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Friday Follies: Wrong and Right

DapperQ #9, Alison Graham. Hello, papi!

Is it just me or is Wellington currently suffering from a wrong-eyebrow epidemic?  I’m not very happy after my brows got overdone recently – save yourselves from my fate with  some advice.

Poppy King’s No.7 budget lipsticks: I have tried them and come to the conclusion that they are lipsticks for people who don’t usually wear lipstick. More like a moistening gloss with some color. So if you are looking for a lipstick that won’t overwhelm your visage, give these a try. I picked up a few ($10 each!) but I’ll be saving them for softer summer looks.

Turns out three or four of my friends are also redheads courtesy of henna. They’ve all got it down, but for novices, Things You Should Know Before Using Henna is very useful.

After all that wrongness, here’s a treat that’s so very right: The 100 Most Stylish DapperQs for 2014. You may never wear a skirt again.

Ladypockets is …. I think this is parody of those shrill celebrity-focused “GET THE LOOK” features? But I find myself wanting to pick up those hints for great lipsticks as worn by Hillary Clinton and Mary Beard’s “Let It Go” hair. Until I can decide, I’ll be hiding my mediocre brows behind some Joan Didon glasses, and reading the Ladypockets’ creator’s essay The World Doesn’t Need Any More Costume Designers. She is from Philadelphia, and is one more reason I love my Philly.

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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.


Five Things To Read Instead Of 50 Shades of Grey

At the Whitcoulls bookstore on Friday, I saw stacks and stacks of a new novel, piled up as high as I am tall: Fifty Shades of Grey. This ostensibly erotic novel is making lots of women foam at the mouth. Some are foaming at the mouth with enthusiasm and think its fantastic. Many feminists don’t like it because it’s about a woman reveling in kinky sex and submission. BDSM people don’t like it because it’s got no relationship to actual BDSM dynamics, or reality. The main problem with it seems to be that it’s just not well written. It’s been thoroughly slated by Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, a review site that understands that sometimes trashy books are a rest from the burdens of our high IQ’s, bless them. (In a quick flick through one of the sequels, the male protagonist lost me at “cable ties.”) Still, there it was, stacked as high as my head…

In discussing this with some of my friends, we were all shouting within five minutes, and one of us made an intelligent point. “I’m interested in BDSM and fetish and the like, I’m curious, but I have no experience and, this book is at least accessible. Reading this book seems like a safe option.”  So I thought I would recommend some great alternative steamy reads. They may be harder to get a hold of – they’re not stacked up in the front section of Whitcoull’s – but you’ll enjoy them.

From Fellini and Manara's Trip to Tulum.

From Fellini and Manara's Trip to Tulum.

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Ooops, was this your skirt?
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Producing A Burlesque Rainbow

Burlesque dancers at an LGBQT pride event. How cool would that be?

Holding that thought led me to produce a burlesque act for the first time.

Wellington, NZ’s Out in the Square LGBQT pride event wanted acts. Wellington’s burlesque community has lots of talented dancers.  As the producer, what did I do to bring them together? First, I  developed the concept for an act. Second, I contacted local dancers through a mailing list. Once we had dancers interested and available, I contacted the Out in the Square committee with our proposal. They wanted to know how long the act would be and what it would entail, and I was able to tell them.

To make the act relate to LGBQT pride, the concept was based on a human rainbow flag. We decided to have a pink dancer to fill out the rainbow, and found out later that pink used to be included in the rainbow flag, but was dropped when the  fabric became unavailable for producing rainbow pride flags!

Dress rehearsal with our Burlesque Rainbow

Dancers left to right: Salacious Sugar, Scarlett De’light, The Deity Dollicious, Penny Pins, Atomic Ruby, Winnie Chester, Fanciforia Foxglove, and Allegra Valentine

Back to production. Once the wheels were rolling, I did a lot of communicating about what would happen, when. For the act, I framed up base choreography and music concepts and sourced props. On the day, I picked up 32 helium balloons, and liased with Out in the Square to get the dancers  and music where they needed to be, when they needed to be there.

The support of local burlesque dance teacher Miss La Belle made all the difference – she hooked us up with rehearsal space, provided one of the music pieces (a perfect fruity 1950s instrumental) and helped us refine the choreography, along with all the dancers. Crystal Mischief edited the music together just right for us, and Honey Suckle helped with dancer wrangling and stepped out as the stage kitten. This involved retrieving the stage items for 8 dancers in front of a crowd of hundreds of strangers, outside! Thank you, ladies, it couldn’t have happened without you.

We kept the act modest, on the chorus-girl side of burlesque, to meet the event’s “family friendly” requirements. This last one may be why there isn’t more burlesque at LGBQT pride events in the USA that I can find – it seems more common at events in Europe, even in Asia.

Ooops, was this your skirt?

Note the midriff coverage, skirts and boas, and the colored stockings making the dancers more modest.

Before this, I had been to a burlesque event staged in daylight, and the effect was…cruel. Instead of dancers being overwhelmed by space and sky and daylight, I wanted them to interact with it. The solution was helium balloons, which turned the whole sky into part of the show.

You can't take the sky from me!

Very, very, VERY popular with the photographers.

On the day, we were blessed with the best possible weather – sunny or a bit overcast, with minimal breeze (almost unheard of in Wellington, but it happened.) The Out in the Square staff surrendered a dressing trailer to us, folded our music into the show, and courteously read out the names of each of the dancers. The act had the best possible reception, with a cheering crowd and the emcee calling the dancers out for an interview.

Getting interviewed

Salacious Sugar fields a spontaneous interview from an Out in the Square emcee.

Offstage, I was asked some questions…

Wait, what were you doing?

I started out as “the person who thought this would be a good idea”, and it was easier to say “producer,” despite the visions of Max Bialystock I associate with that word. In the end we had a 4 person production team for 8 dancers, and we had 2 long group rehearsals. I know the dancers practiced at home, too, on top of arranging their costumes. All this for a 4-and-a-half minute act.

I’ll buy that. Those dancers were amazing. Can I get them to dance at my event?

You sure can, the main contact is Miss La Belle, here.

Why weren’t *you* on stage?

Out in the Square had talented emcees aplenty. I may make my burlesque dance debut at some point, but this time around, the act came together well with the talent that stepped forwards – and either had the colored costumes available, or were willing to put them together. Costuming is a big issue for a troupe!

Were the dancers on TV?

Yes, they started the segment on TVNZ 1. Click here to view it – their part begins at about 12:44. Their beauty had a purpose, too: the rest of the segment used the Pride event to stage a discussion about school bullying of queer youth and queer rights in NZ. And maybe more people watched that segment than usual, because it began with a spectacle of dancing women?




Go Put On A Sweater

Some randomness, because I can do that: a sweater, “chilly climate” and feminism, and the guy I wish was my gay BFF.

That Cue leopard print - it's like this one - except with a dark brown background.Aussie boutique chain Cue has a just-right dark brown leopard print cardigan right now. On the sale racks, even! It’s one for the petites with its cropped length and 3/4 sleeves. Petite = person under 5’3″ or 160 cms tall. As a shorty – I mean, a “petite” – I find Cue’s clothes fit me reasonably well overall. If you’re taller, Ezibuy has some grey leopard items and this similar sweater (XS only left.)

On a related note, I never believe any compliment that comes from a sales person.  Just on general principle…

Most of my workplaces are techy and there’s a high ratio of men to women. Sometimes, as at my current place of employment, it’s fine. At other places, even without overt sexism or harassment, something felt off. Turns out there’s a name for it, the “chilly climate,” and everyone involved can change it.

Authorial enthusiasm this week is for the queer writer Edmund White. His painful honesty – is it humility or humiliation? Something has haunted his eyes in every portrait of him, throughout his life. For an introduction to him, I recommend his autobiographical City Boy, about living and adventuring in NYC in the 70s. Then there’s his excellent, raw My Lives.  One of the more easily digestible chapters, My Women, describes the gay-man-as-woman’s-best-friend situation from the gay man’s side.