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Friday Follies: Some Gems for You

MulticoloredsapphiresA literary recommendation: this substantial essay by writer Ellis Avery, The Sapphire and the Tooth. It’s a short, heart-opening read about difficult family, survival, and selling jewelry in the Diamond District of New York City. Many of you will also love her novel The Last Nude, set in the jaded milieu of 1920s Paris, packed with lush dressmaking, transgressive romance, and the paintings of Tamara de Lempicka.

Two sites to sell your jewelry, or find a gemological bargain: Loupe Troop and Diamond Bistro. Both of these sites are linked to large jewelry discussion boards, so the quality and vendor reliability is far higher than eBay.

What is the future of blogging? Especially for blogs in the feminine sphere? Short version: to make money, grab your camera and hit Instagram: to express yourself, relax and do what you like.

Winter is burlesque season! Bundle up in your retro finest and come out to the cabaret. I’ve got a busy burlesque schedule as an emcee – do come out to Caburlesque: A Trip Through Time for a classic show and to DIY BurlesKiwi in June, a hilarious competition that focuses on burlesque creativity on a budget.

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Congratulations – Dirty Martini Ticket Winner!

Miss Dirty Martini, photographed enjoying the NYC nightlife by David Shankbone, reused via Creative Commons.

Miss Dirty Martini, photographed enjoying the NYC nightlife by David Shankbone, reused via Creative Commons.

Thank you to all our commentors here…our ticket draw winner is JEPHA! A reminder that tickets for the main event are on sale at Eventfinder and that you can also sign up for a meet and greet or one-on-one classes.

Now, another important question: what are you going to wear to the cabaret? It’s been a while since I got the camera out for a burlesque-attendee style blog post, so I’ll bring it along to Cabaret Royale to chronicle how gorgeous we all are. For some sartorial inspiration check out:


Ticket Giveaway: Dirty Martini in Wellington, NZ!!!

IMG_17959Burlesque legend Dirty Martini will be performing in Wellington on April 26th. Based in New York, Dirty Martini is a voluptuous vision, a talented artist, and the journey of burlesque wrapped up in one amazing woman. She has been Miss Exotic World 2004 – shared the stage with Dita von Teese in Strip Strip Hooray – and modeled for Karl Lagerfield and Vogue magazine. Three great interviews with her: Time Out New York and Citizen Brooklyn and 21st Century Burlesque.

Dirty Martini’s main performance in Auckland is sold out. But she is participating in several events in Wellington: a brunch meet and greet, burlesque classes, and the Cabaret Royale on the 26th. And I have two tickets to Cabaret Royale to give away!

To be in to win, comment below with why Dirty Martini inspires you. You need to be in Wellington, NZ on the night of the show, April 26th, to be eligible to win. Winner will be chosen at noon by random selection on Monday the 13th NZ time!

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Friday Follies: Only the Best for You

Two don’t-miss events for this weekend and next weekend: the Wellington Orchid Society Show is on at The Dowse art museum. A mere $2 opens the doors to a botanical wonderland, including cultivated New Zealand native orchids and a plant sale to die for.

Next weekend, on Friday the 17th, get ready to Charleston at the down-low delicious Black Rabbit Speakeasy. Assembled by some of Wellington’s cabaret finest, this is: “Our very own, one-night-only, custom-built speakeasy and dance hall. We’ve taken everything that made the the 1920’s twinkle and roar, and bound it with contemporary prohibition and the lasting need to party. ” Tickets are $20, a bargain considering the lineup.

There’s a new made to measure clothier in Wellington, Velvet Cherry. Full disclosure: I helped with her website and some catalog/portfolio photos, which meant I got to look at her steampunk, lolita, and Victorian garments from the inside out. And I was impressed. She does wonderful formal and occasion wear, costumes, AND fuller-than-usual-but-not-full-out-crinoline petticoats that are ideal under pinup dresses. She focuses on natural fabrics and excellent finishes.

Slider-Victorian2And finally our Jo Malone giveaway winner, chosen by random draw, is….Chrissi! Chrissi, I am getting in touch with you.

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Where I’ve Been

Happy Spring Equinox! What did I do in the second part of winter? I was…

…exploring the deliciously austere and windswept Palliser Bay with my fiancée…

WinterCapePalliser…emceeing two great shows in August (look, I got memed!)…

…helping out with a wonderful event, Glory Days’ Winter Vintage Fair

WinterVintage…and surviving a busy period at Ye Day Jobbe while doing a surprising amount of web freelance work. WordPress, SEO, online advertising, and content. Here’s a preview image from a freelance site in progress.

Skirt-BlackBlackRuffle-FullSmileThis lovely lady is modeling a spiral-ruffle circle skirt from Velvet Cherry on upper Cuba Street. If you like steampunk, lolita, gothic, or pinup, Velvet Cherry is ready to outfit you.

The last thing I was doing was getting my fitness back after a more-unwell-than-I-thought period in May. I have also learned that, if you’re in New Zealand, you should eat two Brazil nuts a day. Just two, to supplement your selenium. I stumbled upon doing this while following these nutritional guidelines here with the aid of a mixed bag of nuts, and now I have MUCH more energy.

I’ve got several beauty and burlesque events coming up that I’ll chronicle for you soon, including a very unique fragrance event from last weekend.


Miss Burlesque Is Magic

In 2010, I did something that would, all unknowing, change my life – I went to the Miss Burlesque NZ competition. Seeing the fun, creativity, and femininity, the fire of burleque was lit in my bosom – I, too, yearned to be on the spangled stage, Doing That. I was only distracted by a dapper man I saw across the crowded room at the event,  standing with the hepcat swing-dancing contingent. Why aren’t I with him? I thought, with fleeting sorrow.

Five months later I was floundering through burlesque dance classes and realizing that my 90s club-kid experiences might, unbelievably, be useful in a new sphere.  A year later, I had emceed my first burlesque show. And a year and a half later, I reconnected with that man in the audience, and…we had our engagement party last week.

Now, in a glorious full circle, I am one of the emcees of the 2014 Miss and Mr. Burlesque NZ competition! It’s the fifth annivery of the competition this year, and I have a ticket to give away – leave a comment to be randomly selected as the winner! The winner will be announced on Friday. You can also buy more tickets to Miss and Mr. Burlesque NZ 2014.

And if you, too, want to take some first steps onto the stage, there are classes available with burlesque star Sina King over the competition weekend. As my experiences show, you never know what will happen!





How’d That Work Out For Me? 2013 In Review

Burlesque – There isn’t much dialogue about people doing less burlesque. Rising stars scream as they enter the atmosphere, then they fall away into ashes with a whisper. I’ve seen burlesque starlets change tack because of children, careers, shifting into modeling, and simply the sense of having achieved their burlesque goals. I did less than last year and that’s OK, what with a major project at work, travel, and other things. Speaking of which…

Engaged – Starry-eyed canoodling and going around saying “It does feel different and it’s really nice”- most excellent. People’s hunger for wedding planning – when the wedding isn’t for at least 2.5 years, maybe 3 – somewhat baffling? But it seems necessary for the psychological satisfaction of others? I’ll just handle this carefully, shall I?

Travel – Both my partner and I spent significant amounts of the year in transit – he had an academic fellowship 3 hours away until July, and I was in the US for May in its near entirety. He had a great experience and has co-authored a paper, but dealing with the work and change took lots of energy from both of us. My trip was fabulous, but it also tore my heart up, in several different ways. Mom…Philly…the friends I have had for the longest time…it all came together when, after visiting the Big Blue Marble bookstore, I sat at a train station in the rain and read Alison Bechdel’s Are You My Mother, shedding tears until my SEPTA ride appeared. And then there was BMC reunion, and visiting an old friend in LA. Visiting Oamaru in November was an unadulterated series of gentle pleasures, in contrast.

With 2013’s experiences laying a foundation, and sniffing the wind for overall trends in society – I feel that we are finally emerging from the shock of 9/11 to start the future – next year is going to have a lot more changes. I’m not sure exactly what. Which is exciting and frightening.

Best non-fashion $100 I spent: Joining Intervac, an international home swap site. I was offered swaps outside Edinburgh, Scotland; Stockholm, Sweden; and Bristol in the UK, and I received hospitality in Philadelphia and gave more hospitality to some visiting Scots. I joined them because they had a good NZ and US presence – there are other sites that focus more on Europe or Australia.

To amuse you, here are the top five best fashion items I spent money on this past year:

And here are my top five fashion fails:

  • Chartreuse pencil skirt. It’s marvelous. Such a wonderful pear-green color and a luscious ponte fabric. It just doesn’t work on me, no matter what I do.
  • I keep meaning to buy fresh tights and some knee-highs, and not doing it.
  • There was a sizing issue with a Trashy Diva dress. Grumble. Kudos to Trashy Diva for including the exchanged item shipping with Round II of the dress.
  • My attempts to be one of those people who switch handbags are awkward at best and I should stick with Handbag Prime.
  • I had an award to present at a ceremony in front of all of my professional colleagues. The afternoon of the ceremony, one professional hairdresser (not my usual one) made such a hash of trying to give me retro curls that I had to go to another professional hairdresser for an updo as a fix. The updo was OK, but the photos from the event -which will live forever online – show that it’s not my best look.

 What’s happening next year?

  • More Burlesque – The Rainbow Troupe will be back at Out in the Square on January 18th, and I am emceeing a very special Kiwiana Caburlesque show at The Fringe Bar in early February. It’s going to be sweet as!
  • Fragrance Event! – For Wellington perfumistas, Ever So Scrumptious is going to arrange a shopping morning and a perfume-and-accessories swap afternoon. Stay tuned for more details and please get in touch if you are interested.
  • Aussie Aussie Aussie – Looks like I’ll be in Australia twice next year.
  • More Blogging – Is blogging dead? That’s not what my site analytics say! So more burblings here, and I will happily and patiently keep answering vintage fur questions, which keep coming in. Now that people are sorting out what Pinterest and Instagram and Tumblr are finally for, I will re-examine them, too.

Kia kaha and have a beautiful new year everyone! I’m going to go paint my toenails gold in the sun.

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Friday Follies: Weekend of Burlesque Splendor

October 3 – 6 is a weekend of burlesque splendor here in Wellington as we host the NZ Burlesque Festival. Two nights of performances, a sparkly burlesque market on Saturday, three days of workshops, and a chance to meet the luminaries of NZ and international burlesque at a cocktail evening on Sunday.

Click to buy tickets to the festival itself!

I’m giving the very first workshop at the festival, too. And you’re invited. Get Your Booty Online! Web Presence 101 for Burlesque Performers with Sadie Von Scrumptious (Wellington) If you’re taking your performance on the road, you NEED a great web presence. This one-hour workshop is an investment in your performer future. You’ll learn how to develop a web presence, how to make Google love you, how much web hosting and web site development cost, the pros and cons of “free” web sites, and how to promote and protect your photos and online reputation. We’ll even talk about how you can make money from your online presence.

Then, the next day, I’m going to Lola Von Ella’s hosting workshop. Is there some law that all burlesque hosts must have a “von” in their stage name? I originally did it as a nod to my Prussian stepmother. It seemed like a good idea in 2010.

That weekend, Wellington’s Underground Market is also on, a hop and skip away from the burlesque market, and the Vintage Bazaar is on in Newtown, 22 Emmet Street, St. Anne’s Hall. The finishing touch is that World of Wearable Arts is on and many stores have wearable art window displays and fresh specials, just to make being a flaneur extra fun.

Can that weekend get ANY better? Yes. I recently won a pin-up mini-shoot with Photography by Sharyn, and I’ll be doing that on October 6th. I’ll be taking the chance to immortalize one of my insane fan-lacing vintage girdles. Looking forwards to it all!

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Springtime for Burlesque

On Saturday, August 3rd, I’m emceeing the Caburlesque Stage and Screen Bonanza, made extra exciting with the performer Bettsy Rose Lee from “Glamilton”. That’s next week – tickets are available here.

And on Friday, August 23rd, I’ll be back in Martinborough for Le Cabaret at Pinocchio Martinborough. Last time featured a packed house enjoying delicious food, sparkling drinks, ravishing performers, and fantastic back-and-forth with the playful audience. Book directly through Pinocchio – they sold out last time.

Cabaret L’Amour on Friday the 16th sounds splendid as well – Ewen Gilmour? The Fallopian Tunes? Burlesque classes are springing back to life, too. Not only is the House of Burlesque in Wellington starting its classes again, Courteney L’Amour is teaching a series of burlesque fitness classes in both Wellington central AND Lower Hutt – email her for information.

After these events, burlesque is taking a little break until October in Wellington, where it will burst into bloom with the NZ Burlesque Festival.

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Friday Follies: Reviving After Travel

At last, I’m back, after wrapping up my trip, followed by two weeks of jet lag and Extreme Busyness. Some of what’s going on is very good, and some of it has made me very sad, and there’ll be posts about that later. In the meantime: burlesque!

I emceed a fantastic little show in Martinborough, and I’m emceeing Frolic Lounge this weekend. I’ll also be extending some hospitality to a visiting performer next week – if you’d like to see her, check out The Burlesque Assassins.


It’s the Winter Solstice here, with a hey, ho, the wind and the rain. But it’s a great moment to go back to our roots…here are 8 tips for developing personal style for us quirky types.

After my trip, my feet were beat. I was walking four to eight hours a day, sometimes in 95 degree heat. I had blisters on my blisters! This great advice on preventing and treating blisters applies to both long hikes and high heels. Thanks to moleskin, I could still keep going, albeit with frequent gimpy breaks.

Also: jewelry and taxidermy. TOGETHER AT LAST. Oh yusss.

Amy Shutt photograph of Digby and Iona ring on a taxidermy quail.