Red beans and rice is a staple of Creole cuisine. It’s easy to fix, inexpensive and good for you. Traditionally, this dish was prepared on Mondays because everyone did laundry on Mondays. So while the ladies were busy hanging up clothes on the line, they could simmer a delicious meal on the stove without having to interrupt their chores. Lots of cultures have some form of beans and rice dish, but this one is my absolute favorite. So here’s my recipe that I have adapted from some of the great cooks I met during my tenure in Louisiana.
Red Beans and Rice
(Serves your family, and then some!)
1 pound of dried red kidney beans
1 small white onion, chopped
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt (about 3 Tablespoons)
Black (about 3 Tablespoons)
Cayenne (1-2 Teaspoons)
1-2 Sprigs of thyme
1-2 Bay Leaves
Cooked white rice
Andouille sausage, Tasso ham, or smoked sausage
Chopped fresh parsley
Sort through the beans to remove pebbles and grit. Some people suggest soaking the beans for various reasons, but I never do. Just make sure no one will be breaking a crown on an overlooked piece of pebble.
In a large pot add the beans, 2 ½ quarts of water (Or about 10 cups; I had to look that up, I never measure at home), the chopped vegetables, and herbs and spices. Basically, dump everything into the pot.
Bring it all to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 1 ½ hours. Then add the sausage or ham and cook for about 30 more minutes. Serve with cooked white rice, chopped parsley and hot sauce (Crystal’s is my recommendation). If your beans are too “soupy,” use a potato masher or the back of a large spoon to mash up a quarter of the beans.
You can also add a ham hock or bone to the water and beans before cooking, which will really make it taste really authentic. Also try subbing half of the water for chicken stock.
Did you know?
In Creole cooking onion, bell pepper and celery comprise the “Trinity.” The French have their mirepoix (carrots, onion and celery), which they use as a foundation for all their dishes. But in Louisiana, it’s all about the Trinity.
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Dallas legend Black Mariah, who will be performing next at Bewitching Burlesque’s Mid Summer Masquerade on August 8th, sits down to talk White Lightnin’, Jabberwockies, full-figured gals, and complacency.
Interview & Photographs by Shoshana of Through the Looking Glass Studio
Most Texans met you as “Black Mariah of the Lollie Bombs”, but you have been performing for many years, prior to moving to the Lone Star State. Can you tell us about your burlesque beginnings?
I started performing as a soloist in Tennessee. I was going to do burlesque on a stage or else! So I got in touch with a couple of friends who ran a Gothic club night at a local venue, and I debuted at their Halloween show. At that time, no one was performing burlesque in the area. I was, however, slightly nervous when I realized that there was no one else booked to perform that night. Instead of being part of a much larger show, I WAS the show!
I did not disappoint and became hooked on the rush of performing burlesque. I did a couple more solo performances and along came a good friend with a great idea to start White Lightnin’ Burlesque, Knoxville’s first modern burlesque dance troupe. I moved to Dallas about a Year after the troupe started which made me very sad to leave my close knit sisters. I was lucky the Lollies snatched me up as soon as I got here.
With all of the recent growth of burlesque, the mentor relationship becomes very important. Can you describe that relationship for us?
I did not have a mentor when I began. I’m pretty sure I was the first in my town (with the exception of the burlesque shows performed in the 30’s and 40’s) to forge a path for burlesque in the definition we see it now. I do mentor, because I don’t want to see performers have to take the long route, when I have all the information to help them get started.
Beginners should look for qualities in a mentor that we would look for in a mentor of any industry. The qualities should reflect not only a positive and uplifting personality, but also consistency in their interpersonal relationships with other in the community. Good mentors have great relationships in the community and are not prone to breaking deals, or burning bridges. Good mentors also have enough performances and experience in their pocket that they can advise an up and coming performer about potential obstacles and pitfalls. Hopefully a potential mentor can also introduce her budding debutant to other professionals so they can share advice as well.
Can you describe your creative process from seed to stage?
I get tons of ideas. I often write them down in an idea book. I chew on the idea while, to make sure that the idea wasn’t a fleeting interest and it is strong enough to transcend more than one show. All of my numbers have to be something I can perform on almost any stage and be appropriate for almost any type of show. I get a concept of either the music or the costume and make sure this is something tangible, physically practical and affordable. Large props or large amounts of props are often a recipe for disaster. I keep in mind that at any point, I may be the sole person carrying the costumes and props in for my performance. I want nothing bigger than I can handle on my own.
You are known for your fan routines, which many view as more classic burlesque, but often use more edgy modern music. How do you describe your style?
Neo- Burlesque. As I understand, Neo- Burlesque is the modern spin on burlesque utilizing modern music and dance styles or costuming but taking it off like the old days. With “classic” burlesque, the performances are defined as performances utilizing music or a live band playing music from the era of the 30-50s, with classic costumes, props, and choreography. Classic performers look like they stepped out of any of those eras without any indication of the new millennium being an influence.
Who are your burlesque idols?
Dita Von Teese. She was the first performer I saw and her grace and beauty made me want to do this. When I had the chance to meet her and tell her how she changed my life, she was so kind! She was so humble and sweet. She is one of the nicest celebrities I have ever met, not to mention the most stunningly beautiful!
Dirty Martini is also a personal hero for me. She is extremely curvy and confident. Her performances are always very unique, and her facial expressions are just animated and perfect.
Many fans are in awe of your amazing performances and your ability to really connect with the audience. Many women also find inspiration in the fact that you are a full figured gal. What advice can you offer to larger ladies who may be struggling with accepting their beauty?
I wasn’t a full figured girl all my life. I was lean when I was younger, and at one point in my 20s I lost a LOT of weight, nearly 80 pounds down to a size 10. I look at pictures from that time in my life and you would think I would be happier then, but I wasn’t- I thought I looked sick. There was nothing wrong with me, but I just don’t think “thin” was a good look for me.
I don’t think I really felt good about the way I looked until I made the decision to become a burlesque dancer. I was out of shape and knew I needed to get into shape (notice I did not say “lose weight”) to be happy with how I looked on stage. Confidence begins within. I wanted to tone up and not only be healthy but look healthy. And just so you readers know, I don’t think I could have possibly gotten much smaller at the Size 10. Females are not all engineered to be a size 0-2 at our lowest body fat capacity. Don’t buy into that.
If I have learned anything at all from being in the burlesque scene, it is that low self esteem is not reserved for the full figured gal. Body image issues are across the board more equally than people realize. I think people assume larger girls must be self conscious because our “flaw” is obvious to the superficial. Truth is women who do not have to fret over their body mass index can easily find anything else they don’t like about themselves.
Do you feel an extra obligation to represent plus size gals?
Yes. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to fit into designer dresses and have thighs that don’t jiggle, but I just cannot connect with my audience if I am not being true to myself. I am thankful that I am a larger girl but I want to be a healthy full figured girl. I want to inspire women to love themselves for who they are and take care of their bodies. I feel like I am blessed with a unique platform to inspire young women to become the best each one of them can be.
You are a Renaissance woman, in that your art is not exclusively in your performances; you also are known for your pin-up modeling, costume and pasties design, as well as your graphic design abilities in creating beautifully whimsical Lollie Bombs flyers. How has art transformed (or formed) your life?
Art is my life. I get inspiration from every opportunity and experience in my life. I feel inspiration and share the energy from seeing other’s creativity come to life. I become excited like a little kid when I find something that really speaks to me. I can watch the JabbawockeeZ dance, and be just as excited and inspired as I can watching a documentary about birds.
I am more appreciative of creativity and the hard work it takes to achieve iconic success when my eyes and mind are open to love the art.
What does the future hold for Black Mariah? Any upcoming performances or projects we should know about?
You will be seeing a lot more solo performances around town. I will always be a Lollie Bomb first, but I am also working on getting into the Burlesque Festivals and experiencing that aspect of the business. The performers that make it into the festival shows are stunning, and have amazing routines. I will be working on some big debuts this year that will give nod to the burlesque legends, as well as carve a niche in bigger and better performances. My greatest fear is becoming complacent in this business. Once you become complacent, you become mediocre and obsolete.
Black Mariah will be performing at Bewitching Burlesque August 8th at the Plaza Arts Center, and with the Lollie Bombs at the Pocket Sandwich theatre August 21st and 22nd for a Breast Cancer Awareness benefit.
Pin-Up Model and writer Lizzy D Vine of Sacramento, California talks Nor Cal Vixens, motherhood, and patriotism.
Interview by Divertida Devotchka
Are you a burlesque performer or strictly a pin up model and writer?
Currently, I am a model and a writer. I have ALWAYS had a deep appreciation for burlesque. My hope is to reach those who have misconceptions of the art today. My dream has been to extend myself into that arena. I recently took that leap alongside the lovely ladies of the Kountry Kittens. It was my debut and I will be part of many more troupe performances and individual performances as well.
I am also involved with the Nor Cal Vixens, which is a supportive, tightly knit group of gals. I suppose you could call us a sisterhood of creative and artistic individuals. I am also the co-producer and editor of a local public access show called Nor Cal Vixens Presents. The show was concocted by the lovely Michelle Barbaria and I’m glad to be part of it. We’ve done two segments- one on burlesque and one on fashion; they should be available for streaming soon.
You have 3 children. What ages? Boys or girls?
I sure do. They are an extreme joy! My husband and I just had our newest addition to the family, Emma Rae, on May 15th! We also have two amazing boys, Owen who turns 3 in December and Noah who just turned 6.
What do your children know about your involvement in the burlesque/pin up world?
Right now they don’t have a full grasp of what mommy does. What they notice is mommy getting dolled up or spending time on the computer. When I’m getting ready, my boys ask where I’m going and the infamous question at age 6 is “but why?” I simply answer, “Mommy and her friends are filming their TV show” or “Mommy will be at a catwalk rehearsal.” Sometimes they understand; other times they have their own translations. In their eyes Mommy and her friends are movie stars because they are on TV and Mommy walks with lots of cats.
I get things done while they are setting up for bed and while they sleep. I’m usually working on one of my many projects I own or am collaborating with someone on. I have The Burlesque Times, Operation: Patriotic Pin Up, and the Modern Pin Up Magazine that will release at the first of the year.
How do you feel about the possibility that your daughter may eventually be involved in burlesque/pin up?
(Chuckle) I think Dad might have a different opinion about our lil’ peanut, but I accept that there is a 50/50 chance that she may want to do the same as me. I will teach her to love herself, to respect herself, to hold true to herself and the rest we will leave to time. I can honestly say I will support her.
How long ago did you start Operation: Patriotic Pin Up? What exactly do you do?
Operation: Patriotic Pin Up is a charity-based community willing to provide moral support, packaged goodies and our appreciation to all of our deployed troops. We will be hosting fundraising events teaming up with several independent charities, websites, support groups and the local Veteran’s Hall.
The organization didn’t have a name until this year, but I’d like to think that the services that I did as a child were the very start of Operation: Patriotic Pin Up or at least they’re the deep-rooted reason as to how it came about in my adulthood. In elementary school I was adamant about collecting goodies for care packages and thank you letters so that when Mom and I sent care packages to my stepdad who was deployed, his platoon would receive goodies too. Mom showed me to exercise patriotism and my dad taught me to be grateful that I am an American.
Your bio states you are from a “strong military and patriotic background.” Can you tell me more about that?
My stepfather was in the USMC for many years and at a very early age I was taught to appreciate the good ole boys (and girls) that fight every day to keep my tail safe. I love our service men and women and this is the very least I can do. It’s because of them that my kids and I can sleep safely and do things freely.
Like most ladies, I thought I knew what size bra I would wear my entire adult life based on trial and error in a fitting room my freshman year of college. I went to the lingerie shop in the mall, grab a stack of what I thought pretty and begin trying. I choose the bra that was least uncomfortable, looked at the tag, viola — that’s my size. Since then, whenever I need a bra, I just went to Target or wherever and grabbed that size along with my other daily essentials — soap, light bulbs, etc. Apparently in ten years a woman’s body changes dramatically, which I wasn’t conscious of until I headed down to The Maddox Shop.
This lovely lingerie shop is in the Casa Linda section of Dallas, independently owned, and has amazing customer service! My grandfather, who was an immigrant and owned a men’s clothing store, spoke of service like this. I thought it was long gone with the advent of superstores, I was wrong. I walked into the Maddox Shop where a little old lady asked me to take a number. I took one, and sat on the couch and waited. Within five minutes a different little old lady came an asked me how she could help. I explained that I had a gala to go to, described my dress, and stated I needed a comfortable bra that would lift the ladies to go with it. She escorted me to the fitting room, and then followed me in. At first, I was really freaked out by this. I had to imagine the old days of shopping with my grandma for back to school clothes (she always followed me in) and I took off my top. The little old lady stepped on to a stepstool so she could reach my chest and measured me. When she announced my size, I was dumbfounded. It was two sizes larger than I was currently wearing!
She disappeared and came back with the most comfortable bras I had ever worn. My boobs were happy and comfortable in their new home, and lifted up to show their appreciation. I even looked good in my old tee shirt! I figured I was on a role, so I got a bustier as well. Now, my body is not a fan of symmetry, which wasn’t a problem. The little old lady saw that one breast had extra room between it and the cup. She called in the store’s seamstress, who measured, then disappeared with my bustier, added some quick stitches, and returned it to me three minutes later with a custom fit!
While my little old lady, organized by order at the counter I browsed the store and found the best selection of old school lingerie I had ever seen! Full girdles, cone bras, and beautiful stockings were just some of the eye candy. I also admired the fact that The Maddox Shop built its business around catering to ladies who have special lingerie needs due to surgery and mastectomy. The store also carries a wide variety of sizes, where every gal from 32A to 48E can find a bra that’s right for them.
Jonathon Kimbrell is a Dallas based artist, his latest pin-up inspired work is featured along with artist Erik Jones at the Soda Gallery in the Bishop Arts District throughout the month of August. Kimbrell sits down with Pin Curl to talk Dylan, hair dye, and Rita Hayworth.
What is the inspiration behind current exhibition Between a Real Blonde and a Fake ? Where did the title come from?
Bob Dylan has and continues to be a pretty resourceful influence on my art, and i find that I usually work best to his music, (or Nine Inch Nails). When I was trying to come up with a title for the show, I was spinning Dylan’s “Time Out Of Mind” album, listening to the last track called “Highlands.” As I listened, I heard these great lyrics: “I don’t want nothing from no one, ain’t that much to take. Wouldn’t know the difference between a real blonde and a fake. Feel like a prisoner in a world of mystery. I wish someone would come and push back the clock for me.”
That sounded brilliant, of course, coming from a writer like Dylan, and I figured that would make a great title. I could see a connection where things don’t appear genuine anymore, in this time, as opposed to the ‘golden age’ of 20th century America, when things were made with pride, things were real and not overly processed. Can you tell the difference between a real blonde and a fake these days? I can’t…
You use the tagline “pin-up artwork” in your promo materials for the show. What does the term “pin-up” mean to you? What is alluring about the style?
I’ve had a love affair with pinups since I was a kid, especially Betty Page and Rita Hayworth. I’m enamored with pinup art from WWII, especially bomber nose art. Gil Elvgren is my favorite artist of them all. There is something really interesting about that art. It was risqué at the time, but pretty tame to today’s standards. It’s classic, it’s beautiful, it’s brilliant. I think if it weren’t for the pinups of WWII, giving GIs hope of returning home to their girlfriends and wives, we may all be speaking German right about now.
The Soda Gallery, where you are art director, recently hosted several Dr. Sketchy’s Dallas sessions. Has the growing pin-up and burlesque community in Dallas influenced your recent work?
I think so. It would be a lie to say it hasn’t. I wasn’t really aware of the growing community of pinup girls, burlesque dancers and related culture until Dr. Sketchy approached us at The Soda Gallery and Broomstick Comics about hosting some mini drawing sessions. I have to admit, after the first session with Ginger Valentine, I was hooked. I’ve been toying with the idea of creating more pinup artwork anyway, but having all of these lovely pinups around the gallery lately has really inspired me to get on the ball and create more pinup themed art.
You have become known for your Pop Art style, one of the best examples may be your 2007 Buy War Bonds series. Is your current work in the same vein? How has your work evolved?
The “Buy War Bonds” series has been something I always come back to. It actually started back in 2002, when I was still an undergrad student at McMurry University. I’m entertained by the juxtaposed idea of the positive ideology of supporting the war effort during WWII with bonds and stamps, and the more negative and dark connotations that war brings about through media to the masses. It’s interesting to see how things have changed in the world through media over the last 60 or so years. A lot of my newer ideas are coming full circle to the look and feel of those “Buy War Bond” pieces from before. I’m happy to see my work evolve the way it has, from mimicking the styles of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein, to start coming into my own pop/contemporary look. I still have a long way to go though, before I’m completely satisfied with how it’s all coming together.
When not working (in that one free hour per week you have), how do you spend your time?
Ha ha…good question — I had almost forgot what ‘free time’ actually is. Aside from being an art junky, I pride myself on being an audiophile. I buy and listen to a lot of records. I listen to a lot of pre and post-war blues, classic rock and roll, rockabilly, swing, jazz, bluegrass and folk. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams get some heavy rotation on my iPod and turn table.
What does the future hold for Jonathon Kimbrell? Any upcoming projects we should know about?
I’m actually in the middle of several projects right now. The biggest is “Telephone Print Company”, an offshoot of my Napkin Art Studios that specializes in hand-printed clothing, album artwork and limited edition art pieces.
Since I’m getting more into silk screening and letterpress printing, I wanted to take the plunge creating tee shirt designs influenced by pop art and music, and hopefully create more album covers and show posters for bands. It’s always been a running joke that I’m actually a designer trapped in a painter’s body.
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We’ve all seen the “one less” ads for the HPV vaccine, but are you informed on the link between HPV and cervical cancer? Want the facts? Visit www.nocervicalcancer.org
Jennifer Harrison of Masks by Jen sits down with Pin Curl to talk about life before the Internet, leather, alcohol, video games, and art. You can find Jennifer and her masks this month at the Mid-Summer Masquerade hosted by Bewitching Burlesque.
Describe how you fell in love with masks. What drew you to them?
I saw a leather mask at Scarborough Faire one year. I don’t remember the maker, but I do remember the mask. It was a bat-wing mask, with ribs along the wings to accentuate the ‘bones’ inside. I was intrigued by the whole idea, so I decided to make one myself.
It wasn’t so much that I fell in love with masks. It’s more like I fell in love with leather. I’d been making small bags from leather for a while, and found that I just didn’t have the patience. When I started making masks from leather, I really got into the whole sculptural process of working the leather and shaping it.
You mention that you learned to make masks through trial and error. Can you briefly describe your creative process?
I started making masks back in 1997 or so. There was no Internet to research the techniques, so I really had to make it up as I went along. I got some leather, and made my first mask. Then I made another mask to figure out what didn’t work with the first mask, and then another mask to try out a different weight of leather…
I really like the medium, because it combines sculpture with painting. Making masks involves so many different activities — planning the mask, creating the pattern, sculpting the leather, painting the leather — that there’s always something to interest me. If I get bored with sculpting, I can go paint. Or vice versa.
And I have very little patience for a project that takes several weeks! Making a mask can take me a couple of weeks, or it can take me a couple of days. Sometimes I design a mask, then discover after I’ve made it that something doesn’t work right, so I have to start over. I build some time into every project so that I have that flexibility.
Tell us about the birth of Masks by Jen. How did you get your start?
There’s a fantastic woman I know named Lori Thomson. Every year, Fort Worth has Gallery Night, which is kind of a posh little clique-ish thing that the galleries put on. Lori saw that a lot of fringe artists were being excluded, so she decided to set up a tent and have her own show, called ‘Untitled.’ She was looking for artists, so I said ‘Sure!’ I think I had maybe five masks at the time. I sold four of them. I was flabbergasted. It had never occurred to me that I could create art and sell it to people who liked it. So Lori is really how I got my start in the art world!
Where do you seek inspiration?
Alcohol. And television. Video games… And books… it all mixes together in my head, and then something will pop out. I have come up with some excellent ideas while sitting at the bar, talking with my friends or sketching in my sketchbook. I’ve also come up with great ideas while sitting at home, watching a movie. My mask designs are as much about what the leather can do as what’s in my head. Organic curves and swirls work really well in leather. Some of my best masks have come from directly sketching on the leather itself.
You note that each mask is a one of a kind creation. In a world of mass production and cost reigning king over quality, do you find that people recognize the value and beauty of a one of a kind creation as much as you would like?
Leather masks are an odd market. Most people look at the masks, and don’t realize what they’re seeing. They like them, but they have no idea how much time I spend on each one, or how much work went into designing each one. That doesn’t really bother me. I had no idea until I started making masks how complicated it can be. What makes it all worthwhile is the few people who really get into masks and enjoy them.
What would be your dream assignment?
I’d love to do movie or theater work. I’ve made masks for a couple of theater groups, but it’s always been a one-time deal. I’d like to make masks for a movie that really pushes the envelope of mask ideas.
Our readers know alot about following their passions. How do you balance your time between your love for making art pieces with your 9-5 job?
I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. I had already begun selling my masks at festivals, and trying to start an online business, as well as working my 9-5 job. (actually 12 to 8, but close enough) Then the disease hit, and everything changed. Now I feel like I need to use the time I have to be as creative as possible; make the most out of what I can do, while I can do it. Sometimes I’m not always able to be creative. My brain stops working, or fatigue sets in and all I can do is sleep. But it’s motivation to do the work when I feel up to it – because I know that I might not have the chance in the future.
Award winning producer Glam Amour and Bewitching Burlesque present: Mid Summer Masquerade on August 8th at the Plaza Arts Center. Tickets available at http://bewitchingmidsummer.eventbrite.com. This promises to be the Burlesque Event of the Summer! This is one you won’t wanna miss!
Come in costume as prizes will be awarded in the following categories:
Most Glamorous: Female/Feminine — doesn’t mean you are female — just that you define curves, grace and are dressed to Excess in glamorous, sensual beauty.
Most Debonair: Male/Masculine — does not mean that you are male, just in a masculine costume and dressed to Excess with your “muy macho” and yes, you can be macho in a skirt- we’ve seen it…and drooled about it.
Most Outragrous: Creative, comedic, crazy or just… odd… We love the odd….
Most Bewitching: The judges favorite costume of the evening. The crowned title of the evening.
Don Nedler the owner and operator of the world famous Lizard Lounge since 1991.
Jennifer of Jupiter Moon 3 is a San Antonio-based fashion and costume designer, specializing in corsets.
Rocio Vielma recently awarded the best Hair and Makeup Artist at the Hot Rods and Heels annual event.
Miss Malicious Hot Rods and Heels performer of the year 2009.
Nicolette Paulsen teacher of Fashion Design at Otis Parsons School of Design Los Angeles
Radio Personality: Jesse from the Edge
And of course, what we all love, the performers!
Bubbles Von Bon Bon
Erin Go Braughless
Pixie O’ Kneel
Scarlett Rose Royale