An Interview with Andy Hosegood

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Andy Hosegood, pinup illustrator, modern pinup, lilian pinup, vintage pinup painting
Andy Hosegood

Andy Hosegood is a pinup painter, taking inspiration from Elvgren, Ekman and Frush, whilst successfully capturing their 40’s and 50’s illustrations’ cheeky and glamorous ladies. Having only studied his Foundation year at art college (‘many moons ago’, his words not mine) he then went on to continue his studies alone. That’s right, Andy Hosegood is pretty much self taught, which only goes to make his work appear even more impressive! Four years into painting in the pinup style, I wanted to find out more about Andy Hosegood.

What first attracted you to pinup art?

Airfix kits!!!! No, really! When I was about ten, I had a model kit building phase, and while researching paint schemes, I first encountered bomber nose art. I thought the pin up ladies were much more interesting than the planes! Maybe it’s an age thing, I’m not sure, but growing up in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I remember there being a lot more older films and TV programmes being shown. There was obviously stuff from the 50’s, and it always struck me just how lovely and effortlessly stylish the ladies were. Not just film actors and actresses, but the whole mid century design and style appealed to me, due in part to the fact that there were a lot of household items still left over from the 50’s in our house. I was born 13 years after the decade ended, which isn’t really a huge time span!

To me the pin up art from the 40’s and 50’s encapsulates the feeling of those two decades; one of hope for a better future I guess, which is a splendid reason in my book to like any art. The pictures are always cheerful, yes they are cheeky too, but it’s nothing too risque! And God knows in this day and age, people need cheering!

Got to be honest though, although I was aware of pinup, I didn’t really know about pinup art as a genre until I stumbled across a Vargas book at art college. I’m not really a huge fan of his work, although he was undoubtedly brilliant, but the book had a few Elvgren pieces which certainly turned my head! To me he is the master of the genre, not just for what he painted, but how he did it. He had this genius ability to be pretty loose in his rendering, yet the pictures have so much detail. I can only dream of being that talented, I’m a very ‘tight’ painter, and tend to get hung up over silly little things!

How do you come up with a concept to paint? They are all so unique!

Daydreaming during the day job usually! Quite a few times I’ll try and reference a film or a book I like, and ‘pinup-ize’ a character if the character isn’t pinuppy. There have been a few paintings like that, one of Stephanie Jay as a pinup Indiana Jones for instance. Sometimes I’ll try and just ‘do’ a traditional pinup, but I won’t slavishly copy an Elvgren or such. And other times it can be quite collaborative, with the model coming up with some ace idea’s!

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Andy Hosegood

When you first meet a model, do you instantly think of a scene for them?

Some of the best idea’s come from knowing a bit about the model and their likes and dislikes. It can give you a springboard for a good idea. Take for instance a picture I painted this year of Ria Fend. Ria loves horror films, and I like the old Hammer Horror films, so it seemed quite a natural progression to put the two together and have Ria as a vampy vampiress!

What if you could paint one of the old pinups, who would you paint?

Only one?! Bah!!! Hmm, that’s quite a difficult question, let me think….. erm, can I give you a choice of three please? Okay, for sophisticated sexy allure, Lana Turner. For having a lovely smile and a sweet everyday charm – oh, and being Princess Leia’s mum, I’d choose Debbie Reynolds. Then for being the ultimate pinup, that people still try and emulate today, Bettie Page!

How about painting a modern lady, does Kim Karsashian not appeal? 😉

It wouldn’t be Kim Kardashian I’m afraid!! In the world of entertainment, it would without a doubt be the actress Hayley Atwell. She’s been in lots of films and plays, but I think at the moment she is best known for playing Captain America’s love interest, Peggy Carter. If you love vintage style, get the DVD of ‘Agent Carter’, you’ll love her 40’s outfits!

So how much work really goes into the process?

Once the idea has been discussed with the model, I then arrange a little photoshoot. If there is something that would help the picture in any way, I’ll have a go at making it. I’ve still got a lifesize snowman in the garage! So I’ll snap away at the shoot, and there are usually a few pictures that are good enough to work from. I’m not a photographer by any means, but I do enjoy it! There is a school of thought that says it is detrimental to your progress as an artist to work from photo’s, but let’s be practical, someone couldn’t really hold a pin up pose for about two and a half hours, so photo’s are the way to go!

Then it’s just the matter of painting the picture! This usually takes about two weeks. The paintings are on wood panels as opposed to the more traditional canvas. I’m not really too keen on canvas, it’s too springy!

Being oil paintings, I then have to wait a year for the darn things to dry…….

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Andy Hosegood

Do you use any other mediums or styles?

I do sometimes use acrylic paint, but I don’t get on with it too well. It’s fantastic because it dries so quickly, but it’s a pain because it dries so quickly! I’ll sometimes try my hand at a cartoony pin up style which can be fun, just for a change!

I hear you have a calendar coming out again this year?

Ah, the calendar! The sum of my years work! It can be ordered via my little online shop. It’s only £10 plus p&p!! If people want to message me, they are more than welcome to contact me through my Facebook page. Plus although I very rarely advertise the fact, some of the original paintings are indeed up for sale (again, please get in touch through FB).

Many thanks to Andy for being interviewed, I really enjoyed hearing all about the artistic process. I look forward to seeing the next painting :)

My Favourite Things Interview

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Whilst sunning it up at Retro Festival last month I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing My Favourite Things. It should have been a daunting task after seeing just how well they perform and how successfully they can get the audience joining in, but they were wonderfully friendly and a total laugh. Read on to find out more about the two My Favourite Things sisters Nicki and Julie, as well as what they got up to as Curator’s for The Spitfire Pavilion vintage tent at Retro Festival. So here it is… Old is Now’s My Favourite Things Interview.

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How did you first get started with vintage?

Julie: It’s actually quite funny, we didn’t realise that vintage was such a massive thing to start! It was much more about the music and the dancing for us. Then because we already did it, we found there was this whole world of vintage around it.

Nicki: Yeah everything we go to you end up spending your money because you find this nice dress, or a new piece of jewellery, or furniture, so I guess we have grown with the whole vintage theme.

So you were performing before My Favourite Things?

Nicki: Yes, we worked in the same kind of genre. For myself I was working for a musical so obviously that was the harmonys and the old school stuff anyway. Then my sister and I started My Favourite Things.

Julie: We do the sister duo thing but then we also perform as a trio and then the three, four or five piece band. So lots of options!

Have you curated before?

Julie: At Retro Festival this would be the first time, we were performing last year. The girl who was doing it previously was stepping down and because we’d worked with the organiser David such a lot and knew his vision, we knew where he wanted to take it. Fortunately enough he trusted us to do that.

Nicki: It’s obviously a different team now, the guy in charge is Paul but apparently David would have been really happy with what we’ve put on this weekend. With the whole curating thing we’ve only helped out here and there at different events or putting on our own workshops and things like that as well.

my favourite things, mft, retro festival,, my favourite things performing

How are the workshops?

Julie: Yeah good, we do tap workshops. We were doing one with a dance group called Swing Brave and yeah they loved it! We did ‘Diamonds are a girls best friend’ and we taught the harmony and the dancing.

Nicki: We then performed it before our set. Also because we’ve been teaching for over ten years, we are putting on a week with My Favourite Things, so we’ll do harmonys, dance routines, the hair styles and afternoon tea.

Is the curating something you’d like to do more of?

Yeah I think as My Favourite Things grows, we’ve got the entertainment side of things but we are looking to go into events as well.

Julie: We’ve got the Workshop and are looking at education too. We went into a school recently, for year 1’s, and they were doing a 50’s project. So we popped in and did a few numbers and spoke about the fashion and the hair. We did some demonstrations and that was really nice. Hopefully we can grow with that and go into other schools too. We just love giving ourselves more work! But you know what we do is so much fun and we get to meet lovely different people. For us it is hard work but we’re doing what we love and you can’t get better than that can you?

Will you be back at Retro Festival next year?

Nicki and Julie: Yeah!

Julie: I feel like we’ve got quite a large marquee, we’ve got a big dance floor and it’s been quite full on, but everyone has said how amazing the marquee looks. All the acts that we’ve had have been great. They are all people that we’ve already worked with or have seen at other events. I feel like last night for example, the Cabaret, has room to grow. I’ve heard that people were raving about it and we can fit more chairs in! I think it’s quite nice how this is the vintage area. Of course there are other stalls outside, but even the Fish n Chips have been on about changing their image to a little bit vintage, so even they have embraced the atmosphere and the theme!

Nicki: I think it’s been good for a first time to see what works and what doesn’t work but on the whole I think we’ve been really pleased with it. Obviously we’d like the opportunity to expand and get a few more bands in as well and maybe have some even bigger names.

Many thanks to both Nicki and Julie from My Favourite Things, not only for a great interview but also for curating so passionately at Retro Festival. I spent the majority of my wonderful Sunday with your performers! I’m looking forward to more next year :)

Meet Emma McLaughlin from the 1940’s/ 1950’s Most Marvellous Meet Ups Group

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Emma McLaughlin, second from left at an Atomic Festival meet up

Meet Emma McLaughlin, the vintage enthusiast who started the 1940’s/ 1950’s Most Marvellous Meet Ups group on Facebook, which now boasts over 3,500 members and is growing each day. With all the ladies and gentlemen behind the group the hope is to create a mass meet in the form of a VE Christmas Ball. Read on to find out more…

So Emma, how did you first get into vintage?

When I was little, I used to spend summer holidays watching old, black and white films with my Nan cuddled up on the sofa. It was then that I fell in love with the old Hollywood glamour. Upon learning about the Second World War at primary school, my Nan took me to the Imperial War Museum in London and I fell in love with the era, as well as home front life in the UK. When I was 15, in 1995, I got to dress up for the fiftieth VE Day celebrations as a 1940’s civilian, love grew from there.

Did you realise the group would grow so quickly?

Initially I thought the group would grow to around 200 people if I was lucky. I thought that as long as meet ups could occur, I’d be happy with those numbers. I never anticipated it to grow as much as it has, and we have new members joining daily!

What do you think has made vintage take off so well on social media?

I feel vintage has taken off on social media, as anyone can become part of the scene, if from afar and living vicariously through other peoples posts. Also the community spirit that once was alive in many towns and cities has gone. In a virtual community we can be who we want to be, away from our daily lives and can instil the manners and etiquette our society is lacking. Our group promotes a community spirit of years past and encourages people to help one another through the bad times, just like people did in our Grandparents generation.

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What has been your proudest moment with the group so far?

My proudest moment was seeing everyone come together to help with the online auction in my Mum’s memory and helping the charity that helped my Mum when she was alive. Also, members donating money to someone they have never met, to buy flowers for a member when their Mother passed away was beautiful and a prime example of community spirit.

How did the idea for a Christmas Ball come about?

I was unable to take part in this years VE celebrations, so knew I wanted to commemorate it somehow later in the year. The 1940’s/ 1950’s Most Marvellous Meet Ups Ball came about as we wanted our community to come together at Christmas to celebrate and have an opportunity to inject some vintage glamour. Rarely do we have opportunities to truly dress up and be glamorous and celebrate Christmas on a grand scale.

What can people expect at the Ball?

People can expect, a 1940’s and VE Day projection show for the duration of Ball, also the opportunity of Marvelettes becoming part of that show, a burlesque performance from the Northants Burlesque Marvelettes, 1940’s disco and a couple of Christmas songs. There will also be a buffet style dinner, with some menu options done to 1940’s ration recipes, plus a big band and some singers!

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How can people help?

Just by spreading the message about the Ball. We have to pay 50% of the total cost off in next couple of weeks! We have had good ticket sales so far, just need more coming in and quickly. People can volunteer in anyway they would like, from announcing entrants into the Museum to being on the door. Anyone to get 100 tickets sold for ball gets free entry and if anyone is an entertainer and would like to volunteer their services, this would also be highly welcomed.

 

From the sounds of things, the 1940’s/ 1950’s Most Marvellous Meet Ups VE Christmas Ball is going to be spectacular, the venue alone being at the Imperial War Museum in Manchester will also make it a really special evening. The Ball is being held on the 28th November and with tickets priced at £31.50 it seems like the perfect way to celebrate Victory in Europe one last time this year.

Payments can be made on the Christmas Ball Go Fund Me page, just make sure to list the guests! I hope to see you there, I’ll be hiding by the mistletoe 😉

Jo King Interview

Kingesis, Sexhibtion, Female Form: a Jo King Interview

jo king, mama jojo, sexhibition, mama jojo burlesque, burlesque queen

Jo King really is a captivating and fun person to interview. As owner of the London Academy of Burlesque and with almost 38 years of burlesque and striptease experience, this showgirl is showing no signs of hanging up her stockings… and I for one couldn’t be happier about it!

Read on to discover what exactly ‘Kingesis’ is, explore confidence coaching and celebrating women’s beautiful bodies at the upcoming Sexhibition

The title of your first Workshop at Sexhibition had me curious… what is ‘Kingesis’?

This sounds very full of myself to say; I designed Kingesis. But umm… obviously my surname is King and you’ve probably heard of the word Kinesis (movement and motion). Well I thought it would be funny if I renamed it and called it Kingesis because it’s my kind of movement, it’s Jo’s movement.

I wouldn’t dare to call it a therapy but it is therapeutic. It’s about releasing inhibitions and finding confidence in your form. Connecting with your feminine energy and your power, the power of being a woman. It’s an incredible power, if only more women were aware of it. If you want to know more… come to a class!

burlesque, london academy of burlesque, jo king

Has the London Academy of Burlesque always been about confidence coaching?

The truth is when I very first started teaching I thought I was just giving performers choreographic tips but what I didn’t know was that I was boosting egos, boosting confidence and making people feel good. I was 19 and you know it didn’t function in my head what I was doing.

Having been a striptease artist for so many years, what I had noticed is that sometimes the most stunningly beautiful women would come into the changing room and look into the mirror and complaining about their bodies. Then they’d get changed and they’d go on stage and you’d see this incredible performer and you’d think, is that the same girl?

It’s funny because actually all those bits of their bodies that they hated, they were actually showing. I always knew that there was something in performance that released inhibitions and helped with confidence. So that’s why I thought if I can bring that to women in the street… how amazing would that be? My ethos has always been about making every woman, regardless of age, shape, weight, height, ability or disability… feel fabulous about herself. That’s it.

So how does it feel to help people lose their inhibitions?

Amazing. I love love love love love what I do. The fact that I help people to feel better about themselves, it’s such an amazing gift. That sounds a bit yuck, but you know, it is amazing.

jo king, london academy of burlesque, burlesque jo king

How do you think burlesque has changed since you started?

When I started in burlesque attitudes were actually okay because burlesquers in those days were not revered but we were treated very well. And then burlesque kind of faded out and it became striptease, which is fabulous too.

Then it went through a phase of burlesque not being thought of so well because we went from clubs to pubs and in pubs you get a different kind of clientele. Some of my pub clients I actually preferred because they were down to earth and wonderful. But in peoples’ minds they think that that cheapened it. And people think when you are doing something where your body is naked and you’re asking for money that that cheapens you. I’ve never felt like that, I’ve always loved, fucking loved it.

I think attitudes towards burlesque have changed, what’s funny is the attitudes towards striptease haven’t changed enough. There is this kind of snobbery that burlesque is okay and striptease isn’t. But most burlesque involves some form of striptease, and the truth is my darling child, if you are taking your clothes off, if you are a burlesquer or not, guess what? You’re stripping! And if you’re stripping, you’re a stripper. It’s all just semantics.

jo king, sexhibition, kingesis, jo king sexhibition, sexhibition workshop

Do you think with Sexhibition that there is as much need to celebrate women?

I think it comes back to the thing with attitudes to burlesque and how they have changed. The attitude has only really changed in some areas. People have a preconceived notion of what it is and I still get phone calls from people who say can we have a burlesque show but we don’t want any clothes off or we don’t want any breasts out. It’s whatever is safe or acceptable to them. And then other people you could say the word burlesque and they would run a million miles. It’s the same as the word sex.

The British have a very archaic attitude towards sex. You know the Brits are actually very sexy people, it’s just that for the most part it’s behind closed doors. I think that the problem is that we aren’t really educating people and that people are scared of sex and women owning their own bodies and women doing what they want with their own bodies. Unless somehow they’re introduced to people who are as open and free as I am and many of my peers are, maybe they will never accept it or realise that it’s okay. I still think we’ve got a huge journey ahead of us.

What do you think it would take to get there?

I was interviewed for a feminist magazine years ago by a lovely reporter and she was saying, feminists are always saying what are you doing showing your body? I’ve always said that I’m the greatest feminist you’re ever going to meet. Surely the meaning of feminism is that a women has the right to be any kind of woman that she wants to be. So whether I want to be a sexy woman, or a masculine woman, or a crazy woman, surely feminism is my right to do what I choose to do? Isn’t that it?

I think we’ve got a lot of problems with religious beliefs, and I’m not a great fan of religion in any form or shape and I think in most religions nudity is considered a sin. But you’re born naked so you know, surely you’d be born with a covering, or a shell like a turtle or something! (She said cheekily!)

I’m not saying that every single person has to rush out and take their clothes off… fucking amazing if they all did! I just think whether it’s nudity, whether it’s religion, ageism, sexism, we just all need to be more accepting of one another. End of.

Jo King, London Academy Of Burlesque, Sexhibition, Jo King at Sexhibition, Sexhibition Workshop

After the Sexhibition Workshops are you around in the evening?

I am producing the After Dark burlesque show, so I will be Mama Jojo. The fabulous Miss Polly Rae is going to be there, she was one of my students, and now she’s an amazing burlesque super star.

I’m really looking forward to Sexhibition, I think the one other thing I’d really like to add, is that I think it’s needed. I think it’s gonna be amazing and I think it’s just the beginning.

Get in touch with Jo via the London Academy Of Burlesque website for classes, hen parties birthday parties or one to one tuition. Plus don’t forget she has Kingesis, Glamour Puss, Strip Teaser and Showgirl Sexy workshops at Sexhibition.

Dots n’ Bows Interview

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Zanna Li Tjärnström is the woman behind Dots n’ Bows

Having been introduced to Dots n’ Bows through Atomic Amber and her amazing custom order I thought I ought to get in touch with them. Whilst ummming and ahhhing over which bag to get, I am thinking flamingos wearing sunglasses, I thought I’d find out a little bit more about Zanna Li Tjärnström the lady behind Dots n’ Bows.

Zanna Dots n bows, dots n' bows, dots n' bows creater
Zanna Li Tjärnström

How did you get into designing and creating bags?

Well, I’m an educated seamstress. When I went to school we learnt how to sew clothes, knit, crochet crochet and so on. A few years after school I started to work for a company that made flags so my job was to sew them.

After I quit my job there I got pregnant at 23 and started to make children’s clothes. Later I started a children’s clothes company. But to make clothes takes time and the fabrics are expensive so it’s hard to make a living of that kind of work.

A few years later I started to sew bags at my home. I love bags, I rarely use them, but I love them. I ordered fabric and vinyl from the states and would sew every night (all night) when my boyfriend and son were sleeping. I guess you can say that I’m a real entrepreneur and I tried a few different thing before I found my true calling!

dots n bows, dots n' bows, vinyl bag, rockabilly bag, dots n' bows bag

What’s involved with creating a typical bag?

That’s hard to describe! The first thing I do when I design a bag is try to imagine how it should look when it’s finished. I then draw all the parts with their measurements on paper and try sewing the design after that. Most of the time the bag design is finished after my first try, sometimes I have to make a few adjustments.

How long does a typical bag take to make?

Well it depends on what kind of bag but the standard handbag named Sue takes about 4-5 hours to make, sometimes more.

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They all have a retro feel, where do you take inspiration from?

I don’t think it was intentional, although maybe in the back of my head? I made the first bags after my own preference and still do.

I ordered sparkle vinyl because I wanted to try to sew in that material and I loved it. The material fits the retro and vintage style great! So I guess it just happened.

Do you enjoy working with custom orders and if so why?

Yes I do! I decided early on that I didn’t want to mass produce bags. I want each one of them to be unique so that every costumer can have their own bag. Plus when I get custom orders I don’t have to design all the bags myself.

dots n bows, dots n' bows, vinyl sunglasses case

Do you have a favourite item?

I have lots of favourite material things. But the most precious must be my mint green 1950’s singer sewing machine that comes with a beautiful teak table! I found it in a flea market about 3 years ago. And it works!

Are there other products you’d like to add to the range?

Oh yes, I have lots of ideas but not much time to make them. I designed an eyeglass case the other day for example. I have some free time coming up and plan to spend every second in the studio creating fun stuff!

dots n bows, dots n' bows, vinyl rockabilly bags

Thanks Zanna it was great to find out more about the woman behind Dots n’ Bows. Now if I could just choose how many flamingos to add to my bag 😉

Check out more of Dots n’ Bows over on their store or instagram @dots_n_bows.

Frenchie L’amour

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An interview with Internationally published model, Frenchie L’amour

Frenchie L'amour, The Pin Up Academy
The Pinup Academy

Instantly recognisable for her cheeky pin up style and a Yorkshire accent that will catch you off guard, Frenchie L’amour has had a triumphant start to her pin up persona. Not only teaming up with The Pin Up Academy she is also making a debut at Sexhibition this year; all whilst running for Miss Tease and Cake 2015.

What first attracted you to the pinup style?

For me it was the hairstyles. I absolutely love the 1940s and 50s hairstyles. Being a hairdresser myself I’m always looking for new styles to try and have become attached to styling my hair into pin curls and sleeping with a head scarf on. All the women in the 40s and 50s looked so glamorous with the hairstyles they had! My favourite is the page boy.

Was it an easy decision to become a pinup model?

It was indeed. My Mum and Dad have always supported me in what I’ve chosen to do in my life! They love it.

My Sister (Amelia-Belle) is also one of the UK pinup models, which is brilliant because she is my best friend. It’s so much fun sharing the experiences with each other.

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Kustomnemo Photography

How did you feel on your first shoot?

Well on my very very first shoot I was nervous because I was still unsure of what poses worked well for me!

But on my “official” first shoot where I was technically coming out as one of The Pinup Academy dolls I felt so incredibly comfortable! It felt like it was something I was always supposed to do.

Si and October, owners of The Pinup Academy, are also so much fun to work with which definitely made me feel more relaxed.

Could you tell me about some of your most memorable and enjoyable shoots?

Gosh, I wouldn’t even know where to start, all of my shoots have been enjoyable!

But if I had to narrow it down I’d have to say my most memorable shoot to date would have to be at a trade show I did where one of my fellow Pinup models lost her balance and fell through the back drop! Thankfully the back drop was hurt more than her!

My most enjoyable shoot would have to be when me, Amelia-Belle and October Divine were recreating some of the famous John Willie’s “sweet Gwendoline” images! I was playing Fi-Fi, the maid, and I had to be gagged and tied up on the floor. Trying to get me into the exact position which matched the original image was so complicated, yet so funny. I couldn’t stop laughing by the end of it because I was basically just getting rolled around the floor! Haha

the pinup academy, frenchie lamour,
The Pinup Academy

Joining The Pinup Academy must have felt like a big step, how has that helped you?

They have been such a massive help to me because they have given me opportunities I could have only dreamt of before! If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I’d have been in the position I am today! I have a lot to thank them for and I have never regretted joining The Pinup Academy.

How did it feel to be invited to take part in the Sexhibition Expo?

It will be my first time at Sexhibition and I’m so excited! I was so happy when I was asked to take part. I can’t believe I’m going to be working with some incredible people there!

What will you be getting up to there?

I will be on the catwalk and walking around modelling some incredible clothing from some of my favourite designers!

I will also be meeting some of my fans and signing images. It’s so lovely to meet the people that admire your work the most!

frenchie lamour, kustomnemo photography, french maid, sexhibition, sexhibition expo
Kustomnemo Photography

Do you think that having such an Expo signals that sex is a much more public topic?

I think sex is a much more public topic nowadays, but I do think that it is a good thing!

I’ve always believed that when things are new to us we become more inclined to try it, take for instance a chocolate bar, when you’ve just discovered one you want more and more but if you’ve always been around it then it doesn’t bother you as much!

I like sex, I think it should be a more welcomed thing because at the end of the day it’s a human and natural thing to do! People just have different ways of enjoying it. That’s why I think Sexhibition is such a fabulous expo because it shows everyone that no matter who you are you should always be yourself!

What are your hopes and plans for the rest of the year?

I hope to work with some more incredible people and visit lots more events. My plan is to just keep having fun and keep smiling. You’ll be seeing a lot more of Frenchie L’amour in the future!!!

Thank you Frenchie L’amour for the interview. If you’d like the chance to meet her make sure you book your ticket for Sexhibition, which is taking place in Manchester the 21st – 23rd of August.

An interview with Veronika Kotkova from Verve Rockabilly Photography

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Meet Verve Rockabilly Photography’s Veronika Kotkova

veronola kotkova, verve, verve rockabilly photography, verve rockabilly photoshoot
Veronika Kotkova on shoot

Veronika Kotkova is the esteemed pin up and rockabilly photographer behind Verve Rockabilly Photography. Having worked at a modelling agency she quickly went from a booker to stylist before realising she could use her unique style to create something far more edgy.

She is damn gutsy and in the time she shot me, she quickly became my hero. The idea of choosing to do something and going out and making that happen without any training or kit is scary but something she fearlessly got on with. Veronika’s determination is wonderful to experience and in this interview she’ll be looking back at some of her first photography experiences as well as her recent shoot in the Czech Republic.

What made you choose rockabilly photography?

I started in fashion but I really don’t know why I got stuck into 50s and 60s, I just did. I wanted to continue with fashion but in a different way, so my goal was to be a well-known rockabilly photographer.

I do fashion sometimes but it’s not something that is really in my heart; especially because fashion is all about young, amazingly pretty, tiny girls. There are so many rules and I don’t like that, I like real women. I’m from the Czech Republic and Czech girls are real women.

Verve Rockabilly Photography, Veronika Rockabilly, Pin Up Photog
Verve Rockabilly Photography

Working with real women seems very important to you…

I really like that when I shoot pin up, I can have a lady who is size 24, and I can have a lady who’s size 6. They are both happy when they get the makeover done and they both look amazing. I say do it because it makes you feel good. That’s why I do this kind of style.

But skipping back to the start of your journey into photography, can you remember your first shoot?

My first proper shoot was with my friend who is actually a model. She’s covered in tattoos and I was shooting her with another guy who was also covered in tattoos; so it was kind of rockabilly, tattooish and edgy basically. That was my first shoot and I have to say I think it was quite good.

Although I can see mistakes, yes fine fair enough we all grow. Most of all I think it pushed me because I felt I did something different in there and it felt great.

Has there been a defining moment where you thought yeah I am really doing this?

I don’t think I knew, I just told myself I will. There was no option in my head that I was going to fail. I knew that it was going to be a bumpy ride but I just said to myself you are doing it and that’s it. But actually my first job was in porn.

Verve Rockabilly Photography, Pin Up Photography, Rockabilly
Verve Rockabilly Photography

Do you think that helped your skills as a photographer?

Photography is a difficult industry. I knew it was going to be a bumpy ride because well known photographers are always keeping their jobs and no one wants to work with different photographers if they are with someone already.

For my first paid job I was a photographer for the porn industry. It pushed me as anyone can take a cheap picture of two people having sex. It really takes guts to take it to levels where it doesn’t look cheap, it’s more creative. So I was trying to really focus with playing with lights and shadows and making it look glamorous. I think because it was really challenging it did push me.

Kind of an evil question but have you got a favourite shoot that you’ve done?

That is an extremely evil question! It is really difficult as I’ve done so many shoots that I just love. I don’t know, I’m probably lucky I always work with great people and it’s just always fun so I don’t really have a favourite. Although…

Very Rockabilly Studios, Okay Shoot, Veroinika Kotkova
Okay Shoot, Verve Rockabilly Studios

Please tell us all about it!

I shot for Slovakian Okay Magazine in my favourite bar ever, the James Dean Bar in Prague. I shot two very pretty girlies; one is former Miss Czech Republic and the other one is a very good twerk dancer and choreographer. Both girls are amazing and I was really looking forward to that and of course it’s quite challenging because it is a huge production. It was tough and I was really nervous but I rocked it anyway.

So you turned them into the pin up style?

Yes! The whole shoot was inspired by Dita Von Tease. I did research and put those ideas to my stylist so she got similar styles of clothing. We weren’t just copying what Dita shot but using some ideas to dedicate it to her.

Verve Rockabilly Photography. Blaire Rowland, Blaire Amy Rowland, Old is Now, Vintage Blog
My own shoot, Verve Rockabilly Photography

 

If anyone can convince Okay Magazine that they need a former Miss Czech Republic in a pin up inspired shoot then Veronika can – and has with absolutely stunning results! I really enjoyed my shoot and interview time with her. She really is an exciting person to get to know and I went away not only with beautiful hair and make-up, but with the gumption to get on and do the things I want. Queue lots of emails to important people (sorry not sorry).

Thanks Veronika, and I am looking forward to another shoot soon. If you fancy booking up one of Verve Rockabilly Photography’s pin up photoshoots have a look at the website here.

An interview with Kiki Lovechild

Furlesque extraordinaire Kiki Lovechild

With the Hundred Watt Club and Guildford Fringe teaming up again, Kiki Lovechild will be bringing his infamous ‘furlesque’ acts to Surrey. I thought I’d check in with him before the show to find out what ‘furlesque’ is all about!

Watch out Guildford, a lot of sexy fur is heading your way 😉

Kiki Lovechild, hundred watt, guildford fringe
Mr Suave Foto

After reading the word ‘furlesque’ next to your name I was instantly baffled! What exactly does it mean?

Furlesque is my own brand of burlesque puppetry, the ‘fur’ part coming from the furry fabric I use to make a lot of my puppets. As far as I’m aware I’m the only one using this term for burlesque puppetry, which is a shame because in recent years there have been a number of excellent new puppeteers on the burlesque scene. And I am loving the competition – you can never have too many sexy puppets.

How did the furlesque acts come about? They appear to be quite different from your clown acts.

My clown work has been most of my focus for the last 10 years, but about 6 years ago I desperately wanted to get back into puppetry – skills I initially perfected while working in children’s theatre. And I’m really glad I did because it’s been so, so, so much furry fun! Within a matter of months, two of my first Furlesque characters were on the scene: the dapper Frank Little and the infamous Jessica Blue. More have appeared since, but I’ve never quite been able to shake these two! While they are quite different from my clowning acts, the sense of fun and underlying mayhem is just the same!

Are there other furlesque performers to be on the look out for?

There are lots of wonderful puppeteers on the scene, including the brilliant Leggy Pee. And Twice Shy Theatre – although they’re not burlesque – are making waves with breathtaking puppet cabaret routines.

Does furlesque always take the audience by surprise?

Comperes often introduce me by saying something like “I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like this before”. I love that audiences are never sure what to expect from furlesque, and just when they think they’ve got it sussed, I always throw in a kicker at the end!

Kiki Lovechild, Mr Suave Foto
Mr Suave Foto
     
kiki lovechild, Tigz Rice
Tigz Rice

Well done on winning silver for International Triple Crown at the World Burlesque Games for a furlesque routine, how amazing did that feel?

There’s a brilliant video somewhere of the surprise on my face when they announced it. I genuinely thought my routine was so off the wall that it couldn’t possibly win anything in a conventional competition. I loved it, and so did my puppets!

You performed The Hunting Trip for that show, what were the steps involved with creating that act in particular!?

The Hunting Trip came about over three years of experimenting – behind all the silliness there’s a lot of hard work. It merges some old vaudeville skills with modern burlesque, while also creating a satire of the fan dance – burlesquing burlesque. I think I need to sit down … I’ve confused myself.

There are three distinct segments in the routine to keep the crowd guessing what comes next. I didn’t create it specially for WBG, but it seemed like the perfect time to launch a routine that took so long to perfect.

If you had to choose a favourite furlesque act which one would it be and why?

I couldn’t possibly choose between my ‘children’. In all seriousness I love them all dearly, although Jessica occasionally gets on my nerves!

100 watt club, guidlford fringe, burlesque show

Speaking of the gorgeous Jessica Blue, will she have her happy ending?

Jessica Blue is a force to be reckoned with. She always gets what she wants in the end!

 

Big thanks to Kiki Lovechild for answering all of my interview questions; I feel more informed but just as intrigued about furlesque!

If you read the interview and are as curious about furlesque as me why not head to The Electric Theatre on the 8th of May to see Kiki Lovechild perform? He’ll be joined by the international vintage songbird Elsie Diamond, the raucos Dave The Bear, bodacious burlesque 100 Watt Club boss Lena Mae, the statuesque beauty Trixie Kixx and Winner of ‘Burlesque Idol 2014’ Pearl Grey showcases her unique charicatural take on the artform!

Don’t forget to don your vintage finery for a chance to compete in our infamous best dressed contest! Strictly over 18s only. Tickets are £15/£13 concs.

Vintage Magazine’s Maria Layley Interview

posted in: Interview | 0

A new Vintage Magazine is coming your way courtesy of Maria Layley

Maria Layley, VIntage Magazine, Maria Layley Illustration

I caught up with Maria to find out her inspiration for creating a magazine in a market of already well established reads, as well as discovering what we can expect from Vintage Magazine.

So, what sparked the idea for starting up a magazine?

From a very early age I was subject to endless Sunday afternoons of movies and musicals. Doris Day was a clear favourite of my Mother and Grandma, as was Mary Poppins, seven brides for seven brothers and Kismet. Thanks to all of these, and more, I now have a clear and at times unhealthy obsession with gingham, large families and men with beards.

As I grew up I was always drawn to the days gone by, in fact my first Halloween costume was Marilyn and her infamous white dress, minus the gust of wind. I had always managed to have a small piece of pinup or vintage style in my wardrobe throughout my twenties, even having a very small stint as a pinup model, but it wasn’t until I reached my thirties that I started to really have it in my everyday life.

I could never find something that encompassed my likes of all styles, so pinup, reproduction, authentic and rockabilly, plus I really wanted to know where to go to meet others that were like me. So I put the idea forward to those that know me and the response was so good that we had to start.

Did the current magazines out at the moment influence what you wanted from Vintage Magazine?

They helped us define who we wanted to be and how we wanted others to see us. They helped us design our style as we wanted to be different and stand out.

What do you think of the popular vintage magazines around at the moment?

I think that we are coming into the scene at a very critical time. It’s starting to sprout and grow and we want to be part of that growth. Its not in its infancy, there are a few other magazines out there, but I feel that there is plenty of room for more. One of my personal favourites is In Retrospective, not only because they are fellow brightonians but also because they have been so supportive from day one. They didn’t see us as competition but as an ally in spreading the love.

What will set Vintage Magazine apart from the others?

I think that the difference between us is that we don’t box ourselves in by just talking about one set time in history or one set style. I started this magazine because I saw a gap in the market and thought I could fill it with my love of the past. I now find that it is far beyond that. I want it to be a platform not just for our style but for hope. If we can band together and make this special we owe it to ourselves to help others that aren’t so fortunate. That way it isn’t just a magazine it’s a legacy.

We, plus our contributors are animal lovers, even to the point where one of our writers volunteers for the RSPCA in the UK and one of our first interviews is with Deidre Franklin who is the President and CEO of Pinups for Pitbull. We are also supporting the award-winning photographer Sophie Gamand and her beautiful pitbull flower power movement. On top of that we are looking to feature some amazing philanthropic work that needs some help to spread the word about their work.

Vintage Magazine, Old is Now, Maria Layley, Vintage Magazine Website
Sneak peak at the Vintage Magazine Website
With the launch of the website, will you be publishing articles up online first?

We will be having articles on both that are unique to each platform, so some articles you will only be able to find on the website, which is going live in April, and you will also find some articles exclusively in print.

Is there anything Vintage enthusiasts can be doing to get involved?

Get in touch, especially through our Twitter @the_vintage_mag and send us photos with the hashtag #fortheloveofvintage we would love to hear form everyone, tag us in photos of animals that need adopting or causes that need help spreading their word. Plus we are hoping to get onto the streets of some cities and start photographing people who are in the vintage style so keep an eye out for us.

Most importantly when can we expect Vintage Magazine to appear through our letterboxes?

Issue #1 is due for print in August, so stand by your doors singing “Stop, oh yes, wait a minute mister postman. Wait, wait, wait, wait mister postman”.

 

Many thanks to Maria for taking the time to be interviewed, I really enjoyed finding out more about the previously mysterious Vintage Magazine. Don’t forget the website goes live in April so get following Vintage Magazine on Twitter to keep up to date!

Screamin Festival: Tips for First Timers

posted in: Events, Interview | 0

Screamin Festival Newbies panic over: I’ve nabbed some tips from the regulars!

Screamin Festival, Screamin Fest, Calella Festival, Rockabilly Festival

Upon coming across Screamin Festival I shrieked with excitement; a rockabilly festival on the beach, in Spain! What’s the catch? Well I will be heading out to Calella where the festival is held each year in June and am confident that I am going to have an awesome time. You might ask why as I’ve never ventured there before, however I have been in touch with members of the Screamin Festival Team as well as enthusiasts and regulars. They each have different stories to tell but share a welcoming and infectious excitement for the event.

I’m pretty new to the rockabilly scene and it is great to feel an instant bond with active members. I thought I’d share the advice I have been given about Screamin Festival, and hopefully inspire you to pick up tickets too!

Willie Storm, DJ Willie Storm, Screamin Festival, Rockabilly Festival
Willie Storm

Willie Storm

If you are coming this year for first time then I have to welcome you aboard. The only thing I can say is that you won’t regret it.

The spirit of Screamin Festival is that everybody is welcome, doesn’t matter which style you like. Guaranteed you’ll make a lot of friends as everybody there is extremely friendly. Beach parties during the day and amazing bands in the evening at a large venue, the entire week.

It’s up to you when you want to come but 80% of the people do the whole week.

Staying? There plenty of hotels in Calella depending on your budget. I wouldn’t take an expensive one but also not a cheap one. Keep in mind that you will only stay at the hotel for sleeping (when you got time haha) and refresh yourself.


Steve Grinster, Rockabilly Festival, Steve Grinster DJ, Screamin Festival, Calella
Steve Grinster

Steve Grinster

The festival kicks off on the Monday & people start to congregate at Santi’s beach bar. On the Monday it’s the DJ’s that get the party started & bands don’t normally start playing until Wednesday. You notice the numbers start to grow as the week goes on, building to the big highlight of the festival which is Saturday night where the main hall gets really busy!

Santi’s is a very friendly beach bar & you’ll have no problem chatting & meeting people from all round the world.

As a first timer, pace yourself with the drinks, it’s always fun at the beach bar, but remember you don’t want to miss out on the fantastic evening & night time entertainment!!

No dress code at the Screamin’ festival, wear what makes you feel happy, the event attracts teddy boys & girls, bikers & rockers & rockin folk from the world over, from casual to very smart you’ll see a whole array of colourful people. Look out for the Hawaiian beach party for a chance to dress & impress in your best Hawaiian!

You’ll get to see some of the very best bands, from original to the latest, from all over the world playing Rock n Roll, Rhythm & Blues, Rockabilly & one of the very best Doo Wop shows you’ll ever see!

You’ll also find hand picked DJ’s to keep you wanting to dance all week long!


And finally some very practical tips from the wonderful…

Screamin, Fabulous TImes
Christine Macaulay – The Fabulous Times

Christine Macaulay

Bring a fan to waft yourself in the dance tent or at the pool party, it gets hot, hot, hot!! And remember to pack comfy shoes for dancing or walking down the beach. Yes stilettos look sexy but hobbling around at 3am or being unable to shake your tale feather sucks.

Hire a bike from the local bike hire place, that way you skip on taxi fare and have the freedom to whizz around during the daytime, be careful though as full circle skirts and headscarves can be somewhat of a health hazard.

Drink plenty of water, seems obvious? It’s so easy to forget when you’re out in the sunshine all day sippin’ cocktails and eating hotdogs, then out in the evening dancing and listening to the bands. Water will help you stay tip-top for the full duration of the festival, instead of peaking too soon.

Don’t feel left out if you can’t dance. My friends and I are pretty useless when it comes to dancing, watching those that are truly incredible dancers though can be just as much fun, call it a spectator sport or whatever but it can be a blast to watch so don’t feel bad if you’ve never been to swing/ lindy/ jive lesson in your life!

Prior to Screamin I usually get my eyebrows tinted and semi permanent eyelashes applied, this means you have the basic makeup on everyday without any effort so when you wake up after a night of partying, all you have to do is shower and hit the beach with minimum effort.

If you usually style your hair with curlers or tongues and this is too much effort for the day time. Pack headgear that will allow you to look fabulous whilst avoiding actually styling your hair eg. Grace Kelly style turban, obnoxiously large brimmed hat, bandana or large flower!

Oh and pack sunscreen!

Screamin fest, screamin festival, rockabilly festival
The Fabulous Times

Many thanks to Willie Storm, Steve Grinster and Christine Macaulay for helping me to create this post and giving me the final push to snap up tickets! I hope to see you on the sand with some sangria soon 😉

Haven’t got your ticket yet? No worries just click here.

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