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Millie Magazine x La Carmina interview! Vancouver BC fashion blogger photography, alternative model portraits.

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2021 has arrived… and I’m dressed to face whatever might come!

I’m determined to make this a glamorous and creative year — even if we must remain in lock-down mode for the time being.

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What’s been going on in La Carmina’s life?

I’m continuing to write (mostly about travel) for various publications, and I’ve recently added some new bylines to my roster. At the end of this post, you can find links to my recent articles.

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I also have a devilish new web show coming out soon… Stay turned to my @lacarmina social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) for the announcement! Can’t wait to unveil what we’ve been working on remotely in the past months.

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And I was honored to be profiled in the January 2021 issue of Millie Magazine, a print publication by Meredith Corp. (It’s currently released along with Real Simple Magazine.)

The magazine is about diverse women and personal finance, with a focus on achieving one’s financial and career goals. Senior editor Emily Silber interviewed me about my “cool and unusual job” as a TV producer and host in Japan! (See scans further down.)

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Millie Magazine commissioned photos of me to accompany the interview. I had a terrific time shooting around Vancouver, British Columbia with local photographer Rachel Pick. She took these vibrant photos in front of an East Van mural.

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Millie Magazine hired my trusty team to do my hair and makeup for the editorial shoot. (Earrings by Stephen Einhorn; rings Sapphire Studios.)

Artist Jennifer Little has been doing my makeup for years. She gave me a soft yet alternative look, with a double layer of eyelashes.

My stylist, Chad Evans of BlameChad, dyed my hair dark purple with pink face-framing front pieces. He styled my hair into two Harajuku-style half ponytails, with curls.

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We also took photos around Vancouver’s old Chinatown. Doesn’t this image have a Wong Kar Wai cinematic feel?

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A behind-the-scenes shot of my photography session with Rachel Pick. She brought reflectors, a box for me to sit or stand on, and more to achieve these shots!

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I’m not a morning person, but it was worth getting up early to have these excellent natural lighting conditions.

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Millie Magazine liked my various fun coats, and asked me to model a few. (Everything is styled and selected by me, from my personal wardrobe).

I’m wearing a few of my favorite pieces: a pink Mongolian sheared sheep coat by Skandinavik, a Miffy bag I got years ago in Hong Kong, and pumpkin-faced stockings by UK Tights.

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This look involves a vintage coat, Forest Ink cutaway top, and Jeremy Scott leather mini-skirt with polka dots.

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Money shot. All jewelry from La Carmina’s collection.

Skull bangle and pearl earrings by Stephen Einhorn; Aphrodite skull and Sailor Moon rings Sapphire Studios.

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We took these photos in October, before the “household-only” restrictions took place in British Columbia. Windows of opportunity are so fleeting these days, and difficult to predict… I’m glad we were able to make this Millie Magazine photoshoot happen.

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I love how the shoot turned out — what do you think? It’s rare to have an excuse to get dolled up these days. Fingers crossed that this changes soon.

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Here’s the cover of the Winter issue of Millie Magazine (January 2021). Thank you to the team for featuring me in this magazine about women, finance, and careers!

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I’m featured in the Table of Contents page of Millie Magazine as well. My profile is under the “My Odd Job” category. (“A TV fixer in Japan… These women have cool and unusual jobs.”)

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Here’s a look at my full-page interview in Millie Magazine (Jan 2021 edition). Emily Silber writes: “Not Your Average TV Producer. La Carmina is an expert in oddities, the Lady Gaga of the Japanese underworld, and a ‘fixer’ of peculiar TV shows.”

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A final behind the scenes look at my photography session with Rachel Pick. Here’s to more fashion and portrait photoshoots soon.

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Let’s finish up with a few of my latest bylines. I spilled my secrets of becoming a travel TV host and producer — see my essay on Fodor’s Travel. It includes bloody memories of bagelheads, love dolls, body mods, fake families, and other adventures in Japan with my Pirates.

Hopefully we can work on more wacky travel and culture TV shows soon, in Japan and worldwide. If you’re looking to hire a local production coordinator / fixer in Tokyo, check out our company — La Carmina & The Pirates.  

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I also interviewed Lucien Greaves, co-founder of The Satanic Temple — for my new article published by Roadtrippers Magazine.  Read about my visit to The Satanic Temple in Salem, and their important activism for pluralism and personal autonomy.

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I spoke with Lucien Greaves about the notorious Baphomet bronze statue, and how TST set up their headquarters in Salem, Ma. We also discuss the fight against false Satanic Panic accusations, and his fantastic Movie Night (TST3K) on The Satanic Temple TV.

Please enjoy my article about The Satanic Temple here, and see more photos from my visit to TST Salem in 2019.

Here’s to a hell of a 2021 — whatever that may mean. I’m keen to stay connected, so please reach out! Find me @lacarmina on social media; links below.

I’m also continuing to sell cute clothing and accessories on @lacarmina Depop; let me know if I can send you anything from my shop. Cheers!

Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – YouTube  – Depop

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Kelowna, British Columbia wine tours review! Tantalus Vineyards, Vibrant Vine, Blind Tiger organic winery tastings.

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Io Saturnalia! Happy Sol Invictus!

I’m well aware that these aren’t the happiest times, with rising worldwide numbers and strict lockdowns. Still, we can do our best to channel the ancient Roman festivals and revel in life’s good things… rather than being The Grinch.

In the spirit of Dionysus / Bacchus, the god of wine — let’s take a tipsy walk back in time to last autumn, when I was able to do a safe local trip from Vancouver to Kelowna, BC.

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This view says it all: British Columbia’s Okanagan has become one of the foremost destinations for wine tours. Read on to see what I experienced and three of the most creative BC wineries: Vibrant Vine, Blind Tiger, and Tantalus (above). 

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Instead of driving six hours east from Vancouver, I took a less than 60 minute flight to Kelowna on Flair Airlines. (Note that I flew in early October; check your provincial guidelines for current travel recommendations.)

Flair, a Canadian airline, offers low-cost tickets to destinations all over the country. I was impressed with their safety procedures (seamless check-in behind plexiglass, required face masks, and distancing including the option to purchase an empty middle seat for $49). I felt relaxed throughout my Flair flight, and before I knew it, I had touched down.

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Everything about my trip was relaxing and seamless. I had a cozy stay at Hyatt Place Kelowna — the hotel just opened this year, so all the furnishings and amenities are bright and new.

Loved getting to know the front desk staff, who were happy to share local tips and quickly deliver any items needed, such as extra towels.

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I was rollin’ through Kelowna in style, thanks to Okanagan Executive Rentals & Concierge. Owner Jeremy Giroux offers a sweet fleet of luxury and exotic rental cars. You can also hire him as an experienced driver and guide in Kelowna — well worth it, especially if you plan to hit multiple wineries in a day.

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My Kelowna trip wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable without Jeremy’s guidance. He took me to outstanding local wineries in style, in this black Lincoln Navigator. I also rented a Range Rover from him, to drive on my own — much fun!

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Jeremy even organized a helicopter ride that landed in Kitsch Winery; see my first post for the aerial adventure. You can find out more about his Okanagan BC rental cars and services on his site.

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First stop on this beautiful October day — The Vibrant Vine Winery in East Kelowna. The bright psychedelic colors and flowers give a hint at what’s inside.

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The Vibrant Vine is run by the Lewis family, and combines their love of creative drinks and art. Everyone who enters receives a pair of these goggles… because this is a 3D winery! 

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The entire space is filled with groovy, psychedelic art — including giant paintings on the ceilings. Artist Phil Lewis was already creating eye-popping art — but one day, he viewed his works while wearing 3D glasses. To his surprise, many of the lines seemed to pop out towards him!

Today, he creates paintings like this owl with the help of a computer, using color and textures to bring out the three dimensional elements.


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Put on the 3D glasses, and look around… the dragons and leopards will seem to be lunging out at you! 

As you can see, Phil Lewis’ colorful art covers The Vibrant Vine’s bottle labels  — making them a treat for the eyes, as well as the palate.

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I sampled wines with the guidance of a staff member, and it turned out to be one of the most informative tastings I had on this trip. He described Okanagan, BC as being a bit of an experimental “Wild West.” For instance, Vibrant’s smooth and peachy rose blends Pinot Auxerrois and Gewurztraminer, with a blush of Merlot — a technique that isn’t allowed for roses in Europe.

I loved the story of The Vibrant Vine’s signature “Woops” blend. The label was accentually reversed on the bottle — so they just went with it, and continued to produce an upside-down release called “Woops!” The seven-varietal blend was also unknowingly entered in a prestigious Geneva contest, and won “Best White Wine in the World.” (Oops they did it again.)

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This vineyard does it all — from a bubbly Vibranté Classique, to a crisp Pinot Grigio with notes of citrus and stainless steel. Vibrant focuses on the underdog, such as a fruit-forward Gamay Noir. With flavors of blackberry, violet and red currant, this red wine is perfect with both Thanksgiving turkey and dim sum.

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Merlin’s Merlot celebrates art and family, with a snuggly portrait of the Lewis’ golden retriever. This cool climate merlot is aged in oak, and tastes like cherries, plums and figs. (A portion of sales from Merlin the Dog’s wine go to the SPCA animal charity and United Way.) I ended my tasting at The Vibrant Vine with a Riesling ice wine with a bite of dark chocolate — perfection.

Another Lewis brother, Tony, also runs an imaginative winery that uses music to affect the settling of the sediments. You can read about my inspiring visit to Frequency in the previous post.

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Now, let’s honor the wine-loving Greek gods at Tantalus — the oldest continuous vineyard in Kelowna. This winery is named after Tantalus, the unfortunate Greek who was sentenced to eternal punishment. Try as he might, he could never quite reach a handful of fruit or sip of water to quench his hunger and thirst.

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In ironic contrast, this 72-acre vineyard has been successfully producing grapes since 1927. In 2010, Tantalus Vineyards built this modern-minimalist green building, and opened to the public for tastings.

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On these spectacular grounds, Tantalus grows Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Meunièr. The vineyard is committed to sustainability: everything is farmed naturally without pesticides, and the vines are hand-tended.

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I’ve grown increasingly interested in wine over the years, and was fascinated to see the vinification process firsthand from start to finish. Wouldn’t you like to dive into this juicy bin of Pinot Noir grapes, like Scrooge McDuck?

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Tantalus took me on a behind-the-scenes tour, and let me peer into the enormous stainless steel tanks filled with wine in various stages.

I got to try “grape juice” that had been fermenting for different numbers of days. Fascinating to taste the difference in yeast, fizziness and sweetness, as the “nectar of the gods” transformed into wine over time.

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In the barrel room, I learned about the next stages of aging the wine. Some of Tantalus’ varietals undergo malolactic fermentation in French oak. In this process, bacteria convert tart malic acid to lactic acid, creating a richer and creamier texture.

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Tantalus has indoor and outdoor tasting spaces — how beautiful is the natural wood architecture? Fittingly for a BC wine, Tantalus’ labels feature First Nations masks by Dempsey Bob, a woodcarver / sculptor of Tahltan and Tlingit (Northwest Coast) descent.

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I contrasted Bear, the young and lightly oaked chardonnay, with their signature version — which had a darker honey color, and flavors of lemon curd and creme brulee.

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Then, I got to taste the differences between the Maija and flagship Tantalus Pinot Noirs. The first is warm and juicy, with plum and dark cherry flavors. The second has Tantalus’ signature minerality, with floral aromas and surprising hints of cocoa, earth and mushroom.

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As the sun started to set, and I sipped wine while looking out at these fields, I felt as if I was in Elysium. Thanks Tantalus Vineyards for the unforgettable views and lessons in viticulture (wine growing).

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Finally, Jeremy drove us north to Lake Country, BC to visit a certified organic vineyard. Blind Tiger is a small, family-run operation — and their down-to-earth warmth shines through as soon as you enter the tasting room.

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Blind Tiger’s young, alternative attitude is reflected though its name. In the days of Prohibition (1920-33), bootleggers set up illegal blue collar speakeasies known as Blind Tigers.  Many had a tiger statue at the entrance. If it wore a cover over its eyes, then come in and party. But if the blindfold was off, the police was watching and you should stay away! 

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Co-owner Jerry Wowchuk treated me to a flight of Blind Tiger’s organic wines. I was delighted by Giggle Water, a light sparkling blush of chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Noir (fizzy, with hints of apricot). 

Then, I tried something made for an alien like me… a green-colored wine! Blind Tiger’s 2014 Riesling experienced “noble rot,” or a fungus that turned it green and made it unsellable. However, it’s safe to drink and turned out to be delicious. It was my first time trying this unusual wine — one of the many perks of doing a tasting at an indie winery. 

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Blind Tiger’s Pinot Noir ice wine was one of the tastiest I’ve ever tried. Harvested from -10 degree frozen grapes, this sweet dessert wine has Asian fruit flavors like lychee, along with mango and apricot. 

Their Riesling is wonderfully tart, with green apple and a touch of petrol on the nose. I highly recommend coming in to Blind Tiger for a tasting, and picking up bottles to take home — as you won’t find their wines at large retailers like BC Liquor. 

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I snacked on charcuterie as I sampled wines. In the summers, Blind Tiger offers authentic woodfire pizzas and live music on the patio, which draws in a fun young crowd. I’ll have to come back for a bite. 

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I feel fortunate to have been able to visit Kelowna in early October, right before the end of wine season.

However, Okanagan Executive Rentals & Concierge can take you on winery tours at any time, as some are open year-round. In the winter, Jeremy offers luxury car rentals and shuttles to ski resorts, spa, and more. 

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Thanks to Hyatt Place Kelowna for the fab stay. Their accommodations are comfortable, modern and close to everything in the city — such as the downtown district known for its waterfront walk and restaurants. 

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And thank you Flair Airlines for the safe and smooth journey through the skies. 

For more Kelowna travel guides, please see my first article about wineries and a private helicopter ride. Coming up in the third and final installment, I’ll explore Naramata Bench. 

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PS: I wanted to share one of my recent travel articles for Home in Canada magazine. I wrote about testing out a telepresence robot… and going on a virtual tour of the Mass MoCA museum!

Even if we can’t travel to different countries, we can visit museums from a distance by using innovative, remote robotic technology. 

I beamed into a GoBe Robot, using their app on my laptop. The video conferencing puts me “inside” the robot, which is in the Massachusetts art museum. Using remote controls, I could move it through the exhibits as if I were there. 

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That’s me inside the GoBe telepresence robot! It truly felt as if I were exploring the Mass MoCA in person, and chatting with my guide about Sol LeWitt’s colourful murals. 

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“Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto” for letting me travel via AI.

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Read my article about telepresence robot art tours here, and see a funny video on @lacarmina TikTok and Instagram Reels.

More travel articles and devilish filming projects coming up soon… I’m keeping busy, and finding creative ways to do things remotely. Domo arigato to all of you for your support over the years — I love hearing from those who have known me since my MySpace days! 

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