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Johanna the May Monkey

100th Monkey celebration honors Johanna Gardner

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Every other month at the 100th Monkey Party there is a drawing, and the winner becomes the honored 100th Monkey at the next artist community critical mass party. The rules are simple: bring food and drink to share and introduce yourself to at least three people you’ve never met before. At the parties you’ll find live entertainment, interesting creative people, art on display and “monkey tiles” that have become coveted collector’s items. 

On Wednesday, May 23 at Bamford and Bamford Pottery, 100th Monkey Johanna Gardner will provide the entertainment for the bimonthly party. Let’s learn a little more about her, shall we?

Joanna Gardner is an event planner. She’s a freelance DJ (known as DJ Jomama). She’s a party decorator. She’s the co-founder and treasurer of the Urban Arts Festival, and she books bands and DJs. She pays the bills by bartending at La Fondita on Proctor in Tacoma. She is a master of event promotion and fundraising, and now she can add 100th Monkey to her resume.


Gardner moved to Tacoma at age 16 and was a student at Stadium High School. “I was in choir and drama, played basketball, volleyball. I wasn’t really a jock per se. I was into ska music and reggae.” She styled her hair spiky using Knox gelatin. Not one to cater to any social labels, she has always subscribed to a very eclectic personal style. 

After high school

“After high school I started getting into DJ-ing and organizing monthly summertime events like the wine and music events at Lorenzo’s on 6th Ave (where Masa is today),” she says.

She met Linda Honeck at 6th and Proctor Bar & Grill nine years ago. Gardner and Honeck were roomies for four years and co-organized several events, including “Art in the Park” at Wrights Park and Urban Arts Festival. “Linda had a lot of connections,” says Gardner.

Together they applied for a business license and formed J & L Enterprises doing business as Bumble Bee Visions.

“Designing and creating are things I always loved to do,” she explains. “Someday maybe it will turn into something like a business. We’d like it to if we didn’t have to do other jobs. But it takes months of planning to plan Urban Arts Festival, and it happens just once a year.”

Family life

Entrepreneurial spirit runs in the Gardner family. Gardner has three brothers and a sister. Her Mom, Dad, and each of her siblings help out with the family business.  The business “Barrel Mo. 51 BBQ Sauces” was started a year ago by her father who makes the sauce himself. For years, people would often comment that he should bottle it and sell it, so he did.

“We have close to 25 stores carrying it now,” says Gardner.

Among them are Tacoma Boys, Stadium Thriftway, Urban Gourmet and Dave’s Meat Market. There are also a few stores in Seattle, Olympia, California and Germany that sell the sauce.

 “Everybody (in the family) helps a little bit. I do public relations, bring samples to different locations, labeling and book keeping,” says Gardner.

Personal life

Actually, there are two 100th Monkeys for the price of one this time because Gardner and her boyfriend of two years, Chris Kaufman, are expecting! You might recognize Kaufman as a weekend bartender at The Swiss.

The baby is due Aug. 30. They already know that it’s a boy, and his name will be Riley Kaufman. He will officially be the first 100th Monkey to be honored prior to his own birth.

Monkey party details

As per tradition, it was Gardner’s job as the 100th Monkey to arrange the entertainment for the party. A live band, Rust Wreckage and the Stone, which consists of Matt Eklund of Tangerine Space Odyssey and Darren Watkins and Jeff Leonard of Vicci Martinez Band, will perform.

After that, there will be a belly dance performance by Beth Valiant, the Belly Dancing Broadcasting Babe. Valiant also happens to be an award winning Top 40 music director at local radio station KVTI 90.1 FM at Clover Park Technical College.

The evening’s climax will be orchestrated by DJ Jimmy Sparkles of the band The Scuzztones, who will spin older lounge music, exotica and reggae.

Since the space at Bamford and Bamford Pottery is already full of beautiful pottery, there will be no additional art displayed, except for the monkey tiles created by Houston Wimberly III. The beautifully detailed tiles were created using recycled materials and carry an environmentally conscious message. Each tile was hand painted and is one of a kind. The $4 price tag is absolutely criminal. For more information about Houston, visit

More information

[Bamford and Bamford Pottery, Wednesday, May 23, 8-10 p.m., no cover, 3001 S. Huson St., Bldg A, Tacoma, 253.272.7244]

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