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La Moni Stat comes home for SF edition of her Asian drag monthly SENSAZN



The Bay surely misses Moni Stat, the currently-LA-based shady queen whose rise began on the storied SoMa stage of The (temporarily paused) Stud. Happily, she is coming back to bless us with the first out-of-town tour of her Asian drag show SENSAZN—alighting upon San Francisco at The Edge on Sat/17— which has been reborn in its form of a Wednesday night weekly at downtown LA’s Redline bar after getting its start in pre-pandemic days.

There should be no explanation necessary for why it’s urgent that Asian performers have their own dedicated space in clubland—and she’s certainly not alone in the mission to center the AAPI experience in nightlife. Even so, in an email interview, we asked Moni Stat to pinpoint the moment in which she knew that the world needed SENSAZN.

“When that last president called it the ‘China virus,’ of course the backlash intensified,” she wrote. “I knew I needed to gather my fellow Asian dolls as a form of protest. As a part of the drag and trans community, this is how I face these issues.”

If you would like to make sure your monies get into the handbags of stellar Asian queens, your chance has arrived. This Saturday, Moni Stat will take the stage with local queens Ehra Amaya, Neauxleigh, and Kipper in not one, but two afternoon shows.

What to expect? “A good time brought to you by a saucy hooker with bad credit and a receding hairline,” says La Moni. “And maybe, JUST MAYBE—” … but we’ll let her finish that thought in context. Read on on for more SENSAZN.

La Moni Stat

48HILLS We’re clearly living in a time where we need more AAPI representation on so many levels, but was there a specific moment or event that motivated you to create SENSAZN?

MONI STAT Our lack of representation was literally the impetus for SENSAZN. Its concept has been in my deck of cards for quite some time. I premiered the show in February 2020 and was planning more, but then lockdown happened. Things went online, sure, but truly there is nothing more gratifying and addicting than the roar of live audiences. I’m so happy to be returning.

Of course, this is personal. As an actor, I‘ve been rejected at countless auditions because they weren’t looking for an Asian character, or they weren’t looking for an effeminate Asian man. In the gay community, Asian men are often either fetishized or ostracized. Everyone on Grindr has seen “No Femmes No Fats No Asians “—I mean that’s me in a nutshell LOL.

So when reports of the virus started filtering out of Wuhan, I was expecting the AAPI community would get some flack for everything that was going on. Then when that last president called it the “China virus,” of course the backlash intensified, and I knew I needed to gather my fellow Asian dolls as a form of protest. As a part of the drag and trans community, this is how I face these issues; I’m just doing my part. SENSAZN is here to let people know that we are not just your tokens, that there is space for us and that we are stronger as a community.

The drag and trans community has ALWAYS been on the forefront of these types of issues and I feel I am just doing my part. 

The Sat/17 SENSAZN SF lineup: Neauxleigh, Ehra Amaya, and Kipper. Photos courtesy of artists

48HILLS What are the historic strengths of Asian drag in the Bay Area? Who are some of the scene’s icons (besides yourself), classic shows, venues you’ll never forget?

MONI STAT I started doing drag pre-social media boom and pre-Drag Race, back in 2004. I had to learn how to do make-up, hair, put together outfits, and walk in heels from my elders because *YouTube tutorials* didn’t exist. And I could count the number of AAPI drag performers out there in one hand. 

Giving credit where credit is due, I’m a true blue bar queen, and got my professional start at The Stud. If it wasn’t for queens like Heklina, Putanesca, Anna Conda, Landa Lakes, and Cookie Dough; promoters like Dave and Jose of F@g Fridays at the End Up and Gus Bean; who liked me enough to support me and give me the opportunity to shine, I think I would’ve had an incredibly difficult time. But these people really opened doors for me. They gave me the space and the stage to sharpen my craft as an emcee and performer.

Also, Marke B really gave me a lot of press back then which was kind of unheard of. I was 21, had only been doing drag for a year, and I was headlining events with the big club names at the time. It was both intimidating and validating. There was nothing like the rush of seeing your name on a flyer. I didn’t know what I was doing half the time. OK I still kinda don’t, but at least this time around I’m having much more fun with it LMFAO.

As far as the Asian drag community was concerned, I never really felt like I was part of it. I didn’t feel welcome… and that’s OK. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea! However, I am grateful for the truly iconic Tita Aida and Cecilia Chung, both incredible and prolific Asian American activists and trans women. They also took me under their wing. I met Tita Aida outside of N-Touch on Polk, where she hosted her weekly Thursday night show (wow, this is really old-timey.) She eventually booked me to emcee the API stage at SF pride. I did that every year for a decade.

Now being a little bit older and wiser, I’m super grateful for my elders who gave me opportunities and taught me so much. Living in LA, I’ve had to marry the edgy punk rock mindset of San Francisco performance with the glamour girl showmanship that Southern California really responds to, and it’s proven successful for me.

La Moni Stat

48HILLS If I’m understanding the internet correctly, the show has a weekly Wednesday slot at Redline DTLA. When did it begin there, have there been other venues, and how has the reception been so far?

MONI STAT SENSAZN LA happens monthly at the Redline in downtown Los Angeles, every third Wednesday. Oliver Alpuche (the owner of the Redline) is gracious enough to give me a stage to live out my fantasies LOL. I book performers from all over, calling it “my little show that could.”

My only rule is you must be of Asian American and/or Pacific Islander descent. Believe me, even that is an issue sometimes … I’ve gotten called a racist or “gatekeeping” from some younger non-BIPOC queens who are miffed because I don’t book them, but I’m simply creating a space for me and my sisters to twirl. We don’t get enough shine as it is. 

The crowds really took to my vision. I have an incredibly talented cast of entertainers who really give it their all. I mean shit, I have a random Wednesday night slot at 9 p.m., but the people are still coming in. The show’s amazing reception from everyone has been sincerely humbling.

Though my bailiwick now is mostly glamour and old Hollywood type lewks, I welcome performers of all kinds to the show. Who am I to be a judge of what someone’s art is? I got my beginnings at Trannyshack and Charlie Horse where anything went (quite literally), so I’m receptive to all sorts of performance and drag types, but again, YOU HAVE TO BE AAPI to twirl on my stage.

The Redline in downtown LA is my home, and will always be the home of SENSAZN, but I do plan to take my show on the road. We are currently booked for nights in San Diego and San Francisco, and I’m working on future SENSAZNs in Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, New York, and DC. 

48HILLS A particularly memorable moment from one of the shows that you’ve already produced?

MONI STAT I mean, every show is memorable. My job as a producer, director, promoter, and emcee is to make sure you have a memorable night, and I serve that in spades. In our LA shows, we have girls jumping from speakers and landing in the splits. We have girls doing drag numbers in the middle of traffic. My LA cast turn the party every time, and it’s really a fun night. 

48HILLS What are you most looking forward to about the series’ SF debut?

MONI STAT Like Tony Bennett, I left my heart in San Francisco. It will always be my spiritual home. It is where my career started, and probably, where it will end. The cast for SENSAZN San Francisco are some of the most talented performers I’ve ever worked with. It’s a mix of old friends and new ones, and I am grateful that the Edge Bar was receptive to my idea, fully throwing their support behind my vision.

What can audiences look forward to? A good time brought to you by a saucy hooker with bad credit and a receding hairline, and maybe, JUST MAYBE, if they tip me a Benji … a blow job by the dumpster in the alley.

SENSAZN SAN FRANCISCO Sat/17 two showtimes; 2 and 4 p.m. (1:30 and 3:30 p.m. seatings), reservations encouraged. The Edge, SF. More information here.

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Are Sallie Mae Student Loans Federal or Private?



When you hear the name Sallie Mae, you probably think of student loans. There’s a good reason for that; Sallie Mae has a long history, during which time it has provided both federal and private student loans.

However, as of 2014, all of Sallie Mae’s student loans are private, and its federal loans have been sold to another servicer. Here’s what to know if you have a Sallie Mae loan or are considering taking one out.

What is Sallie Mae?

Sallie Mae is a company that currently offers private student loans. But it has taken a few forms over the years.

In 1972, Congress first created the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLMA) as a private, for-profit corporation. Congress gave SLMA, commonly called “Sallie Mae,” the status of a government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) to support the company in its mission to provide stability and liquidity to the student loan market as a warehouse for student loans.

However, in 2004, the structure and purpose of the company began to change. SLMA dissolved in late December of that year, and the SLM Corporation, or “Sallie Mae,” was formed in its place as a fully private-sector company without GSE status.

In 2014, the company underwent another big adjustment when Sallie Mae split to form Navient and Sallie Mae. Navient is a federal student loan servicer that manages existing student loan accounts. Meanwhile, Sallie Mae continues to offer private student loans and other financial products to consumers. If you took out a student loan with Sallie Mae prior to 2014, there’s a chance that it was a federal student loan under the now-defunct Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP).

At present, Sallie Mae owns 1.4 percent of student loans in the United States. In addition to private student loans, the bank also offers credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts to its customers, many of whom are college students.

What is the difference between private and federal student loans?

When you’re seeking financing to pay for college, you’ll have a big choice to make: federal versus private student loans. Both types of loans offer some benefits and drawbacks.

Federal student loans are educational loans that come from the U.S. government. Under the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan Program, there are four types of federal student loans available to qualified borrowers.

With federal student loans, you typically do not need a co-signer or even a credit check. The loans also come with numerous benefits, such as the ability to adjust your repayment plan based on your income. You may also be able to pause payments with a forbearance or deferment and perhaps even qualify for some level of student loan forgiveness.

On the negative side, most federal student loans feature borrowing limits, so you might need to find supplemental funding or scholarships if your educational costs exceed federal loan maximums.

Private student loans are educational loans you can access from private lenders, such as banks, credit unions and online lenders. On the plus side, private student loans often feature higher loan amounts than you can access through federal funding. And if you or your co-signer has excellent credit, you may be able to secure a competitive interest rate as well.

As for drawbacks, private student loans don’t offer the valuable benefits that federal student borrowers can enjoy. You may also face higher interest rates or have a harder time qualifying for financing if you have bad credit.

Are Sallie Mae loans better than federal student loans?

In general, federal loans are the best first choice for student borrowers. Federal student loans offer numerous benefits that private loans do not. You’ll generally want to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and review federal funding options before applying for any type of private student loan — Sallie Mae loans included.

However, private student loans, like those offered by Sallie Mae, do have their place. In some cases, federal student aid, grants, scholarships, work-study programs and savings might not be enough to cover educational expenses. In these situations, private student loans may provide you with another way to pay for college.

If you do need to take out private student loans, Sallie Mae is a lender worth considering. It offers loans for a variety of needs, including undergrad, MBA school, medical school, dental school and law school. Its loans also feature 100 percent coverage, so you can find funding for all of your certified school expenses.

With that said, it’s always best to compare a few lenders before committing. All lenders evaluate income and credit score differently, so it’s possible that another lender could give you lower interest rates or more favorable terms.

The bottom line

Sallie Mae may be a good choice if you’re in the market for private student loans and other financial products. Just be sure to do your research upfront, as you should before you take out any form of financing. Comparing multiple offers always gives you the best chance of saving money.

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Tips to do some fall cleaning on your finances



Wealth manager, Harry Abrahamsen, has five simple ways to stay on top of the big financial picture.

PORTLAND, Maine — Keeping track of our financial stability is something we can all do, whether we have IRAs or 401ks or just a checking account. Harry J. Abrahamsen is the Founder of Abrahamsen Financial Group. He works with clients to create and grow their own wealth. Abrahamsen shares five financial tips, starting with knowing what you have. 

1. Analyze Your Finances Quarterly or Biannually

You want to make sure that your long-term strategy is congruent with your short-term strategy. If the short-term is not working out, you may need to adjust what you are doing to make sure your outcome produces the desired results you are looking to accomplish. It is just like setting sail on a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. You know where you want to go and plot your course, but there are many factors that need to be considered to actually get you across and across safely. Your finances behave the exact same way. Check your current situation and make sure you are taking into consideration all of the various wealth-eroding factors that can take you completely off course.

With interest rates very low, now might be a good time to consider refinancing student loans or mortgages, or consolidating credit card debt. However, do so only if you need to or if you can create a positive cash flow. To ensure that you are saving the most by doing so, you must look at current payments, excluding taxes and insurance costs. This way you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

The most important things to look for when reviewing your credit report is accuracy. Make sure the reporting agencies are reporting things actuary. If it doesn’t appear to be reporting correct and accurate information, you should consult with a reputable credit repair company to help you fix the incorrect information.

4. Savings and Retirement Accounts

The most important thing to consider when reviewing your savings and retirement accounts is to make sure the strategies match your short-term and long-term investment objectives. All too often people end up making decisions one at a time, at different times in their lives, with different people, under different circumstances. Having a sound strategy in place will allow you to view your finances with a macro-economic lens vs a micro-economic view. Stay the course and adjust accordingly from a risk and tax standpoint.

RELATED: Financial lessons learned through the pandemic

A great tip for lowering utility bills or car insurance premiums: Simply ask! There may be things you are not aware of that could save you hundreds of dollars every month. You just need to call all of the companies that you do business with to find out about cost-cutting strategies. 

RELATED: Overcome your fear of finances

To learn more about Abrahamsen Financial, click here

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How to Get a Loan Even with Bad Credit



Sana pwedeng mabura ang bad credit history as quickly and easily as paying off your utility bills, ‘no? Unfortunately, it takes time. And bago mo pa maayos ang bad credit mo, more often than not, kailangan mo na namang mag-avail ng panibagong loan. 

Good thing you can still get a loan even with bad credit, kahit na medyo limited ang options. How do you get a loan if you have bad credit? Alamin sa short guide na ito. 

For more finance tips, visit Moneymax.



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