Flashback Friday

For nearly two years now, I have used this space to archive blog entries that I have written which generally focus on my experience as a sideshow performer, as well as the various adventures I shared with my best friend Jon and other assorted articles that carry reoccurring themes.  One of those is body modification, which has been a large part of my life since discovering BME and being exposed to individuals who had tattoos, piercings, dyed hair and an overall alternative aesthetic.  At one point I made an attempt to collect a variety of editorials and articles into a magazine, but funding and lack of interest prevented the idea from becoming a tangible thing, despite the fact that I had completed an entire issue by myself.  The purpose in mentioning this is that there are writings scattered around which I feel should be saved here along with everything else, to serve as a testament to my thoughts, opinions and feelings about certain topics, as they do not tend to change very often.  The following article was originally written [and posted on another blog] on July 22, 2009, though the sentiments expressed are still very much valid.

Would You Shave Off Your Eyebrows in the Name of Fashion?

According to the author of this articleCourtney Dunlop, bleaching or waxing the eyebrows is becoming a new trend, the result of which is “a very bizarre, androgynous alien creature completely void of expression.”

This look was featured on the Fall 2009 runways of Balenciaga and Prada, where beauty and fashion editors were apparently shocked that the top models had been convinced to bleach their brows.  As Dunlop put it, “then came Brazillian bombshell Adriana Lima as a brow-free Marilyn Manson-lookalike for the latest Givenchy campaign.”  The August issue of Italian Vouge features model Kristen McMenamy, who also sports the browless look, and has apparently been doing so on and off since the late 90’s.

“A great question was posed in this article from the Daily Mail about whether or not the non-conformist trend will trickle down to the masses, like punk did in the 1970s.

I’m sure a few lovers of the avant-garde will give it a go, but I don’t see how anyone else in their right mind would want to embrace the look,” Dunlop says.

The Daily Mail article explains “how eyebrows are linked to sex appeal and pretty much every expression a human face can make, which is why people look so alien when brows are taken away.”

First and foremost, I would like to address the high school grade insults that I felt were not needed.  Certainly there is going to be a shock when someone decides to remove their eyebrows, and of course I can agree that the result is somewhat alien-like.  However, I feel that the look suits some people, as they have other elements to their over all appearance where the lack of brows fit in.  Marilyn Manson is also definitely not the innovator of shaved eyebrows.  Anyone remember when David Bowie rocked the whole Ziggy Stardust persona?  In that sense, I can totally see the alien connection, but he just happened to be playing that type of character so it worked.

The first time I even touched my eyebrows with a pair of tweezers was possibly in eighth grade.  Being a student of a Catholic school, we were not allowed to wear makeup or what they deemed ‘unacceptable’ hair accessories [they did not like my single braid with plastic beads], but for some reason I felt compulsion to pluck a few hairs from my brows.  That eventually led to more preening, to get them a bit thinner since I felt they sat too close to my eyes.

Then the razor came out and my eyebrows were entirely gone by the time I was a junior in high school.  If memory serves me correct, I did it for Halloween to wear these stick-on rhinestone jewels that were meant for the eyes, but I felt they looked better as replacement brows.  After that, there was much face doodling of different shapes, designs and colors. Makeup was definitely another art form to me then [as much as it is now], so I enjoyed experimenting with different things and making the administration uncomfortable.

Drawn on brows with eyeliner.

With much practice and patience, the shape eventually became one I felt fit my face and did my best to replicate this when applying makeup.   For special events or nights out at the club, I would get a bit more artistic and pretty much do whatever I felt like.  Obviously there were many reactions by the public, with plenty of laughs and rude comments slung my way.  However, there were also people who gave compliments, the best one being when asked if my eyebrows were actually tattooed on.  To me, that just meant I was doing such a good job that people could not tell if it was makeup or permanent ink. It took some time for me to get used to seeing my reflection in the mirror, but as the months went on, it no longer seemed like something out of the ordinary, and shaving them off became routine.

Subtle makeup and no brows.

My thoughts have turned to having permanent eyebrows on more than one occasion, which is something that I have been considering for about five or six years now.  The first idea was to have cosmetic tattooing, so that the shape I wanted would always be there to serve as a guide, and then I could adjust color and shape as I desired.  A few years later, I met a couple of people who had what I like to call ‘tribal dots’, which are pretty much what they sound like: bold black circles that serve as a substitute for the usual hairy eyebrows.  Again I feel that this suits some people and not others, but of course all body modification is a personal choice and everyone should do what makes them happy.

If curiosity leads one to wonder as to why I have not taken the plunge yet, I have an honest answer.  Tattooing my face is something that I take very seriously.  While I have facial piercings, they are usually kept at a small gauge out of personal preference and can either be removed or switched out with clear jewelry to make them more ‘invisible’ if desired .  Tattoos on the face, however, are very prominent and something I will have to see for the rest of my life, so I want to be absolutely sure it is something I can commit to.  My large ear lobes, neck tattoo and hand tattoo are most likely the things that get attention from the general public, and I cannot tell you how many times I hear whispers about how big the lobes are and other assorted nonsense.  People act as though I am somehow completely unaware of the things I have done to my body and thus feel the need to point them out – oddly enough, it is never to my face, but they sure talk loud enough for me to hear them.  Certainly having facial tattoos will invite much more unwanted commentary and wide-mouthed stares, which I have been preparing myself for with the makeup dots.

Trademark 'face dots' made with makeup.

Memory fails as to the first time I ever applied these on my face and looked in the mirror, wondering if they were something I wanted to see there on a daily basis.  They started out small, more as accents to the blended colors of whatever makeup I was wearing that day, and then evolved into more defined shapes as seen in the image on the left.  For the most part, the ‘top dots’ match whatever my hair color happens to be, while the ‘bottom dots’ either coordinate with the eyeshadow or color of whatever outfit I am wearing.  Once again, I have had many people ask me if they are tattoos, and I have managed to even fool some of my friends into thinking the same thing.  When I find an artist I can trust, save up enough money and am in a position where I am comfortable enough in my sideshow career where I do not have to worry whether having my face tattooed would be a problem, I will certainly have these dots permanently inked into my skin.  Which, honestly, will make me very happy since it would drastically cut down on the time I spend creating them with makeup.

Going back to Dunlop’s article, I would like to say with much pride that I am in fact someone of sound mind who readily embraces being eyebrowless.  There are plenty of women out there, mainly in subcultures, who either tweeze their brows or shave them off completely and draw them on in a variety of ways.  As far as I know, this practice is not some widespread lunacy, but rather a conscious choice made to please personal aesthetics.  If people do not like it, they can simply direct their attention elsewhere and leave us expressionless aliens to be happy in our lack of brows.


Another Ocean View

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

On Monday I was in the mood for yet another road trip.  Tired of taking the same highways down to Jon’s neck of the woods, I dug out a useful map of Jersey.  Did not realize how much of the state I have yet to explore, but that is part of the reason I enjoy driving around.  Route of choice was 9 south, since I had already been down many other southbound highways.

During the drive, I took note of the usual managerie of cement diners, WaWa’s, adult video stores, go-go joints and strip malls.  Wish I could remember the name of that tiny diner I passed as I definitely want go back and eat there.  Also found many other grab-joints, mostly stakehouses and Italian restaurants.  There was also this place I came across that was composed of actual dining cars from a train, and I somewhat remember eating at one of those a long time ago.

My final destination was Surf City out on LBI, where Jon was already waiting for me.  Of course since he lives in the southern part of the state, it takes him less time to reach our meeting points than it does for me, but for some reason I still find it amazing that he is always there first.  When I pulled up I could already see the smile on his face, and upon exiting my vehicle I was immediately consumed by his arms.  He smelled like whiskey, weed and leather – I just wanted to leave my head there and listen to the awkward rhythm of his heart beat.  There was a beach to be explored, so he took my hand instead while somehow managing to light a joint.  That boy is just pure magic sometimes.

To be honest, I am not sure if we were supposed to be on the beach or not, but no one was around to tell us to get off.  We took a very leisurely stroll on the beach as high tide rolled in, talking from time to time about whatever popped into our heads.  Perhaps we should not have been so close to the surf, as a few waves crept up and got our legs wet.  The water was pretty cold, but since it is still Spring I should have expected that.  Jon thought it was funny to initiate a splash fight until his height worked against him and he tumbled into the chilly surf.  Which I personally thought was incredibly hilarious, but he failed to find humor in being completely soaked.After hours of walking along the sand, Jon had managed to air-dry and so we headed back to where we had parked our vehicles.  Definitely suspected that I smelled like the ocean, as I could feel the humid air in my hair and on my face.  Sand managed to follow me into the car and will likely remain there no matter how many times I vacuum, but I kind of enjoy the fact that I can take the beach where ever I go.

Followed Jon back to his house where he commenced to prepare a most delicious meal.  The more time we spend together, the less motivation I have for wanting to come back here.  Being with him is like a whole different life, especially since I am so far away from things that have been familiar for far too long.  It is hard for me to leave and I often lay awake questioning why I am in bed alone, listening to my mom and her boyfriend argue, when I know I would be much happier in his arms.  Of course I am afraid of approaching this subject because I know he values me as a friend and that is where things end.  Denying my feelings does not make them go away, and I continue to be plagued with loneliness even though my heart belongs to him.

Style Spotlight: Showman

The title of showman is not one easily thrown around in the sideshow business, though there are plenty who would like to believe they deserve the title.  If you ask the right person, they will abhor the notion of being a Carny, mainly due to the extreme stereotyping society associates with the word and the desire to stay far from it as possible.  Which is an understandable opinion, yet consistency dictates that the word is easily applied when it comes to selling merchandise since bullshit rules and the public eats it up so long as you tell them it is the best thing they ever had.  The art is one that I feel is unteachable – you either have it and hone it until everyone is neatly tucked into the palm of your hand while the other one takes their money, or you pull a character and base it on lies because the audience doesn’t know the difference nor does it seem to care.  It might be slightly arrogant of me to say so, but I get rather bored with seeing performers fall into the latter category because it smacks of laziness and getting the most reward out of the least amount of effort.  Not that the hailed Aristocracy of sideshow’s past really had to do more than take advantage of their physical attributes that set them apart from others, but at least they did in a manner that fed into the natural curiosity that drew the public to them, rather than depending on shock value, lowbrow humor and scantily clad bodies running amok on stage.

A showman is not to be confused with a talker, though they share some common themes among their fashion, in that the desired result is to attract attention.  One of the most notable historical showmen is P. T. Barnum, and while he is credited with an illustrious circus career, he did not enter the business until 1871, at which time he was already in his 60’s.  Despite created hoaxes and being described as a scam artist and con man, Barnum loved the public and simply gave them what they wanted to see – extraordinary things from magical lands that were real, living, and could be examined for a small fee.  If people felt cheated, perhaps it is because they were fooled by simple tricks, and really, that is hardly the worst thing a businessman has ever done.  Barnum was also at the forefront of promotion and was known as the ‘Shakespeare of Advertising’, and was one of the first circus owners to utilize trains to move from one place to the next.  While he did not seem to mind entertainers using hype as means to promote, as long as the public got their money’s worth that is, he had contempt for those who made profit from fraudulent deceptions.  Today, Barnum is hailed as an icon of American spirit and ingenuity, and at his death was perhaps the most famous American in the world.

Of course it might seem as though the proverbial shoes left behind might be difficult to fill, especially in an age where one can easily see an endless menagerie of all things strange, odd, unusual, bizarre, grotesque, deformed, and otherwise deemed offensive or unworthy of being accepted by society, for free with a simple click or two.  However, there is a man who  carries an appearance that certainly is a testament to the dedication he has.  It is reminiscent of the image one might generate when thinking of an old timey showman, right down to the wardrobe and expertly manicured facial hair.  James Taylor, most notably known for authoring the Shocked and Amazed books as well as contributing items from his personal collection to the D.C. based Red Palace [formerly Palace of Wonders], which hosts a bevy of sideshow, burlesque and music acts.  He is also recognized as the foremost authority when it comes to sideshow, having interviewed numerous performers from the past and present, publishing them along with personal stories, stunning photos and a lexicon of Carny lingo in a series of nine volumes that have sold all across the world.

The books spawned a documentary, and Mr. Taylor has appeared on quite a few television programs, so it is more than appropriate to say that he has worked very hard to preserve sideshow history while actively promoting merchandise that would hopefully pass the knowledge onto the consumer.  Surely these actions would be supported by Barnum, seeing as how he conducted business in the same manner.  Having the privilege of not only meeting but speaking with Mr. Taylor on more than one occasion, I can say without doubt his presence is amazing and yet his humbleness is amazingly refreshing.  There is no stench of pretentiousness, arrogance of other unwarranted elitism, as he is man pursuing his passion and serves as source of great inspiration.  He deserves not only the honored title of showman for all of his efforts and contributions to sideshow, but also has truly achieved the prestigious ranking among the Carny Trash Aristocracy, despite not actually being a performer.

Technically speaking, the term showman is a title preferred by lifelong entrepeneurs, and there is a fairly firm social division between them and jointiess, who are agents that work carnival games.  Ward Hall is another notable figure in the sideshow industry, having one of the few authentic 10-in-1 traveling shows that exist today, and is perhaps the oldest living showman of modern times.  John Robinson, otherwise known as Utah Showman, has put together Sideshow World, a comprehensive site that is dedicated to preserving the past and promoting the future of sideshow.  The goal is to offer information to the public through reading materials, photographs, videos and so forth.  In a sense, it is a virtual dime museum where one has control over their experience and can stimulate more than imagination though a hefty list of links to personal stories from some of sideshow’s most memorable performers.  It is this dedication that gives hope that this strange art can be archived for future generations, and once again the proprietor is one that gives credit where it is due.

The attire of a showman is certainly determined by personal choice, though it tends to be saturated with notes of aesthetics befitting the upper class, displayed with sleek fabrics of the finest quality that are color coordinated and tailored for the perfect fit.  One wants to enter a room with effortless class and be admired for it and not let the clothes do all of the talking.  Tempting as it might be to utilize inspiration, there must be a respect show because the difference between playing dress up and actually being a showman is like the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad.  There is enough evidence that I have presented within these articles which can argue that being a Carny is subjective and everyone is entitled to their opinion of what it means.  However, I feel that adopting the term because the rest of the buzz words that are generally associated with other scenes and subcultures certainly falls into the ream of high grade chicken shit and is definitely not suggested.

Resources & Reading: P.T. Barnum, Shocked and Amazed, Sideshow World

Seaside By Sunset

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

Is it possible that I have completely spoiled myself?

There are not many things I love more than going to the Shore on a warm afternoon.  While I thought that there would be a mass of lemmings as far as the eye could see attempting to make the same voyage, such was not the case.  Instead there was a mostly empty Parkway that I cruised down, the smile on my face growing when I exited.  Blazed a joint and headed over the bridge, surf tunes set to maximum volume.

It was fairly windy, but I had been prepared with layers of leather, Lucky 13 shirt and that DIY George Is Dead  baby-T I made, which does not get enough wear.  Should have brought a hoodie as well, but I had not expected so much wind.  Met up with Jon and followed him to a remote beach that was not open to the public.  The excitement swelled when he hugged me so much that I do believe my feet lifted off the ground for a moment.  Sat in his Chevy to smoke a joint before preparing ourselves for the beach.

Skirts and wind do not mix but I had tights on so was not worried if it got blown around.  As coincidence would have it, I found a hoodie lying in the sand and attempted to tie it around my waist for more protection.  However, being a few sizes too small, it did not offer much aid.   The sand was kicking up, getting in our faces and effectively sand-blasting our bodies. Diligent nonetheless, we sat down and listened to the waves roll in.  Since I tend to travel with a notebook and pen, I took the opportunity of being inspired to do some writing while Jon mused about random things.  About three hours later, the torrent of sand and wind became too much, so we retreated to the Chevy.

Jon drove around a little before finding this quaint gravel lot used for launching boats and parked there.  With a good view of the water and front-row seat for impending sunset, Jon turned some rockabilly mix tape he had made and lit a blunt.  The ideas that had formed in my head were easily spilled onto empty pages, filling them with amazing scenes.  Every now and then, I would glance over my left shoulder to see the progression of the live show.  Orange blazed brightly at the darkening horizon, where the sun was a sinking ball of fire.  Yellow extended into the blue sky, where the colors meshed into green; more blues and some purple followed.  The water sparkled and reflected the orange sun and danced with that strange neon-blueness.  As the sun was swallowed into the black horizon, the colors slowly followed until only the bluish-purple dusk was visable.

Then I returned to my vehicle and we repeated yesterday’s post-sunset visit to a diner.  Between the red vinyl seats and neon-lit jukebox along with good food and equally wonderful conversation, I felt like I was in the carefully scripted scene of a movie.  Parting with Jon was extremely difficult, especially since doing so caused a bit of sadness to drift across his eyes.  However, I assured him that it did not take much to lure me down to the Shore, and we said good-bye in the parking lot with a sweet little kiss.

During the ride back on the Parkway, I noticed that stars and airplanes were prominant lights against the otherwise seamless background of the nite sky.

This is why I enjoy Spring so much.

Modification Discrimination

When I see a photograph of a modified individual, there are a variety of things my eyes are drawn  to which obviously include the tattoo, piercing or other alteration of the body that is presented as the subject.  Often times I am fascinated by the intricate artwork of tattoos, the innovation of a piece of piercing jewelry and the general evolution of body modification.  It is nothing new and a passion that has been with me for so long that I dare anyone to say that is merely a ‘phase’ that I will eventually grow out of.  To the contrary, I have a great appreciation for the commitment to the pain that yields an aesthetically pleasing result.  The procedures are thousands of years old while the tools and techniques have made incredibly advancements and artists invest lifetimes to master their trade.

Body modification is not for everyone – it should not be treated as a trend or a fashion accessory because what might be ‘cute’ or ‘cool’ today can certainly wind up being a highly regrettable decision years later.  However, there are enough people who respect the history and tradition that continue to advocate education and safety of seeking a professional when one does decide to modify.  Some of my best friends are tattooed or pierced, and I have the privilege of living in  a city where a significant portion of the population sports at least one as well.  Other evidence of body modification can be seen in those who bike or jog around the city to maintain lean bodies, those who spend hours in the gym building muscle, those who frequently visit salons to have their hair cut or dyed, nails polished or fitted with tips and bodies sprayed or baked tan.  My point being that I see it everywhere and am comfortable enough with my appearance that I tend not to really notice if people react negatively, unless they are being extremely loud or staring at me.  Then again, I do find myself to be more amused than offended in those types of situations, and there are an equal amount of people who engage in conversation where they ask questions in a curious manner.

Not everyone has the ability to ignore the words of others, which admittedly can be difficult when they are cruel, vicious and meant to cause harm.  The thought that they are “just words” can be counteracted by proof that individuals who have been bullied via the Internet and in real life have gone on to commit suicide.  Instead of teaching that one should grow a thick skin or combat bullies with silence, there should be lessons of tolerance and accepting that everyone is different in some way.  These physical attributes which people have no control over are often the targets of cruel jokes and general finger-pointing, so sadly it is no surprise that the choice of one’s appearance can and will be the topic of discussion by strangers.

There does come a point where such a discussion stops being words typed on a screen by some anonymous person with a silly Internet handle and can very easily have an impact on someone.  Browsing through the ‘face tattoos’ tag on Tumblr brings up the same stupid question over and over again, that being why anyone would “want to do that to themselves”.  Here is a novel idea – no one owes you an explanation and perhaps your time would be better spent not sticking your nose into someone else’s life.  What other people do to their bodies is their business and there should be none dictating what one can or cannot do.  If you want breast implants three times the size of your head, tattoos that cover your entire body or hair that makes you feel more like your favorite celebrity, if it is safe, sane and consensual, I have no fucks to give and encourage everyone to do what makes them happy.

What irks me is that those who are not modified [and even those who may dye their hair and have a couple of piercings or tattoos] are quick to place judgment on those who are.  Examples of this can be found all over the Internet, though I was unfortunate enough to stumble across this post on Poorly Dressed, where the title alone I felt was pretty offensive. Aside from the stretched labrets, I see nothing in the photo that is really far up on the body modification spectrum.  Then again, I have also seen the photo posted on Tumblr, which coincides with a story about the couple and how much she enjoys being a mother.  As much as I understand the site exists to make fun of those with questionable fashion taste, I do not really see the point or reason to picking on modifications.

The comment section is absolutely disgusting and I really wish I could say I am surprised at the reactions.  There are many that seem to desperately wish the photo is shopped, because obviously no one would ever really actually make a large hole in their face.  Some real gems include:

  • “Oh please let it be photoshopped.  Otherwise I might just have to kill myself to avoid a world with such freaks in it.”
  • “people like this need therapy if not medication.”
  • “Yeah so you can whine about people that rightfuly mock you to all your freak friends. When secretly you all enjoy the attention that you can’t get any other way because with out mutilating yourselves you are just too boring to tolerate.”
  • “Somehow, I have a hard time picturing these two in an employed position.”
  • “Yeah, I’m thinking “work” is the operative word here. Unless you’re employed at a tattoo parlor, night club, or Hot Topic.”
  • “Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any problem with expressing yourself, but I do think some people go too far and do stuff just to be “non-conformist”.
    My biggest problem with using tattos and piercings to “express yourself” is that so few people do it aesteticly. I mean, unless you meant to say “hey, look, I’m an ugly monster.””
  • “Why ruin those nice faces with that useless s–t?”
  • “Words can’t express the revulsion I’m feeling – wait… BLEEEARGH! There we go!”
  • “This makes me ask myself “what can I do to prevent my kids from being like that”?”
  • “This is not beautiful, they are not beautiful, and no matter how loving they are as parents, their children will hate them in the future.  They don’t have courage. Courage is living well in the face of something one cannot control. What they are doing is a desperate cry for attention through “being unique” and “self-expression”, the idea for which they got from watching other with similar modification get stares of horror and disgust.”

Had to stop with that last comment as it is such a great example of the amount of ignorance that infects so  many.  You are welcome to your opinion, but it is extremely unfair to assume that every single person gets modified for attention.  It comes with the territory, no doubt, and I have experienced both the positive and negative sides of it.  However, I can say with the utmost confidence that myself and most of those I know do not enjoy these “stares of horror and disgust”.  Being modified does not prevent one from being a parent, teacher, mentor or anything else, and I see tattooed people in a wide variety of jobs that extend beyond tattoo shops and alternative stores.  Oh yea, and I had kids in high school call me a freak long before you discovered your balls for being able to hurl it towards people you do not even know on a snark site.  Does what others do to their bodies really affect your life so much that you have to dedicate time to actively hate on them?

This sort of behavior does not stop at the Internet, nor is it exclusive to children or teens who find pretty much any excuse to bully others.  An even more ironic thought is that making comments such as the ones above makes it seem as though those people are the ones who need validation of their existence through attempting to make the wittiest remark.  Congratulations, you earned yourself some eternal Internet glory and the prestigious honor of presenting this insight to the mentality of society.  There are far more important things to concern oneself with, and a child being interested in body modification is definitely not something I feel should be at the top of the list.  This is a subject I have presented my opinion on in the past which is relevant to this article as well, because there is this irrational fear that somehow tattoos and piercings will change someone’s character in a negative way.

A little bit of tolerance goes a long way, and not matter how weird, strange or even gross you may find someone else’s appearance, no one has been appointed with the authority to control the way individuals want to express themselves.  In fact, I feel it is a very important aspect of life that should be encouraged, not put down because others do not understand it.  Take five minutes to talk to someone and ask them polite questions – I guarantee that you will learn something and might even be less likely to assume things about people because of their appearance.  Projecting stereotypes does nothing but harbor ignorance and it shamelessly runs rampant among society.  While it may seem like bliss, I cannot imagine how unhappy people must be due to secluding themselves to a narrow-minded view and refusing to accept the fact that their opinions are pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Photo credit: 1 – oddee.com

Down to the Sea

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

Incredibly happy that I drove down to the Shore yesterday.  There was a bit of traffic on the Parkway, but that never bothered me.  Why be in a rush if you don’t have to be? It’s not like the beach is going to run away.  Stopped at a rest area to roll a joint and smoked en route while making that transition from the highway to local streets.  Cranked up the tunes as I headed over the bridge and rolled down my windows, letting that salty air fill the car.  Pulled into a gravel lot where I immediately recognized Jon’s Chevy.  He was sitting on the trunk smoking a joint of his own and smiled as soon as he saw me.

Suffice to say we were both in a good mood by the time we hit the boards, amusing ourselves by making ridiculous claims of having more swagger L.A.M.F. than the other.  The aroma of the ocean was inhaled deep into my lungs while we passed by the few arcades that were open.  There was a handful of people present, mostly joggers and small groups of kids.  Pretty sure we effectively scared the crap out of them, because they stared at us but did not say anything.  Well, to our faces anyway, but someone grew enough balls to shout something stupid after we walked passed.  Jon turns around and tells them that they should look him in the eye if they are going to try and insult him instead of being cowards.  They ran off and he laughed while wrapping an arm around my waist.

It is rather humorous that the current generation of kids trying to stand out all wind up looking pretty much the same.  Fence sitters that throw together various stereotypical outfits so they can be clumped into one super genre.  Jon and I have always held pride in not being piegeonholed into any sort of scene, because they are all pretty much bullshit anyway.  We get a kick out of seeing kids in their black clothes, wallet chains, patches and the sort trying to look different while failing miserably.  Mass-produced merchandise cannot take the place of DIY no matter how hard it tries, and while I can admit that we put effort into our appearances, it’s because we enjoy the way we look and not to garner attention.

Perhaps in my old age, I am in fact slowly becoming an elitist, thanks in part to the fact that the most influential person in my life has passed on his knowledge and wisdom.  While I believe that I am still a kid at heart and have no shame in enjoying fun things, I just laugh at how hard these kids try to be something they will never be.  When will people realize that the clothes you wear and the music you listen to do not ultimately define who you are?

After walking down to the end of the boards then circling around, Jon and I went down on the beach [past where all the amusements were] just as the sun was setting.  That was a breath-taking moment.  Brilliant colors splashed against the sky – yellow, orange, pink, purple and various shades of blue.  The surging tide that crashed along the sandy shore had a strange aqua green and almost neon-blue tint to it.  In the distance, the sea spray cast a haze on the shoreline, where a lighthouse dilligantly stood watch.  It was a truly beautiful sight and I found myself smiling as a hand held mine tightly.

The sun had nearly gone down, so we decided to leave, heading off into the sunset – I was captivated by the effect it had on the water.  It was dark by the time I reached the Parkway and I followed the Chevy to a neon-lit diner where Jon treated me to an amazing meal.  There was plenty of music on the jukebox to accompany hours of conversation, and later in the parking lot, I was in his arms inhaling the lingering smell of the ocean embedded in the fibers of his shirt.  His smiling face was the last thing I saw as I pulled away and drove back to the house.

Of course I am going back down today, as soon as I put myself together.

Guise Galleria: Beach Bound Bombshell

There are a number of iconic films in which Hollywood depicts the alluring fantasy of Summer – whether one is finishing school and looking forward to any number of unexpected adventures, which may include but not be limited to partying, trying things for the first time and finally getting that coveted kiss from the girl everyone wants but only has eyes for you, or returning from vacation and randomly breaking into song to describe falling in love.  The point is that there are a variety of images that one conjures up at the mere mention of Summer, and while generally we are still enjoying the beauty of a heavily floral Spring, one can never be too prepared when it comes to styling in the latest fashions while keeping a vintage tone and not being the cookie-cutter genre clusterfuck that seems to be running rampant among the alternative subcultures.

Classic cuts mixed with intriguing patterns will definitely make one stand out among those who are too reserved for a more daring exhibition when it comes to dressing up.  However, there also comes the risk of having the clothing wear you and blending into a character because none of your real personality is shining through.  This is not achieved with accessories or the right shade of artificial red hair, but exudes from within and can assist in owning a room from the moment you walk in.

When fulfilling those Summer dreams, there is an importance of comfort and function over being fashionable for the sake of being able to add another label to a modeling resume.  Not all of us have that ‘perfect’ body and none should be ashamed to flaunt it in order to feel good about themselves.  Thankfully there are enough companies that understand not every woman is created with the same proportions, and similarly there are plenty of prints and primary colored dresses for every occasion that will suit a wide range of tastes.

The marine blue of Hell Bunny’s Avast dress invokes the postcard perfect sky and sets the background for palm trees and soaring birds, both of which one would hope to see while lounging in this nautical print.  Tropical fruity drink drowned in alcohol and served in a coconut shell with tiny paper umbrella option but highly encouraged if stuck on land.

The 50s inspired cut of the Motley dress features a fitted top and full skirt, the white striped sailor collar and skull anchors on the pockets maintain the maritime theme while catering to a slightly darker aesthetic.  Then again, a vibrantly hued petticoat and coordinating shoes is a simple way of adding the right dose of fiery flare.

Hell Bunny certainly has no shortage of printed dresses, though personally I am tired of zombie creatures and eyeballs floating on black cotton backgrounds.  However, the Cyanide dress features a ghoulishly cute mix of bunnies, bows and bones – yes eyeballs too but juxtaposed with the other illustrations they create an optical buffet from a distance that will draw in the curious.

One of the newer Iron Fist prints is Sailors Delight, which of course carries a significant resemblance to classic tattoos, evidenced by the saturation of red – the Peter Pan style of this dress also happens to be a fashion trend.

For something with a little less modesty and a few notches up on the sultry scale is this modern take on a pencil skirt, which one could wear with Too Fast’s Vintage Octopus Fargo Tank and Iron Fist’s Ladies Bleeder Sandals.

One cannot indulge in the decadence of Summer without having a few too many tiki drinks, and what better way to embrace the kitschy part of the culture than by wearing Tiki Toes Platforms – not recommended for beach wear unless one is pro at navigating deep sand dunes in three and a half inch heels.

The answer is yes, one can swim in velvet, and this vintage styled suit is so constructed that it will seem more like a dress.  Dixiefried presents the Glamour Swimsuit in leopard print through Pinup Girl Clothing, a company I personally have turned to when in the market for flattering swimwear.

She wore an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny vintage green dot bikini, items sold separately as top and bottoms or high wasted shorts – both come with a matching sarong- by Pinup Couture.

When seeking a bag with enough space for daily essentials along with those extra things one might toss in for a spontaneous weekend getaway, often style takes a back seat to bulky bags that let everyone know you are supposed to be at work but decided to ditch being responsible for pale sandy beaches and miles of blue water.  The Mini Weekender in black faux croc by Lux De Ville  suits all of these needs with an attitude.

When waking up in hangover land, one  cannot go wrong with 50s styled cat eye sunglasses. They not only will act as a shield between you and the evil rays of the sun, but also as a barrier against gawkers when stumbling into the local diner for several cups of strong coffee and greasy food to soothe a rotten belly.

Another accessory that no woman should be without is a scarf – the vibrant red with white polka dot will distract from the disheveled mess that used to be an expertly crafted vintage updo, or as a disguise for the love bite that may have been upon ones neck when waking up.

Extravagant hair accessories are always in season, and Eight Ball Kustoms is the one-stop-shop for high quality hand made items suitable for multipurpose wear.  From layered flowers such as the beautiful dahlia to exotic feathered hybrids and plumed hats or fascinators, each piece is crafted with expertise – there are no mass produced duplicates running around either.

Ultimate Sport™ Sunblock Spray SPF 100+

No matter what your plans are for the Summer, chances are you will find yourself outside either enjoying or cursing the rays of sunshine.  This requires a product that many forget about but is essential in combating against things like skin cancer, or fading colors if you are heavily tattooed like me.  Neutrogena offers Ultimate Sport Sunblock Spary SPF 100+, which is reported to resist vigorous activity and wear off from water, sweat, rubbing or wiping.

Spectrum+ Advanced Sunblock Spray SPF 100+

The sun is far more powerful than people realize, and scientists recently discovered it can cause Oxidative Damage, which can lead to skin aging, pigmentation and other serious problems.  Fortunately, Spectrum+ Advanced Sunblock Spray SPF 100+  is infused with technology that protects us from the major causes of sun damage.

Wet Skin Sunblock Spray SPF 85

Taking a relaxing dip in the pool, ocean or other various bodies of water usually means that sunblock is going to slide off and skin will be left vulnerable.  Then again, Wet Skin Sunblock Spray SPF 85+ is specifically formulated to cut through water to form a protective barrier.

To compliment any of the looks one can create with the items listed above, Too Faced offers the Summer Royalty collection, which begins with the Summer Eye Summertime Sexy Shadow palette.  Nine richly pigmented colors such as Plumeria [vivid pink], Coral Crush [coral pink shimmer] and Mermaid [muted teal] are accompanied by how-to cards that will help create classic, fashionable looks for any occasion.

Get instant radiance with the Candlelight Glow Highlighting Powder Duo – the sheer gold warms skin while gilded rose brightens and illuminates – use separately or swirled together to combat the effect of cold lighting.

For that perfect sun-kissed, shine-free look, Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzing Powder – available in Light or Deep – is made with real cocoa powder and Too Faced’s signature bronzing pigments that smells as good as it looks.

As with all aspects of fashion and drawing upon inspiration in general, there is no right or wrong when it comes to expressing onself, and this guide should serve as suggestions of styles to experiment with.  For me, the images that spring to mind when thinking about Summer are hours wasted on the Jersey Shore, taking random trips to discover unique roadside attractions, cruiser nights, rockabilly shows, chrome diners, cotton candy at the carnival and sipping frozen cocktails in the urban jungle that is my back yard.