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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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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What is QooA?

What is QooA?

Where do we begin? After what feels like a lifetime of brutally paced adaptations to a digital life, the strain of attempting to thrive with the commodification of insecurities has felt like it would have to come to an end. All this continuous presentation was a byproduct of a life lived digitally. Through the mental isolation and meditative quarantine an immense reflection period of the self and surroundings came to represent what it is we are all truly after.

Community discussions, the meals that feed the senses, traveling to places un seen, wellbeing through the luxuriant respect of self-care and all that is in between Questions and Answers. QooA seeks to highlight a well informed experience which bridges the transgressive with the everyday.

Essentially a celebration of the collaboration utilizing the equilibrium of opposing schools of thought. Maximalism meets Minimalism | Technology and Art intersect with Artisanal Craft | Electronics respects the Analogue | Mainstream learns from Indie | Wellbeing welcomes Epicureanism. An overall embrace of flaws of a human existence used to showcase the perfection of you being you.

With a central belief in celebrating an inclusive take on luxury and the directional shift towards a self reflected sense of slow moving, we hope to open up these exchanges that will in turn provoke an infinite space of awareness which is a guiding light to gaining “Pleasure through knowledge.”

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