Category Archive for Fims + Videos

Eat Your Kimchi’s YouTube studio in Seoul! EYK Simon & Martina opening You Are Here coffee shop.

eat your kimchi simon martina

When I was in Seoul, I hung out with YouTube stars Eat Your Kimchi in their studio — and it was fantastic, baby!

I toured EYK’s Nasty headquarters, and chatted with Simon and Martina about their upcoming Korea projects — including a coffee shop for their fans. Read on for the inside scoop, and tons of funny photos.

eat your kimchi studio, hongdae address

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eat your kimchi youtube stars studio

For those who don’t know, Simon and Martina Stawski run the extremely popular EatYourKimchi YouTube channel, which specializes in videos about Kpop music, life in Seoul, and zany adventures with their pets and friends.

Much like my own La Carmina blog, Eat Your Kimchi (EYK) began as a hobby, fueled by their passion for Korean culture. Today, they have a loyal following of fans (aka Nasties), and have expanded EYK into an independent studio, clothing line, worldwide appearances and more.

Simon and Martina Stawski interview

Simon and Martina are just as friendly and fabulous in person, and we spent over an hour laughing together. I immediately felt at home on their purple couch, and we dished about pop culture and fashion as if we were old friends.

I borrowed a stuffed octopus and “poop pencil” to write down notes (I’ll be doing some magazine stories about Eat Your Kimchi, so stay tuned). Fans will recognize the saucy penguin sitting on Martina.

eat your kimchi tattoos, Martina Stawski

The married couple is from Toronto, Canada, and always loved subcultures. They moved to Korea to teach English, and began making casual YouTube videos (about Korean food, Hello Kitty, K-pop) for their friends back home. Similarly to my own career arc, they built up a loyal following, and eventually quit their day jobs to do Eat Your Kimchi full-time.

kpop music mondays, eyk videos

Today, they have their own colorful studio located in the youth culture district, Hongdae. I was impressed by how they custom-designed the space, with special lighting setups and kawaii decor all over. It’s like walking into a K-idol dream.

Viewers will recognize these backdrops, as seen in their regular uploads (Kpop Music Mondays, FapFap, livestreams and more).

kpop stars wardrobe, clothing

Martina and Simon gave me a tour of the studio, which includes a sound room full of pillows, and Happy Kitchen. And how about this pink walk-in closet? It’s a wardrobe fantasy, filled with wigs, makeup and shark hats.

(My pastel seahorse top is c/o Show Me You Mumu. This breezy brand is my current favorite; they also make a floral princess maxi skirt, and black ruffle dress.)

eat your kimchi fan art, nasties

Everywhere you turned, there was fan art. The duo genuinely cares about their audience, and draws inspiration from the drawings and dolls they receive.

cute custom laptop keyboard

Here’s where the video-editing magic happens. You shouldn’t be surprised to see that their laptop has an adorable custom keyboard!

long wood standing desk

I met business manager Soo Zee (love her purple hair!) and other team members, who were hard at work. Everyone works together on the standing desk, a healthier option than sitting around all day.

eat your kimchi youtubers

Simon and Martina spoke enthusiastically about their newest project: You Are Here, an Eat Your Kimchi coffee shop near Hongdae station! The goal’s to create an inviting space where they can hang out with their fans and host special events (since their studio space is for work only).

It can be hard for first-time visitors to figure out where to go in Seoul, and for solo travelers to meet others. Hopefully, the EYK cafe can help to bring people together.

eat your kimchi coffee shop korea

Martina and Simon have just opened the doors to the cafe. Martina is excited to bring her home-cooking to customers, and to have the coffee brewed just right. If this cute studio is any indication, their coffeeshop will be a hit.

eat your kimchi dog cat

I’m excited to see the in-shop videobooth, where fans can record messages to be incorporated into videos. It’s inspiring to see how much EYK interacts with their “Nasties.”

Spudgy dog, dr meemersworth cat

I was sad that their pets weren’t in the studio that day. Everyone loves Spudgy the dog, and Dr Meemersworth — a Scottish Fold cat, just like mine!

dr meemersworth, meemers scottish fold cat

Here are our earless babies (Meemers on the left, Basil Farrow on the right). We bonded over the breed’s quirks, like the way Scottish Folds dangle their big paws and love to cuddle.

eat your kimchi fashion line

Simon and Martina have lived in Seoul for many years now, and I asked them about the peculiarities of Korean pop culture. I learned that tattoos are taboo, like in Japan: only doctors are legally allowed to ink others, so tattoo shops stay underground (there aren’t signs advertising them). In June, Seoul had a tattoo convention but it was shut down by officials. How funny that in contrast, plastic surgery (a more invasive “body modification”) thrives here!

simon martina kpop videos

Their job looks like it’s all play: making goofy videos in a space filled with toys, and yes, that’s a purikura booth in the back. However, I can see — and personally know — how much hard work goes into each project, and how committed they are to their team and Nasties.

Eatyourkimchi SimonandMartina youtube Studio

They love what they do, and try to give back to their fans. Simon and Martina spoke about upcoming appearances at anime conventions, a possible road trip with meet-ups, and more.

martina pink hair

I wanted some cool travel tips, and who better to ask than Eat Your Kimchi? Martina drew me a map of hotspots in this neighborhood (Hongdae) while Simon watched.

colored haired girls

I ended up visiting all the places they recommended, with my photographers. In my next posts, I’ll show you the Hongdae Hello Kitty cafe, Zombie coffee, Robot bar and more. (Stay tuned to my Seoul category to see!)

panda stationery, korean

Naturally, she drew this map with colorful pens, on cute panda paper. As you can see, she marked her favorite cupcake shop and Kpop fashion boutiques.

rainbow anime tattoo arm

I think Martina is imitating the big robot that guards her favorite bar. Can you spot the tattoos of her dog and folded-eared cat?

blue stuffed penguin

We couldn’t stop taking photos with the stuffed toys.

If you want a long checkered skirt like Martina’s, here is a similar one by JOA and by Stylenanda. Wildfox makes a seahorse top like mine, and Revolve has a similar silver metallic skirt.

youtube stars fans drawings

So much fan art everywhere. Martina gave me a few Scottish Fold items from EYK’s fashion line, including a purple knit cap with Meemers’ round face on the corner. Everything is made locally.

(Photography by Jacqueline Kwok of noircorner and Ken Yuen.)

eyk nasties fan art

Funny how Simon is growing a beard, so he no longer looks like the older fan art.

youtubers studio setup

We could have chatted all day long! Huge hugs for Simon, Martina and their team for inviting me to their Seoul headquarters. I’m psyched to see their new coffee shop — you can see updates on their website and YouTube. They’re on both Twitter and Instagram under @eatyourkimchi.

stuffed octopus toy

I’ll upload more from our visit on social media: I have a La Carmina Facebook page and am @lacarmina everywhere, including Instagram and Twitter.

simon and martina Stawski

Have you ever watched Eat Your Kimchi’s videos? Are you keen to visit Seoul and their cafe? Below is an iPhone pic that they decorated with the Line app.

eat your kimchi twitter instagram

Coming up next: My birthday is on August 17, and I’ll be releasing not one, but TWO videos.

If you enjoyed this post and want more, let’s keep in touch! Simply enter your email here or below. You can also check out my travel guides (including Jpop shopping and nightlife tips). Thank you!

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Wave Gotik Treffen 2014: festival dates, bands & travel tips! Steampunk Victorian picnic fashion.

elizabethan goth fashion, adora batbrat

Every summer, the streets of Leipzig are strewn with black feathers and glitter… for the world’s biggest Gothic festival, Wave Gotik Treffen! This year’s celebrations are from June 6-9, 2014, and musicians like The Cruxshadows, UK Decay and Apoptygma Berzerk will be taking the stage.

japanese goths at wave gotik treffen

A trip to WGT is at the top of many Goth bucket lists. I still think back fondly to my experience in 2012. If you missed it, you can look back at my Wave Gotik Treffen posts and travel video.

white face paint goth girl with dreads

If you’re thinking of going to Treffen, you’re in luck: my friends Jen Hoffert and Holger Karas wrote this post with all the details you need, including where to stay and how to get around. They attend WGT each year, so you could’t ask for better experts. Enjoy their photos from the 2013 festivities, and find out more on their Seventh Sin Tumblr.

steampunk men's fashion goggles, wave gotik treffen

The first 145 bands have been announced for the 23rd annual Wave­Gotik­Treffen and we’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of our friends from around the world to our home city of Leipzig, Germany. Wave Gotik Treffen is one of the largest gothic and industrial festivals in the world, with over 20,000 visitors and roughly 200 bands playing at dozens of venues throughout the city over four days. In our opinion, it’s also the most stylish festival, where people go all out to express themselves.

steampunk victorian picnic wgt

This year WGT falls quite late, June 6­-9, so the weather should be perfect for exploring the city. In addition to the concerts and parties, there are dozens of other events: operas, musicals, films, a display of historical hearses, and more. Many of the museums and galleries in Leipzig will features works of particular interest to the Gothic crowd such as the Grassi Museum of Ethnography’s global exhibitions on celebrations of death from Sumatra to New Orleans, a special showing of H.R. Giger’s work at the SansvoiX Gallery, and a multi­media presentation from Slovenian electronic pioneers Borghesia at the counter­culture gallery Kultúrny dom B31.

leipzig germany goth festival

Our dear friend Danarama of TwoKnottyBoys from San Francisco will be presenting a bondage workshop on Friday evening at a special downtown location. Dan will also be releasing the first EP “Inside Out” from his project Harm Joy with Olaf of Tyske Ludder at WGT. You can find out more about the many unofficial events surrounding WGT here at the online gothic event calender Schwarzes Leipzig.

goth punk mohawk

The Victorian Picnic at Clara Zetkin Park is a highlight of WGT for those who like to dress up. Hundreds of beautifully costumed participants gather here on the shores of a lake in a manicured city garden, the perfect setting for Lolitas, Steampunks and other romantics.

romantic goth clothing, haute gothic

The pedestrian road running thorough the WGT’s main venue, the AGRA, is known as “the catwalk” for good reason. There will be many people strolling up and down, wildly costumed in every imaginable version of dark attire with photographers, and even a few video crews taking it all in.

goth picnic in park

If you find yourself missing the perfect piece to finish your outfit, one of the massive halls of the AGRA hosts the WGT Black Market for vendors of clothing, house­wares, music, and just about anything else your little dark heart desires.

steampunk men, top hats, eyepatch

You can purchase your tickets to the festival when you arrive (which is much easier than using a wire transfer to purchase them online), but hotel rooms in Leipzig are notoriously hard to come by during the festival weekend. One alternative is to seek private accommodation on the official WGT sub­forum called “Do you need sleep?” Here you can browse through the offers made or post your own request. Leipzig also has a number of good listings on AirBNB. Private accommodations including a bed and use of the bathroom and kitchen generally run about 20-­50€ a night per person.

neon gothic cyber dreads hair

For the truly adventurous among you, there’s a large official campground set up for WGT visitors (25€ for the weekend). Although for the life of me, I’ve never been able to figure out how people manage to come out of their tents looking so good.

green hair german goth girl

Confirmed performances for WGT 2014 include well known acts such Anne Clark, Apoptygma Berzerk, Hocico, Mephisto Walz, Six Comm, The Crüxshadows, and UK Decay, as well as hidden gems such as Antichildleague and Sieben. Naturally there’s a smart­phone app for WGT to help you plan your concert schedule, keep track of where your friends are, and find the best tram connection between venues.

deathrock fashion, traditional 80s gothic

However, it never fails that two of your favorite bands will be playing at the same time at opposite ends of the city. Don’t despair, you’re still going to have a great time and you’ll see an unbelievable number of great performances over four days. The WGT organizers know their stuff about this music, which means that each venue will most likely host a particular sub­genre. It’s often worth staying at one venue for multiple bands to discover new bands similar to one you showed up to see.

military goths, elder goth couple

After the concerts and cultural events shut down each night, DJs from all over the world will invite you to dance at clubs throughout the city. From Neo­Romantic parties held in ballrooms and Batcave themed old school nights in cellar vaults, to the hardest industrial and noise and even one of the largest fetish parties in Germany, no matter what your taste is there’s something, somewhere in the city to keep everyone on their feet from Thursday night till the sun comes up on Tuesday morning. We hope to see you there!

goth parents, baby carriage

Back to La Carmina. Thanks to Jen and Holger for the report and photos, and I echo their words: I hope you’ll make it to Wave Gotik Treffen one day, to see the inspiring fashion and culture for yourselves. One is never too young to enjoy, as you can see from the “baby Goths” in Victorian prams

punk boy carrying baby girl

While you may not want to take a youngster into the crowded concert halls, they’ll enjoy the outdoor food courts and fashion stalls.

Want to see more of the “black market” clothing and bands? Watch my Wave Gotik Treffen video (it includes tons of travel tips), and peruse my blog posts about the festival.

wave gotik treffen 2014 travel events

What do you think of the dark outfits in these photos? Do you know any Goth or punk parents? If you have more Treffen tips for newbies, please share them in the comments!

The Hippest Places in Portland: new travel video! Food Trucks, art hotels & hipsters.

carmen yuen, la carmina, goth hair

Hip, hip, hooray! My Portland travel video is out on Business Insider, in which I explore the city’s weird and wonderful subcultures. In a lot of ways, it’s my favorite episode so far.

I’m biting my nails to hear what you think… Watch the video above and on BI. Did you laugh at my “fairy dance” and pirate torture scene?

brickbat goth club portland, lovecraft bar

My travel series wouldn’t be possible without these two : Melissa Rundle and Eric Bergemann, who did all the shooting, editing and production. It’s hard to find people who you can successfully travel, work and Goth-party with!

nightmare before christmas halloween makeup

In our video, we take you inside Portland’s underground subcultures. This includes a live performance of the Nightmare Before Christmas…

goth christmas tree decorations

… complete with a spooky tree, covered with crows and brains.

tim burton halloween display

We also went to the Goth-friendly Lovecraft bar (a tribute to the horror writer) and an underground warehouse party, Steep and Thorny.

1970s vintage white fur coat

I loved Portland’s vintage clothing selection. Been searching for a disco dream-coat like this all my life.

halloween bokeh

Bokeh and ominous reflections, in the window of steampunk boutique Wells & Verne.

sexy steampunk girl art

So many things about Portland are “me” to a T. Such as this steam-girl painting, inspired by Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha.

buddha rainbow mural

Or this rainbow Buddhist mural on the wall of my room, at the Jupiter Hotel.

velvet devil wine

This hipster hotel must have been expecting me. Velvet Devil wine and green apples in the lobby…

art gallery jupiter hotel

… alongside modern art by local painters.

cat chalk drawing

Portland’s culture is all about creativity. My room at the Jupiter Hotel had a chalkboard door, and First Mate Naomi drew a cat on it.

avalon theater sign portland

I’ll leave you with some bonus shots. This is the Avalon Theater, next to our vegan brunch cafe Paradox. I could have walked around PDX all day long, simply shooting photos.

mismatched color tights

Naomi’s mis-matched tights match the autumn foliage.

orange fall leaves

The Pacific Northwest may be grey and rainy, but you get all four seasons and there is nature everywhere.

jolly roger pirate restaurant

Arr! We went to a food truck pit stop, near the Jolly Roger. We sampled Mexican tacos, crepes and pumpkin butter sandwiches.

food truck, jambalaya

My favorite was the jambalaya, cooked fresh from a Creole truck. (New Orleans is on my list of must-visit places…)

anthem brewing, apple cider beer

PDX is proud of its local craft beer breweries. I enjoyed the pear and cherry ciders by Anthem Brewing.

spooky reflection window

Now you know why Portland is now one of my favorite American cities. Intrigued by the quirky indie culture here? Then please take a few minutes to watch our Portland travel video, highlighting the hippest parts of the city. (Keep your ears peeled for the evil laugh!)

How are you liking my travel video series? For more photos and tips, here are all my posts about Portland alt travel.

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My Thailand Luxury Travel Video! Bangkok pop culture at boutique hotel, Sofitel So.

bangkok view, boutique hotel

I loved getting to know the glam side of Bangkok, thanks to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. There’s so much more to this city than backpackers, banana pancakes… and dare I mention ladyboys?

travel video host, episodes

See for yourself, in the latest episode of my Business Insider travel video series. Watch it here — isn’t Bangkok’s pop culture fascinating?

Photos and video by me and Seby. Our Thai adventure included disco clubs, skeleton corsets, and an amusing encounter on the way to Siam mall!

lolita fashion lookbook

We also visited two sweet designers, who are making Lolita and Japanese-style clothing (here’s a full post about ChuChu). Wonderful to see how the subculture is thriving in unexpected places.

absinthe drip, glass cups

I couldn’t have stayed in a more beautiful hotel, the Sofitel So. They even served absinthe in the lobby.

fashion club lounge

VIP members get access to the club lounge, which is stocked with food, cocktails and fashion.

christian lacroix couture paintings

Christian Lacroix designed the interior. His colorful couture is unmistakable.

le petit prince chocolates, little prince

The ground floor contained a Bonnet chocolate shop. I spotted Little Prince sweets, and Parisian shoes and handbags.

earth theme room, cool hotel design

Sofitel So BKK is inspired by the five elements. I stayed in this funky Earth-themed suite.

air element theme room, cloud art

The other themes are Water, Wood, Fire, and Air — represented by modern cloud art.

freestanding modern bathtub

The entire hotel had glorious views of Lumpini Park. This is a far cry from the Khao San Road hostels…

deer antlers sculpture

Stark art is everywhere. I saw a child climbing on this white deer statue.

bangkok modern art store

I spy Ted the Bear in the gift shop.

thai writing, carvings

The lobby’s design mixes traditional and modern.

purple haired girl

Also check out the romantic photoshoot I did inside the Sofitel So Bangkok. (My hair is now blue; these are older photos).)

business insider travel videos

Please take a minute to watch my Bangkok travel video, and leave a comment to let me know what you think!

bunny rabbit art

Did this series change your impressions of Thailand? What is the loveliest hotel you’ve ever slept in?