Skeletal Animals

In a time where there is zombie acceptance to the point where the living dead are found in popular movies, television shows and on a wide assortment of merchandise, one might become overwhelmed by all of the options and want to pursue another interest instead.  Enter the anatomical wonders that are see-through animals and the odd charm they can bring to your wardrobe.  Though bone prints have been done to death [no pun intended] as much as zombies have, there is still something appealing about shadowed skeletons of various animals.  Here are a few pieces to inject some creepy and kooky designs into your favorite fashions!


1 – Express your pleasure for summer love by wearing the X-ray Seahorses Necklace, the two-tone green and pink chain holding onto an enamel heart-shaped pendant that has lightning bolts pierced through it.  The colors of the boney oceanic equestrians coordinate with the chain, which also has a coffin charm and extender, where one aches while the other’s heart breaks.  [Kreepsville666 – $22]

2 – Cameo collectors can end their search for a peculiar piece, as the Skeleton Stag Necklace is an exclusive handmade design where the emaciated remains of a stag are set against a black cabochon.  A delicate black chain is secured to the intricate frame that twists around the cameo, making it a suitable accessory for any outfit.  [Diamond Star Halo – $26]

3 – Deflect diminutive demonic rodents with the Claw Cameo Ring, as they will quake in fear that you have harnessed the remarkable authority of their deceased predator.  Alternatively, you might just appreciate the contrast of the detailed bird skull contrasted by a flat black background surrounded by thorned curls that sit on an adjustable base.  [Too Fast – $10]

4 – Acquiring insight from images associated with rockabilly, tattoos and the 50’s, these DOTD Flamingo Earrings are hand drawn and focus on complex components such as the tiny hearts and dots adorning some of the bones.  Initiate a new trend with the matching necklace and for a kitschy way to add ghoulish glamour to any retro look.  [Dolly Cool – £7]

5 – Step right up to see these mystifying creatures of the sea, perfectly preserved for your edification and displayed here for all to witness the oddities for themselves.  Suspended from the silver hooks that were used to catch them are the marvelous Skeletal Seahorse Earrings, ready to purchase if one has enough fortitude to adorn the earlobes with them.  [Plasticland – $14]

6 – There are plenty of things to fancy about the Flamingo Bone Heel: the 5 ¼” shiny black bone-shaped heels, an open toe, a concealed platform and X-ray flamingos with pink feathered wings printed across the black patent upper, accompanied by bones and pink polka dots.   They are also currently 20% off and will likely be gone soon, so scoop up a pair while you still can!  [Too Fast – $48]


Ritzy Ruby

The exceptional hardness of a ruby is surpassed only by a diamond, making it one of the elite precious gems which are not only used in presenting you pride for a July birthday but also revered for their valued beauty.  Characteristic colors and quality varies depending on the geographical source; a fine, deep, clear red in Burma; a dark red to brown tint in Burma; medium light tones in Sri Lanka and small, sheet like purple hued stones in Africa.  Durable for every day wear, rubies symbolize intelligence, prosperity and generosity, radiating a strong sense of vitality where feelings of passion are unashamedly incited.  A phenomenon caused by very fine needles of rutile inside a ruby give it a ‘silky’ shine, and rarely they can form a star-shaped deposit that would be highly visible should this kind of stone were to be cut as a half-dome cabochon.  While derived from the Latin word rubens, which literally means ‘red’, the color of a ruby is far more warm and fiery, an undiluted, hot and passionate tone that is unrelenting in saturation.  Though certainly the most important feature, transparency matters just as much and inclusions that do not impair the quality are viewed as a fingerprint defining a ruby as genuine.  No matter how you choose to display it, be confident that you are just as rare and radiant as the characteristics of this ‘king of gemstones’!

+++ ritzy-ruby-makeup

1 – Leave the bleach out of the equation when coating your locks in Manic Panic’s Vampire Red, adding richness to brunettes and dark blondes without damaging the hair, leaving you with relatively virgin hair that is shimmering with natural highlights and lowlights.

2 – Red around the eyes can be too intense or give off the wrong vibe, but thanks to Ruby Red Make-Up Studio Eyeshadow you can get strong pigmentation in a soft powder that glides across eyes and leaves behind a subtle shine.

3 – Combining the hydrating power of an ointment and the shine of a gloss, Ruby Color Balm Lipstick rejuvenates your lips in a luxe, satin finish that contours them to add definition and volume.

4 – The convenient design behind the Mysterious Red Lip Pencil allows application of crimson pigments that provide long-lasting and seamless coverage whether used for lining, all-over cover or pairing it with another product.

5 – Another way to protect your pout in style is with a blend of conditioners and antioxidants found in Trans Siberian, a brilliant ruby rose Semi Matte Lipstick that is vivid but doesn’t leave lips feeling dry.

6 – Notable for serious shine that is ultra-smooth and comfortable to wear, the sheer cherry red tones of Misbehave are accented by just enough golden shimmer that makes this lip gloss as enriching as it is dramatic.

7 – The brilliant quality of Scarab is due to the nail varnish being exceptionally hard-wearing, allowing the deep ruby-red to stand out as a bold shade while the metallic finish is reminiscent of the gem it represents.

8 – In case you are craving even more shine, top it off in the shimmer red tones of Saratoga, giving nails an extra layer of fortification that will resist chipping and fading.

9 – Collecting false lashes has become a small hobby due to the versatility of looks which can be created by using them, so discovering these cute Ruby Red pair that is decorated with tiny black stars and red swarovski crystals at an extremely affordable price has the ideas brewing.

10 –  If wearing red is a bit too daring, try storing your favorite cosmetics in a Holdfast Makeup Bag, a custom construction of ruby-red glitter vinyl decorated with white glitter vinyl stripes and a contrasting bandanna style print lining.



1 – Alternating colors that surround the perimeter of these Anatometal Gemmed Eyelets is just one of the many customizing options available, the polished stainless steel reflecting white and black cubic zirconias alongside synthetic rubies.

– Though recommended for healed lobes, Teardrop Eyelets are a stylish alternative to the circular shapes that dominate the selection of jewelry for stretched ears, while decorating them with synthetic rubies further accentuates their intriguing shape.

3 – Going one step further by anodizing the steel to a crisp light blue, these Super Teardrop Eyelets not only have the same gleaming trim as the others, but also a huge synthetic ruby nestled in the lower half of the interior.

4 – Forecasting autumn trends, the Pear Faraway is a rose gold septum piece that features faux wire wrapping and a genuine ruby flanked by a pair of 1.5 mm diamonds.

5 – Compliment your refined taste with a Water Lily, the rose gold petals surrounding a bezel set ruby on the end of a nostril screw that is dainty and daring.

6 – The filigree details of Leslie’s Heart is a testament to the quality of jewelry offered by Body Vision Los Angeles, the charm dangling from the end of a yellow gold curved bar highlighted by a genuine ruby.

7 – Romance abounds at any time of year, so if you are looking to give that special someone who also happens to adore body jewelry something that shows them how you feel, go for the Heart Navel Cluster where 18 karat yellow gold arches between a round and heart synthetic ruby gem, the latter surrounded by cubic zirconias.

8 – A slightly different design that has the same strong yellow gold base, the Flower Navel Curve is topped with a  white synthetic opal while a cluster of synthetic rubies surround a cubic zirconia.

9 – If you have a curved bar you already adore, simply slip on an Oval Prong dangle, the delicate beading of a white gold chain supporting a 6 x 4 mm Chatham ruby bringing instant opulence to any ordinary piece.

10 – A solid metal spike protruding from a piercing might be too much of a ‘hard’ look for some, so a threaded Prong Set Spike made from a synthetic ruby on a flat back labret could be an appealing alternative, the tip almost glowing when sunlight hits it.

11 – Balanced on the anodized blurple surface of a titanium Gemmed Industrial Bar are a set of synthetic rubies and a synthetic amethyst centered flower with synthetic ruby petals, giving the 1 1/4 inch length a bit of sparkle without overloading it.

12 – There is nothing understated about the Mini Pleades, what with all that white gold, diamonds and rubies; somehow it still manages to be less contentious than other low quality pieces would be when aiming for a certain aesthetic.

13 – Give your jewelry the royal treatment with Doubled Threaded Princess Ends that anchor down square-cut synthetic rubies, available in several sizes to put the finishing touch on your daily adornments.

Kitschy Variety: Hotrod Honey Dress


Fashion is far less critical of the bodies that wear it than the people who have nothing better to do than comment on the appearance of others.  You do not have to fit the stereotypical boundaries of what society and the images splayed in public media want to dictate as the acceptable norms of beauty.  Unfortunately, it is difficult for individuals such as myself who are considered ‘plus size’ to find garments that actually fit proportions that are far more varied than factory mannequins.  This is even harder when you have subscribed to a certain aesthetic, often lamenting at the fact that many websites which offer alternative styles do not commonly carry larger sizes.

Renown for their quality brands, Pinup Girl Clothing can be relied on to have something new for every season and the impending  Autumn means eventually cooler temperatures and the need to cover skin one has been comfortably exposing all Summer.  Fanatics of Deadly Dames and their Juvenile Delinquent Dress may recognize the pairing of a knitted striped top with a fitted black skirt, the fabric snug yet still easy to wear.  However, their plus size Hotrod Honey Dress pays homage to the source of its inspiration through an embroidered skull and crossbones that sits on the front right shoulder.  The red and white stripes are contrasted by black trim on the low neckline and cuffs, while a wide faux leather black belt cinches in your waistline to create dangerous curves.  Horizontal stripes can have a tendency to shorten your frame, so give yourself some extra inches in a pair of Ceres by London Trash, captivating red suede platform pump that has black elastic bands along the vamp that conform to your feet and keep them in place.  A store I recently discovered through Tumblr called Viva Dulce Marina that specializes in retro clothes with a moderate plus size section offering dresses, separates, shape wear, petticoats, hoisery and belts.  There are definitely a few items that may appear in future Kitschy Variety articles, but today I am focused on the Betsey Handbag since it could very well be a prop from Mad Men, the white vinyl covered rattan sporting a simple gold metal clasp that lets the weaved texture do all the talking.

One of  the most popular accessories that quickly transform a seemingly ordinary up-do into a stunning pinup style is a Snood, the high quality black netting allowing you to secure long locks for extended periods of time, and lending itself to be readily decorated by other items such as a Petite Red Rose Clip.  Celebrate cocktail hour any time with a Rhinestone Cosmo Martini Necklace, the pint-sized glass decorated in shimmering white rhinestones and dangling from a delicate chain by way of a faux ruby.  Denizens of the East Coast have enjoyed a late Summer serenade that was supposed to disappear sometime in June, and I am a personal fan of this odd mating ritual that happens once every seventeen years.  While some may find them creepy, I am kind of partial to the idea of owning a pair of Couture Creatures Cicada Earrings for a number of reasons.  Featuring over-sized antiqued silvertone charms that are fairly accurate replicas of the insects, they will definitely be an interesting element in any outfit.  Though made of shiny black acrylic, these black Bamboo Tiki Bracelets can be stacked around the wrists to bring some structure to this part of the ensemble.  Color and pattern matching does not always have to be obvious, and the Big Top Ring is a fabulous way to do both with one accessory.  A red and white striped cabochon framed in silver sits on an adjustable ring that is a cheerful reminder of circus influence which attracted me to this dress in the first place.

Aside from the sites already mentioned, the remainder of the pieces in this look were found on Plasticland and Etsy.  As much as I enjoy being able to find clothes, shoes and accessories all on one site, the challenge of being able to hunt them down in places others might not even have thought of exploring.  Knowing some key words is incredibly helpful, particularly doing an image search or navigating through pages such as Amazon or Ebay, both of which I have read are useful to those seeking plus sizes.  If you are fortunate enough to have a store local to you that carries alternative brands, make a trip there and try out a few things to get an idea of how pieces from certain brands are going to fit you in order to avoid returning or reselling something you bought online that doesn’t fit.  Another tip is to buy a bigger size than you need and just take it to a tailor or do the alterations yourself if you are able to.

There was a time when plus size alternative fashion was almost non-existent, being restricted to dark corners of places like Hot Topic lest someone be offended that there’s anything above a medium hanging on the rack.  New companies are being born every day while existing ones are evolving as they realize what is considered plus size by ‘industry standards’ makes up a significant portion of the population and that we want to buy their stuff too.  Here’s hoping this is a trend that continues and inspires others to follow suit.

Kitschy Variety: Strongman Swing Dress

There hasn’t been a new Carny Style category in quite some time, and in general I am finding it takes me more time to seek out pieces to combine into outfits that are wearable and reflect the characteristics of Circus culture.  A few things have been rolling around in my head concerning the direction I want to take these articles, a focused emphasis on showcasing my styling skills and the ability to promote popular alternative brands.  Without giving too much away, I know for certain that my detailed guides are appreciated by a significant amount of people.  Continuing to provide history and other information along with the articles is also something I feel is important to maintain, and I definitely have a few new features that will be introduced in the future which I hope is going to become an essential part of my ever growing portfolio.

Today I bring to you Kitschy Variety, a compilation of items where at least one of them is circus or sideshow inspired which can be used as a quick guide to organizing a polished look.  Even though I can occasionally get carried away accessorizing outfits, particularly when it comes to color coordination or pattern matching, I understand that this is not everyone’s taste.  If you do not have the time to drape yourself in jewels and etch out some killer makeup, this is the place to find easy instructions on how to put yourself together with little time and money.


Shopping at sites like Sourpuss allows one to navigate from one category to the next and assemble an ensemble, where there is always a selection of merchandise on sale.  One of the newer arrivals on is the Steady Strongman Swing Dress.  The fitted bodice flows into a full skirt, the black trim a nice contrast to the tea toned fabric, upon which images of tattooed circus performers, animals and stars have been printed.  When it comes to selecting shoes, I tend to go for one of the primary colors since they are more interesting than the standard footwear that is on display in stock photos.  Vibrant yellow Wanna Be Bad heels decorated in solid black polka dots are paired with Eyelash Web Lace Stockings to give texture to the legs that flow with the retro theme of this outfit.

At this point one would have a polished look and could go out to enjoy tea with friends or check out the latest installation at a local art gallery.  However, I am a firm believer that those little extras are what puts a personalized touch on what would otherwise just be clothes you pulled out of the closet.  These are merely suggestions and can either be taken literally or used to find things that suit your own aesthetics.  Here I selected the Sourpuss Floozy Purse for its vintage influence, the cream colored vinyl and the contrasting large black vinyl bow.  Even if I have no makeup on, I never leave the house without having something on my head or in my hair – for some reason I just feel incomplete and it might be related to the fact that at one time a woman was considered as being undressed if she did not have a hat on.  A golden Glitter Rose Hair Clip can readily transform an ordinary ‘do into one that shimmers in the sun, and you could always clip it onto a cardigan or purse for a custom touch.

Overwhelming jewelry is not something I am keen on, as it can give off a cluttered vibe and weigh down the silhouette you just carefully coordinated.  These Yellow Rose Earrings may seem small and simple yet standout among traditional pinup designs, plus they go with the shoes and the hair clip.  Picking out certain elements of prints that appear in the outfit to match to accessories is another habit I have, but when there are pieces such as this Vintage Strongman Necklace it is difficult not to.  The portrait of a mustached man wearing stripes hangs next to a key charm on a sturdy ball chain, though that could be swapped out for a piece of ribbon or suede if desired.  Symbolic of mystery, wisdom and intelligence, the Retro Owl Ring is a limited edition piece by Sourpuss that features a detailed black owl perched on a purple band.  The only item not found there is this Crystal Circle Bracelet, selected for its black beads and circular gold charm that represents the center ring.

While I used a primary color and polka dots, neither of them completely dominate the outfit and yet still manage to generate interest compared to the way the model was dressed on the website.  Nothing wrong with that, as it allows one to take the reigns of creativity and make choices that represents your personal style.  This is just one way of taking things found on one site and putting them together in a cohesive manner.

Last Weekend in New Jersey

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Today was the beginning of my last weekend in the Garden State.  Plenty of people have laughed when I said I will miss Jersey, but I suppose they do not have the same feelings toward it that I do.  There are many memories spread across this diverse land which is brimming with weirdness and has been my home for the past 20+ years.  My existence as a sideshow performer was spawned from the depths of the Pine Barrens while I have spent days and nights and afternoons and countless hours on stretches of sand that disappear into the dark ocean.  Say what you will, but there is a connection to the place I have come to know and love as my homeland.

Moving along, the 1 1/2″ stainless steel tunnels I ordered from Tribalectic came in the mail the other day.  They are beyond gorgeous and now I can see through my ears!  Dyed my hair all black recently as I am likely not going to have time or the proper means to keep up three different colors.

Austin sent me a postcard from West Virgina explaining that Aaron was doing better and had planned on taking a trip out to California.  Though I am sad about not being able to spend time with him before leaving, this is for his own good and I can only look forward to that reuniting Hollywood Moment.  There was only one other person I thought of that I wanted to see and say good-bye to.

My visit to James was at his new place which is nice; we chilled in his room listening to tunes and splitting a blunt.  Let me note here that he has one of the most beautiful lounge voices I have heard, and no, I am not ‘just saying that’ on account he is my friend.  When it comes to all things music, I am quite particular about what hits my ear, but had no complaints of him crooning along to Hollywood Nocturne.  Though I wanted to take a little something with me, I remembered the whole traveling across state lines thing.  Perhaps I was just overly paranoid due to the fact I haven’t smoked in a week or so and was just overly thinking the situation.

A bit of an update on my new piercings before I continue – my lip was swollen for a day or so, sensitive to movement and whatnot though it is fine now.  The punches were going along well until I had a bit of a mishap when I added the star-shaped O-rings purchased from Kaos.  For some reason, my ears got really hot, red and sore about twenty minutes after putting them on.  Ingested many ibuprofen and removed the stars; my ears settled down immediately.  Well I have to add silicone to the list of materials not to wear in my piercings.

The afternoon was spent driving to the Shore, stopping in with James again for a moment as I had changed my mind about something and was glad I did.  While I am mainly focused on getting to the first location and meeting the people I will be working for over the next few months, it is less than thrilling having to take someone else along when they really put forth no effort in obtaining the job.  Instinct dictates I belong by Aaron’s side and I want that more than anything, but I also want to know what it’s like to wake up every day and do something people said I would never make a living doing.  My father wanted me to go to college and get any job so I could suffer like all of the other fools who convince themselves they need to be employed by some corporation in order to qualify as ‘earning an income’.  Apparently hustling with your best friend does not fall into that category, nor does entertaining crowds with unusual talents or selling art and other such things.

Standing on a beach I have been to a few times before, on those occasions the three of us were together and wanted to feel like the only people in the world, I smoked a joint and gazed into the churning sea.  If I was really as good at what I did as they led me to believe, I could suck it up and drag the gilly along for a laugh; there is always the possibility of red-lighting the baggage if it gets too heavy.  Fears can be set aside as confidence rises, knowing I am responsible for the destiny that awaits me in just a few days.  Turning back is not an option and I have come too far to give up anyway; part of the challenge is facing the unknown head on with as much bravery that has been gifted by my mentors.

Though I would have preferred for one or both of them to be standing beside me, there is no doubt they have not abandoned me.  To the contrary, we are a pod of whales who have been together for as long as any of us can remember, but for the moment we have gone our separate ways.  Somehow this has made our love stronger and not a day goes by where I have not thought about Austin and Aaron at least once.  They will be with me in spirit as I travel and there is always that promise of being together again to look forward to.

The sun slowly moved across the clear blue sky as I walked along that beach and smoked the joint, ankles seeping into the sand if I stood in one place for too long.  Plenty of seagulls floated in the air, waiting for the right moment to gracefully land or scoop up a quick meal.  A boat or two bobbed up and down on the waves and though somewhere cars cruised along the streets, I did not see a single other person for several hours.  My head was filled with various tunes and the reminder that I needed to plan out the route to Bedford, PA before departing.

On the return drive I stopped at a neon-lit diner and settled down for what felt like my last meal.  Having been seated in a quiet section was actually really nice, the table-side jukeboxes gently providing atmospheric music.  Dinner was a pile of fried calimari flanked by thick mozzerella sticks and sizeable side salad; the sweating glass of ice was ignored in favor of a strawberry milkshake, complete with the extra sitting in a tumbler.  There was no one to show the tentacles to, nor a low voice reading the people at the surrounding tables.  Four years ago I had been spending my first Summer as an official part of Outlaw Cirkus learning what it meant to pursue the lifestyle of a variety artist.  They taught me what being a Carny meant, sharing their language and law with an outsider for no other reason than one of their own trusted me.  There must have been something he saw in me, but he wasn’t alone and maybe that made an impact on the decision.

In six days I am going to find out if I take all of these years of experience and translate them into being someone who will listen to what they are told, then do it to the best of their ability.

Aesthetic Autopsy: Fiji Mermaid

For the first time since beginning this series of fashions based on specific characters from Circus culture, I selected one that technically does not exist.  While many sideshow banners are often an exaggerated depiction of a real person or animal, the Fiji Mermaid lives only in myths.  To be more blunt, it is a gaffe – more commonly known as a fake, fraud or hoax.  A few artists have managed to capture the spirit of showmen eager to boast their rare find in taxidermy effigy, but otherwise what has long been reported as a half fish, half human hybrid is nothing more than an active imagination.  However, this does not discount the Fiji Mermaid from being a prominent figure, to the point where just about every sideshow had their own version of this creature, accompanied by an emotionally charged origin story that was too good not to be true.  Their existence can be traced back to the Renaissance and Baroque eras when they were staples in curiosity cabinets.  The exhibit credited as popularizing the concept of a mummified mermaid was owned by P.T. Barnum, an artifact that came into his possession on June 18, 1842.  Since then it has been copied mercilessly by people who claim theirs is the ‘orginal’, with variations appearing in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museums and Coney Island’s Sideshows by the Seashore.  During the brief existence of Curiosities From the Wilds of Weird New Jersey, Jon managed to obtain a brilliant version that was billed as the Atlantic City Mermaid, who had her own merchandise and attracted plenty of curious observers who wanted a picture or two.

Each of the outfits below take inspiration from sideshow banner imagery and the idea that modern wares can be combined with vintage pieces and the right accessories in order to produce unique results.




Choosing a nautical theme for this first look felt a bit obvious, however utilizing that inspiration without overwhelming the outfit in too many cliched tropes can be achieved through careful editing.  The striped pattern of Miss Fortune’s Nautical Halter Dress lends itself to being a neutral when pairing it with other items and becomes a versatile piece that plays to both circus and pinup styles.  Picking up on the navy and white colorway of the dress and offering protection from chilly evening ocean breezes is the Nautical V Neck Cardigan, a pair of anchors set on the shoulders.  This detail is also reflected on Pleaser’s Anchor Open Toe Pump where deep blue patent vinyl is accented with white piping, a bow on the heel and another secured to the toe opening by way of a golden anchor charm.  A pop of red in the dress can be found on the interior of the shoe as well; ensure it becomes a part of ensemble with the Floozy Purse by Sourpuss, the vintage influence prominent among the bright red vinyl, giant red bow and kiss lock closure.  Reflecting rays could prove distracting so don’t forget to bring some Cat Eye Sunglasses for fashionable protection and a bit of rhinestone sparkle.  Sailing the seas is a thrilling adventure but carefully coiffed manes could use a bit of taming, the Sail Away Bandana coming in handy when you want to tie tendrils in a pony tail while Nautical Octopus Hair Bows use adorable blue cephalopods mounted on red and white polka dot satin ribbons to wrangle any stray strands.  Kitschy jewelry such as the Sourpuss Limited Edition Sea Horse Earrings are delicately detailed that prevent them from being confused for cheap costume pieces, while a Red Beaded Necklace continues the vintage influence of the outfit.  It is contrasted by the one-of-a-kind Shark Tooth Ring, the two inch tooth surrounded by 18 karat yellow gold and white diamonds; similar pieces can often be discovered in antique stores or custom constructed by a jewelry maker.  Draping yourself in the riches of your kingdom seems to be expected, so don’t forget the Gold Starfish Cuffs before emerging as an amazing mermaid ready to stun mere mortals.

Devious transluscence that enhances the complexion while delivering a refreshing incandescence, Copacabana Illuminator by NARS applies a glistening pearl sheen to the parts of the face you wish to highlight such as the cheeks and bridge of the nose.  The base of the eye art is built on Biarritz, an ideal shade of neutral cream colored matte shadow that is heavily pigmented despite the sheer appearance.  Starting slightly above the natural crease, glide on Dark Rite and slowly blend the smooth navy blue shadow pencil upwards and outwards.  Draw in your cat eye using Via Veneto, the soft black pencil effortlessly delivering plenty of creamy color that does not cake and will last for up to twelve hours of wear.  Take a small brush and tap a bit of Electrum on the inner corners, perhaps even putting a thin layer of the antique gold liquid metal underneath the brows for extra emphasis of an alluring sea nymph.  Don’t forget a few coats of Larger Than Life Mascra to bring your lashes to their fullest potential!  Understated eyes are balanced by the rich boldness of Majella, a decadent garnet Satin Lip Pencil formulated to give lips a long-wearing statement shade to seduce sailors in every port, and the shimmering golden coral tones of Torrid, the blush giving a natural glow to the face.  Prior to engagements, paint nails in Desperado for a lively manicure imparted with vernerable vogue.




Sophistication and elegance combine to form a classic silhouette where the bountiful riches of a deep sea mer-kingdom are delicately displayed across this Cream Striped Corset, the mild sweetheart bust line dripping in faux pearl embellishment.  When laced it offers up to five inches of reduction on the waist, putting emphasis on the bust and hips for that alluring hourglass figure.  It would make sense then, to create unequivocal flattery and the illusion of a tail with a Black Jacquard Mermaid Skirt that has distinguishing black inlay kick pleats, a row of buttons allowing you to wear it as open as you would like.  Redirect sun rays and shield your briny pallor in a Gold Bolero, the shiny fabric gathered in ruffles around the collar and cascade down to the cropped hemline.  Choosing to leave the skirt full closed, one can give the appearance of floating in a pair of Pewter Rhinestone Teeze platforms, these Bordello beauties featuring a grey satin pump covered in sparkling gems that just might blind anyone who stares at them too long.  The minimalist shape of this Black Satin Handbag may not be obvious as a shell, but the gathering of the fabric manages to mimic the ridges of those found on beaches.  Procuring accessories that are actually dated may seem as though it defeats the purpose of a polished appearance, but Cat Eye Sunglasses carved from mother of pearl become a sleek way to wear shades.  Once again it is suggested that portions of hair be swept up to capture the movement of waves, an Octopus Cameo Clip offering security for voluminous styles.  This also allows you to show off delicate Starfish Earrings, their golden bodies studded with gleaming stones and perched on a pair of pearls.  Nuzzled together on a sixteen inch chain are Kissing Seahorses, detailed one inch golden charms that will sit nicely between the bolero and the corset to make it seem as though they are sharing an intimate moment hidden in a field where Gold Fish casually swim by.  Counter all that  gold by weighing down wrists in mother of pearl chip bracelets as a reminder of the bounty of natural riches found in the sea.

The palette for the face to go with all of this opulence is dominated by neutral tones, but each product serves an important purpose and together they ensure the time spent on application was not in vain.  Since humans are not blessed with flawless mermaid skin, Illamasqua’s Powder Foundation is there to cover blemishes and provides a shine-free finish.  Take a small brush and layer Servant on the eyelids, building up a solid foundation of pale eggshell that you are going to bring up to just beneath the brow bone.  Then come in with Bronx, applying the pale bronze-gold shadow heavily on the outer corner and then blending it in towards the crease.  Now you can see the shimmer forming, but go ahead and add a bit more using Furore, the champagne peach Pure Pigment giving your eyes the right dose of iridescence, and finish off this enchanting style with a few coats of Lewd.  Drawing attention to the lips,  Bait is a hot candy pink used to create smooth lines that are true to color, which are to be filled in using Scandal, a warm coral pink lipstick that turns up the intensity of your pout.  Complete this look by coating nails in Bacterium – no, not secret lab specimens, the pearlescent ash ochre varnish that won’t distract from other elements.




Lovesick sailors who have spent far too many hours drinking the brine their weather worn vessel has been traveling on and are likely to be completely enamored by the sight of the Polka Dot Madame Dress, a vintage inspired latex garment that has perforated pink pleats and permanent dots assembled in rows across the front.  Here a grey feather shrug serves as the ‘fur’ often found on some varieties of the Fiji mermaid, adding texture and another color to avoid overly matching accessories.  Confidence is key when wearing and walking in Shoe Republic’s Pink Faye, the deceptively feminine fuchsia satin wrapping around the open toed platform shimmering with silver studs and strapping you into almost seven inches of sculpted heel.  The scales of Liquor Brand’s Hell Kitten Handbag are advertised to be faux snake skin, but they can emulate those found on mystical sea nymphs as well.  For a no fuss hair style that is still glamorous, try this Ruffle Grey Sequin Turban, the soft cotton making it comfortable to wear no matter what your locks happen to be doing.  Decorate your ‘do with some Pearl Gem Hair Clips, 24 karat rose gold plated pins that have a star burst on one end that is flecked in Swarovski crystals, mother of pearl pieces and white opal circles.  Sea-faring fashionistas utilize natural resources for their jewelry, but us landlubbers have to rely on designers such as Michael Spirito to come out with pieces like the Fish Bone Earrings and Shark Bite Necklace, which mix rich materials to replicate bones and teeth.  Slightly more playful though effective in keeping the theme of the outfit are a Black Bubble Bracelet and a Pink Bubble Ring that features a yellow gold band coated in pink resin, cubic zirconia ‘bubbles’ set on top.

One does not have to make a deal with an evil queen to obtain impeccable skin; all it takes is an application of Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream, a five-in-one formula that has a built-in SPF of 35 and will moisturize, prime, perfect, protect and control oils.  Sephora and Pantone Universe teamed up to release a series of dynamic color palettes, one of them being a Color Theory Shadow Block.  The neutral tones of Elemental makes the Color of the Year available to wear as subtle or dramatic as you choose, universally flattering every iris.  My suggestion is to cover the lid in Caramel [middle brown], apply Appleblossom [light brown] to the brow bone and then blend the two together, using the Emerald Shimmer to outline the eye.  Follow up with Urban Decay’s 24/7 Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in Woodstock to add hot pink and iridescent sparkles sure to draw plenty of attention, and a few coats of Volumizing Mascara.  Natural is not the first word that comes to mind when describing any sideshow attraction, but it is certainly applicable to Golden Gate, a mauve lilac mineral blush which gives cheeks a healthy glow in just a few sweeps.  If that is not enough illumination, one can always take Moon Beam and highlight specific areas with a golden sheen.  Hydrating lips does not mean sacrificing vividness, and even though Tashkent is a nude beige, it is still a super rich matte lipstick that is easy to wear.  Once again, a pop of bold color is used to generate intrigue, this time by using the bright neon pink of Collide on the nails, its satin finish giving off the right amount of shine to complete this look.

New Jersey State Fair

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Two weeks until departure and I am practicing my pitch daily, getting the inflections just right as I address an invisible audience.

Three days after returning from the Shore, I am outside waiting for that Cadillac again as I check to make sure no part of my ensemble is out of place.  When it pulls up I am already smiling, a warm greeting extended as soon as I got in.  We shared idle chit-chat and a smoke on the way to Newark, riding into the City via the PATH where we encounter a downpour upon arrival.  Thankfully it did not last very long, and though we were damp by the time we got to Unimax, it could have been worse.  At the counter I was able to talk myself into getting a discount, the best deal being the two pairs of 4g stainless steel crescents for a little under four bucks a piece.   Overall, I wound up spending about $30 which was far under my budget.

Austin treated us to lunch, which included having several people stare at us while we enjoyed the food, conversation and each other’s company.  He asked me whether I thought it was due to him being 15 years older than me or having grey hair and visible tattoos.  It seems they failed to realize those teens you see flashing their ink eventually grow up to have wrinkles and false teeth, so apparently seeing someone over 20 with as many tattoos as he had was quite a fascinating sight.  Would also like to mention here that he was dressed in his showman’s best, so that might have attracted some attention as well.

Upon returning to Newark, we headed up to Starlight where I would be getting a few holes put in me.  Though I have been through the whole dermal punching  procedure a couple of times, that did not make me any less nervous.  The pain is not as bad as people may think from looking at those bloody photos on BME.  The punch itself hurts, of course, but it is far from excruciating.  In fact, the taper is what really gets to me pain-wise, but after that there is only a bit of stinging to remind me that anything took place.  Having Austin there for support helped immensely, as did being able to crush…er…hold his hand during intense moments.

For some reason, the right ear decided it wanted to bleed but that was quickly cleaned up and brought under control.  Since I had just purchased jewelry, the price of the piercings I wanted was brought down.  The time had come to reclaim the holes in my upper lip, and I had him use the previous hole on the right side as the guide.  Getting pierced through scar tissue was pretty unpleasant, hurting more than the initial piercing, but once that needle was through and the jewelry had been set inside, I could enjoy the end result forever.

Then it was onward to the Medowlands, where every year the parking lot is taken over by our people, the hard-working carnies who provide amusement and entertainment for all who flock to the blinking and buzzing midway.  It was also a lesson on what I would be experiencing on a daily basis, so taking in everything from that perspective made me appreciate the event even more.  We walked through the gate  just in time to sit in the audience and watch a hypnotist act, which was hilarious since people are pulled up on stage and made to do ridiculous things.  Austin grumbled about how he could have done a better job drunk with one hand tied behind his back.

Next it was off to Ward Hall’s World of Wonders where the Great Gozleone was up on the bally stage alongside the world’s oldest fire-eating midget.  There are not many live shows that follow the 10-in-1 format these days, so anyone who does their part to preserve sideshow deserves recognition and respect.  However, we were greatly disappointed by the dispirited attitude displayed by a couple of the performers, as it really off-set the mood and was not getting the crowd interested in the acts.  Austin stood with arms folded while his eyes were fixed on the stage, visibly biting his lip.  There was a lot he wanted to say yet he remained stoic during the routines, shaking his head slightly every now and then while those around us seemed confused.

Though I expected him to launch into a justified critique, Austin took my hand and asked me what we going to do next.  We walked around the midway and stopped at almost every single-o, which included the World’s Smallest Woman, the live unicorn cow and my most favorite, the Snake Girl.  For some reason I really dig the grind they play for that one, as well as the banner displayed outside.  It never ceases to amuse me that, despite the fact there is a sign which clearly states what’s inside is an illusion, people still pay a dollar to complain about how “fake” it is.  This occurred moments after we entered the tent, and it was then he had finally reached a breaking point.

“No shit, son,” Austin said abruptly, “but the carnies got your dollar anyway and there are no refunds – ‘specially when ya can’t read what’s right in front of ya!”

We left those people more than stunned, and on the way out the man at the ticket box smiled, tipping his hat slightly.  Austin relaxed enough for us to explore the tent near the back, which was very much like the one that I used to see at the Flemmington Fair.  Though not allowed to take any photographs inside, I still enjoyed all of the educational displays and things preserved in jars.  There was a melancholy expression that crossed his face, and what had begun as an amazing afternoon suddenly made me question whether this had been good idea.

Deciding to quiet our growling stomachs before heading over to the circus, we sat with slices and sodas at a secluded bench.

“Are you alright?” I asked him, ignoring the food momentarily to place a concerned hand on his.

“It was too much,” he gently replied, unable to look at me.  “At first it was fun, then I started to think about everyone and the way things used to be.  These fucking pește don’t know, and to hell with ’em for giving up their money just to complain.”  He sighed hard and finally lifted his gaze; there was sadness mixed with anger where I had once seen happiness.  “Sorry, Angel – I know you meant well and here I am shitting all over the place.”

“Did you know that man outside the snake girl tent?”

Finally there was a bit of laughter as we tested the pizza.  “No kiddo, but you will come to understand that sort of thing when you are out there on the road.  It is very different from clubs and parties and all that; you work to live and live to work.  Just being here brings me memories of traveling before we made Outlaw Cirkus, and I tell you what, those were the best damn days of my life if I ever had to choose ’em.  That never leaves you, Angel.”

Our meal was finished in silence but I had taken everything he said into consideration on account he was absolutely right.  Though I had a glimpse of carnival life though him and Jon, it was nothing compared to being out there and actually doing the things they talked about.  All those kids who desperately wished to run away with the circus would crumble if they knew how rigorous the schedules were, the amount of physical demand certain roles required and the real risk that comes with this sort of life.  My desire to be a part of it is not fueled by fantasies, but rather by the encouragement of two men who have been there, done that and had stories for days about it.

Following lunch, Austin had slipped into one of the donnikers and came out in a much better mood, though I dared not to question what had brought about the change.  Instead I took in the warmth of his hand and the positive vibes that surrounded us as music swelled and the clowns came out. The circus was smaller than last year but we were near the front rows anyway, necks craned upwards as we watched the aerial routines.  At one point he was holding my hand and had that same crying-with-happiness look on his face that I did.

In the parking lot, we sat on the trunk of the Cadillac and smoked a spliff while treated to a fireworks display.

“This might be the last time we see each other for a while, and I don’t want to end things on a sour note,” he said while bringing me closer.

“Where are you off to?”

“Well, first I need to visit Aaron and send him your regards; remind him to write you back when he can before you are swallowed into the wild.”  He paused to smile and it was so genuine I almost cried.  “Then I am going to Showtown for a while, partly for business and partly for personal reasons.  My heart aches and will only find relief there, but I promise you now that one day we will all be together again.”

That was the end of the discussion, and the ride back was filled with music while I continued to process the entire day, slightly distracted by making a checklist for the aftercare routine I would need to complete prior to bed.  Change was happening faster than I had been prepared for, but there was no time for nostalgia and wondering what could have been when I had to make sure my car was capable of driving between each spot.  What Austin had said at the fair was starting to sink in and I was so focused on my thoughts that I failed to notice we had been sitting at the end of the street for a good five minutes or so.  Then I became distracted by an intimate moment I wanted to cherish for longer than it felt as though it lasted and I was watching him drive off, the bitter sting of tears creeping down my cheeks.