Category Archives: Abby’s Fabulously Talented Friends

Cousin Lori

I realized this morning that I have been in New York City for 30 years. Thirty years! That’s over half my life. And I love my city! Autumn in New York is the best time of year: from the waning days of summer to leather weather, the pumpkins and gourds of Halloween and Thanksgiving into the holidays, which, though stressful and earlier-onset every year, make the city streets so festive! Even the long-left-behind back-to-school vibe that makes you feel like you should be buying new knee socks is happy! It’s also the season when time seems to telescope. Between Labor Day and New Year’s, the weeks fly by so fast it will be 2016 before we know it!

inger-red.jpgIn keep with the theme for the month (and the week) of gratitude, I’m going to focus on family. All my relatives are talented in their own ways, from painting and pottery to real estate and Reiki. My most talented relative is my cousin Lori, aka Inger Lorre. In fact, she’s the most talented person I’ve ever met. She writes music and lyrics and can play an array of instruments. She designs clothes and costumes and has modeled professionally. She can sketch, cartoon and illustrate. She can sculpt and is proficient with watercolors, oils and every other medium she’s ever used. When she apprenticed with a glassblower she created stunning, gallery-quality pieces right off the bat. There is, seriously, nothing she’s ever tried, creatively, at which she wasn’t almost immediately adept. As the lead groupshot.jpgsinger and front woman of The Nymphs, she achieved an impressive level of fame, even appearing in a movie. She’s also gained a level of legendary notoriety, immortalized in print for some of her scandalous on-stage antics. She has made holidays with the family movie-worthy memorable on many occasions.

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Jamye & Amy Jo

Another one of my oldest friends is Jamye Waxman. She’s on my side of the country this week and we got to hang out yesterday.

I met Jamye when she was working for Alan Colmes. That was way back in the day when, if you were looking to find a freak in NYC, I was the go-to person. Kinky publications, fetish parties, I had a Rolodex full of boot lickers, balloon masturbators, human carpets and expert spankers. She booked me for Bob Berkowitz‘s “Lovebytes” show and probably a bunch of other things too. Fast forward a couple decades and we’re still close friends. We’ve wrangled balloons together at Coachella. I’ve stayed with her in LA, Santa Cruz and at her aunt’s when I was Assistant to Ms. Waxman on her three instructional porn DVDs. She’s stayed with me here in New York, at my parents’ in San Rafael and we shared an RV at Burning Man. We’ve 41a98gnyJpL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgsupported each other’s projects over all these years and she has served as one of my primary cheerleaders. Jamye has written books, most recently “How to Break Up with Anyone: Letting Go of Friends, Family and Everyone In-Between,” but also her female masturbation book “Getting Off” and the young, hip sex guide, “Hot Sex” Over 200 Things You Can Try Tonight!” (with Emily Morse). She’s been a producer, a director and a podcaster. She’s appeared on radio, TV and in print publications. She’s pursuing her MA in Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University and her Ph.D. in Human Sexuality Education from Widener University to augment her Masters in Sex Ed. All that is just frosting on the cake, though, ’cause I just love hanging out with her!

unnamed.jpgAnd speaking of books written by people I’ve known for years through what I’ve always referred to as the “sexerati” (or “cliterati”), Amy Jo Goddard recently had a book published. “Woman On Fire” offers advice on “how to master the 9 elements of sexual empowerment to reclaim their desire and live the sexually fulfilling lives they want.” Amy Jo is a “sexual empowerment coach,” but her expertise goes 41uBpvTZZLL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgbeyond the bedroom and right into your wallet, as she instructs you to light that fire within you for a more empowered life. I’ve taken a few of her workshops and she really helps you delve into the nitty-gritty.

Everyday Costumers

Halloween is my favorite holiday because I love, love, LOVE to wear costumes! Seven-and-a-half years of weekly theme parties has given me a seriously deep inventory of costumes. It takes me longer to dress like a “normal person” than it does to look like just about anything else. On the many nights when I’ve ventured out in some sort of wacky drag, people enjoy yelling, “Halloween is over!” For me, every day is potentially Halloween. The same can be said for these folks!

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Photo by Talli Jackson

Darrell Thorne is the most talented costumer I know. And that is saying a lot! The photos of him hardly even look human. He creates massive headpieces and enormous wings, coats himself with layers of glitter on top of layers of body paint, drapes himself in chains and basically becomes somethin. Darrell works for all the big fancy parties in NYC — and around the world slide_374434_4368330_compressed.jpg— as a go-go dancer but he is really more of an art installation. I mean, look at that photo. Seriously. Obviously he is in high demand
whether he works as a stylist, makeup artist or performer. He also creates otherworldly accessories for others, including Madonna, Brooke Candy and Jennifer Hudson. Check out the After Dark profile of Darrell for photos of his many looks.
11289414_10155558188840570_7707553715067885945_o.jpgNina and Jim always spend ages on their costumes for every event they attend. As the reigning king and queen of Kostume Kult, they really need to bring it. And they consistently do! “Costume Jim” is a founder of the Burning Man theme camp and event production group that’s behind The Black & Light Ball, The Horned Ball and their annual Halloween Parade float. On-playa, they give costumes
906112_10207768620830388_3620244404454677599_oaway in their dome and invite people to model their new ensembles and Jim presented a TEDTalk: “Fun, Farce and Purpose.” Year-round, Jim is an artist, event producer and executive recruiter. Nina is a psychiatrist who conducts brain experiments and serves on the Fashion Committee at The National Arts Club. But together, they’re an indomitable costume duo. Jim really found his costumery equal in Nina!

10645061_10204878764511533_4721834682689189936_n.jpgPaul Nagle is a clever combination of costumer and activist. He often creates his outfits with a political concept behind them. That’s him at the Peoples’ Climate March, in the photo above, with the white robe and 11001822_10153123125382460_4199189433969581979_n.jpgcolorful halo of flowers. He takes to the streets in full regalia to support the causes he believes in: protests against Monsanto and fracking, the NYC Pride March, Bernie Sanders rallies, as well as all the best celebrations: Dance Parade, HONK NYC!, the Halloween Parade, SantaCon, Invasion of the Pines, the Mermaid Parade…well, you get the picture! And so does Paul! The camera loves him; he shows up in the photo essays of every event he attends. He works tirelessly for a number of community organizations, volunteering his time even when not in costume!

Machine Dazzle is another masterful costumer, shouldering some of the most cumbersome ensembles I’ve ever seen. For one Mermaid Parade he was one of five dancers; he carried the mannequins of the other four! I met him back when he was designing the costumes for the Dazzle Dancers and have stage managed him at numerous events, including Night of a Thousand Stevies. He’s another one who’s a blast to have backstage! He is “an alchemist, able to take humble materials and spin them into charmed garments that transform humans into radiant, magical beings.” And speaking of magical beings, Machine was the costume designer for Basil Twist’s recent show at Abron’s Art Center. I was loving the rhinestone-studded loin cloth!

The More Things Change…Amy & Edie

Ya know, people complain a lot about how much their neighborhood has changed. From San Francisco’s Mission District, to The Marigny to my own East Village, gentrification has altered the face of many cities. It’s most pronounced on a Friday or Saturday night, when these areas become “destination neighborhoods” for mobs of marauding hipsters, hell bent on finding the hottest watering hole. Or artisanal bitters. Ahem.

An article on Papermag.com, “Why There’s No Better Time to Party in New York Than Now,” follows only a few weeks behind Ada Calhoun’s piece about why your city may be gone but it’s still there for those who came after you. Both reenforce the idea that if you’re over going out, of course it was better “back when.” I was one of those people out on the sidewalks last night. I was looking for cheap beer instead of artisanal bitters, but hey, I was out! Because New York is definitely not over!

Anyway, this is what I was thinking about this morning when I went to the local bodega for my usual, egg and cheese with avocado on a croissant, which, bee-tee-dubs, the guy behind the counter knows I want before I even open my mouth. It was a beautiful fall day here in Manhattan, leather weather, I like to say, and as I walked to the bodega and back, the people I passed on the street were anything but marauding mobs of hipsters. They were pretty much everything but. Young and old, speaking a dozen different languages, pushing their shopping wheelies, carrying their dry cleaning, holding their kids’ hands. The nighttime may be for the fun-loving and, perhaps primarily, the young, but the mornings are definitely for the locals. Who, from the look of things, haven’t changed all that much.

Which brings me to my fabulously talented friends! Given my little morning reverie, I thought I’d spotlight two of my oldest friends.

320126_10150353652029559_663308915_n.jpgAmy Shapiro and I go way back, all the way back to The Deviant Playground, still one of the best parties I’ve ever attended. She’s lived on the Lower East Side all this time and is one of the last Manhattan hold-outs. Amy’s an artist in many mediums; I was especially moved by her performance piece reliving the trauma of 9/11. She’s hung from the ceiling as a bat, been the many-breasted Artemis, acted in a serial play and painted pieces for Art Around the Park. She came with me to Burning Man in 2003 and created big art installations in subsequent years. Her current project is “Medical Panoramas,” a photo project “about being a cancer survivor and waiting to see the never-ending stream of doctors.” I’m very much looking forward to the eventual gallery showing! And having Thanksgiving dinner at her place!

0305720.jpgI met Edie Winograde  in the early ’90s, when I was working at New York Press and she was pursuing an MFA at SVA. She became part of my Downtown Beirut crew: Birthday Bar Crawls, pitchers at Sidewalk, those “Best Of” parties in the Puck Building. It’s the time that I’m referring to whenever I say “those were the days.” She told me about Burning Man a bunch of times but I never listened to her. She went back in the way early days and got to say, “I told you so” when I finally did. While at UC Santa Cruz, she was friends with the boys of Camper Van Beethoven and photographed them. A few weeks ago, she posted, “I contributed a bunch of my old 35mm photographs for illustrating the 1980’s in Santa Cruz in the documentary film Get Off This about David Lowery and the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven” with a link to the Blurb book she created from the photos, “We Are The Baddest: Santa Cruz and CVB in the 80s.” The gallery shows of her work are mostly giant prints of sweeping vistas. Her “Sight Seen” series “depicts juxtapositions of the present and the past in the experience of iconic landscapes.” She used to turn an entire room into a camera obscura. I love her shots of Civil War re-enactments. And I wish she didn’t live so far away!

 

BIG ART

At Burning Man, I get to see a lot of art. Really big art. Here are few folks who are responsible for some of that big art:

bcb04538c636ecb872296e98b231d4b9_400x400.jpegDan Glass is always scheming up something interesting. And usually potentially dangerous. He dreamt up the Smash Truck for Night Market, worked on the awesome A Cavallo art car and created a flaming shopping cart for NYC’s Iditarod. Wired.com says he’s a “New York-based writer who has covered participatory art, solar-eclipse chasing, flophouses and the psychological effect of viewing Earth from space.” He’s a quick thinker and a fast talker and looooooads of fun!
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Kimmy crafts enormous art pieces out of discarded and up cycled materials. You’d never know that underneath her oversized, motorized fuzzy ponies there are broken shopping carts and shit. She’s made a climbable  dinosaur skeleton, a statue of a soldier made out of and an eerie graveyard. As one of the most valuable members of Kostume Kult, Kimmy fabricates the theme camp’s enormous props for parties and the playa. She keeps bugging me about writing my memoir. Someday, Kimmy!

BUArux4CEAAmCQ5.jpgEveryone knows Doyle by his last name alone. He drove Gon KiRin, his giant metal dragon, to the Detroit Institute of Arts and lit a protest sign on fire. His collaborative, Green Living Sciences, built the Active-Tree, an interactive learning center inside a shipping container. His most recent art car creation is “The CarCroach.”

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Photo by Dust to Ashes

Rosanna Scimeca created the giant chandelier, “Cleavage In Space,” in 2003. Some people still remember it as their favorite piece of playa art. It had that big an impact. It’s always been one of my favorites as well.

Rebecca Anders is a friend of Robin Hood‘s. They worked together this past season on Illumacanth. As a member of Flaming Lotus Girls and founder of Flux Foundation, Rebecca worked on “Angel of the Apocalypse,” “Temple of Flux” and the

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Photo by Scott London

whimsical “FishBug.” She also has the patience of a saint, spending an afternoon teaching my sister and I to weld. I sucked, by the way. But she had the grace not to say so.

 

 

 

 

 

Different Designers: The Baroness, Amber, Miranda & Miyong

 

Argh! Aside from catching up on my bloggery, today was a total wash. Somewhat literally. The rain kept my companion for the evening’s festivities at home so I stayed home too, not only blowing off our 7:00 event but the subsequent date (he was fine with it, stuck in traffic due to the rain and happy not to have to slog out in it) and the birthday party a mere two blocks from my apartment. Mind you, I didn’t know the person whose birthday it was but a few friends were going and, well, I should’ve too. Instead I’m sitting here in my fancy makeup, full of San Loco and Pepperidge Farm Double Chocolate Nantuckets. Whatev. Although I didn’t have any meetings today, I had one yesterday, moving the proverbial ball forward. And, believe it or not, I had a few phone calls with news of possible places for sale. Yup, I’m manifesting shit from right here on my motherfuckin’ couch! Like a boss, as they say. Anyway, for today’s installment of my Fabulously Talented Friends, I’ve decided on four different designers, each very different in their own ways. Enjoy!

Latex_Fashions_8005.jpgThe Baroness has been designing high fashion fetish wear for over 20 years now and I’ve known her almost as long. The two of us have conspired on all kinds of kinky events, from our Fetish Beach Ball to Click + Drag fashion shows and dozens of bizarre performances. Beyond her beautiful latex, The Baroness loves to show off her vacuum-sealed sucky bed or climb inside giant balloons. She’s also been an East Village neighbor all these years, finally opening up her own shop about a decade ago right on East 13th Street. With the mainstreaming of fetish since “50 Shades of Stupid,” she has become even more sought after, with celebrities like Nikki Minaj and Serena Williams showing up in her designs, outfitting Lady Gaga’s litter bearers for the Grammy Awards and providing latex for
sophisticat.jpgthe TV show “Gotham.” The best part of knowing The Baroness is seeing her on the street. Her brightly-colored hair really stands out now that there are so many normals around here!

12072545_10153644707123349_8294939241682471359_n.jpgI met Miranda Blakely back when she was the DPW’s wild new young ‘un, “Rugburn.” A tattooed hellion who wore her heart on her sleeve, she was a motherly, mouthy Fluffer. We always had a blast together. A few years SPRYSPROUT-LISTING-DRWho-Blue_Police_Box_Bib_2.jpgago when we were both getting started as craftspeople, she joined me on a road trip to LA to vend our wares and, even though we didn’t sell anything, it was a
good time. Miranda has since settled down and become a mom and now channels her creative efforts into adorably functional stuff for kids. Spry Sprout is her “unique geek boutique” selling bibs and baby blankets. Shop with her if you’re looking for a baby shower gift!

64115_374769725874962_61218438_n.jpgMy friend Miyong is probably gonna kill me for including her here. She often swears she’ll never sew again. But that doesn’t negate the fact that she’s a talented designer and seamstress, with the patience to teach people like me to make things with a sewing machine. She also comes up with original and unusual new textiles, like her latch-hooked raffia creations. She’s the designer to the stars for Burning Man theme camp Disorient. When I met her, she was a professional fabric designer, doing the hombré-ing for the Rockettes and costumes for a famous Elf, among others. I miss her since she moved to Oregon, where she’s delved into gardening and mushroom hunting and other decidedly non-New York City-type pastimes. If you’re gonna hire her to make you something, you’d better have some really good bribes in mind! And a whole lotta cash!

10325134_10152043125851791_3254155197080633092_n.jpgAmber Clisura, aka Make-Out Queen, launched Salt Clothing, her line of American made, “mostly organic and sustainable fabrics” designs in 2013. Last year she moved to LA and her career has really taken off. She’s been on all kinds of interesting textile adventures, from sewing a pair of very special — and tiny — pants for a certain cartoon character to creating crazy costumes for ad campaigns. She makes amazing clothes, incorporating unusual sartorial touches like leg-o’-mutton sleeves or flirty bustles into her fashions. [Check out the accompanying photo of her “DNA Dress.” Hand dyed and printed wool jersey with an engineered pleat print. Oooh!] When she’s not bent over a sewing machine, Amber’s kicking ass keeping the on-playa living 31377_394105501790_3019224_n.jpgquarters livable for the folks who work the event’s infrastructure. In 2011, she went a full year with her NO PANTS crusade, an idea I found so inspiring I jumped on board for a month with my own No Pants December. Amber makes life more interesting and entertaining for me when I’m out there in the desert and she mixes a mean Manhattan!

The Art of Color: Robin & Grayson

12105936_10153019032256364_5679308538037451694_nMy friend Robin Hood and I go back over a decade, when we both had eyes for Johnny Irish. If you’ve ever been to her home, her talents are obvious: creating a warm and interesting space. She is a wizard with paint and faux finishes, wielding her paintbrush on everything from walls to the welded metal of 12095313_10207335586963558_5292529117362369334_oBurning Man-bound art projects. She can fool the eye into seeing bark and brick, gold and alabaster, fish scales and distressed leather. She even helped me give my apartment a spectacular coat of teal. Most recently, she has been expanding into exteriors, working on a few grand of San Francisco’s grand Victorian homes. Beyond painting, she has helped on enormous art projects like the Flaming Lotus Girls’ “Mutopia” and “Temple of Flux.” I love me some Robin Hood!

13a6773I met Grayson Handy  He offered his beautiful space to Pinky and I when we needed a place to hold an “art opening” for our hats and headpieces. The storefront for Prudence Designs & Events was the perfect backdrop for our bright colors and varied textures because that is Grayson’s art form, expressed most eloquently with flowers. He and his partner, Arturo Quintero, have “helped thousands of clients — 348s.jpgincluding fashion designer Tracey Reese, actor Tom Cruise, comedian David Letterman and performer Sandra Bernhard — bedeck their homes and events with gorgeous, one-of-a-kind floral arrangements.” They’ve also received loads of accolades and been featured in all sorts of media.  In 2009, Grayson’s book “Flowers for the Home: Influences from the World Over,” was published by Rizzoli. In addition to exuberant floral designs, “Prudence features exclusive pottery, original artwork, pillows & throws, home furnishings and accessories, and vintage/antique furniture.”