Aesthetic Autopsy: Madame Electra

There is a personal connection I have with the act known as the Electric Chair, a fantastic display in which a seemingly ordinary woman has the ability to harness the power of electricity and conduct it through various body parts to shock the audience.  Legend has it that Madame Electra was struck by a bolt of lightning and managed to survive, though was left with this mysterious ability that made her misunderstood among her peers.  Much like revealing the secret behind a magic trick, the truth on how this act works is far less fascinating than the presentation and for once I am not going to ruin that.  What I will say is that one can search the tags and find a report on how I was selected to sit in this contraption during a visit to Coney Island one Halloween, and I also had a first-hand look at it when I attended the sideshow school there a few weeks later.  While traveling with the Great American Circus Sideshow I was subjected to what I consider a substandard prop that literally shocked me, leading to refusal of ever sitting in it again.  Nonetheless, knowing the secrets and having been the act myself, I have a great appreciation for those who put on a great performance and really make me believe what is happening.

A memorable scene from Nightmare Alley features the Sheriff coming round with a beef about Madame Electra’s costume because it is too revealing, and he is convinced that is all the poor girl can manage to wear, otherwise there is a risk the clothing might spontaneously combust.  Like all good rubes the Sheriff is persuaded to calm the townsfolk and is indicative how the right words delivered with careful finesse can convince people that the extraordinary is true.  Of course that is a huge premise behind sideshow and translating this attitude into fashion does not have to result in skimpy outfits that leave little to the imagination.  As always the purpose is to take inspiration and find a way that it suits your personal tastes while still maintaining a piece of the original influence.  This can be easily achieved by making a list and then discovering items in your own wardrobe or purchasing something that is on trend yet still versatile enough that it will be used frequently, even when the next hottest thing is making the rounds.

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STRIKING CHARM

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The embellishments of this Pearl & Lace Corset Top accentuate white diamond shaped patterns, the built-in cup offering extra support while the black straps and band offer plenty of comfort.  Flaunt your curves with the Lip Service Fashion Victim Lightning Print Skirt, which has plenty of stretch thanks to a spandex base and elastic waistband that makes it easy to slip on.  Screen printed on the front are stunning lightning strikes that evoke images of the sparks that Madame Electra can emit from her fingertips.  Break up all that black with a Silver Corset Belt, a stylish accessory which has a snug fit and adds a bit of fun with a stay put bow.  The are plenty of elements on this Steampunk Jacket that makes it stand out from ordinary black cotton ones; straps, grommets, buckles, ruffles, velvet trim and antiqued buttons trim the garment in all the right places.  Something about Black Milk’s Muscle Leggings made me want to include them with the outfit, the bright and bold anatomical illustrations playing well with the skirt.  Remember that these are footless and to put on a pair of Skeleton Bone Ankle Socks to keep toes toasty inside this pair of Jeffrey Cambell Dramo Spikes.  The black patent and suede platform has a chunk of silver spikes in the front, a criss-cross pattern up the back of the heel and a firm sole that makes them easier to maneuver in than they appear.  Have the rubes running scared with Iron Fist’s American Nightmare Purse, a black skull print emblazoned across a blood red background, lace up detailing in the front, interior cell phone pocket, zippered closure and removable shoulder strap.  Capture the essence of a classic movie icon with the Bride of Frankenstein Rosary Necklace, a sixteen inch black beaded chain that holds a portrait of the Bride herself surrounded by a silver frame.  Show off your provocative personality with Silver Lightning Bolt Earrings, a Lightning Bolt Double Finger Ring by ASOS, and a couple of Diva Spike Bracelets.

Fierce eyes do not have to be drowning in several layers of black, whereas daring shades of red would convey a far more powerful statement.  After prepping face with your usual routine and applying primer to the eyes, sweep Predator, a pillar box red by Illamasqua that has a slightly cool tone so it is not too intense, across lids and blend slightly into the crease; add a touch under the eye and blend that out as well.  Follow with a few coats of Berber, a Pure Pigment that is a rich auburn with plenty of metallic shimmer, then add Moonflower to the corner of your inner eye and along the brow bone then blending the soft creamy white shadow into Berber.  Keep your hand steady while using Precision Ink in Havoc to line the eye and draw an aubergine cat eye and plump up lashes with Volume Mascara in Nocturnal.  Chisel out cheekbones by contouring with Cream Blushers in Betray a deep plum rose, Laid – bright rose pink, and Lies – pearlescent cool pink, the dewy finish giving your whole face a radiant glow.  Give your lips just as much shine with Facacade, a grey pink Intense Lipgloss that will make your pout appear full.  Complete the look by polishing nails in Vice, a deep cerise that has a rubber finish, topped with Harsh, a glossy finished silver glitter that is going to add plenty of shine to your manicure.

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HIGH VOLTAGE VOGUE

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Often the image of Miss Electra on a huge painted banner is accompanied by plenty of electrified bolts and occasionally a view of her internal anatomy, which is why I chose this fabulous Bones Sequin Dress by Iron Fist.  The silhouette of a black tank dress is a basic shape, but the turquoise skeleton design and sea of sequins makes it wearable at a posh party or chic cafe.  Wear a Knit Stripe Cardigan as a top layer, the ribbed knit, scooped knit and coordinating color paired with accents of grey adding texture; leave the buttons undone and push up the sleeves to leave room for plenty of chunky bangle bracelets.  Sheer stockings can be paired with opaque ones in bright colors for an interesting effect, particularly when they happen to be Lightening Bolt Tights.  Flaunt your Street Cred by way of Jeffrey Campbell’s glitter encrusted heeless platform that is described as “a Mary Jane on acid”, and keep your valuables secure in a Monster Movie Print Clutch.  The retro clutch features cotton printed with the familiar faces of Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula and the Mummy, and is accented by white metal-flake sparkle vinyl.  Having kitschy accessories does not mean one is limited to a collection of cheap plastic things that get boring to wear, as these Turquoise Carved Skull Earrings demonstrate.  High quality stone infused with multiple healing powers can dangle from your lobes and grin at those who stop to swoon over their details.  Though it might seem a bit repetitous to wear a Ribcage Necklace having the same print on the top of the dress, but when the bones are made of sterling silver covered with white and black diamonds, the feeling of opulence is undeniable.  At first glance the Lightning Bolt Bracelet might be deceptive as a novelty because it was made for Marvel,  but they are indeed made of silver and accented with real sparkling crystals.  Bring a romantic touch to the ensemble with a Black Cameo Ring, which features the profile of a young lady framed by white faux pearls and is mounted on an adjustable band.  Last but certainly not least, pin long locks away from the face with black Kreepsville Gem Bone Clips,  because no one wants to see Madame Electra set her hair on fire.

As mentioned above, complete your usual pre-makeup routine and get ready to create an avante garde eye, sweeping layers of Illamasqua’s Sex on the lids to build a sturdy base of pure white shadow, and then using the blue green tones of Burst on the outer corner to create the ‘outer V’.  Add a touch of Savage [deep berry pink] to the crease, blending it outwards into Burst, and follow that with a light touch of Pure Pigment in Static, an iridescent silver and pink combination.  Use Chasm [golden turquoise shimmer] under the eye and inner corner as well, and then using an angled brush line the top lid with Superior, a metallic sapphire Liquid Metal that goes on smooth and leaves behind plenty of shimmering pigment; finish with a few coats of Masquara.  Even though the emphasis is mostly on the eyes, one can still balance that with Atomic, a fuchsia violet Lipstick that can be sheer enough your face will not be overpowered by color.  Use the same techniques described above for glowing cheeks provided by Powder Blush in Thrust – deep magenta pink, Tremble – soft lilac pink, and Ambition – shimmering neutral.

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MACHO ELECTRO

 

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Though the instance is rare that instead of a lovely young woman being seated in the Electric Chair one will see a burly man, the act takes on a different tone and the presentation itself changes.  The man convinces his audience that he is mad and ready to subject the physical body to mild torture, which met with fascination as the switch is thrown and he starts twitching in the chair.  Therefor, the final look in this guide is inspired by those unique individuals who played into the dangerous aspect of the act and put on a fantastic show.  A basic black T-shirt is the ultimate in comfort and a wardrobe staple; having the image of Frankenstein flanked by lightning bolts on it gives the eye something interesting to look at while paying homage to the movie monster that was created with electricity.  Described as being “the new and improved Greaser jeans”, the Lip Service Indigo Jeans are 100% cotton and made from rigid bull denim, making them durable enough to wear while dancing or working in the garage.  If one is going to opt for a studded leather jacket, might as well make it one by Versace that also has crystal embellishments, which I happen to think go well with the Laredo Classic Mignon Boot; these amazing cowboy boots have plenty of hand stitched detail up top while the toes are treated with an overlay of burnished flames.  Don’t forget to put on some Broken Bones Socks on first to keep feet warm.  Thread a Hugo Boss Studded Belt through the loops of the jeans, a great causal accessory made from grained leather and covered with cone shaped studs, and secure using a 3D replica of Frankenstein’s Bride with this stunning Belt Buckle.  Being a walking, talking anomaly doesn’t mean one is without a sense of humor, as is demonstrated by the Get Pickled Wallet by Sourpuss that is embossed with a brain in a jar flanked by pinstripe style wings.  With all of these striking illustrations there is not much need to add anything heavy in terms of other accessories, so keep it simple with a Stainless Steel Twisted Bolt Ring and a set of Wide Leather Cuff Bracelets.

Photo credit: `1 – Coney Island Circus Sideshow, 2 – Pop Culture Ninja

Around the House

For someone who has a few modest collections and enjoys virtual window shopping, I cannot believe that I have covered so much about fashion yet completely skipped over all the wonderfully odd items one can decorate their abode with.  What I really love about many of the things I own is that they come with a story attached and in my mind have a high sentimental value and are irreplaceable.  Of course I also have a soft spot for kitschy tchotchkes and other assorted bric-a-brac that can be bought for a dime at the local thrift store or weekend flea market.  Capturing that essence in high-end pieces that are also affordable is not an easy feat, though that is why there are specific websites I go to when I am seeking of the appliances and apparatuses I can use to put my personality on display in the home.  This guide certainly reflects my attraction to articles associated with circus and sideshow, my face lighting up with glee every time I find something new, and is also appropriate for anyone who shares such an interest.

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strongman-corckscrew

When preparing to pop the cork on that bottle of expensive champagne, reach for the Strongman Cork Screw and let this classic sideshow character do all of the hard work.

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carousel-horse-pinup-shower-crutain

This wonderful Carousel Horse Shower Curtain embodies a fantasy I often entertained when I was a child, that being I would someday own one of those marvelously hand crafted steeds which graced legendary carousels.  Of course having the lovely illustration of a tattooed pinup on such a horse accompanied by a pink background with tattoo inspired filler is just as good.

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freakshow-shower-curtain

The graphics and colors on this Freakshow Shower Curtain are so amazing I would be inclined to use it as a backdrop for performance or photography in a heartbeat.  Of course when you are actually traveling with the carnival there is not much time to shower, and when there is you curse the primitive technology.

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sideshow-lady-knife-sharpener

A great piece to have on display in the kitchen is the Sideshow Lady Knife Sharpener, though the name is a bit confusion because sawing a woman in half is a magic illusion.  No matter, it is still really neat and can be entertaining for your friends.

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tuff-dish-washing-gloves

When all your guests have thoroughly been engorged and go along  their merry way leaving you with the aftermath of a legendary party, don’t despair over the pile of dirty dishes that threaten your manicure.  Protect thyself with Tuff Dish Washing Gloves, pretty pink punctuated with black tattoo designs: an anchor and “Wash Hard” in a banner; a heart and roses with “Dry Young” in a banner; “TUFF DISH” across the knuckles.

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sourpuss_illustrated_lady_satin_pillow

Lounge in comfort and style with the Illustrated Lady Satin Pillow; the tan background is accented by a trim of black pompoms, while the feature of this 13″ x 13″ pillow is the picture of the tattooed woman wearing a striped corset.

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sourpuss_conjoined_twins_satin_pillow

If you are a fan of sideshow oddities you might prefer the Conjoined Beauty Satin Pillow which depicts a pair of Siamese twins who remind me much of Violet and Daisy Hilton.  They are flanked by illustrations of the Half Man [Johnny Eck] and a sword swallower along with the words “Alive” and “Weird” in banners.

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spitfire-girl-tattooed-lady-doll

One part pillow and one part doll, the Tattooed Lady from Spitfire Girl had turn of the century style tattoos, finger waves in her hair and wears a vintage costume to show off all her detailed ink.

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spitfire-girl-tattooed-man-doll

Keep her company with the Tattooed Man, who has the same style tattoos, a prominent moustache and wears braces on his wrists similar to those of a strong man.

Many of the products featured here are made by and available by shopping Sourpuss!

Anti-Holiday Observations

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

Last year around this time, I was still living with my mom but visiting you-know-who.  We saw his father and that part of his family, but did nothing the following day.  In previous years, we had visited his father on this day and his sister and mother the next day, which was certainly interesting on a number of levels.  Though I was nervous the first time, I came to feel quite comfortable doing that, as it was better than hanging out with those so-called relatives I have but don’t really associate with.

The days of actually having a joyous holiday are long gone, harbored as fun-filled memories that leave me wondering what happened.  This year I was determined to fill that void by spending the ‘holiday’ with Jon, seeing as how he is the only thing that really matters in my life at the moment.  Going to see my mom would have been weird and I am sure I would wind up feeling annoyed.  My dad couldn’t figure out what he wanted to do so I did not make any plans to visit him either.  Though I would not have minded getting to see my sister, it is quite a distance to drive.

Or I could just be honest and say that I just wanted to spend the time with someone I felt would truly appreciate it.  Though I am living with very nice people, I have no attachment to their traditions and whatnot, so it would have been awkward to hang around with them.  Instead I just let them know I would be gone for a few days, packed some things and drove to what seems to be my favorite place in the world at the moment.  The house smelled like bacon, chocolate, mint and pine, the earthy scent of a joint breaking through and luring me into the living room.

Jon was wearing an atrocious sweater that was definitely purchased at Goodwill, his favorite pair of patched up pants and a red velvet smoking jacket.  He smiled and scooped me up into a hug while smothering me in kisses, then we feasted on tasty treats while watching movies on television.

Over the next few days we became immersed in the holiday spirit by covering the house with notable traditional Christmas characters.  Definitely enjoyed doing what may seem like a simple task, as it has been quite some time since I had a house to decorate, and I got that warm fuzzy feeling inside.  There was much drinking of eggnog, baking sugar cookies in the shape of genitals that sent us into fits of hysteria and stealing kisses under the mistletoe.

When night came we bundled up, downed some vodka and hot chocolate, then wrangled ourselves into the Chevy where we had to wait a good fifteen minutes for it to warm up.  Then we are traveling down winding roads and Jon has a smile on his face though I have no idea what is going on.  He pulls over to the side of the road, keeps the engine running and tells me he will be right back.  After fumbling in the trunk for a moment, he disappears for what feels like forever.  Apparently I took a nap, because I am startled when he taps on the window.  Rolling it down, he is now grinning from ear to ear with a pine tree by his side.  Before I can even ask, he has it tied to the roof and is speeding towards the house.

Music surrounded us while lights and garland were strung around the tree, pausing for kisses while carefully arranging the ornaments among piney branches.  Though neither of us really buy into the commercialism of Christmas, nor do we really invoke religious connotations with our celebrations, there are certain traditions we both enjoy taking part in, and having fun with someone you love is possibly the best thing I could ever want on a holiday.

The following day began with strong cups of peppermint tea and card exchange.  While we didn’t get the same one [as we thought may happen] it was horribly ironic that they did both have ‘To the One I Love’ written on the outside.  There were stockings filled with candy, socks and coal but no actual presents because that is not what Christmas is about for us.  Plus I have the best gift in the world, so what I else could I ask for?

After stuffing our faces with pancakes, we got dressed and then departed for Sandy Hook.  Since our day technically began well after noon and there was no rush to do anything, we arrived at the beach just as the sun was setting.  That pretty much set the perfect romantic scene, despite the fact that it was brutally cold.  Gloved hands awkwardly fumbled and then gripped one another as we walked along the beach and just listened to the sound of the waves.  It not longer mattered what day it was or what other people were doing, because I was with my best friend and could enjoy the crunch of his boots on frozen sand.  We walked so long that we came across the lovely houses of Ocean Grove and decided it would be best to walk back to the Chevy.

Hunger soon set in and the challenge of finding a place that was open on that festive day began.  Thank the Chinese for ignoring this over-glorified, wallet-reducing holiday.  We happily filled our bellies at the first buffet we came across and then wearily returned to his house.  Decided that watching appropriate holiday themed movies would be overkill and stumbled across upon Finding Nemo instead.  Jon suggests that we turn it into a drinking game and pulls out a jar of  Jersey Devil’s Reserve, stating that he had been saving it for a special occasion.  We were drunk ten minutes into the film and made an attempt to sober up by smoking a blunt.  Passed out on the couch and missed the remainder of the movie, but that did not matter.

This may have been one of the best holidays I’ve had in quite some time, and hopefully the start of a new tradition.

From the City to Asbury

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

After recovering from the previous evening’s festivities, we managed to drag ourselves out of bed, get dressed and drive up to Newark in order to catch the PATH into the City.  The weather was rather favorable which was nice, as walking in the extreme cold or while it is raining really kills the joy of it all, but thankfully that was not the case.  During the train ride, we had one of those obnoxiously loud conversations about dead bodies and what not.  The lady that was sitting across from us looked absolutely horrified.

Once in the City, we hoofed it up Church to Canal where we encountered much pedestrian traffic, most likely due to the fact that people were out shopping for the impending holiday.  Having plenty of experience with moving among said traffic, Jon took my hand in his and we just pushed our way through the people.  At last we arrived at Unimax, where I brought out the list I had made and set straight to purchasing: 16g captive bead rings that would eventually find their home in my ears, 4g black acrylic CBR’s to match the other I already have, 4g red acrylic skull claws, and 14g spikes that would be worn with new short labret studs in my bottom lip and vertical labret.

Even though it had only been a few weeks since I stretched my septum, I decided to buy a 2g taper and 2g red acrylic plug so I would be prepared when the hole was ready to stretch again.  Lastly I would like to note that I paid wholesale on all of above mentioned items, which brought my total to $25 and was fairly reasonable, but Jon picked up the tab anyway.

Went across the street to grab some hot dogs and sodas from one of those sidewalk vendors and headed for the train, as we wanted to leave the City before the sun went down.  On the ride back, these guys just would not stop staring at us.  People are severely lacking in manners these days, and the staring thing is getting real old, and completely unnecessary.  In fact, Jon decided to make loud remarks about their clothes, hair, facial features and anything else he could think of while staring straight at them.  People turned to look at them and I burst out laughing as they became the center of attention and were visibly embarrassed.  Jon smiled broadly and took my hand, ensuring to give them a good glare as we got off.

Upon our return to his house we set about changing for that evening’s festivities, which included wearing some of the newly acquired jewelry.  Hair was quiffed, clothes sorted to coordinate, boots polished, silver in just the right places and I find myself staring into the eyes of an amazing human being, wondering how I got to be so lucky.  We smoke and do shots – for once those are the only substances we partake of before getting into the Chevy, surf tunes on high volume as it takes to the highway.

Arriving in Asbury, he parks the Chevy a block over from the Lanes and we take a moment to wet or whistles with whiskey, a flask finding its way into a pocket inside his coat.  He smiles and produces a comb to tidy up our hair, which leads to several minutes of groping and kissing like we’re teenagers trying not to get caught.

We hadn’t been to the Lanes on a Saturday night, and I must say that I was kind of surprised to see plenty of people were already there and the band was swinging.  We bowled on lane 13 for a while, though due to our intoxicated state, neither of us did very well.  At some point I was struck by hunger, so we paused the game and hit up the snack bar.  Cheap food is always good, and I dined on this delicious chicken sandwich with a side of nuclear fries and onion rings.  After finishing up our game, we returned the shoes and drank the contents of the flask while Crimson Ghost Society played.  They do surf versions of Misfits tunes, so it is all instrumentals with no vocals and it was awesome.

Cocktails were purchased from the bar and after downing them Jon brings me outside because he said he needs some air.  We wander down to the beach where he tells me he is having a great time and I concur.  He uses the moment to take me in his arms and drown me in kisses, which makes me so happy I could burst.  Then he says those words again while holding my face in his hands, though this time I say it too and the expression in his eyes is priceless.

Upon returning to the Lanes, we are excited to see Gein and the Graverobbers on stage.  Drunken dancing ensued because Jon insisted that we could not just stand there like everyone else, and we managed to clear a small area that caused some people to gripe.  The band was into it and encouraged others to move to the beat, so eventually there were two other couples that joined us and it was amazing.

The last thing I remember was the dark highway and falling asleep on his arm.  Then a sweet voice quietly roused me from my slumber by saying: “Hun wake up, we’re home.”

Needless to say, after all we did that day, we were quite happy to pass out.

Pain Is a Cleanser

[Originally written on this date in 2004]

First and foremost I want to say that I am pretty content with my current living arrangement, despite other people being less than happy about it.  Though I am less stressed being around the Asshole, there is a hole in my heart because I feel so incredibly detached from Jon.  The time spent with my new friend is fun and all, but nothing could ever replace the man I love more than anything.

A week after moving I get an e-mail from Jon with a list of things he wants to do with me, which is exciting as we have not seen each other since November.  Driving to the Jersey Shore is a lot easier and faster when you are already in the southern part of the state and mostly just have to head for the coast.  His smiling face greeted me as soon as he opened the door and I was swallowed into the embrace of his tattooed arms.

Smoked a joint en route to Starlight and arrived in what must have been record time, thanks in part to the fact that Jon was speeding the whole way.  In fairness, we wanted to get there before the shop closed and navigating highways tend to be a boring yet mandatory part of our travels.  After filling out the mandatory paperwork, I happily took position in the chair, not even the slightest bit nervous.  Though I preferred not to watch the needle penetrate my face, I did enjoy the sensation as it sliced through the flesh of my top lip.  When I pried my eyes open to get my first glimpse of the vertical philtrum, there was only a slight stinging sensation and no blood, so I was quite pleased with the outcome.  Was asked to return once the piercing healed so that it could photograph it for a portfolio, and I said I would do my best seeing as how the shop is rather far from where I lived.  Overall it was a great experience and Jon gave me a playful punch in the arm on the way out as he congratulated me on the new face bling

Since there was some time to kill, we headed to the Tick Tock diner for purposes of consuming food before assaulting our stomachs with alcohol.  It proved difficult to eat with a new hole, which is why I selected grilled chicken salad.  The people at the table next to us got a good show of me having to cut up pretty much everything on my plate into bite-sized portions so I could get them into my mouth without hitting the jewelry in my top lip.  Jon thought it was particularly funny as well and kept apologizing while laughing, adding that I took the piercing like a trooper and made up for all the jokes with a strawberry milkshake.

After eating our fill it was time to drive over to the venue.  The night was still young so Jon parked the Chevy on a quiet street and we headed to the back seat for our usual pre-show ritual of smoking, drinking and snorting.  The latter was obviously his idea, and though I hesitated because I don’t want to encourage that sort of thing and know he is really trying to cut down on using it, we were having a night on the town.  Or maybe that is just my way of rationalizing it so I don’t have guilty feelings, though I certainly was not forced to partake.

Completely buzzed, the King and Queen made their entrance.  Now while I enjoy going to shows at Connections, it seems to be a pretty dead scene.  Anywho, no sooner had we walked in than did George Is Dead take the stage.  As usual, the set was awesome, which included the premier of their newest song and some blood spillage.  Then came the hilarity that is Shat, which included excessive exposure of genital regions.  Here is a good lesson to learn, kids: duct tape does not make for a good costume.  There was another band we were not really interested in paying attention to, so we mingled at the bar until the lights came on and it was time to leave.  Sadly another Anti-Holiday Spectacular had come to an end, but we enjoyed ourselves greatly and were in a jovial mood upon exiting the venue.

After hurtling down the darkened highway, I am finally hit with tiredness and find myself being carried to bed by Jon.  He lights a joint and is babbling about how much fun he had with me, particularly being with me when I got my philtrum pierced.  Philosophical waxing about body modification fills the room along with the pungent smoke and I am fighting against lids that want to close.  His excited voice jolts me awake and I realize that he is showing me small brands he made on the tops of he feet.  My words sound muffled as I ask him what he did, and Jon explains how he used a soldering iron to scribe the geometric designs into his skin.  This is a man who is no stranger to pain, which he proved thoroughly through human pincushion demonstrations for many years when he performed with Outlaw Cirkus, yet I wondered what sort of state of mind he had to be in to do that to himself.

Out of all the things rolling around in my head, one thought manages to slip out: “Dude…why?

Confusion comes to Jon’s face and I got the feeling that he was expecting a different reaction.

No, I mean, I like it and all…” My mouth shuts and does me a great favor, but I should not be blamed when there are so many things floating through my body.

“There is a sense of power that comes with being in control of pain,” he softly explains, his arm settling over my shoulders as my head finds its way into his lap.  “The challenge to deny the impulses that makes the body react  it is something I like to constantly raise the bar on, because the feelings that come with accomplishing something which is supposed to be difficult or nearly impossible are so intense I find myself desperately craving them.”

“Why even put yourself through that?”

Jon laughed as he settled us both in bed and turned off the light.  “Pain is a cleanser and I always need to repent my sins.”

Twilight Splendor

There are only nine more days to shop for Christmas if you happen to observe that holiday or just enjoy exchanging gifts with friends for fun.  That does not mean the following suggestions suddenly become null and void once all the fanfare is over, as they can be enjoyed throughout Winter until the frost melts and ushers in the first signs of Spring.  A hallmark of transition from adolescence into adulthood, makeup collections should have more thought put into them than it was the first thing you saw at Wal*Mart so you grabbed it to save the last shred of sanity you had left.  Leave long lines and annoying children that are threatened with Santa not even visiting them if they did not behave and snuggle up with a cup of homemade hot chocolate to browse the web instead.  Whether giving to yourself or someone you love, these beauty products are sure to make the recipient shine as brightly as tinsel on a Christmas tree.

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Illamasqua: Black Christmas – Limited edition gift box hailed as the ultimate 9-piece kit for creating a dramatic smokey eye, including a leaflet with step-by-step instructions on how to execute four unique makeup looks produced by the School of Makeup Art.

This set contains:

  • Powder Eyeshadow in Obsidian
  • Pure Pigment in Zeitgeist
  • Medium Pencil in SOPHIE
  • Precision Ink in Abyss
  • Masquara in Raven
  • False Eye Lashes in 13
  • Eye Brow Cake in Thunder
  • Sheer Lipgloss in Artifice
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Illamasqua: Freak Gift Set – The ultimate in luxury gift sets, this contains three hand-selected products that are among the company’s best-selling makeup pieces, the shade said to reflect the the rare blooms of the exotic scent for which the arrangement is named.  Included in the series is Nail Varnish in Wink [soft lilac], Liquid Metal in Phenomena [molten silver], Sheer Lipgloss in Tantrum [deep berry pink] and 75ml of Freak Eau De Parfum.  Top Notes are listed as Black Davana, Opium Flower and Belladonna, while Heart Notes are Poison Hemlock, Datura and Queen of the Night blossoms, and the Base Notes are Frankincense, Myrrh and Oud.

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NARS: American Dream  Gleaming elegance for eyes, this Artist Palette contains six eyeshadow shades that are an indication of smart, contemporary style.

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NARS: New Wave – The product story about this Artist Palette says it all; vivacious violets juxtapose with chartreuse and bold blue in an edgy electro cool color collection for the eyes.

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NARS: Travel Brush Set – For those on the go, a collection of the most coveted brushes NARS has to offer.  The quartet is travel size and comes in a zippered pouch to keep them from roaming about your luggage as you go over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house.

This set contains:

  • Blush Brush
  • Eye Shader Brush
  • Small Dome Eye Brush
  • Push Eyeliner Brush
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Too Faced: Confection Collection – Exclusive assortment of eye shadows, luxe lip shades and cruelty-free brushes.  The main attraction is the Shadow Bon Bons, a compilation of twelve shadows [seen below], full-size LashGasm Mascara and Candlelight Shadow Insurance.

Other items include Perfect Pink lip liner and Fuchsia Shock lipstick, while the brush trio consists of: Liner/Smudger, Lid/Smoker, and Crease/Blender; all of this fits into a reusable pink tote emblazoned with a golden frame and the company’s logo.

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Too Faced: Love Sweet Love Collection – A celebration of the spirit of love that helps you achieve two romantic looks with products for flirty eyes, flushing cheeks and a seductive pout; one guise is for the day while the other is more appropriate for evening.  The assortment contains a Book of Love [seen below] with six shadows, two blushes and two lip glosses; LashGasm Mascara, Shadow Insurance Eye Primer, Perfect Eyes eyeliner in Perfect Black, Primed & Poreless Face Primer and “Teddy Bear Hair” face brush; it all fits inside a gold embroidered velveteen makeup back.

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Too Faced: Spun Sugar – This purse-size palette is a limited edition that offers everything one needs for eyes, face and lips in shimmering sugar-inspired shades.  Glimmering golds and sexy silver hues make it easy to take your look from Haute Holiday to Naughty New Year’s Eve with eight pigment rich shadows, highlighting blush with golden pink shimmer, universal bronzer and clear shimmering gold gloss.

Shadow Shades:

  • Light Gold – antiqued gold shimmer
  • Gold – warm golden amber
  • Yellow – pale gold shimmer
  • Brown – golden brown shimmer
  • Silver – light silvery glitter
  • Light Gray – metallic gray shimmer
  • Dark Gray – cool gray
  • Black – pewter shimmer
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Urban Decay: Book Of Shadows Vol. III Redux – Yet another limited edition item that is a remix of Urban Decay’s NYC palette and an ode to the Big Apple by way of sixteen shadows and a cool pop-up display which illuminates when opened.  The popular palette has a new low price, some shade changes and a few other tweaks from its first inception as a way of UD professing their love for the East Coast.

A drawer pulls out to reveal the assembly of versatile neutral hues, smokey-eye essentials and bold, attention-grabbing brights; there is also a travel-size Eyeshadow Primer Potion and 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in the best-selling, award-winning zelaous black.

What You  See Is What You get:

  • Oil Slick – black matte with silver micro-glitter
  • Uzi – silver metallic with big iridescent sparkles
  • Stray Dog – cool ash brown metallic
  • Mildew – mossy green shimmer with gold shift
  • Midnight Cowboy Rides Again – light pink champagne shimmer with silver glitter
  • SWF – pale cotton candy shimmer with silver micro-glitter
  • Last Call – plum metallic
  • Rockstar – deep aubergine shimmer
  • Haight – mermaid blue shimmer
  • Maui Wowie – golden beige metallic shimmer with silver micro-glitter
  • Aquarius -aqua green shimmer
  • Smog – deep coppery bronze shimmer
  • Goddess – deep smokey blue with aqua micro-glitter
  • Sin – champagne shimmer
  • YDK – cool bronze shimmer
  • Ecstasy – bright purple shimmer

LUSH Holiday Gift Guide

This might only be my second Gift Guide filled to the brim with LUSH products, but I certainly recognize some items from last year and am going to do my best to avoid repeating suggestions.  Since the fun fragrances speak volumes for themselves, I figured it would not make much sense to provide a prologue littered with alliterations when there are so many great things to talk about.  Though I would like to note that the majority of these retail for $20 or under and also send a reminder to readers that there are only twelve shopping days left!

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Make bath time a cause for celebration with Golden Wonder, a present shaped Bath Bomb with a bright citrus scent which comes from orange, lime and cognac oils reminiscent of fizzy champagne.  Speaking of which, once this is in the tub it will reveal vibrant gifts that put on a show just for you.

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Inspired by Japanese bathing traditions, Winter Bath is loaded with spicy ginger and clove bud oils which combine to give your skin a herbal hint of warmth.  Bath melt mix and soya milk have also been added to moisturuize seasonally dry skin so that it is soft and smooth all season.

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Banish the dreaded Holiday Hangover with Jingle Spells, a restorative potion crafted from juniper berries, fennel, tangerine and ylang ylang oils.  Infused with an enchanting galaxy of gold, silver and black stars that appear as the Bath Bomb dissolves while your tub is tinted a lovely shade of lavender to help you relax.

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A present to yourself that is chock-full of surprises, Crackersnap can be pulled apart or tossed in the tub to inhale the zesty fragrance of rosewood, lemongrass and bergamot.  As it continues to snap, crackle and pop, you will soon find that it is has been stuffed with treats and can be used for up to three baths.

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To indulge in a holiday treat without counting calories, crumble Gingerbread House into the bath water to generate delicious cinnamon bubbles.  Ginger root oil and powder create a warming sensation while an uplifting dash of lemon oil helps cleanse and tone your skin.

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Get the most of your money with this three-in-one bubble bar, and one will not be disappointed in the items stuffed into Santa’s Sack.  Remove the presents to save them for later and then dissolve the sack in the bath, slipping under mounds of spicy bubbles generated by tonka absolute and neroli oil as fresh tagetes oil benefits skin that is dry, sore or cracked.

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Lather up with lemon, grapefruit and lemongrass oils to refresh your mind, body and soul after a long day of frolicking with Snow Globe.  It will also help keep you calm during moments of festive frenetic energy by way of ylang ylang oil and turquoise color, both of which are going to turn up the relaxation.

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Though the aromatic properties of Snowcake may seem good enough to eat, this almond icing and marzipan confection is loaded with benzoin and rose absolute.  A slice of this holiday treat generates a rich and creamy lather that will leave skin feeling soft and smooth as a dewy petal.

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Sweet and fruity, Angel’s Delight is influenced by the English custard of the same name and is just as decadent as the desert.  Saturated with tangerine and orange essence, the colorful chunks suspended in this fresh handmade soap makes it as unique as a snowflake!

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Marketed as a spectacular seasonal soap that is a brilliant balance of stimulating, refreshing lathers with a hint of luxurious, indulgent sweetness, North Pole offers two different scents and colors for you to choose from.  On the pink side is cocoa absolute  and peppermint, while cedarwood and cypress oils reside in the white.

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Exfoliate skin for a toned, glowing complexion with Sandy Santa, a Shower Scrub made from sand and sugar.  Orange, rosewood and sandalwood oils blend together for an extra dose of softness while making you smell marvelous!

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This classic holiday treat is ideal for those with constant candy cravings and adds some fun to your shower with irridescent glitter that disappears when you rinse.  Snow Fairy has been infused with the delicious fragrance of candyfloss and vanilla that will have visions of Summer carnivals dancing in your head.

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Reap the benefits of your favorite libation on your own skin with Glögg, which has a generous nip of real organic red wine to assist with getting the party started on bleak mornings.  Cinnamon and clove bud have been mixed with a shot of brandy to perk you up, while orange juice cleanses your skin and keeps it glowing.

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A bewitching brew of delightful ingredients, Potion Lotion is a concoction of cocoa butter and almond oil to nourish skin, while a rose petal infusion makes it incredibly soft.  Tangerine tones and carnation absolute lends a distinctive floral note which can be applied any time of the year.

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Named for the log-shaped French desert, Bûche de Noël has fresh ingredients for glowing holiday skin.  Scrub away dead skin with ground almonds, cleanse with kaolin clay and then nourish with almond oil and seaweed.  There’s also a splash of brandy and overall you will be able to get rid of winter-induced roughness, leaving skin feeling softer than snow that has freshly fallen.

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Though the components of Let the Good Times Roll may read more like a recipe for a tasty snack than elements of a fresh facial cleanser, the maize, flour, and polenta with popcorn topping all serve a purpose.  Together they leave your skin clean, smooth and bright while a dash of cinnamon powder invigorates; it is gentle enough to use on your entire body though available for a limited time.

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Skip the cookies and candies to engorge yourself on Sweet Christmas, one of many LUSH gift sets that have been put together to help customers who may be shopping for someone special and may be unsure of what to get.  The cotton candy scented sweets in this one are the Candy Mountain bubble bar and Rockstar soap, both of which are tasty bath time bonbons that can be enjoyed by everyone.

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An archetype for Secret Santa gifts, Festive Cheer is said to make unsuspecting friends, neighbors and coworkers smile with sunny, citrus aromas.  It contains the Sandy Santa from the list above as well as Ponche shower gel, suitable for those who favor showers over baths.

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Make spirits bright no matter what the forecast is with Cool Christmas, the duo of icy fresh soaps sure to put a bit of zing in your morning.  The set contains Snow Globe [see above] and Whoosh, a shower jelly that can be frozen then applied during a steamy shower for a stimulating treat.

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Christmas Party stands out among the other sets because it is contains a pair of treats that can be enjoyed by a party of one [or more].  Party Popper spins around the tub detonating pink and blue color bombs, crackling and popping candy exploding beside dried honeydew flakes, while Northern Lights provides the perfect neon glow.

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Made from 100% recycled materials, Santa’s Hat can be used to wrap up stocking stuffers and small gifts.  Tie it around your head or face [depending on whether you want to ‘wear’ the hat or beard] for an instant Christmas party costume!  If your locks look less than lustrous first thing in the morning when you are ready to reek havoc on pristine packages and someone is shoving a camera in your sleepy face, this scarf also comes in handy as a funny disguise.