31 August 2008

So Unique

The Bubble Roome Lavender & Geranium
This offbeat, yet pleasing scent always lingered around Faythe Levine's first Paper Boat Boutique & Gallery location. Chartreuse, another lovely Bayview shop, stocks many different items--Ms. Kansas has tried the lotion and shower gel. So, this unique scent will always remind MSKS of that neighborhood.

Matching belts--the kind that many vintage dresses come with--are truly a girl's best friend. Waistlines go boldly where they once feared to tred. They give shape to a dress or top that's a little too big, eliminating the nemesis of vintage dress-wearers everywhere, Floppy Shapelessness Syndrome.

28 August 2008

Meow Wow

You've heard of The Alley Cat Revue Milwaukee, right? A spin-off of the weekly (!!) burlesque show in St. Louis, these fine entertainers, led by the sultry Miss Bella Sue DeVianti, strutted their stuff at Stonefly in Riverwest for the first time earlier this month. The show bill featured burlesque artists from as far away as Minneapolis and St. Louis, including the very talented Miss Lola van Ella. It was great! Very profesh. Very polished. Great costumes. Ms. K especially appreciated Lola van Ella's effort as the MC to educate the audience about burlesque and performance--cuz it's more than just boobies. Unfortunately, Ms. Kansas had to leave at intermission because her companions, recovering from a cold, were feeling a bit piqued. Luckily, and to her surprise, MK met and congratulated the bevy of burlesque beauties when they stopped by the Riverwest Co-op the next day during her shift.

Obviously, these ladies don't play. They're planning to make the show a monthly thing. Catch a performance, including a freebie at Starship on August 30, Burlesque Extravaganza, Part 2 at Stonefly on September 12, and the much-anticipated Mondo Lucha at Turner Hall on September 27.

Image from Alley Cat Revue Milwaukee's myspace page.

26 August 2008

Talking to (Someone From) the Hand-Shaped State

Yep, that's the lovely and talented Melissa Dettloff's eye, folks! That's the photo she sent the Church. Though the beloved Lekkner may no longer be with us, this crafty gal's heart goes on—headless unicorn-style.

When and why did you decide to shutter Lekkner?
I decided to close Lekkner in the fall of 2007. I felt like it had its run—it wasn't fitting into my schedule as well because I was working full-time, and it was getting more and more difficult to find time to search for t-shirts and fill orders. It seemed like time to move on to other projects.

What did you do during your stint at VgKids?
I started out part-time redesigning their website and then went full-time working in the office and taking orders from customers—and then from there went on to be a manager (where I did a ton of different things). I loved working there a lot—they are an awesome crew of peeps to work with and damn good at what they do (which is screen-printing).

Are you crafting full-time now?
[Actually], I'm working full-time as a web designer at a community college. I'm always making things in my free time, but in a way that doesn't generate money exactly. Which I almost kind of prefer—it’s more enjoyable and I feel like I have more freedom in what I do.

Will you pleezpleezpleez come to Art v. Craft?!
Sure! I'd love to. I love Art v. Craft. Though if I did, I'm sure it would be to represent a new project—probably not too much like the things I used to make. I've been getting into soft sculpture more these days [rather] than clothing and pouches [I did under Lekkner].

How did the "Steak Is Wack" phenom occur?
I went through an overuse of the word “wack” phase, and, being vegan, it only made sense to bring the two together...

I noticed you're still in Michigan. Do you plan to stay there—or are you gonna move to PDX or Brooklyn?
At the moment, I plan to stay in Michigan—no plans to move anywhere. I don't see myself in Brooklyn; Portland would be more likely. I live in [a cool Michigan community] now, and I really love it here.

Can you describe an easy-fa-sheezy project that a craft chicken like myself would not be too intimidated to start and finish?
Knit a sweater for your bike! This is a project I started recently. I'm interested in knitting, but the payoff takes too long (for me). So, knitting a sweater for your bike is just making flat panels of knitting and then stitching them to your bike frame. Check out hoorayforever.org/?cat=4. (I will finish someday).

What was the most fun or interesting project you worked on during the, um, Lekkner years?
Hmm, it's hard to break it into one thing. The "Lekkner years" were amazing. I was given so many great opportunities and met a lot of awesome people. I liked being invited and going out to Washington, D.C. to speak at a feminist conference. I liked ending up in a book with Amy Sedaris (Tease). Renegades were fun.

What do you wear on a typical day?
I'm pretty simple when it comes to this—I’m pretty jeans-and-t-shirt (though I have a sweet and above average t-shirt collection from my years at VgKids). Sometimes dressed up with a necklace from the thrift store.

What indie designers do you buy and wear?
Preloved is my absolute favorite. I like Anti-Factory, but I can never get on there quick enough to grab something before it sells out! Valerie is doing nice things with dear birthday these days.

How would you describe your style?
Practical, slightly/barely interesting...I always wake up too late in the morning before work to put much thought into it!

Do you thrift a lot?
Yes! Thrifting rules.

Please tell me about the projects you're working on or involved with [lately].
Boy...well, one of the two big ones is the Severed Unicorn Head Superstore—for which I had an event June 22 and prepar[ed] for by sewing up headless unicorn bodies, lumpy rainbows and the like. The other big one [wa]s a biannual arts event some friends and I have been organizing the past few years called the Shadow Art Fair. We take applications for artists/makers of things to display their work for 12 hours twice a year and round the day out with live music and other fun things. We [had been] able to raise enough money through this event offer up an "arts grant" to the local community.

What's in your studio or work space?
The Gatorade Ranch of Decapitation and Dismemberment [is] my friend Amy's painting studio, and she lets me have a space in it for my sewing stuff—that’s where I do all of my sewing. I really love having a separate space to do that stuff in (compared to the days of running Lekkner out of my bedroom when I lived with my mom).The name is cuz of the severed unicorn headage and because, for some reason, we found ourselves drinking a lot of Gatorade there (and not really being Gatorade drinkers at all [in] the other parts of our lives).

What in god's name is Severed Unicorn Head Superstore?
It’s basically an inside joke with my friend Mark that got out of control. The fact that they are unicorns, and they shed their heads etc., is based on nothing...It could have been anything. I was drawing representations of my favorite animals (shark tooth, unicorn horn, etc.), and he was teasing me because I was separating the part from the whole and latched onto the "severed unicorn head" thing. He started making paintings on records and told me I should make something, too. And from there we have www.severedunicornheadsuperstore.com, which basically became a project that gave me the opportunity to approach sewing in a whole new way (not clothing, not pouches) by making three-dimensional objects out of really obnoxious fabric that I never got to work with much before. The fact that it's kind of a bizarre concept helps, too—it can make for some pretty interesting/weird t-shirt slogans and such.

Did Faythe Levine interview you for her doc Handmade Nation?
Yeah, she interviewed me about Crafters for Critters.

What was living in Detroit like? What did you like about the community?
I lived in Detroit (proper; eastside) with my family until I was 18, when we moved to an inner-ring suburb. I went to college in Detroit at Wayne State University. I love Detroit. It was scary to grow up there sometimes, but there is some crazy shit there that you're not going to find anywhere else, and I still like to go back there and hang out in some favorite places (Belle Isle, for one). I think growing up in Detroit definitely makes you a certain "way" that's hard to put into words.

Also, how would you describe the current state of indie/DIY culture—and where do you fit into it?
I'm not sure I can make informed comments about this. One thing I can say is that my place in it in the past few years has transformed from a wider sort of "global" scale into one that is definitely more community-based. What I'd done in the past was very internet-tied, which allowed a lot more people to see and be involved in what I was doing, but in the past year or so I've been very involved at a more local level in the city I live in. Beyond that though, I'm pretty out of touch. Which doesn't really bother me—I like it better this way. It feels more "real" and more relevant to me and the people around me and the people I care about.


Photo of Melissa Dettloff's eye by, I'm assuming, Melissa Dettloff.

08 August 2008

Futons and Chairs

People who know me know I am very suspicious of couches and beds. One might go so far as to say I am philosophically opposed to them. Have you ever thought about your couch or bed? They're chimeras. Nobody needs them. They make your friends hate you when you move. We've been brainwashed and bamboozled into accepting them, thinking they're necessary. Couches and beds tie us down. Neither is easily grappled with by a single person. To me, they're symbolic of being ruled by one's possessions--to say nothing of being impoverished of imagination.

I was impressed by the importance of futons in Kyoko Mori's Stone Field, True Arrow, which takes place in Milwaukee. (Mori is a graduate of UWM's creative writing program.) Ok, maybe they're not exactly literary motifs--but, then again, maybe they are. I just liked the way Maya and Yuko were able to travel light and sleep on futons.

There's something very elegant about chairs and futons as solutions--how they're comparatively so much easier to maneuver. And affordable.

04 August 2008

Kansas Flava

A short while ago I was sitting outside the Riverwest Co-op eating dinner when a couple strolled by. "I had one of those," I enthused, catching sight of the one-piece gymsuit the woman was wearing with a pair of high white socks.

It was the kind with the striped top and solid blue shorts that zips up the front--the kind girls rocked in middle school for gym class. She told me she got it at the Salvation Army. (Where else?) "Does it have a Broderick's label?" I asked. The dude she was with checked and confirmed that it was. "That's from my hometown," I said.

Broderick's was a textile concern--hide nor hair of which turned up on google searches I did last week--that made sportswear in Parsons, KS. My mother worked there when I was in elementary school. So, we never had to buy gymsuits.

01 August 2008

Iowa Heat

Ms. Kansas isn't the only thing scorching the Midwest just now. Leslie Hall, the Midwest Diva herself and one of the Church's very favorite Iowans, has a new album out called Cewebrity. Not only is she big, beautiful, and brilliant--but also she's got good beats. Check out her video for "How We Go Out." Fellow Midwestern hotties, note bene: shows in Madison and Chicago September 19 and 20, respectively. Holla...

Photo from www.lesliehall.com/midwestdiva.htm.

Disco Rules

I love disco. It is just so hot. At work today I started listening to the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. I dare anybody to come up with a bassline that makes the hair stand up on the back of one's neck the way "Stayin' Alive" does.

To me, these songs are perfect. Having been born in 1975, I admit, though, that there are years and layers of emotional refraction when it comes to my relationship to these songs and, well, the disco experience. My sister, less than two years older; another girl who captured the 1970s falsetto chic enviably well; and I, catapulted into teary, heaving emotional freak-out over these songs--well, Grease more than SNF. (I dare you to find a person born from 1967-1976 who isn't emotionally bonded to Grease.) My sister and I badgered our mother for endless pairs of "Cindy high heels," clear plastic disco shoes marketed to little girls with images of the movie. The musical perfection of "If I Can't Have You" boggled my three-year-old mind.

I "rediscovered" the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in summer 1996, ashamed I'd allowed kowtowing to the indie rock snobbery bullshit to have separated me from its unbelievable pop splendor. I'm so glad I actually remember the 1970s. I'm so glad I was there. Thank god for the Bee Gees!!