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The Art of Healing 

Gustoza House celebrates its grand opening with Labyrinth Lollapalooza.

Great Gustoza! Carol Vacca opens her doors - May 4.
  • Great Gustoza! Carol Vacca opens her doors May 4.
Carol Vacca is at lunch, explaining how her new healing center came to be called Gustoza House. Once, at a bar, a stranger described her as "gustoza," which he told her was Portuguese for "full of life." Such a luscious word, it was worth filing away for future use.

But now that she's named her center for it, she admits she never did confirm the definition. Vacca pauses in her story, realizing that now she has the chance: She's at a restaurant that specializes in Spanish and Portuguese cuisine. Someone ought to know the word. Motioning her server to the table, she asks if "gustoza" means what she thinks it does. His face breaks into a sly grin. Full of life? Sure, if you mean it in a sexy way.

Vacca laughs. She guesses the connotation will make Gustoza House just that much more intriguing. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, she's thinking not in terms of sex but sexual energy -- "the energy we can use to create things in our lives."

If that sounds like venturing into new-age-speak, there'll be more where that came from on May 4, when Vacca presents a Labyrinth Lollapalooza. The "body, mind, and spirit carnival" celebrates the official opening of her Ohio City enterprise, which she subtitles "A Healing Center Through the Arts."

Vacca, a rental agent and artist, says she knows firsthand the therapeutic value of art. It's helped her "express a lot of sadness, hope, thankfulness, [and] analyze how I have done relationships." Her own emotional breakthroughs gave her the impetus to establish a place where people can use artistic expression as a way to work on their problems.

Although she signed the lease in January, the May event is the center's first major function. For a $5 admission fee, there'll be music, body work, and food. Movement therapist Lisa Tagliaferri, who performs under the moniker Sapphire the Cosmic Clown, will start off festivities with a maypole dance. Vacca's brother, Donald, who has Down's syndrome, will play the drums. "I want everybody to see that everybody has something to contribute," Vacca explains.

Other performers will include saxophonist Eddie Baccus Jr., pianist Ron James, and Bobbi Holliday, who plays improvisational flute. Belly dancing, modern dance, and yoga demonstrations round out the program, along with foot reflexology, massage, and tours of the center. There will also be a labyrinth painted on the grass.

And don't miss the "fish pond of divine ideas," says Vacca. Carnival-goers will "catch" faux fish or ducks and receive prizes that have inspirational messages on them.

She says the healing center itself was a divine idea. And it's perfect for Vacca, whose birthday falls under Scorpio in the zodiac. If you put any stock in astrology, she notes, "Scorpios are about sexual energy."

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