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Beauty Issue - March 5, 2013




42 Beauty Queens Courtney Algeo talks to three Gay ‘90s performers about the art of drag.


LITTLE MOMENTS Writer Katrina Wollet and photographer Adan Torres discover the beauty of serendipity.

47 What Makes You Bro-tiful Christiaan “Bacon” Tarbox asks Minneapolis men how they define their own beauty.


Photos by Steven Lang


Photos by Charlotte Lang

50 Winning Style Caitlin Dvorak’s hair creations have won awards.


Ode on a Flaming Sweater A frat boy. A burgundy sweater. Spontaneous flames. Ira Brooker recalls one of the most beautiful sights he’s ever seen.



Photos by Lars Kommienezuspadt

Sequin Blindness Writer Lindsey Frey and photographer Joe Dammel go behind the scenes at a teen beauty pageant to uncover butt glue and other secrets.

53 Malobe Natural Hair Salon Photos by Alex Roob 57 Style File Annie Peterson talks to veteran stylist Catlin Weston about what she does with hair and why. 62 When there is no mirror... Greg Laden recalls his time in a culture that lives without mirrors.

Cover by LARS Kommienezuspadt Layout by CLARISSA HAMILTON Background PHOTOS BY ANDREW CASEY Cover model: Laurel Nightingale Cover makeup: Oscar Ly



LETTER FROM THE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR “reblog if u think she’s beautiful” The “beauty” tag on Tumblr is exactly the all-over-the-place minefield that you’d expect. Lots of naked boobs. Block letters shouting, “Fuck society’s idea of beauty.” Professional photos of beaches and mountains. Eyeliner tutorial videos and close-ups of painstakingly detailed nail art. Kittens and birds. Elaborate tattoos. A woman posing in a hijab and a Dolce & Gabbana shirt. Pictures of girls with their heads bald from cancer or their mouths crisscrossed with scars as the captions dare you not to find these faces beautiful. It’s clear that beauty is a tricky subject, something to celebrate and admire and set standards for but also to reject and redefine and look for in unlikely places. Tumblr’s selfies of dolled-up, defiantly fat women or fashion photos that subvert gender expectations can be liberating, especially next to the countless reviews of women creators that focus only on the artist’s face and body. But no matter how many blogs declare that “inner beauty is all that matters,” the posts that piously challenge us to find women outside the mainstream beautiful or that insist that girls “don’t need to dress like sluts to be beautiful” show that we don’t have this stuff figured out at all. And other parts of the site are full of designer clothes and high-quality makeup, well-crafted home goods and book covers, film stills of movie stars and breathtaking photojournalism, gorgeous illustrations and expertly designed logos. Beauty may be about more than the surface, but it isn’t simply a veneer to be scratched off. Minneapolis contains enough cultures, subcultures, scenes and generations that two residents picked at random could have wildly different ideas of what beauty means, or who and what the word brings to mind. In this issue, I think we’ve at least taken a stab at capturing that variety, looking at the ways beauty is performed--from modeling to teen pageants to drag at the Gay ‘90s--and at the people we ask to make us beautiful. One of the most common ways that “beauty” is used in casual usage and places like Tumblr is the idea of beauty as serendipity. “Beauty” is often how we label moments of peace or joy or symmetry in unexpected places. Parts of this issue get at that idea, too, and I think it’s something we always strive for: pleasant surprises, and ones that stick with you. Beauty comes with a mess of associations and contradictions that we can only start to tug at, but I hope that there’s at least one piece here and in every issue that strikes you and captivates you, that you find in some way beautiful. Sincerely, Colleen

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CONTRIBUTORS Courtney Algeo serves as the editorial director of Paper Darts and works at The Loft Literary Center. Corey Feldman once smiled at her. Robert James Algeo is a Pennsylvania native cartoonist, web developer, and educator currently living and working in Minneapolis. Many consider his work to be second only to R. Crumb’s in the field of cartoonists named Robert who were also born in Philadelphia. His work can be found at Ira Brooker is a writer and editor residing in Saint Paul's scenic Midway neighborhood. He has been published in a number of venues both local and national and currently edits and Minnesota Playlist. He occasionally prattles on about pop culture at, maintains an archive at and tweets at @ irabrooker. Lee Carter is a Minneapolis barista, musician and writer all tied into one bowtie. If all else fails, he plans to fall back on rapping and endless tweeting at @lpcarter. Andrew Casey, one of MPLSzine’s Visual Directors, is a photographer residing in Minneapolis. He migrates towards shooting stationary objects and street scenes. He has had a long-held passion and appreciation for street art and graffiti, which led to a history of documenting the artwork under the alias Urban Camper. Chris Cloud is a Creative Thinkdoer and the Publication Director of MPLSzine. He is very excited that MPLSzine gets to highlight remarkable creative work from the MPLS community. He hopes you enjoy the fruits of their labor, time, and passion. See more at Darrin Commerford is a freelance photographer who doesn't wake up until it's appropriate to eat brunch. When Darrin isn't taking photos, he's behind a bar making drinks or in front of one being belligerent. (He's also very professional.) Check out his work at Kyle Coughlin, Illustration Director at MPLSzine, is a designer and illustrator living in Minneapolis. He enjoys drawing, screen printing, and being awesome. See his work at Joe Dammel is a film photographer roaming the streets of Minneapolis with a bag full of antiquated technology. He embraces modern technology, too: Find his work at Caitlin Dvorak is an accomplished hair stylist and sorceress She is a collector of chairs, books and jewels. In her free time, she writes poetry about moodiness and the men who have ripped out her heart. You know who you are. Lindsey J. Frey is a modern storyteller by day and a seamstress/athlete by night (depending on the day). A native of Duluth, she grew up basing all

direction on the lake and cannot tell east from west in her adult life here in Minneapolis. She loves animals and has caught on fire twice. You can read more from her on Twitter @LJFrey and at Clarissa Hamilton, Layout Director for MPLSzine, is a graduate from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She is a designer living and working in Minneapolis and has an obsession with making zines. Visit her website: Brian Hart, one of MPLSzine’s Visual Directors, is a Minneapolis-based artist. His eyes are always hungry. He hopes yours are, too. Google: brianmatthewhart Matthew Jacobs, Social Outreach Director at MPLSzine, is a PhD Candidate in the social sciences at the University of Minnesota. During the day he studies Chinese and religion under authoritarianism. At night he runs dance parties at the Uptown VFW. Say hello sometime at Tuesday Night Music Club Lars Kommienezuspadt was born and raised outside of Philadelphia, moving to Minneapolis in 2010 after years of visiting the Twin Cities. Often traveling to the East Coast to shoot in Boston, NYC, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Lars prides himself on a tireless work ethic with his art, constantly looking for new challenges and collaborations with artists and creative minds. In addition to an efficacious career in editorial fashion photography, Lars also balances an illustration career, branding t-shirts for apparel companies in Germany, Japan, and the U.K., as well as here in the United States. He is a proud father and resides in the Northeast Arts District. ( Greg Laden is a biological anthropologist and science writer who spent several years in the Congo living and working with the Efe and Lese people. He blogs at Greg Laden’s Blog at and a few other places. gregladen/ @gregladen Charlotte Lang is a local artist who practices in drawing, painting, and photography. Currently knee deep in "animal" inspiration. Find her on Flickr at Steven Lang received his B.F.A. from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. In 2012, he was a resident artist at Elsewhere, a living museum set in a former thrift store in downtown Greensboro, NC, and was a participant in the 4th season of CSA — Community Supported Art, sponsored and He has recently exhibited at Rosalux Gallery, Soo Visual Arts Center, and the Walker Art Center’s Walker Shop. His short story, “Tandem,” was included in the recent Milkweed Editions anthology Fiction on a Stick. His short-short story, “The Scarecrow,” was published in 2011 as finalist in the mnLIT series on Clint McMahon makes t-shirts for Scared Panda and writes codes for a big company. After living

in Chicago and NYC, he somehow found himself at home in Minneapolis. Someday he'll find his island in the sun, but in the meantime he’s going to take a few pictures. Kara Nesvig has been collecting red lipsticks since she was 14. She now has a shameful secret called "The Drawer," where about 75 tubes currently reside. Follow her on Twitter at @myfakeyelashes for babble about makeup and men in the skyway, or read her blog Vanity Project ( to peek at the beauty habits of Minneapolis notables. Annie Peterson is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer who grew up "approximately" 138.2 miles due West in the picturesque town of Montevideo, home of the sustainable farmer and artists of many disciplines. When she’s not writing the next aweinspiring piece of never-before-read literature, she enjoys live music, danceable beats, and eating that order. Zoë Pizarro is a native Minneapolitan. She is MPLSzine's new intern and a student at the University of Minneapolis. She is still uncomfortable calling herself an artist or writer, but she's working on it. She lives for the future's undisclosed adventures. Colleen Powers is MPLSzine’s Editorial Director. She was born Rockford, Illinois and lives in Northeast Minneapolis, and you can usually find her at dance parties, libraries or rap shows. Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” is her one weakness. Alex Roob is a third-generation photographer currently based in Minneapolis. He is working toward a Masters of Arts in Teaching Mathematics at Hamline University. He likes to climb rocks and loves Frank's hot sauce. It's the best. Christiaan Tarbox, better known to the world as Bacon, is a journalism major at the University of Minnesota, a freelance graphic designer, a film review blogger, undisputed Minneapolis karaoke champion, and a professional nerd. Follow him on Twitter: @thatbaconguy Adan Estrada Torres ( is a photographer based in Minneapolis with a bag packed at the ready for any adventure. Working towards presenting a human experience that exists in every corner of the world, he points his camera hoping to capture memories which serve as a prologue to infinite futures. Colin Weaver is a painter and printer from Duluth, Minnesota. He received his BA in Studio Art from St. Olaf College and currently resides in Minneapolis. Katrina Wollet (@katrinawollet) is a writer, bikehead and coffee snob. She also co-curates Espresso Yrself, a local monthly reading series. Follow along on her blog (http://katrinawollet. as she learns to wear high heels, work a desk job and live as a true Minneapolitan.



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Little Moments In trying to create beauty, I found beauty. I set out to capture it, captivated by an image in an antique kitchen: a beautiful woman, a beautiful man, a beautiful intimate moment. In the background of the original photo the little teapot was buzzing but the couple appeared deaf, dancing, slow and sunny in the middle of the floor. Instantly, I knew I wanted to bottle this and label it beautiful. With the help of other artists, I worked to recreate the image that struck me as the most beautiful. Together we staged the location, finalized a wardrobe and prepped for a morning photo shoot. As we drove to Northeast, snow began to fall. After hundreds of photos in all of the ideal locations – the kitchen counter, the couch, the study – we had time to take advantage of the impromptu snowstorm.

Outside, we snapped only a few photos in the quiet, empty, snow covered streets. Despite my best efforts to create something perfectly beautiful using the best outfits, location and photographer, our final photos in the snow were my favorites. In the imperfections of an uncontrolled shoot, in the disconnected and contrasting wardrobe and weather, and the impromptu decision to move outside, beauty was found. To me, life has always been about the little moments. You can try to force them or capture them or recreate them but we don’t always get our way. All you can do is open yourself up to the possibility and love the little moment as it comes and love it as it goes. Like a summer photo shoot in an unexpected snowstorm, beauty will have its way. Written By Katrina Wollet

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We were on our way home from the Endymion parade, one of the biggest of the Mardi Gras season, navigating our way through a morass of garbage. My legs were already weak from hours of standing as I made the long hike from Lee Circle up to Napoleon Avenue with my wife Myra and our friend Katie to catch a streetcar home. A New Orleans street following a parade is quite an amazing thing to see, a sea of cups and wrappers and broken beads ankle deep in the street. It reminded me of mayfly season along the Mississippi back in Minnesota, when hundreds of thousands of flying insects hatched, bred and died over a span of three days, carpeting the streets and sidewalks with unavoidable carcasses that crackled when you stepped on them. St. Charles Avenue after Endymion looked a lot like that, except with garbage instead of insect corpses. Hundreds of people jammed into chaotic queues on the sidewalk, many of them haphazardly tossing beer cans and candy wrappers on the ground when they finished them. We couldn’t walk without crunching all kinds of nastiness under our feet. Above our heads, strings of beads dangled from tree limbs and streetcar cables. It was all disgusting but also fascinating and really sort of nice. I flashed back again to the Midwest, remembering the day when Myra and I had driven around assessing the damage after a tornado touchdown in the Mississippi River Valley, dazed by the destruction but oddly relieved that at least the tension of the storm was over. Halfway through our trudge, Myra and Katie decided to stop at KFC. Being a conscientious vegetarian, I asked them to just get me some biscuits while I sat down at an outdoor picnic table to save a spot and rest my feet. The KFC scene was even more squalorous, all the trashcans spilling over, grease stains all over the sidewalk, soused tourists in khaki shorts stumbling by. Myra and Katie came out with a six-piece chicken dinner and a carton of biscuits. We had a mostly silent dinner, all of us too drained to sustain much conversation. When we finished, we left our trash on the table--what else were we to do with it?--and headed back down St. Charles.

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We’d almost made it to the streetcar stop when I saw four or five young frat boy types coming toward us. The guy in front was small and swarthy, wearing a burgundy sweater made from angora or mohair – whichever is that really soft material that has all those little wisps of fiber curling off it. Just as we crossed paths with the frat boys, out of nowhere, the little guy’s sweater burst into flames. Not a big roaring fire, just tiny blue flames flickering all across his torso, burning off those little fiber wisps. Myra, Katie and I stopped in our tracks and stared in surprise. One of the guy’s buddies glanced over and exclaimed, “Dude, you’re on fire!” The little guy looked down and said, “Whoa.” Not shocked or terrified, just your basic, Keanu “Whoa.” The whole incident only lasted a few seconds. By the time anybody could have thought to do anything, the flames had burned themselves out and whatever crisis there might have been was passed. The frat boys roared with astonished laughter, and we caught the next streetcar and headed home. And I was in a state of absolute bliss.

“He knew that the box, 'ugly' and 'ordinary' as it may be, was art no matter where it was...” To explain why those brief flickers of fire hit me so hard, maybe it’s best to look to Andy Warhol. One knock the philistines always make against Warhol is “How is that soup can or that soap box any different than the ones I have at home?” Well, it isn’t, and that’s the point. Warhol knew his Brillo box wasn’t art just because it was in some gallery in Soho. He knew that the box, “ugly” and “ordinary” as it may be, was art no matter where it was, just like a street full of litter, a gnawed-down chicken leg, a sea of dead mayflies, or a frat boy bursting briefly into flame. Warhol just forced a lot of people to acknowledge all of those things for the first time. For me, it took a concentrated dose of all the crazy, nasty, wonderful weirdness Carnival season has to offer to appreciate the beauty at the root of it all. All of that so-called ugliness, the trash and the drunks and the fast food and the awful excess: that’s what beauty is. And that’s what art is. And that’s what literature is. You bundle it all together and you’ve got an experience that can shake you to the core. That frat boy in the flaming sweater? Not to get too American Beauty on you, but that was the Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Ever Seen. It all seems perfectly mundane when you first look at it, but if you think about it you realize that beauty is not always a departure from the mundane. Sometimes beauty is the mundane, because the mundane is truth, and truth is beauty, beauty truth and that is all ye know and all ye need know. Call me crazy, but I’ll put the decadent detritus of St. Charles Avenue up against a Grecian urn any day. Written By Ira Brooker

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Be part of MPLSzine! We’re looking for interviews, reviews, reported articles, essays, humor pieces, lists, infographics, comics, photos, and illustrations related to Minneapolis. (That relation can be loose--if the only connection is that you live here, that’s cool with us.) For now, we are not accepting fiction or poetry submissions--we know we can’t compete with the awesome literary magazines this town already has. We want to explore overlooked places and subcultures; make new connections and observations; share your heartbreaking, guffaw-worthy, and inspirational personal stories; and champion the people who make Minneapolis what it is. But we can’t do that without creative types sending us their stuff. To get you started, our themes for the next two issues are LOST publishes April 16 submissions due March 17 FOUND publishes April 16 submissions due March 17 If you can’t contribute right away but want to learn more, email us anyway. We’d love to have you join us.



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SEQUIN BLINDNESS I have second-hand hairspray inhalation. As an asthmatic, I can assure you this is a real thing that I made up after spending an an entire day documenting the contestants of the local Miss West Metro and Miss City of the Lakes pageant, a part of the Miss America system. I can just picture the tiny passages of my airway, tacky with hairspray and dyed a golden shade of spray-tan bronze. Having watched hours of rehearsals, the lights dimmed, curtains drawn and winners crowned, I sat in my dark car waiting for my sequin-stunned retinas to recover for the drive home. As the sparkle faded, I thought to myself: I know a whole lot of women who could benefit from a curling iron—just not in the cosmetic way you might think. BEAUTY// MPLSzine


Reality Show I’m used to the idea and reality of women fighting with other women. Our media culture constantly pits us against each other, creating and perpetuating the slaps, surgery and stereotypes that continue to divide women as a group. And so, from everything I’ve ever assumed about pageantry, this experience was supposed to be the ultimate reality show—catfights, sabotage and stolen stilettos. What I didn’t see coming was the bonding between these young women, and I’m not talking about all the funny adhesive tricks. Here is an environment where women knowingly and directly compete with one another based on physical appearance—something that occurs much more subtly in daily life, going unspoken with a dirty look or that special head-to-toe flick of the eyes that’s meant to say, I’m judging you. And yet here, alone under bright stage lights, the judgment was complicit and as obvious as the two tables housing the judges in the auditorium. But pageants are an alternate reality—a tiny microcosm with a different set of norms, values and perceptions of beauty. It’s everything we non-pageant women are used to in daily life, but it’s all right out in the open. In fact, it’s even statistically broken out for judgment. I imagine there’s something almost refreshing about knowing it’s based on points and the awareness of what matters most to your judges. It’s a sharp contrast to the passive-aggressive judgment you receive every day as a female in our society. If I were a contestant in the Miss America pageant system, I’d know the person judging bases 35 percent on talent and only 10 percent on how I look in my swimsuit. As for the other statistics that would assemble my total value in the system, 25 percent is based on my evening wear presentation and my ability to answer a question on stage in front of an audience, and 30 percent on the closed-door interview with the judges.

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Boob Tape, Butt Glue and an Unlikely Bond Oh, I did witness the funny pageant rituals we’ve all heard legend of—the careful taping of busts, self-tanner, hair teasing tricks and “butt glue.” (I had to break my silent dressing room observation to ask for an explanation on that one. Butt glue is a medical fixative used to adhere the girls’ swimsuit bottoms to their butt cheeks, thereby avoiding embarrassing on-stage wedgies.)

Alison Vail, 20, who won the title of Miss West Metro at the pageant, has experienced a lack of support for her pageantry within her friend group, boyfriends and even her own family. Unarguably the most outspoken personality of the group, Vail has competed in eight different pageants and won the Miss Congeniality Award from her fellow contestants in every one of them for being the most friendly, helpful, genuine and outgoing.

When it feels like much of the world is against you (and let’s face it, most of society has only seen “Toddlers & Tiaras” and “Honey Boo Boo”), these women naturally develop strong friendships within the pageant environment. It’s the mutual understanding and appreciation for the surprising amount of hard work that goes into being a pageant contestant. While your school friends make fun, your pageant friends do your makeup.

“Pageants are probably the exact opposite of everything that you think they are,” Vail said. “The girls in the pageant system are some of the sweetest, nicest girls that you will ever meet … The judges in those interviews really get down to the nitty-gritty of who you are as a person, so these girls are really genuine and good-hearted people who want to make the world a better place, and that’s why we want to help each other. I’ve never met a bad seed in this pageant system. If anyone wanted to challenge me on that, I’d just say, ‘Come to a pageant.’”

It’s a level of support among contestants that I learned is common in the Miss America pageant system. While the Miss USA system (owned by Donald Trump) has more of the drama and dress burning the media is so fond of covering, the Miss America system requires a large portion of the competition be based on personality, with each contestant choosing a cause-based platform to support and campaign for throughout their pageant years. “Miss America is all about service,” said 19-year-old contestant Paris Becker, whose pageant service platform was about inspiring education through the arts. “It’s hard to tell people you’re in pageants, but it really is about inner beauty.”

Just before show time, I heard two contestants in the dressing room chat about sharing dance shoes for the talent portion. Not stealing them or pushing a tack into the sole. Sharing. One contestant even offered another girl a push-up “boob pad” for her gown. Kaitie struggled with her hair. “I’m doing a really crappy job curling my hair,” she said, exasperated. And as busy as all the girls were in the final minutes before the show began, Mia stepped over, still in her sweatpants. “I’m actually kind of good at it,” she said, and took the curling iron from Kaitie to get started on some straight pieces in the back.



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Sharing Heels After all that glimmers is told, I’m left with newfound respect for the courage, self-assurance, confidence and control it takes to compete in a pageant. While I may not get over my dislike for the swimsuit portion of the event, how I view it has changed. I see the difficulty it takes to make that nearly naked walk in front of an audience. And I know there are girls waiting backstage who are just as nervous (and cold), who relate to and understand everything the girl on stage is feeling, and who will praise her for her poise and confidence when she returns to the wings. So, there’s another second-hand condition I’m left with, besides sequin blindness and hairspray inhalation. It’s hope. I think of all the women I know who, instead of competing, glaring or hating on one another, could pick up a curling iron and offer to help someone who’s struggling with a bad hair moment. And if that woman wins the personal competition of the moment, it’s okay. You’re in it together. Working hard and competing in your life doesn’t mean you can’t be supportive of the other women around you. While someone else may win the crown, you can smile a little brighter knowing you’re both wearing butt glue. Written By Lindsey Frey BEAUTY// MPLSzine


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On a Wednesday in February, three lovely drag queens at the Gay 90s on Hennepin were kind enough to talk to me about their art and their ideas of beauty. A heartfelt thank you to Zekira Zabertini, Genevee Ramona Love, and Azalia Selena Cruz for taking the time to share their thoughts! Zekira Zabertini What does beauty mean to you? You hear things like "androgyny is the peak of beauty" and sayings like that. For me, I personally find things like the macabre more beautiful. I really find that intrigue to be what's beautiful. When they say "androgyny is the peak," they're essentially talking about this fine line— this meeting—between male and female. In reference to drag, I really love over-the-top glamorous sculpturesque sorts of things, but I also like to try to give the appearance of a soft beauty but with an edge. It's that softness but that edginess, that kind of vampire—beautiful but deadly—soft, intriguing and romantic but deadly. Damned…you know? That edginess but softness is that intrigue. It's that line, it's that almost paradoxical— It's in those things where two opposites meet, or two completely different ideas meet, that is extensively more beautiful than just the more shallow ideas of what beauty should be. Do you have a beauty idol? A pop culture person that you want to be like? I'm very much an eclectic person and I derive a lot of different aspects of people, but I'm very inspired by the art of Alexander McQueen--the more eccentric art that he had created before he died. The artist Natalia Kills, I really enjoy her work. She has this very beautiful and very rock star persona but also a lot of her stuff is about very vulnerable heartbreak and a very perfection-based ideal, but vengeful. It's a torch song and torch singer idea, but also hard, and there's this beautiful softness of her red lips and hair but she's on fire at the same time. So, do you feel like your personal drag is more art beauty than personal beauty? The thing about drag is that when you are in drag—at least for many people—you are creating a character. And I think that for a lot of people, drag is like more of an artistic expression of something that they are creating. While it's still myself, and that is part of my

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personality, the persona I portray, at least for me, is very much a character. It is an artistic expression. More than I see it as me just gettin' pretty. I definitely see it as more of an artistic outlet. Half the time, I have more fun making it than being in it. Do you find beauty in not only the making of it but also being in stage and seeing the reactions to it? Do you find their reactions beautiful? Yeah! On one hand, it's a huge ego boost for me. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't. For someone to appreciate your art or appreciate your hard work— I think one of the other cool things is if somebody sees me and sees my style and what I do and they have this really awesome appreciation, they get really excited, like OMIGOD and I love this and Your hair! and Those shoes! And it's all things that I just created with whatever inspiration. It's my own conglomeration of what I've learned and become and been influenced by. And then I see somebody else, another drag queen who is completely different from me but is still just fantastic at what they do and then somebody, like the same person, will see them and be totally blown away by a completely different idea of drag. I think that's also really cool because it just shows the power of that drag illusion in general. The variety of things that you can do with it and how powerful those things can be. How powerful all those different things can be to one person. Or how one person can be to so many different people. What did your drag mother teach you about beauty? In terms of life, but maybe just drag queendom. Tonight is amateur night at the 90s. When I was 18 years old, I did that and I looked busted. I didn't have a clue. Sometimes I still think I missed the mark. It's a crapshoot some days. But it's like‌everyday I learn more. The makeup and the style that I have now is heavily influenced by my drag mother. I actually technically have two. One is a much more toned-down and fishy drag, she loves long hair and evening gowns. My other drag mother has really influenced my style. For the longest time I used to also do very fishy make up, before I realized that I like a more theatrical idea. I met my second drag mother, and she's actually my best friend in the world, and she's actually really a women. She's what we call a bioqueen or a faux queen, which is a woman who dresses up as a drag queen and actually passes as a drag queen. I learned a lot of fishy drag from Sonia (the man) and her partner taught me a lot of different things about hair, and then Amanda (the woman) really built on that and showed me other styles and helped me evolve in other ways that I didn't even know where possible. So, I got a good basis with Sonia, but how to fit it to my own style and face and



what I prefer and to really make it go from a female impersonation aspect into my own artistic expression and theater, which is what matters. What is your idea of perfection/beauty? The best way I can explain it is— The world. What I mean by that is... it's the world working together and it's people working together and it’s that sort of homeostasis that I see as perfection. And beauty I would say is a similar idea, but while one person's style might be completely different and there are some things—

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Beauty isn't always pretty. Sometimes the ugliest things are really the most beautiful. Beauty is the ability to appreciate things from the most simple and the most complex. It's like that dichotomy. Having a duality about yourself or having that complexity. The ability to give so many things. To really serve it. Do you get women who are jealous of you and your beauty when you're in drag? I get people who say that, but I don't know how much they mean it. They say, “Will you do my makeup? Will you do that to me?” And I'm like, “If I did that for you, you'd look like a whore.” Genevee Ramona Love When you are in drag, do you feel beautiful? Yes. What makes you feel beautiful about being in drag? It's just...I don't know. It's just the act of female impersonation, it just makes me feel beautiful. I think women are beautiful. The makeup, the heels, the clothes—I love the clothes—the hair. All of it just makes you feel beautiful. It's a lot of work to put into it, but it makes you feel really good. Is it just when you're on stage and seeing the audience, or any time that you're in drag? Any time I'm in drag. Any time I'm in drag. As a male, I'm kind of self-conscious about how I look, cause sometimes the bad skin or you're just having an off day, but as soon as I jump into the female impersonation—the drag—onstage, offstage, I feel beautiful. I feel wonderful. When you're in drag, do you just do you or do you have any female idols that you impersonate? I'm not much of an impersonator because you have to mostly look like them. I usually do a lot of Beyoncé. I do most of her dance moves. I know all her dance moves and stuff like that. Other than that, I do some Kelly Rowland. That would be my impersonation because I kind of look like her. Donna Summers. A little Tina Turner, but not too much. Beautiful women make me feel beautiful. If you were a drag mother, what's something you would impart to your drag daughter about beauty? I would say wear makeup. Makeup makes it better. You're already beautiful for who you are, you're already beautiful the way that you are, but enhance it. Wear makeup. Do you get a lot of women who envy you when you're doing your show? Yes, I do. I do. We do the shows upstairs and women be like, "Ohhhh, I envy your body!" Because they love my body. I love your body. I love BEAUTY// MPLSzine


your makeup, I love your hair! It's funny because it's like, girl, you can do it, too. You're beautiful. You already got this naturally. We just enhance it more. But yes, a lot of women do. They come up to me and they say it. To you, what is beauty? To me beauty is…it's not…I really don't consider beauty as just having "the look." You can be beautiful on the outside but be the meanest person on the inside. I think beauty is being nice, kind, humble on the inside, and also on the outside. Beauty shows through everything. It's the sunlight of your life to be beautiful. I think everyone's beautiful no matter what they look like or who they are. Beauty is everything to me. Azalia Selena Cruz Do you have any beauty idols that you try to incorporate into your drag persona? If so, why are they your idols? My drag idols would be CeeCee Russel and Monica West. In CeeCee, I see fun. Always smiling on stage. Her characters are amazing, especially her Tina Turner and Whitney Houston. In Monica, I see dance. I see a talent of dancing. I love how these girls perform and their willingness to help guide a newbie. Monica would be my bigger idol of the two. Through these ladies, I learned how to be a better performer. In drag, there is much to be learned from watching one another. What do you think is beautiful? I think beauty comes in many forms, but in my eyes it comes from within a person’s soul in a form of not knowing they're beautiful. Beauty to me isn't physical. What did your drag mother (assuming you have one) teach you about beauty? I unfortunately never had a drag mother. All I have learned I learned through trial and errors. In the drag world, there is a term called “booger.” This refers to the queens or wannabes that are a hot mess with no knowledge of makeup skills or anything in this craft. Looking back to my beginning days, I can say at one point I myself was a booger. But I was determined to get it right, so I started to pay attention to other girls and quickly started asking questions, and look at me now! If you were/are a drag mother, what would/do you teach your drag children about beauty? If I was a drag mother, I would take the time to teach my child how to do good in the field. How to act properly. How to be graceful and grateful. These things will take you far in this business. It’s tough to get into and to have doors open for you, but it comes with great rewards too. Is there anything else you want to say about beauty? ....Beauty cannot be taught! 46 MPLSzine // BEAUTY


BRO-TIFUL? “Handsome is as handsome does.”- English proverb Whether one has hair on the chest or a flair for their dress (or both), it’s practically impossible to tell what society deems a “beautiful” man nowadays. While we menfolk can’t all be George Clooney, that’s not to say that we still can’t be man-pretty in our own way. I interviewed four of MPLS’ male representatives and gathered their various philosophies on what it means to be mansome.

w o r d s a n d p h o t o s b y C h r i s t i a a n “ B a c o n ” T a rBEAUTY// box



Attitude is a big part of it. If you look nice but you’re kind of a jerk, that can take away from your general aesthetic. If you’re a nice guy and you’re kinda schlubby, that could maybe make you look a little better. I think your demeanor, coupled with your presentation, really go a long way. I wear a beard because it’s easier to maintain than having to shave everyday. Now that I’m cruising into adulthood at full speed, I feel like there’s a certain feeling of being distinguished. It’s not quite lumberjack, but it’s not quite James Lipton.


Digital Radio Producer South Minneapolis It kind of runs the gamut, you can find people who really enjoy to dress kind of more classy, or people who really just don’t give a fuck and really like to flaunt their Grizzly Adams style. Personally, I sort of run between those lines of not wanting to shave and conform to anyone’s standards, because I am who I am. I really don’t think that there’s one way or another to be like, “All right, you’re gonna be mansome today, so here are the top ten rules that you have to follow.” I feel like those rules are meant to be broken. Follow your own rules. -DANIEL HOFFSTROM, 23 Filmmaker Northeast Minneapolis 48 MPLSzine // BEAUTY

In 2009, I grew a mustache. And I did it because we threw this show called ‘Stache Fest, and I kid you not, my whole life got better after I grew a mustache. Things just worked out for me better. I’ve been kind of defined by my mustache, so I would say that’s a part of my style. What I like is the flexibility of playing around [with my facial hair style], which maybe defines beauty as a certain flexibility of being able to alter your appearance and still maintain your own personal sense of beauty.


Web Developer/Musician South Minneapolis For me, it’s just rolling out of bed, looking in the mirror, saying “I’m ready to go.” I don’t really have to do too much. I definitely pride myself on my hair. Not only is it long, it’s also red, so it’s kind of a feature that a lot of women tend to admire or even get jealous of. I would generally say that the gentlemen I associate with all fit into that category of “Good-Looking Guy”. I think one key to know if you’re welldressed or a mansome gentleman is people constantly assuming that you’re gay. It’s definitely happened to me.

-SAM SPADINO, 31 Comedian



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Caitlin Dvorak is the Technical Director and stylist at HAUS. She has been a stylist for 10 years. Last year, Caitlin and the team at HAUS were nominated for Best Salon Team at North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) for a collection they submitted. This year Caitlin entered her own collection into the competition. The photos are a selection of her contributions to different collections. I sat down with Caitlin to discuss her work, her inspiration and her artistic vision. Interview By Matthew Jacobs Photos by Stephanie Rau

MATTHEW JACOBS: How is styling for a photograph different than styling for a client? CAITLIN DVORAK: When working behind the chair versus working on a photo shoot, you are playing in different dimensional realms. Behind the chair, you are sending that person out into the real world. All angles of their hair are exposed. The style is in 3-D. When you create an image for a shoot, it is usually the two-dimensional. You only create what the camera is going to capture. In the real world, everything matters. Many times when you photograph something, it doesn't look how you want it to, so you have to go back and reform the style so the camera captures what you envision. It’s tricky. The camera has a different eye. M: What do you use for inspiration for your creations? C: All the things that we perceive with our senses can be influences. I do research on current trends and then try to guess as to how the trends will go. After you delve into your inspiration and start creating, usually a story naturally unfolds. M: What is the most difficult part about designing a concept and translating that into a collection? C: The challenge is personal. There is a struggle to create something that hasn't been done before or take something that has been done before as inspiration and making current. I have learned to trust myself more. At times you become so wrapped up in your work that you are too close to the forest to see the trees. Knowing when to take a step back for a few moments or to ask to use someone else's eyes is vital. BEAUTY// MPLSzine




M: What lessons you have learned from creating images for photographs and competitions? C: Communication has been one of the greatest lessons. When you work with a team, everyone needs to be on the same page with a concept and in line with the vision of the project. We are all operating to produce one cohesive story, and everyone interprets the story differently. M: Why did you choose hair as an artistic medium? C: I think hair is a huge extension of who we are as people. Styling is more than just designing a beautiful look. Stylists play an important role in helping their clients express their own beauty. You develop close relationships with people that sit in your chair. You have to create a look that reflects their personality and inner beauty. Much of our society is based off of image. You want to make them look good, but you also want them to feel good about how they look. The Full Collections are at:


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915 West Lake Street, Minneapolis Owned and operated by “master locktician� Bessie Flemons



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Meet Catlin Weston: Style Guru and Hair Designer Extraordinaire. I was lucky enough to meet her in ‘04, recently after she began her career, at the ultra-swag Moxie Hair Salon in Uptown and have been a loyal client and fan of her work ever since. Catlin’s creds include lead hairstylist for the Twin Cities largest fashion shows, Voltage Fashion Amplified and Retro Rama and stylist for the pages of, City Pages, Downtown Journal, Metro, Minnesota Bride and L’etoile magazine. She’s also traveled and styled hair for New York Fashion Week! I caught up with Catlin recently at Evolution Salon, on 29th & Lyndale. Interview By Annie Peterson Photography By Darrin Commorford



Catlin, you’ve been styling hair for almost a decade and your credentials are off the chain. What is one initiative you haven’t done yet that you’d like to be part of in the next five years? I would like to start a community of beauty industry superstars: hair, makeup and styling. If there were an event, photo shoot or fashion show, we would be the contact, sending out credited teams to cover all aspects of your styling needs. What’s one of the most rewarding aspects of working in the beauty slash design industry? Making people feel good about themselves and creating relationships, and of course, the creative outlet that it allows me. How did you get your start in the industry? At 12, I decided. My mother took me to the Aveda Institute. She did this, not because she thought a 12-year-old should be getting professional color, but due to the fact that Sun-In is a bad idea for any child with dark brown hair who spent eight hours a day outside for three months. I was totally comfortable in my new summer-vacation-sunbursts orange locks. But with school pictures coming up, alas, my mother was not. So they fixed me up. And I saw the power that can be held by someone beautifying me, and the confidence it gave me. When I was done and dry, the choice was made: I would be the hippest hipster. Dyed black to bleached and fried. Pink, blue, purple and mermaid green. Mohawked, permed, pixied and dreaded. It was the beginning of an amazing journey and I have never looked back. Where do prolific hair stylists go to get their hair done? Well, we can't take our heads off and do it ourselves. If we could, that would be a whole different story. But I usually go to someone I have admiration for--someone I've worked with or a mentor. There is a lot of talent out there. What do you love about collaborating with the beauty industry here in Minneapolis? People in Minneapolis are mad talented. The creativity that is birthed out of the Midwest is crazy. 58 MPLSzine // BEAUTY

I think when we are so limited on the amount of time that can be spent outside, we retreat into our brains, and deep in there we have the ability to still dream. And we dream big. I love making these people's visions come to life. I do a little “happy-hop-skip” every time I walk out of a hair session with you. I definitely feel more beautiful. What do you think the psychology is behind that? I let people talk to me. I let them show me what they need from me, aside from just their hair needs. Sometimes people just need to vent. I listen. And I listen to the underlying feelings. You can't be in this industry and not understand human traits and needs. If you treat someone like a rock star, they will feel like a rock star. There are no ugly people, just bad decisions. And I'm here to keep everyone that sits in my chair on the right track with their hair and their life. I know what makes me feel good about myself--it just so happens most people have the same needs and wants out of life, just sometimes in different areas. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, why are we still so obsessed with outward beauty in terms of style, image, weight, etc.? Because of ourselves, what we define as beauty, our upbringing. Because of the imagery around us. If you are interested in the beauty industry, you model yourself after those who inspire you. To me, part of who we are is presented visually. For example, in my choice of clothing, makeup, hairstyle and the art I've tattooed my body with. I hope it represents parts of who I am. A “cover to the book,” if you will. These things do not define me--the visual can be changed, enhanced and highlighted. But I give the world a taste of who I am through these things. How do you draw that line between celebrating style/ beauty and not becoming a slave to it? Beauty is not beautiful if you are always coming from a place of correction. We have to accept that we will never be tall enough, thin enough or have the best of the best. Accepting yourself and having confidence in who you are is the most beautiful trait anyone can ever hold. I am in awe of these people.

When you start to lose you and become overly competitive with nature, you will always lose. The grass is greener where you water it. Any advice you’d give to those wanting to pursue a career in the beauty/design industry? It's tough. It takes all of you. I've struggled with balance myself. If you are looking for a fun, easy career that lets you dress however you want and party till 3 a.m., I suggest working part-time at your local dive bar. This is a professional career. We are dealing with people's outward projections of themselves. It's not like a T-shirt that isn't fitting right, that you can just take off and throw in your "what was I thinking” bin. They have to get up and put themselves together. We now live in a world that is overrun with stylists. What will make you stand out among the masses? If you ask me, it's being realistic. Yes, people will always need their hair cut, but they definitely can find someone else to do so if you aren't at the top of your game. As a stylist, what’s the best part about your day?

My clients. I could be in the worst funk ever, but as soon as my client sits in my chair, it's no longer about me. I get to take care of that person. I get the opportunity to make them feel better than when they came in, and I do everything in my power to make that happen. When I achieve that, I am fulfilled. By most “hipster standards”, I’m ultra-conservative when it comes to my haircut and style. If I decided to “go big” and, say, shave the sides of my head and dye my mohawk purple…would you still be my stylist? (Please say yes.) Of course. You will never take someone through a journey like that and not form a bond. I love change and challenge. We need it sometimes to feel alive. I'm here to help you evolve into the person you want to be. With guidance and skill, we can all feel beautiful and good about ourselves every day. You just have to believe it. You can contact Catlin at: Photographer: Darrin Commerford: Catlin’s client: Rachel Summers:



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I had been living in the Ituri Forest, with the Efe Pygmies and Lese farmers, for several months; this was my second long stay there, and these were the days when the country was still called Zaire (it is now the Congo) and before the recent wars started. The research project I was part of had rules about material goods. We were not to display conspicuous wealth (such as seeming to own more than one or two tee-shirts or pairs of shorts) and we were not to treat our stay in the Ituri as a shopping expedition for curios. But it was acceptable to purchase, using cloth as the currency (cash had little use there) a few items to bring back home, and I had just negotiated a deal to obtain a tricked-out likembe. The likembe is a block of wood, possibly hollowed-out, with a set of flat strips of metal attached that are twanged or plucked to make music. The metal strips were made of bicycle spokes cut and pounded into the appropriate shape, which ultimately come from a faraway market. I imagined the company in China that made the bicycles used in Central Africa, and supplied boxes of spokes and other parts as well, wondered why so many spokes were purchased in the Ituri, where there were hardly any of the actual bikes. This particular likembe had an added stick of wood holding a half gourd, dried and hollowed out, and a number of small objects were fixed to the sounding board with some sort of tree sap used as glue. One of the attached objects was a tiny fragment of a broken mirror. After I negotiated a fair price for the likembe, it’s erstwhile owner used the business end of an arrow to pry the mirror fragment off, intending to keep it, and handed me the modified musical instrument. “Why did you just steal that piece of mirror from me!?” I asked. (I had a good joking relationship with the seller.) “I paid a good price for it.” My friend, somewhat sheepishly, took the instrument back from me, and said, “OK, I’ll reattach it. It’s just that ... that’s the only piece of mirror here.” 62 MPLSzine // BEAUTY

I suddenly realized what he meant. Having spent many months in the rain forest, most of the time living in Efe Pygmy camps, I knew that mirrors were simply absent from this culture. I’d never seen a mirror, fragmented or otherwise, in any of the camps prior to that day. I should point out that one of the research projects I worked on involved making inventories, with proper permissions of course, of the possessions of everyone in a camp or village. I had ever only seen a few mirrors in the farmer’s villages, and they are comparatively materialistic and wealthy, the richest people having two or three machetes for gardening, a metal hoe, several cooking pots and two changes of clothing. Among the Efe Pygmies, who don’t live in the villages and move camp every couple of weeks on average, there was nothing like this number of material goods, and I had in fact never recorded a single mirror. When my friend said this was the only piece of mirror here, “here” meant anywhere in the forest where the Efe lived. Naturally, I elected to take the likembe I had paid for sans mirror. But, I should point out the the mirror fragment was too small and too messed up to actually use to see oneself in. It was really just a shiny object suitable for decorating something. BEAUTY// MPLSzine


“Personally, I think the practice of face painting serves a different but related purpose: developing trust.” If beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, then one’s own beauty, in Efe culture, is never observed. But it is nonetheless appreciated. There is a practice, mainly but not exclusively among women, of painting faces. Bodies too, but mainly faces. The “paint” is the clear liquid of a certain fruit, which coincidentially is called “Tatu” (pronounced “Tattoo,” sort of). When this liquid contacts human skin, it turns the skin very dark in an hour or so. In order to see what one is doing, the Tatu juice is mixed with charcoal from a burned log, but the charcoal then wears off, leaving the darkened skin behind for several days. It is a bit like henna. The very darkened area forms a strong contrast against the somewhat dark skin of the Efe’s faces. One does not paint one’s own face. I’m sure it would be possible to learn to do so without making a mess, but that hardly matters, because it simply is not done. Body and face painting among the Efe is one of many different things they do that could be done alone but that is always done with another, often in small groups. This could be a ritual form of bonding, or it could just be a thing you do to pass the time with others. Personally, I think the practice of face painting serves a different but related purpose: developing trust. You give your face to another and assume that the designs they will adorn you with conform to everyone’s expectation of what is beautiful. The Efe do not have written language, but if they did, they would have to trust that someone would not write “Loser” or some other such thing on the forehead of the person they are doing up. The designs themselves have no meaning ever discerned by a Westerner, and many anthropologists have observed them. If you’ve seen “bark cloths” from the region, you will be familiar with the style, because they are decorated with similar geometric patterns. The same sets of patterns may be burned into wooden utensils or the side of the rare drum or other musical instruments, and some likembe are decorated this way as well. My sense, and this is pure opinion, is that the designs really go best on faces, it is on the faces that they belong, and their use elsewhere is an extension of that expression. Perhaps each individual is projecting themselves, in some way, onto these other material objects when they apply those decorations. In this way, one’s own beauty manages to be in the eye of the beholder, even in a culture without mirrors. Photo and Words By Greg Laden

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Profile for MPLS Collective

MPLSzine - The Beauty Issue  

MPLSzine, a submissions-based collaborative digital publication, is the latest project powered by the forces of MPLS Collective, a cornersto...

MPLSzine - The Beauty Issue  

MPLSzine, a submissions-based collaborative digital publication, is the latest project powered by the forces of MPLS Collective, a cornersto...

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