If you're into the House scene in Chicago, you've probably heard of Czarina Mirani. Born in the Philippines, Czarina immigrated to the States with her parents and fell in love with Chicago.
After years of dancing, acting, and modeling, Czarina started 5 Magazine, North America's first fully-dedicated House music magazine.
Recently celebrating their sixth year anniversary, 5 Magazine features articles about DJs, producers, trends, and artists with a distribution of more than 10,000 print copies a month.
Czarina Mirani talked to MetroSeeker.com about House music, her love affair with Chicago, and the benefits and challenges of being a successful woman in a male dominated industry.
First off, everybody that reads this will wonder: how do you pronounce Czarina and what does it mean?
It's pronounced Zuh-ree-na or Suh-ree-na, whichever you prefer! It actually means the queen of Russia (Czar is king, Czarina is queen!). But how I actually got the name is from that old tv show "Bewitched." Sabrina was the kind witch and Czarina was her evil twin cousin. Go figure!
We’ve read you owned a dance company before starting 5 Magazine. What was it that gave you the idea to launch 5 Magazine?
You know I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I'd rather start something up on my own than really work for anybody. At that time I was bouncing ideas around for a new business, this was in early 2005. Since I was a big party girl and going out every night, someone suggested doing a magazine about the music. But get this...at the time we thought about doing a magazine that covered both House music *and* Hip-hop! Boy now that I look back at that what a nightmare that would have been! One genre is more than enough!
So within a couple of months we got it going, I recruited a bunch of my DJ and dancer friends and started it. The first issue came out in August 2005, and recently we just celebrated our 6-year anniversary!
What are some of the similarities between running a dance company and running a magazine?
Oh wow that's a great question! The biggest similarity to me is the organization of everything. From coming up with a concept, getting all the necessary people involved, assigning tasks, following up on the work, making sure everything is running on schedule. All the organizing takes way more time than the actual artistic part of things!
You also have to be good at working with people. Lot of egos, etc.! Getting schedules together for dance rehearsals and likewise for DJ interviews can be quite the challenge.
Also deadlines! When showtime comes up talk about stress! This piece doesn't look right, the costumes aren't in, dancers are missing rehearsals. With the magazine the week before the deadline is insane.
Is there a lot of house music in the Philippines or was your first experience here in the states?
When I was growing up in the Philippines it was more of pop and commercial radio music I was hearing. Even in the clubs that's what I heard, because at 13 we were already in them. I knew some commercial disco as well because my mom loved that! But it wasn't until I moved to the States (I went to Northwestern University for Theater) that I discovered House music. I heard it at clubs like the Shelter, China Club, Kaboom, Foxy's, the black fraternity parties at my school, the early rave and loft parties and in my dance classes. It was love at first listen!
This was in the 90's so House music was everywhere, including in the radio.
Do you remember the first time you were exposed to house music? What was it like?
I really couldn't tell you the exact defining moment! It was just all around me once I moved to Chicago and started hitting all the clubs and parties. I was so green, I didn't know the DJs, the songs nor anybody in that scene. I remember just jumping on the El
(Chicago trains) either solo or with one of my gay friends and hitting up whatever House night was popping that night, dancing all night, coming home, then having to wake up 2 hours later for class. Boy I sure had a lot of energy back then. What the heck happened?
Being a successful woman is not without it’s challenges. What is it like to be a successful woman in Chicago?
I LOVE being my own boss! I wouldn't have it any other way! I like creating things from scratch, I like making my own schedule and I love being boss lady! There are many advantages, a lot more opportunities are presented to you. It's easier to open doors for
other prospects when you have something tangible like your business to back you up. More people will listen to you.
The disadvantages are the usual age-old ones: people talking behind your back, calling you a bitch, saying maybe you're not really a woman or my favorite one: they always think there's some guy who is really doing the work for you and it's not really you!