Category Archive for Fashion
Ohohoho! You’ve landed in Tokyo Decadance Bar — one of the favorite hangouts of Tokyo’s alternative, Goth and Cyber club kids. If you’re visiting the city, you must stop here for the absinthe and strange performances.
Enjoy photos from my previous two trips to “Decabar,” featuring the infamous Preta Porco in his signature yellow face paint.
Address of Tokyo Decabar: 東京都新宿区新宿5-17-13 or 5-17-13 Shinjuku, Oriental Wave Building 8F/9F
Directions: From Shinjuku East Exit, walk towards Studio Alta and Don Quixote. Take a right on this main street (Yasakuni Dori) and keep walking. Christon Cafe is on the left side of the street, right above the Lawson and before the parking lot buildings. Ride the elevator up to the 8th floor (Christon Cafe theme restaurant) and walk up the stairs to Decadance Bar.
The club space is small but laid back, and decorated in neon paint. The fashion is consistently fabulous, as Yukiro Dravarious, in one of his many guises, demonstrates. (He’s performing April 27 at Tokyo Pride; keep reading for details!)
On “Porco Night,” the spotlight shines on yellow-faced bartender Preta Porco. Mistress Maya also holds a regular “Snack Mayaya” event, where she helms a snack bar and does rope-tyling demonstrations.
On any given night, I’ll run into friends here. On the left, you may recognize Sophia, an impressive vocalist who recently debuted her solo project, “Season of Ghosts.”
Owner Adrien Le Danois (in the blue hair) welcomes guests to his lair. You’ll see lots of cosplay girls and colorful street style on the dance floor. Many of the people who come here speak English and French, so you’ll be able to strike up conversations even if you don’t know Japanese.
Porco’s scintillating smile will immediately put you in the mood to party. (My hair is pink because these photos are from last spring.)
The drinks flow… and the shenanigans begin. I always order the absinthe at Decadance Bar.
The space is decorated like a Day Glo carnival, and the staff dresses the part in wigs and glitter.
Between DJ sets, underground performers strut their stuff. Everyone smiled at this 1980s dance routine, peppered with pole-dancing.
Porco squealed and twirled on a pole. I have no words.
On any given evening, you’ll encounter a theme event or bizarre performance. (Photography by Naomi – check out her latest illustrations!)
If it’s your birthday, beware: the drag queens sit on you and chant the “nonde nonde” drinking song.
The special DJs played a bouncing, techno-electric mix. You can tell that everyone was having fun.
I returned to Tokyo Decadance Bar last December. It was “Sex Pot Night,” meaning there were events both in the upstairs bar and downstairs restaurant (Christon Cafe).
Similar to Alamode Market, there were handmade Gothic Lolita accessories for sale at tables.
A striking back tattoo with hearts and wings, on this barely clad Japanese lady.
As you know from my Theme Restaurants book, Christon is bizarrely decorated with church relics, like chandeliers and altars.
This makes it a haunting (and slightly kitschy) atmosphere for a Goth alternative party. The big Tokyo Decadance parties, which take place every 1-2 months, are usually held at Christon Shinjuku.
That night, the area near the lower staircase was filled with tables. Vendors sold oddities like scorpions preserved in jars.
It’s a great place to pick up one of a kind Gothic accessories like these hand-studded chokers.
Or get a glitter tattoo, from a not-so-Barbie girl.
If you get tired of shopping, then there’s plenty of singing, dancing, performances and other entertainment in the room.
I saw a slightly incongruous performance by a group of women dressed as mistresses, in tight leather corsets and riding sticks.
Yet they sang Jpop and anime songs, with giddy choreography. The men in the back seemed to be having a good time.
“Kampai” or cheers!
Much like the club night Department H, this is a place for you to be whoever or whatever you wish, without judgement.
The grotesque doll on the wall is indication that anything goes.
Makeup on men is the norm rather than the exception.
Goth fashion looks especially bloody under red lights.
My current blue hair matches these girls on the wall.
For once, Yukiro isn’t the tallest person in the room… thanks to little help from stilts!
Mistress Maya (who is also DJ Maya at her event Midnight Mess) tied up an innocent victim.
The girl got a spanking and hot candle wax on her back, among other things that we can’t post on this blog… You’ll have to use your imagination, or come to Decabar to see for yourself.
For more photos from Tokyo Decadence and other Goth / Cyber / LGBT nightlife, take a look at my Japan clubbing guide.
PS: Yukiro is performing his spooky drag queen act, Die Schwarze Frau, on April 27th at Tokyo Pride Parade! For info on how to see him in action, check out his Facebook page. You’ll be entertained and frightened for sure.
Have you ever tried pole dancing? Would you visit a club like this?
On a quest to find the Treasury of a fabled civilization, buried by sand…
The story of this ancient city has fascinated me for years. In the 3rd century BC, Arabian nomads called the Nabataeans began settling here. Petra grew into a center for the spice trade, filled with marvelous temples, tombs and aqueducts.
The city passed into Roman and Byzantine rule, and then was lost… until a young explorer re-discovered it in the 19th century. Imagine coming across this glorious entryway, after years of scouring the desert!
My film team and I were so grateful to have Ya’lla Tours guide our journey. While Jordan is a safe country, the archaeological sites are spread out (Petra is three hours from the capital, Amman) and I wouldn’t know how to get from here to there. On our own, we’d probably end up wandering the sand dunes like Moses.
Ya’lla has personalized tours in various countries, including Jordan, and our guide’s expertise was worth his weight in gold. He took care of border crossing and visa checkpoints, got us to locations, gave us the historical run-down… Our journey was far richer and more relaxed because of him.
Case in point: Ya’lla planned our journey so that we’d conveniently spend the night in Wadi Musa, where Petra lies. The next morning, our guide made sure we were suitably dressed for the trek (good shoes and a jacket are necessities), and whisked us through the entrance. They even helped us get falafel afterward.
Horse rides are included, but we preferred to walk. The terrain is not difficult, but prepared to be on your feet for five hours or more.
We meandered through the mile-long siq (or “the shaft”), a narrow, winding gorge formed by a natural geological fault. I can’t think of a more epic prelude to an ancient city.
Along the way, our guide explained the aqueduct system and the meaning of carvings on the wall — things we wouldn’t have known or even noticed if we weren’t with him.
This photo gives you a sense of the Siq’s scale and grandeur. I spun around, between stone walls as high as 600 feet. (Photography by Melissa Rundle, Eric Bergemann and La Carmina.)
My outfit is an exercise in function meets fashion. I wore sturdy boots, so I never stumbled or had sore feet. However, you might as well dress up for more memorable photos. Who knows if you’ll ever be back?
Alice in Wonderland print skirt: by Lolita brand Baby the Stars Shine Bright, at Closet Child Shinjuku. Worn with a petticoat under, for poof.
Goth stockings: c/o UK Tights. I’m wearing the Tiffany Quinn Sheer Crosses Tights
Velvet Victorian jacket: Lip Service c/o
We saw remnants of carved deities from the religion of the Nabataeans and the traders that passed through. Our Ya’lla guide told is about standing stones, or baetyli, marking the presence of a god. He also showed us Greco-Roman style figures, and a man with camel.
He asked us, “What do you see in this natural rock formation?” From the profile, it looks like a fish. Head-on, it’s an elephant rock!
A stray cat ran down a steep staircase, as a group of Asian tourists shuffled by.
Someone in that tour group fed the cat a cracker. Don’t do this. Instead, donate to reputable animal organizations that do humane population control and work for long-term solutions. Likewise with giving to child beggars. This is a whole can of worms so I won’t go on, but if you want to discuss this, let’s do so in the comments.
Finally, we saw it beckoning through the rocks… The famous Al Khazneh or Treasury, entirely carved out of sandstone.
We learned that Petra was abandoned and lost to history for centuries. In 1812, Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt rediscovered it during his search for the source of the River Niger. He’s quite the “Indiana Johann,” spending years learning Arabic and disguising himself as a Muslim, in order to gain access to forbidden paths.
The Treasury carvings reveal the mix of Hellenistic and Middle Eastern religions that thrived in Petra. The two eagles at the top represent the main Nabataen god. Below the urn is a symbol of Egypt’s Isis. Underneath are Zeus’ sons, Castor and Pollux.
The details have held up remarkably well over the years, despite damage from iconoclasts and bullets. Legend says that Bedouins shot at the urn, thinking there were gems inside.
Can you guess why there are square markings on the left? These probably served as footholds for the brave sculptors.
Petra is a huge city, and there’s much more to see than just the Treasury. Every five minutes, someone offered us a camel ride or asked us to buy souvenirs. Politely ignore the vendors and walk on, if you’re not interested, or else they’ll keep dogging you.
While it may be tempting to ride the cute donkeys, camels or horses, I saw that some of them weren’t very well treated… We even saw a boy whip a horse while a tourist sat on top.
Many of them stood around in the sun, dressed in Bedouin cloths and waiting.
If you get tired of exploring ruins, you can duck into the tents to see sand art demos. By precisely layering and mixing colored sand, this man made a camel sand-scape.
Bottles, bottles on the wall.
The Jordanian people are very kind, and we enjoyed meeting this little boy with a sweet smile. Inside another tent, we sat surrounded by red carpets and chatted with the Bedouin owner, who served us dark coffee.
Petra is filled with secret caves, hidden tombs, echo chambers, remains of colored tiles… the stuff of imagination.
Imagine the amphitheater, filled with crowds of Romans. On the right, a rainbow of sandstone stripes.
We climbed up a long flight of stairs to the Urn Tomb, a burial place of the royals built high on the mountain face. Tip: look out for donkey poop as you walk.
So many mysteries still remain about Petra. Just days ago, a study suggested the Nabataeans built some of the monuments so the sun would shine on them, on significant days of the year.
The vast view from Ad Deir, or the Monastery.
Filmmaker Eric and I “play house” in one of the many cut-out dwellings (most of these were tombs). I’m probably thinking about how to decorate.
This is a day I’ll remember for ages to come. My travel film crew and I can’t thank Ya’lla Tours enough for taking us on an adventure to Petra. They offer Israel tours as well, and can customize the itinerary to your interests and group size.
Our Ya’lla guide had answers to all our questions, and took care of logistics so we could simply learn and enjoy. You can start planning your own dream trip on their site and by adding their Facebook.
Is visiting “the rose-red city half as old as time” on your travel bucket-list? Do you remember Petra from the Indiana Jones movie?
A surprisingly large number of people ask me about my friend Rose. Why hasn’t she appeared on the blog recently? I’ve been reluctant to say because the news isn’t good. Basically, Rose has been battling an extremely serious medical condition.
However, there’s a light (over at the Frankenstein place)! A test has nailed down Rose’s mysterious condition — and with some help, she can regain her health. Please read on for the personal story, followed by the latest in Tokyo makeup and wigs (since Rose loves J-fashion, and we want this post to end on an upbeat note!)
Long-time readers will remember Rose from our adventures in Seattle and Vancouver — absinthe burlesque clubs, Jrock concerts, dance videos and more. She’s got such positive energy, and a flair for alt-Japanese style.
Some have commented on her thinness. Rose has been struggling with a serious medical issue for years, which left her unable to eat or gain weight. It’s a long story (which her mom outlines in full here). Basically, about 11 years ago, Rose started having digestive troubles that lead to full gastroparesis or stomach paralysis. Despite going to the best doctors and trying all options, nobody has been able to determine a cause or cure. A series of painful operations, including inserting a pacemaker and removing her entire stomach, did nothing to help.
Sadly, in recent months, Rose has been getting worse. Her weight dropped to 73 pounds even though she takes in enough calories by tube-feeding, and she developed other complications.
However, there’s been a breakthrough: Rose tested 100% positive for Lyme disease. She took a test years ago, but the results came back negative since there is a high error margin. With this new and reliable method, the diagnosis is undeniable, and the symptoms fit.
It’s terrible that the undiagnosed Lyme disease caused her to worsen for a decade. On the plus side, Rose now knows the cause, and can undergo a complicated treatment to hopefully beat it. However, this will be a long, expensive road. I know her family, and they put everything into her medical costs, but it is a struggle. We’re having an online fundraiser, and hope you can help Rose with a contribution, no matter how small. So grateful for your support, and will share updates all along the way. Let’s get her healthy again!
♥ You can donate safely here by PayPal or credit card (choose to pay with PayPal and then at the bottom you will see “buy as guest.” Click that and you can then use your credit card.)
♥ Or if you can just help us get the word out — maybe with a Facebook post, Tweet, blog post or email — it will make a difference. Thank you.
On a brighter note, since this post is dedicated to Rose, I wanted to put up something that makes her smile. Rose dreams of visiting Tokyo, and I know she’ll go nuts inside Okadaya — one of the best places to pick up wigs, makeup, and craft supplies. I love coming here to scout out the latest beauty trends, like bunny-eared pastel wigs.
The main floor of Okadaya (address: Shinjuku 3-23-17, near the station’s east exit) has a wall of false eyelashes, especially in the glam gyaru style. Above are some special collaboration lashes, which come in different colors. There are also over-the-top ones in rainbow colors, feathers and glitter.
Don Quixote and 100 yen “dollar” stores sell cheaper false lashes, but you can’t beat the variety and uniqueness of the ones here.
There are always displays of new, chic beauty products. Disney just released a glittery nail polish line, in a variety of colors. Cinderella, Minnie Mouse and Snow White seem to love it.
Hello Kitty’s cute face is omnipresent in Japan. This is the new Sanrio perfume, packaged in “small gift” pouches. Different colors represent different scents.
Circle or novelty contact lenses remain big sellers in Japan. These “Funky Whip” contacts are a relatively new offering, which you wear only once and dispose.
On the second floor, it’s wigs galore! The sample hairdos are always done up in creative styles, like this braided and flower-topped mannequin.
Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s influence is obvious in these quirky, experimental pastel hairstyles.
Would you rather have a snake dangling by your face, or a snowman on your scalp?
This green and red Christmas wreath hairstyle gets props for creativity, if nothing else.
What a lovely romantic couple. The one on the left is a man… I think? (Okadaya has a fun selection of Jrock or host boy wigs too).
Every possible type of synthetic wig is sold here, in all colors and lengths. These shaggy bobs are more natural-looking.
If that’s not your bag, then there’s a shelf of Sweet Lolita, pastel goth and cosplay wigs! Most are by the brand Prisila. Perfect for anime convention costumes, Halloween, or a club night out.
For more photos of fabrics and craft supplies at Okadaya (including feather boas), see this blog post…
I leave you with a few kitty snaps. Here’s a fat-faced illustration in a Shinjuku store window. Looks like a British Shorthair to me.
Can you see the resemblance to my Scottish Fold kitten?
Basil sends a hug to everyone who helps out our friend Rose, if it’s by giving to the fund, or simply sharing this post. You can see all of our adventures together right here — she’s a very special person, and I hope to have better news for you soon!
Tel Aviv’s coolest fashion boutiques! Israel vintage & vegan clothes, Super Mario Nintendo nail art.
Let’s continue my indie shopping tour of Tel Aviv! In part 1 of my TLV Style Tour, my guide Galit Reismann introduced me to a mad hatter and jewelry designer. Now, we’ll discover the sweetest twee and vintage fashion in Israel.
(Details of my Very Metal dress and Goth cross tights are in this outfit post.)
We began with a walk through the fashion-centric Noga district. Small clothing shops and cafes huddle next to pastel street art featuring eyeballs.
Galit took me to Roni Kantor’s studio, which doubles as a boutique. I was charmed by Roni’s retro-chic designs, especially her reconstituted vintage dresses. This one perfectly matched my hair color.
I was right behind her mission of upcycling and respecting living creatures. Roni is particularly loved for her vintage-inspired shoes, made from vegan leather in a family factory.
Galit, Roni and I twirled parasols for the travel video, which my team is working on now. In the foreground, you can see Roni’s darling footwear collection.
(Photography by Eric Bergemann and Melissa Rundle, who were hosted along with me on this press trip.)
Then, we took a short walk to Pioo Pioo, a gem of a boutique near the nightlife-centric Rothschild Boulevard. Try saying the name out loud. It mimics the sound of a laser gun!
I instantly felt that designer Mor Bauer and I are kindred spirits. Absolutely loved her colorful rocketship dress with fringe at the bottom, creating the movement of a blast-off. Her rainbow jewelry would feel at home in Harajuku or Shibuya.
Mor’s tailoring is beautiful, and she uses fine materials like silk. The jacket’s striped interior reminded me of Beetlejuice.
Her clothes can be dressed up or down, suiting a variety of personal styles.
The boutique is decorated with retro rainbow toys, an extension of Mor’s whimsical taste.
I particularly liked her grapes-and-leaves headbands, and fun embellishments like a baby’s head on a zipper.
Flower crowns, polka dots and crop tops.
Mor wore this creation when she walked down the aisle. Two unicorns are better than one.
She’ll custom-make clothing for you, and specializes in sewing romantic, lacy wedding dresses.
I felt so much at home, at Pioo Pioo. Thanks to Galit for the custom fashion tour (find out more on her TLVStyle Facebook), and hugs for all the talented Israeli designers I met!
Here’s a bonus photo of my Nintendo nail art, by Glam Nail Studio. I asked for green and blue designs from the Super Mario universe, to match my hair. See if you can spot Boo, Luigi, a Koopa turtle shell, mushrooms and a POW block in there.
Do you ever wear vegan or vintage fashion? What do you think of the unicorn dress and Nintendo nails?
PS: I wrote a guide to alternative Japan for the Sunday Times Travel Magazine, one of the world’s leading travel publications. My plush cat Basil Farrow is blocking my byline…
You can pick up the April issue about “Hip Cities,” in stores now. Looking forward to writing more for this UK-based magazine.
PPS: have you seen the photos of this fuzz-face on my @lacarmina Instagram, including a video of him jumping and wahh-ing?
Have a cute week!