Jun 1, 2014

My Obsession with Northfork Wine Trail

Since I took over producing Elle Dorado's monthly show Soirée Noir at George Martin Strip Steak Restaurant in Long Island (Great River), I've been going out to this stretch of land only two hours out of NYC to explore and absorb the environs. I can't believe it's taken me 13 years of living in rat cage NYC to discover the wonders and charm of bucolic farm land, the easy seaside of Greenport, lots of farm to table restaurants (amazing oysters), and the wonderful Northfork Wine Trail!

I've taken my parents there for a day trip recently and just this weekend I brought two of my girl friends out to experience this part of New York.

Of the many many vineyards in Northfork I had to bring everyone to McCall Vineyard which is the family business of fellow performer Brewster McCall! The wines there are delicious and it's on acres and acres of land you can take a stroll through to look at the cows and calfs. McCall also supplies organic grass fed beef to the prestigious Northfork Table & Inn. Brewster is so knowledgeable about wine making and answered many of our questions about wine and history of the town.
L to R: Michael, Minx, Brewster McCall, Dakota, Toni

We had so much fun there and I guess our conversation was so lively and so intrigued the table of 3 gents near us that they sent us a bottle of wine! They said they were thoroughly entertained by our conversations that they couldn't help sending us a bottle to share. I think they had their eyes on my friends Dakota & Toni!

After our wine tasting and the bottle sent over we walked out to the field to look at the livestock but we never made it that far cause we ended up doing this:

The Vineyard Coven

Then this:


And this:



We also went to Macari Wines which was very nice as well with the same quiet nice vibe. Some of the vineyards out there are bit douchey in the frat sense. Like a Murray Hill bar but outdoors with benches. I took my parents to one a few weeks ago and the tasting room was a huge high ceilinged room cacophonous and impersonal. The outside space was even more impersonal. The first thing I heard was a guy pumping his fists in the air yelling, "Rangers! Rangers!" Lots of backwards baseball caps. I said hell no I didn't leave midtown to be around midtown. I turned my parents right back around and went elsewhere. So be careful which place you pick. It makes a world of difference in your experience. The places that say "Limos and buses welcome!" Are probably not the best in terms of having a refined intimidate experience. Another one of my favorites is Croteaux where they only make rosé wines. A must go for the rosé lover, the Parisienne or the romantic!

We also went to Jamesport Vineyard on Friday. That was very nice with a beautiful garden and a good selection of reds and whites. They only had one risé and it wasn't available for two more weeks. I would go back again when they have food. One thing I've noticed is that all the vineyards I've gone to have lush, thick green lawn that feel SO good on your feet. After a couple of glasses and the sun warming your skin there's nothing like the feel of cool fresh scented grass to wiggle your toes into. Croteaux doesn't have lawn tho since they have more of a pebbled patio.





May 4, 2014

Interview with Calamity Chang, NYSB Instructor and Co-Producer of The Asian Burlesque Spectacle

schoolofburlesque:


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NYSB: How did the Asian Burlesque Spectacular start? What’s it all about?



Calamity Chang: ABC started with a conversation with Sukki Singapora who is a co-producer of this event. Sukki, from Singapore, is very active in women’s rights in conservative Singapore so our conversation started on that thread, and a few Skype meetings later, the “Asian Burlesque Spectacular” was born. Sukki had always wanted to hold a giant burlesque show specifically for Asian or Asian origin performers, as a continuation from her society, The Singapore Burlesque Club (to promote and nurture Asian performers in environments where sometimes burlesque is a difficult choice, or perhaps not celebrated enough). We enlisted Thirsty Girl Productions (Jen Gapay) right away. With her acclaimed experience and finesse in producing, she was the obvious choice to help realize the dream.



NYSB: The Asian Burlesque Spectacular is in its second year now. What will differentiate the show from last year’s premiere? 



Calamity Chang: We have an entirely new cast and we are at DROM in the East Village this year. We have an incredible line-up featuring some heavy hitters like The Shanghai Pearl (Seattle), Cherry Typhoon (Montreal) and Orchid Mei (Denver) , as well as international performers like Violet Eva (Japan) and Miyuki Divine (Calgary, Canada). Our host this year is NYC drag extraordinaire Yuhua Hamasaki (Miss Asia NYC 2014 and Miss Fire Island 2012), and we have added a boylesque performer, Wrong Note Rusty (Toronto) this year for the first time as well.Lastly, we are proud to be officially sponsored by ByeJoe: Spirit of China. We are very excited about this particular sponsorship, because “baijiu” has been a traditional Chinese spirit but as “ByeJoe” the liquor is expanding to a more Western palate to appeal to a young, modern Asian audience.



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(Above, Calamity Chang. Photo Photo by Michael Webb)



NYSB: While show is all current performers, there is a strong element of homage to burlesque legends performers as Barbara Yung and Mei Ling. How important was that in so far as a production decision? 



Calamity Chang: Tributes are important to us, because Asian burlesque legends were less well known and less celebrated than their Western counterparts. Last year Sukki and I did our tribute acts to Yung and Ling. Other performers did their own interpretation of what constitutes their “Asian-ness” or whether that is relevant to them as a performer. Having that variety added an interesting layer of texture to the show. That’s the key for us. We are not going around forcing people to do Asian acts or collecting acts to create some kind of hyper-sensitive, somber event. Some of the acts addressed current topics with a comedic twist. For example, last year Fancy Chance’s act was about a hungry Korean student and Stella Chuuu’s act was to Monty Python’s “I Love Chinese Food”. We also had Dame Cuchifrita’s beautiful and haunting piece which addressed the colonialization of Southeast Asian women and sexuality. Show us how your ethnicity has influenced you as a performer and the acts you create, or how it hasn’t. We also are in agreement that one does not have to be Asian to do an act that is Asian-inspired. It is important this year to not only grow the show, but also to celebrate Asian culture without making it inaccessible to any other cultural group. To quote The Shanghai Pearl, there is a difference between “appropriating” and “appreciating.” I don’t think people know the difference so ABS is trying to be part of the answer to that question.



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(Above, Calamity Chang. Photo by Michael Webb)



NYSB: Asian women have always had to deal with a very specific Western stereotype and fetishization of their bodies. Do you feel like the platform of the Asian Burlesque Spectacular is able to comment or take away from some of that?



Calamity Chang: I will posit that Asian men are also grossly sexualized and diminutized by Western stereotypes quite possibly even worse. Asian men are constantly portrayed as nerds, under sexed, or gay in popular television whereas Asian women are oversexed, “sluts”, and sexual objects (i.e.: the Tila Tequilas). ABS gives us a platform in which we present ourselves, our bodies, and our own sexual projection on our own terms whether through allure, comedy or confrontation through the art form of burlesque and live performance theater. The blessing of working in a niche art form (versus Hollywood) is that we have control over how we are presented to the public.



NYSB: What are your hopes for for the future of The Asian Burlesque Spectacular?



Calamity Chang: We are working on taking it to the West Coast (San Francisco) and to the UK. We aim to turn this into a 2-3 day festival! The possibilities are endless. We’ve received so many inquiries since last year from interested Asian performers all over. ABS stands as a strong beacon of hope for many Asian women (and men) interested in burlesque but who may be afraid to pursue it because of cultural taboos. We are here to challenge those ideas and also to create new images of Asian sexuality.



To find out more on The Asian Burlesque Spectacular visit The event page




Doors Open: 7:00 PM. Show Time: 8:00 PM











May 2, 2014

Hotel Series #4 - The Atlantic, South Hamptons

I know 3,000 Twitter followers is not a big deal to really famous people who have over K's of followers, but I am still very happy that my artistic work as a burlesque performer has garnered this many followers. I have a tradition that at every 1,000th mark, I release a semi-nudie photo of myself.

This release coincides with the 4th set in my Hotel Series on my web site, a series that I really enjoy doing in whatever hotel or motel I happen to be staying in overnight while traveling to perform or on a short weekend trip somewhere. We never use a fancy set up and only use natural light. Some sets I am wearing no makeup, some I have day time makeup, and no body makeup. We both enjoy the guerilla tactic of a photo challenge to work with what you got. And the best part? I get to tell you about the hotel!

This set was taken at The Atlantic in South Hamptons. It looks like it was an old motel at one point. You can see how old the faucets are and the carpeting in the room made me a little worried about putting my clothes on it or walking barefoot. The sheets smelled clean. The front desk was rude one day and nice the other. When Michael went to get batteries for the remote control (it was empty), the woman at the front desk snipped at him for not saying "Thank you." She said, "Thaaaaaank you." You can also hear every footstep above you, creak creak creakity creak all morning long. Luckily we weren't at the hotel that much anyway so it was fine for one night.

Photo by Michael Webb. Vintage hat from an old antique shop (name I forget but owned by a friendly older gentleman who seemed to know everything about everything) in Greenport, NY See the rest of Hotel Series >


Apr 24, 2014

DORIAN GRAY WEDNESDAYS - NYC Club Culture Like the Way It Used to Be

I had the pleasure of performing at Kayvon Zand & Anna Evan's Dorian Grey Wednesdays last night at The Bowery Electric. Kayvon and Anna are true club kids and throw this weekly dance party that's both goth and dark wave and punk and new wave and everything that makes NYC inspiring and creative - an aspect that is rapidly fading in the fight against "corporate NYC". Condo after condo are replacing old institutions. Just last week, Pearl Paint has closed! Well, if all the artists and creative people (that does NOT include "Creative Directors" in advertising) have all been priced out of living here why would the city need a massive art supply store? Dorian Gray played awesome dance music and everyone was dressed to the nines just like the old Mother!!! I can't remember going to a dance party that's like this and not filled with Wall Street types, suits, and mean model-y (or escort-y) type of women in blow out straight hair and their Malahno or whatever in years. It was really refreshing for me to sink back into this scene where people want to be weird, and they don't want to blend in and grow a beard.



Kayvon and Anna come up with a different theme every week. Last night was "Game of Thrones"!

Check out some of their past party photos here. Just the costumes are worth clicking through.

Next weekend the Zand Collective will be starting a new monthly event where club kids take over the Museum of Sex!

Apr 9, 2014

What to Do with Comments From Haters ('Female Chauvinist Pigs')

Oh, you know this. We all know this. I'm sorry anyone has to deal with this kind of thing. If you haven't had to deal with negative comments, then well you are lucky for now, but it's just a matter of time before you too will read something negative about you. I guarantee it.

This happens to all burlesque performers at some point in their performance career. It happens to anyone who is in the public eye and even more to those who utilize their bodies as vehicles for self expression of whatever kind. I think back on how many times I have criticized a celebrity/singer/actress for being too fat, too skinny, or whatever ass-inine comments about their appearance. Since I've started my burlesque career I've stopped doing that. I've become more aware (even enlightened) about what's going on with women.

There was that one time when a male fan posted a photo of me on his Facebook and it instigated several negative
comments about my scar, mostly from women. I defended myself on that thread and explained why I do what I do.
I don't feel like I should feel ashamed for having a scar from a near fatal surgery, and I love the art of striptease, the creation of self made glamour, and I certainly did not feel the need to censor myself because someone else believes only "perfect unmarred bodies" should be seen publicly.  And... then there was last night. A female fan posted a photo of me on IG, full frontal in the middle of my act. I really like the photo even with the low camera angle and up-my-nose-ness (the show was really packed so many people graciously sat on the floor as I instructed and that was where her photo was taken from, see below).


The first comment (now disappeared): "shame she's not even hot." Comment was by a woman. I replied, "thanks (name) love the haters". I then re-posted the photo on my IG (below), because I felt like this phenomenon of women-hating-on-women must be addressed! Then suddenly my followers, many I know and many more I don't know, jumped on the thread to defend me. One "Amy_robot" even took the trouble to look at the commentator's profile and threw it back at her by saying:


I see you have a quote from B.K.S. Iyengar at the top of your profile - have you heard this one? "You must purge yourself before finding faults in others. When you see a mistake in somebody else, try to find if you are making the same mistake. This is the way to take judgment and to turn it into improvement. Do not look at others' bodies with envy or with superiority. All people are born with different constitutions. Never compare with others. Each one's capacities are a function of his or her internal strength. Know your capacities and continually improve upon them."




Wow! Go social media! I also cross-shared this post on my Facebook Page but that didn't accomplish the result I wanted.

Many people reassured me of my "hotness" which was very nice of them to be sensitive to the possibility of an injured ego and for that I thank you, but I was honestly not trying to fish for compliments or reassurance. The issue at hand is the culture of competition between women.

Criticizing other women for not being "hot", too fat, too skinny, "gross" or my favorite women-hating-women term being a "skank". Many of my followers theorize that these kind of negative comments speak to the commentator's own insecurities and self loathing, but I don't really buy into that explanation. I believe it is what author Ariel Levy calls the "female chauvinist pig" syndrome in her titular book "Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture" (good read!).

Levy's main argument is that contemporary culture has become so saturated and inundated with sexualized images of women as commercialized objects that girls are raised to compete with each other to be the "hottest" and "sexiest" rather than the most accomplished or successful. She explains that this is defined by displays of "...inauthenticity and the idea that women should be constantly exploding in little bursts of exhibitionism." How many times have you gone to a party and suddenly some girl whips off her top and it's supposed to be so shocking, so wild, crazy and so hot? That is because we live in what she calls "raunch culture" where women are not only encouraged but rewarded for out-competing another woman as "the hottest" and most sexualized object in any given social situation (ie: the Girls Gone Wild franchise)

And this is what I think is happening when women make comments like "shame she's not even hot", because she insinuates that she herself is hotter than the criticized subject, or at the very least, she is an expert on the topic of what society portrays as the ideal object of male sexual desire. And thus she gains status (essentially "wins") at this competition for the attention of men by ironically acting like a chauvinistic male pig.

Theory is helpful for me to place things in context and to not take negative comments personally. But on a more immediate level, the most proactive thing I can do is to NOT participate in the culture of chauvinist pig behavior by thinking twice about my own comments. Lastly, if you hear something, say something. If someone backstage (or in regular conversation) make comments that sound pig-like, call them out. You can turn the attention on another facet of the person rather than their perceived hotness or physicality, or do what I like to do and simply say, "That's a really negative comment" and let that stew.

So on that note, I'm going to buy something on Pin Up Girl Clothing's sale site right now to make myself feel hotter. ;-)









Feb 28, 2014

ByeJoe: Spirit of China is Our Official Sponsor for Asian Burlesque Spectacular 2014!

I am so happy to announce that for The 2nd Annual Asian Burlesque Spectacular on Friday, May 16, 2014 our official sponsor is ByeJoe: Spirit of China!


http://www.dromnyc.com/events/3071/the-2nd-annual-asian-burlesque-spectacular


I was introduced to ByeJoe at Macao Trading Company for one of my monthly Drunken Dragon Nights, and it was a match made in heaven! ByeJoe (aka: baijiu,白酒) is much like me. A bit of the east and a bit of the west. Baijiu is a traditional Chinese liquor often served at important business functions to "close the deal." But now ByeJoe has arrived to create a more accessible taste for the Western market and cultural-hybrids like me!






BTW-ByeJoe is gluten-free distilled from 100% red sorghum!

Feb 26, 2014

"Calamity Chang is my favourite colour" says beauty writer Alle of xoVain.com!

So happy to see Alle of xoVain.com write up her top 13 favorite red lipsticks and that my shade made it in her top list! I also loved seeing my shade on someone with fairer skin tone and I gotta say, it looks damn good too! It has a touch of 1920s, Gatsby feel to it. I can see it on Alle with dark smoldering eyes as well.

"...it’s totally worthy of the fanciest of occasions: it’s insanely beautiful, it’s incredibly comfortable on my lips, and is one of the few lipstick formulations that does not “feather” out. A deep plum that doesn’t need mega-lipliner is basically magical."

Read the entire article here or buy "Calamity Chang" (limited supply, $3.50 for shipping to US)


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