for her because they read about her in musicians’ magazines and wanted to be a part of what she was doing.”
Circe focused her efforts in several areas. She created Egyptian-themed builds. I walked through Sunset Jazz Club admiring the details of the textures and the richness of the setting before anyone was awake. It really is an exceptional build. Serene told me that Circe had been a Jazz singer in her first life and that she was also a poet. Due to her illness, she was unable to sing in this virtual world, so she provided the opportunity for others to grow as artists.
“She displayed art in many forms,” explained Serene. “through paintings, photos, sculptures and was a great encourager of art in any form. At the time, Second Life did not have voice, so poetry was usually done in text. There was only one regular spoken word event, ‘Sound of Poems,’ in which one person read out poems others passed to them on a notecard. That was and is still a wonderful event, but Circe wanted poets to perform their own selections just as the musicians do. Circe built a special venue for spoken word and staged poetry the same way she did music. I was her first poet and we had many conversations on the topic.”
Serene said that Circe planned major events and worked with other event planners, promoters and venue owners. She assisted in the establishing of new clubs. Her venue was moved from the mainland to her own island. Originally known as Alexandria, she changed the name to Laurel Arts Isle to help her vision become a virtual reality. Circe focused on the arts and her mission was supported by donations, sponsorships and from personal funds. She designed the island to be an art exhibit and frequently updated the art. Numerous music events kept the ratings high.
“When I lived there, she was running 30 shows a week,” said Serene. “These were predominantly live music events, but also included DJ events, spoken word poetry and comedy. “Circe always had a few close people to help, but in my time, with her it was very hard to get her to just rest, she was always as involved as she could possibly be. I worked very closely with Circe in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and was there when she met Vincent Merricks, who has steadfastly been at her side ever since. There have been others before and since, including Amy Ferguson, who has given Circe’s beloved Sunset Jazz Club a home.”
What was it about Circe that everyone loved? She was an encourager, according to Serene. She could see the talent people were gifted with and stood by a person supporting them as they grew as artists.
“Circe once told me that she had crammed enough living into one life to fill three and I think that was an understatement,” Serene said.
Laurel Arts Isle closed in Feb. 2012 due to financial hardship. Circe was not well enough to do all the work necessary to keep paying tier. But she enjoyed having the time to see other things in SL and simply “being here.”
As stated, Sunset Jazz Club was moved and continues to offer what its founder nurtured thanks to Amy Ferguson. Thanks to Leslye Writer, Stosh Quartz and Bernard Herzog, Circe’s Sanctuary has been relocated and remains operational.
“Even though Circe has logged out of SL and into the ultimate reality, her dream lives on in many places through the lives she touched. Some dreams are too big to contain on just one island or even one reality!” Serene declared.