Thursday, August 26, 2010

My NEW Author Page at Amazon.com


You haven't arrived until...

I am so excited and pleased to announce and bring to you my author page at Amazon.com.

CLICK HERE to check it out!

Thanks and enjoy...

Also, pretty soon you will be able to see my blog there too at Amazon, as well as trailers for my books!

YAY!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Behind the Lens 004 - Random Tidbits in Drag Over the Years

As I continue on with my archiving old photographs project, I decided to mix it up by going back and forth between my works in front of and behind the camera. It's funny how this has turned out, as that is how my life has been. Between making my videos and doing my photo shoots as a photographer and then, in turn, as a model or my self-portraits to practice different looks AND to practice photo editing - it has been this constant back and forth that has been the course of my careers in entertainment, writing and photography.

That being said, while it is a challenge to focus, I have had fun playing the actor - as I have had to wear several different hats to look at myself, my models and my work objectively. As I get older, I have learned to set up a shot or to know when to throw away a bad take without losing the vision of the overall end project. There would have been the day some years ago that I wouldn't cut anything - thus the 20-minute soliloquy's in my play The Ashley Correspondence or the numerous crap snapshots from years gone by that I look at with laughter now...if not embarrassment.

I have learned to go with the flow, appreciate some of my past works and look forward to some future projects... YAY!

Here is a hodgepodge of clicks from my entertainment works with a blip or blurb (a memory) from each, for with these Behind the Lens posts it is all about the story behind the photo...

Miss Other Side 2000 Talent Competition;
hair, makeup & photo by Diva Kingsley
For the first time in my drag career, I had back up dancers. I was really going for that title... Here I am with Adam (l) and Billy(r) and we did Lovin' Is Really My Game, by Brainstorm... It was a high energy, dance number and we had a ball with it. I ended up getting 1st alternate in the contest though... I was gracious and it was just as good, as the club closed about six months later. That would have been a bummer!
Miss Other Side 200 Evening Gown Competition;
hair, makeup & photo by Diva Kingsley
I felt so elegant and Nickki Stevens beautiful jewelry just set everything off just right. I have never been a 'contest queen' - some female impersonators are so good at it and can compete all the time, doing very well. I have won or been appointed a few titles in my career, but it just was never my thing. I prefer to do a show and support my fellow castmates and friends in the endeavors. The Other Side was just a cool bar and I thought how cool? The name of the title...hahaha... Miss Other Side Lounge...ahhhh *snap* *snap*
In Session at the Disc Ltd. Recording Studio; 1995
WOW! It is funny because most people publicly have seen me mostly in drag over the years on my various websites. Funny, only because I am 'in face' about 5% of the time and the other 95% of the time I am more like this...LOL. I don't live my life as a woman. Some of my fellow artisans do and that is their life choice and brava diva to them if they can pull it off - and some do in fierce and fabulous fashion. That being said, I do not. I am a dude, man. LOL. I get gussied up for the shows and the entertainment aspect of it. Plus, I think the makeup and attire bring out a more vivacious and alluring side of me... Yessss, sir!!!
photo by Diva Kingsley
ooh in the early to mid 90s I had this platinum blonde phase that I am soooo glad I got over...lol. It was a lot of maintenance.
the Florida version of myself in 2007...
I was born and raised in Detroit and lived there for the first 36 years of my life...
I moved to Florida in 2006 and LOVE IT! Still love my Detroit peeps,
but I discovered there is so much more to the world by making that move.
photo by Steven Albert; 2002
at the 2002 Performer Awards of Detroit
Yes, I did a drag show at a Border's Bookstore!
Hey, what can I say, I am a multi-faceted writer and entertainer...
I loved that show because people - families with their kids - stopped and watched, AND enjoyed what they were witnessing. We had fun with it and I was so proud to do it.
Here I am with Nancy Ross at my 39th birthday show in 2009 at Monkey Business.
Nancy is a fan favorite at my YouTube channel and has won five career Cassone Channel Honors for their work there. Always brings a smile to my face. Photo by Sherman Rosser.
Owwwwwwww!!!
photo by Sherman Rosser; 2009
At Regine's Off the Park; photo by Steven Albert, 2002
WOW! I never felt more accepted than when I would get together with DeAngela 'Show' Shannon and her 'children of the corn' LOL and perform on Monday nights at Regine's in Detroit. Reggie, the bar owner (rest his soul), was always a firm supporter and a fan of mine for many years; a very generous man. I say what I say about acceptance, because it was like performing at the Apollo in New York. African-American audiences WANT to SEE a GREAT show! What had peeved me for many years (and still does) is racism within the gay community. It is like an oxymoron. I used to get talked about so much because of my support of the queens and male entertainers in the African-American community, because I dated African-American men - I heard about it all too often...and from both sides of the debate. THAT being said, there is nothing more rewarding than to win over a tough, wanting to be entertained to the highest degree, African-American audience because they will expose the bad, but soooo appreciate it when you are good (no matter who you are or the color of your skin) - and it was one of the few places back home where I kinda sorta... I dunno - felt like a STAR! And I have never forgotten the kind people there and those fabulous shows we use to put on... Owwwwww!
now THAT was a fun wig! LOL
At the Rainbow Room; photo by Nkosi Figueroa, 2004
photo by Steven Albert, 2002
photo by Steven Albert, 2002
photo by Nkosi Figueroa; 2004

As you see I change up my look a lot...lol.

*sigh*

Such memories...most of them good. Glad I could share some with you. Now, I need a cocktail - just kidding :>))

Behind the Lens 003 - A Few Good Men

Over the years, I have worked with some talented men who have modeled in front of my lens. You never really know how shallow people can be until they are critiquing your photography of male models or, in my case, guys or male friends who were kind enough to strike a pose for me. In my photography career, I have met the most scrutiny in my photography of male models, or models who happen to be male. Some of it, early on was due to my level of knowledge and ability as a beginning guy (or queen...LOL) with a camera. While I still have a lot to learn, I know better now, especially with my works earlier this year with my male models, German and Rob, that I have improved significantly. There are still some things I want to achieve, but when I get nasty comments on my various sites - it is usually because I just don't seem get it right with the fellas. Maybe that is because a lot of the people looking at my works with male models are looking for something more in line with a porn site, than an artsy fartsy sort such as myself. While I appreciate a good eye candy session now and again, that has its place and the photographers who shoot male nudes, whether artistic or not in nature, are usually well-versed in that type of photography. It is whole different ball game insofar as lighting, set up, even talent. I consider the sources, as usually the person posting such comments has no works of their own to showcase. I am proud of any of my models who have stepped in front of my camera. They were all professional in their demeanor, took direction well and showed up on time. What more could a photographer want? Now, as I was learning, sure not every shot was a magazine cover - but they weren't all 'snapshots' either.

Here are a few from my earlier works that I still look at with pride...

Bronzed Yungin' - Model: Jeuvel Milner
Jeuvel was one of my very first models. We were both learning at the same time. We both like this over the shoulder glance of his.
Wicked, Model: Jeuvel Milner
We had a little bit of fun for Halloween. I couldn't believe I demonized this poor guy. We had fun with it though. It's funny because he was one of the nicest guys to work with. I should have created some angel wings instead of those wicked eyes...lol.


Justin
Deliverance, Model: Daniel Silveira
I am so proud of how far Daniel has come in his modeling. Now, he works with some of the top photographers in the business. I probably couldn't afford him now...lol. Always gave me what I wanted artistically. Very determined to get the right shot for what I was looking for.
Daniel Silveira
Dreams; Model: Justin
Justin
Justin is a good friend of Diva Kingsley's and when he came into town a few years ago, he was kind enough to let me play with my camera. That's where it is at. A lot of my models and I have exchanged artistry and talent over the years. It keeps one humble and on your toes. That is because you are dealing with people's free time, which to me is more than money. Sure, we all like to get paid, BUT a 'freebie' really isn't a 'freebie.' Justin was just a cool, cool guy to work with and he became one of my sites early heart throbs - and nobody was more surprised than him.
Tattoo, Model: Adrian

I was looking for a bad boy type and my friend came into town with his new partner. Although he is a soft spoken, classical music loving chef...to look at him - I thought "GRAB MY CAMERA, STAT!" I need a thug! LOL. This one ended up being up for consideration in my Best Picture contest last year, for my Cassone Channel Honors. While it didn't make the final cut, I was pleased that my work with him got so much positive feedback from my website visitors.
Like a Rock Star, Model: Victor

Victor is a visual artist from Miami and his sinewy frame and awesome hair, helped me create this silhouette. It was something I had always wanted to do up to that point and he was a willing muse. I can hear the electric guitars every time I see this...lol.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Behind the Lens 002 - Back in the '90s

Every picture has a story and this feature on my blog is directed to that notion. I decide these first posts would be of my work in front of the the camera. I have been blessed to work with a few great artists who were an excellent match for me and my theatrical or 'drag' persona. Eventually, as I learned and experienced more as a photographer, I ended up pointing that lens inward...lol...to get some interesting self-portraits as well.

These selections are a handful more of what I did in the 1990s and the blurbs behind each one...

Bloody Mary, photo by Sharon L. Cassone (1996)
God Bless my mother... this is a rare find from her. Through the years and due to life circumstances, I lost a lot of the photos she had taken of me from my earlier career. This was from the show The Extravaganza IV: Spellbound & Speechless, which ran at Club 246 in downtown Detroit and was the most successful installment of that series and I still use this photo annually around Halloween. Lilyne Zook designed the outfit. I have no idea what I was even doing in that moment in time, as that show was so off the hook and fun. Ahh, the memories.
makeup & photo by Diva Kingsley; a black and white variation of the photo from the earlier post... playing in makeup: The early days...haha
Miss Sam's Tiffany's Eternity, photo by Deborah Oliver
An 'eternity' only because the club got raided on drug-infested night in Detroit, thus the long standing club with quite a history filled with many good memories over the span of several decades and for many people in the Gay night club scene - all because of a selfish bar owner who cared more about peddling dope and less about his patrons and the entertainers, bartenders, spot light operators, DJs and production staff who counted on his pay to get on with their daily lives. Don't even get me started...
Sketch, by Anonymous
a fan did this drawing for me, but asked I not reveal their identity ever. hell, I don't even remember who did this for me anymore (just kidding), but I LOVE IT!
Miss Sam's Tiffany's Eternity, photo by Deborah Oliver
another variation

Monday, August 23, 2010

Miss Universe 2010


Well... Who am I? LOL.

Congratulations to Miss Mexico Jinena Navarette. When I did all of my preliminary 'judging' last night reviewing all of the materials - she was on the radar, so I am not too disappointed. I am a bit disappointed in Miss Philippines...the girl just didn't answer the question and it cost her dearly. My pick was Jamaica because I thought she was the most steady and consistent throughout, but I am just an opinion.

The official results are in...

4th Runner Up: Miss Philippines - Venus Raj
3rd Runner Up: Miss Ukraine - Anna Poslavska
2nd Runner Up: Miss Australia - Jesinta Campbell
1st Runner Up: Miss Jamaica - Yendi Phillips
MISS UNIVERSE 2010: Miss Mexico - Jinena Navarette

Congrats to all the contestants, Donald Trump and the Miss Universe organization... I swear it is the best pageant of its kind out there.

I had fun doing this real time report for my little readership.

Whew! That was work...LOL.

Pictured: Miss Universe 2010 - Jinena Navarette (Mexico)

CREDIT TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER.

Top Five, Final Question and My Pick - Miss Universe 2010 Coverage


Okay...

Very excited!

Top five are:

Miss Mexico - Jinena Navarette
Miss Australia - Jesinta Campbell
Miss Jamaica - Yendi Phillips
Miss Ukraine - Anna Poslavska
Miss Philippines - Venus Raj

Hmmm...some of them disappointed me in in the final question by not answering the question... it happens, Venus.

That being said:

Here are MY final picks...

My 4th Runner Up: Miss Mexico - Jinena Navarette
My 3rd Runner Up: Miss Ukraine - Anna Poslavska
My 2nd Runner Up: Miss Australia - Jesinta Campbell
My 1st Runner Up: Miss Philippines - Venus Raj
My Miss Universe: Miss Jamaica - Yendi Phillips

I was really pulling for Miss Philippines, but she really didn't answer her question to my personal liking - trust me, in 22 years you done did at least one thing negative! LOL. Ye that is all perfect. I hope she was just nervous, for her sake. Yendi was the most consistent throughout and just fabulous.

We shall see.

This was fun.

I will wrap up tonight's coverage in a bit with the actual results.

Pictured: Yendi Phillips, Miss Jamaica (my pick for Miss Universe 2010)

CREDIT TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER.

Top 10, Evening Gown Competition and Special Categories - Miss Universe 2010 Coverage


Top 10 Contestants for Miss Universe 2010 are:

Miss Ireland - Rozanna Purcell
Miss Albania - Angela Martini
Miss Philippines - Venus Raj
Miss Jamaica - Yendi Phillips
Miss Mexico - Jinena Navarette
Miss Ukraine - Anna Poslavska
Miss Puerto Rico - Mariana Paola Vicente
Miss South Africa - Nicole Flint
Miss Guatemala - Jessica Torres
Miss Australia - Jesinta Campbell

My top five in THIS category are: Ireland; Jamaica; Mexico; Australia & Ukraine (in that order)

Overall MY top five finalists are: Jamaica; Mexico; Ireland; Philippines & Ukraine (with Australia REALLY close...OY - in that order)

We shall see...Woo hoo! LOL.

The time flies when your are blogging in real time.

Pictured: Miss Ireland - Rozanna Purcell

Miss Australia - Jesinta Campbell won Congeniality and Miss Thailand - Fonthip Watcharatrakul won both the Photogenic and National Costume Honors.

For more in depth coverage, photos and community check out the Miss Universe website HERE.

CREDIT TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER!

Top 15 and Swimsuit Competition - Miss Universe 2010 Coverage


The top 15, but here goes:

Miss Puerto Rico - Mariana Paola Vicente
Miss Ukraine - Anna Poslavska
Miss Mexico - Jimena Navarette
Miss Belgium - Cilou Annys
Miss Ireland - Rozanna Purcell
Miss South Africa - Nicole Flint
Miss France - Malika Menard
Miss Australia - Jesinta Campbell
Miss Jamaica - Yendi Phillips
Miss Russia - Irina Antonenko
Miss Albania - Angela Martini
Miss Colombia - Natalia Navarro
Miss Guatemala - Jessica Torres
Miss Czech Republic - Jitka Valkova
and Miss Philippines - Venus Raj

These contestants make up the top 15 and in Swimsuit Competition my top faves were: Jamaica; Mexico; Philippines; Ireland and Puerto Rico (in that order)

and overall MY top five thus far in the competition are: Jamaica; Philippines; Mexico; Puerto Rico and Russia (in that order so far)

Pictured: Yendi Phillips, Miss Jamaica

CREDIT TO THE PHOTOGRAPHER.

Miss Universe 2010 Preview

It's that time! I absolutely love the Miss Universe (U.S.A. and Teen U.S.A.) system with Donald Trump and company at the helm. Back in the day, I loved the Miss America pageant, mainly because of the talent competition category. Now, for what seems to be a decade, the Miss Universe system has bypassed Miss America by far and for many reasons. I like the idea of Miss Universe. It is one of the few places where so many countries are represented and in such a peaceful, professional - and let's just call it like it is, elegant way! For the first time this year, I really did my homework by reading up on all of the contestants and looking at their photos at the wonderful Miss Universe website. You can too by clicking HERE.

There you can see all the contestants, rate them and check out who the judges are and a bit about the show. The telecast is tonight, Monday, August 23 at 9pm on NBC and Telemundo. It will be live from Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas and hosted by Bret Michaels and Natalie Morales with a special performance for the Evening Gown category by John Legend & The Roots.

I am so proud and pleased that Miss U.S.A. is from my home state. Rima Fakih is the pride of Dearborn, Michigan and the first Arab-American to be crowned. That being said, in my personal 'judging' I remain open-minded and as unbiased as I can. LOL. All jokes aside, after my diligent review of all 83 contestants, here are my top twenty in alphabetical order. I encourage you all to get out your best notepad and pick your faves. Let the pageantry commence!

Miss Bolivia - Claudia Arce Lemaitre
Miss Brazil - Debora Lyra
Miss Colombia - Natalia Navarro
Miss Dominican Republic - Eva Arias
Miss France - Malika Menard
Miss Haiti - Sarodj Bertin
Miss India - Ushoshi Sengupta
Miss Ireland - Rozanna Purcell
Miss Jamaica - Yendi Phillips
Miss Mexico - Jimena Navarette
Miss Netherlands - Desiree van den Berg
Miss Peru - Giuliana Zevallos
Miss Philippines - Venus Raj
Miss Puerto Rico - Mariana Paola Vicente
Miss Russia - Irina Antonenko
Miss Spain - Adriana Reveron
Miss Thailand - Fonthip Watcharatrakul
Miss Trinidad & Tobago - LaToya Woods
Miss U.S.A. - Rima Fakih
Miss Venezuela - Marelisa Gibson

And - my top five after looking through all the contestants pages, scoring them and crunching numbers... MY top five before the telecast are: Philippines, Bolivia, Jamaica, Peru & Thailand... I will report my results as I go along this evening. Enjoy the show!

CREDIT TO THE PHOTOGRAPHERS.