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Feisty Thoughts: Occupy Your Space

I’ve taken a lot of time for reflection in the beginning of this year. December was a busy month, with social obligations every other day, so by the time the New Year came I was ready to disengage and just spend some time at home to get grounded. In my reclusive state, I spent a good amount of time thinking about what my goals were for this year, and although I have a bevy of surface level goals, I wanted to take this year to closely pay attention to how I take up space in this world.

As many women have experienced, there is a timidness of how we were raised. To this day I catch myself shutting down if I’m challenged by a male or a person in charge, even when I know I am in the right. There have been multiple times when I have consciously made myself physically as small as possible so that the person sitting next to me can continue to spread there body and take up as much space as they wish, just so I didn’t have to confront the situation. There are numerous times when walking down the sidewalk I’ve had to pull some Tetris maneuvers just so someone else could continue taking more space walking down the side walk. I have learned to ebb and flow in between others perceived self-assertive natures.

But there comes a time, when looking at photos and wondering why I didn’t stand up as straight as possible even if I would have been towering over others in my 6 foot stance in heels, that you start to question why shouldn’t I take up the natural space I have been given? Why should I make myself smaller so that others notice me less? Why shouldn’t I walk down the streets, claiming a reasonable amount of area for myself with pride and confidence? Why should I let others, who either have the courage or arrogance make me feel less than I should with just body language?

So I have decided that this is the year I stand tall and hold my ground. When I’m at the gym, in the perceived boys lifting area doing squats, I refuse to look down timidly almost asking forgiveness for being in that area. When I’m walking down the street, I refuse to pull some back bending motion just because a group of rude people decide to walk three across with no consideration for traffic moving in the opposite direction. And when I’m taking photos, I will stand tall, no matter what the height of those in the photo with me. Unless we’re all sitting down or doing some cute pose. Because who wants to be that asshole?

So here is my challenge to you. Take up your space. Even if you are in a demographic that society has continuously tried to deem lesser than. No, ESPECIALLY if you are in a demographic that society is trying to keep down. Hold your head high, and know that you are 1 in 4 billion. Occupy the space that you have been given.

 

 

*Photo by Vixen Photography*

Mornings on the Beach

There’s nothing like being on the beach early in the morning while most people are just starting to wake up. Luckily, I teamed up with Rebekka Payne photography for some fun fashion shoots off the shores of La Jolla. Wardrobe was provided by the ever talented NinkoTea Designs.

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Introspective

There has been many changes in my personal and creative life lately. Rather significant relationships and endeavors have changed, and in doing so has left me in a place of vulnerability in the unknown. These sentiments are something all of us have experienced at one time or another. Losing a relationship, changing a job, or having to start a big new project over from scratch are just a few examples of situations that can leave a person feeling lost in the dark. When we get like that though, there are a few things that can help guide us in the right direction. Although sometimes we just want to retreat and hide under the covers (been there, did it yesterday) sometimes it’s best to take slow and simple steps in the right direction. So here are a few tools to help you deal with a creative overhaul and various introspective situations.

Reading
Reading is one of those simple pleasures that too many people often don’t make time for.  Whether it’s a biography of your personal hero, a fiction story to escape in, or a book of poetry to get lost in the dance of words, reading is never a waste of time or energy.  It gives you something to talk about instead of the newest gossip and helps generate ideas that you may have not come up with on your own. Above all, it helps to create a society of knowledgeable individuals ready to help create a better world.

Meditation
I’m not the best when it comes to sitting still, but forcing myself to take even 10 minutes to do a guided meditation has become one of my favorite moments of the day. There are various apps, websites, and YouTube channels dedicated to helping the public meditate. Meditation helps to relax you and to evaluate your situation in a thoughtful and objective sense.

Make a List
I love making lists! This is the complete Type A personality in me, but I love creating lists to realize what’s important to me in my life. My recent lists have been: What Do I Want Out Of Life, What Creative Things Do I Want To Accomplish, Where Do I Want To Go, and What Do I Need To Let Go Of To Accomplish My Goals. Sometimes just seeing certain things in writing helps us realize what we want manifested in our lives. What does your list look like?

Leave Your Circle
Go out and meet new people. Go to events that you otherwise would have stayed away from. Sometimes opening up our circle of friends and acquaintances helps us to realize how not alone we really are. Getting stuck in the same circle over and over again can make a person stagnant if you don’t try to see what is beyond your personal world. Maybe pick up a new hobby, go to a networking group, or find an activity that you’ve been putting off for various reasons. You don’t have to completely dump your friends and family, but realizing there are others out there sometimes helps to direct you where you want to go in life.

Retreat
When an animal is hurt or wounded, they retreat until they are ready to come back into the world. If a major life change has happened, and you just aren’t ready to face the world yet, that is completely understandable. Be honest with yourself and your personal limits. They exist for a reason. Try spending some extra time in nature. Take a hike, sit under a tree, go where there are very few people. Retreating can also mean taking a trip somewhere, either with a close friend or loved one, or by yourself. Sometimes we all need those moments to heal, analyze, and come back stronger.

What are some of your methods for healing? Have you tried any of those listed above? I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below, and as always stay feisty loves!

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Photo by Lisa Petz Photography

Above All Else, Create

Yesterday was one of those days where the world seemed to be closing in with no hope. I woke up in a panic, having physical reactions to anxiety and distress. Somehow, with the help of loved ones, I managed to get out of bed and get a few chores done. By mid afternoon, I had enough. I called my mom and completely broke down. I cried for a good hour rejecting every single thing she suggested and deeming my situation hopeless.

But something happened after I cried that hard. I felt numb still, and yesterday was not the day to attempt to do anything, but I made a mental note at that moment saying that I would allow myself that day to wallow, but tomorrow, tomorrow I create. Today I woke up inspired. I woke up with solutions rather than doom and gloom. The one thing I realized through that mini day of self-doubt and sorrow was that what makes people great and successful is not their inability to avoid hardships and doubt, but their ability to push through it and still continue to create.

I started thinking about people like Madonna and Beyonce, artists who have created so much material that I haven’t even heard or seen half of what they have done. I don’t particularly care for everything they create, and by no means is everything they put out into the world a masterpiece, but what they do is persevere. They continue to create their art, their songs, their videos, and their visions and put them out into the world. Nothing stops them, and that is why they are so respected in their industry. Granted they have a team helping them, but the core concept is still there, and there is nothing stopping you from building your own team of similarly interested individuals.

So today, if you have been struggling to see the brighter side things, I challenge you to create something for no reason at all. Start that project that has been on the back burner for what seems like ages. Try something new with no intentions of perfecting it. Play, create, and put it out there into the world knowing that the act of creation is what is most important. The rest as they say, will follow. We just have to believe in ourselves, our visions, and our own unique capabilities. After all there is no one exactly like you.

 

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Photo by Michael W. Photography

Turquoise Glamour

The other day I bought this beautiful brooch from Bad Madge in San Diego. I have been eyeing this magnificent piece of jewelry for quite some time now, and I can’t wait to create something stage worthy based off of this brooch. With the simple touch of turquoise, I wanted to find other glamorous images that displayed the color in all its glory.

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53rd Anniversary Dinner: Fearless Voices

Attending the 53rd Annual Planned Parenthood Dinner was an honor. The event was a great fundraising success, raising well over $1 million—with more than $240,000 raised from a generous match challenge. Being surrounded by hundreds of people who believed in the good of this organization which brings the community readily accessible facilities that offer care for basic human needs was a heart-warming feeling. But sitting there, listening to the insightful and hard-working guest speakers made it all too obvious the dangers this organization and it’s patients withstand. Living in a world with so much to offer, it’s a cumbersome realization that there are people living among us refusing reason and clinging to hate. One day I hope that the struggles of these men and women are rewarded and the fight for reproductive equality a success.

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Photos featuring: Lola Demure, Valentina Unity, Remele Sparks, Gia La Dolce, Millie Marie, J, and Bawdy Show producers Matt and Lily
Dress I’m wearing is from South Park’s Bad Madge in San Diego.

Avant Garde Fashion Inspiration

One of my goals this year has been to do a few costume upgrades on all of my signature acts. I’ve been searching for inspiration in mostly the avant garde genre with special detail to Alexander McQueen and Bob Mackie. I’ve especially been attention to draping, lines, and fabric patterns and found that simplicity and drama make for a phenomenal work of art. With the LA Fashion district so close, it’s both a blessing, and a financial curse when it comes to creating the costumes of my dreams. 😉 I can’t wait to share with everyone my new costumes, but for the moment, take a look as some of my favorite inspiring pieces. The details are exquisite.

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A model presents a creation by British designer John Galliano for Christian Dior's Haute-Couture Spring-Summer 2007 collection presentation held at 'Le Polo de Paris', in Boulogne, near Paris, France, on January 22, 2007. Photo by JAVA/ABACAPRESS.COM

A model presents a creation by British designer John Galliano for Christian Dior’s Haute-Couture Spring-Summer 2007 collection presentation held at ‘Le Polo de Paris’, in Boulogne, near Paris, France, on January 22, 2007. Photo by JAVA/ABACAPRESS.COM

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Recycled Fashion Lingerie – An Interview with Franzesca Mayer

This past January I had the pleasure of working with designer Franzesca Mayer for a photo shoot and runway show. Right away I fell in love with her designs which incorporated recycled bicycle tubing and sexy lingerie. Wearing her garments I felt empowered and ready to take on the world. Walking in the show at House of Blues San Diego I felt like I was part of a sexy Mad Max girl gang. I wanted to catch up with Franzesca and see what she was up to after her recent move up north.

Photo by Alina Mendoza

How did you get into fashion design?
My mother taught me to sew when I was eight years old. When my body started changing, the store bought patterns weren’t fitting me properly so I started teaching myself how to alter the patterns and start draping my own garments. I graduated high school and simultaneously I lost a dear friend of mine. I turned to sewing and designing to as a means of working through my grief. I realized that sewing and designing lit a fire in me and that I wanted to keep honing my skills. At Knox College, I was lucky enough to find my mentor, Margo Shively, who taught me the ways of theatrical costume design and construction. Since graduating, I have worked at various regional theatre companies on the west coast and freelanced in the fashion world.

How did you begin using recycled inner tubing?
I met the incredible womenswear draper Kitty Muntzel during my fellowship at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre in 2013. She had been exploring unconventional recycled materials for several years and was making inner tube costumes for a belly dancing troupe when I met her. I was so excited by what she was doing, she decided to teach me how to make my own. When she saw how much I loved creating these pieces, she gave me her stock of bicycle tubes and her blessing and I’ve been continuing my material exploration ever since. You can find Kitty’s designs at her website, http://www.backpedalcorsetry.com/

What is your biggest inspiration when it comes to your designs?
I draw a lot of my inspiration from the material itself. It tells me how it can be shaped and molded and I piece it all together. I am also very inspired by fashion history; I like to rethink historical silhouettes and line qualities in this unconventional material. I also draw inspiration from the beauty and shape of all women’s bodies and therefore I appreciate pin up and burlesque artistry as inspirational material as well. But in the end, inspiration can come from anywhere so I keep myself creatively open at all times.

What kind of modifications did you have to make because of using such a unique material?
I have mentioned that the material is already shaped so I have to be very flexible when designing. I can cut the material in different sizes but it is going to move the way it wants to move so I need to compliment that, rather than try to make it something that it doesn’t want to be.

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What is the biggest challenge you face when it comes to being a freelance designer?
When I’m working by myself it can be hard to keep the motivation. I make costumes for a very niche demographic so I have to explore every nook and cranny of the fashion world and interwebs to find my people.

What is your vision for your brand?
I am hoping to expand my market a bit in the realm of menswear and accessories. Overall, I want to find a balance between wearable art and everyday clothing using earth-friendly materials.

What is your definition of success?
Seeing someone shine in my garments. I want my pieces to make the wearer feel confident and sexy. There is a glow you can see when someone really feels comfortable in something you’ve made and that’s a feeling of success that can’t be duplicated.

What is your next goal for your designs?
I am about to get my first magazine spread in a new magazine called Moi Magazine, based out of New Orleans. I am hoping to continue that trend, sending out photos for publication and sending outfits out for photoshoots. A dream would be to see one of my garments on stage.

Alina Mendoza Photography

Where can my readers find more information about you? 
I try to update my social media as much as possible.

Instagram: @franzescadesigner
Tumblr: wearmorerubber
Twitter: @franzescadesign
Facebook: Franzesca Mayer
Website: www.franzesca.com
Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/franzesca

 

Thank you Franzesca for taking the time to interview with me, and I hope everyone checks out her amazing work. Check out her site, and keep up with me as I might be wearing one of her costumes in a brand new act very soon. 😉 Stay feisty loves!

 

Photos by Alina Mendoza Photography

Feisty Thoughts: Showgirl Mama

Some of you may already know this, but beyond being a performer, a producer, and a traveling showgirl, I am also a mother to a very feisty little girl who will be three this April. From the moment that I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, literally the next day, I was onstage and determined to not let this pregnancy trample my dreams of being a traveling burlesque performer. I worked diligently throughout my pregnancy, altering costumes and acts, to better support my growing belly and growing ambition. I performed up until a month before she was born. When she was only two months old, I traveled with her across the country for my first burlesque competition in Charleston, South Carolina.

As she got older, I continued to travel and perform whenever I was given the opportunity. She came with me to Charlotte when she was young and still breast-feeding. Later I went to Seattle, Texas, Toronto, New York, London, and so many other places on my own. Sometimes I would opt for a quick trip, landing the day of the show and leaving directly after the conclusion of the event, which could be either a night or a weekend. Sometimes my husband would care for her like when I took off for nine days to go to New Orleans and Albuquerque. But one thing was for sure, the older she became, the more difficult it was to leave her.

Every trip I cry. Not just a few tears streaming down my face, I mean ugly cry. I text my girlfriend, Sassy Stiletto, to remind myself why I do what I do, and if I am making the right decision as a parent. Each time I read her response through my tears telling me that if I don’t take care of myself, of my own dreams and aspirations, then I will have nothing to give my daughter. And although that makes me feel better, as I tuck her into bed, or kiss her goodbye at the airport repeating the one phrase that I have told her since she was an infant in my arms, “Mommy always comes back to you,” it doesn’t make it any easier. But still, I get on that plane, and I give the audience every ounce of me that I possibly have to give.

Once I get to my destination it’s usually easier. I see my friends who I don’t always see and performances that inspire me to continue bettering my craft, but every now and then you just have to have a moment to yourself. I remember when I was competing in London, about an hour before I was supposed to hit the stage with my stage make-up in tact and nervous energy flowing rampantly, I heard this family from the other table call to their little girl, about three years older than my daughter, “Brody”. Now Brody is not a very common name for little girls, and I had yet to meet another one until this moment, but I looked to the family and clarified whether or not their daughter’s name was Brody. Of course when they responded yes, I sat there, attempting to continue a polite conversation while fighting back tears. Finally, as my voice started to crack and I could no longer hid the tears running down my face as I was forcing myself to smile, I excused myself directly to the bathroom where I broke down in a crying hysteria all the while trying to save most of my stage make-up.

At the moment, I have cut back my travel significantly. This decision wasn’t made directly because of my daughter, other goals and aspirations definitely weighed in, but at this very, very, very, VERY difficult stage (yes moms to older children, I know it only gets worse – I mean new “challenges” later on present themselves) I thought it would be best to spend more time with her until we get past this phase. But if you do find yourself traveling with little ones, I have a few tips to help you survive.

  1. Remember the reasons why you do this. Being a mother means giving so much of yourself to someone else. It’s easy to lose your own identity in this mix and will continue to be a juggling act as they get older. Remember to take care of yourself and remember your dreams pre-baby.
  2. Facetime/Skype often. Technology is remarkable, and calling and seeing my baby girl, even before she talked, really helped to alleviate the guilt and longing… a bit.
  3. Have a support system back home you can trust. Having people who know your child, and who you trust with your baby’s life is imperative. Whether it’s mom/dad, grandparents, relatives, or just a very good family friend to take care of your little ones, make the decision that you will be most relieved with.
  4. Give all the information you can before you leave. Make all the lists you need to feel like if something happens to your child, they know where to call. It’s okay to have plans A through Z mapped out if it’s going to make you feel better. Whether or not they will follow it to a T is another story, but if it will help you sleep at night, then do what you have to do.
  5. Have a special phrase for you and your little one. I was terrified that Brody was going to think I left her for good, so I always reiterate to her that no matter what, I will come back. Every time I get off Facetime or when I leave, I repeat this to her, and after a while, she just knows. It’s almost like a mantra for just you two, even if they can’t repeat it yet.
  6. Allow yourself moments to disconnect. Don’t forget to make friends. Have fun. Do all the things that non-parents do when you are gone. Don’t feel guilty about having fun. If you spent all your time doing that, then what’s the point of leaving in the first place.

Being a mama and a traveling showgirl is a difficult challenge. But I promise you, you can do it. <3