Pin-up

Delectable Dita

Last Sunday night, my friend Lisa and I headed to Boston to take in Dita Von Teese’s burlesque show. Neither one of us had ever seen Dita before and didn’t know quite what to expect. We did not expect a line all the way down the street and around the corner. Thankfully, it moved quickly and we were surrounded by pleasant people.

One side of the street: Fenway Park. The other: burlesque fans.

One side of the street: Fenway Park. The other: burlesque fans.

I was pleased to see that in many ways, her show mirrored the old vaudeville tradition. Murray Hill served as MC, keeping the audience lively between performances. (Although I would have loved to hear an interlude that didn’t begin with, “Holy SHIT!”) The show included male and female performers with a variety of body types — all daring, confident, and wonderful. Selene Luna, Monsieur Romeo, Natasha Estrada,  America’s Got Talent finalist Prince Poppycock, Lada Nikolska and Perle Noire… a great mix.

Louise Brooks in "The Canary Murder Case"

Louise Brooks in “The Canary Murder Case”

Dita herself did four numbers: the famous martini glass bath, the pink-glitter rhinestone cowgirl act, a Josephine Baker-inspired number complete with birdcage, feathers, and fans, and finally, a striking performance as a Geisha in a red pagoda. The feather act also reminded me of Louise Brooks in “The Canary Murder Case.” (Lisa pointed out the Josephine Baker influence to me, as I’m woefully uninformed about her…which makes it easy to pick out reading material for my next plane trip…any recommendations for a good Josephine Baker biography?)

While I enjoyed all of Dita’s acts, I think I liked the rhinestone cowgirl one best, as she was out on the stage more for that and we really got to see her strut around and flirt with the audience, whereas in the birdcage and pagoda numbers, she was somewhat obscured from view by the set (at least from where we were sitting). I loved the music, too–an instrumental medley of country classics. I also loved the music to the birdcage set–Les Baxter, Martin Denny and Esquivel all rolled together.

Incidents that may have been unique to the Boston show: Selene Luna lost a pasty. She handled it beautifully, just put a hand over her nipple and kept on with her act. Also, Prince Poppycock lost his towering wig…which he also handled well once Murray Hill handed him a microphone and he could resume singing. Both performers got huge applause for handling their flubs so well, just shrugging them off and going back to giving a great show.

I really enjoyed Selene Luna. But I think my favorite performer aside from Dita was Perle Noire. More Josephine Baker influence coupled with a beautiful athleticism, grace and charisma. She just seemed FUN. And like she absolutely loved what she was doing in the moment. She had a striking presence, energy and joy to her that I’d love to see again.

The crowd was a crazy mix that made for good people-watching. Lots of great hair and dresses! I decided not to get all decked out because of the rain, then I kicked myself for that decision once we got there. Lisa looked great, and we ran into my friend Tracey MF Vaughn, who was all dolled up in a blue swing dress with matching shoes. I’ve been feeling kind of blah lately, and in need of a haircut, so hopefully once I get that taken care of I’ll be more inspired.

After the show, as Lisa and I were walking back to the car, we ran into Dastardly Dave, a kick-ass photographer I was lucky enough to work with once during my roller derby days. Don’t let the name fool you – he’s delightful to work with. 😉 He and his friend had been right in front of the stage, so they were able to tell us what went on inside the pagoda during Dita’s finale. Hearing that the other women on stage had their arms through the back of the pagoda, reaching out to Dita, who portrayed some sort of opium trance, made me wish we had seen that part even more! Damn you, House of Blues for not advertising things as obstructed viewing seats!

Overall, it was a great evening. If you have the chance to see this show, I’d definitely recommend it.

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Bettie Page Clothing in San Diego

When I walked in the store, I was thrilled. I loved the style and all the clothes.

And then I started trying things on.

Rita dress in rust

Rita dress in rust

Sadly, the fabrics and sizing just didn’t work for me. A lot of the dresses I tried on were a thick polyester blend that made me itch. I may have had some kind of allergy to a component of the fabric. Everything they had in cotton was much too similar to something I already own for me to be able to justify it. Especially for the prices.

In addition, I’m halfway between sizes. The sleeves are too tight on the L, the bodice is too loose on the XL. Waist height was good though, which is normally a problem with my long torso. Some of the skirt lengths weren’t quite right for me either. Which I know I could fix…if that was the only thing that stood between me and a fabulous new dress. Alas, none of these made me feel fabulous. Mostly, they made me feel itchy. Occassionally, boxy. Which I am not.

Rear view.

Rear view.

Cute, right? Great color and style. Loved the way it looked. Until I actually wore it for say, two minutes and the fabric did this:

bunchy fabric.

bunchy fabric.

Which is totally not selling me on this dress. Yes, I have gained weight since I stopped playing roller derby three years ago and my stomach is no longer perfectly flat, but I do not have a pot belly like that. Believe me, I know, because I scrutinize my body in the mirror daily. I am not fooling myself into thinking I have the body I used to…but this dress makes me look lumpier and dumpier than I really am.

The Captain dress in red flare.

The Captain dress in red flare.

I tried on a few other dresses with the pencil silhouette and quickly ruled them out.

So I switched over to swing dresses. Plenty of options there. Starting with the Captain dress in red, which I’ve been coveting online for ages. LOVE the color and the white piping – great details. But…the fabric was really stiff and heavy and scratchy.

When I looked again, the shoulders were bulky. And the skirt length didn’t feel right. Meh.

Potential, but...no.

Potential, but…no.

 

On to the Alika Circle dress in green. It’s a lighter fabric than the Captain, which seemed promising. Sorry it’s bit blurry.

Cute neckline and sleeves. Great color.

Cute neckline and sleeves. Great color.

The bust darts were in an unflattering location.

The bust darts were in an unflattering location.

I liked this much better, even though the waist could have come in. But the fabric was still not working for me…The bustline bulged where the excess fabric from the neck folded over inside, doing odd things with my bra. You can see it a little in this picture. It was much more apparent and awkward when I moved my arms. In addition, the bust darts just didn’t look or feel right to me. While it may seem like I’m being overly picky, I honeslty believe that you should love your clothes and feel great when you wear them. Instead of feeling sexy, playful or glamorous, I felt awkward, itchy and self-conscious.

I’ve seen other women look completely AMAZING in BPC, so I’m not in any way saying don’t shop there…the current styles available just didn’t work out for me. The staff were all helpful and encouraging, without trying to force me into anything. This trip just didn’t pan out. I’m still planning to give the Vegas store a go when I’m at Ceasars Palace next month for work. Maybe I’ll have better luck.

Dress disappointment = blessing in disguise

Postcard dressA few weeks ago, I ordered a dress from ModCloth:

Cute, right? Fun print, nice colors, would work  with a cardigan before spring really gets here, I have multiple pairs of shoes that would look good with that style and print…I was excited. And then it showed up.

I LOVED the fabric. The dress felt great and had decent quality construction. But…

The shoulders were too narrow. The neck was way too high, concealing my entire collarbone and decolletage, which I rarely cover. The gathers under the bust made the middle of the dress somewhat bulky. It just didn’t work for my body.

Sigh. Back in the box for the postal carrier.

When Tim and I were hanging out with friends Saturday night, Bernadette said that she’d also ordered a dress that had to go back as it didn’t fit.

Then she asked if I wanted to try it on.

B_dress_side

I love the color. It’s greener than it looks here.

It makes me feel like a pin-up.

It makes me feel like a pin-up.

Tim likes this view.

Tim likes this view.

The dress came home with me. B still has to find another dress, but this one has found a loving home. Now I just need to manufacture reasons to wear it. Suggestions?

Vargas calender page

A few weeks ago, my cousin Becky sent me this wonderful calendar page she found:

Varga calendar page

A page from a vintage calendar

It’s one of the illustrations Vargas created for Esquire, probably in 1945 or ’46. I love her hair and her tiki costume. I’m partial to redheads; Vargas frequently used a redheaded model named Jeanne Dean. I have a series of Petty calendar pages on display in my office; Vargas replaced Petty as the main artist for Esquire because publisher David Smart realized he could exploit Vargas for far less than he was paying Petty. I have no idea how the two artists felt about one another.

My three Petty girls - blonde, brunette, and redhead.

My three Petty girls – blonde, brunette, and redhead.

Wouldn’t my Vargas girl look nice with some friends? I certainly think so. Maybe I could even find another Vargas girl to make the display symmetrical. Any excuse to find more pin-ups!

Bettie bonanza

My mom (named Jean) has wonderful friend who is also named Jean. They enjoy all kinds of adventures together–theater performances, flower shows, lunches, museums, etc. At one point, my mom mentioned  that I was into Bettie Page and told Jean she didn’t know who Bettie was until I told her. Jean knew exactly who Bettie was – her husband Ray collected photos of Ms. Page. When Jean got home she told Ray, “You’ll never believe this — my friend’s 30 year old daughter is into Bettie Page!” The two of them got a kick out of my interest and periodically, they’d give my mom some Bettie things to pass on to me.

A few months ago, Ray passed away. He always teased Jean that she’d be a poor wife but a rich widow, and she always told him she’d rather be the poor wife, thank you very much. As Jean was going through some of Ray’s things, she decided that she’d like me to have his Bettie collection. I’m really honored and grateful – not just because it’s a bunch of amazing pictures of Bettie, but because it’s a reminder of the great relationship Jean and Ray had.

And now, some of the photos:

Signed by Bunny Yeager

Signed by Bunny Yeager

010 011 016 018

Bettie sitting on the sand

Bettie sitting on the sand

Please forgive the lousy photo quality, I’ve had the flu for days and I’m a bit wobbly still. Hopefully the pictures are good enough so you can see why I’m excited!

My first Victory roll

As I may have mentioned before, I stink at styling hair. But this past weekend we hung out with our friends Lucas and Bernadette, and her hair looked inspirational (as usual). So yesterday afternoon, I played around with products and bobby pins and managed to achieve this:

my first victory roll

My first victory roll. Somewhat dilapidated, but I was still excited.

Yes, the back is a mess and I had to wear the scarf because the sides were wonky, but hey–it was my first shot. I’m sure I’ll get better with practice. And maybe a haircut that lends itself to that sort of thing. Anyway, I liked it and so did my husband. Yay.

History Detectives investigate Bettie Page photo

Last night, my husband and I were flicking through the TV channels and he came across History Detectives on PBS. We’re both suckers for that sort of thing, so we stopped channel surfing and watched the rest of the episode. When that was done, another came on…with a teaser saying one of the items under investigation was a negative of a photo of Bettie Page. After that announcement, we definitely weren’t changing the channel!

The investigators actually went to Movie Star News and talked to Irving and Paula Klaw’s sons, who still operate the business. The show discussed the atmosphere of the times regarding sexuality and deviance. It was really well done, and the photo turned out to be from one of the last shoots Bettie did for the Klaws. Some of the items in the background gave it away for me…as soon as they pulled out the photo, I was telling Tim, “That’s from one of the Klaw sessions…look at the blanket there, that’s in a ton of the photos she did for the Klaws…”

If you want to watch the episode for yourself, here it is.

Bettie Page And The Forbidden Pinup (all my attempts to embed this have failed. I apologize for having to link. Dang internet technology!)