October 30, 2014
By Jane Foley
When Lori Sinatra (’00) began her college career at Salem State in 1994, she was not a typical student. While most of her freshmen classmates were right out of high school, Lori spent the ten years between graduating from Malden High School in 1984 and beginning at what was then Salem State College working, performing and finding her spiritual calling.
As an actor, Lori was involved in Community Theater in Revere, where she performed in Chicago and Jesus Christ Superstar and directed a production of The King and I. She played Sarraghina in the Newton Country Players production of Nine. Lori helped found a community theater in Malden in the 1990s called, Mainstage of Malden where she directed a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and starred in Terminal Bar, a now obsolete one-act play about AIDS.
Lori’s spiritual calling began at a young age. “At 15, I was the youngest licensed lay reader for the Episcopalian Archdiocese in the area,” she recalled. But as a young adult, she left the church because of differing views on feminism and sexual orientation. In the mid-80s, Lori met some people involved in the Blue Star Tradition of Wicca and began to study witchcraft and paganism, “discovering it was more about spirituality and reverence for the earth rather than hocus pocus and love spells.” Lori became a High Priestess and ran a coven from 1987 to 2012.
Along with acting and running a coven, she was also working full time in the Human Services field, supporting adults with physical and cognitive disabilities.
In 1994, the desire to get a degree and a professional edge on her writing and art led Lori to apply to Salem State. Once accepted, she moved into an apartment on Lafayette Street, fell in love with Salem, and never left.
Lori majored in Communications, with a minor in Graphic Design. She also participated in non-academic activities, including writing for the Salem State Log and performing songs from Into the Woods in the role of one of Cinderella’s stepsisters in a musical revue. While both were activities she enjoyed, her most rewarding experience was as a member of Salem State’s Gay Straight Alliance. With the GSA, Lori helped to bring the AIDS Memorial Quilt to the Ellison Center in 1994, when 64 panels of the quilt were displayed around Veteran’s Hall.
When asked to reflect on her education, Lori stated, “Salem State made me a better writer, a better artist. I formed lifelong friendships there. It gave me a strong foundation to what I am doing now. It was a good experience.”
Currently, Lori is an artist and performer. In 1985, she took the professional name, Shakti Lemaris, named after the Hindu goddess of fire and energy. You can find her artwork under her professional name at the Terror Fantasies Art Show, the longest running art show exclusively focused on terror and fantasy, in the Museum Place Mall, and at The Scarlett Letter Press and Gallery. She, along with her sister Amy, performs regularly in the troupe, The Wicked Isabelle, belly dancing and teaching workshops that combine theater, visual artistry, dance and song. Lori also works as a consultant to newly formed covens.
Contributor’s note: Jane Foley is a senior English major with a concentration in Professional Writing, who was happy to reconnect with a former classmate from Malden High.