The Roots of King Cabernet

If you find yourself in Winnipeg one night and there’s one show you don’t want to miss, it’s a King Cabernet show. Boasting the best music, striking visuals, frequent performances, and King Cabernet’s own outsized personality, they stand apart from any other events out there. For anyone beyond the point where typical clubbing is the go-to form of entertainment, but a quiet night in just isn’t a valid option, these events offer the perfect elixir. With shows like this, with such tangible motivation and drive, it’s impossible for a curious party-goer not to wonder how it all got started.

King Cabernet started DJing on Saturday late night radio for CKUW ten years ago, at the time also attending Mod Club at the Pyramid every Thursday. Wanting the opportunity to DJ in public, the moment came 6 years later when he chanced to speak with DJ Aaron “The Invisible Man” Young, a Mod Club DJ who was bar manager at the late great pub J. Fox’s. Aaron was then DJing “It’s a Mod Mod Mod World” nights, during which 8-10 people would play 10 favourite songs. King Cabernet, who’s real name is Kevin, expressed an interest in doing a mini set at one of these events, but Aaron did him one better and offered to let him do events monthly. After working out the concept of playing old 60s movies while playing retro music, CINEMA GO GO was born, featuring Kevin billed as DJ Cabernet

“Aaron chose that name because, he said, ‘Kevin, you’re always the best dressed man in the room, you have the best taste in movies and the best taste in music. You are, in short, a cabernet,’ ” says Kevin. “Personally, I think he just wanted to watch some movies on a slow night.”

Over time it became evident that Sunday nights weren’t ideal for the emerging events, but a friend, Evan Quiring – writer and artist for the comic book Los Luchadores Mysterioso – had reunited his lucha mask-wearing surf guitar band The Rockdoras and were slated to play J. Fox’s one Saturday.

“I decided if we couldn’t bring people to Cinema Go Go maybe we could bring Cinema Go Go to the people, and DJed between their sets while projecting the whole time old drive-in trailers onto the screen behind the stage. At this point Aaron said it clicked for him: A crowd that enjoyed the kitschy visuals and enjoyed my taste in music made him want to push and promote me more, and I ended up doing a gig there with short lived 50s rockers The Blackbirds one night in early October.”

During this time the then DJ Cabernet was teaching himself the rudiments of film editing and taking intriguing high impact scenes from old filmes noires and 30s exploitation films like Reefer Madness, to play these essential parts of the films while the music played. Somehow, it all synced up. “I realized once and for all the whole ‘Pink Floyd recorded Dark Side of the Moon as an alternate soundtrack to Wizard of OZ’ was complete bullshit. The brain naturally syncs up visuals and sound no matter what. One could swear what’s projected on screen is a music video for the song and it isn’t. I realized then I now had a gimmick to distinguish me from other DJs: I had an encyclopedic knowledge of bizarre & obscure films and a means to take clips from said movies and show it as well as just play music.”

That night turned out to be key in a number of ways. Amongst the crowd were The Blackbirds, comprised of Andrew Maxwell, an early supporter of DJ Cabernet, and two people he’d end up teaming up with at various points in the future: local rockabilly sensation Greg Arcade, and Rafael Reyes, guitarist for the Mexican folk/spaghetti western/prog rock band Mariachi Ghost. Also in attendance was Greg Ash, bar manager for the Yellow Dog tavern who was there enjoying his night off. Ash enjoyed DJ Cabernet’s set so much that he asked if he would play at the Yellow Dog. Cabernet leapt at the chance. The first SHINDIG! event was held there in November 2010, just a few months before the closure of J. Fox’s.

King Cabernet (right) and Mod Marty at Bond and Burlesque

At first, DJ Cabernet considered SHINDIG! little more than a hobby. But little did he know about the impact that the shows would start to generate. It soon became clear that SHINDIG! was the most stable ongoing event around, and before long DJ Mod Marty, another dapper guy who looks like he stepped right out of an episode of Mad Men, asked if he could do a guest spot. Since DJ Cabernet was starting to get a little too burned out and doubting whether or not he should continue, this was perfect timing.

Working with Mod Marty turned out to be just what DJ Cabernet needed. When Marty was playing he had the freedom to socialize with the crowd. That night, the two became partners. In a remarkably fortuitous turn of events, it became obvious immediately that Marty understood perfectly the vibe he was trying to achieve with the music: scuzzy garage rock, gritty soul, and sleazy sax jazz. Along with the movie clips DJ Cabernet began to incorporate featuring GoGo dancers, LSD dream sequences, and car chases, all the elements combined to help make a night at the Yellow Dog (which is actually a very nice place) seem to be a night at some trashy dive bar circa 1967.

From that point on the success of SHINDIG! continued to rise, but Kevin remained aware that the shows were still falling under the radar. Something had to be done. So he decided to team up with the Rockdoras at Pop Soda’s Coffeehouse & Venue. Since the place had such a bohemian air about it, and since Keyboard player Vanda liked promoting shows with themes, he suggested making it an Andy Warhol themed event. The group loved it, and a date was immediately set.

Image from the MOTOWN GETDOWN!

At which point the Rockdoras broke up, and DJ Cabernet was left with a date but no band to play with.

“I could have just given up the date to someone else, but I kept mulling over the idea of doing a Warhol event and in what was either a moment of inspiration or possibly desperation, I called up Rafael and asked if he’d be interested in putting together a Velvet Underground tribute band. In what I now see was an EXTREME stroke of luck, I was apparently talking one of the city’s biggest Velvet Underground fans who leapt at the chance to form such a band.”

From there the project became more and more elaborate; Warhol ran three movies at a time at his parties so there needed to be three projectors running his movies at the party. He had dancers so DJ Cabernet and Mod Marty had dancers. Warhol decorated his loft in silver so they used silver tinfoil to cover the stage. They even recruited some local pop artists to display their wares as well.

King Cabernet considers this theme for a first-time event the kind of thing which is both the best and the worst to do. The enormous challenge in channeling an artist with such broad forms of expression necessitated reaching out to many types of creative people to help pull it off.  But once you’ve gotten over such a big hurdle, all other challenges seem small my comparison. It was a baptism by fire, and subsequent events have proven to be significantly easier.

“Looking back, I know why I poured so much blood, sweat & tears into organizing and promoting the event. I was extremely frustrated with my day job, and being turned down a promotion at work after years of working in an in-between capacity made me seriously wonder if I was any good at management. Actively organizing such a large-scale event that ended up filling up Pop Soda’s to capacity and that had rave reviews from everyone who attended was a vindication for me,” he says. And he’s right. There are some things that the 9-5 working world just can’t teach you that your passions can. Indulging in these passions isn’t just a luxury, but a necessity. Some say they do it to stay sane, but I believe it’s about even more than that. These are the things that complete you, that help you to become more of who you really are.

Of course, by this point DJ Cabernet was more than just a DJ, as his best friend Craig pointed out. He offered up an idea for a new name, something that would roll off the tongue. Kevin liked the idea, as it played with his own initials and he felt it sounded like that of an obscure Batman villain.

King Cabernet was born.

To be continued…

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Etsy Part 1: My Favorite Purchases

I noticed that in a lot of my articles, especially those about shopping, I mention Etsy as one of my all time favorite online shopping sites. This most definitely hasn’t changed, so I thought it deserved an article all its own. I’ll talk about how it works, the awesome stuff you can find there (in a word, everything), my favorite shops and stuff I’ve bought, and a little extra fun.

I first discovered this site when I became a member of Offbeat Bride, an online community for non-cookie cutter people who want non-cookie cutter weddings. Actually, I discovered a lot of my favorite shops when I was planning my wedding. All the girls raved about Etsy constantly, so I had to check it out. I’ve been hooked ever since. As I’ve said many times, it’s like Ebay in that it’s a site that hosts countless shops held by individuals. The difference it’s all about vintage and handmade items, so everything available is unique, and there’s no bidding. You can find EVERYTHING here, from the stupid, ridiculous, hilarious, amazing, useless, perfect, gorgeous, clever, and everything you never thought you needed SO badly. Best. Site. Ever. Want to see some of the things I’ve bought as an example? If you like what you see, click the pictures for links to the shops.

This is the first thing I bought besides a pendant made of watch parts. It’s an alternative to a ring bearer pillow, made like a treasure chest. I found it so perfect and elegant, and so unique. The seller added red roses at my request. I now keep it on display in my living room.

These earrings are really simple, and really pretty. They go with everything. EIGHT bucks. The shop is one of my favorites for elegant steampunk jewelry.

This is a beautiful gold hair vine with pink accents I wore on my wedding day instead of a veil. It’s made of wire so you can bend it to work any way you want. Around a bun, horizontally across the back, along a french twist; the possibilities are endless. Unfortunately the shop no longer seems to exist, but there are a lot of shops selling similar items still out there.

This soft shrug was bought just in case it rained on our wedding day. This was also custom made for me in a vanilla color. A while later the name of the shop, Pinar Eris, was bugging me, because it was just so familiar. So I plugged it into my trusty Wikipedia and read that this designer has actually made dresses for the Oscars. How amazing is that?

From Poppenkraal, another great shop for gorgeous Victorian and Steampunk style jewelry, fancier than London’s Gate. Now you tell me where else you could ever find earrings like this.

Etsy has a huge selection of beautiful hair clips, and this one is definitely stunning. It even curves, so it conforms to the shape of your head without sticking out like one I bought from another shop. Just make sure you have some good glue. This one is currently sitting disassembled on my coffee table. I really hope I can bring it back to life 😥

This here is a perfect example of what we here on Etsy call “upcycled.” It’s like recycled, but it’s just been revamped to be made better, not something entirely different. This lovely item is a pimped out vintage clutch. It’s too much fun.

This amazing Victorian necklace is another purchase from Poppenkraal, and was only $35. It even came with extra beads in case any fell off. So far, they haven’t.

My first vintage dress. It’s too big, and I knew it would be. Maybe I’ll have it tailored down – in a temporary way, I wouldn’t want to damage it. Even so, I’m in love with this dress. The color, the golden sheen, how light it feels. Even its size. With a belt it looks even older than the early 1960s. It billows almost in the way of something from the late 1910s, or early 1920s. At least that’s the feeling I get. It makes me feel like I should be sitting on a porch on a hot summer night while it rains. Do I sound ridiculous? That’s how you know how much I love this dress.

This is a phone I bought last Christmas for the owner of the Foxy Shoppe. She’s been an incredibly generous sponsor of Drawn and Plastered, and she’s such a great lady. I had to buy her something to thank her. I’m pretty sure this phone is from the 70s, but it was made to look like it’s from the 30s. When Pam opened the box she was speechless. It turns out it’s exactly what she’s been wanting since she first opened the shop. Now it sits out on display.

And finally we come to my most recent purchase, dress from about 1958-1960 (according to the style of zipper) by Mr. Mort. It fits great except for a little room in the shoulders which I stitched up. It seems to me like a poor girl’s version of that stunning tweed Dior dress Dita von Teese loves so much. All I’d need to complete the look is some long leather gloves. I wore it during the long day I spent traveling to Vegas, and felt like a lady Cary Grant or somebody from Mad Men. Traven7 is the very best when it comes to beautiful perfect vintage dresses from the late 40s to the early 60s with full skirts. Her prices are high but everybody knows she’s worth it. I’ve missed out on a few of her dresses before because they sold so quickly, but I’m so glad I finally got this one.

Wow. It seems I got pretty excited there and rambled on a bit. Let’s say I save the rest for another post?

Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend – Sunday

Oh man, I’m as sick of writing about this now as you are reading it. But for the sake of completion, I’m going to go for it anyway. There’s only one day left.

I love my bathing suit!

Sunday was our second chance to go to the pool party, and today there was a swimsuit contest at the ridiculous hour of 10:30am. Luckily I find that being away from home makes it easier to get up at a normal hour, so we were ready to go on time. Almost. We spent a little too long doing my hair in victory rolls, and fussing over our outfits. I wore the twin to my dress the day before, since that was THE dress I wanted to wear at the pool because of how comfy it is and it’s lack of necessity for a bra, so it was practical. And yet it still took us a tad too long to get there. When we finally arrived after our last shitty long bus and shuttle trip, we found ourselves at the end of another line. LINES! So many damn LINES! You’d think Viva was an amusement park! Well it might as well be…

Finally after what felt like an hour of waiting, which probably was, we got into the pool area. The swimsuit contest had just finished. !@#$!!! Angela insisted on a lounge chair in the shade, and wouldn’t take one in the sun just until one in the shade could be spotted, so with all the people there we ended up wandering for quite a while until finally Mark and Lisa saw us and invited us to sit on some loungers they had in their area.

Angela at the pool party, with Lisa in the background. And my finger in the foreground apparently.

Then was an uneventful and great time. In Winnipeg it was freezing cold. I was lounging by a pool in Vegas in perfect warm weather with no wind and a perfectly sunny sky, looking at very interesting and beautiful people all around me. It was AWESOME.

We were both hungry, but I could have fucking starved for all I cared, I was loving it. But Angela not so much. So we left the pool party and went back to the French Market Buffet. We stayed there a LONG time, getting our money’s worth on the delicious food and talking business. Angela is Drawn and Plastered’s office hero, and these days we wouldn’t survive without her.

Somebody's been reading my beehive tutorial!

When we’d milked as much time as we could out of the buffet, we went back up to the vendors. Every time we were sure we had seen it all we found a little more. This time, because it was the last day, a lot of the vendors had rolled out new stock, and put what they had on sale so they wouldn’t have to haul it back to where they came from. I saw a really beautiful sky blue dress that had to be vintage, but when I looked at the rack next to it, I saw many of the same one, guaranteeing instantly that it was not. Whatever! That meant it was probably cheaper than I thought. I was right. It was 70$, marked down to 50$. This dress was so mine. But I had to find my size. The sizes marked seemed unusually large for the appearance of the dresses though, so I wondered aloud of they were in vintage sizes. Immediately a girl beside me burst out laughing to her friends. What an idiot I was, right? Well guess what! They were home sewn by the vendor’s wife using a 1950s pattern, and were sized accordingly, so yes they were vintage sizes. Not such an idiot after all! Turns out I’m a 1950s size 10. And Marilyn Monroe’s famous size 14? Not what you think.

I stole this picture from the Viva Las Vegas fan page, because my pictures sucked.

Anyway, I tried on a dress before understanding the sizes and it was huge, and then realized “wtf am I doing? I’m in a bathing suit, I don’t need no stinking change rooms.” So I tried on about 3 or 4 dresses until I found my size. Keep that tip in your hat, girls. Bathing suits when there aren’t change rooms = Win. Turns out I had left my parasol in the bathroom. When I went to retrieve it, it was gone. BITCH, STEALING MY SHIT IS NOT VERY LADYLIKE!!

But we had to run. Elvira was supposed to be hosting The Wasp Woman. I don’t have much to say about that except it was confusing to us when they started running the DVD. Where was Elvira? The movie totally sucked. It wasn’t your typical so-bad-it’s-funny, which I don’t understand anyway, but it was just plain bad. When we were absolutely sure Elvira wasn’t showing up, we left. A lot of people did. We thought maybe we had been confused about what was supposed to happen, but when we asked the ushers they said she WAS supposed to come, but she got sick and cancelled. Lame.

Back up to the vendors it was, for the last time. I had been aching for a Rago girdle for…ever, and knew that Viva was the best place to get one, but we still hadn’t found a booth selling them. I knew they had to have them somewhere, so we went on the hunt. Eventually we did find such a booth, not a Rago booth exactly but they did carry it, along with all kinds of other things that made it a Victoria’s Secret for the vintage set. It was wonderful. They had two tables covered in vintage lingerie of all kinds dyed bright colors, and a rotating display of pasties, including some that looked like spiders. Not only did we find what we were looking for (Angela wanted one too after wearing my vintage one to try it out), but they came in red and black lace, completely unavailable anywhere else. We spent forever debating the merits of hooked and zipped vs roll-on, and finally went for the roll-on. I also got a matching bra because I wanted something not cone-shaped, but at least a change from the heavily padded super round shape available everywhere else. It was absolutely perfect. I will write a review. Well, when we got out of the bathrooms, because you can’t try on a girdle and bra in public even with a bathing suit on, who should I spot at the booth but Doris Mayday!

She was just as gorgeous as the doll-looking girls, but more real if that makes any sense. I loved that so much more. She was sweet as pie, just as I expected. I wondered if she had made an appearance at the PUG tent, and she had. But she felt bad for all those people waiting in line in the sun, and was giving them water. Doris is awesome ❤

I swear I don't normally look like this much of a boy. You know that, don't you?

When we came across the Stop Staring! booth for the second time, I told Angela she should go show Alicia Estrada her new dress she had bought the day before since she was now wearing it. What followed was a whirlwind. Alicia told us something that’s hers alone to tell, and Angela immediately jumped in to giving her advice. I stood there feeling momentarily useless, but being equally part of the conversation with equally valid things to say, I joined in with whatever I could. Alicia was so receptive she offered us each a dress in exchange for our emails. The dresses are STUNNING. Thank you a million times, Alicia, we love you! What a great end to a fabulous weekend!

Epilogue: We went to a few more hotels on the strip on our way back. The Venetian was amazing, and we took pictures until my feet were about to explode. The trip back home was vastly easier with only two planes to take instead of three, and we both made it looking sexy as hell in our new dresses, chic updos, and our new lacy lingerie. We were even hit on by airport staff. Which is hilarious when you think about the fact we were an hour away from leaving the country. What did this poor sap think he was going to accomplish?

So that concludes the long and tedious story about our amazingly fun trip to our first Viva. I realized last night just how much we missed when I saw an official photo album and saw that I was present for the taking of only a small fraction of the pictures. Next year, we do more. LOTS more. It’s going to be amazing, and I can’t wait.

See ya!

Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend – Saturday

I meant to post this last night, because I know you guys just love hanging off the edge of your seats to read about my life, but I was spending the majority of my night partying it up at walmart buying yellow pajamas, so you just had to wait.

As I was saying when we left off, we woke up on Saturday morning still drunk. This was odd, as we’d only had about two drinks each the night before, completely regular drinks, not doubles, not including the giant daiquiris we’d had that afternoon, which may as well have been big smoothies. We had to be at the Orleans by noon to get our tickets to the burlesque show, so we headed out right away. We looked cute as hell.

The trip was unusually short, I guess traffic was good. We rode on the bus with Batman, so maybe that helped. We got there at only a little after 11. This turned out to be pretty good, because there was already a line half way across the casino. How naive of us to think we could just walk up to the box office at noon. So we waited. Luckily the line went right through the slot machines, so we had chairs to sit on. Standing right behind us for that hour, and who had also sat on the same shuttle with us from Bill’s, turned out to be a guy from Winnipeg. Kory was totally not a douche, so we became buddies. When the line started moving – and it moved extremely quickly, it took just a minute or two to get to the front – we got our seats together.

Then it was time to head off to the famous car show, and we went together. Kory’s friend didn’t seem to have woken up that day, maybe it was another case of that Vegas mystery alcohol, so he may as well. Now this car show is pretty epic, and unlike any typical car show you may have seen. No cars are allowed more recent than 1963, and the modifications also have to be in keeping with this. I’m not a big car person, but it was awesome to see. From what I could tell, nobody saw the pretty pinup girls and the cool cars and thought to put them together, so I got Angela posing on a car with the owner’s permission, and as soon as she did about ten guys circled around to take her picture. It was pretty neat, if she wasn’t about to burst into flame I’m sure we could have had fun doing that all day. But since we had important business to attend to at the Pinup Girl Lounge, we didn’t take a whole lot of pictures. Go google them, they’re out there and better than anything I could have taken with my shitty camera phone. On the way to the tent somebody also snapped my picture and told me it was going into a magazine, probably an online one. I didn’t have a close look at the card he gave me. But that’s pretty cool, I’ll have to dig around in my purse for it some time and look it up.

Me and Laura Byrnes!

We waited in line a while to meet Micheline Pitt and Cholita, Kory close behind. Angela took refuge in the corner of the tent after her sunscreen didn’t prove strong enough. I grit my teeth and stayed zen. Towards the front of the line I spotted Laura Byrnes, founder of Pinup Girl Clothing, chatting with some friends. She was so real and cool I couldn’t help but love her. I think she spent at least five minutes talking about her bra. Me and her, we could get along. She was also nice enough to let me have my picture taken with her. Hey Laura, call me! We’ll do lunch!

Me and Cholita!

When I finally got to the front of the line Micheline was distracted with someone at the back of the tent, so I hung out with Cholita. She was really lovely. She had her hair done in that really pretty effect I’ve been seeing more and more lately where it looks like color was brushed in like a powder. I think it’s called balayage, but when I look that it up it looks so boring in comparison. Hers was light blond with this strong lavender shading. She said she did it herself. She was so nice I could have sat and talked with her all day. Then Micheline was ready to say hello, and while I didn’t get much opportunity to see what she’s like in person because of the rush, I want to like her very much because of who she seems to be online, beautiful, creative, honest, and approachable. So I’ll hold on to that until I get more of a chance. I bought a signed print of one of her awesome zombie girl paintings, and I wonder how long it will be before I manage to get a frame for it. Once all that was done, we rushed back inside.

Me and Micheline! She looks like a giant doll, and I look like a fucking dork beside her.

Well, now it was time to eat. We joined the long line for the French Market Buffet, and Kory introduced us to some of his new friends, Mark and Lisa. By now we were already exhausted, and my feet hurt like hell. But let me tell you, this buffet was the BEST. Barbeque, seafood, Mongolian, American, and pasta all in one place, including sushi, salad bars, every kind of cake and pie, and every flavor of ice cream. If only I had been hungrier. Next year, we eat there, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The plan for the rest of the day was to hang out at the pool party and take in some bands. Angela didn’t want to do this, she was feeling very sick and tired. I really didn’t want to take over half an hour back to the hotel and miss the pool party, but what else could we do? So leave we did. Poo.

Angela and Micheline. Angela hardly knew who Micheline was, but she totally didn't look like a dork beside her. How fair is that?

Once we got back she started to feel better. And it wasn’t totally boring. We caught up with our men back home, and took our time getting ready for the burlesque show. So much time in fact that we thought we would be late getting back. But the 10:30 start time wasn’t the start time at all, just the time they started letting people in. This time the line was even longer, but we already had assigned seats so it didn’t matter. Time-wise, luck was on our side that day. The show was great. Winnipeg doesn’t have much in the way of variety for burlesque, and while I’m grateful to have any at all, it was awesome to see so many extremely talented ladies doing their best in so many different ways. My hands down favorite was Miss Mosh. She looks like a platinum blond Dita von Teese with a sad face. Or maybe she was just shy, or nervous. But I absolutely loved her. In her act she danced to Harlem Nocturne, which immediately sealed it for me, but then she climbed into a giant top hat in a sparkling black gown, and after a few beats of suspense suddenly emerged as a rabbit in a sparkling white corset and ears. It was genius. I wanted her to win. Mosh, you’re fabulous, you made me a fan 🙂

How gorgeous is this girl??

There was only one thing left to do after the show but go upstairs for more bands. And sightseeing! Everybody was turned out in their best. It was the coolest thing to see all these girls in 1950s prom dresses, looking every bit authentic except for their blue hair and tattoos. Angela and I got some drinks, actually, a lot of drinks, because we didn’t want to wait in line again when we wanted more, and in Vegas they let you do that apparently. Hers was too spicy for her, so she tried to give it to me. But I didn’t want to spend all night drinking and not dancing, and I definitely didn’t want to wake up drunk again. Plus it was absolutely freezing in there. We were told it was to keep the bands’ equipment from overheating. For a while we sat and enjoyed ourselves out in the hall in a little niche with a window overlooking the casino below. Kory danced with me after that, which I had wanted to do for ages. It was awesome. Angela should have tried it but she didn’t want to. Poo.

See guys? I can be hot too! See?

Finally it was time to go home. We shared a cab with Mark and Lisa, and Mark was so nice he gave me some money for fare after they got out. That’s great, because cab fare in Vegas is super expensive. Thanks guys! We ordered a pizza but it was taking too long, I fell asleep right away and then Angela called and cancelled because she was tired too. Oh well.

Now I thought I would be including Sunday here but I assume you’re sick of reading by now. More suspense for you!

Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekend – Thursday and Friday

I already know this is going to be such a long post, it’s going to have to be a series. We only did about half the things there were to do at Viva, but it was still the most incredible time ever. Next year I hope I don’t miss anything. Now I just have to tell you about all of it, because you should totally experience this trip. That is, if you like feeling like you traveled back in time to a 1950s world that was way badass. Who the hell doesn’t?

Vegas from the plane. Turbulence makes pictures suck.

It started out pretty shitty. We had to take three planes to get there, and the first two were extremely boring, as plane rides often are. I remembered being completely enthralled by the scene below, but this time, not so much. I was just excited to be on my way. The third plane, that was different. It started out more social and fun than the others, because we were of course ALL going to Vegas. Drinks, cheering, a sexy dude from Brazil sitting with us. PARTY. TIME. But then it got windy, and the pilot warned us we were in for a rough landing. Yep. We bumped and jolted the whole way down, and then the landing…failed. It was so windy the wings of the plane were almost hitting the ground, so just seconds later the pilot was like “fuck that noise, I’m out” and did an emergency takeoff. Then all the lights went out. I don’t remember any screaming, but I wasn’t paying attention. Between the bumping, the Gs, and the tight turn back in for a second attempt, I was nauseous. I think we all were. Then it took forever to get our bags, and the shuttle ride to the hotel was a little rocky itself. Hey Vegas people: Stop running out in front of cars. Everybody else in the world knows not to do that, so catch up, will you? The rest is even more boring. I barfed, we waited in line for half an hour to check in, got dressed up for no reason, went down for food, and then decided to take it to our room and fall asleep. Thursday, over.

Hurray, I'm alive! I can drink and shop again!

Friday I felt better. I woke up at a decent hour, and let Angela sleep as much as she wanted since she hasn’t had more than 3 hours sleep since her son was born. When she got up we decided to get some room service for breakfast. Delicious food, amazing service, shit price. 45$ for two omelets and a pot of coffee. Never doing that again, nope. So while Angela was getting ready I facebooked with Mike and then we were off. To get to the Orleans where the events are held, we had to get on the Deuce, the double decker bus that goes down the strip, for 7$ for a 24 hour pass. That thing is SLOW. On the bus we met some nice local girls who explained how to get to the Orleans further. We had been told to take a cab from the end of the strip. They informed us we were being ripped off, that we should get off at Bill’s Gambling House and another bus would take us down Tropicana to the Orleans. This bus didn’t come. Finally the next one came and we got to the Orleans on day 2 at about 5pm.

We were a little overwhelmed at first. We were surrounded by awesome looking people swarming all over the casino (who suddenly made me feel VERY uninteresting) and were given a program of the events. With nothing going on at the moment but bands I’d never heard of, we went upstairs to check out the vendors.

Now this is going to sound a little sad if you’ve never been, but oh god, this was shopping heaven, and one of my very favorite parts of the whole weekend. Mix every kind of vintage reproduction, real vintage with nothing more recent than the 60s to wade through and wretch at, along with parasols, CDs, posters, hats, tattoos, a booth to get your hair done, and on and on and on. Wow. I was immediately drawn to the treasure hunt of real vintage, and scored big time. A 60s girdle, in fine condition except for a missing garter tab, in my size exactly, for five bucks. How the hell did that happen? Even the lady running the booth was surprised. But there it was. It was mine, and it felt as comfortable as a skirt, and was the most effective shapewear I’ve ever tried. So long, Spanx, you’ve been replaced, hard, and you’ll just have to move on. I also picked up two beautiful flower hair clips, also $5 (if you want to be a weirdo at Viva, just don’t wear a flower. I’m serious.), and a pretty white parasol for $15.

A quick trip to The Cosmopolitan, which is "just the right amount (ahem, plenty) of wrong" because all it is is da club with a pretty bead curtain and this shoe. We left right after this.

At 7, the vendors closed for a two-hour break, and we wandered back down to check the place out. We went to the gift shop, where I got another flower, and took pictures of all the Viva merch. I would have bought a poster, but it was 30$. Sad. Then we got gigantic daquiris in souvenir cups and checked out the pool. The Hula Girls were playing, and for the first time it really felt like we were on vacation. I don’t remember a ton else we did before we sat down to share some Mexican. I caught a sighting of Micheline Pitt at the same place. She looks like a doll.

Then we headed upstairs for The Jive Aces, the only band I’d ever heard of, unfortunately. They were goddamn amazing. In Winnipeg there are two kinds of music shows besides the concerts that come through on tour, which I only very rarely see. There’s mellow jazz, and grungy metal. I like the mellow jazz but it’s just so… mellow. The grungy metal I can easily do without. I have enough anger in my life already, thanks. So The Jive Aces were an entirely new experience, and completely blew me away. Here’s a bunch of older guys in bright yellow matching suits, with incredible showmanship, telling hilarious jokes and dancing their faces off on stage like they each just drank a case of redbull. And the audience was just as good. Here’s a room full of people in 50s clothes swing dancing, so hard you could feel the floor bounce. And holy crap, they were GOOD. I have the feeling that either they didn’t need that jive class being offered, or it was the best jive class of all time. So the whole room had essentially been turned into a 1940s/1950s dance hall, and it was completely surreal. Now it makes me incredibly sad that there’s no such thing as this back home, and I’m going to have to wait another year to experience it again.

The garden in the Bellagio

Once Angela got bored we went and found a second room full of vendors. The Stop Staring! booth was there, and who should we find there but Alicia Estrada herself, founder of the company and designer of all those gorgeous dresses. We really hit it off, we instantly got along famously. Alicia offered Angela a deal on a stunning dress, the sexy one shouldered red dress I have but in a metallic aqua color that went amazingly with her natural red hair. I told her she had to buy it, that every girl needs a stop staring dress, something high end that makes you feel incredible every time you put it on. Besides, when the hell are you going to get something like that for that price? I was thrilled that she did. And then she opened up the prospect of possibly modeling for the company one day. We were not humored, and I mean that in a good way. Now this is my kind of lady.

Next came the Layrite booth, and believe me, they’re getting a review as soon as I’m done yammering about my trip. I was going over the products, fine classic men’s grooming products, and mentioned that Lisa Freemont Street swears by the pomade even though it’s marketed to men, so of course I had to get it. So the guy beside me suddenly pipes up and says “Lisa Freemont Street? That’s my wife!” O_O He went and got her so I could meet her, and I immediately proceeded to make a gushing fan ass of myself. It was totally embarrassing. Ashley, I’m sorry, but you’re just damn cool. Because you’re not a real celebrity, because you’re just a super nice, approachable lady with entertaining videos who makes my hair boss. And that fucking rules. She was of course just as nice in person as she is on youtube, and she and Angela talked about being moms and going on vacation, so she made her feel a little better about taking some time away for herself. She even remembered my blog, from the post I made about her. I squealed like a little girl.

So finally it was time to go, and we ran around on the desolate street trying to find a bus stop. Thank god a nice lady kindly informed us that Tropicana is hooker street, and while waiting for the hooker bus we would get harassed because people would think we were hookers. So we promptly returned to the hotel, and took the shuttle back to Bill’s Gambling House on the strip, and explored a little before taking the Deuce back. It rained men in the Bellagio. We didn’t get back until probably 4am. We didn’t however act like hookers from hooker street, and avoided all roofies. Although we did wake up still drunk the next morning.

The ceiling of the Bellagio lobby. Yes, the ceiling.

To be continued!

Holly Hui Hair

I like my red hair. It’s the color that perfectly borders natural and wild, because it can go either way depending on the shade. It’s also just a sexy color. Photographers use me for my red hair too, so if I had a more standard or freakish color I have the feeling I wouldn’t get asked to do pictures half as much. The thing is, it’s been red since I was 19. And I have a tendency to get bored. Before it was red, it was blond, white, black, blue, and green. I changed it a lot. But one color I never actually got to do was purple. It was one of the first colors I intended on trying but I chickened out once my hair was bleached and never quite got around to it again.
Enter the “ombre” dye job. You’ll know this as the big Hollywood trend of girls with long brown roots gradually lightening into blond on the bottom half. Obviously those colors are not for me. But I like the idea of having two hair colors at once, especially ever since I saw Megan Massacre on NY Ink with her fire engine red and black ombre hair while I was just dying for a change of some sort. Suddenly after a bit of google image searching the solution became all too obvious. I wanted ombre hair, bright cherry red at the top, into deep purple at the bottom. Fuck yes.

The trigger

It also occurred to me that instead of seeing Becky and having to bring her a print-out that would require me to go out and buy color printer ink, I should see Drawn and Plastered’s resident hairstylist Holly Hui. I really must say, Drawn and Plastered is really lucky. We have the absolute most talented and awesome people out there working for us because they’re so awesome and support what we do. I’m so proud to say that Holly Hui is one of them. Obviously I couldn’t possibly go wrong here.

The inspiration

The location was definitely different than the fancy salon on Corydon I’ve been going to for the last five years. I wasn’t at all familiar to the area. So that turned my nerves up a little. But as soon as I saw Holly there I relaxed. I gave her my usual middy instructions and told her I wanted the longest part to be at the bra line, however gave her permission to take off more if she had to to get rid of split ends. This scared me as it was quite a bit shorter than I’ve had it for a long time. I also got bangs because I figured it’s been about 13 years, so if I’m going for different, let’s toss that in there too. I’d been toying with the idea for way too long not to. That was even scarier. But having trust will get you far. I held my breath and kept quiet.

Your first time seeing this unstyled is also mine. And how brave am I for posting a picture in absolutely no makeup and stupid pink pajamas?

When it was over I looked…normal. It’s the first time I used Matrix hair color, so it’s going to take some time for it to build up to the brightness and contrast I’d like. The bangs and the smooth straight style also looked unusually modern for me. So I looked great, but didn’t feel like myself. Of course we both knew all it would take was for me to play around a bit at home. The whole point of a middy is versatility afterall, and my bangs were cut long in keeping with this, just barely short enough for me to see. Holly also razored one side so I could wear them to the side without having a corner, and when I curl them up they’ll look very Bettie Page. The length should make them relatively easy to blend in and hide too.

Yep, there are bangs in there!

And later that very night. Who invented this sorcery!

Side note/tip: I quickly found just how easy blending bangs really is. Take the bangs along with a portion of hair from behind them, and backcomb the roots from behind to mix them together with a teasing brush or fine toothed comb. You want the teasing to be really tight, so you wonder how you’ll ever manage to comb it out again. When you let go you’ll have some odd pieces randomly sticking out. Just tuck them underneath with a pin and have the longer part of your hair fall over the ends of the bangs. Hairspray liberally. Ta-da! And I mean it was *quick* – it look less than a minute and you would never know they were ever there.

As soon as I got home I got to curling it in my regular style. This was challenging because a lot of the layers were quite a bit shorter, so it was difficult to get everything into the rollers. Nevertheless it somehow seemed to take quite a bit less time, since there were no more ratty ends, and a shorter length means less hair to roll up, and less maneuvering to reach the ends of it. Once the rollers were taken out, my hair was fuller and bouncier than ever. There was so much less weight that with some backcombing and hair spray it would virtually stick straight out with very little effort. Then with a little combing of the bangs to the side and a bit more spray, I was easily able to get myself into a style that felt really great for me. Very Joan Holloway.

After the first time styling it myself. I’m me again!

Now I don’t know if it’s because it was shorter, the layers were shorter, the products that were used, or the fact that I saw Holly, but out of the now three times that I’ve had this particular hair cut done this is the first time that it physically feels like I expected the middy to feel. Before it just felt like my hair, only the look was different. This time it feels so light and soft, like it could just float away. It feels luxurious and easy and the complete opposite of being buried in hair. It feels fantastic. And it actually made a big difference in my day, like I was wearing silk pajamas instead of jeans. I just had to mention that.

By the end of the night I was in love. I was no longer ambivalent about bangs, and the huge messy curls I had made me feel awesome. Of course anything that makes you feel like Christina Hendricks, Dita, and a spy can’t be anything but all sorts of awesome. Mike is super happy too.

Having trust in your stylist will get you far. If I didn’t have that,  I wouldn’t have done it. And I’m so glad I did. You can trust Holly Hui.

For more about asking your stylist for a middy see https://victoriablack4.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/vintage-hair-part-1-the-haircut/ and https://victoriablack4.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/i-got-a-middy-and-a-word-about-setting-lotion/

It’s Winter, It’s Cold…What the hell am I going to wear?

Ever since it snowed for the first time this year my style has been on a downward slope. Part of the problem being that I’m not getting rides to work right now, and the bus drops me off two blocks away. First I had to give up my awesome tattoo heels, because I would kill myself in them on the ice, and the new American boots from Walmart only barely resemble the really nice Canadian ones they used to sell. Those were the shit. I can’t find anything else very practical at the moment. Now I also have to make the hard decision every morning between freezing my legs and an extremely unflattering dress pants/sweater combo. I might as well show up in sweat pants and a hoodie the way THAT makes me feel. It really makes me miss working at home, on my cozy couch under a cozy blanket. What’s a girl to do?

Really, it all comes down to layering. What can you add to warm up a dress, especially a vintage style one? Well, what did they wear in the vintage era? Winter didn’t just get invented. They wore girdles, sweaters, and stockings. Full skirts of course are great with a crinoline for looks AND warmth. Spanx are super cozy, while in the summer they just make my butt itch. Then you can always add a tank top/undershirt under whatever shirt/dress you’re wearing. And 50s sweaters are so adorable I don’t know why I don’t own one yet.

On the subject of stockings, they’re actually warmer than you would expect. They’re actually comparable to pants, believe it or not. But they’re a pain to replace every wearing or two because they run all the time. The answer? Fully Fashioned stockings, the kind with the back seam that require garters. They’re made the old fashioned way, and I hear they last for YEARS. I have to get me some of those. Soon.

Speaking of pants, don’t shun them. I avoid them because I feel dumpy in them (yeah, there’s something wrong with me), I don’t find them comfortable, and dresses are just too easy. But I have been looking into 40s and 50s style pants, high-waisted with a wide leg. The wide leg reminds me of some kickass comfy emo pants I had years ago, giant black things with chains. Clearly I am now too old for these. But I really miss how they felt. I’m hoping vintage style pants would feel similar, but the high waist is throwing me off. I’m probably going to check out the mall to see if I can find something I like, but if not, I think I’ll give the pants from Freddies of Pinewood and Heyday a try. Then of course I need some tops and sweaters to go with these pants.

Topping this all off, long coats are handy. It’s a luxury if you can find a long vintage fur coat that doesn’t reek of the early 90s. Vintage coats of all kinds on Etsy are extremely affordable, easily 35-60$. Tall boots are best for pencil skirts, and short fur-lined boots are adorable with fuller skirts. Check out this picture of my meme and her sisters in the 50s. Aren’t they cute? Keep in mind this is one of the coldest cities in the world, so if it’s warm enough for them, they’re warm enough for you, unless maybe you live at the north pole.

Finally, one of my favorite little accessories is the muff. They’re so pretty and so warm. You can get them very affordably on Etsy, and they’re even easy to make. You essentially just sew a pillow, one side the width of the muff, the other side the measurement you need around your hands and arms. Then sew the ends together to form a tube. You can make these in so many ways. Remember the old Clueless episode where Cher started a muff business? You can put pockets on them, cover them in faux fur, and add a rope to hang around your neck. I got a gorgeous one on Etsy a couple years ago that looks like real wolf fur. I’ll have to remember to pull that out tomorrow!

Clearly I have yet to put a dent in my winter shopping list.