Archive for October, 2012

This Halloween will be my 30th birthday and instead of throwing a party I am producing a show (which is LIKE a party if you do it right and, trust me, I intend to.) I am doing a Halloween show, the kind of Halloween show I would like to see which means equal parts scary and sexy and no fucking filler acts. All the acts will be balls to the wall awesome and I intend to make my act no different. Thus, dear readers, I give you my Hellraiser act.

I’m really not sure where this act came from. I saw Hellraiser, like, once when I was a teenager. It was late at night and I think hosted by Joe Bob Briggs and I honestly barely remembered it. Maybe it was the appearance of Fornicus Lord of Bondage and Pain in Cabin in the Woods. More likely it was this really badass Clive Barker action figure that’s on my bookshelf.

Her name is Camille Noire

Whatever it was, a song came on my ipod, something clicked and I thought “OMG I WANT TO DO A CENOBITE ACT FUCK THAT WOULD BE AWESOME!”

And, guys, when my brain talks in all caps, I listen.

This was a hard costume to do for a number of reasons. The first was that I knew I wanted to do something inspired by The Cenobites but not an exact replica.  I wanted something inspired by Camille but not a reproduction. (I mean, I needed *something* to take off.)  The second reason was Dude have you looked at these costumes? And third, while I could see the act in my head, the lighting was bad and I didn’t have a clear idea of what the costume should look like. Lots of black and metal and strappy things, probably. Probably some chains, too. Not having a clear idea is freeing in some ways because you can just gather stuff that you think might work, then throw it together and see what happens. I did some research. I read as much as I could about the Cenobites. I looked at a lot of Clive Barker’s work (which seems to be mostly spooky gay erotica these days.) I covetously poured over the AMF Korset website. I stared at Alexander McQueen’s book Savage beauty a LOT. I made a polyvore board, which I really can’t recommend enough.

First things first, I knew I needed a corset and I knew it needed to be one I wasn’t attached to so I could distress the fuck out of it if need be. So I headed on over to and looked through their sale section. I wanted something that would look bloody and gory but they didn’t have anything satisfying in red so I ended up getting a camo printed corset that I could dye red and hope that the print looked bruisey/gory when red. I also saw a very S&My looking corset made of black vinyl with purple panels that seemed like it would be perfect for the outer layer. But… was that crazy? Dare I wear two corsets in one act? Yes, reader, I dare. I figured that I would put in a front panel on the first corset that would close it with snaps instead of making use of the busks, thus I wouldn’t spend the whole damn act just trying to get out of these freaking corsets.

I didn’t want to be just wearing a corset, though. I wanted something jaket-y with a big scary collar like this badass McQueen corset

I’m still a little scared of getting bedbugs from NYC thrift stores so when I visited my parents in MD I went thrifting with them and found a black faux leather jacket with bigass lapels, then when I got home, I went about attaching the jacket to the corset.

A lot of the making of this was futzing with preexisting materials, getting frustrated, giving up for a few days/hours, and coming back to it later with fresh ideas.  I will spare you the ridiculousness of my thought process.  The shoulder on the jacket were too broad so I just ran a gathering stitch along each shoulder and scrunched it to the size it needed to be.  I’m pretty sure that’s not the right way to go about it but meh.  I don’t have the skillz to make a costume like this the proper way, so I did a lot of quick and dirty stuff to just get it done.  Black is forgiving.  So is, oddly, the costume of a freaky weird torture demon.  It’s ok if you have weird pleats or gathering, it’s supposed to look weird.
I cut away the part of the jacket that covered the corset and folded the lapels in such a way that they would stand up on their own.

It looked pretty cool but it needed… More.  I’d bought this weird plastic planty thing from Michael’s, and I already had some chain lying around.  I really wanted to have some under lighting so I would get that creepy flashlight under the chin look and I just happened to see a guy at a club with leds under his lapel so I asked where he got them.  I picked some up and hot glued everything in place. (ok, I sewed the chain)

Now we’re talking!

The only problem with those sweet ass chains is that it made putting on a skirt nearly impossible.  First I tried doing something with these giant fake chains they were selling at Michael’s (Michael’s around Halloween is like candyland for me.) but it ended up looking crappy.  So then I tried covering my panier’s with black ribbon to make a cool looking cage skirt with a removable waistband so that it could actually fit to my waist without the chains interfering.  I thought this was a pretty ingenious solution, but when I finished it, it just kinda looked crappy.  It wasn’t a bad idea, it just didn’t work for this costume.  Hopefully I’ll come up with another costume it’ll work for because I spent hours on it.

After mourning the loss of several hours’ work I went digging through my stash of fabrics to see what else I could do to make a skirt.  I had a couple yards of black lining fabric lying around so I started draping it on the corset, sort of around the chains, figuring this would let me find the right silhouette and I could sew/modify as needed to perfect it.

Then I took a step back and said “Fuck it, this works.”

So I had the outer layer done, but there was still more to do.  Like that second corset.  It was totally synthetic so I didn’t bother trying to dye it.  Instead I used spray on fabric paint.

Corset Carnage!

I also gave the outer corset a good spritz so it would look spattered in blood.

The camo pattern still showed and looked a bit too clean, so I muddled it up with watered down acrylic paints in purple and different shades of red.

Borrowing LARGELY from AMF corsets, I wanted this to look like it was covered in shredded skin.  Leather or latex would be the best material to use but I’d already spent WAY too much on this costume so was trying to stick to stuff I already had.  I had not leather or latex but I did have liquid latex and all the fabric anyone could ask for.  After much trial and error I made something pretty skin like by covering flesh colored silk (I’m sure other, similar, fabrics would work) with a thick layer of liquid latex and then covering that with a thick dusting of face powder for texture.  (I think baby powder or cornstarch would probably also work.)  Once that dried I painted it with a wash of watered down acrylic paint to get the color right.

Then came the fun part!

I loosely pinned the “skin” onto the corset and then started shredding.  For realism I used a dagger and a punch blade, because scissors would make too clean a cut and I don’t know where my exacto knife is.  Also, it’s really fun to stab a knife through fake skin! (Assuming you are a creep like me.)  Once I had the skin sufficiently ripped up I pinned it down wherever seemed necessary and took it off the dress form.

I stitched over where the pins were, using a corset stitch that I learned from my design teacher in college.

I once covered an entire corset using stitches like this. The fact that I did not descend into the depths of lovcraftian insanity surprises me to this day.

It’s a really good, strong, stitch.  Especially for attaching stretchy fabric to non stretchy fabric. </sewing nerdery>

BUT I didn’t want the skin to look sewn  down, I wanted it to look pinned or riveted in place.  After a cross FB design consultation with a friend in Minneapolis (which I’m sure was annoying to everyone but us) I settled on using hematite crystals and “blood drips” made with nail polish (so it would keep looking wet.)

It’s just so….Pretty! Seriously, I’m really proud of it.

But dear readers, I was not yet done!

Camille has a posture collar and I was going to need something like that because I had that freaky under lighting which, while cool, makes me look like I have no chin.

See what I mean?

I borrowed a posture collar from a friend and made noise about covering it with more suitable fabric, or using it as a pattern but, dear readers, I just couldn’t do it.  Posture collars are no joke.  They are like tiny corsets for your neck and I just didn’t have it in me this time.  I was running out of time and, quite frankly, motivation.  Also, this is a grinder act and I need to be able to easily look down and see the area that’s coming into contact with the angle grinder.  A posture collare does not allow for that.

I tried wrapping some ribbon around my neck.  It looked good but not great.  Then I tried wrapping wire around my throat.  Bingo.

Simple.  Effective.  Creepy.

I might add some fake blood so it *really* looks like it’s digging into my skin.

I also wanted to make these.

Now, if I wasn’t dirt poor, I would have just gone ahead and bought these from because it looks like quality work and would certainly be worth saving the time and sanity.  Unfortunately, I *am* dirt poor and I really don’t know how often I’m going to be able to do this act (the more you do an act, the closer it comes to paying for itself.) So I tried making do with the bootleg version by buying some stockings that match my skin tone and painting them.  That didn’t work.  I might try to do it with liquid latex and toilet paper.  Or I might just hope I can get this act booked enough that I can justify buying these things in the future.

Finally, I couldn’t do all of this myself.  As previously noted, this is a grinder act and I can’t make metal and leather panties on my own.  Or at all really.  So I called on Aaron Fisher, the same guy that made the panties for my last grinder act.  He is awesome.

I also *really* wanted a circular saw crown like Camille’s.  I probably could have figured out how to make that myself but I saved some time and sanity by asking my friend who has access to a metal shop to just make one out of a circular saw blade.  Thanks Cliff Hanger!

I am so very psyched about this.


Ostensibly, this show is tomorrow.  But there was a bigass Hurricane and half of Manhattan has lost power so… It doesn’t look good.  But this is New York, and a lot can happen in 24 hours.  Obviously I’ll do the act another time if the show doesn’t happen but I was really looking forward to this show, specifically to doing this act at this show.  So keep your fingers crossed and stay strong New York.

Ribcage Vest

Posted: October 1, 2012 in Uncategorized

Holy crap it’s been a while since I posted anything.  Sorry guys, Deadpool broke me.  Ok, not really.  But shit’s been crazy.  At some point I’ll post about my Zipper Dress but today I’m posting my ribcage vest because it’s part of Bare this thursday and I want you all to see that show.  Not only will you see this baby in action, you’ll see me tell a story and get naked twice.

Originally this was going to be a corset but I don’t really know how to make those and by the time I finished the patterning I realized that I had just patterned a vest.  I probably could have just modified an existing vest pattern but that didn’t occur to me at the time.  Also, I haven’t fully unpacked and I don’t know where my patterns are.  Ugh.

So I patterned this vest


I first made it out of fabric I wasn’t crazy about.  Then I went and bought fabric I *was* crazy about.  The moral is, hold out for the good stuff.  Especially if you’re a crazy perfectionist like me.  One of my teachers in college said “You don’t win friends with salad” by which meant that if you start with crappy materials, they’re going to remain crappy.

Then I had to make the ribcage part.  I wanted it to be dimensional so I made a stuffed ribcage.  I took the original muslin and sketched out a ribcage on it.




Then I cut that out, traced the pieces onto fabric sewed the whole thing together and stuffed the sucker.  This turned out to be WAY harder than it sounds.  Like WAY.  First of all, it’s really hard to turn something shaped like a ribcage.  It’s also really hard to stuff it.  I also should not have used a chiffony fabric that shreds when you put too much pressure on it. 

I finally got one side together and it looked like total crap.  So learn from me, don’t make anything stuffed out of something chiffonesque, and something stuffed is always going to look kinda cutesie.  That’s just what it does.  Also, sometimes you just have to scrap a day’s worth of work because it just sucks.  Try not to throw yourself out the window when this happens.

So I regrouped and went in search of an alternative.  I found it in this awesome beaded trim.


Following Amber Ray’s advice, I sealed the back with hot glue so that it wouldn’t unravel in the future and then pinned and hand sewed everything in place.


BUT you anatomy nerds are thinking “Where’s the Sternum?”

Good question, Nerds!

I wanted to make the sternum out of Fimo.  I’m not entirely sure why.  Originally, I wanted to make the ribs out of fimo but I (quite correctly) realized that would be crazy and probably impossible (or at least really stupidly difficult) and abandoned that.  But I wanted to have some part of it be hard and brittle, like bone. Thus, fimo sternum.  I also wanted it be blinged out a little so I used this big crystal I had lying aorund

I started with a wire armature, because fimo doesn’t hold its shape before it’s baked.


Then I padded the frame out with tinfoil because you don’t want Fimo to be too thick.


Then I covered ti with fimo, got it the shape I wanted and baked it.  But FIRST, I made sure to poke some holes in it so I could sew it down.


And this is what I ended up with.


It looks a lot better in person, though still not *quite* what I want it to be.  I may do some hand beading so it’ll look a bit more anatomically correct but that depends on whether I get everything else ready in time for the show.

BTW Bare is this thursday, 10pm at Under St. Marks.  It’s going to be awesome.