felicity magazine

1.30.15

Mike Southall:

Local Fashion Icon

By: Sarah R. Smith

 

"Trends don't matter worth a damn. What matters is when you put the clothes on, you give something to the clothes, and the clothes give something to you."

- Mike Southall

 
Mike wearing a one-of-a kind jacket designed by Andy Warhol. 

Mike wearing a one-of-a kind jacket designed by Andy Warhol. 

        

      I’ve known Mike for almost two years now. We’re both regulars at the same bar, a place where “everybody knows your name,” and we all feel like family. Although we’ve spent countless nights together sharing stories, it wasn’t until I told him about my new adventure of starting a magazine that he shared the details of his modeling career in the 80’s and 90’s. I sat in awe listening to the amazing stories about a man I thought I knew so well, only to discover, I had no idea about his fascinating past in the fashion industry. While deciding what articles we would feature for our editorial debut, Mike’s story immediately came to mind; hence, I invited him over for dinner to conduct my very first interview as a magazine editor.

        That night Mike arrived with an old worn-out suitcase, and the most delicious sweet potato ice cream from his newest business venture, Ice Cream 504. We popped open a bottle of cheap wine, and opened up that old suitcase. Inside were hundreds of exquisite pictures, including one of Mike wearing a one-of-a kind jacket designed by Andy Warhol.

        I’ve been told a good interview should last no longer than an hour, but those people haven’t interviewed Mike Southall. Four hours and a pint of ice cream later I had learned so much about Mike and the glamorous past of the New Orleans fashion industry.

 

 

"The feel of it was glamour, and the people were so sophisticated."

 

 

    Growing up in Napoleonville, Louisiana, about an hour and half outside of New Orleans during the 70’s, Mike and his mother would visit the city every week to stroll the shops along the once alluring Canal Street. Mike explains, “It was nothing like it is today. The feel of it was glamour, and the people were so sophisticated. It was no different than Fifth Avenue in New York or Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Designers from all over the world would come to New Orleans to showcase their line and conduct personal fittings.”

        As a child he remembers walking through places like Maison Blanche, DH Holmes, and Godchaux’s, “and I can recall people staring at me. I always thought of myself as being funny looking. I was very thin and had huge eyes and full lips. It wasn’t until many years later, once I had started working, that I recognized those people who used to stare at me. They were the department store art directors, and here I was working for those people who may not have remembered me but saw something in me long before I did." 

        Much of Mike’s career as a model can be accredited to his natural ability to connect with people, as well as being in the right place at the right time. Before he began modeling, Mike worked at Liberty Financial, a local bank here in New Orleans. It was there that he met Robin Goldman, a financial banker whose real passion was modeling. Mike and Robin quickly became best friends, and oftentimes, having an affinity for fashion and clothing himself, he would accompany her to photo shoots. It wasn’t until Robin was working for Maison Blanche that Mike’s presence served a more important purpose.

        Everyday around the time the girls would be wrapping up, a police officer would wait outside of the Maison Blanche headquarters in Baton Rouge harassing the models he found attractive. He would then follow them on to the interstate, pull them over, and further harass them for their phone numbers. Feeling unsafe, Robin believed that if she had someone in the car with her, she was less likely to be harassed. So, from then on Mike rode to and from Baton Rouge with her.

 

 

"When you're new there's a certain confidence you don't have. The moment I stepped out on the runway I knew everyone there knew that I was new."

 

        During that time Maison Blanche, being the largest furrier of the South, was working on a nationwide fur campaign for which Robin was booked. On the day of the shoot one of the male models didn’t show. “They just needed a body and asked me to step in.” Once the shoot was over, the director, being so impressed with Mike’s natural ability, recommended he go to an agency. “And so I did.”

        New Images, a local modeling agency here in New Orleans, signed Mike to model for them. There he had polaroids taken. which everyone knows are not the most flattering of pictures. The very next day an international gown campaign came through town and booked Mike strictly off of those polaroids. To any model this would be considered a very big deal, but for Mike it was particularly big, as he had no portfolio and no experience modeling prior to his impromptu work with Maison Blanche.

        Soon after Mike booked his first big show. Top ethnic designers from all around had come to New Orleans to showcase their clothing lines. Although he was new to the industry and not as seasoned as one would like to be for such a big-time event, Mike was chosen to “walk.” “When you’re new there’s a certain confidence you don’t have. The moment I stepped out on the runway I knew everyone there knew that I was new.” It goes without saying that a show with such grandeur was in fact quite the learning experience for Mike.

 

" When you love what you do, you excel at it."

 

        As fate would have it, another model no-show landed Mike his first nationwide campaign. The international clothing company, Marithé François Girbaud, had come to the United States to introduce their new clothing line, showcasing Girbaud Jeans (you may remember this brand from being all the craze in the 80’s. The brand became famous after Jennifer Beals strutted her stuff while wearing them in the movie Flash Dance). As the show was moving throughout the country, they had collected models whose look and attitude they felt fit the clothes. “Oddly enough they had refused me, and then taken me by default because they needed someone.” Even though he was not a model they initially sought after, Mike turned out to be the only model they took with them to do their entire line of shows. When I asked Mike why he thinks they changed their minds and wound up taking such a liking to him after first refusing him, he replied, “That’s how runway was for me. I was too short for runway, but I was great at it because I loved it so much. When you love what you do, you excel at it.”

 

"Oh great, a black man who doesn't have gold teeth and can speak well."

 

        When New Images folded, sadly Mike and the other models at the agency were ultimately forced to sign with long time competitor, MTP. Upon his arrival to the new agency, the director at the time greeted Mike by saying, “Oh great, a black male who doesn’t have gold teeth and can speak well.” Needless to say, “That really put a bitter taste in my mouth and it was a long time before I decided to go back and sign with them.”

 

"I'm serious, and this is nothing freaky or weird."

This remarkable shot with legendary Karen O'shea is one of Mike's most impressive pieces. So impressive in fact, that it almost cost him his reputation. Anyone who saw this picture was convinced the photo was taken with the use of props that had later been airbrushed out. It wasn't until Mike collected the slides sequencing the shots leading up to and following this one that he was able to convince skeptics of its legitimacy. 

This remarkable shot with legendary Karen O'shea is one of Mike's most impressive pieces. So impressive in fact, that it almost cost him his reputation. Anyone who saw this picture was convinced the photo was taken with the use of props that had later been airbrushed out. It wasn't until Mike collected the slides sequencing the shots leading up to and following this one that he was able to convince skeptics of its legitimacy. 

        After working for MTP here in New Orleans, Mike reluctantly decided it was time to take his career to the next level. Thomas Holdorf, the photographer he had worked with while shooting the international gown campaign, had become a good friend of Mike’s. Holdorf repeatedly tried to convince Mike to move to New York, but both he and his agent were weary.  It wasn’t until Holdorf uttered the words, “I’m serious, and this is nothing freaky or weird” that Mike decisively accepted his offer.

        The morning after his arrival, Holdorf took Mike to the home of John Wright, makeup artist for German Vogue. There, having lunch, was every major supermodel of that time. Holdorf wanted to do some test shots for Mike’s portfolio, and he figured that if Mike had pictures taken with top supermodels, it would give his book the validation it deserved. One of the models chosen to work with Mike was Karen O’shea. Known for her gorgeous long legs, O’shea is someone everyone has seen, but no one knows. Having worked with every top fashion designer, Holdorf knew that if Mike shot with her, anyone worth anything who saw the shots would immediately view Mike’s work as credible. “That’s how things really got started for me.”

        Holdorf had all sorts of plans and ideas in mind for Mike’s career, including sending Mike to Chicago. “He had the connections to really make things work for me there, and knew it was the best place for me to be as a black male in the industry.” And so, following Holdorf’s advice, Mike made the move to Chicago. There he signed with Susan Johnson, an agency known for having the most elegant and beautifully statuesque models. “They really set the standard for everyone else in the industry, and everyone wanted to work for her.”
Johnson’s models were also very well connected throughout Europe, which gave Mike his ticket to working overseas. After spending some time in Chicago, and before wrapping up his career as a model, he made his European mark, first signing with PHOne in Paris, and later with Zed, an agency based out of London.

 

"Thank you, but no thank you."

 

        As glamorous as his career was, it also came with the harsh reality and struggles of being a black male in a predominantly white profession. In an industry where people aren’t afraid to speak their minds, racial stereotypes can often be passed off as brutal “honesty.” With dignity and self respect, Mike refused to let these false convictions define him.

        Master tailor, Nazareno Fonticoli, and his business partner, Gaetano Savini of the clothing brand Brioni, were known throughout the fashion industry for choosing strictly white models to do their shows. When Mike was refused at a “go-see,” his agent at the time, Lisa Tudor and art director Cheri Muller, contacted Brioni stating that if they would not allow Mike the opportunity to interview, they would no longer allow their models to be used in their future shows. Upon hearing this, Brioni reluctantly allowed Mike the opportunity to interview with them. When he arrived, they placed him at the end of the line, in the least desirable outfit of the collection. As runway was his strongest suit, Mike dazzled everyone there, including Brioni executives. 

        Afterwards, the Brioni executive and his assistant got into a heated argument over whether or not they would use Mike for the show. Before leaving, the Brioni executive approached Mike to apologize to him for the way he was treated. He then asked Mike if he would, in fact, do the show for him. Having more respect for himself than the immense opportunity of working with an international designer of his caliber, Mike simply replied, “Thank you, but no thank you.” Some time later, Brioni put on a show featuring models of several different ethnicities.

 

"Thirty years later, I see style as an evolution, a unique reflection of who you are, where you've been and where you are going." - Donna Karan

 

        His natural abilities, captivating spirit, and evident fate brought Mike a modeling career others can only dream of.  Throughout his time as a model Mike had the fortune of working with a long list of fashion greats, including, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Victor Costa, Versace, Girbaud, Armani, Willy Smith, and Calvin Klein. His fortuitous career also granted him the opportunity to shoot with Jean Paul Gaultier in his early career as a designer.

        Today Mike’s devotion is to his love of ice cream. Earlier this year he and his business partner, James Comeaux, opened up Ice Cream 504, located at 2511 Jena St (just off the corner of Freret and Jena). There, you’ll find him behind the counter scooping uniquely delicious flavors, like blueberry basil, petifore, and coconut almond, all handcrafted by Mike himself. The knowledge and skill of making ice cream passed down to him by generations before him deliver a product that is perfectly smooth and delectably creamy. I can honestly say, despite the fact that I am a fond supporter of anything created by Mike, his ice cream is undeniably delicious!

        Most models work their entire career trying to land jobs working with top notch designers. Mike didn’t grow up expecting to become a model, but life clearly had other plans for him. Being the “back-up” paved numerous roads filled with opportunities, from the start of his career with the Maison Blanche fur campaign, to a runway show celebrating the opening ceremonies of the Olympics where he was asked to sing the national anthem. For Mike it almost seemed as if destiny had brought him to the right places at the right time.

 

"Fate loves the fearless." -James Russel Lowell

- sarah r smith


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1.1.15

LOCALS WE LOVE: Harlin miller

BY: lori a. leday

    I felt excitement and confidence the night Sarah and I toasted our glasses of wine in celebration of having just booked a photographer for Felicity’s first major photo shoot.

We had previously spent days exhausting the topic of who we would select for this all important task. After meeting Harlin Miller, a 6’5” tall and very handsome photographer who came highly recommended by a friend of mine, neither one of us had a doubt in our mind that he was the man for the job. He was confident, personable, and clearly understood our vision for the shoot as well as how to bring that vision to life. We left knowing not only that we had found a photographer with whom we felt incredibly comfortable, but someone who would remain a professional contact as our magazine continued to grow. More importantly, he was someone we knew would remain a close friend of ours.

A month and one extravagant photo shoot later, I was meeting Harlin again to chat about his start in photography, his passion for food, and of course, the magic behind his amazing photos. Having already known that Harlin is somewhat of a foodie as well as an expert in cool New Orleans hangouts, I let him choose the meeting place. He introduced me to Merchant, a charming contemporary styled coffee and crepes café he had discovered while driving through the Central Business District. The very friendly barista recognized Harlin as a regular, and baited him to order the Pancetta Crepe. I had only a latte, but couldn’t contain my excitement at the fancy swirl foam on it. Harlin of course understood that I needed a moment to capture it for instagram.

As we sat down and began to discuss his start in photography, I assumed that I would hear the classic story of how he got his first camera at a young age and spent almost his entire life cultivating his photography skills. However, I was surprised to hear quite the opposite. “I had a point and shoot camera and snapped photos here and there with it, but had no real interest in photography.” Being no stranger to art, in 2003 Harlin attended the Savannah College of Art and Design where he studied Broadcast Design and Motion Graphics. The following year, after coming to the realization that he did not want to do graphic design long term, he transferred to Henderson State University in Arkansas. It was there that he took his first and only photography class. Even after taking the course, Harlin was still not convinced that photography would be a part of his future. However, in a final review of his work at Henderson State, it was his photography pieces amongst several different works of art that his teachers judged as his best, prompting Harlin to revisit the idea of taking pictures. Before traveling on a month-long road trip to several different cities across the country with his Aunt in 2009, Harlin invested in his first digital camera, a Canon Rebel T2i. He used the trip as an opportunity to experiment with his new hobby. “During the course of my trip I snapped photos of absolutely everything. When I got home I laid out all of my photos and studied them.”

As a fairly new camera owner myself and knowing all too well that certain buttons and dials look similar to a very complicated mathematical equation, I was very curious to know Harlin’s take on the best way to really learn how to take photos. I was sure that there was a best selling photography book that one could buy. However, Harlin took a more hands on approach to learning photography. ”I learned through trial and error. It took years, lots of practice, and lots of Youtube videos.” In the early phases of his career, Harlin was passing up no opportunities to grow his business and perfect his skills, taking pictures of anything from friends, to weddings, to events in the city. He focuses now on portraiture as well as fashion photography and has a particular love for any job that allows him to travel outside of the city. His portfolio includes local clients such as Hemline boutique, and local designer Jakki Kalogridis, who recently started a women’s athletic line called Nimbus. After hearing his story, I felt admiration for someone who turned his talent into a profession. It didn’t happen overnight, but instead took years of hard work and exploration.

When Harlin’s not snapping photos, he’s usually testing out the menu at one of New Orleans’ newest eateries. If you’re looking for a new place to eat around town, or even a quaint coffee shop at which to hang out, Harlin’s definitely your go-to guy. He’s passionate about food and not in the least bit shy about the fact that he loves to eat. The first time Sarah and I met with him, he showed us a list he compiled of over a hundred restaurants in the city, some being his regulars, and others he has yet to try. “There is always a new restaurant coming up in New Orleans.” Ruby Slipper, Amici, and Bouligny Tavern are just few of his favorites. He uses the Gambit’s weekly restaurant guide and review as a source of keeping up with the latest hot spots.

As I drank the last of my five star latte, and only half a crepe remained on Harlin’s plate, we began to discuss some of his favorite photographs. What interested me most were the stories behind each photo. One of my favorites is a man in a chair reading his paper on a busy street in New Orleans’ warehouse district. I was amused to hear that this photo was a spontaneous and unprompted shot of one of Harlin’s friends. And if you know anything about New Orleans’ drivers, you will understand that this was undoubtedly a risk. Fortunately, the magic was captured before a police officer put an end to all of the fun.

Talking to Harlin, and seeing him work firsthand, was also an eye opener to me as to the amount of work it takes to be a photographer. We live in a world where camera phones and Instagram make everyone feel as though they have photography skills. But in reality, sometimes long days are followed by even longer nights of reviewing and editing hundreds of photos. It’s a career that requires not only a creative and artful eye, but dedication as well as a business mindset, all qualities that Harlin possess. However, his best quality is his ability to connect with his subjects. I was impressed by the way Harlin was able to describe the personalities of everyone in his photos. Whether they were a lifelong friend or simply someone he worked with for only a day, it was evident to me that he took the time to form a relationship with each of his clients. It’s a characteristic that is strongly reflected in his work. It was no different the day of our Felicity photo shoot. After eight hours of caravanning around the city of New Orleans, we felt like a family. I quickly understood why he, instead of many others, had been recommended to us. Harlin’s impressive portfolio may be what initially draws people to him; however, it’s the experience he provides, as well as his professional, down-to-earth, and charismatic personality that draws one to work with him again and again.

-lori a. leday

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2.26.15

     Meet April Dupre, a true New Orleans native, born and raised in Mid City, with a serious passion for fitness and the city she lives in! Over the past month and half we have gotten to know April on a personal level, and trust us when we say this girl truly is a rockstar at everything she does!

     April has been into fitness her entire life, first starting out as a dancer and an athlete, then transitioning into teaching both dance and fitness, as well as becoming a personal trainer. After twelve years in the industry, working for many gyms around the city, she decided she wanted to reach more people in the community. In 2013 she formed her own fitness company, “Footprints To Fitness,” which she fittingly named after her favorite poem “Footprints In The Sand.” “This story really stuck with me and I wanted to be that support system for others to help them live healthier lives.”

     So what is it about fitness that keeps April so driven? “First, fitness allows you to challenge yourself to the point of transformation. I aim to help others learn why they’ve gotten to a certain place, versus just losing weight. Secondly, it allows you to meet others who are on their own journey. The more we allow ourselves to travel different paths in life, the more we experience. Fitness allows you to be inspired and gives you an avenue to inspire and motivate others.”

     “Join the Journey” with April in helping New Orleans become healthier - mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. She offers an amazing Boot Camp class every Saturday morning at 9am in Mid City (1995 Gentilly Blvd. Ste C-200.) She also offers Small Group, One-On-One training, Bridal Bootcamp (for brides and their bridal party), as well as corporate wellness events.

     To learn more about “Footprint in Fitness” or to get involved, you can email April at FootprintsToFitness@gmail.com or follow her on social media: www.facebook.com/FootprintsToFitness and Instagram @Footprints_To_Fitness.

The past few weeks have been a blast! However, now that the gluttonous fun of Mardi Gras has come and gone, we challenge you to drop those Carnival lbs. and get back to a healthier life style. With these simple workout routines April created just for our readers, and her purple, green, and gold guide to eating healthy, we're certain you'll be back in shape in no time!



one leg pelvic raise.jpg


April MG foods.jpg

Special thanks to photographer Quin Gordon of "With Love, Quinntography" for taking the amazing shots for April's workout, and to "Fit By You" for providing the tank top worn by April. 


- sarah r. smith
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2.4.15

FELICITY: What attracts you to this city? What’s the difference between New Orleans, and other places?                                        

ANDI: For me, New Orleans has the feel of a European city and a Caribbean city. It’s got the Haitian influence, and of course, French and Spanish influence. All of those kind of mesh together in this American place in which you can get anywhere you want to go easily. Also, it’s inexpensive to live here so young creatives can come and establish a business and make connections. I love working with those types of people. There’s not a lot of pretension; everybody just wants to help one another.                                                                                       

FELICITY: As a person who loves to travel, did you ever expect to settle down in New Orleans?                                                               

ANDI: When I got here, I thought, “I’ll hang for a bit,” and now I’m like, “Oh my God, it’s been seven years!” I was having a conversation last week with a really great friend of mine who just moved to LA, and I asked him, “Wait, am I supposed to be thinking about going somewhere else?” And he said, “Dude, you’re rocking it there. What are you worried about?” I always thought when I was old enough to go where I wanted that I would go overseas, and then I found this place, and thought, “I don’t have to do that. It’s right here,” and I can still see my parents on a two hour plane ride.                                               

FELICITY: On our website, we break down the different NOLA girls. You’re definitely a Marigny girl, right? What does being a Marigny girl mean to you?                                                                                            

ANDI: Yea, I’m a Marigny girl. It’s funny because I guess I used to be a downtown girl. I lived in the quarter the first five years I was here, and worked downtown. But, I love the Marigny for all the reasons that people coming into it are drawn to it. It’s an art heavy neighborhood. There’s lots of music, and new restaurants all over the place, like this one. The neighbors are easy and nothing’s really intense. Everyone sort of has an agreement to keep it chill. That’s the vibe here.       

FELICITY: Where do you shop in New Orleans?                                                                                                                                                            

ANDI: Where do I shop? Well, I love Hattie’s. And I shop UAL all the time.                                                                                                          

FELICITY: What’s UAL?                                                                                                                                                                                                       

ANDI: Okay, I’m about to change your entire life. UAL is in the French Quarter. It’s on Charters and St. Louis. It’s a liquidation shop, that’s a little tucked away. They have relationships with all the big design houses that don’t want their stuff sent out to TJ Maxx and Marshalls. So they sell it to UAL. You have to dig, but not a lot. If you get it at UAL, nobody else will have it. That’s my number one place for sure. Then I shop thrift and vintage.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

FELICITY: How long have you had your blog, Oui We?                                                                                                                                                   

ANDI: Well, I had a blog before Oui We that was more of a “things I love” type thing. Two years ago I began Oui We. It’s more of a personal style blog that covers the happenings in the city as well. It evolves all the time. This summer I was living on a beach and not very fashionable at the time, so I incorporated more of the travel stuff.                                                                                                                                                         

FELICITY: Does someone take all of your blog photos for you?                                                                                                                                       

ANDI: The first six months I started Oui We I took a lot of photos myself with a tripod and I didn’t love how that was going. Then I started working with a couple of photographers. The funny thing that people with a fashion blog know is that often you pull like six outfits and shoot them all in one day. So that was happening for a while. Now, as I’ve been evolving the content to be more travel and editorial focused, I have two photographers that I work with really closely all the time. It’s a lot less about the outfit and more about the story.                                    

FELICITY: As a blogger, how do you tackle constantly taking photos in your everyday life so that your readers are getting new content often?

ANDI: As iPhone apps are getting better and better, it’s gotten easier. The VSCO app is really good. I have friends that blog fully for a living and they shoot everything from their phone. If I have some things I want to shoot and I don’t have one of my photographer people available, I use my phone. Last week I grabbed my little brother and was like, “Listen, do it exactly as I tell you. Just hit the button.” {laughs} I knew he couldn’t screw up a picture with a phone. It’s not ideal but it works.                                                                                                                                   

FELICITY: How important do you think social media is to branding these days?                                                                                                     

ANDI: It’s kind of everything. There are blogs that are fully moving to being just instagram feeds versus everyday posts. I have a couple of friends who are musicians that I do styling with. I help them on their album or website shoots and I’m always getting on them to focus on their social media.                                                                                                                                                                                                                

FELICITY: What do you really want people to take away from your blog?                                                                                                                

ANDI: I write the blog because it is very much a diary for me. When people are reading it, I want them to engage in content that they find inspiring and interesting to them. Not everybody’s going to want to read it and not everyone is going to want to look at the photos, but hopefully they find something that sparks something with them. I wrote a post at the beginning of the year about everything that I was feeling and it was a little dramatic and raw. And I had like five guy friends that called, texted, or emailed me, saying, “I’m feeling the same way and thanks for saying it’s okay.” {laughs} I didn’t even know these guys looked at my blog.                                                                                                 

FELICITY: I find people really connect and relate to realness.                                                                                                                                    

ANDI: Yea. I’ve found that as my blog’s evolved, it’s kind of more brain dumping but it’s how I’m feeling. It’s just like, “Here’s what’s flowing from my space today,” and hopefully someone thinks that’s interesting. But it’s definitely not, “Don’t you just love this skirt,” because everyone does that already, and someone already has a better skirt than you’ll ever see.                                                                                                          

FELICITY: {laughs} Right! And we probably can’t afford that skirt anyway.                                                                                                                 

FELICITY: Break down the fashion scene in NOLA for us.              

ANDI: {laughs} Um, well, I wrote a whole book on it.                

FELICITY: {laughs} I’ll narrow it down for you. When I first moved here, I heard, Fashion Week New Orleans, and NOLA Fashion Week, and now you have the Southern Coalition of Fashion Design. It’s sort of confusing. Help us sort this out.                                                   

ANDI: Okay, so I started the company NOLA Fashion Week, under the NOLA Fashion Council, with a business partner who is now in New York. We began that event at the exact same time that two other companies launched fashion week type events. Everyone had their own idea of what would be best for their event.  The venues, the types of shows, the types of parties, and additional events we held were all completely different. At that time we met with, and have since many times, the gal that has Fashion Week New Orleans, and we agreed that there was a place for both of our events.                                                    

FELICITY: So yours was called?                                                         

ANDI: Mine was NOLA Fashion Week, and hers was Fashion Week New Orleans. Last year what became super clear to me was how confusing it was for people in the city. Also, my partner was moving away. We had just been named the top five fashion weeks in the south by Southern Living. We had just been covered by WWD. We had all of these good things happening, but it was confusing. After thinking through it, we determined that a rebrand was appropriate.                                                                                                     

FELICITY: Tell us about the rebrand and what we can expect from Southern Design Week.                                                                       

ANDI: We launched the new brand last season, Southern Design Week, under the new company, Southern Coalition of Fashion and Design. We are coming up on our second season, and something that I love is that we’re adding other design components that aren’t just fashion. We are working with a company that works with Ducati and Triumph, which are the highest level of design motorcycles. That’s going to be fun. We are also working with the Joy Theater and a company that puts on events there to incorporate costume design and other things.

FELICITY: So how is Southern Design Week different from Fashion Week New Orleans?                                                                                          

ANDI: The event itself has always been designer focused. You have to be a designer that is actually producing a collection of clothing. You cannot be a retail store or a boutique that wants to show the clothing that you are carrying. That’s probably the biggest difference between the two. There is a place for that, and that’s why we always agreed there is room for both. Also, ours is run very similar to New York fashion week. You get one ticket to one show. For us that was a very important component. Each designer has their own show, whether that is in the same venue as the other show or not. We certainly do four runway shows in one night, but you have to be ticketed for each of those shows. If one designer says, “I want to be in an art gallery,” then there's an opportunity for that. We also show twice a year, because that is the normal collection process.                                                                                                                                                                                                          

FELICITY: So, where do you begin when you decide you want to write a book? Was that something you had been thinking about for a while, or just a middle of the night thought?                                                                                                                                                                                      

ANDI: My husband, Micah, and I were sitting and having drinks one night and I told him “This summer I want to focus on traveling and writing. That’s what I want to do.” The next morning, I got an email from the publisher, The History Press, telling me they wanted to have a meeting about this book series that they were working on. I assumed that they wanted me to contribute a paragraph or chapter.

FELICITY: So, they randomly emailed you? Do you know them?                                                                                                                                

ANDI: No, I didn’t know them. They found me through the blog and through fashion week. They wanted to start a new series on style in different cities. They said, “We’ve been following your stuff and we think you should write the one for New Orleans.” And I was like, “I should write it? Ok, sure, let’s do it!” Then I thought, “Oh my God, what did I get myself into?” I committed on the phone that morning and I was a little hungover from drinking too much wine the night before. I woke my husband up and said, “Babe, I’m going to write a book.” And he said, “I know, we just talked about it last night.” And I was like, “No, someone actually wants me to.” {laughs}                                                                                       

FELICITY: That’s insane that you had that discussion the night before and then the next day they called you.                                                     

ANDI: Yea. So then I think I had three weeks to get a pitch packet together with images, chapter outlines, who I would interview, and what the stories would be. All of a sudden, I realized, “This is real, and this is going to happen super fast.” The cool thing is that this one is the first of the series, so there was no structure that I had to follow that had already been set before mine.                                                                             

FELICITY: And you have past writing experience, right?                                                                                                                                                 

ANDI: Yea, I’ve written for magazines, different publications, and different online things, but never 32,000 words. {laughs}                       

FELICITY: And you wrote the whole thing in Spain, right? How did that come about?                                                                                              

ANDI: The whole Spain trip was perfect because we stayed at a house that my friend owns. Our lease here was ending, so my husband and I put all of our stuff in storage, booked a one way ticket, and left. It was very gypsy living. Before we went I had done the entire outline and all the visuals, so I knew what it was going to look like and I knew the structure. I also had done a lot of research. So I brought all of that with me, got there and approached it like a nine to five job. I got up every morning and wrote five days a week for the first four weeks and I got a lot done doing that. And we had friends visiting, so my husband had stuff to do during the day. By dinner time I was done and we could go play on the beach, since it was light until 10 pm. And then I’d start it all again the next day. That’s how I approached it, so it got done really fast. Once the manuscript was done, then I could do the bibliography, index, and editing stuff.                                                                                                               

FELICITY: During the process did you constantly have to submit things to your publisher?                                                                                    

ANDI: All the time. Have you seen that episode of Girls where she’s writing a book and stabbing herself in the head with a Q-Tip? I was chatting online with my best girlfriend, and I told her, “I’m going to start stabbing myself in the head with a Q-Tip, because I can’t get anything out today.” But the publishers, were like “You’re fine. You’re submitting everything on time, it’s fine."                                                                                   

FELICITY: So, are you working on something now?                                                                                                                                                          

ANDI: I am working on the outline for another book now. The idea is mainly in my head. I’m going to pitch it to a couple of different publishers. It’s going to be travel and style, I’ll tell you that much.                                                                                                                                              

FELICITY: Of course, we all want to work for ourselves, but at the end of the day you have to support yourself. As an entrepreneur, how do you translate having an idea into a career?                                                                                                                                                                              

ANDI: First, having a mentor is tremendously important. None of us is doing anything totally brand new, right? So find someone that is doing the job that you want to do yourself one day and get everything you can from them. We’re never too old to look out there and see who’s doing what we want to be doing and connect with those people. Secondly, if you want to work for yourself, look for where your effort and revenue opportunity intersect. Is there something that will get you paid in what your effort is? For example, if you want to write all the time, and no one’s paying you to do it, figure out what you need to adjust slightly to get the money to support that hobby. Oftentimes I think it’s easy to say, “Follow your passion, follow your dream.” Yes, do that, but figure out how you’re going to pay for that. Really great entrepreneurs do that really well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

FELICITY: Styling, blogging, running an organization, and publishing a book? You do it all!                                                                                            

ANDI: I have a really great team of people that help me. It’s funny because any time I get asked the question “How do you do all of this?” I’m like, "The eight amazing women that are seniors in school doing it as an internship, and they’re totally rad and make things happen, that’s how." The girls that work on SCFD are just major. I may get the credit, but they are really who make it awesome.                                                          

FELICITY: As a career woman do you think that you can have it all? A family, as well as a successful career?                                                       

ANDI: Yea, I mean, I never really thought about it any other way.                                                                                                                               

FELICITY: Me neither, but people definitely do.                                                                                                                                                                 

ANDI: People do. But, I guess, I grew up in a family of exceptionally badass women who were just like, “This is just how it goes. You decide what you want to be, and you will find people to connect to you who get that.” So, growing up I really never thought of it any other way. It was just like okay great, good to know this is just how the world works.

Visit Andi's blog | Oui We                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 SCFD | Southern Design Week                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

lori a. leday

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3.24.15

Photos by Laura Steffan

www.laurasteffan.com

lori a. leday

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3.19.15

BEHIND THE COMPETITION:

a sneak peek at three of nola fashion week's top designers

By: lori a. leday

With only three days until the start of New Orleans Fashion Week,  the top design competitors are no doubt stitching, fitting, pinning, and scrambling to complete their showcases.  I caught up with Jamie Rogers, Thomas Kitchen, and Kristine Pichon, three of the ten competitors, to learn what fuels their passion for design as well as what we can expect to see from their NOLA Fashion Week  collections. What I discovered was three talented, inspiring,  and passion-driven  individuals willing to pull all the all-nighters necessary to achieve their design dreams. I can't wait to see what they have in store for us next week!

For a full list and bio of all the Top Design Competitors and schedule of events visit:

New Orleans Fashion Week

 


Sneak peak at Jamie Roger's collection inspiration: 


Designs by Thomas Kitchen:


Auction pieces and mood board by Kristine Pichon:

lori a. leday 

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3.16.15

instagram 101 with laura steffan

By: sarah r smith

     Born and raised in Mandeville, Louisiana, Laura frequently visited New Orleans during her childhood and quickly gained a profound love for the city. As soon as she was able, Laura packed her bags and headed to the south shore. Here she attended the University of New Orleans, where she studied photography and printmaking. Much of her free time was spent exploring and getting to know the local side of New Orleans. While wandering around photographing the charm and magic found in the unique neighborhoods, her love affair with the city grew even deeper. 

     "New Orleans has been a huge source of inspiration for my photography, and I started to take Instagram more seriously when I focused on capturing the homes and beautiful scenes found in Uptown, the Bywater, Marigny, and French Quarter."  She quickly started to gain recognition and built up followings from local instagrammers. Earlier this year, in the January addition of Gambit Weekly's CUE, Laura was featured as one of four local inspiring Instagram accounts to follow in New Orleans. Currently, she is in the process of making her first photo book - a photographic ode to the unique details one can only find among the historical homes and architecture of our city. This collection of roughly 60 pictures documents Laura's exploration of the city over the past 8 months. You can also purchase prints of photographs featured on her website, www.laurasteffan.com.

     With the rapid evolvement of cell phone cameras and photo editing apps, we had to ask - "In your opinion do you feel using a professional camera is becoming a dying art?"  "I use a Canon DSLR, but I honestly use my iPhone more than my actual camera these days. Camera phones and smartphone apps just keep improving, not to mention they are easier and more convenient to carry around than a professional camera. All of my Instagram photos were taken on my iPhone 5s, but I have seen photos taken by professionals on the iPhone 6, and they are just amazing. It is becoming more challenging to differentiate a photo that is taken on a professional camera and one taken on a cell phone."

     Professionally, Laura's main focus is on portraiture. In addition, she photographs weddings and engagement sessions. Her real passion, however, is to travel more often and photograph her surroundings. "I love nature and find joy in photographing landscapes." Fittingly, her dream is to one day work for National Geographic. We say, with such a keen eye and natural ability, the sky is the limit for this skilled young photographer and we look forward to seeing where her talents take her!

Be sure to follow us during Southern Design Week and New Orleans Fashion week, when Laura will be taking over our Instagram to deliver runway coverage like only this girl can!  (@felicitynola)

Until then, here are her top 5 tips for taking incredible Instagram photos like a professional.


 

 

 

Want to learn more about Laura and see all of her amazing photography?

 

CHECK OUT

www.laurasteffan.com

 

FOLLOW

@lsteffan

 

- sarah r. smith


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3.12.15

LOcals we love: hans billot

by: sarah r. smith

In yet another fortuitous event leading up to the launch of Felicity, Hans Billot could not have walked into my life at a more perfect time. After hearing me chatter away about the planning of our first photo shoot as I got my hair done at Keith Noonan Salon, Hans kindly volunteered to style the hair for our models. He didn’t know me, or anything about the magazine for that matter, but saw an opportunity to share his talents with us.  There isn’t much this hospitable, lively, and accomplished man wouldn’t do to help out another. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the story of someone I consider to not only be my hair stylist, but my friend.

HANSsquare.JPG

"Born in the greater New Orleans area I started working in the service industry when I was fifteen; I jumped from job to job due to the lack of a creative outlet. After years of seeing my wife and friends pursue their careers as stylists and colorists, I was inspired to step into the beauty industry. Now, everyday I’m excited to go to work at the salon. I never know what challenges will come my way or who will sit in my chair. In this ever growing and constantly changing field I see the possibility to use  my creativity and hard work to make a meaningful impact on the lives and self-esteems of my clients. Every day I am graced with the opportunity to meet new people, to share in both their struggles and successes and I am fortunate enough to be doing what I love. It was a long road to get where I am now, but at the same time I know this journey is just getting started and I can’t wait for each day. I hope to see you from behind the chair."

-Hans Billot

- sarah r. smith

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4.13.15

When Danielle Granger moved to this city only two short years ago, she immediately adopted the “say yes” mentality that New Orleans generally dawns in each of us. Fueled by her connection to the city and her desire to do something that showed that love, she began her blog, Show Me Your Nola. It now has an instagram following of over 7,000, as well as an infamous hashtag (#showmeyournola) that visitors and locals alike use to share their city experiences. Among being a blogger, foodie, and all around entrepreneur, Danielle also runs a social media consulting business called Sociologie. We had the pleasure of chatting with Danielle, and her passion for New Orleans was apparent in the way she spoke about the city, its people, and its amazing food! "Marinate in the local" and enjoy a few of Danielle's favorite mouth-watering NOLA treats!   

 


Visit: Show Me Your Nola

Social Media Management: Sociologie

@showmeyournola

Follow the links below for more information on the featured restaurants:

 Baru- Latin Caribbean bistro & tapasLilly's Cafe | Verti Marte |  Root | Santa Fe | 1000 Figs | Horns | Red's Chinese | Bacchanal Wine | Cochon Butcher | MiMi's in the Marigny | Maurepas | The Milk Bar | Hi Volt | Midway Pizza | Sno Bliz | Johnny Sanchez 

 

lori a. leday 

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9.17.15

By: sarah r. Smith

To be completely honest, prior to writing this article I thought I had a decent understanding of the art of drag. I soon found out that I've been completely in the dark about just how vast the spectrum of today's modern drag scene has become. It used to be that my idea of a drag queen was reminiscent to that of Patrick Swayze in "To Wong Foo," but those times have changed, sister! Traditional drag will always be the magnum opus of drag styles. However, in comparison to the vivid styles that have since evolved, classic drag now almost feels a bit conventional. Modern drag is a culture of kinky creatives with extravagant personalities. Each take a unique style and approach to the art of performance, with influences of gender identity, social scenes, subcultures, decade trends, and personality traits.

With such a strong influence on individualism, it's no surprise that New Orleans is home to such a vibrant and progressive drag community. Down here "weird" is the social norm, and imagination and artistry are our bread and butter. Last week our city hosted the oh-so fabulous Southern Decadence, celebrating the LGBT community. In lieu of the event, we figured what better time than now to shine a big bright light on the wonderful world of drag by featuring four local performers: Vinsantos, Eureeka Starfish, LibeRaunchy, and Glamdromeda, and their take on the culture of drag in New Orleans.


photograph by: Jon Gunnar Glyfason Photography     |   jongunnarphoto.com

photograph by: Jon Gunnar Glyfason Photography     |   jongunnarphoto.com

 

Felicity Magazine: How did you get your start as a drag performer?

Vinsantos: When I was in my mid 20's I was in various bands and didn't really consider drag to be a "real" art form. My attitude towards the lip-sync arts was pretty shitty. In my mind I believed "that's just pretending to play music!" Then one night I got invited to Trannyshack. I was newly single, and though I wasn't looking forward to sitting through a tired drag show, I wanted to meet some boys. As soon as the show started my mind was changed completely. There was one queen named Putanesca. She came out and did a fierce rendition of an AC/DC song and rocked my world. I can remember thinking in that moment "I could totally do that." A few weeks later I was performing in other queens' numbers. A month later I had my first solo debut as Wendy O'Williams and brought the house down (and a stack of old televisions.) I was hooked. Only a year later I was crowned Miss Trannyshack. Not long after that the Vinsantos character began to form and was incorporated into my live music and over the top performance art pieces. 

FM: Do you ascribe to a specific drag title?

V: I ascribe as a Drag Performer/Queer Witch. As a drag artist, I am currently working with the more traditional notions of drag, but like to leave myself open to more avant-garde and character based drag as well. As a Queer Witch I use my powers to influence people's emotional states. I like to leave my audience touched on a deeper level, sometimes through comedy, other times through drama. The ideal scenario for me is when I can take and audience member from being overjoyed with laughter straight through to being an emotional wreck all in one show. I like to relate to my audience on a more sentimental and personal level. 

FM: In terms of personality and style, what inspired your drag name and persona?

V: My drag name transpired as a result of a long line of nicknames given to me by my best friend, Rikki. My father is an immigrant from Southern Italy. He has a thick accent and his own list of nicknames for me based off of my birth name, Vincenzo. I started using this name while Rikki and I were in a band called Agnes. I chose to use this adopted name early on and decided that it would be used for any and all of my art projects. For many years the Vinsantos character was mostly associated with a harlequin influence. A little tragic, a lot of glamour, while remaining a total chameleon at the same  time. It wasn't until a few years ago that Lady Vinsantos presented herself. Having grown up in the Lowrider scene of San Jose, CA, she definitely has a hard shell that surrounds her severe eyeliner, eyebrows, and attitude. As a Renaissance type of artist, I tend to get really bored very quickly, so these changes really help to inspire me and keep me awake.

FM: Tell us about the New Orleans Drag Workshop and how you formed it.

V: When I moved to New Orleans from San Francisco, I was on stage in the first week, already making a few waves here and there. I was adopted into the burlesque scene pretty early on by Bella Blue. I was working a lot more in variety shows than in drag shows. I think I was spoiled by the alternative and more avant-garde scene that I was used to in San Francisco. I was also enchanted by the traditional Southern drag. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a fan of all drag; all genders, all styles, and all levels, as long as the performers are committed to their art. A small alternative drag scene was starting to blossom and I wanted to be a real part of that. At this point I had been doing drag for MANY years. I started to notice the little things that bugged me as an audience member and as a performer. I began to use that judgment and decided to channel it into a more positive direction. There was already a solid traditional structure for the Southern girls, which was a new idea for me. I never had a traditional drag mother to show me the ropes. I took it upon myself to to adopt all the drag orphans in town that wanted to explore what it means to be a drag performer without judgment or tradition. It all started as an experiment and ended up being a transformative process for both the students and myself. 

FM: How would you say the workshop is changing the landscape of drag in the city?

V: It makes me laugh when some of the other more close minded queens look down their poorly contoured nines at the workshop and have it in their heads that because we aren't all cookie cutter, we aren't doing drag. The most exciting part of the workshop is the variety of styles, stories, and interpretations of drag that have been put out into the world. At the workshop we welcome everyone as long as they can promise to show up to class on time and work hard. Some come just to try it. Some come looking for professional careers in drag. Some come just to find the boost of confidence the need in life and leave with that very sense, which they can apply to their everyday lives. It takes a lot of guts to get on stage in front of a crowd and own the moment. Drag is a very powerful tool. I definitely think having the workshop here has given the New Orleans drag scene a broader spectrum of what drag can be. [Now] there are more drag shows with a greater variety. After all, who wants to see the same thing over and over? Not me!

Want to know more about Vinsantos? :

Follow via Facebook as Vinsantos or check out Vinsantos' collection of Assemblage Art Dolls "inspired by the beauty and nightlife that I'm constantly surrounded by"  @ www.tresorgallery.com


photograph by: Jon Gunnar Glyfason Photography     |    jongunnarphoto.com

 

Felicity Mag:  You've coined the term "Beaux Queen." Explain for us what a Beaux Queen is, and how you came up with the name.

LibeRaunchy:  "Beaux Queen is a term that I made up because I couldn't find a term that accurately described what I do. Drag Queens are traditionally men performing as women, "Faux Queens" are women performing as women, and "Drag Kings" are women performing as men. My alter ego, LibeRaunchy, is an effeminate boy, so I don't really fit into any of those categories. As a play on the term "Faux Queen" I cam up with "Beaux Queen". Traditionally the term "beau" refers to a foppish dandy or a boyfriend and suggests handsome boyishness. "Beaux" also refers to artistic and ornate beauty. As I was developing LibeRaunchy, it was clear he was an effeminate young man, in a category all his own.  

FM:  How do you predict drag style will evolve in New Orleans? 

LR:  My hope is that New Orleans will continue to embrace an evolution of other-ness. We have our own brand of weird here and I, as an artist, appreciate being surprised by new things and new ideas. There is an existing base of traditional drag style here, but I hope that the community and audiences will continue to enjoy the evolution of new ideas.

FM: How have you seen the spectrum of gender identity emerge in drag?

LR: Years ago there was a performer called "The Famous Bob," who was a woman performing as a female in drag. Nowadays the term Faux Queen, like the performer "Fauxnique," has been coined to refer to women who perform drag as women. In cities like San Francisco, and now New Orleans, we are seeing more styles of drag performance emerging in which people can portray a variety of genders or non-genders. What ties them all together is the concept that drag is about creating a living caricature through performance and art. 

FM: It's clear you're a creative gal. Other than your performances as LibeRaunchy, what are some other ways you express your creativity?

LR: At the core I'm an artist, which comes out in everything I do. I'm a full time makeup artist, which is truly a passion of mine. When I can work on an artistic photo shoot I'm in my element. I also design hats at The Great Hatsby and occasionally still create cakes at Nola Voodoo Cakes. LibeRaunchy is evolving too and I may bring back some of my original music into the performances. I am also very active in the parade krewe culture. I'm co-captin of the Mystic Krewe of P.U.E.W.C., a sub-krewe of Chewbacchus, and captain of the Marching Mickeys (which celebrates the style and philanthropy of Mickey Easterling). I'm on the board of the St. Catherine's Day Hat Parade and last year I was Queen of Krewe Dat 504. I also volunteer for krewes like Joan of Arc and Barkus. 

FM: As a makeup artist by trade, what tips and/or tricks you can share with our readers?

LR: Don't be intimidated and be willing to let yourself make mistakes as you try something new. Collect images of faces that look like you and makeup styles that you like [then] consider how your bone structure plays into these looks. Watch tutorials with people who have similar bone structures as yourself, and practice, practice, practice! It can take awhile to learn something new and you mustn't be too hard on yourself during the learning process. Also, keep in mind that drag makeup is the complete opposite of beauty makeup. In beauty makeup we enhance the existing bone structure. In drag we reinvent it.

FM: Where can we see you perform? 

LR:  I co-host a monthly party with my friend Eureeka Starfish at Voodoo Lounge called "Kawaii as F.U.K.C." which stands for Fashion Underground Kawaii Club. It is a monthly dance party with costume contests, themed drag performances, and prizes from our sponsor Kawaii Nola. 

Want to know more about LibeRaunchy? 

Follow via instagram as @LibeRaunchy and @KawaiiASfukc or on Facebook as LibeRaunchy and Kawaii as FUKC. 

 


Photograph taken by David S. White.

Photograph taken by David S. White.

 

Felicity Magazine: Who is your muse when it comes to your performances and overall style?

Glamdromeda: I really let the music be my inspiration of any particular performance. I have a pretty diverse taste, so I try to let the music inform both my aesthetic choices as well as the performance. 

FM: Many people outside the drag scene don't know much about Faux Queens. Can you give us a brief description of the art of Faux Queen drag.

G: I didn't know much about it either until I started. If you've ever seen the movie "Victor Victoria" with Julie Andrews, it's basically that; a female female impersonator. 

FM: What are some of the challenges you've faced as a Faux Queen, and where do see the future of it evolving within New Orleans?

G: For me, it's a mixture akin to competing in a male-dominated sport. I don't ever want anyone to feel like I'm treading on their turf … I have the utmost respect for drag queens and the huge place they have had in the gay rights movement over the years. The art of drag is something I have loved intensely for nearly my entire life. At the same time, I almost feel like I need to try twice as hard to  prove myself and sure that others realize I take this seriously. Those feelings inform my feelings about the future of it. There are some incredible faux queens out there who really push the limits of performance art and gender-bending, like Fauxnique, Holy McGrail, and Crimson Kitty, but anyone interested in becoming a faux queen needs to realize it is so much more than throwing on a wig and a sparkly dress. Here in New Orleans, with such a strong costuming culture, almost every woman I know has those things in her closet, but dressing up for Mardi Gras or Halloween is not the same as undergoing a transformative act, becoming another persona, and developing your own style of performance art.

FM: Do you do any other types of performance art? How has this affected your drag performances?

G: I grew up doing theatre and ballroom dance, so those aspects of theatricality and movement definitely influence my performance choices. After I graduated college, I stopped doing any sort of acting, but over the last year or so, drag has helped me reconnect with the aspects of performance art that I love and have missed.

FM: What are the best parts of being a drag performer? What are some of the biggest challenges?

G: I love the solo, self-contained aspects of drag versus theatre. So many weeks of rehearsals can go into mounting a live play, but even while I'm taking a break from performing, I can still work on new material in the mean time by learning new songs and lip syncing in my car on the way to work. The biggest challenge is drawing eyebrows. Seriously. I HATE EYEBROWS. 

Want to know more about Glamdromeda? :

Follow via instagram as @Miss_Malaprop and learn more about her drag and performance art on her web page, www.missmalaprop.com/glamdromeda/.


Photograph by Jon Gunnar Glyfason Photography     |     jongunnarphoto.com

Photograph by Jon Gunnar Glyfason Photography     |     jongunnarphoto.com

 

Felicity Magazine: How long have you been performing drag? Where did you begin?

Eureeka Starfish: I started out in a club called "The Castle" in Greenville, South Carolina, late November of 2012. They had talent shows there every Sunday, and one day I just decided to do one, and bam! EUREEKA was born! It has been almost three years since I first started doing drag, and it's been a really interesting journey coming from such a small town in South Carolina to moving to New Orleans.

FM: Your fashion and style is very new and colorful. Give us some insight behind the cultural influences that inspire your look.

ES: My influences come from all over the place, like cartoons and high fashion of sorts, but my biggest influence is the Japanese Harajuku street fashion scene. It is so untamed, outlandish, and colorful. It has inspired me so much since my teen years and [it] gives me so much joy seeing all of these amazing creative kids creating so many amazing looks. It's almost a religious presentation for them. It's such a dedicated and passionate thing and that's what I love the most about it.

FM: What are the best aspects vs. the biggest challenges of being a drag queen?

ES: The best part is [that] I get to say almost whatever I want; the great joy of entertaining people and showcasing creativity and art. The biggest challenge is organizing my massive closet of costumes and wigs.

FM: How has performing in New Orleans changed your drag style in terms of your costumes, makeup, and overall look?

ES: My style hasn't changed much except that it has just evolved and I've definitely felt even more inspired by how amazing and colorful New Orleans is. This place is not like anywhere else I've ever been in my entire life. The architecture and history of this city has influenced me the most and has tapped into my heart very deeply. 

FM: Are there any performers in New Orleans that have inspired you in a positive way?

ES:  Ooops the Clown, Vinsantos, Moanalot Fontaine, LibeRaunchy, Charlotte Treuse, Bella Blue, and Trixie Minkx … to name a few.

FM: How do you see drag fashion, makeup, and slang influencing street wear and mainstream fashion? Do you see example in New Orleans fashion?

ES: The way I've perceived how slang, street wear, and mainstream culture move is that it's a recycling of all things. Not trying to be specific, but many things in subcultures have always influenced new ideas for the mainstream and continue even to this day. I see examples of these things not just throughout New Orleans culture, but all over the world.

Want to know more about Eureeka Starfish? :

Follow via instagram as @eureekastarfish or via Facebook as Eureeka Starfish and/or Benjamin Murray. Eureeka also performs regularly at The Always Lounge, and also hosts regular dance/drag/costume parties at the Voo Doo Lounge. 


Special thanks to Jon Gunnar Glyfason Photography for taking these amazing shots for us.

For more of Jon Gunnar's work visit www.jongunnarphoto.com

|     Thumbnail by: David S. White     |

- sarah r. smith