Category Archive for New York
Meow — time for an updated guide to Goth New York! NYC is known as Gotham City for a reason: there’s a wealth of alternative clubs, bars and fashion to be found here.
This year, I rang in New Year’s Eve in the Lower East Side. My friends and I taste-tested the new Lovecraft Bar, dedicated to the horror author and his Old Gods. We then danced to Industrial / Synth / EDM at Defcon, a weekly party at Pyramid Club.
Read on for our spooky reviews — and for more tips, check out my NYC Goth travel guides from over the years!
Yukiro and I were excited to visit the recently-opened Lovecraft Bar NYC. The theme restaurant / lounge honors H.P. Lovecraft and his dark, cosmic literary works.
(Address: 50 Ave B, Lower East Side, New York, NY)
The spacious bar has two floors, including a performance space in the basement. The decor pays homage to the Lovecraftian universe; all of the artwork and materials are elegantly curated. (I’m wearing this exact Disturbia top with the Lovecraft gate symbol on it. It also comes in this grey version.)
If you’ve read Lovecraft’s stories, such as his Necronomicon collection, you’ll recognize his occult symbols on this mural. Pyramids, tentacles and fear: our favorite combination!
Upstairs, there is a fully stocked bar. The tattooed bartender prepared the favorite drink of the Goths — absinthe — and lit it on fire.
The New York Lovecraft bar is haunted by his evil deities, particulary Cthulhu. Part octopus, man and dragon, he lies in wait at the bottom of this fish tank. “Iä! Iä! Cthulhu fhtagn!”
HP Lovecraft has a cult following, and my friends and I love his works. If you haven’t read his books before, I recommend starting with “Necronomicon: The Best Weird Tales.”
The Lovecraft bar has an extensive food and drink menu. We had a hard time choosing from the craft cocktails, with delectable names like Tesla’s Blood, Mythos Margarita, Dagon’s Bite (named after the sea deity in one of his early tales).
The bartender also makes his own infused spirits, with unusual ingredients like carrots and chai. The pumpkin spice was tangy perfection.
At theme restaurants, the food is often an afterthought. Thankfully, this is not the case at Lovecraft NY.
The very first dish was possibly our favorite: a martini glass of watermelon, avocado and tuna ceviche.
In honor of the octopus god Cthulhu, we ordered this fresh salad with tentacles.
Lovecraft introduced this malevolent being in one of his most famous stories, 1928’s “The Call of Cthulhu” (found in the Necronomicon collection). The Elder God is hibernating in an underwater city, causing ripples of subconscious anxiety in our minds.
His worshippers chant: “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.” (“In his house at R’lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.”)
Chef Shapan Karmaker brought us a wide selection of stand-out dishes, including crab cakes with homemade sauces, and other Western-fusion creations. The chef has cooked at restaurants of different genres for over a decade, and brings his expertise to the Lovecraftian menu.
The Lovecraft‘s dark interior design, drinks and cuisine are an impeccable tribute to the author. We encourage you to visit Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and dine in a space full of mystical wonder and terror.
(Photography by Joey Wong.)
In the same neighborhood, you’ll find one of the best alternative venues in the city. The Pyramid Club is a New York institution. It opened in 1979 and was a center of Goth, drag and LGBT gatherings in the 1980s.
I first went Goth clubbing at Pyramid while at university in NYC. Today, the dark dance parties are still going strong. (Address: 101 Avenue A #1, NYC)
Every Saturday, Defcon rages in the basement of the Pyramid. DJ Mike Stalagmike (above) and his crew serve up an epic playlist of electronic body music, Industrial, New Beat, synth, electro, dark disco. Instead of flipping through the usual “Goth club” favorites, the DJs go for more obscure tracks and let them play out.
As you know, I’ve been to a hell of a lot of Gothic parties worldwide (chronicled here). If you’re in it for the music — Defcon delivers. We couldn’t have picked a better place for our New Year’s Eve “final countdown.”
The dance floor is also a perfect balance of underground and welcoming. The DJs are friendly and came up to introduce themselves, and all the club-goers were spooky types (you won’t see tourists here). Eccentricity is welcomed, and yet everyone is respectful of your personal space.
Defcon goes down every Saturday at Pyramid Club. Kudos to the organizers for maintaining one of most authentic Goth parties in NYC (check out their Facebook for event announcements and more).
New York is also one of the best US cities to experience J-pop culture. My friends and I had dinner at Hanamizuki, an adorable Japanese cafe that recently hosted a Sailor Moon pop-up event.
(Address: 143 West 29th Street, between 6th and 7th Aves, New York, NY)
Jenny delighted me with this creepy-cute portrait of me and Basil Farrow! (Also pictured are illustrations of my cat by Lili Chin and Naomi Rubin).
Jenny’s shirt and choker were to die for. (More eerie fashion below):
Hanamizuki’s mission is to serve simple yet scrumptious Japanese favorites, made with the healthiest ingredients. New Yorkers can live a stressful lifestyle, and the cafe aims to be a Zen-like environment where they can chill out and feel good.
The airy Midtown location is filled with plants and natural materials. On the wood shelves, I browsed organic teas and cute gifts.
Hanamizuki’s signature dish is onigiri, or rice balls. Here, these snacks are anything but basic.
The cafe serves dozens of varieties, including vegetarian options stuffed with ingredients like seaweed, yukari (dried red shiso leaf) and several types of pickles. I also couldn’t resist getting seconds of the unagi (eel) and ume (plum) o-musubi.
We tried several varieties of miso soup, made with fresh and clean ingredients. Hanamizuki isn’t afraid to innovate with fusion rice balls, such as Hawaiian teriyaki-spam, semi dried tomato and chili wrapped in nori-seaweed.
A photo is worth a thousand words — you can tell guess how much we loved this octopus and veggies bowl.
Simple flavors, with offbeat execution. Everything we tried tasted like it was made with love.
Happiness is a round of desserts to share. Organic cookies, chiffon cake and mousses made us smile.
With it cool design and homestyle menu, Hanamizuki is a New York gem. I had the loveliest dinner here with friends, and we couldn’t resist getting more rice balls to take home with us.
Yukiro and I hope your 2016 is going devilishly so far! We’re thankful we got to reunite with friends in one of the world’s greatest cities.
If you’re planning a trip to New York, I hope you find my NYC alternative travel guides helpful. These include tips for where to buy clothing (St Marks, vintage), eat, party and sleep.
Are you a Lovecraft fan? Have you heard of Pyramid Club, or the Sailor Moon theme cafe that Hanamizuki hosted?
It’s no secret that I’m a cat-lady… so I might as well dress like one! I hope you enjoy this CatWoman-style photoshoot, taken right before New Year’s Eve in Brooklyn, NY.
To further this theme, I’ll review Catfé: the newly opened Vancouver cat cafe that encourages adopting animals in need.
My photographer Joey Wong and I were in New York right at the end of 2015. I was staying at my favorite spot, NU Hotel in Brookyn (near Hoyt St station, right across the water).
We felt energized by the street art and brownstones around us, and wanted to shoot images that reflected the feeling of Brooklyn. Read on for a breakdown of my outfit, and where to get these items.
Cats are fuzzy… so I wore my new faux fur coat, from Pretty Attitude! It’s animal-friendly, and has a striking ombre fade from black to lavender-grey. Perfect for a pastel Goth look.
Here’s a similar ombre faux fur jacket, and more selections below — I love this style. Click to shop:
Cat-Woman, head to toe. My black heels with silver chain detail are by Michael Kors, who makes these exact same shoes in an ankle boot version too.
These types of shoes are a worthwhile purchase, since they are versatile for all types of outfits.
My stretchy, cut-out bodysuit is by Black Milk Clothing, one of my favorite alternative fashion brands. Once again, this is an item that you can dress up or layer in a variety of ways.
I may not have claws, but I have appropriately feline mittens from Hong Kong!
You won’t be able to find these online, as they are sold only in Asia. But Karl Lagerfeld makes cat face gloves that are just as adorable.
I’m sure you are curious about my necklace: it’s from Maison Birks. I got it in the 1990s, rediscovered it recently — and still love it. Plus, the silver dangling pendant looks like a subtle version of a BDSM slave collar…
Three cheers for my hair stylist and colorist, Stephanie Hoy. She’s the best in the business for alternative cuts, vivid dyes, editorial styling and more. You can make an appointment with her at Stratosphere Hair Salon at Granville and Davie, in downtown Vancouver.
I think Joey Wong nailed the mood of the neighborhood, in his images. In the background, you can see ‘Love Letter to Brooklyn‘, a series of quotes painted by Stephen Powers.
My tight black pants are by Armani, who makes these leather leggings too.
Dreaming that I live in one of these brownstone apartments…
… and ready to pounce. This eclectic street art is part of the Groundswell Community Mural Project.
What do you think of my DIY Cat-Woman outfit? Find the same or similar fashion items, by clicking below:
And now, a different type of meow! I was excited to visit Catfé, the first cat cafe to open in Vancouver, Canada.
Anyone can come to drink tea and play with kitties. Plus, you’ll be supporting a great cause — all the resident felines are from SPCA shelters, and available to adopt.
Cat cafes originally started as a novelty in Japan, but they found a passionate clientele (especially among people who cannot keep pets at homes, or couples looking for a fun date activity). Now, these cafes are found worldwide.
Catfe is located inside downtown Vancouver’s International Village Mall, above the Starbucks. (Address: Shop 2035, 88 W Pender St, Vancouver, Canada). There’s free parking in the lower levels.
Visitors can make advance reservations through their site to guarantee entry, or drop-in at any time if there’s space.
I liked the cafe’s bright, minimal design incorporating wood and glass. First, I went through the doors on left to pick up drinks and snacks. The cute cupcakes with cat-faced fondant were irresistible.
Then, I entered the glass doors on the right — this is the area that contains the cats. Usually, there are about six of them roaming around.
Catfe’s owner, Michelle Furbacher, warmly greeted me. She told me spent years researching cat cafes and visiting existing ones, including Oakland Cat Town (where I shot an ABC Nightline segment).
Like the Oakland cafe, Catfe has the meaningful goal of encouraging adoptions. All of the fuzzy residents are from the SPCA; many came down from shelters in less populated areas, such as northern British Columbia.
Many visitors come here to play with the kitties, and end up connecting with one of them. The re-homing has been so successful that the cafe had to bring in new cats at a rapid rate!
We couldn’t resist getting these chocolate cat-face cake pops, which were scrumptious. (Although we felt bad biting into the smiling face.)
We spent over an hour at the cafe, petting the cats and amusing them with the toys provided.
We also played the funny Exploding Kittens card game (highly recommended), and browsed the cat-themed merchandise on the shelves.
The space holds about 18 people, and the staff make sures that the cats never feel overwhelmed. High open ceilings, big windows and platform shelving: the ideal environment for cats to enjoy.
So much fun interacting with the sweet cats. You’re allowed to take photos, as long as they are without flash.
Best of all, we knew we were supporting a great cause: Catfe doubles as a foster home, and gives back to animal charities. Now that is the cat’s meow!
If you’re in Vancouver and looking for a cute alternative activity, come to this cat cafe with a heart.
And why not dress up as a pussy-cat too? Rowr!
Here’s a full-body shot of my Cat-Lady outfit again, featuring faux fur, pointed ears and a skin-tight black bodysuit.
Shop my look at:
More photos from NYC to come, including a Goth party and visit to the Morbid Anatomy Museum.
But wait — how could I write about cats without including my Scottish Fold baby, Basil Farrow? I’ll let his sweet round face wrap up this post!
(Enjoy more photos on my social networks @lacarmina, linked on the right top sidebar of this blog.)
It’s almost the end of 2014! So much has happened this year, especially behind-the-scenes. New friends, wild times, and a renewed focus on the type of work that (I feel) truly matters.
In 2015, I’m committed to keep focusing on this bigger picture. So you’ll keep on seeing first-hand stories about alternative beauty, innovators pushing boundaries, underground travel and subcultures all around the globe. I think my work makes the biggest difference when it encourages people to challenge preconceptions (about topics like body modifications or drag queens), and express themselves as they wish to be — without fear.
In terms of meeting these goals, 2014 was a Very Metal Year indeed. Let’s get retrospective, and highlight some of my favorite destinations and stories from the first six months. I also have some bonus material from Jordan, which I never got around to posting until now. (Above, I’m with Tel Aviv fashion blogger Korin Avraham.)
At the start of the year, my travel filmmakers and I went to Israel, by invitation of the tourism board. We’ve been eager to come here for a long time. I’m fascinated by ancient destinations that have a surprisingly modern and creative culture.
Talk about reversing expectations: I imagined a Moses-like landscape of sand dunes. But from my hotel room at the Dan Tel Aviv, I had a perfect view of the beach. I sat by the window and watched the waves glowing at sunset.
One of the highlights was going on a Tel Aviv style tour (see all the photos in part 1 and part 2). Galit (right) took us to meet designers whose work perfectly matched my interests, such as upcycled vintage and unicorn wedding dresses. It felt like going shopping with a friend, and I still stay in touch with all the designers she introduced.
Since some of you requested a summary of outfits from 2014, here are a few more photos of what I wore in Israel. (Details of what I’m wearing here).
One of my favorite days of all of 2014 was exploring Jerusalem. I did a very special photo diary about our day in the Holy City, and why I feel travel is so important.
Perhaps you’re wondering… whatever happened to our Israel video? Around the time we completed it, the country was unfortunately experiencing conflict. My editors felt it would be most respectful to wait until later to run this upbeat travel episode. Hopefully, we can share it with you soon — stay tuned.
I take thousands of photos in each trip, and not all the stories make it onto this site. It seems wrong to deprive you of Miffy-ness, so here’s an outfit photo from our Jordan journey with Ya’lla Tours.
Our private driver took us to Pella, one of the country’s most impressive archaeological sites. These ancient ruins date back 8000 years, and were part of the Decapolis (the 10 centers of Greco-Roman civilization in this region).
One of the benefits of traveling with Ya’lla: we had our own driver and guide, who told us about the history as we journeyed. In Jordan, there wouldn’t have been any easy way to get around on our own, especially with the ruin sites located far apart.
On this 3-day road trip, we crossed through Amman. Through the window, I saw Roman columns, sunsets, children running towards us from Bedouin villages… and a whole lot of rocks.
The tour included unique experiences, like a cooking class at Petra Kitchen in Wadi Musa. The friendly chefs came by each table, shook their heads in mock-frustration, and demonstrated how the vegetables were supposed to be cut (ours were too big, or misshaped)…
We learned how to prepare a number of Jordanian dishes, including baba ghanoush and fattoush. At the end, all the Petra Kitchen students sat together and shared the meal. I love activities like this, which let you put your hands into the local food culture, and would come back again.
The next day was a dream come true: visiting the lost city of Petra. << All the photos here.
Here’s the Treasury of Petra, which you may recognize as the site of the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. I never expected I’d be able to visit places like this.
The next months were also spent traveling, but on more familiar terrain. I stopped by LA to attend Oscars parties. My Mickey Mouse two-buns hairstyle got quite a bit of attention.
Then I went to Toronto for meetings, and caught up with friends in the Goth alternative scene. I finally got to see Amy’s Arms perform at Lee’s Palace, where Scott Pilgrim had an epic battle or two.
The girls and I did a photoshoot wearing Gloomth, the Gothic Lolita Victorian label by my friend Taeden. (All photos from this shoot here).
Growing up, I was fascinated with 1960s hippie culture and took university classes about Buddhism. It was a joy to stay at the San Francisco Zen Center, especially after hearing so much about it. I particularly loved the courtyard with a fountain and hidden Buddha statues.
My friends and I had a reunion in San Francisco, and held a performance event at Wicked Grounds. Thanks to everyone who came out to meet us! If you’re visiting the city soon, you might enjoy my San Francisco Goth clubbing and bar guide.
Off to another much-loved US destination: New York City. Even though I lived here for years (while in school), I discover new places each time. This time, I did a shoot at the Paper Factory Hotel. I couldn’t help but smile as I gazed at the Manhattan skyline, from the graffiti-marked rooftop.
I was in NYC for a secret filming project, which will all make sense soon (fingers crossed that I can spill the beans in early 2015!)
For one lively scene, I judged a cosplay competition at Maid Cafe NY << Check out the impressive handmade costumes, and see who won the contest.
I also hosted an alternative club night with King Vulcanus Levi and NYC friends. He crowned me with one of his feathered creations. << Peek into the madness.
That’s already a lot for one post, so I’ll end this here. Next, I’ll summarize the second half of the year, where I went all around Asia and to Africa for the first time…
How do you feel when you look back upon 2014? What are you aiming to achieve in 2015?
Every time I go back to New York, it feels like a homecoming. I lived in NYC for years, and the city kindled my passion for nightlife, alt cultures and fashion.
One New Yorker who inspired me over the years is King Vulcanus Levi, club promoter and nightlife royalty. It was an honor to be his Queen for the night, and host an underground party together.
I was here for a TV shoot, and we wanted to celebrate the city’s flamboyant underground nightlife. Reserved Consulting was launching a new club event, called Friday Factory, and it fit the bill perfectly. Their parties shine the spotlight on NYC’s underground through performances and personalities.
Vulcanus and I held court at this giant gold table, which was reserved for us and friends. Thanks to everyone who joined the fun, and to Reserved for the generous bottles of spiced rum!
The scene at Friday Factory was like a “21st century vaudeville.” Most of the guests dressed up to the nines, in styles as diverse as Gothic, retro, leather, lace. Lots of dancing and shenanigans — that’s the New York club kid spirit.
I particularly enjoyed the performance art: burlesque, whips, urban singers. The highlight was my friend Lauren. She covered her body in liquid glue, stood in a corner to let it dry, and then peeled it off and gave bits of the dried “skin” the crowd. Their reactions were priceless.
I’m wearing a Moi-meme-Moitie dress and lace top (the brand is by Mana sama, of Malice Mizer and Moi dix Mois). The blue feathered crown was bestowed upon me, by King Vulcanus Levi, who designed it himself! I urge you to add his Facebook page, to see more designs and inspiration.
(All above photos by Alex E. Houston)
Before Friday Factory, Vulcanus had a pre-party at his Lower East Side apartment. He showed me his collection of handmade crowns and accessories, a pleasure-palace of peacock feathers, playing cards, Gothic crosses, jewels, and other luxuries.
He showed me some of signature looks from over the years. A majestic combination of bird on head, feathered collar, cinched corset (standing next to his friend, latex designer The Baroness).
Vulcanus showed me how he put on his distinctive makeup, with a pure white face, and black V-shaped lips. When I first saw him at NY clubs ages ago, I was blown away by this vision — he seemed like a royal from another planet!
He puts thought into every aesthetic detail, down to the gloves and rings. I’m in awe at his creativity.
All around the room, our friends were doing makeup touchups, pouring cocktails and dancing.
I’ll never get tired of the NY’s nightlife energy. So many friendly and welcoming creatures here.
Living here sparked my love of subcultures and alternative beauty, which continues strong to this day. In New York, you can express who you want to be, and find other like-minded creatives.
And the nightlife can’t be beat! If you want to join the fun, you can check Reserved Consulting’s site for announcements about their next Friday Factory events. And add King Vulcanus Levi on Facebook to see where he’s appearing next.
At dawn, I was happy to lay my weary head at The Library Hotel. In my hazy state, I couldn’t remember my room number: but thankfully, each door has a unique plate that follows the Dewey Decimal System. I was on the Languages floor, so the rooms were called Romance, Asian, Germanic…
It’s the perfect place for me to stay: a hotel dedicated to book-lovers! I love to read at night to wind down, so this put me in instant relaxation mode. Unlike some theme hotels, there is no cheesiness here: it’s 5 star luxury, with seamless service and cozy design.
Here’s a close-up of my white platform sandals, sent by YRU — here’s the link to purchase them. So cool, the clear heel with a cloud print.
The Library Hotel has an ideal location, near Central Park in midtown Manhattan. They have a unique “Writer in Residence” program that aims to give authors inspiration and sanctuary. If you qualify, you get a complimentary stay at their properties, and enjoy perks like the lounge and free Wifi.
My friend, author Elizabeth Wurtzel, joined me for tea. The lounge serves tea, coffee, sweets and fruit all day long “to keep the creative juices flowing.”
My sleeveless jacket with a hood is a gift from Teale Coco. She makes devilish harnesses too, including a full body Lucifer harness.
The lobby has a Great Gatsby feel. (Are you currently reading any good books? I’d love to hear your reading recommendations; leave me a note in the comments!)
Take the elevator to the top floor, and you’ll walk into Bookmarks Bar and Lounge. My friends and I drank literary-inspired cocktails — like a Hemingway made with rum, mint and champagne — on the rooftop terrace, which has a lovely view of the Empire State Building.
Can’t go wrong with a free breakfast that includes berries, lattes and grapefruit juice. Thanks to the Library Hotel for treating us writers like VIPs!
Finally, a closeup of my mint-colored Totoro nail art by Glam Nail Studio. More of their kawaii Japanese nails on their Twitter.
Here are some Instagram snaps from the Dances of Vice burlesque cruise, which sailed from Battery Park to the Statue of Liberty. New York, I’ll never grow tired of you.
Do you you prefer dancing at clubs and holing up with a good book? Or are you fond of both, as I am?