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Travel: New York, Briefly

Going to America, New York feels…somewhat mandatory. At least, it is if your father and brother live there. I stayed for four days and spent most of the time catching up with people. “New York is one of the most uncomfortable environments there is,” says my Brooklyn-based brother. “You can get away with anything as long as you don’t get in anyone else’s way.” It was frantic and crowded and sweaty and dirty and exciting and full of wonderful, high-energy people.

Lovely Lolitas in NYCIn Bryant Park, meeting up with a friend, we ran into a fashion shoot and a separate Lolita meetup. By the carousel, of course!

Their "Ho Ho" cakeBryant Park cafe cake. Very dark and rich.


I stayed very close to here for three nights. Had some fabulous food in neighboring Koreatown.

Mi abuela Isabel NemirovskyRediscovered at my dad’s place, this photo of my Argentinian grandmother, aged 22 here.

Mister Showbiz courtesy of Juleskill via Creative CommonsIt’s not a New York trip without a dose of burlesque or cabaret. And I got mine from Mister Showbiz himself, Murray Hill! I saw him perform on May 18th, at Galapagos Art Space, with my “show date” being Judith of Unseen Censer. Such a pleasure to see the emceeing master at work. The show was flawless, too – unlike my excited, shaky photography. So this far better image is via Creative Commons, so you too can feel the love.

A word about New York shopping. It’s easy to get overloaded, jaded, bewildered, and overspent very quickly. If you have a strong interest in music, or crafts, or graphic novels, or some other highly specific hobby or subculture, you may get more pleasure out of spending money on the specialized items for these that you can find in NYC than on the chimera of “New York style.” But many visitors to New York are convinced the chimera is out there…

I find my best New York fashion return-on-investment comes from cosmetics. It is worth it to pick your favorite cosmetic counter and get some refreshing tutorials along with your purchases. My favorite is the boutique brand Paula Dorf, and their Henri Bendel counter is staffed by makeup sorcerers.  I went to them and said, “My eyebrows – can you help?” They did.

Clothes were more hit and miss – I’m not the only one to find this season of clothing rather meh. Macy’s on Herald Square was vast and confusing. I preferred the cleaner, more tranquil, and better curated Lord and Taylor at 38th Street – their sale racks had some bargains that matched items I was seeking.

New Yorkers look like everyone and wear everything – the full cross-section of humanity, not the tooth-bleached actors in Manolos we get in the media. That said, this spring, the New York fashionistas got a memo that said “Wear a very, very simple black dress. And beige shoes, and a bag of an entirely different color. Top it off with a clunker of a necklace or a bracelet, but NOT both.”


Out in the Square 2013, Post I: Burlesque and Retro

Photo post – the Rainbow Troupe’s second performance, and some burlesque and retro style, all at Wellington’s 2013 Out in the Square GLBQT pride day.

Just a hunka' hunka' burnin' love

Miss Honey Suckle as lady Elvis rocked our socks and shook her famous “assels”.

Note the incredible wind bowing down the trees.

Sharing a kiss behind the balloon bunches, right before letting them fly to the skies! Cleverly, they’re in the reverse rainbow order of the backdrop behind them, so they stand out brilliantly.

The butches ranged from boyishly cute to serious swagger!

This year we had both femme beauties and butchy babes for a lighthearted burlesque vision of the 1950s as they should have been.

Yes, I coordinated/produced the Rainbow Troupe again for 2013, with serious production support from Winnie Chester. And what a troupe it was: Salacious Sugar, The Velvet Whip, Atomic Ruby, Miss La Belle, Flic Caracou, Ula Vulk, The Deity Dollicious, and The Purple Rose were our living rainbow, and we had a guest appearance from lady Elvis brought to us by Miss Honey Suckle. More than a few people came by Civic Square especially to see the performance. Thanks to the whole Out in the Square team for making it go like buttah!

And now for some additional glimpses of burlesque and retro style from this fabulous afternoon of fabulosity:

Can I be her when I grow up?

This is my favorite picture of the entire day – a perfect lady. Like the background says, “LOVE!”

Red gold and green!

This stunning burlesque chanteuse shared the stage with us. We’ll be seeing more of her in Wellington!

Not only are they so cute, they're color coordinated

Young volunteers mixing up vintage plus. They were staffing one of several vintage clothing booths – some real bargains out there.

Love the bowler

Edgy burlesque performer Candy Thorne livens up a windy Wellington day.

Bow chicka bow bow!

Miss La Belle, burlesque star and teacher, relaxing after her first performance of the year.

Look out for Post #2 with more great style and atmosphere shots!

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Friday Follies: When Orange Attacks and Rainbows Return

The Rainbow Troupe is returning to Out in the Square on Saturday, January 19th – look for them onstage between 12:15 and 12:45!

The Rainbow Troupe for 2013, see them at Out in the Square tomorrow!

The Rainbow Troupe for 2013, see them at Out in the Square tomorrow!

Macklemore, the rapper who brought us Thrift Shop, supports queer rights and gay marriage, and his song “Same Love” went viral. Video below. Food for thought while poppin’ tags.

A great post on skirt lengths. In fact I think I love her blog, Extra Petite, in general. Makeup for beginners, and her “how to look older” post can also be read as “how to be very casual yet a touch polished.” Related: how to turn a straight skirt into a pencil skirt.

All that damn orange that the stores were trying to sell us in spring – is anybody wearing it? Anyone? I’m only seeing it deployed in shoes – people are keeping it as far from their faces as possible. I’m playing with jewel tones this summer – mustard, violet, cobalt – despite my pale complextion, courtesy of MAC Chili lipstick. Redheads, this is a good one for us!

I enjoy reading about travel, but many intense travel blogs seem to be by cocky male twentysomethings, extolling living out of an exquisitely curated backpack. Two travel blogs by women to inspire us. The Bold Soul moved to Paris at age 45, built a new career, and a new life. And Legal Nomads, about a woman who quit her job in law to travel, eat interesting food, and write. She has wise words on travel, traveling alone as a woman, and reverse culture shock/returning somewhere after a long time. Most of my international travel has been alone or only periodically accompanied and I hope to do an RTW (round-the-world) sometime in the next ten years.


Get The Most from a Photo Shoot


Was I happy, or unhappy, with how I looked on this day? It doesn’t matter – I had a great time at this shoot, and it showed. The results: a pretty photo of Sadie von Scrumptious, burlesque emcee. Courtesy of Ataahua Pinups.

Do you want to have good pictures taken, beautiful pictures, but…you’re waiting? Waiting for your hair to grow out, for that 5-or-10 kilo weight loss, or to mysteriously turn into Dita von Teese overnight? Why not just do it? Make 2013 the year you get in front of the camera!

Let’s revisit the weight loss one because I can’t tell you how many times that has been cited as a barrier. Stop postponing your life until you lose weight, says fitness blogger and yoga teacher Amber, and how right she is. She conveninently linked to this post on How To Not Hate Being Photographed, too.

There are four factors that make it possible to capture the best possible images of you. You outsource one of them when you sign up for a photo session and you can achieve the remaining three.

  • Professional photography lighting. Photographers use light photons to blast your features into luminescent perfection.
  • Being healthy. Well rested, hydrated, glowing from fruit and vegetables and activity. You know the drill.
  • Being well groomed. Your efforts to be polished will pay off.
  • Being happy. Your emotional state, more than anything, shines through in photographs.
"We make your cellphone work!"

A professional headshot, courtesy of Matt Walsh.

What To Wear

  • Your outfit should fit, or be a little roomy. Leave the garments-you-hope-to-fit-into-soon at home.
  • For a portrait/head shot, wear a plain top or a collared shirt in a jewel tone or strong neutral. Matching your eye color is always safe. A feature necklace or earrings are also good. Avoid wearing black, white, small patterns, or shiny fabric.
  • For a pinup/burlesque/boudoir shoot, expect that your whole body will be photographed and that you must provide your entire outfit, down to long gloves and hair clips. Some studios provide props and costuming – find this out before the shoot.
  • If a studio is providing extensive costuming for a pin-up shoot, I still like to bring the following: “dark” lingerie set with stockings and shoes and gloves; “light” lingerie set with stockings and shoes and gloves; a robe; at least one complete outfit I want photographed. The two lingerie sets are a useful foundation for other corsets, robes, or dresses.
  • If you are bringing full outfits, set up the outfits before hand. Try them on, test them in a mirror, and if required iron/press them.  More than 4 outfits in a session devoted to you will make the photographer’s head hurt. So, keep it to 4 outfits or fewer.
  • If you are dubious about your arms at all, feel free to cover them up. Sleeves, wraps, jackets, feather boas, lace shawls, long gloves. Unhappy with your abdomen? Wear corsets, girdles, or “shapewear” – undergarments like the Spanx sausage cases (I prefer the firmer Nancy Ganz line myself).
It's a darn shame my adorable black tilt hat doesn't show against the black background.

Professional eye makeup makes my eyes huge, and the ringlet hairpiece looks all right. But where’s the top of my head? It’s my own fault for choosing a black tilt hat doesn’t show against the black background. Practice session with Toya Heatley.

Physical Preparation/Grooming

  • Do your nails! Male, female “not proud” of your hands and feet, the camera accepts no excuses. Maximize your nail attractiveness, from a simple trim/buff/hand creaming to a manicure and pedicure supreme.
  • Do you dye your hair? Retint during the week before the shoot. Hair roots show and are challenging to Photoshop.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Not just for the sake of beauty sleep – posing is exhausting.
  • Drink lots of water the night before the shoot, moisturize lavishly, and avoid alcohol.
  • Shave. Especially your armpits. Body hair is, again, difficult to Photoshop.
  • If you are going to be nude at the shoot, when you get up that day, bathe/shower, shave everything that’s getting shaved, then put on loose outer garments, going commando underneath. This prevents your underwear, especially your bra, “marking” your body with pressure lines.
  • Clean & combed hair, please. “But my hair needs to be dirty for retro styling!” Then, before styling, hit your hair up with dry shampoo, which removes greasiness while making your hair behave for backcombing, rolling, and the like.
  • If you want your hair to be longer, shorter, or otherwise different, wigs or hairpieces can help.
  • Should you get your makeup done professionally? More expensive shoots may include this as part of the service. If you are not used to doing your own makeup, or you want a very dramatic look, I recommend this. Schedule makeup in the AM, the shoot in the PM, and do something fun that evening so your made-up face gets an outing.
  • Personally, I eat low-carb, lower-fat food the day before a shoot. I eat a light breakfast. And then after the shoot I fall face down into a platter of Thai food or the like. Amusingly, food and drink during shoots seems to be in the same amnesty zone as diet drinks.

Photo Shoot Etiquette

  • Ask for what you want well in advance, and be clear about costs. Not only does this help reduce post-production angst, but it ensures that you get the shoot you want. For burlesque or other performance promotion photos, a white background is helpful so that designers can edit out the background and add you to posters. Black backgrounds can create striking portraits, but any black accessories, or even brunette hair, gets lost.
  • Show up on time, with your outfits organized, your hair done or ready to do, and your face either made up or ready to be made up.
  • If a photographer prefers to be professional and distant, let them. They don’t have to be your best friend to be talented and take good pictures of you.
  • Expect your photos within 1 – 2 weeks.
  • If the photographer is a hobbyist friend who isn’t charging you – offer to buy lunch, contribute to transport or processing costs, or give a koha towards equipment. I remember buying film for somebody back in the day. Remember film?
This photo illustrates several posing and outfit tactics.

This photo illustrates several posing/dressing tactics. My3/4 body turn is slimming. My outstretched arm is slimmer-looking than my un-photoshopped bent arm, and my manicured nails show up in the picture. The dark background is an excellent contrast for a white dress – one reason that brides wear white still. On this sunny day, the photographer has posed me in the shade. Shady light flatters the skin, and I’m not squinting against the light. Photo courtesy of Digitalpix and their “Trash the Dress” photography workshop.


Posing is vital! Working with the photographer on posing makes the most of how you look.

  • Inside Out Style Blog has great posing tips, as does Betty Bombshell’s Plain Jane to Pinup Queen book, as does Photography Awesomesauce.
  • A 3/4 headshot helps obscure any facial assymetry, and a 3/4 body turn is slimming.
  • Being slightly below the photographer/having the photographer shoot from above is also slimming.
  • Practicing your poses in a full-length mirror (or a hand mirror for face shots) is dorky, but it works.
  • Try to be phyiscally relaxed and express happiness. Play with the posing – ham it up – have some fun. When I’ve been stiff in front of a camera, a good tactic has been to have a friend stand beside the photographer and banter with me.

If You Have Been Requested/Hired As A Model

    • Ask, tactfully, why  you? Why were you requested? Experience? A particular “look”? Your sizeable wardrobe? Your body modifications, or lack thereof? It’s always good to know.
    • Make yourself a good model by working with the photographer’s reasonable requests. Myself, I have avoided sunlight, grown and manicured my nails, made myself up with a specific “look”, and brought along clothes for said specific look.
    • Be firm about your boundaries. If you’re not comfortable with the picture, or the vibe of the shoot, say no and be prepared to walk. I once arrived at a shoot, took a look around, felt my hackles rise, and walked without even putting my bag down. It was a perfectly clean city apartment, with a colorless mild-mannered male photographer, and yet something just wasn’t right. I’m glad I didn’t find out what.
    • If you were polite and timely and  prepared – and don’t get asked for again – you didn’t do anything wrong. Some photographers like to work with lots of different models, capturing many fresh looks. Others may feel they didn’t have chemistry with you. Let it go and move on.
Is it I? Come reply! Mirror, mirror, tell me truly!

A glimpse of a flattering pinup shot by Ataahua Pinups.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

  • You need to cancel – For me, cancellation reasons have included being sick and being grief-stricken. (I find that my emotional state is reflected in photographs – whether I want it to be or not.) Let the photographer know ASAP.
  • You think you look awful in test shots – Don’t freak out, and don’t get mad at the photographer. Try one of your other outfits, more makeup, a new angle, even a different backdrop. Shots often improve as a shoot progresses.
  • You and the photographer don’t click – It’s happened to me. I show up, they show up, even after giving it some time, the magic didn’t happen. If everyone is present, correct, and professional, at least you can speak up and ask for what you want.
  • An idea or outfit doesn’t work – At one of my shoots, an emcee costume that had received lots of compliments in real life turned out to be a difficult dud on camera. The correct attitude is to shrug and say “Moving on!” I’d like to praise the photographer in this instance for speaking up and saying “That’s not working” – when the photographer and you aren’t clicking, they may not say anything.
  • Post-production drama – Both I and others have been unhappy with shoot results. I myself once went for professional headshots with a well-known local photographer, found him dull and absent during the session, and sure enough, the resulting shots looked like he’d phoned it in. Irritating! Another time, a friend of mine wasn’t happy with the severely Photoshopped results of her shoot. She would have preferred more images from the shoot that represented what she saw as her real self.

The more you work with a photographer, the more the photographer works with you.

Wellington Area Photographers

For those of us in the Wellington area, this list has grown over the past year! Another reason why there’s never been a better time to get some pictures taken.

  • D-Pix/Ataahua Pinups – Teriffic and fun portraits, wedding photography, and pin-up shots. And Ever So Scrumptious blog readers can have a PINUP SHOOT SPECIAL! Use the code SCRUMPTIOUS when you book a pinup shoot and get it at half price – $120 instead of $250. It doesn’t get any better than this!!!
  • Foto Graffito – More sophisticated black and white work. Great at capturing expression, I especially recommend him for photographing men.
  • Jules Townsend – Portraits to pin-ups to wedding photography. Fresh liveliness and great sense of color.
  • A La Mode  -High-end Wellington photography with studio. Want to look like you should be in Italian Vogue? You can, starting at about $500 (note the print costs here).
  • Kardan Photography – More edgy, sophisticated black and white work. Again, higher prices. In Wellington, also visits Auckland.
  • Miss T Pin-Ups, Auckland – Provides “full service” with makeup, hair styling, costuming, and extensive Photoshopping. Shoots are often staged at especially lovely locations, too. A premium shoot, priced appropriately. Auckland based but visits Hamilton and Wellington.

Serious about pin-up modeling? That’s a whole other story! As a starting point, if you want pin-up or figure modeling opportunities, contact a local camera club.  Hutt Camera Club uses models. For long-term or seriously-earning-money modeling, post on Model Mayhem.

Sarge gave his life for fashion. -salutes-
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Fur of Mystery, December Burlesque

Sarge gave his life for fashion. -salutes-I have acquired a vintage fur of MYSTERY! Look at the chevrons! Seems to be a 1960s Mad Men era fur scarf, probably mink’s less expensive cousin, weasel, aka “summer ermine.” But, the chevrons!  I can’t tell if it was sewn, or dyed. Perhaps it was made from one of the sergeants of the Weasel Patrol?

More vintage furs at Lady Violette. Note the skunk set!

The end of the year is getting busy on Wellington’s burlesque stages.  I’ve got two December emceeing gigs.

  • Have Yourself A Very Merry Caburlesque, December 8th – Move over, panto, Christmas isn’t complete without a Christmas themed burlesque show! We’ve got all kinds of naughtiness planned for this one, and an amazing line up.
  • Bare and Back Again, A Burlesque Journey to Middle-Earth, November 30th/December 1st – Not only am I emceeing this piece of Middle-Earth madness, I’m producing it. A friend of mine said, “I heard about this and I was horrified…how can you make it work?” We think we’ve got just the right mix of humor, loving irreverence, and truly amazing acts to both evoke the magic of Middle-Earth and to help us all blow off steam after a movie-premiere-saturated week in Wellington. Tickets on sale here!

Poster art by fantasy artist Hope Hoover


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Foxy Friday: Burlesque and Politics

Another opening of another show…go to Miss La Belle to book your tickets! This is a fun cabaret-style evening in a great venue. Friday night is good if you’re a little shy, and Saturday is definitely the party night.

Come get the burlesque oo la la at spring's Frolic Lounge!

Will you look at that line up? Exceptional!!

Whether we like it or not, clothes are important: there has been passionate analysis of Michele Obama’s dress at the Democratic National Convention. More passionate analysis, comparing Obama to Romney. Republican women get compared to each other: the one on a lower budget is considered to have “done it right”.

Wellingtonians, interestingly, do not like politics mixed with their burlesque. At all. Is it because government is, for so many of us, our bread and butter? Perhaps this denial is required to have saucy nightlife in what is also a politically fuelled capital city.

Thank you very much! I'm here all week! Try the veal!

Diary of a Burlesque Emcee

Burlesque emcees are curiously cagey about their dark art. And…there’s something to that. Not least that emcees are often saving their voice, their persona, their best lines, for when they perform. For one post, I am drawing back the veil. Join me on a performance day and night!

They're Ed Hardy "Madrid" shoes.

Glorious orange sequined shoes. Like the sunrise, on my feet!

6:00 AM – It’s a Friday, and a show day.  I’m up and at ’em this early to redye my hair. While the dye sets, I spend some time with the run sheets for the show, reviewing performer introductions. Then, I read a bit of Clive James‘ autobiography, The North Face of Soho. This has some great tips for both performers and writers in it, and I recommend it highly.

7:30 – I tuck the run sheet into my show bag, which is already packed.  A new pair of glorious sequined heels, from two friends who just visited the USA, will be on trial. The show team is also planning a new in-between act that required some props, so I was busy with the glue gun last night.

8:30 – Guess who’s got a full work day followed by a show tonight? This gal. Ah, the glamor of being involved in burlesque in a medium-sized city!

Behind the cut: makeup, costuming, and the show itself…[Read more]

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Friday Follies: Zeitgeist Zelda

Yes, I’m emceeing another show coming up – Miss LaBelle’s House of Burlesque is bringing back Frolic Lounge. This is…sold out. And Miss LaBelle’s next round of classes is fully booked – I believe you can get on a wait list, and that the burlesque name “Zeitgeist Zelda” is still available.

Hubba hubba! Aaaa-oooo-ga!

Now that I have your attention with that hot pink graphic, go and devour Karen Finley’s poem Black Sheep, then read it aloud to the misfits you love.

Then, cheer yourselves up by giving each other makeovers! If ever a blog will change the way you put your outfits together, it is Inside Out Style Blog. Antipodeans, she’s based in Melbourne and doesn’t get too brand-name-y with her recommendations, making her more useful than many style blogs for those of us Down Under.

Style at MakerFaire – Parts 1 and 2 – women and men of all ages get their geek on.

Digital print fabrics have been impacting fashion over the past several years. Burda’s take on them is inspirational. And, yeah, yeah, mandatory Spoonflower link here. I think these will lead to a serious change in clothing over the next several years.

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Friday Follies: I’m Tired

Hotcha! Burlesque show alert! Caburlesque’s June show is Queen’s Birthday weekend, “A Night With Queen.” If you’re bored with “standard” burlesque, this show is for you, everybody is mixing it up. I’ll be there giving everyone a right royal emceeing-to and a few surprises.

Great post on the etiquette of asking your friends to help with overseas and online shopping.

Another post on when your friends are marketing to you, or you’re marketing to your friends. Hot topic for bloggers!

Lots of my friends are having babies or taking their professional lives to a new level. So for all of us, here’s a song! (Debbie, I promise I’m resting up before June 2nd.)

And finally, discussing with a friend that my Mother’s Day post ignored Mother’s Day for spicy reads, my friend said, “Ever So Scrumptious doesn’t strike me as maternal reading material.” I laughed, and pointed out that my friend is a mom and she was reading it. I’ll do a maternally oriented post a bit later on.

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Two Tasty Things: Burlesque Rocks and Cherry Bomb Brownies

This Friday, I’m emceeing the Burlesque Rocks show in Wellington!

Combining sexy burlesque with pulse-pounding rock music for a fresh show, the line up is fantastic:  Fanciforia Foxglove, Winnie Chester, The Deity Dollicious, Sarah Marie Summer, Volumptous Twinkle, Miss Kimberly Grace, and, all the way from Colorado in the USA, Vivienne VaVoom. Tickets available here!

Last night, I went to the delightful thirteenth birthday of Tuesday Night Dinner in Wellington. My contribution was brownies with a cream-cheese-and-cherry swirl baked into them.  “Do you have the recipe?” Why, yes, and here it is, entirely from scratch so you can make it anywhere in the world. Cherry Bomb brownies, behind the cut. [Read more]