Offstage work for any type of a production is often taken for granted or dismissed easily. For seventh-grade English teacher Desiree Schell, her offstage work is her volunteer work as the Tour Coordinator and Tour Promoter for Twinkle and Rock Soul Radio.
Schell found herself asking Twinkle Yochim (pictured above), lead singer of band Twinkle and Rock Soul Radio, to start and manage a tour where a group of fans could travel with the band in August after meeting the band in August at Stottlemyer’s Smokehouse. This would not be the first nor last time Schell would interact with Twinkle and the band.
“35 years ago I saw Twinkle singing with her two little girls in a stroller off to the side, and she’s up on the stage just blowing the walls off of Mango Street. I came out of Manhattan to Sarasota and I’m like ‘That’s what I’m used to for entertainment,’” Schell said. “Totally took an interest in her, went to some of the clubs to see her throughout the years, but didn’t super duper follow her because I had five kids and the travel. I didn’t have time to be a groupie, although I would’ve if I had the time.”
Schell, teacher and tour manager, felt her experience with taking students on tour to visit the world gave her the impetus to provide the same journey for the band and their fans. “I started taking students and families abroad 11 years ago. I have done 13 tours with students, and we’ve been everywhere from Australia, New Zealand and Honolulu to the depths of the Greek islands,” Schell said. “I’ve had over 217 people travel with me, and I think a couple of repeats, so it sounded good to go again.”
From this, Schell developed the idea of grassroots fans pay for the tour, just as students pay for the teacher chaperone’s substitute. Otherwise, she explained, the tour would cost more than $200,000 for the small band to travel and play overseas. Schell is also inviting eleventh-graders at Pine View to come on a two week tour to Europe this summer with backstage access with the band.
So far, Schell has garnered more than 35 percent of the projected public fan population quota to buy tickets to attend the tour with the band. “I do all of their festivals, and I do most of their club gigs… that’s really where I am getting enrollment.”
Twinkle Yochim, local celebrity who also attended Pine View in middle school, feels hopeful and appreciative that her dreams of touring in Europe are becoming a reality thanks to Schell.
Twinkle said, “Desiree had a brilliant idea and it’s coming together, it’s coming to fruition. Short of jumping up and down like a little child, I can’t overstate my lifelong dream of going to sing in these countries and actually bring the band too.”
As far as her career that started at the age of 15 and hit a high note when she signed to date, the longest recording contract with Warner Brothers, Twinkle has learned to never take it for granted. “It’s been a really great life. I’ve been doing this for 36 years for a living and I love it. When you are performing the music you want to perform, it’s like you are never working a day in your life. It’s wonderful, absolutely wonderful,” Twinkle said.
Twinkle attended Pine View form her sixth-grade year to when she left for the Booker VPA program halfway through her ninth-grade year. “Every moment of my four years at Pine View was memorable. I’m still friend with my cohorts there, but I had so many. Keep in mind this was when there were all the portables and it was a sort of hippie school for all of these geniuses; the school was just innovative and there was nothing like it… Pine View was such a formative time for me.”