Category Archive for Fims + Videos
Tokyo Christmas Lights display: Shinjuku southern terrace bakery. Vienna & Bratislava Goth travel video.
‘Tis the season to be jolly! I had a wonderful time in Tokyo, working on a European TV shoot. During my downtime, I took photos of the city’s Christmas light displays and cute holiday gifts, which I’ll share with you in this post.
Another reason to make merry: my Vienna and Bratislava travel episode is published on the front page of Business Insider! Please enjoy my latest video (featuring Austrian Gothlolis) and the “bokeh-ful” photos below.
This wall of lights was the perfect place to shoot my new :3-faced purse, from the Mercibeaucoup store in Marui Shinjuku Annex. Isn’t it darling? This dog-like creature comes in tan-colored faux fur as well, but I chose the blue one to match my current hair.
I went for an all-purple coordinate.
Sugar skull purple cardigan: gifted by Sourpuss Clothing. (I also own their cat-face cardigan, which you can buy online.)
Plaid purple skirt: Peace Now, similar to this one available for sale
Faux fur eggplant colored scarf: Holt Renfrew. Almost identical to this scarf.
My business partner Naomi shot these photos of me in Shinjuku Southern Terrace. During the holiday season, this passageway is lit up with little LEDs, which snake around the trees and walls.
Xmas displays are the perfect opportunity to produce “bokeh”, or these nifty glowing balls of lights.
In Japan, not very many people identify as Christians. Nevertheless, Christmas decorations and lights are everywhere. This impressive annual display turns the Southern Terrace into a dream-land.
You’ll rarely see religious iconography. Instead, the stars of the show are cute winter creatures… like these penguins!
Judging from the holiday goods for sale, the Japanese put “kawaii” above all else.
This Xmas ornament is a perfect example: it incorporates a teddy bear, stars and bon-bons.
Or how about this kawaii Rudolph the Reindeer sticker, from a 100 yen store.
Or a Santa Claus pig. People do exchange Christmas gifts and have gatherings with friends, but not many attend church.
Nonetheless, there’s a merry feeling in the air. It’s a great time of the year to pick up little presents, like these Russian Doll cookies.
The bright Southern Terrace is home to one of the best bakeries in Tokyo: Gontran Cherrier. This window image makes me think of “The Little Matchstick Girl.”
I’m a big fan of gingerbread, and pressed my nose to this display.
Gontran Cherrier has many pumpkin baked goods, including pumpkin curry buns. I also found yuzu cheesecake and black squid ink pizza.
Croissants get a Christmas tree twist, and are dusted with powdered sugar snow.
All over Tokyo, you’ll find wonderful department store displays. This child seems to like the steampunk-y window at Odakyu.
Ritzy boutiques like Laduree aren’t the only ones that get into the Christmas spirit.
Even the Goth Punk store Algonquins “makes the Yuletide gay.”
I did quite a bit of “me to me” shopping in Tokyo. My funny-faced Mercibeaucoup bag is among my favorite new purchases.
Lots more Japan winter fashion to show you, including a Nightmare Before Christmas collection from Lumine.
My faux fur purse is large enough to hold my Sony DSLR a700 camera, which I’m taking everywhere with me now. (The extra weight is worth it, for photos like these.)
To achieve bokeh and shallow focus, I use a prime lens (Sony 50mm f/1.8). A quick way to achieve this effect: get in aperture mode (A on the dial), and stop down to a low f-number.
I shot this string of rainbow lights right outside the Shinjuku station east exit.
The “Shinjuku” neon sign, with a traditional man and woman, always makes me smile. Isn’t Japan amazing during the winter?
PS: My newest travel episode, about Vienna and Bratislava’s cool culture, is released! Watch me hang out with Austrian Gothic Lolitas, visit a rockabilly stores, and drink absinthe in a Slovakian bar.
I leave you with a bonus photo of Slovakia’s spooky street art. Would you do a European train trip like mine? I hope you learned something new from our Business Insider video; let us know your feedback in the comments. Happy holidays!
A Gothic Fairy Halloween! The Lovecraft Bar Brickbat club, Lincoln Restaurant Portland, Argus Car Hire.
The Old Ones have woken in Oregon… and I’m about to have my spookiest Halloween yet!
Thanks to Travel Portland, my film team and I got to dance with monsters at Lovecraft Bar, and dine at Andrew Zimmern’s beloved Lincoln Restaurant. Plus, I got to debut my new blue-green hair. Perhaps you’ve already glimpsed it on my social networks, linked on the sidebar –>
I had navy hair in my mid-late teens, but products were weak back then and it faded quickly to a murky green. But now, it’s possible to get salon-quality dyes in rainbow colors.
My amazing stylist Stephanie Hoy at Avant Garde Hair Vancouver bleached my hair, and layered on turquoise, blue and dark purple. She stayed away from yellow-green tones, in order to complement my skin. What do you think of this big change?
The romantic hair flower clips were custom-made for me by Angelica Brigade. I love her detailed work and delicate fabrics. She takes requests through her site, so you can have her create accessories to perfectly match your outfits.
I had three Halloween costumes this year; here’s Look #1. The Goth Fairy dress, wings and star tights are from my friends at Lip Service, the popular Gothic brand that also makes Victorian and Steampunk garments. My cut-out boots are Yosuke, bought in Shinjuku Marui One in Tokyo.
Although I look ready to party, I’m really here to make travel videos and articles with my hard-working film team. On these shoots, timing is key: we need to get around to a lot of locations during our short stay.
If you’re travelling to Portland, I highly recommend renting a car. Having this rental from Argus Car Hire helped us enormously — each day, we shot at up to six locations all over the city!
I’m notorious for complaining about my vehicles (“There’s no suspension! The wheel is jerky!”) but with Argus, the experience was 100% smooth, no pun intended. We got a spotless Subaru Legacy with less than 2000 miles on it. Enough legroom for our 4-person pirate team, and the color even matched my outfit.
Since I travel so much, I’m going to make Argus Car Rentals my go-to. They work with multiple companies, so they have a much larger selection of vehicles and options — 30,000 locations worldwide including USA, Canada, Europe.
Now, time to fly away and eat! We drove about 15 minutes to North Portland, to try one of the most talked-about restaurants in the Pacific Northwest.
When I had dinner with Andrew Zimmern in Vancouver, he told me I had to meet his talented friend, chef Jenn Louis. She kindly invited us to her flagship Lincoln Restaurant (3808 N Williams Ave, Portland OR).
Filmmaker Melissa shoots a collection of Jenn’s accolades, including Best New Chef by Food & Wine Magazine. Jenn built up her resume in kitchens around the US, but fell in love with PDX’s foodie culture and local ingredients. She opened Lincoln and then Sunshine Tavern, and recently appeared on Top Chef Masters.
After filming an interview with Jenn, we sat down to beautiful cocktails: “The Stone Fence” with Bourbon and apple cider, “Double Agent” with bourbon, Aperol and peach bitters. Perhaps our favorite is the one not pictured: a mix of mint-citrus syrup and Prosecco.
We started with appetizers: two hen eggs, pure local flavor. Then apple fritters with pickled chili aioli, and grilled octopus with olives. These seemingly incongruous ingredients are magic together; the flavors are surprising, thoughtful, balanced.
Same goes for the panna cotta with caramelized popcorn sauce (top right image). Imagine the taste of the movie theater without the crunch, paired with silky cream.
And here’s the money shot: sea urchin gnocchi. The bokeh really expresses the “choir of angels” feeling I had on my first taste. I usually find this type of pasta too chewy and starchy, and “uni” too rich and briney. But this is a completely different experience: melt-in-your-mouth bites of potato and ricotta, with a brush of sea urchin, Italian cayenne, mint and bottarga (cured fish roe).
I’m still reflecting on this meal; it’s honestly one of my favorites from this entire year. Thank you Andrew Zimmern for introducing us to your talented friends at Lincoln Restaurant. Can’t wait to show you the video footage we took with Jenn Louis.
Later, we went nightcrawling at The Lovecraft Bar (421 SE Grand Ave, Portland OR). It’s named after horror author HP Lovecraft, best known for his Cthulhu Mythos. I’m a fan of his writings, and have wanted to cross this venue off my “Goth bucket list” for some time.
Inside the (appropriately) small and dark club, his portraits and book covers line the wall. I was convinced that Lovecraft’s eyes would follow me, like in “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.”
The decor is a tribute to his universe. Tentacles represent Cthulhu, an Old God who looks like an octopus with claws and wings (much like my own). Lovecraftian symbols are everywhere, like this pentagram-like Necronomicon gate. Note the cute “No Entry” sign and my ever-present glass of absinthe.
Every first Friday of the month is a no-cover Goth night, called Brickbat Mansion. The DJs played highly danceable darkwave, post-punk, classic Gothic and shoegaze.
I won’t go into detail, but let’s say we had a bit too much fun on the dance floor. Portland locals are a friendly, kooky bunch. (My makeup is from Annabelle Cosmetics — love their creamy eyeshadows that match my new hair, and TwistUp lipstick crayons.)
Things got scandalous, when we got our hands on the balloons… We may or may not have left with a giant eyeball or two.
It doesn’t get better than this: celebrating Halloween in a sci-fi Goth party with my Pirate film crew. I’m lucky to be able to work with my friends, and glad that we can travel worldwide and shoot the topics we love. (Outfit and restaurant photography by Melissa Rundle; food closeups by me; Lovecraft images by First Mate Naomi.)
Much more Halloween shenanigans on the way, along with a video. I still have two costumes to show you!
PS: I’ve updated my travel TV hosting reel. Watch it above and on YouTube. The clips include Food Network, Today Show, Travel Channel, Discovery, National Geographic, CNN… How fun to see my hair change over time.
How do you like Portland’s spooky side? Thoughts on my new mermaid-colored hair?
PPS: If you’ve read H.P. Lovecraft and want to chat with me about his weird tales, I invite you to comment in this post or on my Facebook. “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!”
A meditative moment at the beach? Not quite. I’m surrounded by TV crew cameras, and about to force a German man to stitch his mouth together with needle and thread.
I appeared on the popular TV show “Joko und Klaas” or “Circus HalliGalli,” which aired last week on Pro Sieben network. Our body modification episode got a lot of stunned tweets from viewers in Germany. What was so shocking about it?
Watch the “Joko in Kanada” video clip, featuring La Carmina, First Mate Naomi, and body mod artist Russ Foxx… if you dare.
For the shoot, I wore a Miho Matsuda plaid dress from Closet Child, a Danier leather jacket, and Demonia shoes. My hair color and crimped/rolled style is the work of Stephanie Hoy, at Avant Garde hair in Yaletown.
You may recall that we Pirates previously worked with Joko und Klaas, on a bagelhead forehead inflation challenge filmed in Tokyo, Japan. The episode was such a hit that they wanted to do another show with us.
Our TV production company pitched a few crazy ideas, and the one involving lip-sewing in Vancouver stuck. Naomi and I took charge of arranging, casting and coordinating the episode (as well as hosting it).
The night Naomi arrived, tragedy struck. Her hotel was set on fire, and my car window was smashed with a giant rock by a crazy random person. Nobody was hurt, but we were left with quite the shock. On the bright side: the Vancouver Global TV news team decided to interview me about my harrowing experience.
At least my life-long goal of being a hysterical eyewitness on the news has been fulfilled. How funny that I looked like this on camera.
We kicked off the German TV shoot at gorgeous Acadia Beach. (The filming took two days in June, in various Vancouver BC locations.)
The concept of “Duell um die Welt”: Joko and Klaas challenge each other to insane tasks around the world. Relaxing by the ocean, Joko thinks he’s off the hook.
But an Asian horror doll creeps up on him… in the video, you can see how I gave Joko a mighty scare!
Before each take, the director gave us a general idea of the narrative, but we improvised all the lines. The sound boom microphone went back and forth between us as we spoke. We did it a few times, from a few different angles, and then moved on.
With this landscape as our backdrop, it’s easy to make the shots look good.
The 8-person crew (plus Naomi and me) piled into the rental van, and we stopped by Granville Island. I showed Joko the beauty of the marina.
Gotta work the body to get the shot! (Photos in this post by First Mate Naomi.)
We hammed it up — ohohoh! Muahaha! So far, life is a laugh for Joko. He has no idea what’s coming for him…
Getting direction at the Gastown steam clock. You can tell I’m enjoying my TV presenting work.
It was fun to show Joko the tourist-y parts of my hometown. When the clock struck the hour, the steam blew and we danced around in joy.
In front of the Gassy Jack statue, there were inevitably gas jokes.
No, that’s not a stalker. It’s how we film walk-and-talk scenes, this time at Pan Pacific.
In all, this ended up being a good travel overview of Vancouver. We finished downtown, at Robson Street. Joko did a somersault in the crosswalk.
Everyone worked quickly and was easygoing — a nice change from the frantic attitude of some TV productions.
However, when night falls, I am not such a nice girl. We reunited with Naomi by the dumpster in a dark alley. She told him, Klaas sent her to deliver a challenge.
Can anything beat a bagelhead? I think we did. We sent Joko to the studio of Russ Foxx… to get lips stitched shut!
If you’ll recall from my HuffPost interview, Russ is a body modification artist based in Vancouver. He made a theatrical entrance that scared the daylights out of Joko.
Lip sewing is an extreme body mod that should only be done by an experienced artist like Russ. Why stitch your lips together? Some do it as a fetish, or to reflect and self-test, or for performance. I’ve seen people with sewn eyelids and mouths firsthand in Prague and Tokyo party scenes.
Russ Foxx made six stitches in total, without anesthetic. He used the utmost precision and sanitation measures, and walked Joko through each step.
The sewing hurts, as much as six lip piercings would. Here’s the finished result. (Wonder why my friend is suddenly speechless…)
For the final scene, we threw an impromptu underground party. None of this would have been possible without Isaac, master of Sin City Fetish night, who pulled together the venue and crowd in record time. Naomi made the poster above for “Spooky Saturday.”
I’m so grateful to everyone who came to The Waldorf to party with us, and be on German TV. Thank you for always supporting me.
DJ Evilyn got people dancing.
I felt bad because the TV shoot ran late, and we couldn’t get to the party until around 1am. Still, there was a grinding crowd and lots of latex outfits!
For the closing scene, we all sang the Crash Test Dummies song, “Mmm mmm mmm mmm.” With his Miffy-mouth, Joko was barely able to hum along.
That’s a wrap! Russ removed Joko’s stitches — you can only keep them in for a few hours — and all was well in the universe again.
Have you heard about the lip sewing body mod before? If you have opinion or questions about it, I invite you to leave a comment and we can discuss.
I hope you enjoyed our latest TV work! Please take a minute to watch it on Dailymotion, and let me know what you think. Thanks to all the German newspapers who wrote about our episode, including Focus, Bild, and News.de
PS: if you’re interested in working with La Carmina & The Pirates, we offer TV coordination, production, casting and hosting services, in Tokyo and worldwide. We’ve worked with National Geographic, Food Network, Travel Channel, Discovery, NHK and more (all clips and details here.)
PPS: Off to Japan soon! We’ve confirmed a new TV job, shooting in Tokyo this December. Stay tuned to my site for casting announcements; we’d love for you to join the fun.
Are you ready for my travel team’s newest video? You’re in luck: our Dubai and Abu Dhabi episode is published on Business Insider, one of the world’s most-visited news sites!
In this 4-minute webisode, I visit the world’s tallest tower (Burj Khalifa), largest shopping center (Dubai Mall), highest-rated hotel (Burl al Arab), and more. There’s even a dressing room montage scene, featuring glittery dresses… you don’t want to miss this!
Watch our video above and here on Business Insider.
We feel our story-telling is getting stronger each time, and want to thank you for supporting us over the years. Any share or comments on the article would be much appreciated.
Super happy with the cinematography in this episode. Major props to my LA-based filmmakers, Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann.
I’m glad to have them with me on my journeys to far-off places.
I hope our blog posts and videos give you a taste of wanderlust, and that you’ll witness these Arabian marvels someday.
In the second half of the video, we visit the famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The white minarets reminded me of hard-boiled eggs or scoops of ice cream!
Opened in 2007, the mosque is considered one of the most beautiful on the planet. Look at how the water reflects the graceful columns.
Let me warn you, there’s a dress code… Clothing should be loose and fully cover the arms and legs. Women must wear a veil.
I thought I dressed according to the rules — until filmmaker Eric pointed out that my long lace skirt was see-through! No need to fret: women and men go into separate lines at the entrance, and receive a long, flowing garment (abaya) to put over their clothes.
The men wear white, and the women wear black robes with hoods.
Gold and flowers everywhere. The mosaic courtyard is the biggest in the world.
Indescribable, the way the light reflects the curves of the arches and minarets.
Inside, the hall of worship glitters with stained glass and crystals.
There are seven chandeliers, and the main one is one of the largest ever made. The prayer hall is air conditioned, so the space feels as airy as it looks.
The 99 names of Allah are written on the wall in Kufic calligraphy.
Everyone takes off their shoes outside before stepping on the world’s largest carpet.
Thank you to my filmmakers, Melissa and Eric, for their hard work in bringing these travel videos to life!
We hope you enjoy the latest episode about the United Arab Emirates. Please take a minute to watch and share.
Are you awed by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Mosque? What were your favorite moments in the video?