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 28, 2014

The 2nd Annual Asian Burlesque Spectacular - dromNYC.com

The 2nd Annual Asian Burlesque Spectacular - dromNYC.com

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!

Hello Kitty/Asian Hooker Series by Katja Heinemann

Katja Heinemann, a German photographer based in Brooklyn, NY, have been documenting some of my shows such as last year's Asian Burlesque Spectacular and Les Fleurs de Shanghai for a photo essay she is developing. Her work covers topics on women, bodies, and youth issues. She is also involved with Chinatown youth centers and projects since this project as she described to me is "a documentary series on 'Chinatown' both real and imagined, past, future, present.... immigrant day-to-day survival and flights of escapist fantasy". Katja hopes to finish my segment this May and we wrapped it up this last week with a few portraits of my Hello Kitty act which is to a song by Steel Panther called "Asian Hooker". I performed this act at Stormy Leather and Clown's Debauchery show (first Wednesday of the month at The Slipper Room). Katja said this was the initial act that caught her attention.

Jan 15, 2014

"Repeal Day 2013" Trailer with Dandy Wellington, Gin Minsky, Perle Noire, and Me at Hotel Chantelle!

This is from our Repeal Day 2013 celebration at Hotel Chantelle where I also have my 4th year running weekly Friday night show! I performed with Dandy Wellington who also has a Tuesday Night Soiree event there with his fabulous self and jazz musicians. Dandy and I work together a lot - he sure is a dandy eye candy! Here we are performing with his band along with Perle Noire and Gin Minsky.

Repeal Day Eve @ Hotel Chantelle from Hotel Chantelle on Vimeo.

Jan 14, 2014

Yao Xiao Commissioned to Create Original Artwork for The 2nd Annual Asian Burlesque Spectacular 2014 Poster!

I am thrilled to announce that the very accomplished, NYC-based, illustrator and artist Yao Xiao has agreed to create original artwork for our 2nd Annual Asian Burlesque Spectacular happening in mid-May. I've long been a big fan of her work having seen her at many Dr. Sketchy's events here and at my shows as well. Her Instagram and Tumblr are full of awe-inspiring work that she is making. I don't think she ever sleeps because she seems to be constantly creating beautiful art into the wee hours of the night. I've always been a big fan of graphic novels especially artists like Adrien Tomine (Optic Nerve) and that's what drew me to Yao's work. The complexity in texture and also the narrative. You can make pretty pictures but to have pretty pictures that have a personality and a story that pulls you right in - its comparable to painting.

Here are some quick picks I pulled from her pages to introduce to you how awesome she is! I'm sure she's probably like 23 years old too. Lol. Can't wait to share what she will make for us. I am sure it'll be spectacular just like our line-up which I will announce hopefully by the end of this week. All I can say now is that it's a brand new line-up with new faces and only 2 performers out of 12 are from NYC! Yeah!!!!

Yao's latest work is the cover for Katy Perry's single "Dark Horse" and even Perez Hilton is a fan!

Yao created the cover to Wall Street Journal's end of year special ‘Best of 2013’
Her work in Entertainment Weekly August 2013 for the Video Music Awards - http://www.yaoxiaoart.com/106462/blog

Find out more about Yao's work on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yaoxiaoart

Her web site: http://www.yaoxiaoart.com/

Last year's poster art work

Jan 13, 2014

Another Photo Set by Jane Kratochvil

Some new photos by one of my favorite live performance photographers Jane Kratochvil who shot me at two Salon NYC events presented by Patrick Soluri between New Year's Eve Eve at The Players Club NYC with George Gee and His Swing Band, and this past weekend at the monthly swing dance party at The Empire Hotel Rooftop with Professor Cunningham and His Old School Band.

With The Minsky Sisters backstage

With Gin Minsky at The Players Club

With Dandy Wellington!

There's George in the corner

This one is one of my favs. The very fabulous and always impeccably dressed DJ Voon and I sharing a moment right before I went on stage.

JK and I post show! Gorgeous isn't she?

It was very foggy that night made a very noir-ish feel on the roof with the hotels sign.

The Empire Hotel Rooftop from my iPhone

Check out all the great vintage events at The Salon NYC! If you like vintage lifestyle anything whether it's the glamour of women's clothing, the debonair gentlemen's clothing, the swing music, big band sound, check it out!