Monday, September 26, 2016

Technology dependence

I am trying not to be Chicken Little, worrying the sky is about to fall on us.
The reason for this sense of impending disaster is technology failure.
Our condenser dryer started to, er, stop. It chose a time when we were a whole full time person down at work, another reason for the sudden quiet. Thanks to our incredibly generous neighbour Dan, we have been using his dryer when he is out and we are in, and that has been such a blessing as apartment dwelling doesn't give one many options in winter.
This innocent white box is now sitting in the middle of the floor, as the cupboard doesn't allow for access to its important bits. To do this, David had to take the doors off the cupboard. Erk. They are also a trip hazard. Apparently it needs a new controller, so that's $600 plus to regain our drying capabilities. Erk again. Waiting for parts...
Then, both the printers decided to be difficult. The one at work can't work out what paper it has in it but won't listen to me. I finally fixed it over the phone with the Canon helpline. The answer was to tell it that all paper was "others". Hmm.
The one at home has adopted a self conscious endangered species breeding programme approach to life. I send things to it, and nothing happens. But the next day, all alone upstairs, it may suddenly give birth to the document. Or not.
It's all rather tiring in a week where I need to print place cards for a friend's wedding on Saturday, I need to print invoices and labels all the time, and actually when I have owned both less than a year, I kind of resent this precious behaviour.
Pictured with no document spewing forth, as is fit under the circumstances.

Sewing and other aspects of life are happening, just time constraints and lack of photos and experienced staff being covered by enthusiastic but inexperienced staff has kept me busy.
This week, I am concentrating on getting cakes made for the wedding that can be eaten by those who cannot eat gluten, dairy or chocolate, sorting place cards, supervising the completion of a bridesmaid's dress and getting my responsibilities as emcee under my belt. 
I am emceeing an early wedding, we're back into the city then I am emceeing a cabaret. The bride in the morning is the emcee I share the rotation of the show with. So naturally it's my turn! I have an alternative emcee on standby if it all gets too much.
I am very excited by this wedding which will be such a celebration of life and love.
I just wish my technology would get the memo; that it has ONE JOB. Sheesh.

Monday, August 22, 2016

40th Birthday 1940s style

My lovely friend Yvonne put a lot of time and love into a 1940's Blitz party for her 40th Birthday. It's a stunning theme for a party, so much fun to be had!
Yvonne hired The Fringe Bar which is our home away from home, and decorated it with bunting, posters and a great photo booth, Here's a great photo of the whole party and bar.
Here's Yvonne (right) with her friend Heather. Both were dressed in Hollywood Glam. They aren't as blue as this normally, it's just the coloured lights. Yvonne performs as Amber de Luze and her guest list was a cocktail of family, burlesque friends, diving friends and work friends.
MrC went as an ARP warden in a gorgeous old English policeman's jacket from his own costume rack. Here he is being silly with the delightful Simone, who is lots of fun and performs as Miss Ooh La La Paree, in her naughty Airman outfit.
Now here is a special photo - from the left - Lisa who stage manages most of the shows I write about on here. Andrew aka Sound Bitch, who works the lights and sound and edits all the videos I post. Debbie his wife who produces Caburlesque and DIY Burleskiwi and gave me my first paid gig. These guys really are responsible for Constance's success! Thank you! And Delwyn who was in the very first show I emceed along with Yvonne, and is just a darling.
Another group of lovelies! Left Janine Swanson aka Betsy Rose Lee, Anna aka Mis'tress Botanica who co-produces DIY, ME in my new dress, and April aka Azure D'Murre. Janine, Simone and April came down from Hamilton for the party which was a real treat for us all.
Me singing A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. I know that because I got rid of the mike stand fairly soon into the song. I am living with a rebout of virus, had taught a stretch lampshade class all day, and I was full of Codral, Difflam and bravado.

I must get an easier-to-see pic of me in this dress. It is a fit and flare job with a high low hem, black lace obvs, over a skin coloured lining through the skirt and sweetheart bodice, so the whole thing looks like lace on skin. I bought it at City Chic for $199, and sewed on the rose appliques. It took nearly 20 hours to do that, but it is worth it. I love it as I feel like a real girl in it - not a drag queen or a shop owner but that magical in between space.
After the singing I sprung the cake and Happy Birthday on Yvonne, who didn't know! MrC as the fire warden, carried the cake onto the stage with lit candles. He is such a rock, he carried it on his knee in the car as I rather daftly didn't allow for carrying the two halves separately to the venue. It is a seriously heavy cake!
Anyway it was an awesome night, and eventually dissolved into Karaoke, in which this Victory roll sporting, lace dress wearing lass sang Take a Little Piece of my Heart by Janis Joplin, with screaming an air guitar. I have no shames.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

This Takes the Cake!

I talk a big game about cake decorating but I rarely get a chance to. So when my friend Yvonne planned a big 40th birthday bash I decided it was time to have a go.
We sell a heap of cake decorating things in our shop - we're not just about sewing - and I determined to only use what I had at hand. So that is: coloured fondants, tylose, cake boards and cards, blingy numbers, edible pearls, and the cake tins we hire out.
I went for 6" and 7" sized round tins, two cakes from each to make a tall cake. The tops trimmed flat. I got a bit muddled and sandwiched the top one with jam, but the bottom two are separate cakes, so we can unstack them for cutting. The cake itself is chocolate, made with the cupcake recipe I favour, and I made 6 x the usual amount. That's a dozen eggs worth! I skimmed these with buttercream icing. As you can see, them is tall!
Upturned dinner plate and Tupperware container playing duty as turntables. Sometimes I reckon I missed a successful career as a plasterer.
I made a pile of blossom flowers a couple of nights ago out of fondant with tylose kneaded into it to make it set properly. The centres are edible pearls. I stuck them in with glue made of tylose and water. The only thing extra I did was to press every blossom on a soft surface to give it a softer 3-D shape. Lots of processes!
Here's the cake assembled - the ivory bottom and orange top both covered in fondant. I am really bad at this! Especially with such a deep cake. The bow is also fondant strengthened with tylose. I made the bow last night so it had time to set. Ignore the 40 on top, I realised the top needed something else.
Aha! A ball of leftover orange fondant to give some height, then I made some leaves, popped the 40 into it, and covered it in leaves and flowers. Pretty!
Flowers stuck on with the tylose glue. I can't get over how effective it is! The flowers are fairly heavy but they went on with a smear brushed on the back. No slip sliding. however because of all the creases in the fondant that the flowers could only disguise so far, I realised we needed something more serious around the bottom.
And here we are. Probably too many flowers on it, but it does look less fussy in person. I got all the leftover fondant, rolled it into 12mm balls, and arranged them in colour order around the base. It just finished it off nicely.
So, all ready for Saturday night. The fondant and buttercream will keep the cake fresh. It's a nice, tasty cake and the jam helps!
This cake was easy to put together, it just takes patience to go through the various processes needed. And things need leaving overnight to set and dry. I couldn't have got this together in one evening as cakes needed baking and cooling, blossoms needed to dry etc. I did something for it every evening this week but it didn't take all evening.
In terms of the design, I Googled 40th Birthday Cake for ideas, and found this one:
You can probably see some similarities. But sadly, we have no black fondant until the end of September. My approach to these kinds of projects is to get an inspiration, then forget it. I never try and copy things I see online - I don't know what they used, how they did something and I would rather use what I have. Also, you know how it is - the home job is never quite as swish as the professional job! So why put oneself into the position of a direct comparison. For example, the black and white cake is buttercream so it has nice sharp edges that fondant doesn't make.
No, I am perfectly happy with my imperfect work. I won't be flashing pics of the inspiration cake around on the night, and the pretty fruity colours of my version suit Yvonne better than the stark black and white one would.
So there! ;-)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Busy times!

Oh my word, what a busy bee I've been. Four shows in a week! Saturday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Saturday 6th August. I emceed Caburlesque's Tim Burton Tribute show. This meant a chance to finally fulfill a thirty year long dream - to play Mrs Lovett and sing Little Priest.
Here I am with the amazing Clever Hansel, who is my new Partner In Crime. We had a blast with this and plan to work together again! The Mad Hatter took over the second half of the show and closed it with a Burlesque act. SO cute that one guy in the audience told David and I that he thought the Mad Hatter was a different person!
On Monday 8 August at 2pm,  I spent a couple of hours in drag, helping out at the unveiling of Carmen's traffic light. The link goes to a page with some history of Carmen and a video of the event, in which I make brief, background appearances. I was so busy working the room, I didn't get in many pics.
 This is what you have to do to when it is pouring with rain and your hairdo would flop like a souffle if it got wet! Shopping bag hat, raincoat. I only had to walk 200m and got pretty wet. That's my sonfromanothermother in the mirror.
 The weather was so freezing and wet, the event was moved into Soho Brown's cafe. I am on the left, pinning an orchid onto a guest.
Me, Indy and Amanduh (wearing my peacock costume) and the Mrs Robinsons. I did get to sing a couple of songs as well. But mostly, what an honour to be involved in this event. Carmen is an integral art of the cloth of this city and she deserves to be commemorated.

WELL, on Wednesday night, AB FAB the MOVIE premiered in Wellington and The Roxy Cinema put on a special evening with bubbles and nibbles. BUT, so far no pix so I will leave that for next time!
Ciao all!

Monday, August 1, 2016


So many art experts quipped that I didn't have a monobrow in the Frida show.
Well, I didn't when I walked on the stage, but I did within two minutes!
As part of my opening act, I drew it on. 
You know until I saw this image I never realised they had a follow spot! that's nuts, given how much time I've spent pointing one at other people!
Anyway, we are doing the show again, more or less, on 19 November in Wellington, and in the mean time I still have a lot of monobrow in me.
Friday night was the July instalment of Queen vs Queen (which I did last month) and I wanted to dress up, but be comfortable and warm. It is so freaking cold here right now.
So, I got out the one Frida costume that noone photographed, and is my favourite. It's another mumu garment to my ankles, out of this crazy fabric with faces all over it;
The faces didn't have monobrows but I spent a half hour with a black vivid marker and fixed that! Looking at these guys, I decided to make up as one of them.
Strong contouring, red outlines on black and black on red, an eyelash moustache, lots of red roses and green leaves on my head and off we went!
I wore a tank top and trousers under it, and flat shoes, and even my big brown cosy Pavlova cardi. Noone is the wiser. I love mumus!
My last offering is a selfie of my darling adopted son Jack and me. He was very impressed with my look. As I was with his. Although we do joke that he definitely got those cheekbones from his Papa!
It was a very busy, very cramped night in the Ivy Bar, lots of fun and I was in bed by 12.30am which was quite late enough for a work night thankyouverymuch.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Grand Tease Wellington - getting out of my comfort zone

I am very aware that my comfort zone of talking and singing to large groups of people off the cuff, is the stuff of many people's nightmares! But when I look at what most of the fabulous performers I know do, then I get the 'mares. Moving, using one's body to tell a story, not being able to rely on verbal wit - shudder. So, I ruthlessly put myself into the situation of giving it a go. In a national competition, As you do!
The Grand Tease is New Zealand's Burlesque contest, with heats in the main centres and a final subsequently held in Christchurch. Last night was the Wellington heat. Eight locals and an Aucklander who loves it here got on stage and did two acts each -  a "Classic" act and a "Neo" act.
Classic is about elements of tradition - feather fans, big band music, sequin gowns, sequin everything. In Wellington, we are not big on Classic style and it was a challenge for most. We're Neo-ists on the whole - Neo is a free for all of references to popular culture from movies and books and games to food to commentary on society. Costuming can be anything.
Happily, the performance order was the same in both halves so I had a good 45 minutes to change from one costume to the other, which included makeup.
Frame one - my Classic act. Frame two, back stage in my Neo act outfit.  Frame three, taken when I'm on stage.
Can you guess who I was in my Neo act?
Everyone really rose to the occasion, and all nine performers were just fabulous. I had no desire to go to the final as a performer, but I was utterly blown away to get these two awards on the night. Best Circus/Vaudeville and Most Innovative - two distinctions I really value!
I am going to the final to support all of the finalists, but secretly to pump for Jena,  Debbie and Blu, representing Wellington. Jena is my "one to watch" and came away to Whakatane with us last year, Debbie is producer of Caburlesque and a "partner in crime", and Blu is one of those gorgeous people who makes audiences happy and that includes me!
As for the Mad Hatter, he is making a further appearance on 6 August at the Tim Burton tribute night of Caburlesque. With Mrs Lovett. I reckon if I can go from glamour to Hatter in 45 minutes, I can go from Lovett to Hatter in 25. Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Suddenly Frida!

Suddenly, after three months of planning and practising and making frocky things, Frida was standing before us. We had a lovely drive up to Palmerston North (about two hours) and after sorting out the usual logistics, 11 drag queens settled in the green room to apply makeup. LOTS of makeup.

Me looking fierce! I was going for a slightly painterly look. I think it worked! Please note that the auto filter in my phone is still working, called "make me look like my mother" But that headpiece is my pride and joy!
The opening number. Maybe you can make out the monobrow that I drew on in front of the audience as I discovered my inner Frida!

 Skipping about a bit, this is the final number called Frida's Dream. From left to right, LaQuisha St Redfern, Harlie Lux, Anna Diction, Stephii Onassiss, Indy Pendant, Tess Tosterone and Claire Voyant.
 I changed into this half way through the second half. This number was La Vie en Rose, interspersed with quotes from Frida Kahlo about the nature of love.
 The gang! We performed in the foyer of Te Manawa Museum, in front of this beautiful window. It really was something. 

 This is Douglas Sievers Jarrett, pole dancer extraordinaire and the loveliest guy - he is a local and looked after us so well.
Stephii as one of the two Fridas from the painting. Stephii is a graduate of our NZ Drama School's Costume Design course, and makes amazing costumes. She won Mx Capital Drag 2016 and deservedly so - a real powerhouse on stage!

So after a terrible night's sleep because of high heel induced leg cramps and coughing fits (the hotel was gorgeous such a pity!) LaQuisha and I went out for breakfast and eventually a group of rather tired and subdued but happy young men joined us. It was quite a trick sitting outside a cafe in Palmy with young men applying makeup, not something the locals are used to. They all caught the bus home while we drove back.
It was an epic show and a magic weekend, but it left me with another bout of horrible cold. I am now on antibiotics and already feeling a little more human. Today I even went into work and organised three new gigs, as well as the usual workaday things I do. Nothing flash though.
So, on the 23rd I have my next gig, I am sure I will be fine by then. I've even nearly completed my costume, and practised the routine!!