Oct 30, 2014

Finally the 2015 Nurse Bettie Burlesque Calendar!

After months of planning and working the 2015 Nurse Bettie Burlesque Calendar is finally available for purchase online! I am so proud of all twelve performers who brought their A-game to every shoot, and it seemed like every time we had a shoot it was raining cats and dogs. I am beyond happy with the final photos that Lucy La Riot took at her studio. I had a lot of fun concept-ing the theme for each month with Lucy as we didn't want to re-do all the usual themes you see in most calendars. For instance, instead of doing yet another heart-shaped cutesy-cute for Valentine's Day in February, I wanted to bring an element of Chinese New Year (Thursday, February 19, 2015). For July, I wanted to feature Bettina May who is the first person to receive a US Green Card based on her burlesque career. It doesn't get more American than her story. We are New York City after all and there's a whole lot of diversity here and that is what makes this calendar different. Although I really enjoyed styling everyone's shoot from costuming options to poses, it was EXHAUSTING! I have a deeper appreciation for stylists who work on photo shoots now. By the end of that first weekend when we shot back to back for 8 hours straight, I slept for 12 hours the next day.
On sale now: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/824604?__r=542086
To see a preview of all the months inside, just click the link above! 

The calendars measure 8x8 square and have 28 pages. They are saddle-stitched and are packaged with cardboard to prevent bending or folding. We are selling them through the printer's site at MagCloud, who I really enjoyed working with the last few months.

The calendar makes for a great birthday or holiday gift. And they are collectible! I have a feeling I will be making a new calendar every year from now on!

Hope you enjoy these cheeky beauties as much as I did creating the calendar. Bring them home with you all year round!

Oct 18, 2014

Photos by Angela McConnell from The 12th Annual New York Burlesque Festival

Check out more of Angela's work at her portfolio site - here

Sep 29, 2014

Hotel Series #5 - Hotel Pierre Du Calvet in Old Montreal Quebec

Here is a sample photo from HOTEL SERIES #5 from my latest travels to Montreal.

One of the loveliest cities in my opinion for the poor New Yorker's "Paris". I couldn't afford another Paris trip this year so I opted for the next best thing, Montreal. Only a 1.5 flight or a 6 hour scenic drive away. I love Old Montreal even though our Québécois friends think it's totally touristy. It's like me saying "I love Times Square!" But the architecture, the old cobble stoned streets (a la Crosby Street), the history and the charm win me over every time! I did stay in Hotel Zero 1 for a couple nights before Hotel Pierre Du Calvet just to get a democratic sense of Montreal. Hotel Zero 1 is a boutique designer hotel right across the street from the Chinatown gate. Ironically every time I've stayed in a hotel in Canada, it has always been right by the Chinatown there! Hotel Zero 1 is beautiful, modern, chic, and conveniently located right by all the prostitutes, pimps, dingy strip clubs and some unsavory characters mixed in with hipsters and young people. It is also on the same block as the famous Cafe Cleopatra! I love myself a modern hotel but I love myself an old historic landmark hotel even more. Hotel Pierre du Calvet apparently is also haunted according to several internet accounts. Room 3 is where most of the sightings have occurred such as a woman or a man sitting by the foot of your bed in the middle of the night, or sensing a malevolent presence in the room. We were in Room 6 so luckily nothing strange occurred... at least not when my eyes were closed. This hotel is just absolutely to die for. Simply out of time, extravagant, old world, and romantic. I highly recommend going with someone you love (or lust).
Photo by Mike Webb Photography. Click here to see more of Hotel Series #5 >

Photo by Mike Webb Photography. Click here to see more of Hotel Series #5 >

Sep 9, 2014

A Corset Story Love Story!

I recently received a gorgeous corset from Corset Story, and I am thrilled with how it fits, its quality, and the price point. They sell corsets in burlesque-inspired styles, steampunk styles, and a smaller section on Rockabilly clothing. I've been getting a lot of compliments about mine since I've been wearing it at my shows so I am sharing about them! There are more than one place to get a decent, well made, strong corset online than What Katie Did (overpriced IMHO), and more variety/colors than Orchard Corsets.

The corset I got is the Lavinia: Purple Halterneck Corset, an overbust-style in deep purple with black lace embroidery. I cut out the halterneck since I am not blessed with a swan-like neck. This halter would be more flattering on someone with a willowy 18th century neck!

Without the halterneck, the corset's sweetheart bustline is enhanced and for girls without bigger busts, it is absolutely devastating in a Jessica Rabbit-like way. Two different people complimented me that this corset's silhouette reminded them of Jessica Rabbit.

One of my off-the-rack corset pet peeves is the quality of the ribbon/lacing in the back. I was pleasantly surprised that I did not need to replace it. The black ribbon was sturdy and long enough  that it was instant fit and go! AND the corset came properly laced. SO crucial especially if you are new to corsets and not sure how to put it on. The Lavinia that I got is long but surprisingly it fit well on me and I was pleased with how it looks. Since I'm only 5'1" without heels my torso length isn't super long so often off-the-rack corsets are too long on me.

And at the current on sale price of $26 (!), this is the most cost-efficient, high quality corset that I've encountered in my 8 years burlesqui-ng. When I first started performing my knowledge about these things were naturally more limited. I had many corset "fails" by buying them on cheap lingerie sites such as Lingerie Diva, Love Honey, or ABCUnderwear. These sites are fine for buying basic undergarments to embellish and use as a base to build your costume from, but to get a good corset? FAIL. Even their more expensive ones (around $80 - rip off) is not steel but soft pliable plastic boning which will crumble and create unflattering creases around your waist. The lesson of the story? Invest in a good corset, practice opening and unlacing in your routine, and it'll last you forever.

Here is the Lavinia corset, and me wearing it at one of my recent shows. 

The one I got my eyes on is the Juliet Red Couture Corset. Isn't it just delish?

Aug 18, 2014

Latex Shoot with Lucy La Riot Photography

Last week I did the long-awaited photo shoot of my latex acts-Fetish Nun and the newest Fetish Snow White- with Lucy La Riot in Williamsburg! Her studio is on Lorimer Street and is SO cute. Painted pink with black accents and an original black metal tin ceiling, filled with all kind of props and wardrobe to choose from. I met Anna (the person behind LLR) at the Burlesque Idol show a couple months ago when I was one of the guest judges. I was already familiar with her name, because I saw the online photos of a few other performers and thought they were really good. But beyond being good LLR's pin-up style has a modern, contemporary quality to it that is refreshing to my eyes and sensibility. Many of them look like they could be a part of a print ad campaign. Lighting, in particular, is a major thing for me since Asian features are flatter than Western features so we require a bit more "light sculpting" than another face that has more geographic hills and valleys. We used real flames from my Bible prop, and real baby oil, also a real element of the Snow White act when I perform it. So that ain't no Photoshop!

I loved the way she lit these two shots that we did and how it all turned out. I'll be posting a few more as they trickle in. You can find LUCY LA RIOT on Facebook - totally check out her work if you are looking for a great photographer to give you a naughty or nice pin-up boudoir shoot or yourself or a bachelorette party.

If you love these images, please share and credit the photographer and myself. Artists work for peanuts in NYC-getting a credit for our work is usually our payment.

All latex clothing seen here were made by KLAWTEX. Shoes by Melissa. Cervin hosiery. 


I don't have a video of my Snow White act yet, but the Nun act is pretty old. I have a clip of it from 2013 at Red Herring's show REVEAL in Toronto, ON.

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



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.


(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.


(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!


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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Feb 13, 2014

Alamo in Chinatown

On this Valentine's Day eve I thought I would share a truly unforgettable story. Years and years ago I was dating a "kiwi" (someone from New Zealand). Actually, we weren't just "dating". We were in a relationship. We were together for three years and two of those years we lived together in a noisy two bedroom apartment in chic NoLiTa. In all three years together he never once told me he loved me. I was always in doubt. Did he love me as I loved him? What did he really think of me? Did that make him happy? Would he like this? Would he like that? To this day I am still apologizing to my girl friends for putting up with the me back then. I stayed though in the relationship, because like all girls, I rationalized with myself, obsessively weighed the good (he made me laugh, handsome, he made web sites for me) versus the bad (lack of emotional expression, lack of communication, extreme opinions that were very alarming). I do not miss navigating through that murky, uncertain relationship terrain.

Somehow, towards the end of the relationship he convinced me that we needed to have our own apartments after moving in and living together for 2 years. His reasoning was that he never had his own place since he moved to NYC and he really wanted to have that experience. Being the understanding and forever accommodating girlfriend that I was (fool!), I acquiesced. Part of me totally understood that desire. Having your own place in NYC is pretty awesome! But part of me felt like this was taking a huge step backwards in the relationship. In retrospect I see that he was "too nice" to break up with me because he didn't want to hurt my feelings (the sensitive man's selfish cowardly excuse to not own up to his own feelings), so he opted for "let's move out to our own place but stay together."

My favorite noodle shop in Chinatown on Eldridge Street

I found a small studio apartment on Essex Street and he found a slightly larger but old, old, old! one bedroom apartment nearby on Eldridge Street. That place was a real fixer upper located above Sheng Wang, a basement dumpling noodle shop which ironically has become one of my favorite places now. Naturally I put on a brave face but it made me really sad every time when he would go to his house and I to mine.  No matter how I rationalized it just felt sad and I felt utterly rejected. It almost felt like he was making me feel bad so I would leave first (probably true). If I could go back in time I would go back to the younger me, bitch slap myself, and the convo would go like this:

Future Me (Me Now): "You fool, you better start listening to your feelings and stop accommodating for things that are not you!"

Past Me: "Watchoo talkin about, Future Me? This is REALLY how I feel."

Future Me: "Oh really? You LIKE snowboarding? You LIKE falling on your ass all day long on the ice and up and down that freezing gondala?"

Past Me: "..."

Future Me: "You don't have any feelings of abandonment from the time he was off mountain biking in Canada and left you here during the big summer blackout?"

Past Me: "...he did call..."

Future Me: "And you honestly like wearing this raver clothes you are wearing?"

So yea Future Me rules. This is what people mean when they say "I know myself". This realization came slow and late to me but the final turning point hit me hard like a stink bomb during another time when he was away again (either for visa issues or recreational outdoors stuff). Naturally I was the lucky one entrusted with getting his mail and checking in on his apartment. These visits were pretty pathetic and involved me smelling his clothes, looking through his cupboard to see what he has been eating, lying down on the bed pretending I lived there, or looking out the window in silence to punish myself. Then one day the landlord called and said there was a leak in his bathroom that was leaking down to the floor below. He wanted me to go to the apartment and check for faucets that were accidentally left on. I went after work confidently climbing up the stairs feeling so capable! I was here. I am the one to solve his problem for him to make his life easier while he was having fun in another place! He's going to love me so much!

I went in the apartment and headed straight to the bathroom. I stood by the bathroom door and as I reached to my left to flip on the light switch, I felt a dampness on my shoes. I looked down just as the light snapped on and to my horror I was standing in sewage water. The entire bathroom floor was covered with brown water. The bathtub had about a foot of water with mysterious lumps and sinewy stringy things that I dared not think too long about. The sink too. The toilet overflowed with indescribable scatological horror - and that was when I drew my Alamo.

I turned right back around and walked out of that depressing Chinatown apartment. I will pick up Chewie's poop but I will not cleaning up after no man's. I broke it off with him shortly after he returned from his trip. That was the first time my heart felt broken (but I got over it - trust me, you'll get over it too if you WANT to). If I had stayed in that relationship I don't know what kind of person I would have changed myself into just to be with him. One day its trying out snowboarding, the next day is wearing something you don't really like, and then before you know it, you are cleaning up poop being half the woman you used to be. Let that be a lesson to you young girls out there whose Future You haven't bitch slapped you yet. Happy Valentine's Day!

FYI - Sheng Wang has amazing hand pulled or knife-shredded noodles. This is their beef fried noodle dish. I always go for the beef soup noodles when I have a serious hangover. Sheng Wang has a unique feature. They have pickled cabbage on each table for you to put on your noodles - a real Taiwanese treat! I still think it's funny that such deliciousness was here the whole time when I was in that unsavory relationship right upstairs! Ah, Chinatown's mysteries. 

Jan 31, 2014

A Horse is a Horse, Of Course, Of Course.

Happy Chinese New Year (Year of the Horse)! My mom had to call for me to know. Make sure you eat noodles, she reminded me. Noodles symbolize long life and by eating it you kinda sort in a way supposed to have long life yourself. This is just one of the many, many Chinese traditions you are supposed to do for New Years to bring luck. Some other "traditions" include wearing red underwear on new year's day, getting your hair trimmed before the new year, and eating dumplings but - and this was the most crucial part - you can't count how many you've eaten. Come on, EVERYONE knows that would be the worst luck ever! You didn't know about that? Well keep that in mind next time you are shoveling dumplings in your face at Vanessa's or Joe's Shanghai.

I grew up hearing stuff like this. Americans have her own equivalent like not walking under a ladder, stuff about black cats crossing your path, and even the saying "Bless you" after sneezing has a Germanic root. Some are based in folklore (like the dumplings), some are simply phonetic correlation (ie: never give someone a clock for their birthday because the word for clock (zhong) sounds just like "the end"), and others are as sinister as ghost stories.

Like many immigrant families my parents used to own a Chinese restaurant. We had one when we lived in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and then later in Houston, Texas. Both were proper sit-down places not take-out hole-in-the-walls. But they weren't so sit-down that Zagat would come review them or anything. My mom was (and still is) a damn fine cook. Even though we have not been in the restaurant business for over twenty years, she can still whip up a General Tso's Chicken, Pepper Steak, or anything with her eyes closed. The restaurant I remember most vividly was the one in Houston "Sichuan Garden". As the Chinese would say, it was very unlucky. We struggled financially and couldn't afford hiring a restaurant staff. My mom managed the front desk and was also the cook, my brother did the dishes after school (if he wasn't getting into fights on the school bus), my dad made deliveries and helped managed the front, and I read. My passions back then were books and Mr. Ed. I loved Mr. Ed. I never missed one episode. I was too young to really be of any help in the restaurant other than fold napkins or set the tables, so my parents often let me go back to our apartment which was right across the street from the restaurant and I would drown myself with reruns of Mr. Ed. Like a lot of ten year old girls I loved horses. It was easy to love horses growing up in Texas. I read every single book I could find in the dinky public library about horses. After I pillaged through everything there I made my dad drive me to the neighboring county's public library and borrowed from there. I also made my parents take me horseback riding whenever we could afford the $30 and hour trail ride. I bought all the Walter Foster books on how to draw horses. I cocooned myself in a black-and-white world of words and talking horses while strange and inexplicable things were happening at the restaurant.

One of the problems was the air conditioning. It never worked and would be fixed for a day then stop working again. Without air conditioning any establishment in Texas could not survive through the 100+ F summers. Once people realized how uncomfortable it was to eat pork fried rice and hot and sour soup in an AC-less restaurant they stopped coming in to eat. But my mom's cooking was still damn good so while dine-in decreased, deliveries increased. There was one delivery that I will never forget. My dad went out and after an hour still haven't returned. My brother had to take phone orders while my mom cooked. I was given the task of watching the front. This was pre-cellphone so there was no way to even call him. An hour and a half passed still no sign of our white Dodge station wagon in the parking lot. Another half hour passed. Now it has been two hours since he left for this local delivery. It was quite dark out now, and more and more undelivered food orders were piling up. My mom was starting to panic. Just then my dad's car pulled up to the restaurant. He still had the delivery bags in his hands as he walked in. He never found the house address after two hours. He couldn't explain what happened except that it felt like he was driving round and round in a loop. I would make a turn and it was the same street I was just on, he told us. It was like he could see the destination on the map he had in the car but just could not get to it. We all remained silent. Then finally my dad said out loud what we were all thinking but didn't want to say: 鬼打牆, or in English translation "demon walls", "drywall," "ghost wall".

"Demon Wall" is a folklore story describing a phenomenon when people traveling alone and in a hurry, usually in the middle of the night, in the wilderness or in cemeteries, find themselves moving in a circular direction and find themselves back at the starting place. Sometimes the situation may be last all night or continuously for a few days. In old, old traditional belief this happens when a wandering un-mourned spirit tries to confuse and distress a living person in order to attach itself to him/her to reincarnate. This is REALLY old school like something grandparents would believe. I had to ask my mom what it meant and she had to call her mom to find out. Just so you know, this is NOT common knowledge or a belief that modern Chinese people carry with them in their heads. Nevertheless I'm fascinated with these old superstitions and I DO believe that when you encounter spirits, your chi (energy) is weak. As Confucius said, "Respect ghosts and gods, but keep away from them." That's why I would never ever touch a ouija board or do a seance. Why take the chance and invite something malevolent?

Another incident related to the restaurant had a tragic turn. We had a new signage to install outside on the awning, but our extendable ladder didn't quite reach high enough. The man making deliveries next door at the shish-kebab restaurant volunteered to help us by standing on the top of his van to place the signage. Two days later the owner of the shish-kebab restaurant came over and informed us that the delivery man died in a car accident. That was also the year when The Challenger exploded. I was in third grade (I think) Home Room period. My English wasn't that great so I didn't know what the word "explosion" meant. It wasn't until our teacher turned on the classroom TV and I saw that infamous news clip that I understood what was happening in America. Some of the girls in my class  were crying then my teacher cried. Even the boys I hated (cause they were always trying to talk to me when I didn't want their attention or cared to open my mouth cause my English was shitty) shut the hell up and were quiet for once. The principal came on over the intercom and let us out early that day. I went to our restaurant as usual after school. We didn't have a lot of customers that day. I don't miss that restaurant at all.

Where our resto used to be is now a Valero gas station

Jan 27, 2014

RED Burlesque "Calamity Chang" Shade on My Hapa Friends!

This weekend I met with my two self-described "hapa" girl friends to have them try on my RED Burlesque lipstick to show how the shades flatter darker skinned Asian girls too. Kathleen and Melissa are sisters, and they are of half-Bangladeshi and half-Filipina heritage.

Fun fact: I actually went to high school in Texas with Kathleen. 

Here are the results!

Melissa is wearing "Calamity Chang" here. It was by chance that she happened to wear this gorgeous fuchsia colored sweater which matched the shade beautifully!

Close up of "Calamity Chang" with a fuchsia-plum colored top. Really great match.

Kathleen wearing "Calamity Chang". She is slightly darker than Melissa. Both colors "Calamity Chang" and "Strawberry Siren" seem to complement their complexions.
Close up of "Calamity Chang". All shot with natural lighting on my iPhone and no doctoring in Photoshop!

Melissa wears "Strawberry Siren" here. As you can see, Strawberry Siren is redder on darker skin.
Close up of Strawberry Siren.

More Strawberry Siren

One of the Beauty Editors of Jane Magazine recently reviewed my shade and said it is for "going to the Oscars". Read about it >

So, wanna try my shade? It's quick and easy!

Jan 20, 2014

RED Burlesque on 5 Different Asian Complexions

This weekend I met up with a group of my girl friends who love dim sum at our favorite Chinatown place - Nom Wah Tea Parlor. I took this opportunity to make everyone try on my RED Burlesque shade and the Strawberry Siren shade, and voila! Here are the results of how amazing the colors look on our different skin tones. Between the five of us, we cover a pretty good representation of the wide range of Asian skin tones. I have both shades available so if you want to pick one up just email me and we can arrange to meet and drop. Or you can order them directly on eBay (Calamity Chang or Strawberry Siren). I generally always have some product with me at shows,

Dakota has a lighter complexion. She is wearing "Strawberry Siren". She says she has consistent dry lips so RED Burlesque's rich (but not SO rich that it runs and bleeds) moisture factor is a big plus. She was surprised at how long her lipstick stayed on for the rest of the afternoon to early evening through drinking wine and chocolate tasting!
Close up of "Strawberry Siren" on lighter olive skin.
Later in the afternoon still with the same lipstick Dakota Asians-out with my dog Chewie
Jo has similar skin tone as Dakota. I would say they are both in the light-medium skin tone. She is also wearing "Strawberry Siren".
Close up of Strawberry Siren shade - a very versatile color!
Minx Arcana wearing my shade "Calamity Chang". Minx is in the medium skin tone. I would classify "dark" complexion for people from Southeast Asia as a general rule of thumb. Calamity Chang on Minx did not look as dark as it does on me, for instance. Minx's complexion brought out the rich plum undertone of this shade.
Close up of "Calamity Chang" shade on medium Asian skin tone.
Minx with Chewie and same lipstick after TWO bottles of red wine, I might add.
Lysa is wearing Calamity Chang as well. She has cool blonde highlights and is in the light to medium skin tone range. She said she was really impressed with how "potent" the color stay was. The sample swatch she put on her wrist stayed on through the day.
Close up of awesome lip colors!
Here's a photo studio shot of me wearing my shade - it's a pretty accurate representation of the actual color. I am definitely NOT in the light skin tone range. I am mostly medium. I am darker than Dakota but lighter than Minx so this shade works well on me as well. The plum-color does come through quite well.

All of us in RED Burlesque lipsticks! On my off days, I like to wear my Sol Moscot glasses and just red lipstick.
Gratuituous food shot of some of the dim sum dishes at Nom Wah. Best dim sum in Chinatown, fo' reals.
Pop-O-Matic a vintage lifestyle enthusiast blog reviews my shade >

One of the Beauty Editors of Jane Magazine recently reviewed my shade and said it is for "going to the Oscars". Read about it >

So, wanna try my shade? It's quick and easy!
Or email me and I'll send you a PayPal invoice!