Girls & Gramophones

Yikes – where did October go? In between minding my ice cream parlor and attending to the costuming demands for Halloween antlers, I’ve had no spare time to chronicle my silly interests. Right now I am losing miserably on eBay auctions at some 78s of Annette  Hanshaw records.  I must have Tiptoe Through the Tulips! At once! Also, unrelated, but kind of: have you seen this phonograph print dress?

Do yourself a favor and click over to this page while you scroll through this post. Listen to the Annette Hanshaw and Joe Venutti song “I Like” for a little background music.

August 20, 1924. Washington, D.C., or vicinity. “National American Ballet.” via Shorpy
I love these outfits! They remind me of a Midsummer’s Night Dream – I wonder what they are singing? The gal in the middle is playing a cigar box ukulele. You can click and make this picture enormous to take in all of the details.

Flappers on the beach (via flickr). As our Austin summer draws to a close (goodness, it’s been long enough, hasn’t it? It’s still 85F!) I find myself very sad that I only went swimming once this summer. Isn’t that pitiful? I’m looking at some flappery beach pictures and kicking myself that I didn’t bring the windup suitcase player out to Barton Springs like I did last summer. Shucks!

Flappers on the beach circa mid 1920s. Maybe next summer I can convince Angeliska to do some fitness records with me at the springs! In all of my record hunting, I’ve not found many exercise records. Plenty of tap dance training and records on the subject of teaching one’s parakeet to talk, however.

Morning exercises to a portable phonograph on the deck might just be the solution instead of a gym membership. I’m sure the neighbors would enjoy it.

Dancing lessons at home. I can’t tell for sure, but I think this is a portable player set on top of furniture.

Listening at home. This looks like a fun rainy day activity.

New York circa 1921. A lady and her phonograph. The name looks like Farnum or Farmer. 5×7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. Via Shorpy.

With the windup home model – via.

Unknown woman, outside with suitcase phonograph.

Movie star Gloria Swanson as Sadie Thompson and phonograph

Halloweens, 2004-2011

2004 – I was still living in Arkansas. I dressed as Marilyn Monroe from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” and I was a blonde! Coincidently I met up at a party where I met Jackie-O and a very bloody JFK (My friends Chris and Su-Lauren).
2005 – I had just moved to Eugene, Oregon for graduate school and dressed as a little sailor girl in this vintage sailor dress. I didn’t know anyone in the city, save for the 13 people I lived with in my co-op house. We went to a party at another co-op and taught our Chinese roommate American slang.

2006 – I could find no record of dressing up for this year. I think I was too swamped in graduate school work to dress up!
2007 – I lived in Portland at this time. I worked part time in a vintage store downtown, and I acted as a living mannequin outside of the shop with a candy dish in my hand. I found that I was quite good at standing still – and I scared quite a few passers by. My actual Halloween that year was quite strange. I didn’t have many (any) friends in Portland, and I ended up meeting up with a group of folks who were all dressed as Nintendo characters, and we played video games at Ground Kontrol Arcade.
2008 – “Silent film star who is actually silent and only communicates through title cards.” I spent two weeks watching silent movies and photographing the title cards, and I shuffled them around to talk – an exersize in Dada if there ever was one. A year or two before this, Julia had concocted this same costume, and I freely admit that I appropriated it from her 🙂 This year, I waited in line for hours to get into Gadjo Disko! and never got in – settled on eating cupcakes and drinking whiskey instead.
2009 – Belleweather and I dressed as Siamese twins Violet and Daisy Hilton from Freaks. When we went out, we tied a ribbon around ourselves to stay together in crowds. This was the first year that I saw the White Ghost Shivers for Halloween.
2010 – “Deer de los Muertos” costume, with skull makeup, antler headband, rotting 1920s lace as a scarf, and lots of roses. I went to the East Side Show room to see the White Ghost Shivers play a secret Sinking-of-the-Titanic themed show.
2011 – Windup Doll. What in the world was this costume?! It was a mashup of Egyptian, Steampunk, and living Dolly. I painstakingly refashioned a Tim Bird as a necklace, and he actually flapped! The hoop skirt was constructed out of goodies from the hardware aisle, including threaded bolts, irrigation tubing, and lots of spray paint. I did also see White Ghost Shivers again for Halloween proper, but I had a much more subdued outfit on – one that could move in a crowd.

Vintage Halloween – Black Cats

Meow! Meow! I’ve been considering donning some ears and whiskers for a simple Halloween costume. Nothing’s quite as seasonal as an arched black cat.

“Sittin’ on a Backyard Fence” from Footlight Parade (1933) featuring Ruby Keeler as a bushy tailed pussy cat. This was one of the first 30s musicals I rented as a young girl on VHS from the public library. I do love that cooing!
If there ever really were a true time machine, I’d like to use it to travel back to different parties that I find invitations for. Imagine dancing the night away with an Old Fashioned in hand, listening to Russell Rutledge and his Orchestra, and only paying 35 cents! Adjusted for inflation, that’s only $5.75 in 2012 dollars – still a bargain.If I were to take my time machine, I’d like also to have this hilarious pumpkin on the right, with black cats for eyes and a bat for a mouth. Oh, and I like the dapper gent in the middle with the black cat sweater vest. Who is that behind him? A haystack?
Hello red dress hottie with an owl head hat. That kitties gonna scratch your stockings!
Never underestimate the power of papermache, hula skirts, and card stock.This costume is only to be worn below the Mason Dixon line. The rest of you will need to wear a coat as part of your costume.
Black cat decor. Now, don’t all of you run out and get tattoos of these all at once.
During October, I have to keep myself away from Uncommon Objects, lest I buy up all of their Halloween ephemera. Then I will be one of those people… the ones who have Halloween decor up as proper decor. I am only one of those people who has St. Valentine’s day up as everyday decor. 

Daily Outfit

  • 1950s hot pink slip worn as camisole
  • black sweater from Express, circa 1998
  • black beaded necklace
  • German glass bracelet and earrings, I made
  • 1950s skirt, I think I got from Dear Golden
  • pink tights from Urban Outfitters
  • black Mary Janes from Payless

It’s the first cool day of Fall in Texas – 55F! I took a trip down South Congress and there was a 40 person queue outside of the coffeeshops and everyone was bundled in scarves and hats.
Last night I stayed in and watched three parts of Ken Burn’s The West and pincurled my hair. Let me now call your attention to the miracle that is hair tape – it’s pink tape that I use to set my kiss curls overnight. It involves “sculpting” the curl with water and a comb, and then taping it into place. The tape sticks to skin, but not to hair.

Vintage Halloween – Hot Witches

Ohh! It’s October! In Austin, it’s still in the high 80F and 90s most days, but we are due to have a change in the weather this weekend. I’m surprisingly sad to see the hot weather go (this is probably the first time in my residence in Austin that you will ever EVER see me admit this). Hot weather equals good ice cream sales, and as an ice cream parlor proprietrix, high temperatures are my livelihood.

In my search for vintage Halloween inspiration, I turn to my friend Diane Naegel’s pinterest. For those of you who knew, you will remember that Halloween was one of her favorite subjects, and her costumes were always a treat. I’ve been thinking of you a lot lately, Miss Diane. I do miss you so.

When I was wee, I had a costume trunk in my playroom. It was stocked with all sorts of goodies, including lime green polyester dresses, wooden bangles, giant overalls, yards of calico, and other dressup sparkles. My playroom was set up as thus: record player with records, trunk of clothes, craft table with crayons, glue and markers. My mother drew all of the ballet positions in black sharpie marker on the floor for me to practice. This was my “office.”
Among the treasures in the dressup trunk was a black witches’ hat from a Halloween costume. I distinctly remember stomping around the brim, humming the Mexican Hat Dance tune, no doubt inspired by something that Speedy Gonzalas had done.
In case I get to busy to construct a costume this year, I can pull out a Chorus Girl outfit and plop a pointy hat on top.
An enchanting photo of Veronica Lake with fishnets and pointed hat with crescent moon.
I think this is Joan Crawford.
This green dress has an amazing Jack o’ Lantern print near the hem – watch out little owlie!
This postcard looks like a Shakespearian party gone awry -or a-right? Are they bobbing for money, or fortunes?
YES PLEASE – cauldron wear for seriously hot witches.
Oh! Bobbing for cuties!I did make a pumpkin sundae for the shop this week – it has toasted vegan marshmallows that are torched with a creme brulee gun, salted caramel sauce, pumpkin puree sauce, and crunchy pecans. It is amazing!

Uncouth Documents

Is it uncouth to blog with Instagram images? The motor on my digital camera was on the fritz all summer, so I documented exclusively with my phone.
For the month of August, I had a phonograph DJ residency at the East Side Show Room. My Western Swing records and Hot Jazz standards complimented the craft cocktails and 1920s atmosphere quite nicely.
A mysterious sticker and stencil I see all over Austin. Who are you, man with a bat? And why are you arguing with that phonograph?
Angeliska and I took a trip to Round Top, Texas this week for the enormous antique show that happens twice a year. Imagine eight football fields filled to the brim with giraffe taxidermy, rusted letters, embroidery, glass bottles, masks, lace scraps, Deco furniture, and all matter of ephemerata. Amidst all of the treasures, Angeliska and I kept lamenting our gift of good taste and our curse of poverty.

I had connected with Deep South Phonographs in advance of attending the show. It’s run by a very sweet husband & wife team from Baton Rouge who specialize in restoration of antique record players. Their selection was fantastic! I splurged on some new equipment for Austin Phonograph Company, and now I have some machines that not only look AMAZING but sound incredible.

Phonograph Portraits, or, how I climbed into a bell

This summer, sat for a tin type photo session with Heather Curiel. I brought my Victor Monarch phonograph from 1901 to the shoot, and sat with it for the first photo. When I went to school for photography in Oregon, I was always drawn to tin types and wet plate methods: they are laborious, fickle and very reverential medium. There is a lot of room for error – dust specks in the collodian, defects in the plate, and problems with development. Also, this is what makes the photograph so special.
For the second portrait, I wore a phonograph horn as an Elizabethan ruff. This was an idea that I’ve been working on for about a year, in fact, you can see a picture of me hacking through the metal on my first post of Old Fashioned Way in August of 2011. A few years ago, I bought a cheap reproduction phonograph from ebay for about $100 bucks. The machine was so terrible, but it was my foray into the world of phonograph collecting. After the spring broke in the machine, it sat, collecting dust on my armoire. Essentially, the only function it had was to house my iPhone, which I would turn on and stick into the bell to amplify music.
I had this idea that just wouldn’t leave. What if a siren lived inside of the phonograph, and the bell encircled her head like a crown? What if her slender fingers could be the reproducer, the pointed nail the needle? I began doodling the image everywhere. This chalk drawing was up at the cafe where I invented my vegan ice cream recipe.
In 2010, I was lucky enough to land an appointment with Nick Baxter, who is probably the most amazing tattoo artist on the planet. It took a lot of explaining on my part as to exactly how my tattoo should look. He had never seen a phonograph up close, so I printed him off sheets and sheets of reference material that I found on ebay. The result was an enormous tattoo that covers my ribcage and most of my hip. I love his details: the wood grain, the spinal column Art Nouveau flowers, the rusty spots on the metal.

Last week, this obsession with climbing into the phonograph has come full circle. I sat for Darla Teagarden, a photographer known for creating paintings come to life. I brought my phonograph ruff, my Victor Monarch, and a freshly painted set of nails. She strapped me into the ruff, I turned the crank, and looked into the spotlight.