A NAKED WOMAN IN PARIS.

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Alone on a balcony in Paris, she stretched, her limbs folding forward, taut and naked she perched.

Hidden across the street, 5 storeys high, my eyes following her every whim, hidden behind a curtain, I watched her.

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In the shadows behind her a homicidal love nest of tossed bed sheets, knotted promises and abandoned clothing.

The spoils of a front line, where she the victor had prowled like a predator and won.

She swung her entire frame from the black wrought iron rail like a gothic raven with the ability to fly and cocked her head off centre to survey Marais street walkers, five balconies below.

Come to the edge, Life said.
They said: We are afraid.
Come to the edge, Life said.
They came. It pushed them…
And they flew.”

― Guilliame Apollinaire French Poet

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Hidden behind my silk curtain, I watched.

A finger of smoke drifted from her balcony, dragging me forward. I stepped forward from the darkness.

I could have stepped back, but I didn’t.

I was in Paris with my now ex husband and my darling daughter, both were asleep as I stepped out onto that balcony. 

I needed to stay.

In Paris alone on my balcony I needed to watch her.

The naked woman on the balcony unearthed me parts I had lost.  Me parts that in trying to conform had been broken.

I needed to wake up and reclaim myself, I needed some time to be disheveled, naked and alone.

Paris woke up and undid me.

I stepped forward, she waved.

I waved back.

She was comfortable being herself, her nudity was part of who she was in that moment and she was content and present.

The naked woman on her Paris balcony represented to me, a woman living in her own freedom.

Glorious, naked and real.The qualities at that moment in my life I too wanted to express.

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Above the street, an amber light and ocean darkness slipped from the naked woman on the balcony’s room and following her lead I sunk into bed.

The gentle roll of my now ex-husband’s snore and the vulnerable trust of my daughter’s love slept.

Timing is everything when you have plans to reclaim yourself and exhausted like the naked woman in her room, I fell asleep.

My life was about to change again and I needed rest to be ready.

DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0

The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before- ALBERT EINSTEIN

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Visage Villages (Faces Places), Chance gave JR, an iconic contemporary photographer/muralist with over a million Instagram followers his first camera. He found it, abandoned on a subway. Destiny introduced him to his biggest idol, legendary filmmaker, director, writer, visual artist, Agnes Varda.

Go see this heart expansive art, story documentary by two of this worlds visual artists and filmmakers. Newly Oscar nominated for Best Documentary in 2018, Visage Villages (Faces Places) I was blown away with my vision of what is possible when life is lived and experienced through opening yourself up to the tiny details.

I watched this documentary with my 11 year old daughter, a budding photographic enthusiast and loved when she said at the film’s end, ‘that was a good movie mum. I liked it’. 

Chance gave JR, an iconic contemporary photographer/muralist with over a million Instagram followers his first camera. He found it, abandoned on a subway. Destiny introduced him to his biggest idol, legendary filmmaker, director, writer, visual artist, Agnes Varda.

Together, their love of imagery, of capturing the beauty of story in art and the story in impermanent faces resulted in their outstanding French documentary – Visage Villages (Faces Places).

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What they do with a simple black and white selfie is sheer artistic magic. As the pair travel through rural France ensconced in JR’s incredible photo truck– an instamatic camera on wheels – they unearth the extraordinary in the ordinary story rich faces of rural French villagers.

And then JR (34) dangling like a dapper clad Spiderman scales colossal heights hanging from scaffolding – think six shipping containers high –with acrobatic ease he pastes up giant scale photographs, high upon walls.

Through a photograph, Varda and JR immortalise the fragile impermanence of the face, that one moment in photographic time where the face and body stand heroic, silent in their quest to guard the permanent, to remain emeshed within the bricks and concrete of industry and remembered.

Just as the edges of a face blur in recollection and memory, there is a sense of urgency as Varda and Jr attempt to make permanent a shifting landscape of time.

None more tellingly shown than in the pasting of a young Guy Bourdin, up onto an abandoned German blockhouse, at low tide, on a beach in Normandy. Varda (89) had spent time with Guy, shooting the image back in the ’50s. The image has survived over six decades but as Varda and JR return the following morning the blockhouse and beach remain, forever mismatched together but the image, washed away overnight, has vanished.

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Everything is always changing. Great art and film is all art that lives on either in form or in the way it affects us when we meet it. Varda and JR remind us that moments don’t last but permanence exists in engraving and appreciating the present moment.

There are great, surprising and unexpected stories revealed in the worlds behind the faces, of the French villages, workers and farmers, worlds we know little about.

Like the goat farmer who bucks convention by refusing to burn off her goats’ horns at birth.

Or the speechless tears of a woman – pasted street front upon her home – the last inhabitant in a row of miner’s houses. The miners have vanished but their homes now abandoned, crumbling and decrepit remain, heroically stoic, reminding us of their stories.

Time and chance are lead roles within the documentary, Varda and JR had no plan other than to meet the people of the landscape and to let them, their amazing personal stories and the landscape dictate the mood and feeling of the art and documentary.

Within Visage Villages (Faces Places), Varda and JR supercharged with the power of improvisation, triumph in their tender exploration of human lives.  Varda and JR embed the faces and places of rural France within our psyches and as with great art, these images haunt and remain.

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Written, Directed and commented by Agnes Varda and JR

Executive Producer Rosalie Varda

Associate Producer Emile Abinal

Co-Producers Julie Gayet and Nadia Turincev, Charles S. Cohen Nichole Fu, Etienne Comar

2018 resolution – ‘Less judgement and more nuts’ ‘A Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature’.What can go wrong is what makes this film so right.

 

2018 is finally here! I couldn’t be more excited. I have just come back from 4 glorious days in Sydney, catching up with old friends, sailing, swimming and sleeping on Sydney Harbour –  afternoons dozing in a sea breeze with champagne lips – the best! Then doing it all again!

There are so many new things I am excited to dive into in 2018. I haven’t made any resolutions only that I’m not going to overthink too much and I’m just going to get out of my own way and enjoy all I have, a bit like the characters here in  Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature,  my first 2018 movie review, published for Go Movies.

Enjoy! Simmon X @theloveauthentic

Cal Brunker wanted to make A Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature, bigger and more fun so he took the most loved elements of the first movie and mixes nuts, drama and the deft flick of an artist’s eye to bring to life a little band of insurgent parkland animals, a corrupt greedy human oppressor -and turn it into a visually stunning action packed sequel.

 Stuffed on a fast food supply of nuts from the abandoned basement of Nibbler’s Nut Shop, Surly and his animal friends Andie (Katherine Heigl), stray pug Precious (Maya Rudolph) Buddy (Tom Kenn) live happy, lazy and fat in nut luxury without a survival worry in the world.

Nut feasts of every kind are just one furry paw breath away for the hunter gatherers. But their lifestyle of easy pickings ends explosively one night as the nut shop comes tumbling down in a gas explosion.

Unbeknownst to the animals their survival problems are just beginning.

Surly discovers that the local Mayor, a corrupt self-serving meanie Mayor Muldoon (Bobby Moynihan), plans to get rich by bulldozing their beloved Liberty Park and ripping it apart turning it into a hellish carnival ground full of decrepit rides bought on the cheap.

The animals strike back when they team up with some muscle in the adorable fluff ball form of a tough city mouse and Kung Fu master Mr. Feng and his army of displaced mice. Mr Feng has one outstanding flaw, he absolutely loses it when you call him cute.

Mayor Muldoon brutally enlists pest exterminators to eliminate Surly and his friends. Mayor Muldoon packs a pint-sized weapon of his own, his daughter Heather – an armed brat with psychopathic urges, a tranquillizer gun and itching trigger finger.

Heather delights in doing horribly wrong things to animals if she can just get her hands on them.

All appears lost as the animal’s face hunger, homelessness and destruction by a predator they are not equipped to battle

What can go wrong is what makes this film so right for its target audience.

A simple movie with big themes: inclusion, diversity, unity, purpose and quest and we, we’re cheering the little guy all the way.

Cal Brunker injects the drama with ever higher stakes with the completely unexpected plot twist of my favourite character, Surly’s best friend a non-speaking rescue rat named Buddy (Tom Kenny).

In his scraggly body Buddy the silent heroic outsider captured my heart as he faced off against the destructive power of corrupt human greed.

Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature is a thrilling ride with unexpected plot twists.  At one moment I sat misty eyed with shock in the cinema with my 11-year-old daughter, My thought at that moment was, ‘this can’t happen in a kid’s movie!’

As I watched this movie with my daughter I was given the gift of escaping into the movie with the eyes of a child.

My daughter loved A Nut Job 2, Nutty by Nature.

The Nut Job 2 draws you into an enormous canvas of animated movie magic. There is enough colour breathing escapism, relentless slapstick smiling animal chaos and rocket fueled action married with characters we care about that makes Nut Job 2 a perfect school holiday movie.

The Nut Job 2: Nutty By NatureDirector and Co-Writer: Cal Brunker

Producer and Co-Writer: Bob Barlen

Screenwriters: Scott Bindley, Cal Brunker, Bob Barlen

Producers: Harry Linden, Jongsoo Kim, Youngki Lee, Li Li Ma, Jonghan Kim, Bob Barlen

Starring: Will Arnett, Maya Rudolph, Katherine Heigl, Jackie Chan, Bobby Moynihan, Gabriel Iglesias, Bobby Cannavale, Jeff Dunham, Peter Stormare and Isabela Moner.

Rated: G

 

Images not owned by theloveauthentic and are used for promotional or illustrative purposes and their copyright remains the property of the original owner.

ALL FOR ONE – my absolute favourite movie for 2017 X

ALL FOR ONE follows the first five years of the GREENEDGE cycling journey.

A pack of men united by a spirit to excel and a shared aussie larrikinism– think lycra and rock and roll montages – who succeed spurred on by unquestionable matemanship in their quest to exceed as a team at the Tour de France.

This film doco is a must for all adrenaline junkies, panoramic French alpine roads map the terrain for some of the fastest downhill descents on some of the world’s steepest roads.

We are swept in for one hell of ride, super charged with front row seats, we traverse the descent safe and fearless in front of a movie screen. Unlike downhill skiers who perhaps have the imagery of landing in powder snow there are no such illusions for cyclists as they speed down tracks of metal, rock and tar.

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The team’s joy and comradery on tour is infectious punctuated by the rousing musical beats of ACDC, Jet and Prodigy in the background. But unlike a rock and roll tour bus there is no excess on a cycling tour just marathon stretches of training, rehydrating and cycling.

In my favourite scene, the cyclists – armed with gladiator strength – face off against the infamous Paris Roubaix Cycling track.

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The race where spectators the world over line up to see firsthand the human sacrifice , ‘the race everybody hates to ride and everybody wants to win’.

The Paris Roubaix is mythical and ancient – Napoleon is said to have advanced his troops over the patchwork track of cobblestones – cyclists carry names such as Spartacus and spectators line the edges thrilled by the prospect of blood sport.

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The Paris Roubaix 1969

The carnage is real – cyclists ride on with broken collar bones, blood streaming from face plants, bikes and bones litter the race track and the cyclists push on, their determination to finish and succeed is primal.

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Greg Lemond after Paris Roubaix

Of the 200 cyclists that enter the Paris Roubaix only 50 to 100 are expected to finish.

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This movie excels through the lens of documentary by revealing the intimacy of real people in their own real stories. Character biographies of cyclists such as Esteban Chaves, Mathew Hayman, Neil Stephens and Simon Gerrans unearth the message of the movie and the secret of their individual success.

The secret is a willingness to get up each day regardless of their fears and to make each step forward be in the direction of their dreams.

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The Greenedge Tour Bus brakes down on top of the finishing line – with 4 minutes to go before the cyclists reach the finish line, disaster is inevitable. But thanks to a bystander’s suggestion of deflating the tyres, a certain disaster is averted.

The movie’s message will reverberate tingling your every pore alive.  For 100 minutes, you have been swept into the raw pulse of hearts burning on fire with sheer adrenalin and unedited pure joy.

The effect is intoxicating and as a spectator sitting in a blacked-out cinema you soar vicariously with the pumping music rhythms and sinew of muscles possessed with a determination – to not give up and win!

I left the cinema breathless, my heart racing, my spirit surging with adrenalin. Inspired by the driving strength of humanity to overcome Herculean odds, in pursuit of our passions, spirit whispers ‘yes you can, you got this’.

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 Esteban Chaves kisses at the finishing podium

Produced by: Nick Batzias – Virginia Whitwell.

Director: Dan Jones – Marcus Cobbledick

Writers: Marcus Cobbledick – Dan Jones

Read my review published here for Go Movie Review

http://gomoviereviews.com/2017/08/all-for-one/

A Ghost Story – The paradox of living with love separated from the adored one’. #davidloweryaghoststory

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After dashing madly about the Cinema Nova in Carlton, Melbourne from the wrong pitch-black-cinema screening the wrong movie lurking out into the shadows and chatter of the right cinema – its seats filling with the right audience of media with their right glasses of red wine and roasted popcorn, I squirrelled myself away to sit back and be mystified by  David Lowery’s film, A Ghost Story.

And this big screen movie experience is definitely unlike anything I have met before.

In fact I had a really hard time what to make of it.

But through the perfect timing of an incredible birthday trip to the Mildura Writer’s Festival  mere days later – to be surrounded by friends, old and new – one, Australian acclaimed poet Les Murray (Les convinced me to eat his ‘tripe’ – a dish specially prepared at a candle lit feast cooked by Stefano, washed down with incredible wines, all on the banks of the Great Murray River.

To be honest the tripe was delicious, kind of comforting in a toasted marrow fat kind of way – I like marrow and I love lamb’s fat but I have years of child-tripe-protestations-saying NO, never ever eat tripe again! I think a cousin must have teased me about it being stomach’s lining – as an older, wiser taunting cousin does.

But here surrounded by the majesty of the Murray River I found what I needed, the space to let this movie imprint it’s haunting imagery upon me.

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The Beauty of the Murray River.

 

Written and Directed by: David Lowery A Ghost Story

Producers: Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, Adam Donaghey

Cinematographer: Andrew Droz Palermo

Starring: Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck.

A Ghost Story invites us into the tender space of young love shared by Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck and the tragic aftermath of grief as a fatal car crash leaves C dead and transformed as a ghost throughout the movie.

Landlocked by love in one state of being and one place, C remains beneath a sad and forlorn sheet with cut out holes for eyes, to witness time and his lover change without him.

Lowery (Pete’s Dragon, Aint Them Bodies Saints) had been wanting to tell a ghost story for years with the classic iconography of the bed-sheet ghost and with Affleck as no ordinary ghost he achieves that.

Lowery sets the visual tone that this is not a traditional motion picture by shooting the film in the 1:33 aspect ratio, meaning the image width is only slightly greater than its height.  This film technique enabled Lowery to create a towering presence of the shrouded ghost, a still and dominating presence within each scene.

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The cinematography is pared back with the glare and grit of everyday realism and it is in the familiar and the known that Lowery captures us.
Through doorframes – a fascination of Lowery’s – both dark and functional, they frame Affleck and Mara in ordinary rooms of no import, but it is in their lack of adornment where the intimate confrontations and revelatory keypoints are revealed without massive movement or violence.

There is something to a movie with long stretches bereft of dialogue, we remain in the stillness as the ghost does and without distraction we sink further into the tragedy of love lost without goodbye and time moving forward where the loved one occupies no space only in memory.

In an unforgettable scene, Mara’s luminous distinctive features convey all the profound grief you thought you’d need dialogue for. In isolation, she stuffs an entire family size chocolate pie in a single four-minute take. The body of food is ill equipped to replace her loss of C.

In a later scene, we witness the profound pathos of love and of lost hearts craving connection through the ghost’s presence.

A Ghost Story

When M finally leaves their home, she embeds a lover’s note into a door frame. The repetitious scratching by a ghost without hands is both tragic and beautiful and as he seeks to unearth the note oblivious to the passage of time without him, we are reminded his sense of identity is derived from his attachment as the beloved.

As I left the cinema into the noise and bustle of my ordinary world, I was unsure how I felt about the movie, in fact I had to sit with it for a few days.

I felt haunted by the film’s imagery of tender grieving and the paradox of grieving a love torn apart by unforeseen tragedy of living with love separated from the adored one.

Through the art of film Lowery poses the aesthetic as a response of grief and catastrophe.

A Ghost Story penetrates as a poignant reminder that the blessing of our good luck is to sit in witness to an event that is possible to each of us.

Our shared humanity wants to vouch safe the journey of love and for it not to leave us ill-prepared for the space that remains in the absence of the loved one.

Read my full review of A Ghost Story by David Lowery, published here for Go Movie Review X

via A Ghost Story — Go Movie Reviews

 

My beautiful work space for the day – at Cinema Nova, Carlton Melbourne.

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Yikes! I’m at my first school parent’s party and everyone’s a Swinger, but me.

Somewhere in Bondi, on a street leading to the ocean, a black lacquered door throbs and music and a golden doorknob beckons.

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A band of navy Italian lace silk fringing falls from my hips, skimming my thighs. 

I suck my belly button back to my spine, check my boobies are still bound inside my bandage top, shoulder roll my men’s pinstripe blazer and reach for the curve of the golden orb.

The golden knob slips from my grasp as the door swings wide.

My confronted eyelashes tremble under the welcoming wink of an oiled navel and golden G-string.

The greeting is unexpected and magnificent.

I offer up my invitation in the sobering event that I am definitely not expected at this party. I have been invited by parents of a five-year-old friend of my daughters, our daughter’s new friends at a private co-ed school in Sydney. I don’t think golden knobs and G-strings are part of the mixing and mingling at that party.

PARTY INVITATION

On a smooth high gloss 9 by 20cm photographic card dance three naked woman, texture and movement supplied by their 70s’ styled pubic hair fullness.

Dress code: Sexy cool

Theme: 007 meets Barry White

Champagne pops my gaping mouth shut. I’m in.

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I pad across the wide oaked black Japanese Oak floors on my tippy toes – I really don’t want to puncture these floors with my heels – to a tram carriage, embedded flush in the cavernous rooms right wall. I discover this is the host’s dining room – the carriage sits empty and waiting like the rest of the party, awaiting new conductors and passengers.

It is  spectacular.

I am excited and nervous all at once and I shiver like Christmas Eve with silent promise for the night.

The World is Not Enough

Bond: “I was wrong about you.”
Christmas Jones: “Yeah, how so?”
Bond: “I thought Christmas only comes once a year.”

Beyond the room a sail clothed canopy hangs above an outdoor DJ, circling a tinkling bar with a throb of clustered bodies.

A dancing lunatic pulls me on to the dance floor.

I am completely ill at ease.

A handsome stranger rescues me.

I am completely at ease.

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This shot taken of me completely at ease with friends a night before.

In fact the party is full of throbs of people really at ease. As I elbow beat off  a throng of strangers – who are now intimate with the size of my facial pores – I watch the room.

The room is full of clusters of people, really into getting to know people they have just met.

I look at the wad of business cards that have been pressed into my hand by all of my new friends and contacts at this party.

For some strange reason I feel like the main course.

There are no leery eyed stares, just people enjoying a luxurious party with all the trimmings, fresh delectable canapés, chilled golden flutes of erupting French champagne and two-legged predators with smiles of inarticulate longing.

As I walk upstairs to find a bathroom, candle lit water bowls with floating frangipani dot paths to the King size beds.

A strange little man jumps from the shadows and pulls me towards a bed.

I break free in an ugly jig to the stairs – trying to look cool and stride two stairs at a time, away, away from my creepy little leaping guy. 

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This party is for a select group of people, with a select group of rules.

Swingers.

Swapping loved ones and partners and sharing sexual pleasures with strangers with consent from your other half.

I’m not good at sharing and know I’m not playing. From the dance floor fringe shadows hover close and I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.

A woman I know embedded  in the shadows, watches her husband get it on with another on the dance floor. And as her loved one shows his moves to another she doesn’t look excited, turned-on or angry, she looks sad.

I turn and  head for the golden knobbed door – perhaps all that glitters is not so golden after all.

007 house rules, to kiss without telling and like 007, I leave early.

Sex, is a game best played by choice.

Remember to choose which game you are playing, before the game you are playing chooses you.

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Johnny Depp.

‘If you love two people at the same time, choose the second.

Because if you really loved the first one, you wouldn’t have fallen for the second’.

 

Style has one rule – We are not normal, we are Exceptional!

 

The most profound advice I ever received from my longtime friend – other than, ‘Love! one is never enough’! –  Jas, aka an ex cross-dressing, gender bender with buckets of present day style was,

   ‘Love, who needs normal? You were born to be exceptional! You, We were born to be fabulous!

In a world where real beauty is fast shopped, Instagram photo shopped to the beauty nutritional value of  fast food,  Jas sums up Beauty’s new dichotomy perfectly.

   ‘Today the word beauty is used to define perfect, in proportion and flawless.

There was a time when beauty was about someone’s style, their presence and charisma’.

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So with a few tweaks  Jas, aka MR Divine, reminds us beauty, real beauty and the power of feeling beautiful is not found over the counter. Beauty is found at home.

Welcome gorgeous ones,

We can all agree there are days where our reflection lets us down. Lets us down. I know. Days. Days where we are want for nothing more than to reconfigurate, recamouflage or recreate. (yes these are not words in the dictionary!)

Those days, where even with perfection staring back at us, we want to see something new.

I have watched a barrage of tutorials on shading and contouring, shading and contouring – creating features where once there were none. There were none!

It is times like this when our divine creative child stomps her plus size heels and says,

   ‘I’M HERE, I’m ready, give me the theatre of life!

     Moreover, give me the centre stage!

Pop

 

Being fabulous is all about canvassing your flaws as features. Seriously it is your flaws that define how unique and fabulously different you are. 

 Have you ever felt  the floor tilt as all the fabulous eyes of the room cast themselves towards you. They are drawn, lost in your enigmatic presence. There is nothing sexier than strutting your good self with great posture. Great posture is HOT!

  • Play up your flaws – Listen and pay attention to the indomitable wisdom of the eternally beautiful, the charismatic, Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel – she who made Lauren Hutton’s gap toothed smile a beauty icon.

I will speak more of the indomitable style of Diana Vreeland in next week’s post.

You don’t need to spend money or over complicate things to be fabulous!

Here are a few of Jas’s aka Mr Divine’s favourite nips and tricks.

  • Start at the beginning Prepare your canvas, an easy way to do this is with a thin layer of mashed avocado. Allow 20ish minutes to dry then peel it off in gentle circular motions with your fingertips.
  • Then lightly rinse, the result is soft, moisturised exfoliated skin. If you have an overly pink or dry skin tone, instead of rinsing, just buff off with a soft cloth.This will leave your skin more hydrated with a slight green undertone helping balance the excess pinkness
  • Remember to pay attention to framing your eyes and honouring your lips!
  • Whether you feel the need for just a layer of BB cream, a slick of lip tint and lashings of mascara, or a well contoured face and smoky eye.
  • We never leave the house without a little tricking up.
  • First Smile! it increases your face value, and why yes, I did just quote Truvy from Steel Magnolias.

Truvy

 

  • First impressions matter! smiling and eye contact when introduced to someone, lingering eye contact and handshake if you want them to remember – not too long, stalking is not beautiful!
  • Fragrance should not assault someone across a room. We want it subtle enough that a potential paramour nuzzles in closer. Where that first kiss on the cheek already has them wet, I mean weak at the knees. Seduction ladies!
  • Dress for comfort! No grimace on your face thanks to those new heels.
  • Yes, there are exceptions to some rules. Like wearing those new heels to a venue with loud music (so we will assume social conversation is out) and fortifying yourself with whichever top shelf spirit, you require to bring out your inner spirit animal.

A sexy tip if you are seeking the simple glam of a Vargas girl, with a low-cut sweater, enhance your bosom by consuming two cups of fennel tea daily for a few weeks -to push you up a cup size!

Vargas

  • Dress boldly with eccentricity as Iris Apfel does, or enhance your femininity by stealing from the boys.
  • Match a man’s dress shirt with a pencil skirt, wide belt, pushed up sleeves and pearls – Aka Katherine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall with a silk blouse, oversized men’s pant with braces or a belt to accentuate a paper bag waist.

And remember! Style does not have to be expensive it’s just what works for you.

There are no set of rules that apply to all, so dare to be bold and creative. Have fun.

People are always confident when they are enjoying life.

 

we are outstanding

Who is MR Divine? Aka my friend Jas

An ex-gender bending, spiritual, lover of food and wine, with interests in holistic healing, nutritional medicine and who can spend hours in Thai Chemists leaving no shelf unturned looking for something cheap, trick and fabulous. Xxx

 

 

A Guest Contributor – Beauty secrets – Tips and Tricks of a Cross-dressing Beauty Queen

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As a 50-year-young woman I am excited to share a beauty secret, one I have known for 30 years!

The beauty secret is my friend Jas.

Jas is and has been my mirror and my accomplice in keeping it ‘pretty’ when life was hard and my mirror and accomplice when life was full of fantastically horrible ideas and adventures.

I met Jas when he was 15 as he sauntered in to take on the position of apprentice chef in an Art Deco Hotel in Auckland. At the time I lived upstairs with my then boyfriend, one of the Hotel’s two Managers.

Jas and I became instant friends, downstairs in the Hotel kitchen over shared sneaked-breakfasts of still-warm, metre-long-crusty-bread-sticks, halved, smeared with lashings of butter, sliced hot eggs, crusted in rock salt, garnished with globs of freshly made hollandaise – deeelicious!

 

Daz xxx

Every girl or 50-year-old woman should hang out with or at least have one of these friends in her world, one of these friends who helps her to look her absolute best.

In his opinion what he thinks is your absolute best may differ from yours.

He convinced me once to don Black hot pants, a madonna Vogue bra, and a blonde bobbed wig with thigh high suede boots for a club night out in Melbourne but equally he loved me wearing red suede flat shoes, no make up, my natural curly hair and a simple tee shirt dress out to club nights as well.

There is safety in having a wonderful man like this growing up, partying in clubs – you never have to worry about any mistaken sexual signals.

He is gay and I am straight. 

Fun times, simple.

Jas knows how to dress as a woman, so he gets it, he gets what we need to do to get pretty, to get ready to go out.

He loves me being and feeling my best and he has amazing beauty tips – amazing beauty tips, I never thought of, that work!

 

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This is Miss Gay Venezuela 2015 receiving her Beauty Queen crown. Beautiful.

 

So I asked Jas to write a piece here for me and for you all – his secret little nips and tucks that make us look our absolute best … natural with a little help.

Fun times, fun secrets.

Like the transformative wonders of a rolled pair of socks for your cleavage or his new tip, the restorative features of ‘fennel tea’.

He sent me an early morning confirmation email today

Ok sexy tits,

   ‘Just came up with an idea to centre my first piece around, so now that I have a starting point, I most likely will start filling in the blanks latter today’. 

Grab your seats and your socks, because he has agreed to share!

What tips and tricks do you have? Do you have a best friend like Jas in your life?

I’d love to hear!

 

 

My Mumma said, you are enough. ( Fast Non-Fiction, a 1 minute read)

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 1.55.20 pmThe irony of freelance writing and pursuing time for creative fiction.

It’s crazy, the busier my freelance writing world becomes, the more productive I am with my own fiction work. Go figure! But backstage my unworthiness gremlin slips in and tells me I cannot pursue busy success and write with a true voice at the same time.

Since October 2016 I have been freelance writing for Australian Fashion House, Swish Plus Size Fashion  Writing for others keeps me accountable and I love it.

So after a work period of crazy busyness and accepting some incredible writing opportunities  I forgot to slow down, get still and I slid off balance, just like the little gremlin prophecised.

I was tired and luckily I didn’t fall back on patterns of my past. I no longer sucked down my feeling by escaping into food or wine or more activity, in moments like this I did what I do now – I called my mum in New Zealand.

 

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My mum keeps it real and I know she secretly she loved it when ‘A’ I said,

‘Mum I need your advice’ and ‘B’ I stopped speaking long enough to listen,

The words tumbled out all together.

Anxiety was decapitating my self belief and I was running about like a headless chicken in search of the sun. 

‘I have a ball in my chest where I’m not sure how to breath about my writing. I think I have set it way up high on a pedestal and I don’t know how to reach it’.

My Mum said,

‘I knew you were  doing this, you have done this before, you have been running around, being here, there and everywhere and you need to get still. You need to sit down and talk to yourself.’

I really, really wanted to interrupt her wisdom with defence, to delay the inevitable. Although she offered what I needed, my defence, my safety, was reluctant to hearing.

I inhaled hard, bigger than a chicken breath, kicked my inner voice ‘know-it-all’ to the curb and listened.

‘You are enough and whatever you write is enough’

‘Write what you have now. It doesn’t have to be perfect’, she said.

She laughed and then said,

‘why don’t you grab a pen and write about how much you hate me’.

A joke between us from my overdramatic stomps as a teenager when feeling the whole world had wronged me and my mother was the only thing that stood between me and experiencing more of the whole, wrong, world.

I would stomp off into my room and begin writing, but I never wrote hate letters or notes to my mum, I wrote stories. Stories that I escaped and poured myself into, where I created exotic, teen-girl-wanting-to-be dramatic, free landscapes outside of my teenage-tiny-bedroom walls.

As a teenager I wrote from a ball of desire and anger and a need to escape.

I like writing from that place.

And like my mum said, I am enough exactly as I am.

I need to sit, get quiet, be a little bit headless and be more in that heart ball of desire bursting in my chest.

I love writing from that place.

How do you find stillness in your world? I’d love to hear your methods for finding that spot for yourself.

Xx

Much love,

Simmon

I like doodling in bed too, it helps get me still.

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Some of my freelance work published by Swish Fashion 2017

memoir

http://blog.swishfashion.com.au/plussizestyletips/an-inspirational-swish-mum-overcomes-body-shaming

Profiles

http://blog.swishfashion.com.au/plussizestyletips/anita-carmody-stays-loyal-to-manufacture-in-australia-plus-size-fashion

http://blog.swishfashion.com.au/plussizestyletips/stories-for-women-who-have-achieved-success-in-their-field.-plussize-empoweringwomen-mothersday

 

#women #mothers #nonfiction #growingup #swishplussizefashion #50pluswoman #mentalhealth #parentingadvice #worklifebalance #writerslife #freelancewriting

Body shaming, plus-size and grace in action with cake.

An inspirational mum, Carrie Strongman is a woman who’s attitude embodies an unapologetic confidence in being a beautiful plus size woman.

She also happens to be my mum.

My mum is plus size and has always shown me how beautiful her curves are.

If as a child, my raised eyebrows teased her as she sashayed past, she would tackle me with kisses until I surrendered out loud just how beautiful she was.

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My mum pictured above with my two daughters Saskia and Scarlett

I love these memories of my mum, from them my mum taught me how to love boldly, with strength and out loud.

My mum is incredibly independent, fearless, creative and intelligent. My mum with all her strength is also one of the funniest and wittiest people I know.

But I remember one moment wishing I could be her strength when two Parnell Village fashion-retail sales-women tried to shame my mother because of her plus size.

Parnell Village in one of Auckland’s most affluent suburbs with historic, cobblestone- paved charm, remains one of my favourite places in Auckland.

My mother grew up on her father’s sprawling Waitakaruru dairy farm before moving by herself at the age of 13 to the city of Auckland to study and board at New Zealand’s prestigious all girl’s Queen Victoria School. Situated in the equally affluent suburb of Remuera, a 30-minute walk from Parnell Village.

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My mum in her Queen Victoria day uniform

In my teenage years, my mum and I would travel from our home in the Coromandel Peninsula, for special mum and daughter days out in Auckland city. Together we would shop, lunch, visit family and visit sites from her teenage years like the Auckland Art Gallery, a favourite.

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The beautiful Coromandel Coast where my mum and I grew up X

My mum would then take me to one of her favourite cafes in Parnell Village for hot chocolate and cake.

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The nostalgic charm of Parnell Village, Parnell, Auckland.

The first and last time I saw my mother experience body shaming we were about to get hot chocolates in Parnell Village. I remember this detail because I didn’t want a hot chocolate after our encounter with two-fashion retail sales woman. I wanted to leave and hold my mum.

The doorway into their store was abnormally narrow, I glided in and then mum confronted by the fact that she could not fit easily through the door turned herself sideways and shimmied inside.

My mum smiled and looked up at the two women, I smiled too.

Then mum said, 

‘gosh that was a tight squeeze, I almost couldn’t fit in’.

The sales woman from behind her counter said,

‘well perhaps people like you shouldn’t squeeze themselves in here. There is nothing for your size in here.’

They turned and grinned at one another and smiled without any warmth in their eyes.

 

I still have feelings of sadness in my heart recounting this. I remember being so unprepared for their raw and unmasked meanness, I couldn’t believe that well perfumed and well-dressed people would say such mean things out loud.

For a moment, I saw a vulnerability in my mother that made me want to come back one day and buy that shop and fire those women. I was 14 years old and I just wanted to protect my mum.

I don’t remember what my mum said but I remember the proud carriage of her posture as we left.

I wanted to leave Parnell Village but mum hushed me and sat me down in the café directly in front of their store and ordered my hot chocolate, her coffee and two French pastries.

We sat and my mother told me to enjoy our lovely waiter, our lovely steaming drinks, our pastries and the beautiful day.

A powerful lesson I learned that day from my mum.

Their meanness did not define us or how we enjoyed our day.

The meanness of the two fashion sales women was their problem and not ours.

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My mum and step dad pictured here together in their hometown of Coromandel

I love my mum out loud.

#family #growingup #prejudice #bodyimage #women #writing #nonfiction

I am blessed and grateful to be the daughter of a woman who has taught me how to remember to love myself fearlessly and out loud.

And to remember most importantly that with all the energy and strength I give to others to remember to love myself first.

I love my mum.

A Melbourne Bladesmith’s one-of-a-kind love at first Slice.

Melbourne bladesmith, Aidan Mackinnon loves nothing more than dedicating 15 hours or more to transforming a raw hunk of steel and a block of wood into a one-of-a-kind, high performance, heirloom knife.

And creating a one-of-a-kind, high performance knife is what fuels his dedication and uncompromising creativity for his craft.

Cut Throat Knives was founded in 2014, after Aidan fascinated with the ancient craft tried his hand at making a knife. It was love at first slice.Resin Knives

   When I started, I immediately knew this is what I wanted to do. It just made sense to me, it combined my interest of food with design, with working with my hands and then elements of art as well.

   I was hooked from day 1.

Each of Aidan’s hand sculpted knives are bought to life in his fingers and it is this collaboration between the raw materials – Aidan likes to work with Australian materials – and his own humanity that Aidan believes makes each piece flesh alive in quality and function.

In our long-distance interview, I caught up with Aidan as he was training with some Master bladesmiths in the United States whilst I was here in Melbourne.

I admit as an interviewee he couldn’t have been more generous with his time and personable with intimate details of Cut Throat Knives and a craft that he loves.

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1.Hi Aidan, you are currently in training with some bladesmiths in the United States, what so far has been the best learning you have received there?

Hi Simmon, the best thing that I’ve learnt is that I’ve demystified some of the aura around the celebrity knife makers. It can be easy when you work in a certain field to put people on pedestals and the knife making community is no different.

 It has been fantastic learning from some of the thought leaders in my field but also realizing that they are just makers like the rest of us.

2.Where did your fascination with knife making first begin?

 I’ve always been into food and through that you gain an appreciation for well-made tools. When I first moved out of home I bought a Global Knife and then slowly just kept on upgrading through the various factory made options.

Then about 5 years ago I came across the work of Cut Brooklyn and Blok Knives and just found the concept fascinating, that there were these guys making beautiful tools by hand.

After a little bit, I decided to learn how to make a knife and did a course in Australia and I really fell for the craft. Within 7 months I had launched Cut Throat Knives.

wood

3. At the beginning, tell me about the first knife you ever made?

The first Chef Knife I ever made was with Tharwa Valley Forge in Canberra, they are a blacksmithing and bladesmithing school.

 I hammered out a piece of steel under the tutelage and glued on a handle and shaped it. By anybody’s standards it was rough, even my own but I saw it as a stepping point. I still have it in my workshop acting as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

4. You believe the human element of crafting a handmade knife is of the utmost importance in creating the fine detail of a bespoke blade, how so?

Every element of a handmade knife is about attention to detail.

The lines of the blade are a little more refined, the blades are ground very thin, and often have complex compound grinds. The heat treatment is done to the highest standard possible (something that is difficult when factories are bulk heat treating blades).

 Finally, the choice of the materials in the handle and the contouring of the handle.
These improvements however slight stack up and produce a better end result.

As a knife maker, we have to be about pushing the envelope, getting the most out of the materials so that it is a lifetime purchase.

craftsman5. Will you share your design philosophy behind the crafting of your beautiful knives?

First and foremost, they are about function, if they don’t excel where they need to everything else is moot. Beyond that my goal is to create a kitchen heirloom, in that sense I’m trying to create an object that has an emotional connection to it.


For example I did a collaboration with a florist, where we lasered peonies onto the blade and had a handle that was resin cast that contained a single flower. Not only will it perform well, but for a florist this is a tool that takes their work passion and embodies it in a kitchen object.

6. What plans do you have for the future of Cut Throat Knives?

We are about to launch our own range of Damascus and San Mai blades. These will be complete bespoke custom work where we work with the customer to create a truly individual piece.

Leather and Knife

We are also revamping our leather range to include a greater selection of options.

We have some other projects in the works but for now they will remain a secret

7. And for all the budding bladesmiths, home chefs and others you have knife making classes starting soon. Very exciting, please tell me about them.

Knife making classes will be starting shortly.

They will be run as a two-day course where we teach the basics of knife making and sharpening with a heavy focus on kitchen knives.

8. The food industry is ever evolving and ever inspiring, from whom do you draw inspiration from?

 Within my own field; Blok Knives, Cut Brooklyn, Maumasi Fire Arts, David Lisch

Outside of my craft; the Dapper Dead, Sauer and Steiner, Kylie Kwong, Grafa Garden, Brooklyn Copper, Borough Furnace, Black Tide Tattoo, North St Botanical (the list is long)

Within the culinary world (this list is very, very long); Adam Perry Lang, Kenji Lopez Alt, Josh Niland, Dan Barber to name just a few.

 9. Why should people buy a handmade knife as opposed to a commercially made one?

 I would encourage people to enhance their cooking experience through good produce and good tools. Maybe that means buying one of my knives or maybe it is the cheap Santoku that you bought when you lived in Japan and every time you use it, it reminds you of your time there.

I think that there is something special about holding a well-made tool and knowing that there is a person and a story behind that object. If that connects with you and enhances your cooking, then absolutely I encourage you to give me a call.

Wow knife

  1. And finally, what is the best way I can take care of one of your beautifully made Cut Throat Knives?


There are a few elements to taking care of a well-made knife,

  1. Take care of the tip and the rest takes care of itself.
    When sharpening get it professionally sharpened, or use whetstones. Never use those pull through sharpeners, they are terrible.
  2. Store on a magnetic knife block or in a wooden knife block with the edge facing up (don’t rest the edge on the wood).
  3. Never just throw it in the draw.
  4. Hand wash only. It takes 5 seconds to clean the blade and dry it.

As Cut Throat Knives says on their website’https://www.cutthroatknives.com.au/

Quality has no substitute; throwaway culture deserves disposal; and time-honored skills are worthy of recognition.

Thanks Aidan!

Look forward to your return to Melbourne!

With images courtesy of Cut Throat Knives and Aidan Mackinnon.

#cutthroatknives #handcraftedknives #melbourneknifemaker #handmadeknives #artisan #melbourneartisan