Posts from — October 2008
This image-heavy post is a Halloween homage to one of my favorite horror films, Dario Argento’s Suspiria. I love the set decor so much. Mark my words fellas and felladies, when I build my dream haunted house with secret rooms and passageways, it will be done in the style of Suspiria…
I need one of these lightup peacocks…
Even the murder is gorgeous!
October 30, 2008 10 Comments
Australian photographer Kate O’Brien has been one of my favorite camera queens ever since I came across her Flickr page a few years ago. Her portraits not only satiate my desire for whimsy, but like Pierre et Gilles, who she unsurprisingly counts as role models, she takes an intimate approach to her work by constructing many of the costumes and props she uses herself. A lot of her pictures remind me of movies I thought I saw as a child, but most likely only played in the theatre of my mind! Let’s chat with Kate!
+ What age were you when you first became interested in photography?
I always enjoyed playing with my parents camera when I was a kid, but we didn’t have a lot of money and were only allowed to take a couple of photos at a time, which is in stark contrast to now when an average shoot can take anywhere between 150-600 frames. I guess you could say I first taking my photography seriously in 2005 after becoming seriously infatuated with the work of Pierre et Gilles. They made me think about photography differently…mostly the idea that you don’t have to shoot what is laid out before you, rather that you can construct a scene to be what you want to photograph.
+ How do you come up with the different concepts for your shoots? Tell me about your process.
It’s really hard to say, it’s always different things. It might be a cool costume I find at a thrift shop, or I might just be flipping through a book and see something that takes my fancy. Cogs and pulleys start moving in my head and pretty soon I’ve developed a hazy vision of what I want to achieve with my photo. It’s actually pulling everything together after that point that is difficult. I claim to not be a perfectionist, but a friend of mine frequently reports that while I may not be draconian in my expectations, I do have a very finite idea of what I want a resulting image to look like. I guess I get my back up at the term “perfectionist” because I’m by no means a technician. I like to keep my shoots cheerful and fun. I don’t get bogged down in the details but I do know what I want.
+ Who are some artists, photographers or otherwise, that you admire?
I think that Mark Romanek (Music Video Director) is a genius, I find it very difficult to work with moving pictures and a careful observer will notice my work is very static. Often when I shoot, there is only one shot and I will shoot from the same angle till I get it. I don’t tend to move around the room shooting.
I’m also a big fan of Spanish Fashion Photographer, Eugenio Recuenco. The style and treatment he gives his work is mindblowing. When I grow up, I want to be Eugenio Recuenco.
+ You use a lot of the same models in your shoots. Can you tell us about your muses?
Funny you should mention that…Laurel, one of my favorites has moved to France and I’m really going to miss shooting her, however Anekie, who I also love to shoot is sticking around so expect to see more of her in the future. One of my other mainstays who I haven’t shot for a while is Leonie and she’s penciled in for a big shoot next month on the beach, so keep an eye out!
+ If you were in a parallel dimension or another life, what would you be doing instead of photography?
In reality I’d probably be working at Subway or McDonalds as I don’t really have a big range of skills outside of putting together images and shooting them, however if we’re talking about my fantasies, I’d love to be a window dresser for a big department store. I’ve wanted to do that since I was 14, I’m not quite sure why. Probably because I crave attention! That’s a pretty good way to get your work seen.
+ Is there a specific era from the past that you would want to travel back in time to experience and photograph?
I think I’ve just about covered every era right in my studio, and the thing is, my photos aren’t historically accurate. They capture a censored and sterilized snapshot of the past. Actually traveling back would probably be pretty confronting. Life’s not all tea with Marie Antoinette and Hookahs with Mata Hari!
+ What music/bands are you listening to right now?
I’m on a solid diet of Yacht Rock at the moment, so it’s all Steely Dan, Toto, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins at my place. Fortunately for me my husband is a huge fan too. I should get a Tshirt that says “Yacht Rock Saved my Marriage” or something!
+ How would you describe your personal style?
I put my photos above everything else and so as a result I get around looking a bit homeless. When I need new shoes or a haircut, there is usually a cool prop or costume that wins the race instead. It’s literally all I think about. I am forever cutting things other people would consider neccessary items out of our budget so I can justify another trip to one of my favorite op-shops or go cruising ebay.
+ What are you favorite cameras to shoot with?
I’m a big fan of the Canon range. They’re well priced, they do everything you need them to do and as you gain skills and experience there’s plenty of scope for upgrading. It’d be hard to convince me to shoot with anything else. I’m not a technical photographer, so shooting with film or medium format cameras aren’t a big concern to me. I’d rather spend money on more lighting than another camera.
+ What’s next on the menu for Kate O’ Brien Creative?
I have a book coming out at the end of the year describing in more depth how I go about putting together an image and my general philosophy on photography. It’ll have brand new work not seen before and a section with some of my older work.
Apart from that I’m scouting out a gallery to show my work in the new year with a series about feminine beauty ideals through the ages.
October 29, 2008 23 Comments
So let’s talk about my Halloween track record. My most memorable childhood Halloween costume was probably the time I dressed as a UNICORN in the fifth grade. Like many little girls, I collected everything that was a unicorn, which is inarguably one of the most BEAUTIFUL mythical creatures, as you know dis…Anyway, for Halloween I decided to wear an all-white outfit, and my dad constructed a horn for me out of styrofoam and white fabric, much like this little lady’s on the left (except a low-grade version):
I was excited to go to school that morning to show off my fancy and magical outfit. The teacher held a costume contest and had us stand in front of the class so everyone could vote. When it came to my turn to speak, the Student-of-the-Month-every-month, extremely shy girl that I was, nervously stated my costume and watched the very few supporters of my low-budget getup raise their hands. Then came the girl next to me, flaunting a short velvet dress, feather boa and makeup. What was SHE supposed to be? “A hooker.” What the?! I don’t think little Marie knew exactly what a hooker did back in those days. I was pretty innocent, but I did watch Pretty Woman. Well, the bitch goddamn WON. Won the costume contest!! I hate kids.
NEXT, in junior high, my bff and I decided to be Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (RIP) and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas from popular hip-hop group TLC…
GAH! I know right. I can’t believe I even posted that shit all over the worldwide web for all to LOL at. The Halloween adoration for my favorite R&B singers continued into high school when my friends and I (all girls) decided to dress like Boyz II Men and go trick-or-treating and serenade candy givers with a ‘lil “End of the Road” when they opened their doors. I think I was the bass singer and carried an actual cane if memory serves correctly. I also remember my brother telling me my choice in costume that year would leave me “very confused” when I got older. He was correct.
After high school and in the recent years I have done my fair share of sexy costumes, which is pretty boring when you’re like me and dress in whorish costume 364 days out of the year anyway. So last year I was Alma from Santa Sangre.
That has been my favorite so far. I guess because everyone was all “WTF ARE YOU?” And we know I love mimes.
So what will I be this year? I thought of bringing back the tradition of dressing as my favorite R&B or hip-hop artist. These contenders sprung to mind…
TOO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM!! DAMN MY INDECISIVE LIBRAN MIND!
What about you sexies? Any good Halloweeners memories? What are you planning on dressing up as this year?
October 28, 2008 15 Comments
Oh hai everyone! I was bedridden for the whole week after my birthday party due to a ‘lil of this:
which, as seen on my face in the pic below, first had me thinking I was roofied, spanish fly’d, now had hepatitis A, B, C, D, mono, then Treeman disease, which would result in my limbs being sawed off and me turning into a Glo Worm:
but STILL, ultimately ended with me in a feverish dazed flu for the whole goddamn week:
Never let a comparably mild, yet extremely paranoid hypochondriac drink from a strange pirate’s flask. Even if it is her birthday. Anyway, I’m about 75% better than before and I’m all ready for Halloweeners and will be celebrating it all WEEK! It is my favorite holiday after all. Well, aside from the 8 Days of Marie of course.
Also… here’s what I wore for my party!
+ Striped Bow headband – Loulou Loves You <3 <3 (hi Loulou!!)
+ Black tube dress – Charlotte Russe. Cheaply made and uncomfortable so I took out the plastic boning and layered over it (I just wanted the skirt part really!)
+ Shrug and Top – local store
+ light pink bra from Victoria’s Secret
+ Pink Crinoline – LA Fashion District
+ Pearl necklace from Beijing Silk Market
+ Betsey Johnson earrings
+fishnets and those old Target heels. Will I ever find anything as comfy as you??
October 27, 2008 4 Comments
Good morning everyone! You know how I am always talking about what would happen “In Our Comic Book World”? This video, shot by my niece, is an example of the sorts of nerd things that occur in my friends and my every day lives. Sadly this was based on a true story…
October 20, 2008 16 Comments
My tassel-twirling gal pal, Dizzy Von Damn!, shakes up the burlesque stage with her sequined sauciness and hilariously creative acts. It’s no wonder she was crowned Miss Viva Las Vegas 2008! Let’s find out what makes this “bastard child of Bettie Page and Liberace” sparkle.
+ What attracted you to the burlesque scene in the first place?
I’ve always been interested in performing and lord knows I love dress up, but burlesque is also, to me, at its core a remarkable fusion of things that I was always told (if not explicitly) were mutually exclusive. I was tired of always having to choose one or the other- smart or pretty, funny or sexy, good or bad. I want to be seen as all of those things, because I am all of those things. There’s a wonderful tradition of power and beauty there; groups of women (and some men) entertaining and being as glamorous, sensual, or serious as they want to be. Plus, burlesque has a lot of sparklies.
+ How did you get your start in it?
I had been interested in doing it for years- I had seen a few shows in the Boston-area and done a little research on troupes there, but it never happened. I moved to LA and a couple of years ago I ended a long relationship and realized I had come out of it feeling even more fucked up than when I went in. I didn’t feel good about myself at all- emotionally, mentally, but really specifically physically. I was afraid of being not good enough, especially in a town like LA., and fuck that shit! I hate being afraid. I am not, however, afraid to be uncomfortable, so I decided that showing my goodies on stage, dressed how *I* felt beautiful, to music that made *me* feel sexy and fun was the most efficient way to get over myself. I didn’t like the way I was being perceived (or how I felt I was, anyways) so I changed it. Three days after I made that decision, I met Vixen Violette (my now bff) at a knitting group and she was my “in.” From knitting to stripping in 3 days flat. That will be my how-to book.
+ What can a person who has never been to a show expect on a typical night?
Well the obvious answer there is boobs. BEWBZ. There are many ways in which they can be seen though. Some of the performers do a classic bump n’ grind, some do more modern styles. I tend to take the classic style and make it a little weird, a little funny. There will be costumes and themes because each number is a show in itself. You might see a cowgirl or a cultural reference like a movie character. The guarantee is that you’ll be seeing each performer present that character in a tease, with several reveals that will advance the story of the number and put a little bit more on the stage. When I go to a show, I expect to be titillated and entertained; that’s how I like it. A little bit o’ honey, and a little bit o’ WTF honey?!?!
+ Which famous burlesque performers from the past do you admire and influence your acts?
Gypsy Rose Lee is probably the most famous, and I admire her for being able to command an entire audience with just a look or a dropped strap. Each movement should be purposeful and I try to remember that. I am influenced in large part by many of the modern classics, who bring together classic burlesque and performance art. Catherine D’Lish is probably the best example of traditional burlesque today, totally sexy and making it seem effortless. Little Brooklyn and Trixie Little really bring the comedic aspects forward, and I love that as well. I aspire to be a combination I think. Hilariously sexy. Like banana hammocks.
+ What sorts of things do you drawn inspiration from? Film? Music? Anything else?
I pull inspiration from everything. Sometimes I’ll hear a song on the radio and see a whole number ready for the picking. Film and TV of course- I love musicals and anything technicolor. I want my performances (and, I suppose, myself) to be a little larger than life. The surreality of the show Pushing Daisies has been really inspirational of late. It’s very visually stimulating. All around me are the little things that just need to be repurposed. I have one act where I am a “newsie” and the props are newspapers; one of the most famous burlesque styles is the fan dance. I don’t know how it hit me exactly, but for that number, I do a fan dance with the newspapers, finally peeling away sheet after sheet for my final reveal. Everything is inspiration- just open your eyes.
+ Being the “Martha Stewart of Burlesque” what is your process for coming up with an idea for an act and then constructing the costumes and props for it?
Sometimes it starts with a song, sometimes it starts with a concept. Usually I have a bare bones idea and then I start throwing out the most ridiculous things I can think of that relate to it- and some of them stick. When I planned my number for Viva Las Vegas, I chose the song “Surfin’ Bird” because I knew its high energy would be a crowd-pleaser. To bring the bird theme through it, I added feathers to the costume in the form of a headdress and trim for the gloves. I also had a feather bustle that was actually a boa for me to remove and use when the time was right. As the date of the performance grew near, I realized there was nothing BIG about this number to really drive the bird theme home, so we started joking about a giant cage. Except before i knew it, it wasn’t a joke, so I ran out to Home Depot, did some crazy maneuvering and experimentation, and now I have a 6.5 foot glittering, gold, collapsible birdcage in a storage unit somewhere.
The most important thing to me is making everything belong. Every costume piece and prop should have a reason for being there, both to layer and to advance the theme. My “Only Have Eyes for You” number has eyeballs at every turn- and I won’t get too specific, but let’s just say that even the most minimal pieces of my costume “look” the part.
+ How would you describe your personal style when you are not on the stage?
I always dress with a vintage flair. I prefer to be a little covered up rather than letting it all out there, because the imagination is so much more effective. I love pencil skirts and daydresses with petticoats. I love to wear heels and do my hair up. I like bold color (probably 75% of what I own is a shade of teal) and patterns, and holy fuck i love sparkles. I’d say my personal style is probably a little loud and it definitely attracts attention, but I feel like it’s a good manifestation of my personality. I have these furry leopard print pedal pushers I like to wear on first dates because if a guy can’t love the pants, he certainly won’t love me.
+ What advice can you give someone who is interested in becoming a burlesque dancer?
Go to shows. Lots of them. Find local performers and ask questions. Look at the legends online. Do your research on names and acts- there’s a lot of information out there. Take a class if you can, from a performer you’ve seen and respect. Burlesque isn’t just you getting up on a stage and taking off your clothes. It’s a story, and like any story-teller you need charisma and a plot line with specific points to advance. Practice. It’s an evolutionary process, and anyone who tells you different is crazy. Commit. Be respectful, and don’t expect to be Dita overnight. Unless you’re that Evan girl, amirite?
+ What would you like to see happen in the future for the burlesque world?
I would love for burlesque to be acknowledged as a true art form instead of being written off so often as “just stripping.” Yes, there is stripping involved, but it’s not about my body, it’s about the presentation. I would love to see the Burlesque Hall of Fame in a permanent home, open to the public, to educate and protect our legacy. Of course it would be amazing to be able to make my living solely off performing, but that seems so difficult in a time so completely about instant gratification full of a million readily available TV shows and movies. And I want all burlesque performers to get a pony.
+ Is there anyone you love to work with or even perform an act with someday?
I’m really neurotic about shared numbers- it’s so rare to find someone with the same work ethic and let’s face it, I’m a little crazy. I’d want to run it into the ground. But if I did find someone with that ethic and a great idea? Absolutely. I’ve already worked with so many performers that I admire (including getting to do a show recently with Satan’s Angel), but it would be a real honor to perform at New York Burlesque Fest, Teasorama, or Miss Exotic World. Perhaps this is the year I apply.
+ What is coming up for Miss Dizzy Von Damn! as far as shows and any other projects?
I have shows booked through April 09 right now. Can you believe that? I don’t have time to do laundry. I’m looking forward to the “We Don’t Need Another Hero” Show at Monday Night Tease, this October 20th. I’m also about to do a photoshoot for the new L.A. Burlesque Calendar. I’d love to produce a show at some point, but I just don’t have the time right now. Keep an eye out for that though, because if/when it happens, it will be a doozy. You can always find out what I’m up to via http://www.dizzyvondamn.com, which right now is just a redirect to my myspace page, but will someday be an internet shrine to my pulchritude and benevolence. Eventually I will use it to take over the world.
October 18, 2008 3 Comments
Is it too late to wish a day later? I mean all I really got was a giant pack of gum and a Costco-sized Airborne (true story). A girl just wants some skirts, macarons, maybe a Chuck Bass or two…
October 17, 2008 5 Comments
October 17, 2008 No Comments
It’s my birthday today! I was going to do a wish list post, but I need to get some sleeps. So I’m going to make this quick and wish on a star for those hot ‘lil Corso Como wedges that both Nubby and Poochie have. Momma wants to get ‘dose babies on her hooves, too!
The picture up above of my BFFs and I having a tea party was shot this past weekend by Robyn Von Swank at Madonna Inn, which was our third venture to the infamous hotel this year! I love that place so much. The cake was delicious too. I will have stories to tell soon!
Today I want to thank my amazing friends who make my heart swell and my belly fill with laffs and potato tacos. And a very big gracias to all of you sexies who read my blog and who are even nice enough to say hello! I really appreciate it more than you will ever know.
And before I bid goodnight (ooh shit past 1am, I hope someone gets me a birthday coffee in the morning)….here are the people I share my birthday with.
Can I get a Thighmaster for my birfday too? It’s only natural.
October 16, 2008 17 Comments
This is the first time I’m participating in Links à la Mode for IFB! Can’t wait to relax later to catch up on all these great posts! (I’m still recovering from yet another incredible weekend at my favorite place in the world.)
Links à la Mode : October 9th
* Agent Lover - Satanic Schoolgirl Style: A guide for those who want to cross over to the dark side of knee highs.
* couturee yourself – Just cant get enough Givenchy
* Dirty Laundry – How to revamp tired, old, boxy t-shirts into stylish, wearable tops.
* Fab Fashion Blog – Wearing slouch boots-here are some fabulous looks!
* fashion in my eyes – Natalia Vodianova in Numéro phothographed by Karl Lagerfeld
* Fashion Pulse Daily – Fashion Pulse reviews the latest Dolce & Gabbana collection recently shown in Milano.
* Little Black Book – DIY:bracelet, its just so easy!
* Logical Harmony – Fall Fashion From Rachel Bilson
* Mademoiselle Robot – An interview with The Cherry Blossom Girl celebrating the launch of her first collection, By Alix.
* Or False Glitter - Holy Hosiery: Wearing tights Rodarte style
* PONY RYDER - exclusive interview with fashion model kathleen burbridge.
* reLYME – A post featuring my boot picks for fall, and hopefully, a forum to features yours, too!
* Retro Chick – Can Earplugs be cool?
* SwanDiamondRose – Does this look like my Louche? Small businesses, copyright, & crafting.
* Tainted & Sweet…: – Fly Girls of the week we all want to be like…
* THE COVETED – Easy DIY trends.. the whole hearted half skirt
October 13, 2008 No Comments