Vintage Glamour with La Photographie

Dear Constant Reader,

Last month I had a most wonderful experience. Stephanie May of La Photographie put out a Muse Call with the theme of Vintage Glamour. I met Stephanie (aka One Chance Fancy) at Stripper’s Holiday and then won a virtual photoshoot with her at a fundraising auction. I had wanted to do an in-person shoot with her ever since. And I had wanted a boudoir shoot for my big birthday back in 2020 (we know how that turned out). So, I jumped at the chance. I picked two themes: Hollywood Glamour and Romantic Realism.

Before the shoot we had a video call where she explained what I could expect on the day and also explained the various photo packages (with a Muse Call I was only paying for photos, not the shoot itself) and then sent me all sort of information to prepare me for the shoot. We also had a follow up call after I’d had time to make some decisions about wardrobe and hair. I put this off for a while because I just couldn’t do anything for a time after Albert died and Stephanie was very understanding.

When the big day arrived, I packed everything that I had planned, plus a couple extras items, just in case. Ultimately, I’m very glad I did, but I’ll get to that later. With clean skin and a fresh manicure, I set off for Connecticut at not very early in the morning.

I arrived, only a little late, at Stephanie’s charming Victorian house/studio and met Jess, the hair & makeup artist who would make me look glamourous. And she did! I had no idea what she was doing until the dramatic reveal in the mirror. She made me look amazing! And even improved the style on my wig.

The first set was Hollywood Glamour, which we shot in the parlor with a plush sofa and (faux) zebra skin rug. One of those last minute grabs was the white fans that Donna Touch recently refurbished for me. After a few shots with a fan alone in the dining room, we set it on the couch behind me. I wore a silver satin Cathrine D’Lish robe (a birthday present to myself), which Stephanie had steamed until it flowed like a dream. We took a number of photos of the couch and a few in front of the gorgeously stenciled wall on the stairs. It was really rather decadent, lounging in a luxurious robe while being told how glamourous you are. I felt like quite the Hollywood starlet

Then it was time for the second set. Jess changed my lipstick, then added my other wig, which she had carefully brushed and styled. The transformation was amazing.

We headed upstairs to a bedroom that had been turned into a seraglio with draperies and swags of luxurious fabrics. I know blue is a very flattering color for me so I brought some lengths of satin, some sheer veils, and a sari Betty brought me back from India and Stephanie incorporated them into the set.

I had originally thought of doing implied nudity with a fabric drape, but one of the things I grabbed at the last minute was my blue and gold robe with the long train. I wore that. Sort of. The entire set was shot with natural light from a window to my left. Very Vermeer. I felt so very beautiful and the robe came off.

Photography complete, Stephanie went off to review the images and I settled in at the dining room table with a book and a decadent charcuterie plate. She came back with about 75 images which I had to winnow down. And all the Hollywood Glamour shots had the option of color or black and white. The package I had selected included 8 prints. Only 8! In the end I was only able to get it down to 14 and added the additional images to my tab.

Then I packed up and headed home. I think I was there about 5 and a half hours from start to finish — make up and hair (wigs), two shoots, and the image review.

A few days later, Stephanie sent me my retouched images and I had some major buyer’s remorse about all the gorgeous shots I tossed on the cutting room floor. I asked if I could upgrade to all the digital images. It just wasn’t that much more $$ and I have no regrets.

Besides the photos, I’ll also be getting a boudoir video, which was a special bonus.

To sum up, I loved the experience. I felt gorgeous and glamourous and thoroughly pampered. Jess of Selva Beauty did such a great job with my makeup and wigs. I wish I could recreate what she did with my eyes. Stephanie’s artistic vision and attention to detail created beautiful images. I think it’s a testament to her skill as a photographer that I ended up springing for all the images.

I’ve teased you enough. Here are my favorite images from each of the shoots (at least the SFW ones).

DSC_4676Hollywood Glamour

DSC_4821Romantic Realism

I adore them!

There were more (including some NSFW) that I showed my Patrons right away. And now that I have all the images, I’ll probably give them some more.

If you’re thinking about a boudoir shoot, I highly recommend La Photographie! And if you’re not near Connecticut, don’t worry! She travels a lot.


P.S. Don’t forget to nominate me for the Producers Dream and Dorian Gray Golden Pasties!

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 14 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 31 August 2022 at 10:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Review: In Intimate Detail

Dear Constant Reader,

Another book review! I need to work my way through this pile with more alacrity as I would really like more space on my desk.

My love of lingerie began as a teen. I hated wearing pantyhose. As a short girl with long legs, I could never find a pair that fit me properly. If the waistband was in the right place, my toes were always poking through the fabric. The other option was to have the crotch at mid-thigh. I begged my mother to let me wear stockings. Despite rolling her eyes at my quaint request, she gifted me with my very first garter belt and I’ve never looked back! So, I was delighted to page through this book by the founder of The Lingerie Addict.

In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear and Love Lingerie by Cora Harrington (2018)

This book covers all the main categories of underthings: bras, undies, shapewear, hosiery, and loungewear. The first several chapters introduce you to the lingerie by type. Have you ever wondered the difference between a balconette and a demi-bra? How about what exactly is a tanga? Each chapter has helpful hints (my favorites!) in the margins and lovely watercolor illustrations. Each one also starts with a brief history of the subject — you know how much I love history!

Each chapter has lots of information to help you make the best choices for the lingerie that’s right for you. Practicality for a situation as well as beauty is a key factor. The chapter on bras has extensive information on breast shape and how to choose a well-fitting bra. The shapewear chapter touches only briefly on corsetry, but that’s fine. Corsets are such a complex garment, they could be, and should be, a book unto themselves. 

Then there’s a chapter about shopping for lingerie. She gives advice for shopping in person and on-line, but also specialty items, like vintage lingerie and how to buy gifts for others. The main take-away in all categories is if you don’t absolutely love the item or the experience, walk away. Shopping for lingerie should be as enjoyable as wearing it.

The last chapter is on one of my favorite topics — care and storage. There’s how to wash your lingerie and how to keep it so it stays beautiful and wearable for a long time as well as how to organize you lingerie wardrobe. She also broaches the important topic of getting rid of lingerie that’s no longer in good condition or doesn’t suit you any more. If it’s beautiful, but you don’t wear it, it’s not doing you any good.

It’s an all-around good compendium, touching on many topics. There are is a lot of ground covered, so by necessity each section is brief. If you need a direct burlesque tie-in, the foreword is by Dita Von Teese.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my 12 Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 22 July 2021 at 9:51 am  Leave a Comment  
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Refilling a Vintage Compact

Dear Constant Reader,

I hope you’re all doing well.

Last month Christine McConnell released a video for her Patrons where she refilled vintage makeup containers with modern cosmetics. This inspired me to show off some of my vintage cosmetic items on Instagram. Someone asked if I was going to make any of them functional as well and I got thinking.

I found this compact at Streamline Antiques, a local shop specializing in Art Deco items. I loved that it had a compartment for lip rouge as well as one for powder and even had traces of the makeup inside! It’s an Elgin American, a popular compact manufacturer in the early 20th century, but other than that, I don’t know anything about its history.

First thing I needed to do was clean the old makeup out. That proved to be a challenge. The lip rouge was quite fossilized. I tried warming it up with a little boiling water poured into the compartment, but it stayed firm. Then I took my own advice and remembered that oil takes off lipstick. I poured a few drops vegetable oil into the compartment and sure enough, it started to soften. I used toothpicks to get into the crevices and get all the old gunk out.

To clean out the oil, I turned to my old friend Dawn. Soon the compartment was perfectly clean. I also washed out the powder compartment. It also needed a bit of an oil treatment, because there was residue from a sticker on the lid.

When everything was clean, I used a little precious isopropyl alcohol to disinfect the compact. Christine boiled many of her cases, but I didn’t want to harm the mirror or the enamel on the lid.

I didn’t want to sacrifice any of my Atomic Cosmetics lipsticks (since they’re not being made anymore) to this experiment, so I grabbed some classic Cherries in the Snow. I cut off a chunk and melted it in a spoon held over a candle. Yes, I know how that looks. Then I poured the melted lipstick into the compartment and let it harden. It wasn’t a perfect pour, so I tried to smooth out the surface with a hairdryer with limited success.

Then I took some setting powder and mixed it with a little isopropyl alcohol. I packed the resulting paste into the powder compartment and smoothed it with a butter knife. Then ended up using a cotton swab like a tiny rolling pin. Then I pressed a piece of lace onto the surface, weighted it with an Altoids tin, and left it to dry out. It did dry into a solid cake of powder, but you can’t really see the lace design.

There is a divot in the lid of the powder container, which I suspect held a powder puff. None of my powder puffs are the right size or shape, so I made a new one. I used a rectangle of cotton quilt batting and covered it with white satin. I wanted some white or pink velveteen for the puff part, but I didn’t have any. I took a drugstore powder puff and dismembered it for the velvety fabric. It was barely enough to cover my square of cotton. I ended up gluing some narrow ribbon over the edge to seal it. It’s not my best work, but we do what we can under the circumstances.

And voila!

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 4 May 2020 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! This week’s tip is a follow up to last week’s:

Making your own bath products is easy and fun.

Here’s my recipe for a simple bath fizz. This makes about a quarter of a cup and it doubles well.

2 Tbsp. kosher salt
2 Tbsp. Epsom salts
2 Tbsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. citric acid

Then you can customize it with dried herbs and flowers, essential oils, and even color! This is my favorite blend:
2 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops purple food coloring (optional)
1 1/2 tsp. dried lavender

Lavender is very relaxing. Experiment with invigorating citrus or romantic rose. Try mint and/or eucalyptus for when you have a cold.

Moisture will cause premature fizzing, so keep all equipment dry and store bath fizz in a tightly-sealed container.

Place the salts in a bowl, add the essential oil and food coloring and mix well. Add the baking soda and citric acid, then crumble in the herbs.

To use, add a scoop to a warm bath and enjoy the fizz!

And if you don’t want the flowers floating in the water, just use last week’s tip!

M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

P.S. That is my bath tub and my vampire mini-rubber ducky. Someday I’ll make an excuse to show you the glorious mosaic that’s just out of frame.

Published in: on 22 March 2019 at 12:26 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Review: Mix-Your-Own Mask

Dear Constant Reader,

The other day I took my own advice and used a skin care mask. I’d done three weekends of shows, hadn’t been sleeping well, and winter is settling down here in New England. All this conspired to make my skin look very tired. I’m actually terrible about taking said advice because commercial face masks need to be refrigerated and I’d always use a mask once and then forget about it in the fridge until it dried up or got moldy.

Dr. Jen from Atomic Cosmetics had sent me a sample of her Mix-Your-Own Facial Mask. There’s a tube of wet ingredients and one of dry, that you store in the fridge until you’re ready to use them. Keeping the two parts separate means she doesn’t have to use serious preservatives. You combine the contents of the tubes in a bowl (I found a fork helpful to mix it smooth) and slather the results on. There’s enough in the tubes for a single generous use (you don’t want to save the leftovers because of the aforementioned lack of preservatives). I used the dry/aging skin mask, which has fabulous ingredients like coconut water, evening primrose oil, French green clay, and powdered goat’s milk.

The result is a greenish goo with a funky aroma — that’s the goat’s milk. It made more than enough for me to spread all over my face, neck and decolletage. That frightening image to the right is indeed me under a freshly-applied layer of this stuff. Don’t say I don’t show you the true glamour of being a burlesque performer. Then I relaxed in my boudoir whilst watching a couple of Ask a Mortician videos, staying far away from where ordinary people could see my swampy visage.

Then I washed the dried mask off with some warm water, which was more of a challenge that I anticipated, seeing as I had the stuff ALL OVER myself. Next time I’ll step into the shower instead of trying to do it over the sink. However, it was worth it. My skin felt smooth & soft and most importantly, no longer looked tired.

Dr. Jen has four formulations of this stuff — dry/aging, oily/combination, sensitive, and custom blended for your unique skin issues. I think $7 (for a standard mix) is reasonable for a once-in-a-while skin treat.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 15 November 2017 at 2:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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From my Closet

Dear Constant Reader,

Summer is winding down here in New England and it never got terribly summery, but I’m glad I made these shorts.

They’re 1940’s-style high-waisted chorus girl shorts in crisp linen, like these I made years ago.

The big difference is that I put in pockets. It really makes me crazy when women’s clothing lacks pockets and they’re pretty easy to add. Such a big improvement!

Also, the originals have a button closure in the back. I was too impatient to try out the buttonhole attachment for my vintage sewing machine, so I just added a flat hook & bar. I’ll replace it with a proper button and buttonhole eventually. Yeah. Eventually.

I’m particularly pleased with these because it’s been quite a while since I sewed any everyday clothes for myself. I really should change that. maybe I’ll have another Dress Me contest (although the previous two have not had the most stellar results on my part).

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

Published in: on 5 September 2017 at 1:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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On Wigs

Dear Constant Reader,

I don’t have great hair. I love the color and the way it curls, but it’s very fine and rather thin and doesn’t grow very long before it starts looking straggly. I rarely seem to have time to go to the salon to keep it nicely trimmed and besides, my favorite stylist, Diamond DeVille, works in a different state. This is why I generally have my hair pulled back in a simple twist. When Scratch suggested I try wigs, I was resistant. It was like admitting I had terrible hair.

I had worn a wig before, at BettySioux Taylor’s first Salute to Bettie Page. Everyone wore Bettie wigs, so I was okay with that. Several people commented how different (and good I looked), but I was still sure wigs were not for me.

My first real wig wearing was because I was doing a tribute to a Legend who had a black pageboy in her heyday and my red head just would not do. Fortunately for this wig novice, I had the expertise of Sydney Lauren Robinson to help out. She took me wig shopping, styled the wig, put it on me the first time, and made me helpful videos demonstrating how to wear it.

Having seen me do the same act with the wig and without, Betty Blaize commented that I moved differently when I was wearing the wig. It did help get me into character to be wearing the wig and I became a little more of a convert. But not completely.

I ended up getting a couple of wigs to wear as The Diva in The Wrathskellar, which was okay, because she wasn’t me. Like in the above tribute, I was playing a character.

Somehow I realized I wasn’t sacrificing my personal integrity or anything if I wore a wig on stage. In fact, I began to embrace wigs. I could change my look for each act. I didn’t have to spend the time curling and pinning my hair. I didn’t have to worry if I was having a bad hair day. All good reasons for going with a wig.

A couple things I’ve learned about wearing wigs.

  • Use the right pin for the job
  • Net wig caps are easier to pin into than the stocking-type ones
  • A folding wig stand is a life saver
  • Get a good wig brush
  • And here are some backstage selfies (and one on-stage shot) of my different looks:

    My standard wig — taken backstage at The Teaseday Club last night

    Another standard, usually worn for French Champagne, although The Diva borrowed it for this picture

    The Diva again

    Yet another look for The Diva, worn with a smashing black coat & tall boots

    The Faerie Queene

    These days I am completely sold on wigs, although I still can be found with my real hair on many an occasion. How about you, Dear Reader? Are you a fan of wigs?

    M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page.

    Published in: on 3 May 2017 at 3:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip!

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! I’m exhausted. Wrathskellar Tales opened last night and hopefully I’ll be coherent enough later to write about it. For now, here’s your tip!

    Remember to pack a robe.

    Sometimes it gets cold backstage. Or you have to go through a public space to get to the bathroom. A robe is more comfortable for hanging out in the dressing room than your street clothes and more elegant than sweats.

    M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

    Published in: on 21 October 2016 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  

    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday! And best of luck to everyone performing at the Burlesque Hall of Fame this weekend!

    Here’s your tip!

    Clean your false lashes.

    It’s better for them and for your eyes to give them the occasional cleansing. It’s easy and you only need a couple of items, which you already have (or should).

    1. Take off your lashes.
    I know that sounds dumb, but falling asleep while still wearing lashes is not unheard of… When removing them, grab the edge of the band, not the lashes themselves!

    2. Peel off excess adhesive.
    A little old glue can help the lashes stick better, but you don’t want a thick layer. Some recommend using tweezers, but I just use my fingernails to peel it off. Remember to hold the band, not the lashes when you pull off the glue residue. I’ve found latex-based glue comes off more easily than the non-rubbery stuff I use these days.

    3. Put the lashes back on their plastic thingy.
    It will help them keep their shape during cleaning.

    4. Dampen a cotton swab with a gentle eye makeup remover and gently brush it over the lashes from band to tip to take off the accumulated gunk.
    I like this remover from Atomic Cosmetics (of course).

    5. Dampen a second swab with a little water and repeat the process to rinse the lashes.

    6. Let them air dry on the plastic form.

    That’s it! You don’t need to do this every time you wear your lashes, but occasional cleaning will keep your lashes looking good longer. And it’s got to be healthier for your eyes!

    M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

    Published in: on 3 June 2016 at 1:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    Friday Tip

    Dear Constant Reader,

    Happy Friday (and long weekend for many)! Here’s another travel tip:

    When traveling, bring your own makeup towel. The hotel/your hosts will thank you.

    I bought a bunch of inexpensive and cheerfully-colored washcloths at Ikea and it’s no trouble to toss a couple into my suitcase.

    Hat tip to those who reminded me of this tip: Iva Handfull, the staff at BurlyCon, and Rae Bradbury-Enslin, who hosts dozens of haunt actors every October and is tired of having her guest towels ruined.

    M2Like this tip? There are lots more in Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque.

    Published in: on 27 May 2016 at 2:07 pm  Leave a Comment