Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

1852 Talbot Ave
Jacksonville, FL, 32205
United States

(904) 322-3469

Curating your life thru fashion, fitness, and cultivation. 

Blog: The Bandwagon Effect

Lifestyle Blog

Filtering by Tag: arilaren

Afternoon of Opulence

Ariel Lauren

An Afternoon of Opulence with Bebe Deluxe!

Interview by Ari Laren | Photos by Josh Wessolowski

Bebe Deluxe shares pearls of wisdom with Ari Laren | Photo by Photo by  Josh Wessolowski

Bebe Deluxe shares pearls of wisdom with Ari Laren | Photo by Photo by Josh Wessolowski

 

     A large relief painting hangs in the living room of the Queen Bebe herself A matador with cape in his full display of power and grace is the perfect representation of the delicate line Bebe Deluxe walks in achieving her persona each time they dons their precious wigs and essential glitter. Strength and beauty are one in reference to Jacksonville’s most intriguing up-and-coming Drag Queen.

    You haven’t experienced opulence until you’ve spent an afternoon with up-and-coming artist Bebe Deluxe in their dapper dwelling. Rife with vintage goodies hand-picked from their family antique store or flea finds discovered with hubby, Aiden. Pup Newman and Kitty Wolfie round out the cute and cuddly crew at their humble Avondale abode.

     When the person you’re interviewing answers the door in a black silk robe it’s a good sign that things are about to get opulent. Alex Palmer aka Bebe Deluxe delivered in excess, exuding elegance and magnificent grandeur. During the interview Bebe eagerly dispensed their views on “[designing] looks of luxury, cheap make-up tips and tricks and [how to] try very hard not to talk shit. Read on to learn a little bit about the history of drag from the perspective of a Queen doing things her own way. Bebe also gives us an introspective view on the future of Drag culture and gender roles.

     I am so excited to share this beautiful being with you through this inspiration filled interview! Once you’ve read Bebe Deluxe’s pearls of wisdom you will be dying to see a live show! Luckily you can catch the opulence of Bebe Deluxe and friends at a monthly drag night  called GlitterBomb! hosted in the back room of Raindogs! The inaugural night begins on December 4th. With friends GeeXella , April Rition , Junie B. Jones , Dwight Robinson , Bebe Dee & Gerry Lee, and special guest DJ Alex E. of TOMBOi!

 

Interview with the Queen!

Important note: throughout the article you may notice that the pronouns used for BBD change from they/them to she/her. As a part of my interview process I ask people how they identify so that I can be respectful of the way they feel and want to be perceived. I encourage everyone to implement a practice of checking in with folks about how they wish to be perceived even if you think you already know. Bebe Deluxe /Alex Palmer Prefer they/them and she/her pronouns and Identify less with he/him but will accept he/him as identifiers even though the former terms are more accurate descriptors of how they feel and want to be portrayed. If you don’t get it, google it (Gender pro-nouns). More education = More love!

 

 

The interview opens with a little candid tet-a-tet as Bebe Deluxe sets up her make-up station in the front window of her home. Glorious bear chest and hair pulled back ready to do work to create the persona that is Bebe Dee!

 

BBD: I have never put my make-up on with the blinds wide open.

 AL: What would you neighbors think?

BBD: I’m lettin’ Miss Avondale have it, Darlin’! 

Behind the scenes: Bebe Deluxe and Ari Laren discuss details about the days photoshoot. | Photo by  Josh Wessolowski

Behind the scenes: Bebe Deluxe and Ari Laren discuss details about the days photoshoot. | Photo by Josh Wessolowski

Bebe Deluxe poses in a couture floral piece made in her very own drag room. | Photo by  Josh Wessolowski

Bebe Deluxe poses in a couture floral piece made in her very own drag room. | Photo by Josh Wessolowski

 

AL: How did you learn the steps you use when transforming from Alex to Bebe. Who were your influences? You don’t become a fashion icon overnight or without influence. Name style icons to whom you attribute your distinct mode of dress. 

BBD: A majority of my education specifically on this brow cover came from YouTube. I would see a thing that I liked on a drag queen and would Google-search ways to do it online, and that’s kind of how I operated before I had a “Drag Mother”.

I always say that you have to look like shit ten to fifteen times before you look good in drag. I met Trinity Baker maybe the 3rd time I got in to drag. She gave me little tips here-and-there about matching my foundation and how to apply my eyelashes. She would give me little things. Then finally [two years] in to doing Drag she officially did my makeup for me. She taught me all about certain techniques. Where to apply your foundation and how to do it.

Bebe Deluxe looks at herself in the mirror and says “YAASSS! I love when I look up and I see her. Hi Bebe! Bitch you owe me $10!” |Photo by  Josh Wessolowski

Bebe Deluxe looks at herself in the mirror and says “YAASSS! I love when I look up and I see her. Hi Bebe! Bitch you owe me $10!” |Photo by Josh Wessolowski

Bebe Deluxe poses at their piano | behind the scenes photo by Ari Laren

Bebe Deluxe poses at their piano | behind the scenes photo by Ari Laren

 

AL: You were talking about Trinity. Do you consider her your Drag Mama?

BBD: Absolutely! Absolutey! Trinity is a biological female. I met her through a friend of mine who knew her. She was running this gig called Art Friend’s Electric where a bunch of artists got together in San Marco, would sell art and it would be a function. [One time] she told me I should come and dress up. It was at Art Walk and I showed up. Oh! I was wearing some bookie drag! Oh, I looked so stupid! I looked a damn fool, but she really saw something interesting in it. She would just invite me to go out with her and chill with her.

AL: Bebe Dee is self-made but hails from the House of Deluxe. Describe the process of finding a home that helped nurture the growth of your inner Queen? Was it filled with all of the glitter and glory you dreamed it would be?

BBD: [Trinity] has been really good about teaching me not only technique about how to actually make my face look good. She’s taught me a lot about attitude. I think when a lot of Drag Queens start out they [feel they] must overcompensate. You have to let people know that you’re badass and you get lots of stares. You’re still getting used to people acting funny when they see you in Drag. You can get really defensive. She taught me to chill out and enjoy the moment and be the glamorous creature and not have to fight over it.

She also taught me I don’t have to follow a ‘Drag Queen kit’. Because lot’s of Drag Queens you see they all have the same look. It’s a sickening look but they all got the same eyebrows, the same cheeks, and the same porn-star lips. You start to loose a bit of yourself when you follow that mold too extensivelyShe taught me to do what worked for my face and she’s been a great guiding light for me.

AL: Tell me about your your extended Drag Family. I want to know more about how you developed the persona of Bebe Deluxe. 

BBD: As for my extended family I have sisters that I roll with. There is my good friend Nick who is Miss Didi Boniva. She did Drag way-way-way-way-way-way long ago in the 90’s because she’s old, is the joke! She did club-kid Drag as Didi Seven. We were kiki-ing one day and I said Didi Seven? More like Didi Boniva! (Yes, like the bone supplement.) She loved it and now she plays this old lady character. She has encouraged me to appreciate Drag as a cultural heritage because Drag was a direct root to camp which is Queer Society making fun of upper echelon, high-end society and lampooning them.

AL: You live in a very stylish home with a super dapper husband and two ultra sweet fur babies. How does your personal life influence your style?

BBD: I consider Hayden, [my husband] a piece of my Drag Family. Not so much because of him getting in Drag because that’s not really what he does. He is very smart about these sorts of things and he helps me to be this persona. We bounce jokes off of each other, we kiki. I like to call him my manager.

Princess phone and wine props all inspired by Husband /Manager Hayden. | Photo by  Josh Wessolowski  

Princess phone and wine props all inspired by Husband /Manager Hayden. | Photo by Josh Wessolowski 

  

 

AL: Let’s travel back in time to learn about your roots. A Jacksonville native, you attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in High School and grew up with a father who did stand-up as a road comic. How did this shape your progression as a performer? Were there any other influences you feel helped you develop your style?

BBDMy dad was a stand-up comedian for [about] twenty years. He was a theater major at Auburn University. He dicked around forever and realized he enjoyed telling jokes on stage. I always enjoyed telling jokes like my dad but stand-up comedy was always something (releases deep sigh). How do I say this without offending anyone? I always thought that stand-up was kind of gross and male dominated. 

Getting to do comedy and jokes, crowd work with the audience is something that comes natural to me. I grew up in comedy clubs watching my dad. When you’re a comedian you have a set you do that’s 30-45 minutes. When it’s not working or the audience isn’t responding, you cut it and you do crowd work. A lot of comedians are going to say that’s not real stand-up. I think for road comics, which is what [my dad] was, crowd-work is how you get asked to come back. You make a good impression on the crowd [and] get them to like you.

AL: Most drag queens lipsync or cover popular music. Your act incorporates live vocals and even original songs that you wrote along with partner Gerry Lee. How did the two of you meet and How would you define your style of performance? 

BBD: Sooooo! BebeDee and Gerry Lee is a project with myself and an astounding pianist from Tallahassee Florida named Gerry Nielson. We met at a day program for Adults with developmental disabilities. He taught music and I taught Theater darling! It was a stressful job. After work we would get in to a music room together. We’d stay for an extra half hour and jam out with music. Then I moved back to Jacksonville and these people I know were having a drag show and they offered a position to me to host and do musical performances. I asked Gerry if he could do some piano music for me. The rest just fell in to place. [Gerry and I worked a few drag shows where] the theme was soundtracks so we did a bunch of songs from movies. We had all these themes that we had to do together.We basically just try to go for an old Hollywood golden-age musical sound but with contemporary music thrown in.

Bebe Dee & Gerry Lee promotional image

Bebe Dee & Gerry Lee promotional image

 

AL: It can be a beautiful challenge to collaborate with other. You and Gerry seem to have a good thing going. How do you sustain your friendship while conquering musical feats.

BBD: Gerry Lee is such an amazing special piece of the puzzle because I was always of the school of sell it and he is of the school of do it right! Our rehearsals are more tense then you might imagine because what’s good for me isn’t always what’s good to Gerry. I’m sure that TOMBOi (Jacksonville-based Queer indie-electronica female trio) doesn’t always get along.

AL: TOMBOi are very much like sisters in that way. It’s very intense and personal.

BBD: That’s the thing about making music you don’t think about. You basically have a connection with someone that isn’t romantic and it isn’t sexual It’s very intense, Its very symbiotic. It is very personal. Music is one of those things that can make you cry, laugh , it can heal you. So, sharing that with someone I’m learning is a challenge and it’s different than just hanging out with your friend.

AL: At recent drag events i’ve noticed more families with young kids supporting the performers. I think one of the most heart-warming things to me is watching a child mesmerized by the glamor of a Queen! Do you think drag is becoming more family friendly? What do you hope is in store for the future of public opinion about drag culture?

BBD: My favorite part of it isn’t that I get to sing these songs, but the sense of community is great! I try to sing songs that I feel like the audience would have resonated with at [some] point. I try to do things that are personal like ‘Unpretty’ by TLC which everyone really felt. Basically just taking an era where we were most emotional. My era where I was most emotional was between 1998 and 2004 because it was the beginning of my plus sized queerdom. Lot’s of Brittney, Destiny’s Child, Kelis. Things that I grew up with at the time. We are doing some old school stuff too, like ‘True Colors’.

[The show] is basically a homage to people that helped us discover parts of who we are and people who laid the ground work for what we can be.We talk about history. My favorite part of the show is getting to tell little stories in-between each song. I am just surprised and tickled each time people sit and listen to what I have to say.

Garden portrait of the Queen Bebe Deluxe | Photo by  Josh Wessolowski

Garden portrait of the Queen Bebe Deluxe | Photo by Josh Wessolowski

 

BBD: This has been Bebe Deluxe giving you looks and luxury, cheap make-up and tips and tricks and trying very hard not to talk shit. I hope you enjoyed it!

Remember! Don’t miss the debut night of GlitterBomb!on Dec. 4th to experience all of the OPULENCE Bebe Deluxe and their crew bring to the stage!

333NYE: CHROMA COLOR

Ariel Lauren

CANDID MOMENTS FROM THE FASHION SHOW OF THE SEASON!

Alexandra Ni  (Designer/model) getting all dolled up by  Sarah Hair  one of the almost dozen stylist working behind the scenes!! 

Alexandra Ni (Designer/model) getting all dolled up by Sarah Hair one of the almost dozen stylist working behind the scenes!! 


333NYE: CHROMA COLOR CURATED BY FITZ PULLINS

A FUNDRAISING EVENT

FOR MOCA JACKSONVILLE AND THE BOARD OF CONTEMPORARIES

by ARI LAREN | PHOTOS BY LUIS S. RIVERA


THANK YOU TO ALL OF THOSE WHO MADE THE NIGHT SUCH A GREAT SUCCESS! TOMBOI ROCKED THE ATRIUM AND THE MODELS WERE FIERCE! BACKSTAGE WAS FILLED WITH TONS OF HELPING HANDS TOTALING NEARLY 50 FOLKS WHO MADE FITZ's VISION A REALITY! A SPECIAL THANK YOU GOES OUT TO LUIS S. RIVERA FOR CAPTURING THESE SPECIAL MOMENTS IN SUCH A BEAUTIFUL LIGHT!

 

 



Maya Lundquist, Shante Armstrong,  Robby Weber  style guru for all of these babes and coincidentally all Jacksonville Magazine Cover model contestants! Devon Christiansen (2015 winner!), Ari Laren

Maya Lundquist, Shante Armstrong, Robby Weber style guru for all of these babes and coincidentally all Jacksonville Magazine Cover model contestants! Devon Christiansen (2015 winner!), Ari Laren

Gorgeous Golden Goddess Dr. Anika Comar!

Gorgeous Golden Goddess Dr. Anika Comar!

Alex E.  of TOMBOi! Their music set off the runway! The trio also consists of  Summer Wood  and  Paige McMullen

Alex E. of TOMBOi! Their music set off the runway! The trio also consists of Summer Wood and Paige McMullen

Hey! It's me!! Ari Laren casing the joint. Can you see the nerves as I prepare to descend the glass staircase to the atrium of MOCA! 

Hey! It's me!! Ari Laren casing the joint. Can you see the nerves as I prepare to descend the glass staircase to the atrium of MOCA! 

Model Colette Bing in BCBG 

Model Colette Bing in BCBG 

Is it my turn yet!!! Models preparing for the walk!

Is it my turn yet!!! Models preparing for the walk!

 Designers Kayleigh Hair + Meredith Gieger of  Cat Haus  

 Designers Kayleigh Hair + Meredith Gieger of Cat Haus 

Alexandra Ni Wearing  Cat Haus  custom harness over BCBG vest.

Alexandra Ni Wearing Cat Haus custom harness over BCBG vest.

Gown by Alexandra Ni

Gown by Alexandra Ni

Kimberly M. in the gown designed by Fitz constructed by Debbi Grey

Kimberly M. in the gown designed by Fitz constructed by Debbi Grey

The crowd congratulates Fitz and crew for a job well done!

The crowd congratulates Fitz and crew for a job well done!


BOLD BEAN FASHION WEEK

Ariel Lauren

FPIR Presents

Bold Bean Fashion Week

Interviews by Ari Laren | Photos by Luis S. Rivera

 

Tomorrow is the big day! The preparations for the fashion show at MOCA OCT.7th at 7pm are coming along with help from tons of pros and great friends! The show will feature over twenty models!!!! It's going to be huge!! it's only fitting that we share christopher Paul's Bold Bean Fashion Week Q&A today...because Christopher has a huge heart!! Christopher Paul holds it down at Bold Bean with a constant smile and kind words. If you want a pick me up this bae will serve you up an espresso with a dash of sweetness! 

 

Chai HEART Bold Bean!!

 

Meet Christopher Paul!

 

Christopher has been a Barista at Bold Bean for two years; loves Guatemalan Asodiett and has strong feelings about VELVET SHORTS! He just might be the sweetest pea in the pod!

 

 

What is your favorite BB beverage for fall?

We have an amazing Single Origin Espresso on right now, the Guatemalan Asodiett, it’s got a great honey sweetness and a smooth body. Perfect for Fall or any season!

 

What are your origins as a Barista?

I’ve worked in coffee for years on more of [the] retail side. [I] transitioned to a barista role about two years ago,  I love it, it’s completely changed my relationship with coffee.

 

What is one thing you will never wear again?

Velvet shorts, I think that’s the sweatiest I’ve ever been… :X Ya’ll velvet freaks can keep those, so soft but so sweaty.

 

What’s one thing you will never stop wearing?

Denim on Denim. I’m a massive fan of the ever versatile Canadian Tux. Wedding? Casual Party? Baby Shower? None changing ceremony? The canadian tux is your best friend.

 

How does your life influence your style?

Working with coffee has made me more of a practical dresser, it has to be comfortable and able to resist those coffee stains but I also still want to present myself decently. Fashion is great because as quiet/ shy guy it can sometimes act as the voice I have a hard time finding.

 

 

FPIR Presents

Bold Bean Fashion Week

Interviews by Ari LarenPhotos by Luis S. Rivera

in celebration of

MOCA fashion show

October 7th at 7pm

during Art Walk!!!

LIVE music by local legends TOMBOi

WATCH as models traverse the dynamic runway provided by the landscape of the Museum.

CURATE YOUR LIFE! Come to the Show! FREE TO ALL!

Curated by Fitz Pullins with the MOCA board of Contemporaries

BOLD BEAN FASHION WEEK

Ariel Lauren

FITZ PULLINS INVENTORY ROOM PRESENTS...

BOLD BEAN FASHION WEEK

INTERVIEWS BY ARI LAREN | PHOTOS BY LUIS S. RIVERA

 

The Celebration steams ahead as we inch closer to Next Wednesdays' Fashion Show at MOCA! Continuing on this visual journey Chloe may not be a Barista at Bold Bean but she represents a very important part of the coffee shop, CUSTOMERS!! Lookin' all fierce Chloe and a friend made their way to Bold Bean as the shoot progressed unbeknownst to them . I loved their style so much I asked Luis to snap a few pics. They agreed and WOW! what a magical result, this image screams fall! Netflix, chill and oogle over Chloe! Happy Sunday!

PHOTO BY  LUIS S. RIVERA

Q & A WITH CHLOE

What is your favorite BB beverage for fall?

It's typical, but there's nothing like a dirty chai, it tastes like Christmas. Luckily Bold Bean has the best one around, I started drinking it iced when I got sick of the heat and missed the comfort of the holidays.

What is one thing you will never wear again?

A padded bra.

What’s one thing you will never stop wearing?

A black skater skirt, I'm wearing one right now. It's simple so you can look as fancy or as casual as you want. It twirls when you spin and it's comfy enough to sleep in if you have to.

How does your life influence your style?

I'm a little scattered, so my style is constantly changing. But I try and dress according to the mood I want to be in. If I'm feeling down, I'll wear the brightest, bounciest dress

1442844975623.jpeg

 

FPIR Presents...

Bold Bean Fashion Week

Interviews by Ari Lauren | Photos by Luis S. Rivera

in celebration of

MOCA fashion show

October 7th at 7pm

during Art Walk!!!

LIVE music by local legends TOMBOi

WATCH as models traverse the dynamic runway provided by the landscape of the Museum.

CURATE YOUR LIFE! Come to the Show! FREE TO ALL!

Curated by Fitz Pullins with the MOCA board of Contemporaries