Saturday, September 10, 2016


Wrong Turns Can Be The Right Ones

Casa Del Curandero: Tachi Yokuts Bear Dance 2012

    I ignored the large white sign posted on the fence. "Private Property," it read in bold black letters. Why that didn't register in my brain as "turn around, dummy," I don't know. Maybe it was my bladder screaming to my brain to find a bathroom sooner than later. Maybe I thought it was just another way to get to the 101 entrance because I most obviously had missed the turn somewhere in the tall Redwoods. Whatever the reason—the push or the pull, I drove forward on the narrow canopied road which veered to the left.
    I'd come back to Northern California in less than three weeks of bringing my son to a college he said he'd made a mistake in choosing. Whatever it was—the isolation, the drug usage by the students in every direction at any time, the social differences between small town kids and his city upbringing, or he just wasn't prepared for this type of commitment, I was there to rescue him. The shear relief on his face when I walked into his dorm was priceless and punctuated with would-be promises of better things to come at San Francisco State University who would luckily take him the following semester. Motion was already in place despite criticism from many who told me he should've stayed in his original chosen college because he'd made that decision or that I was bailing him out of something that he hadn't given enough of a try at. Well, I'm a mom. More than that I'm a pretty good damn human being. I heard his pain. I saw his future through his eyes and it wasn't happy one and here I was. But eleven hour drives are meant to have a pause in between the coming and going. So the next day, Kyle and I set out to have a happy day in what he referred to as hell. We filled our morning and stomachs with severely missed McDonald chicken sandwiches, hash browns, and Starbucks ice teas and ate at the marina. And then we took a drive north up the 101 to a lagoon and then south again, only to off road into the woods for a minute, make a wrong turn, and end up driving past a small wooden house. A young child and two puppies were playing on the front lawn. One of the little varmints ran toward my car and into a blind spot, but the rear view mirror assured me he was safe as he scampered back into the distance.
    "He's okay," I said to Kyle, who quietly sat next to me in the car. "Maybe we can take him home?" I said. Kyle quickly challenged me.
    "You didn't want to take that cat home," he complained.
    "No cats in the car, but a dog will do," I said.
    My response coincided with the visual of two chemical toilets a few hundred feet ahead of us— Gump-style porta-potties backdropped by the expanse of wooded hills and ocean. A peaceful place to piss. I drove toward them passing some tents on the right and what appeared to be a makeshift lodge on the left and parked.
    "I'll be right back," I told Kyle and bailed out the car for the larger gray cubicle. Roominess in these emergencies can make all the difference in the world.
    The outhouse was disgusting, of course. It amazes me what comes out of people sometimes, whether it be their brains or their butts. Naturally, I hovered over the hole not wanting to touch any bit of it, though grateful that relief had miraculously dropped out of the sky for me. I was outta there in seconds. That's exactly how long it took for a man to approach my car while I'd been absent. He stood at the driver's side while my son sat waiting for me in the passenger seat. Odd, I thought. I hadn't seen him at all as we drove up. I greeted him as I returned to my car. He stood silently; a bulky Native American man. Nothing about my encounter with him registered that I might have potentially trespassed on private property. He didn't mention that—at least not yet. I looked at Kyle to make sure he was okay. He didn't say anything.
     "This place was filled with over three hundred people this weekend," the man said. "They came from all over."
    "For what?" I asked.
    "Bear Dance," he said.
    I glanced over to the a partially fenced area I'd seen coming out of the toilet. I'd seen two, if not three, severely weathered carved wooden bear statues in the middle of it. I didn't ask him about them. It's as if the question had been already answered.
    "They come here for healing," he continued.
    "How do they know about this?" I asked. I'm always curious about how people know where the cool stuff to do is, not realizing yet that I was about to learn of a truly traditional, if not ancient, spiritual practice.
    "Word of mouth," he said, which instantly confirmed that this man probably didn't have a website.
"You didn't see the sign," he added, stating the real reason he was having this conversation with me.
     "I don't think I did," I replied guiltily. "I think I took a wrong turn trying to get to the 101. All I saw were the bathrooms. I had to go bad,"  I added trying to deflect my mistake.
    "There going to be picked up tomorrow," he said, referring to the dumpers. "There were so many people here. We fed them all, too. I'm a healer, you know."
    I wish I had the power of recollection because the conversation that ensued between us should have been recorded, if not by my poor brain, but by some mystical force somewhere in the universe. Peter was his name. Not a very Native American one, I thought to myself. Sixteen years he'd been a Head Bear. Now, if Head Bear had been his name, it sounded more fitting of his large presence. He told me he'd been living on the bit of land under our feet since he was a baby and that he'd die there too.
    "Yurok villages were all around here," he said, as he pointed up to the hills. "They used to be prairies until they planted all those trees."
    His demeanor was matter-of-fact—easy. I was trying to make out if he was drunk or high, but he continued talking to me in an even tone, without so much as a smile. I asked him how he became a healer.
    "My brother was murdered," he said. I was hunting for his murderer for years."
    He continued on to tell how the unhappiness, and I guess the hatred, he held inside poisoned him—like a cancer. He encountered the healing practice, was healed himself, and eventually let his brother's death go. But he'd found his calling. It was now thirty-seven years without crack, thirty-five without alcohol, and it'd been five months since he smoked a joint. I considered that an accomplishment being we were in the biggest pot smoking county in all of California—Humboldt—and forgave him that.
     I glanced into the car at Kyle. I wanted to see if he'd been listening to this man's story. Kyle's eyes were riveted in our direction. I could tell he was indeed enjoying it. I gave myself one of those invisible pats on the back—the kind a mother does when she knows she's given her son the precious gift of an out-of-body experience.
     We learned that the people who migrate to this sacred spot by the ocean come for Peter's healing—and the spirits that he said still reside there. He reminisced about a nearby Indian grave. When he was a young boy, he stumbled upon what looked to be grave robbers, but who they were were archeologists from UCLA who had come to dig up artifacts. The disturbance of those graves left the spirits of those buried there without a place to go. Apparently, there'd been countless encounters with various spirits wandering the land—a mother and child on the beach and men walking the narrow road between the two sides of the campgrounds.
    Peter went on to say how he fed the all the visitors—his patients, as it would seem. The makeshift kitchen had been built to cook hundreds of salmon they'd fished from the ocean. The cooked them over open fires and feasted beneath the stars. And then he told us about the Bear Dance.
    Wearing a bear hide over his body; the head covering most of his and his hands gloved by the paws or claws, he dances to the beat of drums which replicate the bear's heartbeat among the crowd who gather in a circle around him. He said the people bring their cancers and other diseases to this place. Some "sweat it out" in small lodges built of canvas within the wooded perimeters of the campground. Lava rocks are heated by a fire and dumped into the center of these lodges and sprinkled with water to create steam. Inside, the people sit in the extreme heat. Peter said he himself can't stand the intensity of it and isn't sure how others do. The rest of the people wait for him to do his spirit magic to them. He grasps any person's head who offers it to him between his hand-claws and squeezes at their temples, his bear forehead pressed hard to theirs. He said he yells, "GRRRR!!! GRRRR!!!" He growled a few times like that to punctuate his bizarre story. Then other healers, ones with eagle wings, cleanse the subjects with a whoosh of the feathers. He said that sometimes the to-be-healed faint on the spot, convulse, puke up their salmon, or are overcome with tears or all of the above as the impurities leave their bodies. Peter said he too sometimes collapses after taking in these foreign impurities, but the strong bear spirit within pulls him up again to heal more people.
    The air was crisp. I'd left my sweater in the car and felt chilled, but in awe of Peter as I listened to him. I could tell he was a proud man—a proud Native American. A Healer. Head Bear. We'd been talking for almost forty-five minutes before we started to make closure on the conversation. As we said our goodbyes, I felt an urgency to hug this man. Perhaps hugging a healer would fend off dis-ease in me, my uncertainties, insecurities, or any future illnesses to come. But mostly, he deserved it. And I guess I did too. As Kyle and I drove away, I think we felt we'd been blessed or something. Well, maybe that's not what Kyle felt, but I sure did. I thought about Kyle's "mistake" and why I was there. Perhaps meeting Peter was a good thing, if not the greatest. No matter the reason, we would not have been in this right place had I not made that wrong turn.


Sunday, August 21, 2016


Screw this Syndrome

I wish I’d known the significance of the hummingbird nest I saw built right before my eyes outside my bathroom window this spring. In-step with every awesomeness those birds possess, I watched the mama weave and wind twigs and spider web threads around the tip-top of my wine bottle wind chime. When she finally finished, she sat quietly on top her creation–that is until I blinked and she’d be gone. Blink again, and she returned. This went on for a week or more until the theater changed. Mama no longer sat atop the nest because two needle thin beaks now poked up straight into the air. Blink. She hovered over them with magical motion and fed their opened mouths. Blink. She’s gone. She flitted back and forth for maybe two more weeks until I could sense a restlessness in that nest. One beak up, the other missing from sight. Two beaks again, then none. It had gotten tight in there. I could only imagine the two of them twisting and turning to get more comfortable. I had heard that hummingbird babies finally leave the nest after it becomes too small for their tiny bodies. They drop to the ground, but mama continues to feed them there until they are ready to go on their own. Kinda reminds me of our own babies evolving into adolescence and then the big adult “beyond.” Wouldn’t you know it, it is. And Me-Mama-Big-Butt-Humming-Head is having a big bad case of empty nest syndrome. Honestly, those three words hadn’t occurred to me until I sat down just now to write this post. I knew something was brewing inside of me, but I hadn’t a name for it yet– pride, confusion, elation, or grief? Turns out it’s all the above and a syndrome, no less. Makes it sound like you’re going insane. Well, you are.

My son’s launch off to college was only a mere twelve hour drive up to Northern California. The thought of not having him anymore in the next room drove both of us crazy. We eased the transition by designing his new portal at his apartment with young-manly stuff, grays and blacks being the main color scheme. We brought strands of light, stuff for the walls, and pots and pans that will probably never see the light of day. We met his roommates (and in a couple of cases, their obnoxious Republican families) and talked positive about the school, the beautiful grounds, the great town, and the future. But nothing could escape the underlying sadness or apprehension of a mama and son’s girlfriend leaving to go back home while son stayed to start a new life. Yup, the silent, droopy-mouthed, and glassy-eyed trio seated at the table amongst a crowd filled with laughter and Italian sauce was us. I’ll tell you, it was almost impossible to say something upbeat while blowing snot into a restaurant napkin.

Personally, I can’t imagine what it’s like to go to college because I never did. My second generation Lithuanian-American parents hadn’t gone so they didn’t know how to push their four girls into it. No­. Instead I left my folk’s nest out of rebellion. It was the 70s after all. Not wanting to make the same mistake as my parents had, my ex-husband and I encouraged my son to continue his education, although I have to say I still approached the subject with their inherited ignorance. I hadn’t the first clue how to pick a college let alone pay for one. As it turned out, it wasn’t my choice anyway and due to heavy influence of my son’s friends, he chose Humboldt University, in the middle of nowhere-near-the-house. So I got ready. Ready for the change, the departure, and the separation. “He’s going on vacation,” I said a million times to myself. “We’ll plan our visits in increments. Why Labor Day and Thanksgiving are just around the corner!” But after looking at nine-hour flight schedules to travel in just ONE state when it took merely ten to drive straight through and up, the prospects of seeing him as often as I wanted started to look unrealistic. Bite the bullet. This is going to be a tough one.

I’m going to be short and sweet and honest here. There is NOTHING anyone can say to me right now to make me feel any better. Of course I’m thrilled for my son’s new venture and I’m absolutely gleaming with pride that he is truly thinking about making his mark in the world, but I still miss my boy. There are no shoulda-woulda-coulda’s with this event in my life. If I was able to turn the clock back, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But as I repeatedly said to my son over those last few days on his new turf of life, we must move forward because we have no choice. Besides, that cryogenics idea I had to freeze my son at age thirteen didn’t happen like I had planned. And like the hummingbird nest outside my bathroom window, mine is also empty–although my baby has flown the coop to become a full-on eagle.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


6 Ways to Spread Yourself Thin

Between work in the TV industry and my aspiration to be a famous living artist (verses a dead one) I've tried several avenues to promote my art. My eyes have popped from my head after Googling information for hours, I've graciously accepted family and my friends' advice, and even hired a kinda PR person to help me deal with social media (until I understood I could take care of most of that myself...ahem). 

Here are some tips that I came up to help sustain and promote my work.

Yes, part of being a self-proclaimed artist is keeping up the good work. That involves having a space to paint and having the paints accessible at all times. More than that, it involves commitment to a project, albeit a series. But excuse me. The phone just rang. I've been asked to work on a TV production that will actually pay my bills. I have to put my art table and paints away because I don't have a studio like a normal artist. Now that that's done, I better do some FB posting on my art page because I won't have any time to do it otherwise.

Well, I have two Facebook pages—one personal and one for my art. I'm more active on my personal page. Why, I just posted another selfie of myself there...a weirdly lit, not quite smily-faced one that gets comments like, "you're weird." But that's my artist statement, although I didn't direct it from my art page. And oh!  I MUST share this gif of the woman wiping her ass with a blinking-eyed Sponge Bob! Again, not my art page, but oh well. A little bit of anti-Trump-pro-Hillary statements and I'm all Facebooked out. I think I'll do my Instagram now.

Damn. Would someone please explain to me the convoluted foreign language of HASHTAGS?! I've posted to Instagram "#art and/or #painting", but my hashtags seem pretty conservative compared to what I've seen up there. I'm beginning to think I'm missing the boat or something. Perhaps I should try something along the lines of this: #conceptualizedwhiletakingamajordumponthetoiletat2am or #justbuymygoddamnartalready. And there's another thing I don't understand on Instagram. Who on earth am I supposed to follow if nobody uses their god-damned names? Like, who is BronzePony? Nail biting. Time to check out my LinkedIn.

WTF is LinkedIn, anyway? I joined it in 2009 and ever since then I've gotten requests from people who want to connect with me. Ironically, I'm ALREADY connected with most of them on FB and probably even on Instagram if I were able to actually figure out who BronzePony was. Does ANYBODY get ANYTHING out of being on LinkedIn? This frustration just killed me. I better forget this and see if I have any artist calls in my email.

Well, can't do that one. I'll never make that deadline. Thirty-Five bucks to submit? Are you kidding me? Oh, here's a topic. Submit any work that falls under the theme, "The Baboon Who Ate his Right Nut Off." Classic. Can't do that one either because I only have an Orangutan that ate his left breast. I have no patience for this right now. I think I'll see what's going on at the galleries.

That means go to art openings, meet gallery owners, and have a life. Well, I'm sorry. I just gave all of that away to a paying job that's about to suck every living hour of my day out of me. I'm terribly familiar with my week's progression. Alert on Monday, counting the rest of the days on Tuesday, engulfed on Wednesday, fading on Thursday, exhausted on Friday, and comatose on Saturday. That leaves one day—Sunday, when there are no gallery openings or gallery owners to meet. 

That about sums up my personal art promotion—one that didn't even include Pinterest. know what I think? I think I better hire that PR person again.  

Saturday, April 30, 2016



Andrea Monroe in front of her "LA Series" Paintings

I'm a busy gal. If I'm not working in the wardrobe department of a TV show, I've no doubt created some other lengthy project to keep me active. Presently, I'm in the middle of an extremely S-L-O-W bathroom remodel. I've waited eons for that room to mutate into the beautiful spa I imagined and now it's happening! Or not. At least that what it feels like when my contractor vanishes for hours and sometimes a day at a time. But like I said, I'm a busy gal and I'm making do with all the semi-construction around me because I'm getting ready to exhibit in The Beverly Hills Art Show

Whoopee! (Insert sound of whoopee cushion here)

"So, hey busy gal. Why aren't you excited then?" you ask. Well, I am. And I ain't. I'm just ambivalent, I guess. That pretty much has all to do with why I ended up calling my blog "The Hidden Artist." And no, I don't mean hidden as in "I'm hiding my ass, now come and find me." I mean hidden—like a treasure waiting, hoping, praying, affirming, and exercising extreme patience to finally be found, appreciated, sought after, and financially supported by people who want my artWith that being said, I do have to admit that I'm not a full time artist. That dream slowed down almost in synchronicity with my damn bathroom because of a little sidetrack issue called having to work for a living—you know, the kind that funds the DWP and all the other bozos I have to pay out there. Alas, I really do TRY to be an artist—I do, I do, I do, I do (she said as she mangled her tail). I paint in between my paying jobs. When I have the time to search and prepare, I enter juried competitions and maintain some kind of gallery presence, although much too little to be the discovered artist I would like to be. I'm fairly good with social networking, but have to admit I haven't quite gotten onto the Instagram wagon (YET) out of just plain stubbornness. I also have a metaphysical approach to art in general. I strongly believe that "what you give is what you get." I support other artists whenever possible. I BUY art. I started this blog specifically to celebrate other artist's "hidden" talents. And recently, I joined the board of 11:11 ACC, one of the most up and coming art organizations in the valley, well—just because.

So back to this Beverly Hills thingy. I have to admit, I personally never went to one of their shows. (Insert sound of whoopee cushion here...silent "pft" will do) I'm a bit daft sometimes and often "miss the boat" for one reason or the other. But a dear friend talked me into entering the exhibit, so I did and I got accepted. Getting accepted is a big deal. And yes, in the back of my mind, I'm truly hoping this might be my crowd—that audience with not only appreciation for my and other's works, but the kind with some pockets too. You have to admit that artists cannot live on words alone. To hear someone say that you have talent or are gifted or that they love your work does not a breakfast burrito buy. 

"Little Lovelies" Series by Andrea Monroe

Anyway, I'm preparing for the show. I paid my entrance fee, got my temporary seller's permit, ordered my Square, rented my canopy, and borrowed some display stands. I'm also painting smaller treasures to tie in the larger ones so my work will appeal to pockets big and small. Based on a series I recently began called "The Harlots," I will also have "Little Lovelies" or tinier versions of historic sluts that encompass the style I used in my LA Series. I call this preparation methodical madness. And while doing all of this, I keep flashing on my bathroom—the long wait, all the planning, and the investment. Will it finally pay off in the end? I think so. I can already envision myself, the "Artist Found," seated on the toilet of my shiny new mini spa while I post Instagram photos of my current works. And I think, "Life sure is grand." (Insert sound of whoopee cushion here...long and winded)

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Sunday, March 20, 2016



Louis Vuitton Monogram Canvas Gun Fashion by DominaDesignsLA

It’s pilot season in LA. And no, it’s not a smorgasbord of eligible bachelors with private jets parked at the ten-minute-walk-to Van Nuys Airport I live near. It’s the time of year when all the studios and screen writers get together to produce fast and furious could-be TV shows all at the same time. The vast amount of energy and resources used to produce this phenomenon is conducive to everyone watering their lawns simultaneously at the same time and day of the week causing potential and actual pipe bursts (hmm...haven’t we heard that one before). In the costume world of television, it’s when a costumer or assistant designer goes to pull at Macy's or Bloomingdale's and all the 0’s, 2’s, and 4’s have disappeared because some other shows have pulled for the exact same sized actresses before you. It’s when you’re in a costume house like FOX and someone has roped off all the classic designer men’s shirts leaving behind the fashion has-beens hanging limply in the aisle. It’s an explosion of Internet ordering—opening boxes, hanging the crap up, and wondering if you’ll be able to return them in time before you wrap in two weeks, or worse, wondering if the orders will make it in at all. 

I’m a wardrobe supervisor in the TV industry. Back in the day, that used to be the person who ran the costume department and held the hands of icons like Edith Head and Orry-Kelly to get their beautiful costume designs onto the screen. Today, especially for modern day television, the designer is somewhat of a glorified shopper because of time and budgetary constraints. The supervisor, sadly, is kind of a bean counter for all the purchases and rentals incurred by the designer and the shoppers. But hey—sometimes we get to order a uniform or two or three hundred that will need to be camera ready in a half hour. Needless to say, each situation varies to the next, but the common denominator in all of them is a Louis Vuitton pistol held to your head (using that as some on-topic designer-y visual). And situations get particularly gnarly when a production decides to cast a 350- pound actress to play a specific role. Of course, she’s to be in uniform—specifically, a pink housekeeping one. That’s when the real shit happens.

Turns out the only order I placed for that pink dress was with one uniform company and it decided not to arrive in time for the actress’s fitting because someone generated it with the wrong shipping address (let’s just say both that company and I are still pointing our index fingers at each other). Now this wouldn’t be so bad if it hadn’t happened on a Friday with only the weekend ahead to find something—ANYTHING—in a handful of stores that MIGHT be open and MIGHT carry XXXL pink housekeeping dresses. Needless to say, after a great amount of effort, I had to accept the fact that I’d been foiled by a simple mistake—no matter who’s it was—of changing one number for another. And for the record, I’d like to say UPS SUCKS. They wouldn’t help me get my package to the office because of a set of unbudgeable rules. I was left to lick my wounds while my pink XXXL housekeeping dress lay folded in a box only some 12 miles away at the UPS hub and me unable to personally retrieve it.

Admitting mistakes to a costume designer is short of laying your head on a platter and offering it up to her for her half-hour union lunch. This is when something called humility is truly put to the test in our industry. You hope you will be forgiven for the fact that you are only human, but alas, TV Network execs, their producers, and directors rule. The costume designer and her subjects are expected to be the miracle workers they were hired to be. I’ve always called that “pulling it out of one’s ass,” but what to do with unexpected constipation? You pray the designer will compromise her—well, design and still look good in the eyes of the Royal Family. You pray she and the higher ups will accept the rental options you pulled before she told you they really wanted pink and after you were so confident it would be delivered to your door. Needless to say, the stress level at every level in the TV industry is extremely high. It’s like being hooked up to an adrenaline generator everyday and subjecting yourself to endurance tests all the time.

In the end, we’ll have clothes on that actress, although it may not be what the doctor ordered. The uncertainty in all of this is will the designer and I be remembered for all the chewed nails we left in the production office and what we delivered at lightening speed to the Network’s fast and furious schedule? Or will we both be wear scarlet hashtags for the rest of our careers—mine saying #Imessedup and hers #shemessedup?

Thursday, February 18, 2016



The Harlot by Andrea Monroe
You read it right. I said slut. This was not the first time or the exact word my ex-boyfriend used to insult my integrity. What he actually said was HARLOT. Now, who uses that word these days anyway? Him...that's who. But I'll get into the story of why he verbally abused me after we visit all the sexually jousting labels women of the evening have been called for centuries.

Let's begin with a little history. The "oldest profession in the world," according to Wikipedia, is prostitution or the business of engaging in sexual relations in exchange for payment. A person who works in this field is called a prostitute (and otherwise as you will shortly learn). Prostitute is derived from the Latin prostitua, a composition of pro and stature, which means to cause to stand, to station, place erect, in other words "to put up front for sale." Because most of us know what a prostitute (male or female) does, I don't need to get into details. But for the sake of keeping on point in my article, I will address  the names women have been called under the general umbrella of sex for hire.

In alphabetical order we have: ball buster, bawd, bitch, call girl, changa, chippie, cock-chafer, cocotte, coquette, courtesan, cyprian, moll, moxie, drab, fancy woman, flirt, floozy, lady of easy virtue, lady of pleasure, lady of the night, libertine, harlot, ho, hooker, hussy, hustler, scarlet woman, siren, slattern, slut, street walker, strumpet, tart, temptress, ten o'clock girl, third legger, tickle tail, tramp, vamp, wench, whore, and working girl.

The Oiran and her Pussy by Andrea Monroe
Then there's the historical terminologies: ying-chi—the first Chinese prostitutes, devadasis—women forced into prostitution in the service of the Hindu goddess, Yellamma, comfort women—recruited Korean women sent to brothels for Japanese military pleasure during WWII, auletrides—Greek prostitutes with added talents like juggling, acrobatics, and dancing, ganika—an elite tier of Indian prostitution, zonah—female prostitute of the Hebrew Bible, hetaira—high class courtesan of Athens (so great was her beauty she'd sit as a model for statues of Aphrodite), and oiran—distinguished prostitute of Japan (unlike the Geisha who were primarily entertainers).

Now, back to me. First off, I'm not a prostitute, a hussy, or a whore. Even in my somewhat promiscuous years during the sexually driven 80s did I EVER take a cent for my services—I mean affairs. Come to think of it, if I had, I'd probably be a pretty wealthy woman today (after investments in Apple, of course). But alas, I'm just a working girl of a different kind who also paints—AND tolerates insults given by frustrated ex-boyfriends. So, why did he call me a harlot? I'm still not sure. We'd been bantering in emails about something that seems so meaningless now. But I do think he got himself fueled over a FB profile picture I'd used—a selfie created by Photo Booth on my Mac of me haughtily looking at the camera, arms sorta crossed in front of me to push what little I have in the my chest area up into suppulent bosom-ness. Here's the "come hither" photo below.

I'm asking you—is this too over the top? Do you see any nipples showing? My tongue is in my mouth, right? I think its perfect for someone who is newly divorced and over fifty. That decree alone gives carte blanche to any middle-aged woman who hopes to appeal to the opposite sex. Plus—a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to get a little nookie—I mean, attention around here. All kidding aside, my self-portrait did not warrant anyone calling me a name nobody has used since 12th Century England. Needless to say, his doing so kinda pissed me off—like to no end and back and to no end again. But instead of pin balling it out there in the twilight zone of anger and despair, I decided to take that negative energy and make it (better yet—paint it) into something more positive. Thus, The Harlot series was born.

Mind you, the series is a work in progress. I've only painted three so far—two of them are pictured here. I have every intention of doing more that will evidently reflect a mixture of history, color, pattern, and my sense of humor. The only problem I foresee in getting any done in a timely manner is I have my regular non-prostitutional day job to attend to and the fact that I really don't have any more ex-boyfriends to insult me. Sometimes one just needs that little blast up the ass to get a painting off the ground. Until then, I may not be up for sale, but the paintings are. 

Prints of The Harlot series are available for purchase on Etsy. The original paintings (that are NOT small btw) are available through me at

Thursday, January 21, 2016



I know a woman with an amazing theatre background from the east coast. You'd automatically think, "Ah—she must be so cool and stylish," but to see her at first glance, you'd think she never shopped at any place but WalMart—and I mean the sale rack at WalMart. I've stood next to women dressed in Prada jackets all the way down to Gucci shoes. Most of them set off their outfits with some version of the same stupid brown leather bag stamped with someone's (but I won't say who's) initials all over it because they believe their image can only be dictated by the small percentage of fashion designers who sell them their identity. Be it WalMart or Barneys, there are a lot of women (yes, and men too) who lack something called style.

Style, according to Merriam-Webster, is a distinctive manner of expression, or custom of behaving, or a manner in which something is done, created, performed or worn. I don't know about you, but that screams uniqueness to me, not cookie-cut, regardless of who's name is on the label and no matter what the current fashion trend is. Don't get me wrong. I'm not down on fashion, the trend, or the designers who produce it. I just can't, nor will I, pay top dollar for something I most likely can create on my own. That's where thrift shops come in. Without getting into whether they are for profit or not, I personally want to thank God for Goodwill, Out of Closet, NCJW Council Thrift, Valley Thrift, and Salvation Army to name just a few.

Perhaps, you're muttering under your breath, that people like me are blessed with something often referred to as "a sense of style." Granted, my background experience is heavy with retail fashion work (both high and low) and I've spent most of my life here in Los Angeles working in the TV industry as a costumer. But my so-called sense began with these words, "I don't give a shit what you think." Of course, that mindset can be pretty dangerous when used out of context—like blurting out insults at your supervisor during a morning meeting. Although, I never did that, I haven't cared much for following the herd, especially when it came to how I dressed.

Hypothetically, I'd like to take you through my day at the thrift store. To begin with, we must start with the attitude "I don't give a shit what you think." That means not caring what your friends think of you for exposing yourself to such degradation or you minding who you might be shopping next to in that isle of moth-holed sweaters because you WILL most likely run into some woman who is having a small episode with Tourette's Syndrome. Basically, you create a bubble around yourself and begin your hunt. For me, the hunt is in the kill. The kill, to be specific of me only, is a designer item or something of great quality that is in good condition in my size and is under $15. Back in the day, I could bring home bags and bags of clothing being the size 8 I was. Naturally that made me broke, but "KILL! KILL! KILL!" was my motto. Now that I'm older, menopause does not a thrift store junkie change—only her body. Thus the kill means A LOT more to me if I find something in a large/extra-large or size 14.

Now, that we have your new attitude in check, there a few basic guidelines to help you find your kill, or kills (given you are lucky enough to be smaller than myself). Know what neckline looks best on you. Deep U-shapes and V's look great on me. Round looks nicer on other women. I don't buy tailored collars, but mandarin style. For one, a tailored collar is way too conservative for someone who doesn't give a shit what other people think. A mandarin style is—well, different. Next, know what it is you want to show off and what you want to those muffin tops. Something blouson and gathered into a hip band is a perfect camouflage for that. Have a general idea of what your flattering colors are. Are you Spring—bright, sunny, turquoise, salmon, watermelon, or Summer—pastel rose, periwinkle, sage, or Autumn—earthy, natural moss, terra cotta, rust, or Winter—crisp, distinctive jewel tones, black, and white? Learn a little bit about fabric. Used to be we only had purity to contend with—wools, silks, and cottons, then came polyesters and rayons. Today there is so much crap out there that it makes me want to scream. Basically, they will found in Chinese manufactured labels from cheaper department stores like WalMart, Kohl's, Target, Sears, etc., but they've made their way to H&M, Forever 21, and even Chico's. Basically, I still go for the pure—cashmere, wool, cotton, and silk, which is finally making it's way back to replace those hideous polyesters. As far as brands go, Banana Republic, J. Crew, Gap, some Target items, and Ann Taylor are pretty good mid-range labels to buy. If you are familiar with the designers carried at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Ave., Barneys, specialty boutiques, or even some of those at Macy's, you've pretty much made a score. 

For some women, classic styles are best. Let's face it, how many different ways can one fashion a button-down cardigan? You might as well hold on to those for half a century. For people like me, a little quirk is better—a zipper at the shoulder or an asymmetrical body. My only advise is to steer away from trends that thankfully left the current market. Like those oversized butterfly sleeves or the irregular printing technique on pressed-in wrinkles that found its way to every high and low-end department store a few years back, or worse, those God-forsaken cardigan sweaters with all that stupid front-flowing lapel work. What? Three years of that shit wasn't enough? Jeez. But do use some fashion faux pas to your benefit. Those extremely oversized XS tops from two years ago will fit a larger woman today and have her in the current style trend at the same time.

And here are some thrift store hints. The more organized the store, the quicker the shop. Places like Valley Thrift, some Goodwill stores, and NCJW Council Thrift Stores itemize by colors and length of sleeves. Sometimes you might even find a plus-size section set apart from all those anorexic fitted styles. Keep in mind that places like Out of Closet and Salvation Army aren't as organized, but they tend to have "designer" sections and with a little bit more patience you might still find a treasure in the mill. 

In closing, I want to say the best part of thrift shopping is recycling it back in—and its guilt free because you didn't spend hundreds of dollars. Fashion trends are so short-lived now. It used to be our country's world status and economics dictated womenswear—hemlines, shoulder pads, and hats. But today, anything goes. And if anything goes, you might as well have a little fun creating something yourself. As for me—I'm gonna leave this world when I'm done dressed like little ol' me...or better yet, Iris Apfel.

Iris Apfel courtesy of Vanity Fair Magazine.