Renee Stone, founder of the pin-up dance group the Diamond Bettys talks troupe dynamics, Viva Las Vegas, and divas.
Q: While you were born in Texas, the Diamond Bettys were actually born in Los Angeles, California. Can you tell us a little about the inception of the troupe from concept to first performance?
I am originally from Texas but lived in Los Angeles for 7 years as a professional dancer and performer. After dancing in several dance troupes around Los Angeles, I decided to start my own troupe but wanted to do something different then any dance troupe that was out there at the time. So I took my love for pin up girls and dancing and started The Diamond Bettys.
Q: I’ve had the pleasure of seeing you perform and was astounded by the dance ability and solid choreography of the troupe. This isn’t a “let’s see if we can wear a dance hat and increase our bookings” kind of production. Do you ever have trouble trying to explain to folks what the Diamond Bettys are? You’re not “just” pin-up models, and you’re not burlesque. How do you explain the troupe to folks?
Yes! I have a lot of trouble trying to explain to folks what The Diamond Bettys are! You kind of have to see our show to understand what we do. That’s how we got to perform at Viva Rockabilly Weekender in Las Vegas the first time. I remember asking Tom Ingram the first time about booking the Diamond Bettys explaining that we were a Pin Up Doll dance troupe and he literally laughed at me. So the next big show we had in LA I begged him to come watch the show and he did…. he booked us for Viva 2 days later.
My best explanation of who The Diamond Bettys are is that we are a high energy pin-up doll performance group consisting of tapping, dancing and singing in the era of the 1940′s and 50′s; but it is really something you just have to see to truly understand the greatness of it! It’s a refreshing show that will leave a smile in your face.
Q: Managing a successful and happy troupe can be incredibly hard work. What are your top three tips for success?
My 3 tips to managing a happy troupe are:
1- You can’t have any divas in the troupe; you want to get women who are appreciative, and excited about being a part of your troupe.
2- You want professional talent- girls that are good at what they do and take passion in being their best.
3- Take care of your performers. If you take care of the performers and make sure that they are paid for their talent, and treated like the professionals they are, they will be happy!
I try to hire the most beautiful and talented women “inside and out” to be a part of The Diamond Bettys. To be a Betty you have to have a great personality, great attitude, appreciative and a professional dancer, tapper or singer!
Q: What does the future hold for Renee Stone and The Diamond Bettys?
The future for The Diamond Bettys is endless. I can see us doing a production show/musical based on the Pin Up Girls of 1940′s and 1950′s. We continue performing at various venues and events around the world. We perform at private parties, festivals, trade-shows, charity events and many more events….
LA based make-up artist, model, and burlesque performer Kira Von Sutra talks her love for Danny DeVito, blood and gore, and shares her Zombie Apocalypse plan with us, which of course- involves whisky.
By: Vivienne Vermuth
Q: You describe yourself as a “makeup slingin’, gore-lovin’, burlesquing model” from Tulsa, Oklahoma. How long were you involved with burlesque in Tulsa before moving to Los Angeles? I imagine the two scenes are dramatically different; what are the biggest differences you’ve noticed?
The Tulsa scene is obviously smaller! I was in the 1st revival troupe in Oklahoma; we started in 2003, so I was performing Burlesque for 6 years before I moved to Los Angeles. We didn’t have the option of taking Burlesque classes; we had to figure everything out ourselves. The resources there for costuming are also pretty crappy. You have to order everything online so it tends to be more expensive. Now that I live in LA I have the fashion district at my finger tips. It makes it 100% easier to achieve the costumes and characters I have in my head.
Q: Currently you are in school studying makeup artistry. What have been some of your favorite experiences doing makeup? Any celebrities?
I actually finished school over a year ago. I have worked on my share of celebs: I did the makeup for the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia live show, the comedy short for The Golden Gods Awards on VH1, and makeup for www.funnyordie.com and www.thebloodfactory.com
Doing makeup for and on and for Danny DeVito is always a treat. Not only is he hilarious but he is hospitable and genuine. He fed the workers on set better then I feed myself! Dan Aykroyd was also amazing to work with, but when I did makeup for the Golden God awards I was silently freaking out. I am a HUGE fan of metal. I got to work with and be around some of the most famous and talented musicians in the metal world.
Q: How would you describe your burlesque style? Do you try to interject your love of horror into it and your modeling?
As much as I love traditional burlesque, rock and roll and horror burlesque is where my heart is. Combining the two is heaven. Performing burlesque to Shout at the Devil dressed as a glam ram-horned Satan while spitting blood at people pretty much sums me up as a person and a performer. As far as modeling goes it’s the same. I love the idea of looking like a traditional pinup, wearing latex, being covered in blood, and wielding an axe. I find that there is SO much traditional pinup and burlesque that I like to spice things up my way. Horror has played such a huge roll in my life since I can remember; I completely surround myself with it. It’s in my house, tattooed on my body, and in my blood. I grew up with Freddy as a hero. My Grandmother and Mother are big fans too so as a family we used to watch movies and old TV shows together.
|Q: Speaking of gore, you recently talked about your contingency plan in case of zombie apocalypse. Care to share with us?
Sure! My boyfriend and I are HUGE zombie fans. We know where the closest gun store is to us. We’ll head there first, grab supplies, then haul ass to Texas for my boyfriend’s father’s ranch to hold up. He has lots of firearms and whiskey!
Q: What’s currently on your plate? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the near future?
Currently I have been working hard on sewing, millinery, making hair accessories, and costuming for burlesque performers. I’ve also been heavily considering getting into designing latex lingerie and clothing.
I’ve been in cahoots with the Fishnet Follies to start burlesque classes in LA to teach a few different makeup classes: Makeup for Stage and Makeup for Everyday. I want anyone to be able to attend, not just performers. As far as my own burlesquing goes- I started to hone in my sewing skills to work on making bigger and better costumes for myself. I am ready to take things to the next level.
Bombshell: Pin-Up and Nose Art of WWII
by: Femme Vivre LaRouge
While art has always adored the feminine form, the pin-up made her true debut in the 1900s both in the U.S. and Europe. Ushered in by exoticism, flappers, the French postcard, Ziegfeld, and the Gibson girl (America’s first centerfold), the pin-up really came into her own mid-century. The embodiment of life, love, joy, and vitality, the all-American pin-up girl is both alluring and comforting. By WWII, pin-up art had become mainstream, and came to adorn numerous magazines, dime novel covers, advertisements, promotional products, and, of course, calendars. But her most important post was bolstering morale in the war effort, when flesh-and-blood pin-ups joined the ranks of the painted. The advent of ‘nose art’ also made pin-ups larger than life, reminding soldiers of what they were fighting for.
Combat troops, composed mostly of single young men, leaving the strictures of their home society for the first time, and faced with death on a near-daily basis, deserved whatever support a well-turned leg or well-endowed bust could give them. Although most nose art was never really sanctioned by any commanding officer, social restrictions concerning a girl’s state of undress were considerably relaxed during wartime. After all, if a fella is risking his life for his country, doesn’t he deserve a good view of that country’s bounty? Naturally, the further from the states a gent was stationed, the more risqué his plane’s mascot could be. Censorship was generally only an issue when an aircraft was paraded on the home front, and some rebellious crews still chose to paint ‘Censored’ on their ladies rather than clothes.
Although not all nose art depicted pin-ups, it all gave its crew a much-needed icon and identity. As Phil Cohan wrote in his article, “Risque Business,” on the subject of nose art, “At its best, the art is the crew’s expression of self-pride, a release from the anonymity and uniformity of military life, and an antidote to the dehumanization of war.” The great importance of this very impermanent artform is not only that it gave servicemen something more personal to be a part of, but also that it is a marker with which to identify the past and both the missions that made it, and those that didn’t.
The artists creating these works had to make do with very limited resources and, for the most part, were not professionals. They were very creative with their available materials and, if they were paid at all, it was usually in goods or alcohol. Regardless of the work’s quality, though, the most important thing was that it gave the vessel a personality, much in the same way of a captain naming his ship.
Many men were also able to find security in linking the personage of someone well-known in the public eye to their machines, such as Rita Hayworth. Hayworth’s famous pin-up photo from Life magazine’s August 1941 spread earned her the title of U.S. Navy’s “Red-Head we would Most Like to be Ship-Wrecked with.” According to legend, photographer Bob Landry had a happy accident when a flashbulb failed to go off, creating a sensous shadow around Rita’s phenomenal figure.
The image of ‘The Love Goddess,’ which was reproduced more times than any other star’s photo in Life magazine, was even pasted on the first test atomic bomb dropped on Bikini Atoll. Although this knowledge, understandably, weighed heavily on Rita, she said, “I’m proud of that photo. Not just because the servicemen told me I looked good, but because of what the photo meant to so many of them: a link with home.”
Rita did a great deal more than just pose for the war effort; she was regularly seen helping out in the Hollywood Canteen after a long day’s filming, and worked with the Naval Aid Auxiliary. Hayworth performed on radio shows and USO shows, signed autographs for soldiers until ‘Hollywood’s most beautiful hands’ must have been tired to the bone, and was even known to give out locks of her hair to some lucky soldiers who had the gumption to ask. American GIs called their war bond-selling darling the “Number One Glamour Back Home Girl.”
In fact, the only pin-up more popular than Rita Hayworth was fellow actress, Betty Grable. After releasing a 1942 promotional photo of Miss Grable for Twentieth Century Fox’s upcoming film Pin-Up Girl, the studio began receiving over 20,000 letters a week from servicemen, all requesting her photo. By the end of the war, 1 in 5 military men owned the iconic photograph, taken by Frank Powolny. Betty Grable was considered to be the ‘Pin-Up Queen of WWII,’ and the infamous photo was included in Life magazine’s ‘100 Photos that Changed the War.’ Life magazine noted that, “It was more than the sexy picture that enamored them of her; there was a magical wholesomeness and substance they saw beyond the curves of her figure. It was her very essence that was loved.”
Like Evelyn ’$50,000 Treasure Chest’ West and Tempest Storm, Betty Grable had what she considered her best assets insured with Lloyd’s of London, but for her this translated to ‘Million Dollar Legs.’ With measurements of 18.5” thigh, 12”calf, and 7.5” ankle, hosiery specialists and Hollywood alike touted her legs as the most beautiful and ideal. Rumor has it that a young serviceman by the name of Hugh Hefner even considered her iconic pin-up pose to be his primary inspiration for founding Playboy.
To all the men and women who have served, and those who have done their best to serve those serving, Thank You.
Kellyn Willey, owner of Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics, talks poorly blended foundation, places to visit in Atlanta, grapeseed oil, human disco balls, and owning a business before she owned a car.
Q: Pin-Up Girl Cosmetics is a full concept unlike any we’ve seen in the country. You have a storefront location, with regular business hours, and on site photographers, make-up artists, and stylists, in addition to a retro clothing boutique. How was the idea born in 2006, and was there a “model concept” or “model store” to look to for inspiration?
There was no model for the shop. The original owner was an extremely gifted makeup artist and hair dresser. She wanted to have her own shop where she could express her talents. Eventually she met up with an equally gifted female photographer and opened the shop together in June 2006. It was just 2 talented young women expressing their creativity and passion of vintage culture and fashion.
Q: Your site mentions that the pin-up shoots were almost an afterthought, to document the fabulous makeovers, and now you have three full time photographers on premises! Tell us about the evolution of that aspect of the business.
Yes, in the beginning the first owner just wanted to have a cosmetic boutique but then she met, who would be her co-owner, a local female photographer and they decided to join forces and make a store front together. Now, in our new location, photo shoots compete with the cosmetic services, but the shots win with a few steps ahead.
Q: How did you go from “working at the shop in 2007” to “proud owner in 2009”?
Well I was hired in November 2007 as a makeup artist but predominately a shop girl: just very simple tasks with little to no real responsibility. Then the owner decided to go in a different direction when she realized that I was also a budding photographer and graphic designer. She cut the staff back 3 months after hiring me and made me store manager. Then by the end of the summer, we moved the shop out of Little 5 Points to Grant Park due to issues with our original landlord. It was the best thing we could have done. Eventually after a few months of being in our new shop home, the owner told me she was feeling overwhelmed by running the shop and taking care of her new baby, not to mention to the global recession being upon us all. She asked me if I wanted to be the owner…I said no way! I’m only 23 years old and I don’t even own my car!
Eventually I realized that if I wanted to keep the ONLY job I’ve ever loved and ever been good at, I was going to have to own it. So, in late July 09, she signed the entire company over to me. It was so terrifying and I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning…except pay the bills on time and advertise online. But with the support of my staff, family and friends and a lot of praying and midnight panic attacks, it all panned out over time.
Q: Your shop has recently tripled in size from its original location, and is now located in the hipster paradise that is Grant Park (Atlanta’s largest historic neighborhood), and become the “talk of the town”. What are passerby’s reactions to the entire pin-up thing? Have you noticed an increase in folks familiar with, and inspired by, the look recently? Do you ever get walk-ins?
Oh yeah the neighbors really were shocked when they first saw us…they still are. Oversized paintings of nude women hang in our pink and red store front with corsets and stockings lining the walls. We’ve heard it all before, “What is this place? What kind of pictures do you take? What the hell is a Pin-up girl?”
We have many walk-ins every month, typically clients getting their brows done or shopping and then we have the Frequent Flyers! These are our clients who get multiple services a year…over several years. We have about 4 die-hard ones who are moving into their 8th and 10th shoots since 2007. It’s pretty incredible to have support like that in a business that’s not considered a necessity but a luxury. Not to mention having our newest addition to the Pin Up Girl family, “Lucky Starr” a fantastic vintage clothing and accessory boutique. Christine Starr Cookus is the brilliant owner and she was one of my clients years ago when we first moved into the Grant Park space. Christine is a breath of fresh air to our business, bringing with her tons of new clients and a positive attitude. She has only been with us a month and I can’t imagine the shop without her. Groupon has also brought us boat loads of new clients…219 new faces in 24 hours to be exact! We’re very blessed and more than thankful.
Q: In fact, you’ve been getting so much attention that you we’re named “Critics Pick- The Best Reason to Dolled Up” in the Best of Atlanta 2009 Issue of Creative Loafing. What was your reaction?
To be honest, I cried. I had only owned the shop for 3 months and was stressed all the time due to low revenue from the recession. I remember that day so well. My best friend, Shellie called me up about 7am screaming, “You made the Best of 09!!!” I didn’t even know what she was talking about. I remember people voting for it online, but everything those early months was a blur. Then she emailed me the link…and I almost died. I felt like we won an Oscar, and in a way we had. It’s such an honor. I was and am still so proud of that. My staff deserved it for all the long hours they put in every week. They’re so patient and passionate.
Q: On your list of services you also include theatrical and special effects make-up. That’s unusual! Were you or Kiah [Kiah Clark is the other make-up artist at PG!] formally trained in make-up, or are you all self taught?
Kiah and I both studied makeup under our perspective high schools. Theatrical makeup is something we do in our freetime…when we have it. Kiah does make-up for the local Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Plaza Theatre here in town when she has the chance. While I’ve done dozens of local, independent films and photo shoots with special effects makeup like zombies, severe bruising and gashes. Yes, we are self-taught and we have learned a lot of techniques from other makeup artists from around the region.
I would never call myself a special effect makeup artist, but I do believe a true makeup artist can pick up any cosmetic tool or product and figure out how to apply to any skin type in a matter of moments. I’ve done so many crazy makeup applications from making someone into a human disco ball, pageant and drag queen makeup to making myself appear as a zombie with buckets of blood pouring out of my mouth. I love it all!
Q: What are your biggest make-up or pet peeves, or common make-up mistakes?
Poorly matched and blended foundation….Yuck! A bad quality foundation whether it’s a powder, cream or liquid, is even worse when not blended into the face a neck well. If it doesn’t match your skin it can make you look old and dry to say the least. My favorite trick to well-blended foundation is to apply the makeup to your whole face with a brush our sponge then use your hands to blend the makeup into your neck and edges along your hairline and ears.
Too much undereye liner gets annoying to me too. Unless you have HUGE eyes, it can make you look decades older and tired. Try applying a small amount of liner to the inner bottom lid by your bottom lashes on the outside corner. Add a bit heavier of a stroke on the farthest outside point of that line wear your eye ends for added drama. You can even do the same technique on the top lid. It’s very Sofia Loren!
Q: What are your five favorite specific beauty products?
1) A great moisturizer! At our shop we love blending aloe vera gel and grapeseed oil as our face moisturizer. Grapeseed oil is packed with antioxidants, has natural SPF 15 protection, is closest to the oils your face produces and is a very neutral/mild emollient great for all skin types PLUS extremely affordable. If you have the drier or more mature skin, add more grapeseed oil. If you have oilier skin, use more aloe vera. Always moisturize when you have freshly washed skin that is still damp. You only need a nickel size amount of this moisturizing blend.
2) All-natural lip balm! It’s a secret to the perfect lipstick/gloss application. My favorite is Burt’s Bees original formula. Dry lips make you look dull, dehydrate and yes, old; all things we fear as women. Many lip products are made with mineral oils, parabens, alcohols and other petro-based ingredients and they only moisturize temporarily. I apply lip balm 3-5 minutes before I apply my lipstick and I make sure to bloat of any extra balm I have before I apply the lip color to ensure a lasting application.
3) A truly dramatic mascara! I don’t leave the house without it! There are so many great brands out there I can’t name them all, but I’m wearing Rimmel’s Glam’ Eyes Flirt lately and I love it. My old tried and true favorite is Physician’s Formula Plump Potion mascara. Try a heated lash curler AFTER you apply your mascara for even more drama. They really work and your lashes stay curler ALL DAY! Mine has a silicon strip instead of a metallic, bristly wand, and I can sanitize it after ever use. It was less than $10 from Ardell at Ulta.
4) A fantastic red lipstick! I fought red lipstick for years until I found PinUpGirl! I didn’t believe that it would look good against my dark skin. But I soon realized that it looks incredible on all skin types and ages, you just have to find the shade last works best on you. Cooler tones, like a more blue-based red, look better on fairer tones: think of red like a deep candy apple red. If you have darker skin tones, try a warmer red with more yellow tones like Coca-Cola red with a darker red or even a plum/ violet lipliner. ALWAYS line your lips first when applying a red lip. If not, it can bleed, feather and make your lips appear smaller than they truly are. For that true retro pout, heavily line the 3-dimentional line of your lip (slightly outside) and feather in the liner then apply the red and blend with a lip brush. Our favorite red are the ones we sell in the shop through our private label but MAC has some incredible shades especially in the Pro Longwear LipCreme shades!
5) A great teeth whitening system! It’s more affordable than you think. So many of us love lipsticks, especially those luscious reds and a bright, white smile will make all the difference in that sexy kisser of yours. I recommend a pre-brush whitening rinse, then a whitening tooth paste with fluoride using a good electric tooth brush (Oral-B makes the one I use and it’s less than $30..I’ve had mine for 4 years), a post-rinse with great restorative properties like enamel strengtheners to keep your teeth in shape and they even have whitening floss to brighten up in between your teeth. I guess I’m obsessed with pearly whites…but it’s a great way to always look your best without wearing a stitch of makeup!
Q: In just a matter of weeks, Atlanta will be filled with tourists checking out the Southern Fried Burlesque Festival. If you could only recommend five places to visit while there, what are your picks for vintage minded visitors?
1) The Starlight Drive-In on Moreland Ave. It’s worth the drive to enjoy a great movie under the stars with your honey. Sometimes you can even catch a retro flick if you review their schedule.
2) The Clermont Lounge on Ponce It’s where strippers go to die and party before they hit the ground. Yes, I just said that This is a must-see experience that EVERYONE (over 21) has to partake of. Not for the faint of heart. Seriously, it’s a blast, especially on Karaoke night!!!
3) Holy Taco on Glenwood Ave Some of the absolute best flash mural designing in the city, incredible cocktails and the food is truly amazing! I LOVE GREAT Mexican food and this place has INCREDIBLE Mexican food!!! I have had many a mid-day margarita there and I’m looking forward to my next!
4) Liberty Tattoo on Ponce or Grant Park If you need to bleed, you’ve come to the right place! Just ask for Shay or Kaki or anyone holding a tattoo needle for that matter. Tell ‘em Kellyn sent you!
5) Anything in Little 5 Points I can’t list everything I love in Little 5 because there is so much but stop in Libertine for awesome accessories plus cosmetics, the Porter for their Belgian fries and a Lemon Gingerade (my favorite combo), Stefan’s for some hard-to-find vintage apparel, and Rag-O-Rama for great second-hand trends and finds!
Houston based fashion designer Amberry Jam sits down to talk petticoats, millinery, bobby pins, Velcro, and her Classic Harlequin line.
Interview: Divertida Devotchka Photos: Compliments of Amberry Jam
Q: You studied fashion design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and then relocated to Houston to study costume design, right? On your website you state that there’s no reason that fashion and costumes should be kept separate. Tell us more about this philosophy.
Yes! Studying fashion made me feel very boxed in. It’s actually a boring field unless you work in a high end avant-garde fashion house, which very few people do. I started studying costume design as a back up and it changed my life. Entering the theater crowd introduced me to people who wanted to push boundaries on a daily basis and not just special occasions, and it’s contagious! I want to bring that fun ‘it’s my birthday, I’m wearing a tiara and glitter’ attitude to every day, and to help others do the same.
Q: Your website says that you believe that everyone should own at least one petticoat. Please share your ideas on the importance/versatility of the petticoat.
Oh they’re the best! There’s something about the gathering of tulle or lace around your body that is just so pretty. Maybe it’s the way it bounces around you when you walk; it just makes you happy. And they look fantastic with almost any outfit, alone or layered under or over a dress. I even wear them when I go to festivals or camping- they’re cute and I have a cushion no matter where I sit!
Q: You started studying millinery in your work in Houston theaters, correct? How long have you been studying and making hats?
I actually took an intro to millinery class in 2006 and fell in love with it. Those kinds of classes are few and far between though so I bought a few books and taught myself as much as I could. It was working under the craftmaster at the Alley Theater when I really flourished. We worked on Our Town and had to research, design, and create 20-something hats in 2 weeks. It was hard work but really rewarding.
Q: The majority of your work is custom orders, but you actually prefer that, don’t you?
Yes. Whether it’s a hat, pasties, or a full costume, I love being challenged and custom work definitely does that. And it’s always different. It might be bringing to life a customer’s sketch, creating a hat for an existing costume, or just being given a theme and getting to present your ideas for it. It keeps my work fun and introduces me to so many interesting people.
Q: There are tons of local costume designers, burlesque performers, and models who love DIY fashion and making hats and costumes. Given your design experience, what do you consider to be the most common costuming/hat-making errors that you’ve seen in the industry? In your opinion, what makes a bad costume or hat “bad”?
Too many bobby pins! Please attach an inner comb or headband! I once saw a beautiful silk and felt floral cocktail hat with at least 8 pins in holding it down. It completely overwhelmed the hat which is so sad because she clearly put a lot of work into it. For burlesque costumes, if you’re going to use Velcro, I think you should dye it to match the fabric. Even in large theaters, you can see that strip of fuzzy white from the back row. It might just be for a second, but anything that draws the eye away from you is bad.
Q: When did you release your Classic Harlequin line? What are your goals for Classic Harlequin (and beyond, for that matter)?
Classic-Harlequin.com was launched in October as my ‘ready to wear’ line. I wanted to create a line of hats that could be incorporated into your daily wear so that it no longer looks like daily wear. I’m so happy that it’s been well received by the retro and burlesque crowd, including the Pin-Up Society. That’s a group of girls who know how to dress (and drink!). I’m hoping that it continues to be successful and fuels interest in my custom and one-of-a-kind pieces.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
Yes. Custom work is temporarily on hold until July. I’m touring a few art and music festivals in California this summer to sell my hats and spread the word about the south’s growing burlesque scene. But people can still see a gallery of past work, join my mailing list, or request work for when I get back by going to classic-harlequin.com or sending an email to AmberryJam@gmail.com.
Brownsville based pin-up model Ili Jean discusses Andy Warhol, makeup, and inspiration.
Q: What songs are in heavy rotation on your MP3 player right now?
Right now anything by: Johnny Thunders, France Gal, The Clash, The Velvet Underground, Wanda Jackson, The Shangri Las, The Ventures.
Q: You do a lot of conceptual shoots. How much of that is you, and how much of that is the photographers you choose to work with?
One can’t function without the other; a pack of wolves is as good as the hungriest wolf, and we’re all starving to do exactly what’s on our minds. I am very fortunate to be able to work with such artistically driven individuals; we work together on producing photo concepts that fill our goblet of creativity. As of late we have been taking a more avant garde approach which has kept our minds busy with tons of new in depth ideas.
Q: You don’t see a lot of pin-up models in Brownsville, Texas. What’s the scene like there? Do you find yourself mostly traveling for shoots?
Brownsville is a small town with a lot of room grow , the photographers I work with regularly, live here in the Rio Grande Valley, but I do mostly travel to perform more so than shoots.
Q: What are your top three favorite cosmetic products and why?
– Magic Power by Prescriptive is a translucent powder that gives skin a shimmery glow after you have applied your make up. I never leave home without it.
– Show Dior mascara is the only mascara on earth that has ever worked for me. The consistency is thick but not clumpy. I used it even after applying false eyelashes; it is a female must have!
– Dior black eyeliner maybe the most difficult eyeliner to take off, but by far the best! It will not budge!
Q: If you could sit down to dinner with 5 people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
A famous Baroque painter named Peter-Paul Rubens. Definitely Andy Warhol just as long as he doesn’t leave me barefoot and glamorous in New York City like Edie Sedgwick. Come to think of it I would really love to see what Rubens would have to say to Warhol about art and vice-versa. Jayne Mansfield, because a dinner party requires both beauty and class. Then maybe Buddy Holly and Joe Strummer. Joe Strummer has always had allot to say so I’m sure the conversation won’t get boring- as for Buddy, I could be the girl in “True Love Ways”.
Q: Your weight and weight loss have been topics you are open about through your blog. In a modern society of “thinner is better” beauty ideals, you have still maintained a high self-esteem. What advice would you give ladies who are struggling with weight issues?
My weight loss was a gradual process taking over a year. My weight will continue to yo-yo give or take a few pounds. I believe it was an overall good decision to get some more exercise and be healthier. I was never dissatisfied with what I weighed before; I just knew I was not getting enough exercise.
Today’s socially imposed beauty standards are unrealistic and frankly unachievable. One can spend a life time trying to climb the beauty ladder to perfection, but the truth is our bodies will continue to change as we do. I hope to inspire women to accept themselves and realize you can be beautiful and full figured.
Q: You maintain that higher education is a top priority. How do you manage to keep a firm head on your shoulders, and balance your shooting/performing schedule with school?
At times it feels there are just not enough hours in the day for it all. I have a planner I write in religiously, planning day by day. After I graduate with a bachelor’s degree I would like to get my master then continue school and get my PhD. So looks like I have to start getting used to the busy life early!
Q: You talk about the concept of re-invention. Do you view your alter egos as extensions of yourself with personalities all their own?
I view them simply as extensions of myself. A prism has many facets, and this is just one reflection of my many colorful artistic genres. I am constantly reinventing and craving creation; it’s a concept that never leaves me.
Q: If 100 years from now, there is an “Ili Jean” legacy, what would you want it to be?
Ultimately, I just want to have a positive influence on women, I would like to inspire through burlesque, art, and education.
Q: What does the future hold for Ili Jean? Any upcoming projects we should know about?
At the moment I am going to school full time, and hopefully by next semester will continue my studies at the University of North Texas in Denton. Right now the sky is the limit; I am excited to see what the future holds for me. When I think of what the future holds I always remember a great quote by Leslie Caron, which I hope to live by.
“I think it’s the end of progress if you stand still and think of what you’ve done in the past. I keep on.”
- Leslie Caron
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.
Texas Pin-Up Model of the Year, Amber Deville recently sat down with us wearing a hat she made herself, to talk oatmeal, Bettie Davis, and horror films.
Cover photo: Through the Looking Glass.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
I had peaches and cream oatmeal with water- yummy.
How did you fall in love with the pin-up era?
The musical Gypsy with Natalie Wood is how I feel in love with the pin-up era. My grandmother, the late Betty Jean, showed me the movie when I was thirteen and I just fell in love with it. I love how it showed the old vaudeville circuit and the burlesque dancers including Gypsy Rose Lee. I soon learned about more pin-up gals such as Maila Nurmi, Bettie Page, Tempest Storm, Marylin Monroe and so on . I just love the style, what can I say?
How did you get your start in modeling?
My mother put me in modeling school at the age of fifteen; it was the Kim Dawson agency. There they taught us how do walk the runway, pose in front of the camera, and how to do your make up just right for certain styles of photography. That’s where I started out, and here I am now.
You recently earned the title of Pin-Up Model of the Year at Hot Rods and Heels. Tell us about that experience.
Oh my god, I had so much fun at the event and I really did not expect to win. The other ladies are great models as well. It was such a great surprise, and I am so happy that people like what I have done so far. I expect to be putting more and more out there and working my little butt off. But yes, I am grateful that I won and I would like to thank Hot Rods and Heels for putting together a wonderful event. I can’t wait till next year!!
What is your biggest accomplishment so far?
Well, I would say the biggest is winning Pin-Up Model of the Year. This year has been so great, and I only hope it gets better.
What advice would you have for a gal who wants to get started in the pin-up modeling world?
If it is what you want to do, but you have people saying you’re not good enough- don’t listen to them. Work towards your goal; in the end it will all pay off. Don’t pay attention to the negative critics- you will get those, so you have to learn to let it go and just do what you love to do.
What are three characteristics of a professional model? (What skills should ladies bring to a shoot?)
Always show up to a shoot on time and don’t cancel at the last minute unless it’s an emergency.
Always come prepared and be ready to model your butt off.
Don’t be mean to your photographer- they work hard to get you great pictures.
Who are your favorite vixens?
That would be Miss Bette Davis! I love her movies- she was not afraid to say what was on her mind and did not ever care what the critics thought. She was always willing to take on a challenge. Bette Davis was and always will be an amazing actress and woman of her time.
Is “drama” an issue in the pin-up community? How do you handle it?
If there is an issue I don’t get involved in it. I think its best just to avoid drama and just have fun!
What does the future hold for Amber Deville?
I am hoping to get more into acting- I am filming right now. The movie is called Trace. It is a horror film by Remy St Paul…I am hoping to get more roles in other movies. I am also going to be modeling a lot more so be on the look-out for new sets to be posted. I love keeping busy and hope to accomplish a lot this year.
Hot Rods and Heels Texas Hair and Makeup Artist of the Year Rocio Vielma sat down with us to discuss Vi-Ve, NYC fashion week, artistry, and common makeup mistakes.
Did you always know you wanted a career in the arts?
Absolutely! My first passion was architecture (which I still love), then I was introduced to contemporary dance and fell in love. I have always been exposed to the arts.
What’s your training background? Did you attend school, apprentice someone, both?
I attended cosmetology school in Dallas back in ’03, learned hair (all about the “pin curls”) among many other things I am able to use now.
For Makeup I must say, besides the little they covered in school, I am pretty much self taught .
How did you make the transition to a full time hair & make-up artist? Describe how you got your start.
Always wanted to become a makeup artist! Always!!
Almost four years ago I told myself to go for it whatever it would take to get where I hope one day I can be , so far it has worked and I am so fortunate to have come across wonderful people that had helped me tremendously along this ride.
When did you found Vi-Ve Makeup and what’s the story behind the name?
Vi-Ve makeup was founded on August of 2005 almost 4 years ago.
As many people may know , I was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico. We do use our full names including father’s and mother’s first last names , which in my case my last names are Vielma Vera, therefore, I took the first syllables from each last name and became Vi-Ve, I thought it would make my parents happy…and it worked!
What’s the best thing about owning your own business? What’s the hardest thing?
The hardest is the scheduling, being a mother of three wonderful cubs and trying my hardest to juggle all their activities and my work!
The easiest is not only being your own boss, to me is to be able to really do what you love to do , being aware of the challenges and still have the motivation to keep going since this is what I wanted to do when I grew up after all
You go out of your way not to pigeon-hole yourself as only doing one particular style of hair & make-up (ie. just pin-up). Why is diversity so important?
What a blessing for those who are willing to step out of the box and take risks to be able to grow professionally why not?! It is phenomenal!
If I only did pinup I wouldn’t be represented by an agency that’s just the plain truth, I wouldn’t be able to get all the work I do, doing Hair and Makeup has most definitely helped to increase my work .
As I stated before, “do not limit yourself , this beautiful profession is a never ending learning process, embrace it.”
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere and everything! The internet is such a fantastic fountain of information nowadays for example, you can go and watch NY fashion week as its happening! I read a lot read, read, read, and more reading. Trust me, we need to study everything that can help us make our job easier.
What is your dream assignment?
Assignments! Haha !
The day I get to do Helena Bonham Carter, Cate Blanchett, Monicca Belucci, Audrey Tautou, Natalie Portman, Winona Ryder’s hair or makeup , that will be the day I will be in heaven!!!
What’s one common make-up mistake that women make?
I’ll give you a few:
-Fall for just one brand name.
-Being convinced that a makeup artist can make you look like the “A-lister” that looks nothing like you.
-Getting stuck in the best decade of your life.
How important are brand names? Is it important to get a certain brand of makeup?
Today we are exposed to so many different brands, and some of them have an amazing networking power over the general public, however doesn’t necessary means it is the best. Let me just take a minute to give advice about the true meaning of a freelancer, it means they work on their own , not for a brand name , when you come across with someone mentioning “I am a freelancer for X brand name”, no, there’s no such a thing! That person works for a company therefore they will do their best to sell you that brand , if you come across a true freelancer , they wont try to sell you anything! They will offer a general brand outlook and advice.
What is your advice for gals (and guys) who want to pursue a career as a hair & make-up artist for print work?
When I joined the cosmetology school I recall the teacher asking everyone of us what we wanted to do after graduation. After all, people change opinions and goals all the time and is valid, when it was my turn I said “I want to do makeup” everyone of course laughed and the teacher said what are you doing here? I said, “I want to be able to offer as much diversity on my work as I can if I can offer hair and makeup I will be able to get more work.”
From my entire class (36 people), I am one of three people who are still fulfilling our goal!
You will find so many challenges; be ready for them and take them as another class; in this never ending learning experience is a beautiful career!
What does the future hold for Vi-Ve Makeup and Rocio?
Hey I am just a makeup artist not a psychic! Hopefully we keep growing professionally and as a person so I can take anything and still act chilled about it …
Dayna Delux recently traveled back home to Dallas for a baby shower with friends a family and we were lucky enough to have her carve out an afternoon for us. Here’s what she had to say about pregnancy, motherhood, and baby furnishings.
Interview & Photographs: Shoshana Portnoy, Through the Looking Glass Studio
What was your first reaction to the news that you were pregnant? How has it changed now? (Are you more nervous than excited, etc)
I already had a feeling I was pregnant but I was still surprised. I took like 8 pregnancy tests that day just to make sure. The first day or so we were in shock but excited now it has turned to nervousness! Time is getting close and I get more scared.
Do you have any names picked out?
We have a list of names but I am not naming him until I see him. I’m sure it’ll just come to me!
What has been the high point of the pregnancy? The low point (did you have icky morning sickness, etc)?
Well I was pregnant with twins and I lost one around 3 months so that’s the lowest point, but the highest point is knowing I still have one healthy baby boy coming. The 2 and a half months of puking my guts up was awful too.
Funniest pregnant moment:
There have been so many… I suppose to me the funniest is the fact that my belly gets in the way of everything. I haven’t gotten use to it yet and it knocks things over and I bump into everything.
Did anything about pregnancy catch you off guard? Something no one warned you about:
People can warn you all day about things but until it happens to you won’t understand or believe it. I didn’t believe my friends when they told me my hair dye wouldn’t stay and they were right. The color just washes right out!
Wanna give your fans a sneak inside the nursery?
We have been working on the baby room for weeks now. It’s a slow process with everything being so expensive. We are doing a nautical theme with sail boats, anchors, nautical stars, lighthouses, etc. I hate little kid looking stuff like teddy bears, Winnie the Pooh, and sesame street stuff. I think his room might look a little grown up for baby but it’s really for us anyway right? Ha Ha
What are the top three things you hope to instill in your son?
Morals, consideration, confidence!
What is your idea of motherhood/ family life?
Honestly I have no idea. I’m shooting in the dark and I pray I get it right.
How will you introduce your life as Dayna Delux, pin-up model to your son?
I think he will just grow up with it because hopefully I’ll still be working. I hope I won’t have to tell him about when I use to model. Fingers crossed!
How will you juggle being a working mom?
I’ll juggle it will my loving husband and good friends I hope.
Speaking of your husband, how’s he handling the news?
My husband is so cute and excited about the baby. He has been searching for the perfect Angles baseball outfit for months now and can’t wait to take him to his first game. He has also picked out the first car they are going to work on when he turns 14. It’s so great to have a supportive partner. I can’t wait to teach him how to swing dance and get him his first skate board. So many fun things to come!!
How will your work or working style change, or will it?
Well I don’t think style will change at all but work will I’m sure. People will have to work around my schedule more than before and I’m sure I won’t have time for the little fun shoots. Only serious work now that I have less time.
What’s next professionally for Dayna & personally?
Everything, Why stop at one thing, I’m up for anything and focused. I’m going to be getting settled into being a mom and learning what that’s all about. My whole life is changing so everything is going to be new!