Rico Starr | Gogo’s Entrepreneur

Rico Starr | Gogo’s Entrepreneur

What is gay sexuality? What is socializing in queer spaces? and what is the meaning of partying in a post-Covid circumstance, where we are still locking in and out while needing to rage on harder. With pride around the corner and what is sure to be #SlutGirlSummer we chatted with Eric Alán whose gogo dancing persona Rico Starr led to an iconic and vivaciously vulgar clothing line which bridges the gogo attire with the streets.

Who is Rico Starr?

I would have to say Rico Starr is an over the top version of myself. A world class traveler, into fashion, all things nightlife, glitter, fun, music and extravagance!

Is he a top, bottom or vers?

Definitely vers! Everyone knows very guys have twice the fun…Rico Starr even has a shirt for that!

What would be your ideal dream Starr to rock Rico Starr?

My tagg line is that EVERYBODY IS A STARR. There is no one type or aesthetic that my line is directed to or at or trying to attract. In fact, my website is full of photos with actual customers in their own Rico Starr gear.

 

What is your background in production and how did you see yourself utilizing it as a means of expression?

My segue into singing and recording my own music was being chosen out of a crowd in a dance club to audition for a slot as a backup dancer to another recording artist at the time. Doing that for about a year or so, I met music producers and just started working on projects and before you know it that lead to my own songs, music videos, tv spots, press, live shows, etc.

As far as expression, I just wasn’t afraid of putting who and what I am out there. The themes and imagery of my music are very authentic to me as a person. It’s flashy, gay, unashamed, proud, sexy and fun! I don’t think it ever occurred to me to try to fit into or be anything else than what I was/am. This was my art so intrinsically a visual and audible extension of myself.

Did you feel like dancing came naturally what was your gateway until performing and did you use it to incorporate and direct your musical career?

Since I was very young, music and dancing has ALWAYS been a HUGE part of my life. My mother incessantly played Donna Summer’s ‘On The Radio’ album which I still never get tired of listening too. My late aunt and I would dance in her laundry room for hours. She introduced me to Latin sounds like salsa and merengue and was so eager to listen to new things at the time like Madonna and Gloria Estefan.

Gogo dancing came after my stint as a recording artist. And yes, it did come very naturally. Music ALWAYS takes me to a place of joy. Every time I dance, people come up to me and remark at how much fun they have seeing and sharing the joy I have when I’m dancing.

Beyond stage outfits how did you feel your designs extended into the dancing in the music?

Dancing generally takes place in a dark room filled with flashing lights. The clothes I design are made specifically for that. I mean, as gay men the shirts come off pretty quick, but even at bars, there is dim lighting and at least a disco ball, right? The materials in my shirts are all used with that in mind. From foil to glitter and rhinestones, it’s all meant to catch the light and shine!

Do you feel that what you had made for a gogo dancing as a custom extension to how you view your own sexuality and personal sexual habits?

As far as gogo dancing, the point is to be as sexy as fuck right? But beyond that I have always felt that there is nothing sexier than confidence. So with that said, unless I was dancing for an event that was sponsored by a particular underwear or clothing brand, I always aimed to wear something that made me feel confident. And yes, that absolutely included leather, jocks, briefs and anything in between. My favorite gogo dancing gigs have been for various Madonna events. I got to reimagine and create her outfits but from a gogo dancer perspective.

The brand is super all-in, where the K crew and G crew can somewhere say high high hello, what would you say is the best layering technique of drugs for a night out?

Well. I’m not one to dose and tell but I personally find that a little bit of everything makes for a phenomenal night out dancing under those flashing lights and glittering disco ball!

Where do you see the brand going in the near future?

Rico Starr is about to put out summer gear and it’s first swimsuit. While you can already find the shirts in Chi Chi Larue’s Circus of Books in West Hollywood, CA, I would like to see Rico Starr expand to other brick and mortar stores across the country and maybe even internationally! 

How do you feel gay men have interacted with their sexuality as the pandemic hit, are we coming back to cruise culture for a sense of adventure?

From what I have seen and heard I would have to agree that cruise culture is on the rise again. Apparently the Rambles here in Central Park is quite the happening place! Again, so I’ve heard… It’s kinda like what Richard Attenborugh said in Jurassic Park but I would tweak it a bit. “Gays find a way.”

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Bertie Body | Back To Bath Rituals

Bertie Body | Back To Bath Rituals

BERTIE BODY – A clear mind can only take you so far. Exhausted of the hustle and endless parade of city life, Roberta Schmidt of bertie body found that after a long day bathing rituals and balneotherapy reinvigorated her and gave her the ultimate source of solace and recharge. “It’s really been a passion of mine for a long time and originally I became aware of the transformative power of baths whilst living in London.”

Moving back to Australia she found herself starting her own project infusing superfoods and plant medicine into the bathing process. She mentioned a daunting thought, “Being the largest organ, our skin and dermal layers intake and uptake so many vitamins and nutrients.” With a range that includes four products including The Witches Brew (Pink), The Detox Cutis Cleanse (Green), The Biome Balancing Probiotic (White), The Youth Tonic (Blue). The range spans ingredients including CBD and probiotics. We took up the chance to ask her about this range that is at once soothing, holistic, as well as aesthetically aligned to the current tapestry of psychedelia through the ages. 

What was your sampling process in getting the right ingredients together as well as the scent range?

My sampling process was simply in my own bath time. This is a project which was really born out of love, and the need for the bathing ritual so I just started playing around with different flowers and oils. I was also sick of buying sub-par products in all honesty and thought people could benefit from the product. In terms of exact oils, I have my favorite scents and it was intuitive when picking one with different properties for each of the 4 types. It really helps to know what benefits each different oil or plant are imbued with in order to place things together in a recipe. For example, the anti-inflammatory effects of Frankincense.

Has moving back to Australia informed the type of ingredients, did you source locally or get any inspiration from Asian bathing culture like in Japan?

Great question BJ. I have always looked to other cultures for bathing and sauna inspiration, as I really feel drawn to the way other cultures integrate these rituals into their practices. Not only are the spaces such as Turkish Ottoman hammams and Japanese Onsens visually beautiful, but they serve such a great purpose to society. In terms of the ingredients, they are not limited to Australia, such as butterfly pea flowers which are predominantly south-east asian; but on a broader level my love of nature and natural therapies really does stem back to growing up around a lot of nature and really feeling connected to the plants and animals around me here. Growing up that way really helps you feel a familiarity and connection to these things.

Your imagery is so potent I feel often times many brands avoid to confront the city life and instead go into an escapist route, how did these images come together? 

Thank you. The black and white shots of me in the bath were my first official BB imagery, and were shot by my talented friend Natalia Parsonson. The rest are all taken by myself. I feel like I just create potent and honest photos, it’s a projection of who I am. Why pretend to be a certain way, stick to a ‘trend’ or play small? I want people as a society to get real and stop the masquerade.. It’s more fun and it’s a life ethos for me. I want real people with real thoughts, feelings and emotions in my orbit and I want to encourage this beauty in the world. That’s what the bertie body brand is. Unpretentious, real and potent. Anything but conformist or projecting something inauthentic.

The colors are a wonderful detail which set your salts apart from the neutral colors in the market, how did you decide to take this route in the brand identity?

I actually don’t explicitly remember, it just seemed intuitive to do it this way. Aesthetics are important for me and I think realistically for contemporary society as a whole. All things should be beautiful and functional! I hope to continue on my colourful escapades in the next range too.

The use of marine collagen is so fascinating, what is it exactly and how did you discover it for your line?

Collagen aids everything from your digestion and gut healing, to your joints and ligaments, as well as skin rejuvenation and anti-wrinkle benefits. Collagen is the fibrous protein constituent of bones, cartilage tendons and connective tissue. While you can eat plant based foods which may help ‘boost’ collagen production, you cannot find ‘vegan’ collagen products. The Marine Collagen I use is a pure form of hypoallergenic protein produced from krill. Typically, marine derived products such as Krill, fish skins or bones remaining from food production are thoroughly washed, then hydrolyzed by an acid and a food grade enzyme to yield marine collagen peptides, which have a low molecular weight for easy digestion and absorption.

Chances are, any of the collagen products you have in your cupboard are either bovine or fish derived, however although not vegan these products are sustainable in the sense that they allow for the use of the entire animal. I actually discovered collagen a long time ago through drinking broths. My mother was a consistent fountain of wealth when it came to nutritional knowledge and a huge advocate for brain and skin food, funnelling benefits and uses of everything we ate into my brain from a young age. I guess this is most of the reason I find nutrition & wellness so intuitive.

Photographs Courtesy of bertie body

For more on bertie body visit http://bertiebody.co/

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John Carroll Kirby x Scent

John Carroll Kirby x Scent

What’s there not to like about John Carroll Kirby!? The multi instrumentalist, producer and purveyor of socal funk has long been the secret weapon for the likes of Norah Jones, Blood Orange, Bat for Lashes, Frank OceanConnan MockasinKali Uchis, and Harry Styles, adding a touch of what some consider “Kirbyesque” nuances. In the past year he presented his own vision of jazz tinged piano compositions, restrained in its minimalism and collaborative in its vision on the masterful album My Garden.

Though the precursor, the haunting and meditative album Conflict, is what we are focusing on. Released in the earlier days of the pandemic this body of work presented a perfect soundscape to the morose sentiment of the beginning of lockdown. His version offered insight and self reflection in a way which lent to thoughts of wabi-sabi fundamentalism and the perfections of slow moving meditations.

With all this time spent to reflect, in came the decision to upend the conventions of merch. Taking on a collaborative project Kirby linked with close friend Josefina Valdés of the Mexico City based indie label Scent to create a collection of hand sourced stones that were polished and engraved with the albums track titles. The brand is part of a new wave of Mexico City based designers making unique and unconventional garments, Scent is highly sought after for their second layer body piece. In a way extending the song taken close to heart. We spoke with John Carroll Kirby and Scent’s Josefina Valdés on this union of creative spirits.

John Carroll Kirby 

How did you guys meet it is such a wonderfully collaborative collection to mix the stones and track titles that are both so grounding.

John Carroll Kirby -Josefina and I met when i was on tour in Mexico City with Connan Mockasin, and stayed in touch since then!!! I was a fan of Josephina’s brand Scent, especially her second skin line as worn by Rihanna and Lil Miquela. I contributed music for her Scent Boveda 2020 show, and from there we decided to collaborate on some merch!

With this collaboration how did you go about deciding to use specifically the album Conflict? It was such a great piece of work to soundtrack the beginning of quarantine.

Josefina Valdés – I related with the Conflict album a lot because there is something so nostalgic about it, specially because this year has been extremely weird in so many ways and not precisely about happiness and  for me this album has a lot of melancholy to it and goes incredibly well with the times we are living.

What was it like in translating the albums song titles into the wearable art? 

Josefina Valdés – I listened to the songs and I envisioned a color palette, I felt this album contained a lot of brownish-goldish-orangey  hues, not too much contrast just harmony between each color, then I started looking for the stones that contained this color palette.

How did you go about picking the specific stones that would be used for this selection?

Josefina Valdés – Stones were picked according to their colors and size, we needed something that gave us the space to carve on the songs, agate turned out to be the best material for what we wanted to express in color texture and shape. Agates worked so well because they contained the exact color palette I had in mind when listening to the album. 

Was there a specific significance to the song titles that you chose, it felt like the symbolism is concentrated in the song. 

Josefina Valdés – I’m obsessed with the whole album but these specific titles where so powerful against the agates, we used our favorite words to make them necklaces you could wear close to your heart. 

Do you see the collaboration extending into other works John has created or other items customized in the Scent brand?

Josefina Valdés – I think it was a combination of both, but I had John’s aesthetic very present in the whole process, for me it easier to work with someone that has a very solid sense of identity as I see in everything John does, that gave me a strong base to start with and conjugate with Scent aesthetic as well, the result was very Scent and very John Carroll Kirby at the same time, we both related so well with the result.

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Miss Tosh | A Dance For All

Miss Tosh | A Dance For All

There are some things in life which are held with the esteem as performance art in its various forms. From ballet and jazz dance to puppetry and geisha fan dance. In these spaces there is an expectation to innovate or clasp onto tradition. Either way the sheer visceral experience of live performances has been ultimately halted amidst openings and closings of regions and the limitations of a 25% capacity. While we have to think of the safety of ourselves and others, we are creatures who need social exchange and the entertainment of beauty in all of its abstractions.

At a recent socially distance interaction I chatted with Miss Tosh, the world-renowned burlesque performer and designer, who holds a devotional clasp on the tradition of the craft. Her presence has been one which cultivated and champions the contemporary beauty of LGBTQIA+, body positive and POC figures, while shattering the institutional white hetero-gaze which has long been so deeply rooted int the craft’s identity.

Her latest presentation The Beauty of Burlesque, has been one which celebrates the glitz, glamour, and the precision of the art, which affirms that the dimensions of the performer do not fit rigidly in the parameters of yesterday’s performancer. One thing is clear, the corsets are always gonna cinch you in, the crystals will glimmer, and the dances will knock you off your feet. See our conversation below as we speak frankly about the state of burlesque, breaking the 4th wall, and maintaining curiosity in the midst of sheltering.

What inspired you to put this event together?

The lack of authentic diversity in the entertainment industry is was motivated me to create Beauty of Burlesque. This is variatease revue starring diverse artist from around the world. As the founder & producer of the show it was very important from day one that we shine the spotlight on artist that represents diversity in talent & identity, focusing on lgbtqai+, poc, differently abled, and body positivity. 

At the start of the Covid Pandemic theaters shut down and so did live entertainment. Artist didn’t have any where to performer and especially our POC Trans community was facing so much hardship we had to come together as a community and do something to keep the showbiz flame still burning! 

Our annual halloween event is something we all looked forward to, so I created a the first ever Drive-In Burlesque Theater & Virtual Streaming Platform. The first event was on Halloween this year. All the talent donated their performances and we were able to raise funds for the Marsha P. Johnson Institute!

Do you feel like working digitally has been a helpful medium to expand in or has it be stifling?

One of the most beautiful things about artists is that they are resilient! I am so joyfully overwhelmed by the creativity admits this madness. Producing and performing in the first ever feature length Burlesque film was no small feat and comes with its own challenges. But the most exciting part is seeing what new innovative ideas the performers have. We are now able to reach a global audience, which is really incredible! Beauty of Burlesque has really brought the global burlesque community closer together during this hard time.

How do you see the art of burlesque adapt and change with the culture of social distancing?

There is something so special about performing live. Being close to the Audience, and sharing that energy when on stage is something that cannot be replicated. But there is also something magical about film! To bring the traditional burlesque act to the big screen opens a whole new arena for creativity.

What are some mediums and or techniques you have been using to adapt to a digital performance?

I wear many hats in my life and one of them was film. I worked in art departments and behind the scenes, editing, post production ect. These skills I learned always felt like a past life once I began performing full time. Its exciting that I can now combine past experiences with my performance art. There is always a silver lining if we look for it. 

How do you see the art of burlesque adapt and change with the culture of social distancing?

There is something so special about performing live. Being close to the Audience, and sharing that energy when on stage is something that cannot be replicated. But there is also something magical about film! To bring the traditional burlesque act to the big screen opens a whole new arena for creativity.

What are some mediums and or techniques you have been using to adapt to a digital performance?

I wear many hats in my life and one of them was film. I worked in art departments and behind the scenes, editing, post production ect. These skills I learned always felt like a past life once I began performing full time. Its exciting that I can now combine past experiences with my performance art. There is always a silver lining if we look for it. 

In these times of isolation and self reflection what else have you been working on?

I also have a fashion label (MissTosh.com) During isolation I’ve been able to really focus on designing new pieces, sewing everything in my pink garage. I was very lucky to have just moved in with my love right before lockdown in March. We have been nesting and having fun building furniture, painting murals and decorating our home. Im always making something.

How have you been able to maintain and celebrate yourself and your mental health?

With so much uncertainty finding a ways to cope, process and heal can be really hard. I get anxiety, and have non epileptic seizures when I’m stressed or overwhelmed. Maintaining balance by just taking it day. Enjoying a bite of food, feeling the sun on my face, and trying too remain grounded and present. All we can do is try the best we can. 

Items available for sale at MissTosh.com Photographed by Eva Ziegfield

Items available for sale at MissTosh.com Photographed by Eva Ziegfield

Items available for sale at MissTosh.com Photographed by Eva Ziegfield

Do you have any luxuriant items that have kept you sane and well?

Luxury for me is a cup of tea, a cozy blanket with kitties and my girlfriend snuggled up by me. For the insomnia and deep stress moments I cannot express enough how much cbd/tch oils have changed my life. A few drops and its sweet dreams haha.

What is your next project?

I will continue to produce Drive-In Burlesque shows and virtual events at www.BeautyofBurlesque.com Be sure to tune into our Holiday show, “Merry Stripmas” and New Years Eve extravaganza. Creating safe and sexy ways to celebrate safely at home or at the Drive-In. You can also shop my fashion label at MissTosh.com We will be having a major Black Friday sale of our accessories, dress, and home goods. Everything is handmade by me here in Hollywood, CA. 

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Mr. Freedom’s Journey to Replica

Mr. Freedom’s Journey to Replica

In early 1969, entrepreneur Tommy Roberts was looking for new business opportunities. The location he had in mind was King’s Road in Chelsea. He knew that his friend Michael Rainey was selling off his boutique Hung On You and struck a deal with Rainey to take over the lease of the former Hung On You premises – 430 King’s Road – for £1200 with a weekly rent payment of £25 to the landlord.

Roberts, with partner Trevor Myles, first collaboration as designers was a series of t-shirts decorated with zodiac signs – Mick Jagger bought one with his star sign, Leo, and wore it during Stones ill-fated gig at Altamont in December 1969.

Roberts knew what kind of clothes he wanted to design and sell in his new boutique. He wanted it to be ‘a total reversal of what was being worn n the street. What provided him with a clear direction was 1968 film by director/fashion photographer William Klein, titled Mr. Freedom, a fierce satire on American Imperialism. The visual side of the film, ridiculed the obsession of Americans with their own flag. There is a generous use of stars n’ stripes throughout the film, as well as comic book-style superhero/superheroine costumes. This imagery appealed to Tommy Roberts, and his new boutique on 430 King’s Road which opened in summer 1969 was called simply Mr. Freedom.

Replica Los Angeles’ Butterfly Tee  ($188) is highly influenced by the short lived English label Mr. Freedom

The overall colour of the interior was blue with red flashes. There was a generous use of neon and plexiglass. Shop was decorated with Pop Art posters, stars n’ stripes wherever possible and revolving mirrorball. The designs sold in Mr.Freedom were simple, yet striking – multicolored long-sleeved T-Shirts decorated with a massive star or T-shirts decorated with Disney characters. ‘ Nobody else had thought of approaching Disney in a fashion context; not long before the shop was due to open, we asked for a meeting at their UK offices in Pall Mall’, says Roberts.’ It was incredible. They gave us the go-ahead in return for a fee, so we left the same day armed with the exclusive license to print their characters on clothes’.

The clothes of Mr.Freedom screamed of the future, in the time when fashionable young people were growing tired of hippie fashions. The world of fashion was saying goodbye to the Sixties, and Tommy Roberts provided exciting clothes (‘Fun Clothes’ he called them) for a new decade. One of the early clients of Mr.Freedom was Marc Bolan, who recently turned from a hippie minstrel into a star of a new burgeoning musical movement – Glam Rock. Roberts’ clothes brilliantly complemented his new image. By mid-1970, the clientele of Mr. Freedom included the likes of Twiggy and Justin Villeneuve, Peter Sellers, Mick and Bianca Jagger, Elton John, Cher, Barbara Streisand, Olivia Newton-John, Elizabeth Taylor and Kansai Yamamoto (designer responsible for Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust look). After Paloma Picasso turned up at Yves-Saint Laurent’s studio dressed head-to-toe in Mr.Freedom, he designed a series of clothes decorated with stars n’ stripes quoting Tommy Roberts as an inspiration.

Alongside Biba, Mr.Freedom was one of the first ‘lifestyle boutiques’. One of the most ambitious projects of Tommy Roberts was opening a restaurant called Mr. Feed’Em in a basement of Mr. Freedom in 1971. Using artificial colorants, the food at Mr.Feed’Em was dyed – the rice was red, the burgers were blue etc. The restaurant was made to look like a futuristic, Pop Art diner. However, the demise of Mr. Feed’Em was a beginning of a chain reaction that led to shutting down the whole Mr.Freedom premises in 1972.

Replica Los Angeles’ Boyfriend Tee ($220) is highly influenced by the short lived English label Mr. Freedom

But despite Mr.Freedom shutting down, Tommy Roberts’ career was far from over. For the rest of the 1970’s, he ran City Lights Studio boutique, designed clothes for David Bowie, managed Kilburn and The High Roads (Ian Dury’s band) before moving on to furniture design in 1980’s and antique dealing in 1990’s and 2000’s.

With Mr. Freedom, Tommy Roberts helped to push fashion into the 1970’s. Mr.Freedom might have been the last chapter in the story of the British Boutique Scene of the 1960’s, but it was also the missing link between that essentially 1960’s scene and what was about to come in the late 1970’s. It is perhaps symbolic that when Tommy Roberts left 430 King’s Road, the next occupants were (if you don’t count short-lived Paradise Garage) Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood (also Mr.Freedom’s customers) who at that address started a boutique with ever-changing names (Let It Rock, Too Fast Too Live Too Young Too Die, Sex, Seditionaries) which created a ground for a Punk revolution…but that’s a whole other story we’ll save for another post! 

We can safely say that Replica would not exist without Mr. Freedom. If you’d like to learn more about the fantastic Mr. Freedom boutique and its visionary creator, Tommy Roberts, check out the brilliant book ‘Mr. Freedom – Tommy Roberts, British Design Hero’ by Paul Gorman.

Replica Los Angeles’ Bubble Dress ($275) is highly influenced by the short lived English label Mr. Freedom

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There is a certain sense of purity in the amount of matter of factness that is taken into clothing, fashion, and shopping habits. We do live in the age where sensory deprivation and Internet shopping reign supreme an era where whimsy can come off as trite and ugly can...

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SUM – Cement, Oxidation, and Sweet

SUM – Cement, Oxidation, and Sweet

In recent years the trend of scents being matched with experiential integrations seems to become the standard, whether it be a flower sculpture photo point or social media filter. With the crowds no longer snapping and the public forward-facing gone, how does one really hold onto the complex sensorial expectations of the digital age? In these unconventional times, we are also seeing a shift to the extremes in getting those feels in control. Your intricately laborious kitchen skills, new unconventional porn tastes, or newly found exercise bulimia ain’t gonna cut it. But now is the most vital for smells to play as something of a catalyst to link the psychology of past experiences and how they can assist you in the now.

        “Sum a Project Described as a Study in Form, Focusing on the Personal”
SUM a project described as “a study in form, focusing on the personal” led by filmmaker Lucas Chemotti and Richie Dandan matched highly contrasting scents which evoke a little bit of the oddly addictive with sensorial memories of fresh and floral tastes of distinctive vegetation. The experience of engaging with the duo’s sample set truly matched up to their brand ethos of “The idea of shape existing past a visual object and becoming part of the user’s experience.“ Below is a little word association play to deconstruct the base, heart, and top notes of SUM’s first 3 drops F4F9FF, 2B2926, and 8E917E. After testing the set I really just want to be back at an event lost on the dance-floor breathing in sweat of a 3am stain cement.

2B2926 | the scent of whiskey soaked wood suffocates. A pleasurable addictive smell of synthetic treatments to metal oxidation smells like a boy’s sweat at a rave. Something feels like charcoal tarnishing neon lights. Maybe this is the scent that matches Anish Kapoor’s use of vantablack.

F4F9FF | At first spray, the heartfelt remembrance of art school Prismacolor pens spark. Then comes the sensation that hits the back of your throat, making you think of that alluring acidic taste of holiday raspberry candies from Scandinavian tins. The last thing to hit is somewhere earthy yet synthetic like the addictive scent of paint drying on sweet wood.

8E917E | the most floral of the set the mood of prickly pear cucumbers and pomegranates dosed in a musk that is fearfully brutal and sensuous. Someone in furs and hides. The lasting scent borders that of sweet and majestic of vantablack.

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There is a certain sense of purity in the amount of matter of factness that is taken into clothing, fashion, and shopping habits. We do live in the age where sensory deprivation and Internet shopping reign supreme an era where whimsy can come off as trite and ugly can...

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An Ode to LA Night Life built on paintings, photographs, installations and film

Sage Willows | NFT Works “Doesn’t Even Exist”

Chatting up the young artist as he interacts with the modern NFT market on his own terms

Natura | Lumina

Every blonde deserves a fortifying treatment that will keep you brassless and malleable

Bertie Body | Back To Bath Rituals

Get to know the Australian brand brings sexy bath, with soul, scent, and marine collagen.