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Curating your life thru fashion, fitness, and cultivation. 

Blog: The Bandwagon Effect

Lifestyle Blog

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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!

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

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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

Prints Charming

Tom Canfield

Written by Tom Canfield (The Bandwagon Effect Content Contributor)

Step away from the blue jeans. Printed tees can be styled a number of ways —dressed up, dressed down, layered... the options are endless.

Below, a few ideas (for both men and women) on how to style your favorite printed tee. And if you're in the market for a new model, we've got you covered.

1. Dressed up.

A bright floral skirt, killer heels  and  a neutral bag lend an interesting edge to a white tee.

A fringed leather skirt tempers an otherwise casual tee.

When topped with a neutral blazer, a casual printed tee veers decidedly more sophisticated.

 

2. Layered

When topped with an open oxford, a printed tank manages to look casual yet pulled-together.

Skater shoes and just the right amount of accessories ooze casual-cool.

Print on print on print. Never better.

#trendsetters

Tom Canfield

Written by Tom Canfield (The Bandwagon Effect Content Contributor)

 

Fitz Pullins’ Inventory Room is predicated on being a trendsetter in the men’s fashion and lifestyle fields. Still, there are times when we need outside inspiration. So where do we go when we need it? With over 300 million users, Instagram is increasingly a source of inspiration for many sartorialists and designers alike. Below, our top five Instagram accounts for men’s fashion and lifestyle.

 

This DJ-cum-style icon hails from north of the border, in Canada, but his style is New York through and through. In addition to posting his minimalists, athletic-inspired looks, Fallis often posts his daily workouts and health eats, and shares a good dose of travel inspiration. Follow him at at brendanfallis 

 

A native of California, Gallagher is one of the most popular male fashion bloggers of the past few years. His Instagram account, iamgalla features his takes on style from many different locales. He posts good food shots, too.

 

This London-based style consultant was recently named a top five style icon by GQ Taiwan’s readers, with good reason. His style (think oversize patterned Missoni scarves, ostrich-leather shorts and suits paired with boat shoes) is innovative and unexpected. His account, matthewzorpas is one worth following for a daily dose of style inspiration.

 

This off-shoot of Net-a-Porter, the ever-popular luxury designer fashion site geared toward women, is geared specifically for men with a taste for luxury. Here, you’ll find a perfectly edited selection of both lifestyle accessories and clothing (like Alexander McQueen bowties, Bamford shave oil and Balenciaga leather high-tops, to name a few). The brand’s Instagram account, mrporterlive, consistently posts a solid selection of classic and contemporary looks. Those Lanvin suede sneakers might be out of your price range, but cyber-style inspiration is free...

 

This fashionable Florida transplant is based in NYC, where he works as a stylist for the likes of Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Stam and a handful of Victoria’s Secret angels (tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it). His account, jloganhorne, features a healthy dose of celeb spotting (thanks to his globe-trotting adventures with pop star Katy Perry) as well as close-up shots from fashion week and glimpses into the life of a celebrity stylist. 

One to Watch: Melissa Frank and Style Trends for the Fall on First Coast Living

Fitz Pullins

Style trends for the fall are not always what it sounds like.  This year we are finding a lot of colors that one might expect in the spring or even summer in the palette for the suggested fall wardrobe.  I also killed two birds with one stone and added local hair stylist, make up artist and my best friend, Melissa Frank as this month's One to Watch.  

This week i joined First Coast Living to talk about these trends and show some ways you can use the new colors to spark up your wardrobe in the Fall 2014.

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 To watch the segment, click on the photo above.  We had a lot of fun and hopefully inspired some wardrobes to take some chances.

I want to thank my model Melissa Frank who is my "One to Watch" for October.  We had a great time putting together the photoshoot of looks and carefully curated each outfit to show how to use some of the fun colors of the fall.

If you are out there wondering how to make this happen and getting overwhelmed looking at the looming closet before you, just give me a call or send me a message and I can help.  We can have fun with a couple hours assessing where you are and where you want to go.  Drink some wine and have a laugh and before you know it, you won't feel like falling on the floor in tears.   Also the holidays are coming up and Holiday party looks are fun and time well spent planning.

OCTOBER ONE TO WATCH, MELISSA FRANK

Here are the looks from my One to Watch for October, Melissa Frank.  She is a Jacksonville enthusiast and always on the cutting edge of what is hip and fun in the fashion world.  Not only does she light up the room, but she dominates with her killer sense of style and personality which engages everyone she meets.  She is professionally a hairstylist a Bella Salon in Mandarin and also is a dynamic makeup artist and a local entrepreneur, selling jewelry and inspiring others to be fashionable.

BE:  What are your favorite stores/brands?

MF:  Zara, Free People, J. Crew, BCBG....very eclectic mix.

BE:  Name one thing you can't live without.

MF:  LIPGLOSS!! My favorite is Bobby Brown.  Also my cell phone.

BE:  What is your trend of the moment?

MF:  I am really into denim shirtsand bell bottoms.  I have always worn both whether they are on trend or not, so I guess I am slightly obsessed.

BE: What is your go to color?

MF:  black.  always classic and always looks sharp.

BE:  Tell me one thing that most people don't know about you.

MF:  I play the flute, I was a sharp shooter in high school and I am an introvert (although to the BE it doesn't seem that way)

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Dress:  Mary Katrantzou (Available at Saks off 5th in St. Augustine)

Shoes:  Dolce Vita (Available at Saks off 5th in St. Augustine)

Bracelet and earrings: Saks 5th Avenue (Available at Saks off 5th in St. Augustine)

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Cardigan:  Ralph Lauren (Available at Saks off 5th in St. Augustine)

Skirt:  Ralph Lauren (Available at Saks off 5th in St. Augustine)

Shoes:  Dolce Vita (Available at Saks off 5th in St. Augustine)

Earrings:  Ellie Bing www.elliebing.com

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Jacket:  Theory (Available at Saks off 5th in St. Augustine)

Necklace:  Saks 5th Avenue (Available at Saks off 5th in St. Augustine)

Earrings:  Ellie Bing Boutique www.elliebing.com

HOW FASHION TRENDS START

Fitz Pullins

IMG_3799 Photoshoot for Jeff Whipple, Artist www.jeffwhipple.com

What is a trend?  A trend is a social process in which style changes. A good example of this is how we dress, of course my first obsession.  If a change is short lived its known as a fad.  Trends typically last long term. A lot of fashion changes are fads because they do not stick around for longer than 2 seasons.  A good example of a trend would be pleats.  They lasted a LONG time and then gone, some people are thankful. 

Trends are created by, you guessed it, TRENDSETTERS.  Think Madonna, Michael Jackson even Miley Cyrus, Chanel ahhh and of course J.Crew.  This may sound simple but for some it is not easy.  Trendsetters COVET change from time to time and in fact, often.  They are open to new originative styles and ideas embracing the new.  Personally, I find most trendsetters to be fascinating and can be found within the creative class.

Most wide spread trends are, of course, started in large cities like New York, Los Angeles and my beloved, Atlanta.  On a more international scale, Paris, Tokyo, Milan and London are filled with trendsetters, trendsetting. 

This important anthropological phenomenon is why I started the Bandwagon Effect.  Here in the southeast we have to embrace and not be afraid of TREND and become more bold with our style and how we approach everything we do.  Let's try new things, adopting an attitude of change is good.  Here at the Bandwagon Effect we are looking for those who embrace this spirit. In the next few days I will post my second feature Jacksonville style "One to Watch".  

I would love to hear from you with your ideas of what is hot, what is now and what is on TREND here in Jacksonville and all over the southeast. 

Stay tuned for more fashion as we continue to roll this Bandwagon down the streets and pick up more momentum on our goal to inspire and feature those who inspire through their bold trendsetting nature.

KEEP UP THE TRENDS AND KEEP FASHION NEW AND BOLD

xo-Fitz