Happy 4th of July!

July 4, 2011


Heat up the grill and break out the veggie dogs and vegan grillers!

This photo was taken courtesy of Hazel Honeysuckle backstage at the Rhinestone Follies’ Patriot Dames show. My vegan spin was a glittery tulle bustle (instead of feathers) and a faux feather hat ornament created using a stolen floral decoration from a party.


clove decorated oranges and pomegranate

First off, I cannot tke credit for the clever title, it was the name of the theme party I went to recently. My new friend, Fyodor, homesick for his mother Russia, has his second annual Unorthodox (Russian Orthodox) Christmas party that included lots of russian costuming, baba yaga (gift exchange), lots of vodka toasts, and of course, delicious russian foods.  I approached Fyodor early on to suggest that I maybe bring something vegan to nosh on, but he was extremely helpful in finding russian delicious that were already vegan or he volunteered to veganize some so that I could partake! Sadly my job prevented me from being able to make the russian tea cakes I had been hoping for

The majority of the vegan options.

The whole night was a great load of fun, the costumes were amazing, the gals from the Rhinestone Follies and Cheekie Lane were there  in full force and I didn’t end of leaving till after 4am!

One of the delicious meals Fyodor, or maybe his husband, went to get get supplies . Also, there was a good amount of burlesque saavy people around to keep queiet burlesque in case we felt threatended. If you are looking for something more,check out the pictures and recipe below!

Hazel Honeysuckle, Kita St Cyr, Medanoche, myselff, and Cheekie Lane at the party.

Fyodor’s Vegan Borscht
Alright, so it’s super easy, but there are a few tricks that make all the difference! 

Fyodor, what a sweetie!

Chop cabbage pretty thinly, and cube potatoes and onions. In your case, you would need vegetable rather than beef broth. Dump the chopped cabbage, potatoes and onions into the cold broth and put the pot on a high flame to heat while you do the rest.

Grate carrots and chop up a couple of red tomatoes and sautee them in oil on a frying pan. As they heat up, add some sugar to caramelize them, and lemon juice. Let the carrots get just a little bit soft and dump them straight into the soup pot with the other vegetables. Peel and grate the beets (the more the better!), and then sautee them as well in the same frying pan. Also add a generous amount of sugar to bring out all that beety sweetness. And here is a trick my grandmother did – while the beets sautee, sprinkle them with a generous amount of flour (couple of tablespoons) and mix it well. That adds thickness and body to the soup. Once the beets are a little soft and caramelized, add them to the pot too and stir the soup. Once the soup is boiling, you can reduce the flame to medium-low and let it cook until the potatoes are soft enough. Salt is entirely up to you. You can also add some fresh dill, though I prefer just to garnish with it.

Traditionally, borscht is eaten with a dollop of sour cream on top, so I recommend getting some vegan sour cream for it! Tofutti makes that, don’t they?

Last week my partner and I had some friends over for an after-thanksgiving day veg dinner (tofurkey AND field roast!).  I got gussied up in retro housewife fasion, and some of the guests were so enamored by my hair, I got to do 4 more curls that night!

I’m feeling more and more confident in my abilities to do pin-up hair.  My liberty curls are getting better and I almost have my pin curls mastered.  Here’s hoping I get a copy of this book for the holidays so I can learn even more tricks and tips!


edit: ends up they are called victory rolls. oops

happy (american) thanksgiving

November 25, 2010

It wouldn’t be thanksgiving (to me) without a viewing of this scene from Addams Family Values:

Thanksgiving can be especially hard for vegans since most of the traditional thanksgiving fare is based in animal products. Luckily there are lots of vegan subsitutes out there is you can find the.  This year we splurged and got a Tofurkey, the Tofurkey Vegetarian Feast, and a Field Celebration Roast.  Even if you plan to eat a turkey today, give some respect to that bird.  Here are 10 fascinating facts about turkeys from Farm Sanctuary:

10 Fascinating Facts About Turkeys

Farm Sanctuary helps to save turkeys every year from being killed for Thanksgiving. You don’t have to be a hippie read this.

We’re not telling you never eat turkey again, I mean that would just be ridiculous, although probably all the turkey’s in the world would be stoked. We just hope to widen your awareness of the festive bird and help you remember that it did once exist before turning up your plate covered in gravy.

Perhaps one day you’ll pardon the bird, not because your crazy vegetarian girlfriend threatened to withhold sex, or because your little cousin sent you a disturbing video of them being slaughtered, but because for a moment you feel compassion and are able see the turkey as a living, breathing creature that has personality, intelligence and quirks — just like you.

Every year Farm Sanctuary encourages individuals to donate money that goes towards saving turkeys. (I know this firsthand because I got talked into doing this last year after a yoga class. They get you just when you’re the most relaxed and zen. Tactful I tell ya!) It’s actually quite sweet, after you donate $30 or however much you’re willing to fork over, the organization give you anAdopt-A-Turkey certificate with a photo of the turkey with a description of his/her personality and favorite foods.

It made the perfect gift for my nature-lovin’ roomie. Interested in adopting?


Here is a list from Farm Sanctuary of things I bet you never knew about turkeys:

1. Turkeys recognize each other by their unique voices.

2. Researchers have identified more than 20 distinct vocalizations in wild turkeys.

3. Turkeys have excellent geography skills and can learn the specific details of an area of more than 1,000 acres.

4. Like cats and dogs, turkeys are intelligent and sensitive animals who form strong social bonds and show great affection to others.

5. On factory farms, turkeys frequently have the ends of their beaks and toes cut off without anesthesia — practices know as debeaking and detoeing — to prevent them from injuring one another as they are crowded by the thousands into dark, filthy warehouses.

6. Between 1965 and 2000, the weight of the average turkey raised commercially in the U.S. increased by 57 percent, from an average of 18 pounds to an average of 28.2 pounds, causing commercially-bred turkeys to suffer from crippling foot and leg problems.

7. Completely unlike their wild ancestors not only in terms of physique but also in hue, most commercial turkeys are totally white — the natural bronze color selectively bred out of them to eliminate uneven pigment colorations — because of consumer preference for even flesh tones.

8. Also catering to consumer preferences for “white meat,” the industry has selectively bred turkeys to have abnormally large breasts. This anatomical manipulation makes it difficult for male turkeys to mount the females, eliminating these birds’ ability to reproduce naturally. As a result, artificial insemination is now the sole means of reproduction on factory farms, where breeder birds are confined for months on end.

9. Turkeys, along with other poultry, are not protected by the federal Humane Slaughter Act, and are frequently killed without first being stunned.

10. Every year, more than 46 million turkeys are killed for Thanksgiving holiday dinners, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you think these birds are as incredible as we do, you can join talk show host and animal advocate Ellen DeGeneres, Farm Sanctuary’s 2010 Adopt-A-Turkey Project spokesperson, in starting a new tradition this year by adopting a turkey instead of eating.

Click here for more information about adopting a turkey this year.

Oh yeah, and that Burlesque movie comes out.  Guess we’ll see how this goes.  Better prepare myself for when people ask me what songs I sing during my acts……  ::head desk::

boobie cookies

October 20, 2010

On Saturday night I headed to Union Hall to take in Wasabassco’s monthly burlesque installment, but also to wish Gigi La Femme a safe trip as she goes on a 3 week tour with Dangerous Curves Ahead: Burlesque on the Go-Go. In honor of these I baked her some boobie cookies, and even made them tan to better represent her. If you’d like to make your own, see the recipe below!

mmmmmm, boobie cookies

2/3 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups sugar

4 tsps ground flax seed

1/2 cup almond milk

2 tsps vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract


2 cups all purpose flour ( I use a mix of unbleached and whole wheat)

2 tbsps cocoa powder

4 tbsps almond meal

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

vegan chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Starting by mixing  the oil and sugar  in a large bowl,  making sure the mixture gets all gooey. In the same large bowl, now mix in the remaining “wet” ingredients and the flax seed.  Next sift the rest of the (dry) ingredients together (minus the choc. chips) and slowly add them to the wet bowl in batches.

Take this dough and roll it into little balls.  Here you have the option of dipping them in some extra loose sugar to make them sparkly burlesque boobs.  Place the balled dough on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Finalize them by pushing a choc chip into the middle (nipple or tassel point out) and bake them for 10 minutes.  Let cool for 5 before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Hope you enjoy them!

I know I had promised this interview awhile ago, but there were some details that needed to be ironed out on my side.  This interview seems long, but Dale is such a complex person and has such a great personality, you finish wishing there was more.  Heads up, there is some cussin’ in this interview, so if you have sensitive sensibilities, you were warned!

a self portrait taken by Dale Rio as part of her "a gallon of gas and a match" series.

Vegan Berlesque: Why what first got you interested in the world of Pin-ups and pin-up photography? 

Dale Rio: i knew some pin-up models through the vintage car scene when i lived in los angeles and photographed some of them for fashion shoots or personal projects.  i didn’t know much of the history of pin-up, though, until i started doing research for the classes that i teach.  don spiro and i got asked to do a pin-up class at one of the big burlesque events a while back, so we put one together.  we taught at tease-o-rama, exotic world, and burlycon, and when i moved back to new york last year, we started teaching through the new york school of burlesque.  it’s interesting, because something as extraneous as pin-up is actually part of an interconnected web of influences that you wouldn’t necessarily relate to each other; the economy, art movements, politics, war, fashion, etc.  the way we teach pin-up puts it into a sociological perspective, so it’s not just a bunch of pretty images of pretty women.

VB: Do you have a favroite pinup model or photographer?

DR: i really like bunny yeager, because she not only was a photographer, but she started her career as a model, so she’s experienced both sides of the lens.  i feel that must give her a better understanding of what her models go through than photographers who’ve never experienced being on the receiving end of a photo shoot.  also, being a female in a male dominated industry will earn my respect every time.

VB: What first introduced you to the world of burlesque?

DR: i was actually introduced to burlesque by sideshow performers who i was photographing.  I got to know them, and when i went to see them perform, it was usually at a 10-in-1 type show that featured burlesque performers as well as the sideshow style acts.

VB: Have you performed/Do you currently perform burlesque?

DR: i have actually performed…  on a semi-regular basis when i lived in l.a. and seattle.  time and money have prevented me from making it a regular habit, but i hope to find enough of both to be able to perform more in the future.

photo of Michelle L'amour at the Burlesque Hall of Fame, copyright Dale Rio

VB: Which burlesque performers inspire you?

DR: there are so many to choose from, but having seen michelle l’amour’s caged cat act at exotic world this year, she’s moved up to the top of my list with a bullet!

VB: Can you tell us a bit about Shimmy Magazine?

DR: shimmy started when a girl i skated with in l.a. and i decided we wanted to become magazine moguls.  actually, we both loved burlesque and sideshow, so we joined forces, (she was good with computers and wanted to delve into design more, and i’m a photographer and writer), and started both shimmy and our roller derby magazine, blood & thunder.  shimmy has been through several incarnations…  it started out styled after a ’50’s men’s magazine, but that was pretty cost-ineffective.  we then did a regular magazine layout, so we could sell it on newsstands.  (blood & thunder was about to hit newsstands then.)  but then my partner’s personal life, well, sort of consumed her, so shimmy was pretty inactive for a couple years.  but you can’t keep a good idea down, and i decided to take the reins on all aspects of shimmy, (i’ve learned a bit of graphic design along the way), and will be launching it as a “burlesque annual” in 2010.  a burlesque yearbook, if you will.

VB: Now, you are also invovled (were invovled?) in the roller derby scene. Do you feel the worlds of pin-up, burlesque and roller derby are similar in any way?

DR: i played derby for about six years, until i was injured.  (i’m taking an indefinite hiatus right now.)  with derby and burlesque there’s a definite sense of empowerment.  it’s expressed in different ways, obviously, and some people don’t really recognize it in either or both, but it’s definitely all about women taking control.  contemporary derby and burlesque are largely women-run, as opposed to their various inceptions in the past, and i think that’s a very important factor in why they’re both so popular.

VB: In these three worlds, do you find vegans are more common in any of them?

DR: vegans are still the minority in the gen pop, so unless you’re in a community that’s sort of geared towards that mentality, it’s hard to find fellow vegans, period.  i wouldn’t say that we’re more common in any of the three worlds, but i’ve found my vegan cohorts in each, and we look out for each other.

portrait of Darlinda Just Darlinda from Dale Rio's "Night & Day: Burlesque in the Workplace" series

VB: What made you decide to be vegan?

DR: i’d been vegetarian for eighteen years, and about a year or so before i went vegan, i’d started minimizing my dairy and egg intake.  it wasn’t a big conscious decision, really.  just like when i stopped eating meat, it was more of a natural action.  but, like many people, i thought it would be prohibitively difficult to be vegan, so i never realistically thought about doing it.  but then i went on a photo shoot upstate and met a bunch of boys who were vegan.  they were really awesome cooks and would get together on sundays and do big, vegan mash-ups.  i thought, “wait a minute, if these DUDES can do it, then i should be able to, too!”  it just made me realize how easy it must be.  and it is.  especially nowadays.  if anyone claims to not be vegan because it’s too hard, they’re full of shit and are most likely apologists who are trying to cover up a lack of willpower or legitimate desire to be vegan.

VB: What’s your favorite thing about veganism?

DR: THE FOOD!!!  and imagining vegan hells for people.  i’m actually a pretty mellow vegan in the way that i relate with others.  i don’t try to preach or whine about having to search out food if i’m somewhere that’s not vegan-friendly.  that said, i have very strong and definite opinions.  but i realize that foisting your unsolicited opinions onto others isn’t always the best way to effect change.  and i also realize that each person does what he or she is capable of, for their own reasons.  my favorite example is one of my uncles…  he’s vain and eats mainly a vegetarian diet because it’s more healthy, and he wants to look good for as long as he can.  regardless of his reasoning, his decision furthers a cause i believe in, so kudos to him.  i know  he’ll never go vegan, but he’s doing his part in the way that he’s able. and i also respect his honesty.  i can’t stand apologists who feel the need to explain how much they want to go vegan, but can’t, because (fill in the blank).  if it’s a moral decision, then there’s simply no choice.  you just do it and never look back.  the taste of cheese or whatever isn’t enough to overlook all the wrongs in the system, if you feel they’re there.  touching on that issue, i believe that vegans generally are more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies, and the far-reaching implications of things like factory farming and whatnot.  people always get on your case about how you’re going to get all your nutrients, but if you ask a meat-eater where all their nutrients are coming from, most of them have no clue.  they think that the standard american diet is, by definition, healthy, where nothing could be further from the truth.

portrait of Bella Beretta, copyright Dale Rio

VB: Favorite vegan food/drink?

DR: good lord.  how can there be one answer?  one idiotic person once said to me, “you’re vegan?  you must hate food.”  are you fucking kidding me?  i actually love really good food.  and i love to cook, although until i recently forced myself to not be quite as much of a workaholic, i rarely found time to do so.  anything i make in good company is an automatic favorite.  i think vegans have a greater appreciation of food and get together more often than others to cook.  but, let’s see…  i do have a sweet tooth, and vegan desserts are still relatively hard to come by, so i’d say an overall favorite is vegan baked goods.  and…  red bamboo’s chicken parmigiana, dim sum at the vegetarian dim sum house in chinatown, just about anything at lula’s sweet apothecary, mighty o donuts in seattle, ronalds’ donuts in vegas, (they get bonus points for the exceptionally sweet owners and for being an oasis in vegas and because you’d never know they were vegan by looking at the joint…)…  the list could go on.

VB: Where can we see more of you?

DR: my new site is up www.dalerio.com.  i’m trying to get established in philly, so i’m hoping to open a studio there within a month or so and offer pin-up and photography classes there, in addition to shooting, of course.  i’ll be shooting at the toronto burlesque festival, vending for blood & thunder at the east coast extravaganza, and printing my ass off! Blood Thunder Magazine & Shimmy Magazine

memorial retro/kitsch

June 1, 2010

pillbox and sloppy joe

OH MY! This post was so full of spelling errors and mistypes I had to go back and edit it! Serves me right for thinking I could make a post so late at night after such a busy weekend!

This past  Friday-Monday I got to return home to PA for Memorial Day weekend.  It was fantastic. I hadn’t been home for awhile, and one of the great things, besides seeing family and friends, was that I tried on all my old prom dresses, which fit, so I can use them for costumes.

While in the Lehigh Valley I decided to stop by the UnderWired Boutique, a small but rocking vintage store I had heard about from various people. I didn’t have time to really investigate all of the goods, but I was super excited to find a large collection of vintage ladies hats.  Now, one of the super bonuses of shopping in a vintage store that is not in New York is the price.  I can safely say I bought three hats for probably what it would cost to get just one in New York.

The UnderWired Boutique is a super great with lots of wonderful finds and personality.  While shopping, I

pink flower hat and PA Dutch potato salad

was able to strike up a conversation with the woman working behind the counter.  Usually the woman behind the desk is Lisa O’Brien, the owner and founder of the store, but this weekend Lisa happened to be at a wedding so her friend Carinne was manning the register.  Carinne and I talked about the clothes, retro style, the Lehigh Valley scene and burlesque.  When I mentioned that I was shopping for burlesque costumes, Carinne was very excited and we talked awhile which ended in me giving her info on several shows, venues and performers to check out.

The store sells a large amount of great vintage finds mixed with new creations, various local designers’ goods and hula hoops from the Happy Hooper company (the ones who taught me how to hoop!).  If you are interested in knowing more about the store, they have a blog, and if you are too far away to visit, you can also  purchase pieces through their etsy page.

sculptured style hat with birdcage veil and strawberry/blueberry pie

Instead of just posting plain pictures of my hat purchases I thought I would do a little themed photo shoot to model them.  Paired with each hat is a typical American barbeque meal (in honor of Memorial Day), all of which I made and all of which were vegan.  I tried to think kitsch and embody my inner stereotypical 50’s housewife for the menu planning.

Pair the addition of three fun new hats with a bunch of new costume prom dresses and I am one happy vegan burlesque performer.  I was also quite proud of my cooking abilities. I mean, check out that red, white and blue strawberry/blueberry pie!  If anyone is interested in the recipes for the food I am proudly showing off, let me known and I can get the recipes for you.

But now it is late and Memorial Day is over.  I hope you all had fantastic ones, and if you aren’t American or don’t do anything on the date, I hope you had a great Monday anyway !