I don’t often do editorial photoshoots, with avantgarde hair and makeup… but when the opportunity arises, I go all out. Kirameki Magazine asked me to be the cover model for their 10th anniversary issue, and I brought in my talented Vancouver team to create these images.
I’m so happy with how the images turned out. All the credit goes to my team:
Kirameki is a fashion magazine with a theme for each issue. We interpreted “Asiatique” with makeup and styles from a variety of Asian influences.
This look is inspired by kawaii Harajuku anime-eyes, and Japanese street fashion. The two hair rolls almost look like cat ears — the look is very “me,” don’t you think?
I’m wearing a Moi-meme-Moitie graveyard dress (the print is called Sleeping Garden), bought in Tokyo. This brand was created by Mana, guitarist/leader of Malice Mizer and Moi dix Mois, if you aren’t familiar with it. I also wore this EGL (Elegant Gothic Lolita) dress to the LA Oscars party.
Ankle boots: hair stylist’s own
Tights: Jonathan Aston
We collected fresh flowers and placed them all around the bed. Downtown Vancouver’s Georgian Court Hotel generously let us shoot these images in one of their suites. (I previously reviewed this luxury boutique hotel; it’s one of my hometown favorites.)
The Georgian Court even let us shoot in their whirlpool, resulting in these dramatic underwater images!
Forever grateful to makeup artist Jennifer Little, who went into the water to help me float — or else I wouldn’t have managed these poses!
Stunning, the kabuki-like mask that she painted on my face.
Kimono robe: makeup artist’s own, a vintage silk number.
For the third look, I’m wearing a traditional sequined Chinese dress called a cheoungsam. I got it in an Asian fashion boutique.
My hair got some poof thanks to a 1980s crimper. The blue color, cut and styling are by Stephanie Hoy — ask for her at Avant Garde Hair in Yaletown, Vancouver!
Love the mood captured by Shimona Henry, who runs Pin Up Perfection in Vancouver. As the name indicates, she’s a pro at pin up and alternative portraits. She’s fast and fun to shoot with, and I’m excited to do more with her soon.
A behind-the-scenes peek at Jennifer, me, and Stephanie. Wish we could have had a slumber party at the Georgian Court.
Hugs for my team — I love how the photos and concept came together, and couldn’t have done this without you!
And thank you to Kirameki Magazine for honoring me with the cover. I hope you’ll order a copy of the magazine – both digital and print copies are available. You don’t want to miss the full spread and extensive interview with me, along with other inspiring Asia fashion features.
Which of these three styles do you like best? What do you think of these more dramatic looks on me?
Readers often ask me: “Where can I buy Jrock CDs and Visual Kei memorabilia in Tokyo?”
In this post, I’ll take you to some of my favorite musical haunts in Shinjuku: Book Off, Closet Child Mens, and Pure Sound. At the bottom of this post, you’ll find more info about J-rock stores in Harajuku and Ikebukuro.
My shopping partner of the day was Yukiro Dravarious, wearing signature purple and lots of kitty-cat influences.
Who says Goths can’t rock neon? The Japanese taxi in the back matches the look.
I hadn’t brushed out my curls yet, but this gives you a sense of the blue-green shaded color. The scarf is by Sex Pot Revenge, and the sunglasses are old ones by Salvatore Ferragamo.
We first stopped by Book-Off, which has various locations. One is located near the Southern Terrace and Shinjuku station south exit.
Inside, you’ll find tons of used music and magazines. We picked up recent copies of Kera and Gothic Lolita Bible, and Yukiro even found Malice Mizer cds for about $2 each!
We walked to the West side of Shinjuku station, and spotted these rock-style boys looking at music posters. Obviously, we were in the right place…
Here is a map of Closet Child Men’s; you may need to walk around a bit to find it.
On one side of the small store, you’ll find tons of J-rock and Visual Kei memorabilia, including special edition CDs and concert booklets. Many young people hang around, browsing for treasure, like this green haired girl.
Note: only the Men’s and Ikebukuro branches of Closet Child sell music as well as clothing.
On the other side, there’s a nice selection of Goth, punk and alternative men’s fashion. These brands include unisex ones like Super Lovers and Sexy Dynamite.
Right next door is Pure Sound, a Jrock-oriented music shop. When you see the giant posters of boys with teased colored hair and makeup, you’re there.
Pure Sound often has special events, such as band signings. If so, the shop may be temporary closed, and there could be a long lineup of fans.
All your favorite VK music is sold inside, like Penicillin, The Gazette, Golden Bomber and more.
Tip: pick up the free band flyers at the front of the shop. You can used these to decorate your walls.
A smaller rock music shop nearby also sells some used Lolita and Harajuku fashion.
The best place to shop for secondhand Goth Lolita Punk clothes, however, remains Closet Child. This is a snap of the upper “rock” floor of the Shinjuku location. (For more info about the various branches of CC, see my Tokyo shopping guide.)
I leave you with some close-ups of Yukiro’s cute accessories. A zombie doll…
… a cute faced plush cat.
Bright pink sneakers and mis-matched socks, a Harajuku staple.
Want more Jrock posts? Check out my collection of concert reviews including Dir en Grey, X Japan and Moi dix Mois.
There are also more Visual Kei merchandise stores in Harajuku; I’ve listed a few at the bottom of this comprehensive guide.
Which bands are currently on your playlist? Share your favorites with us in the comments!
Tons more Tokyo coverage coming right up — including the owl cafe, Heavy Pop Harajuku party and a horror themed bar. Be sure to add my Instagram for previews of my Asia adventures.
Are there drag queens in the Middle East? There certainly are — in Tel Aviv, at least!
I’m endlessly intrigued by how subcultures exist (and even thrive) worldwide, especially in regions where being LGBT is grounds for persecution. In the conservative Middle East, Israel is an anomaly: the ancient land is home to a progressive nightlife. And as you will see, it’s fabulous.
On our itinerary, the Israel Tourism Board set aside time for us to explore gay clubs (yes, they are that awesome). The parties don’t start pumping until after midnight, and run until dawn or whenever the crowd decides to go home. My favorite was Evita (Yavne St 31, Tel Aviv), the city’s oldest gay bar. On Friday nights, entrance is free and there is a drag queen performance.
Everyone was so friendly at Evita; people chatted us up and got us dancing. The drag queens came to greet the regulars and goof around for photos.
The club has a mixed crowd — gay, straight, lesbian, etc — giving the party a wonderfully inclusive feeling. In fact, this was one of best alternative nights I’ve ever been to, living up to Tokyo, Berlin, LA, NYC, London and more.
DJ Shlomi Levi has the best name ever. He only broke his stone-faced expression once, to stick out his tongue.
The music was pure fun. Easy, fabulous dance tracks, with some hits and classics thrown in. The club brings in international DJs, like Hansel and Hansel from Switzerland…
… and who can resist a taste of Italia?
I loved watching Osh-Ree work the stage. He’s been a nightlife figure for years, and you can’t help but smile when he sings.
Between the songs, he and K-Long bantered in Hebrew. But the message is clear: “ohohohoh” and “Funtastico” are universal words in the drag queen lexicon!
Osh-Ree told us the gay scene has come a long way in Israel, ever since it was legalized in 1988. Now, Tel Aviv is one of the world’s top LGBT travel destinations, with dozens of parties and a big annual Pride Parade. With no curfew, Israelis party hard and long. Osh-Ree also said, “In this part of the world, you never know when it might be your last night to dance.”
So you might as well enjoy the male stripper and his tiny red undies while you can.
He brought both men and women onstage, and did racy, “acrobatic maneuvers” with them.
Drag queens in cities like San Francisco might stun you with their elaborate sets and dance routines. But I had just as much fun at Evita, where it’s all about having a raucous good time.
The duo sings and dances — no need for lip synching or gimmicks.
My filmmakers are cutting together the travel video now, but here’s a preview of the drag queen show on VideofyMe. (Photography by me, Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann.)
We checked out several other fabulous places in Tel Aviv. The Brown Hotel is a new, LGBT-friendly boutique hotel with a lobby decorated in retro-kitsch. So much fun, sipping cocktails at the bar and exploring the rooftop .
My team and I also went to a massive club, Ha’oman 17 (Abarbanel 88, Tel Aviv-Yafo), which has hosted international DJS like Paul Van Dyk and Tiësto. It’s also the site of Shirazi’s FFF gay parties…
… and as you can see, they’re extremely popular! I’ve never seen so many men crammed into two floors, moving to the throb of electronic music.
If you’re in the mood for bar-hopping, I suggest wandering around Rothschild Boulevard. This wide, tree-lined street is a center of Tel Aviv nightlife.
I’m a fan of Nanushka (Lilenblum 30, Tel Aviv), a nearby bar and restaurant that serves Georgian food.
I saw lots of groups of friends eating and laughing. On the walls, there were mannequin heads in military caps.
Nanushka has several funky rooms, including an outdoor space strung with Christmas lights.
I didn’t get a chance to try the Georgian food here (we were already eating so well in Israel!), but it’s a good excuse to come back.
Did you know Tel Aviv has such a colorful gay scene? Are you surprised by the nightlife here?
Coming up — I’ll show you what the drag queen acts are like in Cape Town, South Africa!
While in New York for my recent TV shoot, I stayed at the newly-opened The Paper Factory Hotel. It’s a 100-year-old industrial space that has been transformed into an artsy hotel, with a magnificent view from the rooftop.
Come, and let’s explore a Factory that would delight Andy Warhol…
How amazing is the NYC skyline from the hotel’s rooftop? (All images by Ryan Edwardson Photography)
The purple knit top is Candy Stripper, found at Closet Child. My blue animal print dress is from Siam Discovery Center in Bangkok.
What a joy to explore this rooftop area, covered in intriguing graffiti like the words “Memento Mori.” This building has so much history: a century ago, it was a paper factory.
Today, it’s a 122-room hotel that is uber-modern and comfy, while preserving the historic manufacturing vibe. Old machine parts have become works of art, placed all around.
The Paper Factory Hotel is located in an unexpected place: Long Island City / Astoria in Queens. (Address: 37-06 36th Street, Long Island City, New York).
Sounds far? Not at all: the location is just across the East River from Manhattan, and meters from two subway stops. Ride the metro for 15 minutes, and you’re in midtown.
“Moshi moshi?” I loved playing around with the eclectic objects around the hotel. These included a British telephone booth, Thai rickshaw, Vespa, and vintage kid-sized automobiles.
These days, the main function of phones is for selfie-taking, rather than making calls…
The Paper Factory Hotel cleverly pays tribute to its former incarnation. I noticed elements like a polished concrete floor, inset with clippings from 19th-century Queens newspapers.
Althought I lived in Manhattan for years while attending school, I never explored Long Island City. Today, it’s become an emerging hip neighborhood, with a relaxed industrial vibe.
The lobby has a cafe — you can tell I’m pleased with my giant cup of coffee. Within walking distance, there were plenty of affordable local cafes and pubs. (And this area is safe, so don’t worry about walking around at night.)
The staff was lovely, and I hope I can be back for the summer opening of Mundo, a earthy Mediterranean restaurant. The downstairs area may also be converted into a club or gallery space.
The Paper Factory Hotel often hosts art exhibits and workshops. They’re right by the Noguchi museum, MoMA PS1, and the Museum of the Moving Image.
I’m 100% behind their mission to encourage creativity and collaboration. The website states: “We will help connect you with other like-minded individuals so that you might perhaps motivate each other and restore innovation to all aspects of life.”
My room was enormous — what a nice change from the usual cramped Manhattan spaces!
It even had a kitchenette and stand-alone mirror. I’m wearing a Moi-meme-moitie cemetery dress (Sleeping Garden print by Mana’s brand), and Gal Stern Flashback tights. You can shop her handmade legwear collection through her website.
I hope you’ll keep this hotel in mind, when you’re next visiting NY. Their site has special deals and lets you book online.
Thanks to the Paper Factory Hotel for hosting me and my TV team. We were blown away by this view of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings!
I had the best time shooting with photographer Ryan Edwardson, who is based in Toronto. He has a great eye for composition and capturing natural moments.
Here is a behind-the-scenes shot from our photoshoot on the rooftop.
Ryan caught my happy reaction to a sip of fresh coffee.
He’s a world traveler and storyteller, and this comes across in his photography. If you’re looking for a Toronto photographer — whether for weddings, commercial projects, portraits — keep Ryan Edwardson in mind.
I still have more photos from this chic boutique hotel to show you. Until then, you can see previews (and cat, and current travels in South Africa and Asia) on my LaCarmina Instagram.
Have you been to New York, New York? What do you think of the Paper Factory, and the mood of these images?
PS: I’m on the cover of Kirameki Magazine, out July 15! Here’s a preview of my magazine cover – yes, I’m wearing Moi-meme-Moitie.