Friday, December 8, 2017

Just me

It's stinkin' hot here right now. Around 28-30 degrees and a bit humid. So on my all too rare visit to the hair dressers on Tuesday (trim and deep conditioning), Martin used cold water to wash my hair. It was heavenly! Then he blew it dry and put some GHD curls in for fun. I took this selfie on the street afterwards. I should have gotten one with him!
Because I didn't, this is my darling hairdresser, friend and fellow drag queen, Martin/ Harlie Lux. Current holder of our city's Drag Artist supreme title - Mx Capital Drag. Apart from being one of the kindest and most talented people I know, I love how totally different Martin and Harlie look. But also, neither of them will ever smile for a photo but rarely stop smiling in real life!
We also share a passion for synthetic hair, and talk incessantly about it while he is doing my real hair. This tickles me.
Martin (left) and Harlie Lux (right)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The lure of faster fashion

I just had an insight. I am not a conscious consumer, I am a previously starved consumer. A consumer for whom there was nothing to consume, therefore I did not consume it, therefore I am "conscious."


As a lifetime fattie, I've mostly been ahead of the size range game. The availability of clothes that fitted was pretty dire, and clothes I would wear? Next to nothing. As a teen my only items of RTW apart from unders, were my school shirts (men's ones bought at op shops) and my dad's old suit jacket, which I loved. The eclectic collection that comprised my wardrobe was no more attainable in a womenswear shop in New Zealand than a handful of magic beans.
Over the years in between, more fashion in my size range has appeared, but its at one end uniformly depressing quality, cut and fondness for cheap synthetics, or at the other end loose cut and lovely fabrics but scary prices, kept my engagement very low and picky.
So, here we are in the 2010s, and I have been on a quest to own only A Few Good Things for most of it. And feeling a tad superior about it too I am ashamed to say.

Last night I performed the cross seasonal ritual of taking my most wintry clothes out of the wardrobe and packing them in flat containers that live under the bed, while hauling out sundresses and other summer fare to hang up. I have three feet of hanging space only so this really is necessary even with A Few Good Things. But this year I have noticed that my three feet is feeling a bit pinched. My wardrobe appears to have been packing on the pounds. And I have only sewn costumes for Constance (kept elsewhere) and done mending. So where did all the extra stuff come from???

Oh hai, City Chic.

City Chic (CC) is my Achilles heel. A ready to wear shop that has many flaws, such as having no colour sense whatsoever and an uncanny fondness for polyester. But it also acknowledges that women love a fit and flare silhouette, a peplum top, a maxi dress, and an interesting jacket cut.

It started with Constance - I was given a converted CC cocktail dress and it looked so good on me, I sought out the shop to see what else they had in that cut. QUITE a bit let me tell you. A good half of  Constance's wardrobe staples come from there. But then I started noticing real girl clothes, trying them on and getting interested. And then when I landed an office job again, I went a bit mad.
So yes, I am off my high horse. Of course if you can't find anything that you like and fit, it's easy not to buy anything.

I am really incredibly grateful to have had a body that bucks the RTW trend for most of my life, otherwise I would never have had the motivation to sew, I would never have formed a sense of style that was initially more about making a point about being different than anything else, but allowed me to learn to draft and drape and learn how to make the shapes I wanted to wear.

But it won't get me to Heaven any faster. Not when I keep prowling the online site Sale section, and buy things because they are marginally ok, instead of exactly what I wanted.
You may let out your breath now -having rumbled myself doing this, I am stopping.
Here's a collage of Constance in costumes that started life as City Chic buys. They've all been embellished in some way, except the devore corset cover. Which ripped at the seams on first wearing. More reason not to buy fast fashion tat!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Having Another Go at The Witches -Updated!

I just added Agnes nitt! See below!

Over three years ago, I had a go at casting the three witches from Terry Pratchett's DiskWorld books.
A couple nights back, I was thinking on it again, and decided to have another go with a younger set of actors.
First up, Granny Weatherwax. She is described as being ridiculously handsome with not a single wart no matter how hard she tried. She's all attitude. These three actresses are so good! In order: Geraldine James, Juliet Stevenson and Hermione Norris.

They all have The Voice, and The Presence. Hermione and Juliet have pretty noses which is not quite how Granny is described, but they have gimlet stares, which goes a long way!

For Nanny Ogg, I am going with the bleeding obvious. She may have got all svelte in her older years, but there's always padding. She has that wicked jolly sense of humour which matters the most:
Yup, that's our Dawn!
Last but not least, Magrat. She really is my favourite and the one I secretly have to fess up to being the most like. I want to be more like the others but her earnest sense of insecurity and flailing attempts to take control of her life that occasionally pay off are highly relatable!
Laura Howard, best known to us all as Cully Barnaby from Midsomer Murders. I often think Cully is a lot like Magrat, a late bloomer who is searching for something. A winsome vulnerability. I can see it. 
REALLY last and most definitely not least, Agnes, whom Jen reminded me of. As soon as she said that name, I knew. She played Jules in a weird sitcom called Mountain Goats and is IMHO perfect. I don't know if she can sing, but that's easily sorted hehe. Sharon Rooney.

Are you a fan? Do you indulge in this dream casting?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Mary Poppins rides again.

Now I know that green eyeshadow, glitter and pink lipstick are far from the usual Mary Poppins look but Drag Mary is a different story! Also I climbed out of this costume into others.
You can't see it but I nailed the fake eye crease look finally. It's where you draw a new crease above the natural one and it's used on stage to make one's eyes look bigger.
Makeup is such an odd thing. I personally have very little time for it and my only concession is lipstick. The whole idea of painting on a face every day just to go to work, or out to dinner, bored me, it's a tedious chore. But using it to do crazy things like moving my eyebrows up, contouring etc for a character - that is interesting to me. I don't aspire to look beautiful or sexy, but to look like Constance, who is neither - like clown makeup.
Hey ho!

Friday, September 22, 2017

Actual fabric and sewing! Well, eventually!

Well today for the first time in ages, I went fabric shopping for ME. this means, no sequins, no metallic. Oh my word, what a surreal experience!
The Fabric Store, aka GlobalThatWas (GTW) (because really, it's a difficult name otherwise) was my destination. Because, they advertised 18 Liberty prints for $18m.
Now I don't know if you're studying my tasted in fabric that much, because, well, stalking, but I love the Liberty prints that are hard core pre-WW2 in their vibe. I love most of the actual fabrics - tana lawn, baby cord, Lantana etc. So, I get excited to the point of needing a slap over about 5% of the offering, and that's fine with me. Nobody wants to all like the same things, amiright?
This wee moment of absolute indulgence yielded three purchases:

1. Silk chiffon in the warm colourway of Alma. This is my all time favourite Liberty print - I have an entire dress in the Tana Lawn version. So I bought a half metre to make a floaty scarf to tie back me hair. This intense matchy matchy thing really appeals to me! I bought a length of the Lantana wool/cotton blend in the softeer colourway of this print a while ago that it will also look delish with.

2. 2.5m of baby cord in this amazing Bloomsbury vibe print in a range of colours that just scream, "Wear me with Denim!" It's a perfect weight for the spring weather, or the autumn weather because it may take me that long to make it Erk.

3. This Tana Lawn called Karm A, was what I went in to look at. It's quite green, and I love green more than it loves me, but I had to have it. Because Paisley!!!
My photo was so meh, here's the photo from their website. OH MY GOSH!
I bought 5m because I had a plan to also make something for Jack, who considers paisley to be his favourite colour. But after today, I am not so sure; this is why:
I texted in fun to say I was leaving the office*, going to GTW, and if I wasn't at the shop in 30 minutes, to stage an intervention (he was working at the shop) Well, it took a bit of time to get there and honestly I hadn't been there very long when their phone rang. The lass who answered it seemed a bit confused, but I realised soon the call was about me. I saw her writing something on a piece of paper, clearly under instruction, and handed it to me. One word, INTERVENTION! cheeky monkey.
His paisley privileges have been temporarily withdrawn. No doubt I will relent though. If only for the embarrassment factor of being dressed alike!. ;-)

*People I have a day job now. I am dipping my toe back into corporate life again. Only part time for now, and it's working very well - the shop doesn't need me full time thanks to awesome staff, and it's good to have Options.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

My August!

 I'm starting at the most recent and working backward. Last Sunday we had a photo shoot for our Time Travel Cabaret air raid shelter show in November. I am utterly stuffed to the gill with pride that my baby sister is joining us FINALLY. She sings like a dream and has so much stage presence. I've dug her out of suburban family contentment. She's not unhappy about it. Here we are in full quasi 1944 gear.
Here's the whole crew. We've not got the proper pics back yet, so it's selfies for now. 

Since my last post, I've started a 25 hour a week IT contract on top of the shop, so I am using my time with more...determination? I feel a little squeezed in, like my life is wearing shapewear. It's not terrible, but it is slowing down my blog reading and writing. Bah
AND, I have acquired my first ever knee high boots! Look! They fit my huge calves. Bliss! They were a swap.
AND, I attended the New Zealand Burlesque Festival. What an incredible experience that was. If I was a different person I would have five posts full of photos to show you all how incredible it all was. Set in the little village of Devonport on Auckland's North Shore, we had an amazing time of it. But I am terrible at photos and so you'll have to take my word for it. Here's a couple of shots of me on stage at the Saturday Spectacular Tease show
 Doing despicable things to my hookah
A close up dressing room selfie that shows my Mad Hatter makeup better. My most fun face to do!
The curtain call. Son Jack is the lithe figure in black at the right end. I am fourth right along the back, just where the black panel finishes. I still had my weird makeup on. 

Sunday started with a brunch at which the national Golden Garters Awards are handed out. These are by voting only, and I was totally blown away to be nominated for two - Favourite MC, and Faovourite non-Strip Tease Act with Clever for our Foodtard Song. Hans (Clever Hansel) couldn't come to the Festival so I took along his photo - seen here propped against my water glass at the brunch table. SoundBitch and Sharne are deep in talk - probably about life with a ponytail and black T-shirt aesthetic lol. 
 Well, the upshot was that I won Favourite MC, and here is my very gold award on the Wall of Amazing Things in my living room. Foodtard lost out to the act I voted for so I was stoked about that! it involves synchronised swimmers, a pole and Bolero. It is AMAZING.
This award means a lot to me as I am a tireless campaigner for Emcees who are entertaining but also respectful and do not take over a show. I must say the Emcee for our show, Miss La Vida, was FANTASTIC and hopefully will appear on the finalist list next year.
So that's me for now. I am tired, sore, contented, stressed, honoured, busy, challenged. Many more less readworthy things are happening and I may touch upon them if I get to post more often.
Thank you for reading dear ones xo

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Fit to write again!

Hello, where has a month gone? Spent walking carefully and trying not to bend over because it hurts! And not being able to sleep for long in any one position.
However I am almost normal again. I've been to Christchurch to entertain the good people of TechCommNZ, I've done a workshop on stage makeup, worked in the shop, got a chest infection for which I am currently popping A.B.s, and new things are afoot! Afoot I say!
In the meantime, here's a video from our Time Travel Cabaret 1970s show in July. Our fabulous videographer Andrew (affectionately known as SoundBitch) has been so busy, it took longer than usual to get the final edits. He's our hero!
Speaking of heroes, this video is of my dear friend and fellow Pinot sister Debbie as her alter ego Anglebert Humpermink! Such a surprise!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Tumbling, tumbling, tumbling down...

This was me last night, only more sack of spuds faceplanting than graceful swoon. Plus our stairs are not so grand.
The culprit is this dress:

It was long back then when I made it and it is even longer now, making it a trip hazard. I was wearing suede boots and I think the knit fabric gripped my boot and the combo tripped me up.
I am very sore but very lucky- my left leg and left ribs fared the worst of all of me, but nothing is cracked or broken and I will survive!
My first sewing job when I can sit at the machine again will be lopping four inches off the hem of this dress. It is super duper warm being made of merino sweatshirt fabric so I've been wearing it all the time, pretty much taking it off to wash and dry then putting it on again!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

When my E string broke!

Hello my darlings! Clever Hansel and I entertained the crowd at the Duos DIY Burleskiwi with the Foodtard Song. Things got a bit complicated when the evil $20 op shop guitar busted a string and we abandoned it. Here's the video:

On the subject of the Evil Guitar, I had so much stuff to take home I left it at the Fringe Bar overnight, and it disappeared. Now why anyone would nick it when there were other guitars there is beyond me. My theory is that it absorbed into the stage area overnight, as the following night, so many things went wrong!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Do It Yourself!

It's nearly 5am, my nose is stuffed up again - my second go-round of cold in three weeks. It's not surprising though after a big weekend with three gigs in three days.
Friday and Saturday were a culmination of nearly a year's work by Debbie and I - we are The Pinot Sisters, Gris and Noir, and The Great DIY Burleskiwi is the annual event we produce, along with the bi-monthly Time Travel Cabaret.
Friday night was the Duos show - I love the dynamics of two performers on stage together! Saturday night was the Solos show.
Contestants are allowed a very small budget - $100 for solos and $175 for Duos. They can borrow one item, use one existing item, but otherwise from the skin out, that's it! It has to include shoes, underwear, overwear, head pieces, the works! The winner gets a sash in great DIY kiwi fashion, this time it was made from a Swan-dri, and a crown made from #8 fencing wire. It is such a clever idea and I was chuffed that Debbie asked me to co-produce it this year, as well as Emcee.
Debbie and I with Solos winner, Pixie Twist from Glamilton. Pixie and her partner Mr B Frank won the Duos as well, as Frank N Twist. They are a fantastic stage act!

Nonsense to What's New Pussycat

I love this photo - I look like some kind of crested pink poultry! 
On Sunday afternoon I sang at a fundraiser for Outerspaces, an organisation devoted to supporting LGBTQI+ youth, held in honour of V Burns, a much loved and missed lady who devoted her life to supporting the community, and who passed away later that same day. It was a beautiful event, hundreds of people come together to celebrate life, cry, laugh, and remember her indomitable spirit. RIP you beautiful diamond.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Women in my Living Room

I love collecting pieces of Art that represent and celebrate women in all their diversity. In my home I get to filter out all the depressing cookie cutter imagery we are usually bombarded with -curating for women that inspire me, and that I get to relate to. And I will keep building my collection too.
Here are some examples from my living room.

This is  Christmas card my darling friend Adele sent me a couple of years ago. I had it framed. It says everything about us both that we love! (we both adore fruitcake too)

I've owned this limited edition casting for nearly 20 years. I love that she is an angel, she is shapely but powerful and has SO much attitude!
I have such a soft spot for Our Lady. I deliberately ignore all the tosh that is talked about her. I see her as an enduring image of the female aspect of God. And I love the art that is made of her, especially in Mexico. This lamp delights me and lights me. And I did make it. It's not wonky, it's just the photo.
This painting is really big - about 55x65cm. I bought it off the wall at a cafe in Christchurch - the artist's work didn't really light me up but this painting was different. I adore the richness of colour, the light, her voluptuousness. The frame really set it off.
I found out soon after that it was a copy of this painting by Tamara de Lempicka, of her lover - the Beautiful Rafaela. I actually love my version better, for its deep colours and more accentuated voluptuousness.
There are no idealised beauties in my home that I cannot relate to!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

An Amazing Royal Find

Who remembers Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding on 29 July 1981? Who was alive then! I was a teenager at High School and remember vividly watching the Royal Wedding. I really disliked Di's dress - not in style but in the way it was made and its proportions. So I immediately made a replica for my biggest doll, that went on display in a local craft shop.
We (the shop) were given a bag of old knitting patterns recently, and when Karyn dived in to raid it, she found this magazine:
It has a knitting pattern for a Sindy wedding dress in it, of course at this stage the dress was still under wraps - so the cover art was quite impressive in its likeness to the actual neckline.
It's in fantastic condition, and I wonder if it has any value?
So far the best value has come from me posting it on Made Marion's Facebook page, and the stories  that have come out - my favourite being of the crowds stuck in London that night as the Tube closed early, who stayed the night in the foyers of the various stations. It must have been really annoying at the time and even scary, but a great yarn!

Monday, May 22, 2017

47 pairs of warm Pyjamas!

Sung to the tune of 47 Ginger Headed Sailors! Which is a very silly song Bertie Wooster sings in the famous TV series. Video clip below.
ANYWAY, local charity Foster Hope put a call out for winter pyjamas for children being placed in foster care. Any excuse for some selfless sewing, the Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network members jump to it!
Laura and I staged a flannel raid at the local Voldemart, which was the cheapest option for good quality flannel, and bought as much as we could on our budget of donated coupons and cash. I reckoned we were going to get 25 pairs out which seemed pretty impressive!
These are all but one of the fabrics we bought. It was tricky as we wanted to get gender neutral options, but they were few and far between, whereas some of the girlier ones were on super special, so we probably ended up with more pretty ones than plain. Oh well. (the plain flannel was rubbish quality compared with the prints - what is that all about?) We (Made Marion Craft) contributed the only two flannels I had in stock - the grey with pink butterflies and the second from right top row.
On Thursday I put three loads of flannel through the wash, and dried it and pressed them dry over the next couple of nights. All 40+m of it.
I actually thought I had killed my iron at one point, and bought a new one, but it was the plug. BUT I love my new Tefal iron so all good!
ANYWAY, on Sunday a group of us gathered together to cut out, eat scones and laugh.
Left to right, Laura, Kirsten and Me. Gemma was taking the pic. Aly had been and gone with a stack to sew. I swear I did more than just eat scones ;-)

And I guess I've given the game away - we managed to get 47 pairs of pyjama bottoms out of our haul! Now we have to solve the tops problem. Knit tops, warm enough for winter with good coverage. Sourcing enough knit fabric of the right type and weight is going to be interesting!
Happy Days!

Monday, May 8, 2017


Now folks here's the story of Constance the Moocher!
We did our show and it was fun! I found just the right jacket at City Chic, because tailoring jackets is not my bag for a costume. I made the trousers and the corset I embellished. The rad pink sequin trim that looks a bit like film was $1m. Cheapest costume I ever made!
 Three rows of the trim on the lapels.
 I trimmed the already pink corset with rows of the sequin
 Side trim for trousers, which are super wide, in keeping with the era but also my shape! I am not made for fitting trousers!
 The back wall of the stage area we decorated with clocks of all sizes.
It was strange using a hand held microphone, I usually have a head mike but it was feeding back everywhere so we ditched it. I felt very off not being able to wave both my arms around all the time!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Photos can make you look different!

This is me! It blows my mind! I am sitting on a chair backward, leaning forward, wearing a top hat. Sort of a la Marlene Dietrich. Because, you know, we're so alike hehe.
Sunday past, we did a photo shoot for our 1930s themed cabaret on 6 May and this was one of them.
L-R: Mz Twinkle aka Debbie, Me, Pip, Andrew, Dahlia Dangerous aka Stacey
Group shot. Sadly our two lovely boys couldn't make it to the photo session, but Andrew our inseparably important tech support and husband of Debbie, got scrubbed up to help out. He is very much an integral part of all of our shows so he deserves to be in the cast pic.
The upshot of all this is that we had so much fun! I get bored really fast in photo shoots because I get tired of being snapped, to be honest. But a group shoot is awesome because we had a laugh and we all got a break.
If you are in Wellington NZ and fancy a trip back in time, the show is on at S&Ms, 8pm 6 May, bookings on Eventfinda. xo

Friday, April 21, 2017

Cake for a Fifth Birthday

On 1 April, I turned 52 and my favourite show, Caburlesqe, turned 5. So we had a HUGE cake.
I love making tall cakes - they are so impressive but really not too hard to do. Time consuming yes. Difficult, not so much. The trick is to know your strengths and stick to 'em.
The cake, enough to feed the whole audience and provide cake for a bunch of lunchboxes for a week.
The little frames are made in white chocolate from a silicon mold then brushed with gold lustre dust. The images in them were printed onto an edible sheet by an Auckland company. A trim and a lick of tylose glue and they were all done.
I tried to create an imprinted velvet look by brushing red lustre dust through a rococco type of stencil onto the red fondant but it is a bit subtle! The bottom tier I sprayed with edible gold paint. I love that stuff.
Sadie von Scrumptious and I are the cake fairies - it was Sadie aka Emily, who got married last August. We share Emcee duties and it is rare for us both to be on stage together ad we had a pile of fun!
I got ambushed! Debbie our producer seen here planting one on my cheek, presented me with flowers! Such a lovely birthday surprise <3 p="">
Currently I am feeling the early stages of the nasty cold making its way around the city. Erg. So, it's vitamin C and rest for me. Wish me luck; I don't fancy a winter like last year again.
Mind you, the new shop is warmer and drier than the old one was and maybe I will shake it off!


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Good Friday Catch Up!

Ah, Easter is upon us. I've been rather busy for the past however-many weeks, with new staff, new projects and chasing up evidence of past ones to share.
Finally, a result! Remember in February I had a show in the NZ Fringe Festival with my delightful friend Hans - it seems an eternity ago now. But finally I've had time to go over the videos of each night, choose the one I like best and start uploading them to YouTube. as you dotube.
Our show is Clever and Constance Sing Songs for Grownups. It is thus titled because we sing about things that young people don't really have to deal with.
Of all the songs we butchered in the show, this one is the one everyone keeps talking about. It is very long, but there's a reason for that. The actual song starts about 2:50.
Apologies to my overseas readers, as my accent can sound rather like a chicken clucking I feel. Happily the singing is a bit easier to follow!
If you enjoy this and want to see more, follow the video to YouTube - this song is in a playlist of other songs from the show.
More on weddings and other things soon xo

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The finish line is in sight!

Goodness me the endurance race that has been my February is close to the finishing line!
Songs for Grown Ups closed last night - it was the best fun! Our second venue was a small downstairs club seating about 50 people and it felt just right for what we do.
Costumes hung away, wigs and makeup stowed, sales tallied and initial post show reflections begun.
We have video being edited, but not photos.
Except a couple of selfies! From left to right: Gertrude aka Penny, our dour and terrifying stage manager/care giver. Penny is a smiler and it was an act of supreme self control to maintain a poker face! Constance in her new robe, revealing all her chins. Peeking in at right is Clever Hansel. We all look like our characters!
So, that complete, I've spent today organising everything I need to do in order to drive to Auckland tomorrow! It's an 8-10 hour drive so I am wanting to get going earlyish.  Our Sarah gets married on the 4th and I am part of the "week before pit crew"!
The sewing machine, steamer as well as all the usual stuff one needs for a week away are pretty much under control. NOT under control is the Stepmother of the bride outfit. It is mostly finished in a bag - I have some sewing tasks to do up there so I can finish it then. My attempts to make an orange lace bolero were stymied by me being an EEJIT (more later) so at my Kat's suggestion I dyed one I already own orange, then will overdye it red later. Nobody needs two orange lace boleros.
But today I did fit in some retail therapy. I rarely buy RTW, but I wanted a back up shrug option, and found a black chiffon one at City Chic which could be useful. Also making it into the bag are a leopard skin dress, a fetching halter neck top, and a bra and undies set SO BRIGHT it could be seen from space. I also talked another lady into buying a dress that looked amazing on her.
Oh my, I am looking forward to this week away. A change is as good as a rest and with an action packed schedule of preparation and fun, it will be change not rest, but joy is very invigorating and I am VERY joyful about this.
So many photos and tings to share when I get back. I've done so much interesting sewing but it will have to wait.
Love to you all xo

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Opening Night

We did it! We got through to the end!
It was crazy - Hans got delayed in Auckland and didn't land until about 6.30, I went to a meet and greet of a producer from the Melbourne Fringe before our show so I had to get my face and hair on hours early. And other chaos, not to mention sharing a dressing room, short tech turnarounds, first night nerves and that strange feeling of diving into the abyss that cabaret always gives one. There is only so much we can script after all, besides the songs.

 My Partner in Crime, Hans aka Clever Hansel. I love this picture as it shows him with his uke and two gadgets, all very quintessential!
I love this shot, it is us to a T. It's not from last night - honestly taking photos couldn't have been farther from our minds! 

I dropped surprisingly few lines, but am working to not drop any at all tonight. It's a strange feeling doing it again - with cabaret as we usually put a show together, it is a one off, like a chalk drawing on the foothpath washed away by the rain. A mixture of sadness and relief comes with this! 

So wish us luck!