It’s the New Year! OK it’s been the new year for a little while but I heard lots of birds today and it made me think of spring, therefore it only really became new year properly for me today. You know what I mean. And a new year means a new look. Sometimes. Well, the magazines keep telling me this and they wouldn’t lie, would they?
Anyway… after you’ve read the article I posted a while ago on looking and feeling vintage, here are various tutorials you may find useful. From everyone’s favourite make up muse Edie Sedgwick to modern gothic, from 20s flapper to hippie/metal/whatever dreadlocks, punk to steampunk and blacklight parties it’s all right here. Hooray!
First, because I used to have dreadlocks and I still love them, is a how to:
If real dreads are too much of a frightening commitment, here’s how to do them in wool:
Next up some gothicness. Here is MissChievous’ make-up tutorial:
The ‘Tim Burton’ look from Michelle Phan:
Antimony and Lace is a site dedicated to tutorials on do it yourself goth clothes, and Goth.net is a community site for sharing clothes tips and the like.
Quite a sweet tutorial for rock types on making shredded leggings. My favourite part was the cat:
If you’re turning 30, like my friend Angie did recently, you ought to accept the fact that you’re an adult and have a party involving cheese, wine and chats about insurance. Or….hire a hall and hold a fancy dress competition in the style of Alice in Wonderland/Victorian, and top if off with a visit to a shisha cafe the next day:
What comes to mind when you think of squats and squatters? Hardcore people with dreads and mohicans, nostrils full of ketamine and all night parties, or me…sitting in my room reading Harry Potter?
OK, the Harry Potter book belonged to someone else, but you get the idea. A friend of mine who did actually have a nostril full of ketamine and a head full of dreads had left the room empty apart from a few things and I had found myself at a loose end. Clubs and parties in Brighton were starting to bore me and so was sitting on the phone listening to people moan about the service of American Express. I wanted to be doing something creative in London. I just didn’t know how.
So I arrived in Stratford in 2005 eager and terrified. The squat was enormous; previously an old pub there were several floors and large bar rooms. I’d been naive – I had no plans and no need to find a job to pay rent, therefore I began a new routine of waking at 4pm, scratching myself for an hour or two and spending the rest of the night watching tv with a few of my housemates.
One of the people living there was a dealer. He was a nice bloke. Everyone else did actually go to work regularly and only a couple had what I would call a coke habit. One man was reaching his late thirties and beginning to realise the majority of his life had been spent outside the system, and he was starting to panic. Most of my time there, though, was spent on my own, not knowing anyone or how to begin my new creative adventures, reading this Harry Potter book left by my friend, and I was bored…bored…bored.
Some good memories did come of it. One day as winter hit hard I realised I would have to collect firewood or freeze. Myself and a hippie girl went out into the courtyard, searched amongst the tires and tiles and found enough branches and logs to take up with us. Once back in my room the frozen streets were hidden behind the pink sarong I’d hammered in place above the window (I’ve still got it with me today) and we stacked the wood and twisted newspaper in the fireplace grate just outside the door. Once I’d got it crackling we turned on the tv from its place on the makeshift stand ( a wooden box) and warmed ourselves. I fed the fire all night, smiling like a proud mother as it leapt up the chimney.
Another night the dealer had arrived back after one of his times away. I was always pleased to see him and his dog as they were the ones I was closest to. Hours of film watching and rubbish tv would take place in his room as the fire in his own grate roared more substantially than any I lit. He’d brought a smoke machine back from Brighton and everyone was standing excitedly round it in the empty bar. “We should set it off,” he suggested, and we agreed.
After several hisses large clouds obscured our vision. We giggled like children until the novelty passed and we went our seperate ways. I moved the sarong curtain in my room aside to check the streets…only to find a small crowd had gathered. They were shouting to each other and waving to me. Confused, I waved back. A lady formed a loudspeaker with her hands and called: “Don’t worry, we’ve rung for help.” Oh dear.
In the next minute a fire engine pulled up outside to rescue us from the building with smoke pouring from the roof. I ran to find one of the others. At the time it seemed like a disaster but only hours later we were laughing about it, and in my retellings I left out the bit where I panicked and begged my friend to go outside and speak to everyone.
I remember the night I looked as though a rainbow had thrown up on me. I was transformed into a Gorgon and ordered to hide in the forest, frightening visitors. It was a good weekend all round, during a warm August in 2006.
I had been asked to come along to an outdoor charity event to be dressed up as a “sexy Medusa,” so said the lady on the phone. It was part of a Dante’s Inferno theme in a hidden, forested corner of some private land which the partygoers would be lured to after dark. Why the hell not? I roped a friend into driving me there and back; it wasn’t too far and there’d be free drinks. On the Friday night my friend Angie showed up in her small black Ka, which suited her personality well as my half Fillipino friend is also small and neat. She was dressed elegantly as we were both under the impression they were very rich and very posh.
They were too posh to give us good directions, but eventually we arrived at the entrance to a field. It looked just like a festival, with tented bars and dancing areas overlooked by a many bedroomed monster house. We were greeted at the front gate by a blonde lady who explained my role for the evening. My body was to be painted and I would wear a clinging dress with a headdress resembling snakelike hair. I was excited.
Angie and I drank Cosmopolitans with our little fingers raised and at 9 O’clock I received the bat signal summoning me to the mansion. The first thing I saw indoors was a curly haired young man whose skin was painted like tree bark. “I’m one of the lost souls in the trees at the gates of Hell,” he introduced himself cheerfully. He had twigs in his hair for extra effect, and to show maximum tree skin was wearing nothing but shorts. I slipped into a tight pink dress and took my place in front of a sweet lady with a shaved head and rainbow top.
The painting was laborious but the tree-man, or Hugh, entertained me with camp excitability and Angie became my PR, answering my phone and fetching us drinks. As well as us there were two other girls dressed as a lost soul and a Gorgon.
Eventually every part of my visible skin was pink, blue or yellow. My face was painted toinclude small fangs and huge eyelashes, and then the headdress went on. It was made of felt and snaked down to my stomach. Now I was a real Gorgon, and I preened in front of the mirror before a girl in the doorway said, “Oh, you look like a giant prawn!”
We were ushered to our hiding spot through a tunnel of trees. Red streamers hung to the ground at the entrance, in the dark it was like entering a dream. My bare feet padded on the soft grass until we arrived in Hell – a pleasant open woodland with tall trees, a band and a bar. Several mannequins painted up like Hugh were dotted about for good measure. I always knew Hell was more fun than Heaven.As we waited we were joined by a dark haired girl in a purple fairy dress balancing on stilts. We excitedly chatted and waited, and waited, until it was 1am and I had begun to believe I truly looked like a giant portion of seafood. We waited some more, and at 2.30 am it finally happened.
I was handed a mega-phone as we invaded the tent and soon a very British orderly queue had formed. As it disappeared we floated after them, the tree people taking up positions amongst the foliage, the Gorgons drifting in and out of the trees and the girl on stilts picking her way through the crowds as they danced to the band.
People stared at me in wonder as I slipped past them. It was a very odd feeling and quite nice, validating my delusions of grandeur. After a few hours we felt we had done our duty as ethereal beings and it was time to enjoy the party. We danced about until I noticed the sun had crept into the sky. A man I had spoken to once was obviously feeling the ever ticking pressure of time and asked if he had ‘pulled me yet’. I decided it was time to leave.
I’m always amazed by how much smaller everything seems in daylight. When you’ve been lost in a dark, private world it’s easy to feel that it will stretch on forever, but the ‘gates of Hell’ had become once again a tunnel of trees and, beyond that, a very ordinary car park.
I changed into my clothes and called Angie. I was impressed with the way she had managed to sleep in the car, it’s not an easy thing to do. I slipped into the seat next to her as she woke herself up properly. “Did you have fun?” She asked as she began the drive home.