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blackmilkclothing.com


HORS D’OEUVRE Masthead Contributors On Set From the Desk of the Editor

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BEAUTY & WELLNESS It’s Raining Cosmetics: Beauty editor Breana Powell chats makeup with Vegas-based Rain Cosmetics Here Comes the Sun: Think you’re putting on your sunscreen correctly? You may be wrong Five to Fab: Forget that boring beach tote! We’ve got five great bags you need NOW

BEAUTY & WELLNESS Music Lounge: Think all DJs are the same? Meet AFSHeeN, the DJ that doesn’t listen to music! How Safe is Your Safe?: Amanda Chi explores the security of hotel safes Good Eats: Join resident food guy Blake Davidson on a whirlwind drinking adventure through Sin City Pages: Mollie McKenzie heads to the beach to share her top summer reads Made: Guest contributor Amanda Hay shows us how to create the cutest poolside ombre top

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FASHION AND FEATURES

You & Me: How to wear collaboration pieces from Kate Young and Isaac Mizrahi to Lauren Conrad and Melissa shoes! Share Your Where: Emily Van Guilder reminisces about her first trip to Vegas…for a wild bachelorette party! Share Your Wear: What does a cocktail waitress wear to work? Take a peek into the glamorous life of working in Vegas’ hottest clubs! “We’re Not Male Strippers”: You haven’t been to Vegas until you’ve been to Australia. We chat with the hot and humble guys from Vegas’ hottest male revue, Australia’s Thunder From Down Under Wings of a Butterfly: The story of a young girl who’s lost herself searching for identity in Sin City

Always end with something sweet


CAROLINE A. WONG Editor-in-Chief

BRANDON GAMBLE Creative Director

FASHION Fashion Editor COLETTE CHOI Accessories Editor ADRIANE CARRANZA

FEATURES Features Writers LINDY TOLBERT & AMANDA CHI Arts and Leisure Editor MOLLIE MCKENZIE Arts and Leisure Writer BLAKE DAVIDSON

BEAUTY AND WELLNESS Beauty Editor BREANA POWELL Wellness Editor EMILY VAN GUILDER Assistant Wellness Editor BECCA KANTOR

ART Photographer ALEXANDER HERMAN Five to Fab Designer MARIA EUBANKS West Coast Editor ROSIE RYAN UK Editor JENNA ANDERSON


When Mollie McKenzie isn’t writing, she enjoys reading dystopian romances as well as watching classic movies and Bollywood films. Her favorite book of all time is Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

CONTRIBUTORS

july 2013

Born and raised in Orange County, Emily Van Guilder enjoys anything and everything related to outdoor exercise and crafts. She takes a break from nature and DIY projects this month to recount her first trip to Las Vegas in “Share Your Where.” Alexander Herman photographed model Lisa Eberly for this month’s fashion story, “Wings of a Butterfly.” His favorite Vegas club is XS, and after a night of heavy partying, he enjoys recovering at the Wynn hotel.

Breana Powell is a Southern California native. Besides writing and filmmaking, Powell enjoys fashion, makeup, and photography. This month, she interviews Vegas-based brand Rain Cosmetics. Her go-to beauty product is highlighter. Amanda Chi interviewed Tracy Wilson for this month’s “Share Your Wear.” Chi’s recent adventures include deep-water soloing in Mallorca, skydiving in Atlanta, and hiking up a volcano in Italy.

Hail Nowak is a photographer based in Southern California. She took the photos for “Here Comes the Sun.” Nowak describes her own sunscreen routine as “Lather, bake, repeat.” Adriane Carranza lives in Los Angeles. Whenever she can get away, she visits Las Vegas, where she likes to “day drink while shopping at the fab boutiques” or “party it up all night at Marquee or XS.”

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Amanda Hay shares her tips for creating the perfect summer cover-up as a guest contributor for this month’s “Made” column. She says that her favorite summer clothing item is the sundress.

Tastevin Magazine July 2013

What do you think? We’d love to hear from you! Send your thoughts on the July issue to letters@tastevinmag.com or go to TastevinMag.com and visit the Contact page. All submissions become the property of Tastevin and may be edited, published, or otherwise used in any medium.


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On Set

Eberly actually was in a brace for an old injury at the time of the shoot. Concerned for her wellbeing, the Tastevin team chose to communicate the drama of the story through the narrative of the bed so Eberly could pose AND rest!

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Tastevin Magazine July 2013

THIS PAGE: COURTESY OF LISA EBERLY. OPPOSITE PAGE: ALEXANDER HERMAN (TOP), CAROLINE A. WONG (BOTTOM)

Our staff photographer, Alexander Herman, shot model Lisa Eberly at a residential home in Beverly Hills for this month’s fashion story shoot, “Wings of a Butterfly.” Fun fact: Eberly actually inspired the name of the story’s protagonist, Lisa Jenkins. Herman tried to capture the rumpled bed look and haunted quality in Eberly’s portrayal of Lisa Jenkins.


Eberly brought a bottle of champagne to the set, so Herman threw it on the bed with a pair of Christian Louboutin heels to evoke the wild spin Eberly’s character takes in the story.

This is a view from a balcony of the actual Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas and helped inspire the locale of the story. 5


from the desk of the

EDITOR

The first time I ever visited Las Vegas was when my older cousin turned twenty-one, which was apparently a family event back when I was eight since our entire family flew over to Nevada. We were staying at what was then the Treasure Island hotel, now simply TI, and since I was just a kid, the only thing that really held my interest for very long was the arcade. As an only child without brothers to teach her the ways of Nintendo, however, real arcade games were out of my league. Stuck with few options, I was most enamored with the odd, carnival-type, ladder-climbing obstacle course, the prize for which was an obscenely large stuffed animal that would have required its own seat on the airplane. Nevertheless, I wanted to win badly, if only to prove that I could beat that infuriatingly difficult swinging ladder. I think the guy running the game felt bad for me, or else realized my chances at succeeding were quite hopeless, because he eventually let me keep trying even though my stash of quarters had long run out. I never won that stuffed animal (a fact for which I’m sure my parents were secretly glad), but my enjoyment of the City of Sin was cemented at that young age. On the trip home, I actually cried as the plane flew over the Luxor pyramid and composed a song to the Vegas Strip, the lyrics and melody of which now escape me. Fast forward to the present, and I’m still writing about Sin City (although everyone can rest assured that I’ve left my ditty-writingdays behind me).

I think the magic of the Vegas Strip, for me at least, is in knowing that everyone is there to have a good time. It’s a weird place of eternal vacationing, an adult Disneyland if you will. Sure, there might be the occasional girl sitting on the sidewalk amongst scattered advertisements featuring Topless Hotties Direct 2 U, and yeah, she might be crying over a lost phone or a broken pair of heels, but hey—that’s part of the charm. And speaking of charm, I got to chat with four charming Aussies from the hot male revue, Australia’s Thunder From Down Under. Check out our interview (“We’re Not Male Strippers” page 60) and make sure you’re sitting down because you might swoon! As for the rest of our Vegas-inspired issue, take a peek at the makeup from Vegas-based brand Rain Cosmetics (“It’s Raining Cosmetics” page 8) and learn what it’s really like to be a cocktail waitress working at one of the hottest clubs on the Strip (“Share Your Wear: Tracy Wilson” page 51). Viva Las Vegas!

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Tastevin Magazine July 2013


p U r e k c u P

Beauty Editor Breana Powell shares the lip stain that Always stays Red

It’s Raining Cosmetics

W

hen I tell the girls from Rain Cosmetics that Southern California has been experiencing skies with highs in the 70s and 80s, they laugh. “It’s supposed to be 112 this Saturday,” says Rain Cosmetics general manager, Danielle Capps. As I gasp, I remember that summertime in Las Vegas is always absolutely bananas, a glitzy oven that shows no mercy. But as the sun attempts to scorch the pretty faces of Sin City, Rain Cosmetics plays protector and magician, delivering long-wear products that don’t let

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Tastevin Magazine July 2013

the heat, or even the hustle and bustle of busy days, win. About four years ago, Rain Cosmetics came to fruition through the vision of owner Lori Krause Montoya. Montoya says, “It was just a passion of mine to help women of Las Vegas, since we do have extreme heat and we have a lot of people who are in the industry. They were looking for a product that was long-wearing but also light enough so you don’t feel like you’re wearing a lot of makeup. And I just wanted to create something new for the professional per-

CAROLINE A. WONG

You’re guaranteed to hit the jackpot with this Vegas-based makeup line. Beauty editor Breana Powell chats with Rain Cosmetics about staying beautiful amongst the glamorous.


son and also the everyday woman.” Besides the high-quality of the line’s products, the brand’s success can also be attributed to the company making noise in the world of pageants. Montoya explains, “We started with one of the local pageants here at an expo, and we just made the right connections. I gave out a lot of our products to the sponsors and all the girls that were in the competition, and it’s just snowballed into, you know, now working with the Trump Organization. This is our third year now with Miss USA.” The Rain Cosmetics team did the makeup for all the contestants, including Miss Connecticut who was named Miss USA 2013. Participating in any pageant, especially the illustrious Miss USA pageant, requires a glamorous, well-groomed look at all times, and Rain Cosmetics tackles this challenge with ease. Says Capps, “These girls, when they come here for the pageants, it’s not just a one day thing. They arrived here on May 30th and the pageant is June 16th. We start working with them three weeks prior to the pageant, and every day for these girls is jam-packed with events. They’re up at 6 a.m. in their full face of makeup.” Montoya notes that pageant girls love the Rain line “because it does stay on all day long. You apply it once, and you don’t really have to worry about touching up. It’s a proven formula for us.” Browsing the line’s website, potential customers will not only find rave reviews on all of the products, but also testimonials from Miss USA Contestants. Many reviewers also give kudos to the beautiful packaging of Rain Cosmetics, which helps set the products on par with luxury goods rather than simple makeup compacts. The site also showcases Rain Cosmetics’ team of makeup artists who provide bridal services, workshops, and professional programs for those wanting to expand their cosmetics expertise. The nice and inviting thing about Rain Cosmetics is that the line doesn’t limit itself to one type of client, with its artists serving as a testament of this.

As Capps says, “We have tried to round out our team to have a little bit of everything because, [with] our makeup, there’s something for everybody. We want our artists to be able to work with all types of people in all different realms, whether they are taking engagement photos or they’re going to perform that night or walk the red carpet. Whatever it is, we try to find really versatile people who can really adapt and work with all of our clients.” Rain Cosmetics makes sure to keep inspiration for the line fresh. Montoya explains, “I’m constantly looking at the future. I always go into stores, and the first thing I do is go to the makeup counter and see what’s new or hot

and what’s trending. And then we all brainstorm. We sit at our big white desk, and we pick products that we would like to have, test it out, and go from there.” Capps addresses the importance of feedback for the line: “We also speak a lot with all of our makeup artists that are really out on the set and get a lot of feedback from the clients that we work with on what’s working, what isn’t working, what’s out there that they’re missing, what could make life easier or

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THIS PAGE: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / OPPOSITE PAGE: CAROLINE A. WONG

better or more fun or fabulous for them. [We] really try to incorporate that into future products that we put out into the market.” I asked Montoya to share some of her favorite beauty tips and tricks. “You really want to stick to your own natural beauty. I wouldn’t go too heavy on any of the products. Our Conceal…Reveal [Flawless Foundation is] great for summertime. Apply a light coat on your face—it has a nice coverage to it, hides blemishes, and has SPF 15 in it,” advises Montoya. She continues, “Our bronzers are amazing. If you just want to feel like you’ve been out in the sun, you can add a little bit to your cheekbones, and it doesn’t make you look too cakey. You can put it on your arms, on your chest, and it gives you a nice glow.” What are some of Montoya’s favorite products? “One of our new eye palettes—‘Girl Next Door’—is one of my favorites. I wear it every day. I just love it. I swear I wear it every day. When I go to the gym, I put a little bit on, and then at night when I want to vamp up my look, I just add a little bit more. The layering on our products is amazing.” So let’s raise a toast to Rain Cosmetics, who help women get through the day with fewer makeup applications and save time for the important stuff, like cocktails by the pool. With the spirit of Las Vegas packaged into every product, your makeup prayers have been answered. Cheers!


Get Pretty Now! We spotlight products from the Rain Cosmetics line

Conceal…Reveal Flawless Foundation SPF 15 ($28) We love this foundation because it’s so damn light! At first we were dubious about the product’s heavylooking creamy texture out of the tube, but it’s actually more of a mousse. With a paddle brush, the formula goes on silky smooth. It’s the lightest makeup with the most coverage that we’ve ever used (and trust us, we’ve sampled a LOT of products). While this is not necessarily television quality HD, this foundation has more than enough coverage for everyday wear, layers easily without getting thick or cakey, and comes in six great shades. We’re in love!

Glowing Blush ($24) and You Make Me Blush Brush ($26)

We tried the Glowing Blush in ‘Strip Tease’ and applied it with the super soft blush brush. Oh. My. God. This blush is super pigmented, and the brush deposits serious color. We loved the feel of it but had to redo our makeup to avoid looking like a doll. This blush, which comes in two other shades, is great for the club—but if you try it for work, go easy on the application.

Gloss of Fame ($18)

If you’re desperate for a lip gloss that adds moisture, stays put, and looks shiny without being sticky, this is your gloss! Just be sure to lightly blot with a tissue after you apply. We especially loved it in the universally flattering ‘Berry Manilow’ shade.


Rain Cosmetics artists apply makeup for Miss Connecticut contestant Erin Brady. Brady went on to win the 12 USA Tastevin 2013 Miss title!Magazine July 2013


Glam Lipstick ($20) With fifteen shades, the Glam Lipsticks offer a great range. We’re usually not big lipstick girls, but Rain’s formula glides on smoothly, staying moist and bright. And the color stayed on through a pizza dinner! We might just be converts. Try it in ‘With the DJ’—a fun, girly pink that will get you into the DJ booth! (Colors shown, from left: ‘With the DJ,’ ‘Cocktail Hour,’ and ‘Private Jet.’)

Eye Shadow Collection ($38)

These super-sleek palettes, which each contain five colors as well as a dual-ended applicator brush, are stunning. We had no qualms about slipping this silver beauty into our clutches for a night out. The palettes come with an instruction guide that even came in handy for us beauty pros. And as for what’s in the palettes themselves, the powders go on smoothly and don’t budge or crease. Because, really, who wants to be thinking about their eye makeup on the dance floor? (Palette shown: ‘Girl Next Door’)

THIS PAGE: CAROLINE A. WONG; OPPOSITE PAGE: COURTESY OF RAIN COSMETICS

Drama Lash ($12)

We were most excited to try on these dramatic lashes. With five options featuring fun names like ‘Attention Whore’ and ‘Hot Mess,’ who wouldn’t want to wear them? The lashes were easy to apply and, while they added just the right amount of drama, didn’t look obscene on our faces. The only thing that would make these sets better is if the lash glue was included in the kit. These falsies are so great that we’re wearing them every weekend!

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Here

Comes

the

Sun

Photos by Hail Nowak


Think you finally got that sunscreen routine down? Check in with Becca Kantor to find out if you’ve got it right!

B

y now, we’re in the full heat of summer, and I have one question for you: Are you taking care of your skin? This is the time for reclining by the pool, but it’s also the time for aching, red sunburns. Here are the things you need to know to pick the right sunscreen, apply it correctly, and keep your skin healthy for the rest of the summer.

Go Broad or Go Home

Start smart by choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both ultraviolet-A (UVA) and ultraviolet-B (UVB) light. UVA rays penetrate the skin much deeper than do UVB rays and are known to have long-term effects such as wrinkles and, potentially, skin cancer. UVB rays are dangerous too because they cause sunburns and may also contribute to skin cancer. Need there be more reason to choose broadspectrum? Also, it’s best to go with a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Wrinkles are highly aging, so why pay for those Botox injections when you can go the cheaper route of a great sunscreen?

The Earlier, the Better I usually don’t put sunscreen on until I go outside, but I’ve been doing it wrong for years. You should apply sunscreen at least 20 to 30 minutes before you actually go outside so that your skin has time to absorb the sunscreen. How much sunscreen you use is just as important. Most experts say that people should use an ounce of sunscreen for themselves—about the size of a golf ball, or enough to fill up a shot glass. Another tip that most people don’t know about? Apply a lip balm with SPF 30 or higher to your lips because skin cancer can form on the lips too.

Whenever, Wherever

Sunscreen is needed the most between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. because that’s when the sun is at its most intense. Even if you’re not outside during those exact times, you should always put on sunscreen if you’re planning on being out of the house. And yes, that includes even when it’s cloudy outside—UV light can penetrate clouds. Some dermatologists even believe it should be called “day screen” and recommend

wearing sunscreen during all daylight hours because UV light can also filter in through your windows.

Reapply, Reapply, Reapply

Putting on sunscreen once a day won’t do you any good. Reapply sunscreen about every two hours. Definitely reapply if you’re swimming. Most people use water-resistant sunscreen but think that means the sunscreen is waterproof. It’s not. Waterresistant sunscreens only hold for about 40-80 minutes in the water. If you’ve been in the water for that long, make sure you dry off and reapply as soon as you can.

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Cream vs. Spray

Don’t Stop at Sunscreen

Spray sunscreen has risen in popularity because of how easy it is to apply. But it might be better to go old school and use sunscreen lotion. There are concerns that the chemicals in spray sunscreen could be harmful if inhaled. While scientists are conducting studies on this, for now, go with the safer, FDA approved sunscreen cream.

Keeping your skin healthy for the summer doesn’t end with sunscreen. Make sure to keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables because they also hydrate your skin and have tons of antioxidants. And if you can, treat yourself to a facial. Do all this, and you and your skin will be able to beat the heat!

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Five to Fab

Looking for the ultimate handbag guide? It’s right here. Accessories Editor Adriane Carranza acts as your personal shopper to get your handbag closet just right! As a born shopaholic, I don’t get more excited than when I see an amazing bag to add to my collection. A good handbag is an investment. You have to think about the value of the bag and what use you’ll get out of it. Handbags are not only an investment piece, but they also add the finishing touch to an outfit. I look at handbags as an easy way to put a look together without putting too much thought or effort into what I’m wearing. I would love to be the girl that has an amazing designer handbag collection, but as a young adult living through the recession, I have to be realistic. With some careful budgeting, however, I have found ways to buy my must-have bags. So here it goes!

Classic Ladylike Bag

My personal style tends to be on the conservative side, but I feel that every woman needs a ladylike handbag that will take them from the office to cocktails with friends. My pick is a Kate Spade black quilted handbag from the Gold Coast collection. I have been rocking this lovely handbag for about two years now, and since it is a basic black quilted bag, it will never be out of style. I love this handbag because it has plenty of space to store my iPad without being too oversized. This bag is my go-to everyday bag because it has plenty of compartments and can be used as a handbag carried in the crook of the elbow or as a shoulder bag tossed casually over the arm.

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Party Bag

I am OBSESSED with my Rebecca Minkoff Mini Mac bag. I purchased this lovely bag in a hot pink that adds a perfect pop of color to any party outfit. I tend to wear a lot of black when I go out for an event, so hot pink always adds a bight pop to my party outfits. If you tend to go on the colorful side with your party outfits, opt for a white or black Mini Mac. This bag is a steal at $195 a pop, but if that still doesn’t fit in your budget, wait until the end of the season. Most department stores have clearance sales at which you can grab this bag at an amazing price!

Collection Handbag

I saved, saved, and saved for my Marc Jacobs quilted satchel in a pretty petal color. This is a classic handbag inspired by the iconic Chanel quilted handbags with the metal chain. This is bag you wear when you want to be noticed. Every time I take this bad boy out of its dust bag and hit the town, I receive compliments on the color and style. It’s important that you choose a collection handbag from a designer that fits your style. The classy girl should consider Chanel, Prada, or YSL. For the trendier girl, Céline, Miu Miu, and Marc Jacobs are good choices. And the ecofriendly should go with the always stylish Stella McCartney, who doesn’t use leather or fur in her products. No matter which designer you end up choosing, make sure that the piece reflects who YOU are.


TIPS FOR CARE AND WEAR

Keep and use your dust bags!

Wear To Work (or School)

Having lived in the UK, I was inspired by the classic school boy satchels that I saw everywhere. When I finally tracked down the Cambridge Satchel Company, I knew I just had to have one of their satchels that you can design and customize yourself. I mean, how amazing is it to design your own satchel?! I choose the batchel option in a saddle color. These bags are handcrafted, and you can have your initials embossed right onto the bag. This handcrafted treasure is a steal at $190, excluding embossed letters. The Cambridge Satchel Company also partners with other retailers like ASOS, Henri Bendel, Bloomingdales, and Nieman Marcus to create limited edition pieces in fun colors and funky prints.

Timeless Clutch

Bring out that special clutch for a special night! My go-to is my Ted Baker spring-inspired clutch. This is not really a bag that you can use for every night out on the town since it is such a statement piece. I live in California so I don’t need to worry about the seasonal-appropriateness of the bag, but for those of you that live elsewhere, this bag works best for

Closets can be rough if you don’t keep your handbags in their protective dust bags. If you want your handbag to last, store them in the dust bag they came in to protect it from dust, discoloration, and anything that might attack the fabric. You can also buy dust bags online if you lost the original.

Keep the tags in the bag.

Most designer handbags come with some sort of warranty so keep the tags handy. I keep mine in the zipper pouch on the inside so that they’re easy to find later. Saving the receipt also works.

A lady is always prepared.

Your bag should always have these items to ensure that you are ready for whatever the day brings: pen, compact mirror, lip balm, lotion, hair ties, checkbook, and your planner. It keeps you organized and prepared.

ADRIANE CARRANZA

Keep it clean!

The fast pace of the city life means that a girl has to have her survival essentials in her bag, but treat your bag with care and make sure to clean it out and condition the leather often. This prolongs the life of the bag and protects your investment! You can easily purchase a bottle of leather cleaner and protective spray when you buy your new handbag.

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MUSIC LOUNGE

We wanted to really capture AFSHeeN in his element, so instead of a full blown interview, we just had the DJ/producer spin us some sound bites! By Lindy Tolbert What’s your non-stage name? Afshin Salmani Afshin Salmani TM AS TM AS TM AS TM AS TM AS

How old are you? 25 Where do you live? Los Angeles Where DID you live? The Bay Area When did you move? The summer of 2009 You’re also a producer? Yes

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What are your responsibilities as a producer? To stay honest with my music. Who have you worked with that you loved? Everyone I’ve met or worked with [have been] nice and passionate people. If I had to name a few, I’d say Lindsey Stirling and Kerli. TM Anyone you’ve hated? AS There are couple of artists I didn’t vibe with, but “hate” is a strong word. TM What kind of music do you work with? AS I don’t really like to limit myself. I like to make all types of music. If I had to narrow it down, I’d say dance music. TM What do you personally listen to? AS Honestly, I don’t really have that much time to listen to TM AS TM AS

COURTESY OF THE SUBJECT

Tastevin Magazine


music, but I love all different styles as long as it’s honest music and not cheaply produced. TM Do you play trance? AS I mainly play my own productions or my edits and mash-ups of certain tracks I admire. They all range from melodic and trance-y stuff to heavy bass music. TM Do you talk in your show? AS I only talk when I need to let the crowd know about a new track I’m about to play or something like that. But mostly I let the music do the talking. TM How long does an average gig run?

AS My sets can be anywhere from an hour to two hours. TM How many people in a crowd are ideal? AS I don’t really care about the number of people, as long as they’re there for the music and are really into it. It could be 20 people and it’d still be a really fun show. TM Do you have an entourage? AS NOT SURE lol TM Are they friends, DJs, producers? AS Yes, sometimes my DJ and producer friends and my manager.

*

Check out AFSHeeN’s music bites at afsheenmusic.com 23


o you’re the type who loves to travel, loves to gamble, and loves to carry large wads of cash? Then you also love your in-room hotel safe—but how safe is your safe? A standard hotel safe is about the length and width of a laptop and about as tall as a soda can. They’re most often “hidden” in closets, by bedsides, or in dresser drawers, but if you’re an amateur thief, or even just an avid traveler, they’re not all that hard to find. That’s when the locking mechanism on the safe is supposed to come in to play. Hotel safes are electronically coded. Typically, you follow the instructions to reset the safe and then enter your own series of numerical digits as a new password. If you ever forget your code or if something happens to the safe, you can always call the hotel concierge. They’ll send up engineering or security to open it. The hotel representative will then use the hotel’s master code to open the safe. Each hotel can set its own different master code, but in the case of some resorts, these mysterious master codes might be a

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little easy to guess. We talked to one guest at a hotel in Canada who set his own multi-digit code on his room’s safe and locked his valuables inside. To test the safe’s security, he entered “00000,” only to find that the safe then unlocked. The hotel had set its master code to all zeroes! With simple reset codes like the one at the Canadian hotel, it’s only too easy for thieves to pickpocket your room key from you and break into your hotel safe. For a lot of people, this could mean losing not only cash, but also jewelry, passports, and credit cards. Thieves can take down the card information and make thousands of dollars in purchases— and you won’t even realize because they’ll leave the card in the safe! For the avid gambler who carries a lot of cash (or also, we suppose, the freelance stripper with an excess of dollar bills), you might want a little more security than the little metal box in your room. Depending on which hotel, the casino safe is sometimes available to high rollers. The Bellagio offers this option to all hotel guests, not just the whales, without any added fees but only if you establish a line

LAUREN WONG

Amanda Chi talks with the biggest hotels in Vegas to investigate whether your room safe is really all that safe.


This is a bad idea

of credit with the casino. If you’re staying at the MGM Grand or Venetian, however, you’re out of luck since these hotels don’t offer access to a larger casino safe. The Wynn told us that registered hotel guests can take advantage of their safety deposit boxes. The only fee is for a lost key. There’s no charge and no minimum value for the items you keep in the box. Other hotels offer this option too, but the details differ from hotel to hotel so you might want to call ahead of time. Another option is buying an additional locking device for your in-room safe. Milockie Hotel Safe Lock is an extra safety measure that you can mount onto your hotel safe, ensuring another round of protection. The lock features a magnetic piece that you mount inside your hotel safe near the opening of the lock contraption. The details of how the lock work might seem fairly complicated, but the end result is that you add your own padlock in addition to the electronic safe door for extra protection. This product from the Netherlands will set you back about 50 euros, but since all

hotel personnel have access to that nasty master code, it may be worthwhile if you’re traveling with a lot of valuables. Other things to consider are travel safes, which are essentially steel mesh bags that can be fixed with small combination locks. Check out Pacsafe Anti-Theft Bags if you want something portable. They’re not big enough to fit a laptop, but it’s good for smaller items like phones, cameras, and wallets. They’re meant more for deterring pick pockets, but you can bring this wherever you travel as another option if you’re weary about hotel safety. Whether or not you use extraneous safety devices or safes, be sure to keep an eye on your valuables. Track how much cash you carry. It’s always possible that people will steal from you and you won’t even notice. Just try these tips because we all know the house wins, but they don’t have to win your safe contents too!

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Good Eats

V

egas is a city of sin: gambling, whoring, consumption of various illegal substances, and of course, drinking. But for a guy of mixed Polish, Russian, Scottish, Irish, and German descent, drinking isn’t really something I think about—it’s just something I do. It’s expected, necessitated even, on trips like this one. It was almost one year ago that I had my Las Vegas cherry popped, and I’m scraping the inside of my brain for details of my first foray into this drunken desert paradise. Vegas is a city remembered in flashes of lights and flesh, everything disjointed, choppy, cha-

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otic. For people my age—or perhaps people of every age, I wouldn’t know—going to Vegas is synonymous with going on a bender. It’s drinking at night, waking up, drinking during the day, and taking stimulants to keep you going through all barbiturate effects of alcohol. And while my first trip didn’t exactly match up to the delirium in Fear and Loathing, everyone’s first trip to Vegas is a milestone to remember… or not remember. I had been to Vegas before I was twenty-one, but it was with parents and it didn’t count. End of story. This time was going to be the first. Just four friends packed like ancho-

COURTESY OF THE SUBJECT

There are the buffets, but then there’s the booze. Join Blake Davidson on his whirlwind alcohol adventure through Vegas. This month, it’s more like “Good Drinks.”


vies into a Toyota Prius and speeding through lascivious behavior. the arid desert towards that neon-tinted city That first night we gambled. And we of vice. Along with us on our two day advendrank the free drinks offered when you play ture were two handles of hard liquor—one of blackjack. And we walked. And we gambled. Jack Daniels slightly less-refined cousin Evan And we drank. I don’t remember much else, Williams and one of Sailor Jerry’s—one two but when I woke up the next day around ten, a liter bottle of Coca-Cola, one thirty-pack of relaxing pool day sounded perfectly in order. Coors Light, and a handful of energy drinks. Then my more tenacious friend cracked a Co I want to clarify that I don’t think Jack ors Light. Game over. We all cracked beers and Daniels is all that refined to begin with; he’s split up. Two of my friends went to search for the kind of friend you call when you’re going a carb-heavy foundation for a day of drinking, to pick a fight with the two-hundred pound and the other guy joined me at the Sin City ball of tattooed sinew pounding Heineken Brewing Co. bar in the hotel to get a couple after Heineken at the of pitchers. The beers bar. So maybe it would were subpar at best. I be more accurate to actually preferred our ick your entourage wisely say Evan Williams is Coors to their Hefethe distant in-bred weizen and especially and place your bets with cousin of any whisto the other pitcher of reckless abandon. key worth drinking their amber ale. But (read as: not my first we weren’t about to choice). I also want to let all of that golden shed some light on the Sailor; while we are brew go to waste. We took turns chugging as good friends at this point, he’s just as likely much of the pitchers as we could until there to up and slug me in the jaw now as he was was nothing but swill left over. We then headthe first time he and I met. Sorry for all of the ed back up to the room where we proceeded personification here, but even at their worst, to fill the pitchers again—one with Evan and I like these guys more than I like a lot of peoCoke, the other with Sailor’s and Coke—beple. At 46% ABV, Sailor Jerry may seem only fore heading down to the pool. Unfortunately, slightly more burly than your standard 40% being the amateurs that we were, we didn’t ABV shot, but watch your footing. It creeps up realize outside drinks are not allowed at the on you. Compare 46% to the relatively tame pool. So we killed the pitchers. Luckily at this 35% found in Captain Morgan and you start point we were drunk enough to only need one to question what kind of pirate this Morgan bucket of overpriced beers in those stupid guy really is. But I digress. aluminum bottles at the pool. So we rolled down the strip looking Again, my memory fades until the latlike players in our Japanese hybrid and pulled er part of the night. I think I skipped dinner. up at the finest Las Vegas resort available: The And lunch is questionable. We ran around the Flamingo. So maybe we didn’t look like playstreets, like the night before, gambling, drinkers and maybe the hotel wasn’t the best one ing. Highlights from the night include meeting available, but it was only a short walk to the “Gaysian Lloyd” from Entourage on the street. Bellagio and Caesar’s. We got settled, mixed Luckily, my friend is a big enough fan to know some strong drinks, killed them, mixed some is actual name is Rex Lee. I don’t know if he stronger ones, made some jokes about finally would have responded as congenially if we “making it” in the world, and headed out for had yelled Gaysian Lloyd, and I had been prean unplanned night of wanton depravity and pared to do that. Another highlight was when

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one of our own entourage was literally hauled up off the sidewalk outside a Margaritaville by his shirt collar by two women in their mid to late thirties. They still owe him a new shirt. Last but not least was hitting my birthday number, twenty-four black, the only two times that I bet on it at the roulette table. Talk about lady luck. So what do I really have to say about my first time in Vegas? Bring your wallet. If you want to do anything worth doing—clubs, tables, bottles, day or night—it’s going to cost you. Not to mention the added expense of hookers and blow, but I digress. Even though my friend was the one that paid for the hotel room and I won somewhere around a grand off the roulette table, I egas is a little sleazy, a still felt like I was getlittle depraved, and a ting ripped off. I was little phony. But it’s also forced to think about every transaction takan experience. ing place. Imagine if I had lost a thousand instead of winning—which, realistically, is much more likely since casinos aren’t built on charity and everybody knows it. Vegas may be a lot of things, but it is not the place to be stingy. You’ve got to act like you’re worth a billion dollars. Gamble. Win. Lose. Spend on anything and everything in sight. Repeat. It is a city of excess, and if you can’t deal with that, don’t go. Yes, Vegas is a little sleazy, a little depraved, a little phony, but it’s also an experience. There’s nothing quite like the flash of lights, the feeling that easy money is right around the corner, and the ability to truly let loose. And as long as you’re willing to pay, it’s always going to be there. So go once a year or twice a year, however much you want. Just don’t halfass it. Pick your entourage wisely and place your bets with reckless abandon. By the way, we finished all the booze. Next time I’m bringing more.

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7

Digging the great-for-summer ombre shirt trend? This month, guest contributor Amanda Hay takes over the “Made” column and shows us how to make your own ombre creation at home. It’s great as a pool cover-up — and it’s surprisingly easy! For All Mankind and Lucky Brand have their own versions. Burberry released a runway show inspired by it. Even Kendall and Kylie Jenner have an iteration in their collaboration with PacSun. Ombre is for more than just hair color now. It’s taking the fashion world by storm, and you can easily get in on all the action. Basically, all you need is a denim shirt of your choice, a pair of latex gloves, a plastic bag, large bowl, and bleach.

I

ALL PHOTOS THIS FEATURE: AMANDA HAY

II III

Take the plastic bag and tie it around the part of the shirt that you don’t want. Tie the bag tight enough so that bleach won’t seep through.

Pour enough bleach into the bowl so that it will completely cover the shirt when you submerse it.

Wearing latex gloves, run your hands over the submerged portion of the shirt to ensure that the bleach is distributed evenly. Think of it as massaging the bleach in. It can take several minutes (up to thirty) before you notice a change in color. 31


IV

Once the shirt reaches the shade you desire, remove it from the bleach bath, wringing out the excess bleach. Then toss the shirt in the washing machine and you’ll have a new dip-dyed shirt!

Done!

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Top 10 Summer Reads

ALL PHOTOS THIS FEATURE: MEGAN MCKENZIE

Need to keep your brain juices flowing this summer? Stay cool by the pool with these hot literary picks from Arts and Leisure Editor Mollie McKenzie!

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ith summer just around the corner, I hereby give you my blessing to finally dive into a real page-turner. So grab your sunscreen, a beach towel, and one of these books for the perfect lazy day! Whether you are looking for a nailbiting mystery, a hot and heavy romance, or just an easy escape, these books will have you so captivated that you won’t even notice that cute surfer boy.

Classic Chick Lit

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

Written in the form of a personal diary, Helen’s Fielding’s novel is a hilarious and, at times, embarrassingly authentic account of the “tragically” single life of 30 year-old Bridget Jones. In the novel, she must face the trials and tribulations of a modern woman—i.e. her bad boy boss, Daniel Cleaver; the arrogant Mr. Darcy; her overbearing mother; smug married couples; and general emotional “fuckwittage.” A reinterpretation of Pride and Prejudice, this book will have you laughing out loud and loving Bridget’s many crazy moments. 33


YA Fiction at its Finest Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

I have to admit that the title on its own sounds a little like that of a paperback romance novel. But fear not, although this riveting sequel to Shatter Me has a bit of a steamy love triangle, it has just as much action, suspense, and intrigue that make for a real page turner, not to mention its unique and somewhat poetic prose. Taking place in a dystopian world, the story follows Juliette, a 17-year old girl whose touch is lethal to everyone except, as we learned in the first novel, to two boys, Adam and Warner. Although the first book in the series is just as wonderful, Unravel Me delves much deeper into Julliette’s character, show ing her flaws and fears and revealing her as a stronger person who owns her power and kicks some butt. Be prepared to put on an extra layer of sunscreen for this one. It’s that good.

For Fantasy Fans

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin Now, I haven’t actually read this book, but it has been on my “Must-Read” list for far too long. I’ve been one of the many to become addicted to the HBO television series and am a big supporter of Daenerys Targaryen (you go, girl!). This is the first of six novels in the Song of Ice and Fire series that introduces the noble houses of Westeros, the Wall, and the Tar garyens’ story. Besides all the rave reviews I’ve heard, I plan to read it just so I can finally get all of their names right!

Angels, Warlocks, and Demons...Oh My! City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

The first book in the urban fantasy series The Mortal Instruments, City of Bones follows Clary Fray, a fifteen year old girl who discovers she is a shadowhunter (half human, half angel) after her mom is attacked and taken from their home in New York City. With the help of her best friend Simon, the arrogant but devilishly good-looking Jace, the fierce and beau tiful Isabelle and her brother Alec, Clary learns the truth about her past while on the quest to save her mom. Be sure to read this one before going to see it in theaters next month. The film premieres August 23rd.

The “Sitting on Pins and Needles” Thriller Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Nick the golden, good boy is looking pretty guilty after his beautiful and clever wife Amy sud denly disappears on their fifth anniversary. Gone Girl is not just a tale of “whodunit?” but also a chilling and witty masterpiece full of twists and turns that will have you simply squirming in suspense.

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A Little More Dystopia Divergent by Veronica Roth

Set in a dystopian world where society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to a specific virtue, Beatrice, later known as Tris, must decide with which faction she will spend the rest of her life. Once she chooses, she undergoes many physical and psychological tests, all while keeping her own little secret, which, if discovered, could mean her death. The first in a trilogy, Divergent keeps you hooked with a budding romance, heartbreaking betrayals, and ever-mounting conflict. The feature film starring Shailene Woodley, Theo James, and Kate Winslet is still filming and set for release in 2014.

The Tearjerker

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green Not your typical cliché sob story, this is a heart-wrenchingly beautiful novel about teenag ers Hazel and Augustine who meet at a cancer support group center. This is Green’s first time writing from a female point-of-view, but he hits it spot on. Hazel is truly an amazing character that you never once pity. And don’t get me started on Augustus...he gives a whole new meaning to the word, “Okay.” Also, in case you were wondering, yes, this is yet another novel that is being made into a blockbuster film.

Go Ahead! Jump on the Bandwagon Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Okay, seriously if you haven’t read this by now, it’s about time. At least make a point to read it before the movie comes out in November. In the sequel to The Hunger Games, Kat niss and Peeta try to settle in to post-victor life. But when Katniss becomes the face of the rebellion, President Snow makes it very clear that he is not finished with her. And besides all the serious political debacles, there is the ever-mounting sexual tension in the love tri angle. Who will she pick—the faithful Peeta or loyal best friend Gale? Personally, this is my favorite book in the series.

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Let us help you heat up your summer style! For July, Caroline A. Wong takes a critical look at designer collaborations and styles you with pieces from Kate Young for Target and Isaac Mizrahi for Chevy Malibu—with a quick note on LC by Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s and Melissa for Forever 21!

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T

he weather’s getting warmer, but that’s no excuse to let your fashion sense melt away. There are hundreds of designer collaborations out there to keep you looking cool, even as the temperature rises! Kate Young for Target is just one of those collaborations. I’m always a fan when Target pairs up with a designer—SO stoked for their Phillip Lim collection coming out in September—but this was a slight veering off the well-beaten path. Kate Young is a celebrity stylist that got her start moving up the fashion ranks at Vogue, so she’s obviously fashion-savvy but hasn’t necessarily proven herself as a designer. I admired the sketches of the clothes that were released prior to the collection’s launch and was especially looking forward to the elegant black and white column gown with the large bow on the back. But when I got my hands on the actual dress, I could only, sadly, remind myself not to fall in love with something you see in pictures.


Unfortunately—and surprisingly for a Target collaboration—the quality of the pieces in Young’s collaboration was inconsistent. Certain dresses, like that sleek column dress for example, were poorly sewn and, in some cases, were literally coming apart at the seams. But I did choose one favorite that blew everything else out of the park: a strapless, satiny little black dress with an exaggerated front bow. Initially, I wasn’t even going to try on the dress, but I was so disheartened by the other pieces that I gave it a shot. Second lesson learned: ALWAYS TRY IT ON. The dress was correctly proportioned and featured all the special details that you’d find on a more expensive garment, such as pockets and wiring in the bow to keep its shape. While it’s definitely a good idea to have a LBD, most people might suggest that you not necessarily throw all your money into buying “fancy dresses.” They’re wrong. And here’s why:

Kate Young Look 1

ALL PHOTOS: BRANDON GAMBLE

A few months ago, Emma Stone rocked a shirt-under-dress look on the red carpet. The look totally works for us “real people” and is insanely practical. Think of all the extra wear you’ll get out of your going-out dresses! For brunch (or even high tea with your lady friends), keep it casual—but not sloppy—by wearing pointed-toe flats and adding a floppy hat. With this look, you can totally stay fashion forward while also being eco-conscious: reduce, reuse, recycle! You’ll definitely be able to reuse your party dresses with this simple layering fix. This page: Dress, Kate Young for Target, $60. Cotton top, Banana Republic, $55. Studded flats, BCBGeneration, $90. Hat, H&M, $15. Woven recycled-paper wristlet, Nahui Ollin, $25. Rain Cosmetics makeup colors throughout: Conceal...Reveal Flawless Foundation in ‘Golden Garter,’ Eye Shadow Collection palette in ‘Girl Next Door,’ and Drama Lash false eyelashes in ‘Atten39 Whore.’ Tastevin Magazine July 2013 tion


Kate Young Look 2 Sometimes you just have to go with making a LBD what it is—a LBD. To really let the bow detail pop, don’t wear a necklace. This is true of every dress with drama up top; a necklace would only compete. And as far as jewelry goes, go with quality over quantity. I opted for a striking gold cuff to reference the gold and leopard print straps on the heels. And for heels: the higher, the better! You’re going out. It’s no time to skimp on height here. Take a cab at the end of the night if your feet tell you that you have to. When styling a dress with its own dramatic details, accessorize with drama—but do so sparingly to keep it elegant.

About the Isaac Mizrahi for Chevy Malibu Collaboration Blazer, Zara, $100. Yes,H&M, there Tank, $10.have been stranger collaborations Skirt, (Kate Love byMoss’s stint with raw fish chain PrabalShop, Gurungfor one), but what confuses me Sushi for Target, $30.Isaac Mizrahi’s partnership with most is that Sunglasses, Kate Chevy Malibu resulted in clothing. I mean, it’s Spade, $160. not every Clutch, Gap,day $30.that I walk into a Chevy dealership looking Wedges, Aldo, $80.for a new pair of jeans. But

Mizrahi’s collaboration resulted in just that, a new line of clothes. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the pieces from the collection were notably well-made and easy to dress up or down. The Chevy Malibu pairing was a weird call, but at least Mizrahi did a great job with the clothes.

This page: Dress, same as previous. Gold cuff, Forever 21, $15. Gold and leopard print sandals, Bebe, $180. Lipstick: Rain Cosmetics Glam Lipstick in ‘Cocktail Hour.’

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Isaac Mizrahi Look 1 To bring a silk blouse into “casual” territory, add a pair of cut-offs for a “I look fabulous and didn’t even try” vibe. The playful print on the shorts pairs well with the fun jelly shoes, but the blouse keeps the outfit in adult territory. And don’t be afraid to throw in a colorful purse on top of those bright sandals. The saturation of the colors balances the pieces out. A note on the shorts: These Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s cut-offs completely caught me off guard. They’re soft, comfy, and really wellmade. I’ll probably be able to get years of wear out of them. Run to Kohl’s and buy them now! And now a note on the sandals: While these sandals were incredibly comfortable and had a great design, the other pieces in Melissa’s Forever 21 collaboration were a little too junior-department (ahem, giant plastic owls on the strap). The real problem, however, is actually good news for shoppers and bad news for Melissa. When it comes to jelly shoes especially, I’m not going to shell out $150 for a pair in the Melissa boutique when I can pay $25 for a pair with the same brand name. The pitfalls of designer collaborations!

This page: Silk top, Isaac Mizrahi for Chevy Malibu, $190. Jean shorts, LC by Lauren Conrad for Kohl’s, $45. Mini-wedge sandals, Mel for Forever 21, $25. Wayfarer sunglasses, Ray Ban, $150. Necklace, H&M, $15. Lori hobo bag, Kate Spade, $460. This page, lip gloss: Rain Cosmetics Gloss of Fame in ‘Berry Manilow.’ Previous spread: Silk top, same. Necklace, same. Previous spread, lipstick: Rain Cosmetics Glam Lipstick in ‘With the DJ.’


Isaac Mizrahi Look 2 Shorts for night? You got it! Keep your summer evenings—and outfits—cool, but pay attention to the fabric to make it more cocktails-appropriate. A leather-look short is dressier, and shiny heels amp up the volume. The key is really in the blouse. It’s elegant, so it absolutely eliminates the potential hookerfactor of a shorts-with-mirrored-pumps look. Add a sleek clutch to show that you’re unfussy and that you’re not too weighed down for a night of dancing. Throw on a long necklace to highlight your neckline, and you’re ready to hit the town.

This page: Silk top, same as previous. Leatherlook shorts, Forever 21, $25. Mirrored-heel pumps, Prada, $760. Necklace, same as previous. Ring, vintage. Gunmetal clutch, Marc Jacobs for Neiman Marcus + Target, $70. Lipstick: Rain Cosmetics Glam Lipstick in ‘With the DJ.’


AVAILABLE NOW! Get it on the iTunes store or at www.jaydentonmusic.com


Las Vegas

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omehow, I miraculously managed to live in Southern California and go to college in Los Angeles without going on a mandatory pilgrimage to nearby Las Vegas, Nevada. And by the time I actually got around to visiting Vegas, I was already 22, and I’m really not sure how I managed that. Not going to lie: I felt a little lame about it. Most of my friends were already on their tenth trip by the time my first visit came around. As it turns out, however, I’m glad I waited. I couldn’t have planned a better first experience than the one I had. Everyone probably says this about their vacations, but I really mean it because my trip was absolutely free. Yup, you read it correctly: free. At the end of last year, my best friend Caroline, who

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coincidentally happens to be the Tastevin Editor-in-Chief and a Vegas Fanatic Extraordinaire, entered TAO’s Facebook contest to win an all-expenses-paid vacation for the winner and three friends to TAO’s 1st Annual World’s Largest Bachelorette Party (WLBP). By some smiling-down from the glitzy Vegas gods, she won the contest and invited Mollie (Tastevin Arts and Leisure Editor), bachelorette Anna, and me along for what promised to be five auspicious nights in the desert. The adventure actually started on my drive to Los Angeles’ airport, LAX, a drive that was anything but punctual and was made all the more stressful thanks to typical Los Angeles congestion on the freeway. I was panicking in my car, hands gripping the wheel, thinking

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF EMILY VAN GUILDER

Share Your Where

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas—unless your entire trip is caught on tape! Emily Van Guilder recounts her first trip to Sin City for a friend’s wild bachelorette ride, courtesy of hot Vegas club TAO.


that I’d have to bowl through the airport in my sparkly earrings and tight dress, knocking aside toddlers whilst yelling “GET OUT OF MY WAY I’VE NEVER BEEN TO VEGAS!” It was my first trip, and I was beyond determined to make sure I would actually get there. Thankfully, contrary to my overactive imagination, I was actually twenty minutes early and did not break out any melodramatics. But believe me—I would have done it. Anna wouldn’t be joining us until the following evening and Caroline was flying from New York, so just Mollie and I boarded a plane at LAX for our swift flight to Vegas. We met Caroline at the Palazzo and zoomed up to our two suites, graciously comped by the TAO Group for the WLBP trip. I pushed open the heavy door to one of the suites and will admit that some feminine squealing ensued. I know it’s campy to say this, but I actually felt like a princess. I mean, it’s not like I get to stay at the Ritz every weekend, so I was more than impressed with everything—from the huge tub in the bathroom to the sunken lounge area to the comfy robes. I almost wanted to stay in the suites and just never leave. I was eventually convinced to experience the Vegas that existed outside the hotel room and followed the girls downstairs to meet up with our lovely hostess, Savannah Moline, the Bachelorette Sales and Marketing Coordinator for TAO Group. Savannah slapped some hot pink wristbands on our wrists—they’d allow us free drinks and VIP access to clubs—and, with what we would learn is her typical stiletto-clad fierceness, marched us straight past the lines and into TAO nightclub. Talk about VIP treatment. The princess feeling continued. Upon entering the dimly lit club, I was immediately glad that I had gone to a lot of frat parties in college because keggers are basically training wheels for Vegas clubs. TAO, of course, is a little bit louder, with better quality alcohol and fewer Hawaiian shirts, but

about the same ratio of cute to sleazy guys. Our WLBP wristbands allowed open bar access for our first hour in the club and, without giving away too many personal details, I’ll just say that I made good use of that wristband. It’s Vegas, baby! The funny thing about Vegas is that the fun doesn’t only happen in the clubs. On our way back from our first night in TAO, we ran into a bachelor party (who refused to believe we were also celebrating our friend’s engagement, and with good reason since our bachelorette hadn’t actually arrived yet) as well as what appeared to be a serial killer dragging a duffle bag full of dead body parts. Eek! It ended up just being a guy bringing his luggage up to his friends’ room, but when he introduced himself, Caroline was quick to point out that his name was eerily similar to that of the Ice Truck Killer from Showtime’s hit serial killer drama, Dexter.

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The next day, I discovered that another bonus of our WLBP wristbands was “skipping-the-line” access to the TAO Beach day club as well as spots in the WLBP-only cabana, which was center stage and overlooked the pool. When compared to their nighttime relative, day clubs only differ in that they involve vitamin D and giant pool fights. My advice: If you want to maintain gorgeously styled hair, keep at least 15 feet away from any pool edge at ALL times. The one excep-

pendales guys then arrived for a photo op. I wouldn’t say that I was freaking out and excited about meeting the strippers, but I felt it would be a cool novelty story I’d be able to whip out at parties. That being said, I actually can’t really say I met any strippers because when we went to go take our pictures, the Chippendales guys barely even said “hi” to us. As we prepped for the picture, I moved to put my arms around the guy I was standing

tion to this rule was a pretty blond girl who inexplicably managed to maintain her perfectly curled hair while these splash parties happened. She didn’t even spill her drink! I was left to assume she was an alien. But back to those pool fights…all it takes is one particularly rambunctious—and probably inebriated—fellow to start a seemingly harmless splash bonanza. Within seconds, the scale of said fight can escalate exponentially, dousing nearby victims in a tidal wave of one part water and two parts beer. In the WLBP cabana, we were served Skinny Girl vodka drinks and hors d’oeuvres courtesy of TAO restaurant. A couple of Chip-

next to—a normal, friendly, picture-taking gesture—but this stripper definitely did not seem okay with that. He instead decided to strike some Hulk-like pose with his hands. Maybe it was to accent the sex appeal of his Chippendales cuffs? Or to exhibit his arm muscles to their fullest? I’m still not sure. I think I decided to drown my embarrassment in the pool because I joined in on the splash party and didn’t even care that my hair was getting wet. I didn’t show up at the pool with pageant curls anyway! That night, Anna would be arriving, and so we met Savannah and the camera crew at our limo to greet our bachelorette at

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the airport. Because Caroline was the contest winner, TAO and WLBP wanted to film a lot of our weekend experience to use for the following year’s promotional video (up on the TAO site now if you want to check it out). I was definitely hesitant about the whole filming bit. I mean, I did garner quite a bit of experience playing the role of Bilbo Baggins in my seventh grade class’s debut performance of The Hobbit, but I’m no Kardashian reality bunny. Participating in a promotional video advertising how cool our weekend was definitely had me worried that I would appear very obviously “uncool”. I’m a geologist, and we’re not exactly known for being super hip (although we’ve been known to rock…yeah, cue my uncoolness). When Anna finally arrived, the escalator slowly swept her down into our swooping hugs and yet another round of feminine squealing—but this time it was encouraged for the cameras. We reenacted her arrival about three times, and I could only think, “So this is how Kim Kardashian lives her life—in repeats!” The drive back to the hotel in the limo was definitely a blast. I was given the precarious responsibility of opening the Lanson champagne bottle in a moving vehicle, but I think I did a particularly good job with my bottle-opening duty, if only because I didn’t take anyone’s eyes out. We had to drink the champagne up pretty quickly, because they wanted to get a shot of us opening the Skinny Girl vodka as well (Lanson and Skinny Girl were both sponsors of the 1st Annual WLBP). Mollie, who needed to toast with some Skinny Girl but hadn’t quite finished her flute of Lanson decided to toss the rest of her champagne out of the limo window—narrowly missing the open convertible to her right—all while playfully singing her self-created ditty, “It’s Raining Champagne!” I personally thought that was a moment of true creative ingeniousness, but the camera man suggested that might not make it into the final cut of footage. Blooper reel maybe?

When we arrived back at the Palazzo, pink VIP gift bags were waiting for us. Naturally, we squealed some more and were filmed as we revealed, with some exaggerated glee, all our free goodies, including a Chippendales calendar (yes, Hulk-hand guy was featured), perfume samples from Kim Kardashian, and, of course, a bright pink boa, to name a few. It was definitely a good haul. As the bachelorette of our little group, Anna even got a deluxe bag with some naughty items from Playboy and a “sexy teddy bear” from Bear My Secrets. Inside LAVO, we were treated to yummy hors d’oeuvres and more Lanson before being whisked away upstairs. Though it’s not as large as TAO, LAVO was still a really fun place to go. It had a fun atmosphere, a mediumsized dance floor, and foam glow sticks that were tossed into the crowd and proved to be endlessly entertaining. At one point, Caroline may or may not have yawned a little—she denies it—and one of the camera guys handed her a can of Red Bull to open on tape. Yes, Red Bull was another sponsor. The following day played out similarly to the day before—TAO Beach time!—with the added bonus of occasional videotaped toasts and smiles. After our reality show duty, we were able to go enjoy the pool. The bad news was that we didn’t get the large cabana again. The good news was that we befriended a group of four British guys that had their own table. Well-equipped with adorable accents, the Brits all proved to be hilarious and super friendly, albeit quite inebriated. They may or may not have been the initiators of that day’s splash frenzy. All around, it was a win-win. As an additional celebration of our free vacation, we also decided to treat ourselves to an amazing meal that night at Delmonico Steakhouse, one of Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Vegas restaurants (I guess the trip wasn’t 100% free). Whether it was the wine or the amazing atmosphere, I remember that evening as one of the best meals of my life. Actually, the meal might have been almost too good, because I 49


really wanted to curl up for a nap afterwards (a very un-Vegas like inclination). But I forged onwards. It was, after all, my duty to party. Since we had time to kill (and desperately needed to walk off what we just consumed) we made our way down the strip to the Bellagio to watch the fountain show. I know it’s super touristy and cliché, but that doesn’t change the fact that the show is incredible! The dancing sprays of water are epic, especially when paired with the awesome songs the Bellagio team chooses. Every time I hear Ennio Morricone’s “Ecstasy of Gold” I get flashbacks. I could have easily gotten stuck at that fountain, mesmerized for hours (or at least until the last showing at midnight). Eventually, we headed over to TAO again, where we enjoyed table service with all the other bachelorette parties there for the WLBP weekend. In between sets of dancing, we didn’t exactly have a hard time making friends with people from different tables. This may sound additionally lame, but I loved making friends at tables because, if you didn’t, going to the restroom would literally be your only opportunity to sit down the entire night. We also met up with our friends from across the pond we’d met earlier at TAO Beach. As cute as they all were, I soon realized they were much better at initiating pool fights than dancing. What a shame. One of the other benefits of going to TAO that night was a special performance by Psy of “Gangnam Style”-fame. Sadly, I didn’t even know who he was at the time. Caroline soon explained to me and the Brits why Psy was famous and how to do the “Gangnam Style” dance. We were pretty impressed for about five seconds before she slipped in her Christian Siriano wedges and fell onto the table next to us, knocking over an oversized bottle of Grey Goose and causing two guys nearby to knock heads with each other. It was quite an inspirational moment. On Sunday, both Mollie and Anna had to return home for work obligations, which

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left Caroline and me the task of continuing the festivities for one more day. I don’t mean to sound like a party pooper, but five days and four nights in Vegas felt like a marathon—and I had one more night to go! I couldn’t even feel my toes by that time. But, like the good soldiers we were, we went out that night to LAVO one last time. Either we got there too early or it was just a shy crowd, because there were exactly zero point zero people dancing when we walked in. Undaunted by the numbers, Caroline and I charged through enemy territory and danced by ourselves anyways. Cut to five minutes later, and the dance floor was packed. It was a magical moment. We brought that party. All in all, it was a pretty fantastic firsttime-in-Vegas trip. So fantastic in fact, I’m still a little concerned that I’ll never be able to top the experience. Maybe I’ve set insurmountable expectations for the future, but it’s okay because, for me at least, there’ll always be that 2012 Vegas trip.


Share Your Wear Tracy Wilson

RANDY FOSTH / SHUTTERBUG STUDIO

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hat does a hot model turned cocktail waitress turned actress at one of Vegas’ most exclusive day clubs wear? I got a chance to talk with Encore Beach Club and Surrender’s Tracy Wilson to find out the insider perspective on the Vegas fashion and club scene! Just before I sat down to speak wit Wilson, I wondered how our conversation would go. I’m not a regular visitor to Vegas, but I had my own set of preconceived notions about Vegas cocktail girls. What would Wilson be like? Would she be very superficial? I suppose it’s because I always thought of models and VIP waitresses as larger than life people who mingle with the rich and famous. Add the fact that she lives in Vegas, and I felt out of my element! But once Wilson and I started chatting, I relaxed. She was incredibly friendly and down-

Interview by Amanda Chi

to-earth. I never had to worry. Part of Wilson’s easy-going attitude comes from her background, which seems almost unglamorous compared with her current lifestyle. Originally from Missouri, Wilson grew up on a farm and had only visited Vegas twice before she moved. Wilson’s journey to Sin City really started with a bikini contest at the Midnight Rodeo. After winning the contest, she was flown out to Jamaica for a calendar photo shoot. Back home, after graduating from Missouri State University with a degree in marketing management, Wilson soon discovered that there was a poor job market in the state. But some of the girls from her Jamaica photo shoot told her they were “killing it in bartending and cocktailing in Vegas.” She moved in 2008 and hasn’t left Vegas since. How did her parents feel about their 51


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RANDY FOSTH / SHUTTERBUG STUDIO


daughter moving halfway across the country? “Surprisingly my dad was all for it [although] he’s more conservative. And my mom, she traveled the world before and said it’s a horrible idea and was against it.” Wilson was quick to note, “They’re supportive [now].” Was it a big cultural shock moving from a farm to such a huge city? “The transition was definitely different,” she answered emphatically. “But nothing surprises me anymore. When you see [crazy things], you don’t even look twice.” Wilson currently works as a model and cocktail waitress—in Vegas, the two are synonymous—at the Wynn’s Encore Beach Club and at the nightclub Surrender. The venues are known for their amazing pool cabanas, beautiful women, concerts, and famous DJs. It all seemed surreal to me. When I asked how she feels about her job, Wilson raved, “Oh my gosh, I love it! It doesn’t feel like work at all. I work with great people, and everyone’s happy. Although I’m not partying, everyone around me is partying.” While Vegas is primarily known for its lavish parties and club scene, the city is not immune to the influence of fashion and couture. The Las Vegas Strip is home to high-end designer boutiques from some of the most non-club-like designers you could think of— Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana... If you’ve seen their products in a magazine, chances are they have a shop on the Strip. Las Vegas Fashion Week models walk the runways in both May and November. I asked Wilson about her own fashion choices. “For work, I wear a bikini at the pool. It’s ‘beach bunny’ and it’s pretty tiny!” A string bikini is a typical uniform for cocktail waitresses at day clubs like Encore Beach Club and TAO Beach. Wilson goes on to explain that just because she works in Vegas, it doesn’t mean that her fashion is skimpy all the time. “When I’m running errands or lounging around, I normally wear athletic gear. It’s easy and comfortable. When I’m shopping or having lunch with friends, I typically wear a maxi dress.”

And how about the other women she sees during a typical day? What should a Vegas visitor pack in her bags? “Checking out Vegas club wear is almost as good as the peoplewatching here. Vegas is a great place to try that risky dress or that funky top. I normally go for the tight dress at the nightclubs. If you can rock it, why not? You might not be able to forever!”

V

egas is a great place to try that risky dress or funky top. If you can rock it, why not? You might not be able to forever!

Wilson is very perceptive to the trends in fashion as thousands of women stream in and out of her clubs every week. “Right now, turtleneck crop tops are in. They’re great with jeans, leggings, or a skirt.” Wilson’s fashion knowledge also stems from the freelance modeling work she does. “I probably work for ten to fifteen agencies. I do a lot of commercials and print work for most of the hotels. And I have my first speaking line in a movie coming out sometime this year.” Intrigued, I asked which movie. She replied hesitantly, as though unsure if that was information she could divulge. “Supposedly it’s going to be called Paradise, a comedy with Russell Brand and Julianne Hough.” She laughed nervously, “I literally have the one line, and hopefully they don’t cut that scene when it comes out.” With everything that she’s involved in, seeing stars is no biggie for Wilson, and sometimes she won’t even recognize a celebrity. She describes a time when she was doing promotional work for Canadian Goose, the fashion brand that created the jacket worn by Kate Upton on the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated swim issue. “We were walking around carrying the [Sports Illustrated] magazines trying to advertise the jacket Katie wore. In it, her boobs are HUGE.” She started talking to a 53


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RANDY FOSTH / SHUTTERBUG STUDIO


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It seems like such a glamorous, enviable career. But what does a girl really need to make it in Sin City? “It’s a very competitive market, especially for girls,” Wilson explained. “There’s always going to be someone younger and prettier so you just have to have a mindset. You have to be motivated and very determined.” How competitive was her position at Encore Beach Club? “I think there were over 3,000 applicants. We hired 32 girls. You just have to go in and just be confident. You have to be okay accepting rejection. Even if you’re beautiful or incredible, you’re still going to [face] rejection. There are a lot of other factors besides looks.” 56 Tastevin Magazine July 2013

As I sat listening to her describe the harrowing audition process, I found her positive outlook inspirational for any individual no matter what the industry. It seems that Vegas is more than just the glitzy booze and fashion, and Wilson really embodies that. She’s dedicated, but she keeps herself grounded in her roots. Sometimes at an audition, employers will ask girls to share something interesting about themselves. Wilson’s go-to answer reflects her upbringing. “I told them last time that I know how to hypnotize a chicken. And I really do know how!” With fifteen modeling agencies offering work, coveted positions at Surrender and Encore Beach Club, and acting gigs to boot, does she ever have time for a relationship? “It’s hard to find a guy who wants to be faithful and wants to settle down because there’s a lot of [girls] coming into town every week [looking for a good time].” I guess the old adage rings true—what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas— but it also means that Wilson’s romantic road hasn’t always been easy. “Most of the time I was dating guys [who lived] in other cities. You definitely have to find someone who’s looking for the same thing you’re looking for. A lot of people are from somewhere else and eventually they want go back [to where they’re from].” But she eventually found someone who’s looking for the same thing. She’s currently in a relationship with a colleague who works as a server assistant at Surrender. “[We’ve] been dating for a year now, and it’s been great!” So she’s got a great relationship, supportive parents, and a passion for her job— and she looks amazing doing it all! But if there’s anything learned from living in Sin City, it’s that it’s not always about looks. Sure, you can wear something hot and glitzy—or even a little bikini uniform—but what matters more is the heart that you wear on your sleeve. And even in a city that could easily make her bitter and jaded, Wilson is still wearing her caring hometown-girl heart full of excitement.

ERIC GUILDING

guy about the cover photo. “He looked pretty homeless. Our conversation was over how big [Upton’s] boobs were.” Later, upon returning to her booth, her coworkers were abuzz, saying that Johnny Depp was in the hotel and had just checked in. “I talked to Johnny Depp for five minutes, and I didn’t even know it was him. [It was] the stupidest thing ever. I wish we talked about something [besides boobs].”


“We’re Not Male Strippers”

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What’s hot, steamy, and will make you want to take a cold shower? Not just the Las Vegas desert! We sat down with Clint, Matty, Marty, and Steve from the world’s hottest male revue and the best show on the Vegas strip, Australia’s Thunder From Down Under. Want the inside scoop on how to win these guys over? Hint: Don’t call them male strippers. Their stories may just surprise you. So read on—if you can get past the photos!

Interview by Caroline A. Wong.


T

he inner bowels of the Excalibur hotel aren’t exactly aesthetically stunning. The hotel itself is wonderful, but I’m talking about the real heart of the beast: behind the scenes, under the turrets, and past the curtains—at least behind the curtains of the Thunder From Down Under theater. And maybe it’s specifically designed that way. Maybe the plainness backstage is only there to emphasize the fact that attractive men walk these tiled halls each night and that they are the adornment, both on stage and off. I wait for the guys in a little room backstage, sitting on a white couch facing a small collection of chairs. In the corner there is a strange plant that I’ve decided is fake, and on the wall, a television screen shows the stage outside where the Australian Bee Gees are now wrapping up their set (I think I still hear “Night Fever” streaming in despite the closed door). Thunder From Down Under will take the stage in about an hour and a half. Clint Scott enters the room. He wears jeans and a black Thunder From Down Under logo tank, prepared for the quick photo shoot we scheduled with the guys for after the interview and before their show. He forgoes the chairs in front of me, instead sitting closer on a box to my left. Clint smiles when I ask him how he became a part of the Thunder show. “It’s a long, long story,” he says. “A long story. Our boss Billy Cross started an Australian reality show many, many years ago [in 2001] called StripSearch. I was one of the guys lucky enough to be chosen for that group back when I was a young buck, but the group just kind of fell apart. Billy ended up asking me to come and join [Thunder From Down Under in Las Vegas] so I thought I’d come here for four or five years and feel it out and maybe go home. Eight years later, I’m still here and I love it and I don’t want to leave.” He says his family has encouraged him on his journey. “They absolutely love it and support it. They all came to the show. I was

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on a reality show, which was the biggest reality show in history back home, so I was kind of, like, famous.” He laughs. Even the youngest members of his family are interested in what he does. “My nephew’s twelve years old, and he’s got an eight pack. I taught him how to do back flips. He can spin on his head. I taught him how to break dance.” I point out that Clint spins on his head in the Thunder show and joke that he’s coaching his nephew. “Yeah, I’ve been training him! I already showed photos of him to my boss. My plan is to stay in the show until he joins and then I can leave. I’ll be 41, and he’ll be 18.” But maybe not everyone has been as receptive. Clint is fiercely, and admirably, protective when he speaks about his line of work, a strong emotion that either comes from his inherent passion or from years of practiced defense—maybe a mixture of both. “Anyone who’s been to the show knows that we’re not really male strippers. Stripper guys, they turn up to hotel rooms, and they…I don’t even know what they do because I’ve never done it. But they give, like, a lap dance for five minutes. I’ve been offered lots of money to do that. And I’d love to do it because it’s a lot of money, but I wouldn’t know what to do with myself in a hotel room with a bunch of girls on a chair. I’m a stage performer. I’m used to being on stage and doing choreography and being in formation. So to me, it doesn’t even come across to my mind that I’m a stripper. I don’t get phone calls and go around to hotels and go to rooms. That’s what a stripper would do.” Clint taps into that passion when he’s leading up the choreography for Thunder’s shows. He helps teach new recruits the dance moves and works with the group veterans to clean up the routines. “We do it so often— twelve times a week—that you can make mistakes every now and then, and then sometimes mistakes can become a habit.” He says of the rehearsals, “We keep the show really tight, which makes it look more professional.


Matty


Steve

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Because, you know, strippers don’t how to dance. They just lap dance or pole dance or whatever, so that takes us even more away from being strippers to being a professional, high quality show. We have a bit of everything in our show. Like, I spin on my head, hop on one arm. We’ve got David who does amazing acrobatic tumbling across the stage. We’ve got trampolines that we all flip [off and up] onto the stage. We’re like Jabbawockeez and Cirque du Soleil. You don’t even need to go to Cirque du Soleil. You can come here and see the whole thing.” With a dozen performances per week—some nights they can perform up to three shows in a row—the Thunder guys seem unstoppable. I ask Clint how he keeps it interesting. “I’ve always loved being on stage. I’m a bit of a show off. And I like to always give it my best. I can’t go in there and be lazy. Even [on] nights that I’m a little bit tired or I’ve got an injury or something—like right now, I’ve got a really bad knee injury—I say to myself, ‘These girls are paying good money to come see us.’ And our reputation as the best male revue in the world is on the line every night. You can’t give one girl a bad experience or she’ll go away and tell a whole lot of other girls she had a bad experience. So I really just dig deep.” And he confirms that the same is true of his fellow Thunder guys. “If one guy is feeling low or tired or even if tragedies happen in some families where one of our guys’ mothers passed away—I mean, can you imagine carrying anything that heavy on stage? But that’s what I think makes us so amazing. We have that passion inside us that wants to perform the best we can all the time no matter what’s happened. You just get it from within, but we also get it from each other backstage. We’re all really close. We’re all good friends out of the show as well. So when one guy’s really sad, the other guys bring him up. We feed off each other. We create a nice energy backstage so we can carry that onto stage.”

It’s as though he’s invoked this feelgood brotherly energy because Matthew Fardell enters the room as if summoned. When I ask him about what his typical day looks like, Matty looks over at Clint and chuckles. “It’s funny because you couldn’t get

“Strippers give a lap dance for five minutes, but I wouldn’t know what to do with myself in a hotel room with a bunch of girls on a chair. I’m a stage performer.”

two people who, in some senses have a lot of the same recreational activities like drinking beer at the pub and stuff, but in other ways, prepare for the show completely differently. Clint’s one of the top triathletes in Vegas, just an amazing, amazing endurance athlete. And my endurance and athleticism is—” Clint cuts in: “Walking to the litter box.” Matty nods, “Yeah, walking to the litter box and back. So there is no typical [day]. A lot of guys do a little weights. A lot of guys do weights and cardio. A lot of guys just concentrate on cardio, flexibility, acrobatics. That’s the thing about the show. It’s not a cookie-cutter type of guy that’s up there.” Here, Martin Amiott and Steve Barry come into the room. Matty motions at them. “Marty doesn’t do any cardio at all. And Steve just doesn’t train. He just looks that way naturally.” Marty and Steve take seats after saying hello to everyone. There’s a palpable feeling of camaraderie in the room, and it’s more than just their matching black tank tops. You can read in their body language that they’re all incredibly comfortable with each other. Maybe that type of ease comes with taking your clothes off together every night. (Perhaps I need to consider new bonding activities with my friends.) I tell Marty and Steve that we were just talking about what a typical day looks like. Steve grins and says, “I wake up 63


at 3pm and have breakfast.” Marty leans back in his chair and answers, “Every day is different. For instance, I worked out this morning and went to the gym for once. And then I went and played a round of golf and got a massage.” Matty adds, “Steve spent the whole day eating ibuprofens because his neck got thrown out. And that’s a big part of it too. When you watch the show, it’s very physical. Sometimes a typi-

“By the end of the show, people say, ‘Wow, it’s completely different to what I thought it was going to be,’ meaning, I guess, they didn’t feel distasteful themselves for coming to the show.”

cal day is icing your injuries and having some sort of anti-inflammatory in order to get to the show later.” With all the physical demands of the show, it’s not unusual for the Thunder guys to hurt themselves during a performance. Matty has gone through a handful of serious injuries in his time with Thunder. “I broke my rib boxing, and I performed that night,” he recounts. “And I dislocated my shoulder two years ago. I didn’t know what was wrong with it, so I kept doing the show. After four days, I wake up in the middle of the night and I’m on my shoulder and it went ‘kuh-klunk.’ It actually went back in.” Clint expands on the idea of powering through the pain. “We become really good at cover it up. Like, if some guy’s got a sprained ankle or a sore knee and we have to spin on this leg, we can just spin on the other leg in the same direction. That’s such a little thing that the audience is not going to notice. That’s what I’ve been doing lately with the bad knee. If I have to jump on one leg, I’ll jump on the other leg. And it’s easy to disguise these things, I guess, because we know our choreography so well.” The guys start speaking

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over each other, discussing the merits of different ways to deal with their injuries. Matty describes one scenario: “We had a guy who did a back flip off the stage and landed short and broke both his ankles, and he still tried to finish his solo and every routine after that. You think it’s bad, but you don’t realize [in the moment] how bad it is. Obviously, he had to take a couple months off for that.” The guys launch into another rapid round of discussion. They don’t always speak to each other in complete sentences; sometimes a quick laugh is enough to communicate an entire memory. I venture a guess that these guys have created a little Australian family here in the middle of the desert. Matty confirms, “There’s definitely a family attitude when it comes to Thunder From Down Under. I mean, we work together every day. We rejoice in everybody’s victories and we suffer when anyone’s in pain. And we fight like a family from time to time too. It’s not all puppy dogs and petals, you know. It is very much a family culture.” Clint already touched on it, but I ask Matty, Marty, and Steve to expand on the idea of family. What do their families and friends think of them being a part of the show? Steve responds quickly: “They still don’t know. They think I’m a model in LA. I send them photos now and then.” I want to believe that he’s joking, but his smile is just mischievous enough that I might just believe him. Matty laughs, “My family’s proud. Thunder From Down Under is quite a big deal in Australia. It’s got a celebrity-type status, I guess. So, you know, a lot of our mates are jealous because they’re accountants and what have you.” Marty explains, “The show is now looked at a little differently in the United States than it was years ago. I think a contributing factor towards that is in America, it’s glorified rap stars, actors, all that kind of stuff. But in Australia, the show itself is kind of like that status, so to be a part of it, to be a part of something like that, your parents are, like, really proud of you. All fam-


mothers, and grandmothers. Marty recounts one particular situation with a grandmother: “Marcus [the show’s usual MC], you know, he brings an old lady up [on stage], and her husband was there, an older gentleman. So [the husband] went to the bathroom or something, and then he came back and was like ‘What’s she doing onstage?’ and went up and tried to duke it out.” Matty also remembers the event and adds, “It was one of those moments that was hilarious, but it was good to know that after what must have been 50 odd years of marriage, that he still had that relationship with his wife where he’s going to defend her honor. Chivalry’s not dead.” Indeed, chivalry is not dead. The Thunder guys value the qualities that make a person a decent human being, especially when it comes to new recruits. Matty comments on new guys in the show: “If they’ve got any ego, that gets slapped out of them pretty quickly.” Literally slapped? The guys laugh. Matty shakes his head, “Not physically! Because we

ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF THUNDER FROM DOWN UNDER

ily members are.” The guys also make a point of noting that the show itself is something about which they can be proud. “We play every major casino in the world,” says Matty, “so it’s not like we put anything out there that’s cheesy or bump and grind-ish.” “Dick-flopping,” offers Marty, adding, “The main emphasis [is to offer] a strip show that’s tastefully done. In America, you had the Chippendales for many years, [and I’m] definitely not taking anything away from them—they’re a different style of strip show. But their show is more in your face, more direct, more grimy. That’s the type of interpretation the average American would have when they come in. But by the end of the show, they’re like, ‘Wow, it’s completely different to what I thought it was going to be,’ meaning, I guess, they didn’t feel distasteful themselves for coming to the show.” There are typically up to three generations of a family that will see Thunder From Down Under on any given night—daughters,

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Marty


work so closely together, [it’s detrimental] having someone who thinks that they’re the reason that this show’s successful or [who takes] the cheers too seriously because, honestly, [the audience] cheers anyone up there on stage given the formula we’ve put together over the last ten years. If a guy’s got an ego and doesn’t treat our guests with respect or they don’t treat other people with respect, then they either go through a very difficult process of curbing that behavior or they’re sent home.” “You’ve got to be a good, nice guy,” agrees Clint. “Genuinely. I know that sounds a bit cliché, but it’s true. It’s very true.” Marty emphasizes that the attention from the show is specific to the show. “Someone can come in and they’re not used to getting so much attention. And then they personify themselves as a god, you know what I mean? The fact of the matter is, I think, we’re all extremely well-groomed guys and we do the best of what we’ve got with what we’ve got. But I can walk out on the street and grab a random guy. You get some smoke and mirrors around him, slap some oil on him, get him a little bit lean, put him on a good diet, change a few things with his hair, tan him up, and you’d be amazed [how] you could dramatically change the reaction [from the audience]. You’ve got to put it all into context. I think all of us could be humble. Just go out on a normal night and see if women are flocking to you to the same degree as they do when you’re on stage. Chances are very highly not.” On the matter of physical changes, Matty backs up Marty’s assertion. “It’s easier to have a haircut or a tanning session than to get someone to change their ability to mix easily with people. It’s easier to change the physical aspect than it is to change the core of a person. Our mission statement is turning skeptics into fans and fans into friends, and the only way you can do that is by being a personable sort of person.” Steve elaborates, “The girls never go, ‘Ah, that Clint Scott’s a real dick.’ It’s always, ‘Those Thunder guys

are real dicks.’ It’s one representative of the whole.” Matty notes, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” But being personable is not just something that the guys consider during their meet and greets after the show. Marty explains that it happens even during their performance. “Our show has everything to do with eye contact, so if a guy is totally into himself, chances are, when he’s out there performing, he’s only going to look at hot chicks. He’s not going to look at a girl he may not be attracted to with the same eyes that he’ll look at someone else. They can see that. They can see where you’re looking. The best way is by trying to give everyone equal attention, you know what I mean? So they all feel like they’re special.

“We have a bit of everything in our show. We’re like Jabbawockeez and Cirque du Soleil. You don’t even need to go to Cirque du Soleil. You can come here and see the whole thing.”

That’s what they’re coming here for in the first place. Like, you’ll get the people that supposedly everyone would say [is attractive]— blonde hair, big boobs, short skirt, whatever it has to be. That’s a very small percentage of the audience. The majority of the people pay sixty bucks for a ticket, and then we’re not giving them any attention? That’s like paying sixty bucks to get a slap across the face.” “We try to give them such, like, intimate attention,” Steve points out. “There’s not many shows in Vegas where you can go and watch a great, proper production, and then you actually get to meet the guys and do a photo. They get to talk to us, you know. They get to touch us.” Matty adds, nodding, “With the right guys, that works great. But with the wrong guys, that backfires.” With hundreds of tickets sold per

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night and countless meet-and-greets after the shows, do the guys ever get tired of the attention? “You get desensitized,” says Marty. Steve notes, “I felt comfortable probably three months after working. And then I just more focused on my dancing. I’ve been here for four years now so it’s just like second nature.” Matty considers how it plays out on a grander scale, explaining, “You have moments when you’ll be walking into the bank. You’re in line, and there’s someone at the teller screaming and yelling about the check that didn’t clear a week ago and having it out at the teller. It’s always those moments where I go, ‘I get to go to work and see hundreds of people having a wonderful time.’ No matter what kind of day they’ve had prior to walking into our bank or our church or our place of business, whatever

Clint

you want to call it, [they can] walk out being happy as opposed to what other people have to deal with as far as the general public.” Aside from the attention the guys get in public, they also generate their own amount of attention amongst their own group. They admit to texting each other about anything and everything. Matty reveals, “Marty sent a picture of a panini that he made at 2 o’clock in the morning yesterday. It was the most delicious-looking thing. It’s on a group text so by the time, you know, you’re sitting at home and you relax, you pick up your phone and there’s like twelve texts going back and forth about a panini.” “A lot of our texting is—do you know the term ‘piss-taking’?” asks Marty. Clint explains, “Yeah, he’ll send out a group text or a photo, and I’ll just make fun of it straightaway. Then we’ll come to work and just laugh about how funny it was.” Matty confesses, “Honestly, it’s a microcosm of what happens in the change room. Australian blokes don’t take themselves or anyone else very seriously, so if something bad happens to you, you can expect within fifteen minutes all of your mates are laughing about it.” Clint adds, “Let’s say you break up with your girlfriend, you come to work, and you’re sad. You’re, like, breaking inside, but then sometimes it’s better to laugh at something that hurts to help get over it. You can only get that from your good mates that you trust, to know that they’re not saying it in a bad way. They’re saying it to try and make you laugh about a bad situation to try to get over it.” And the guys certainly seem like they know how to have a good laugh. In fact, with all the joking and ribbing and stories, we’ve all talked for so long that by the time we realize we should wrap the interview, there’s only minutes before the smoke machines start and the guys need to be on stage. So much for our photo shoot. But we can’t be selfish and keep them from their jobs. After all, they have a show to put on and clothes to take off.


Matty helps cool down the hot and bothered ladies at a show.

Steve performs the firefighter routine during one of Thunder’s shows.

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A young woman looks to reinvent herself‌ but she doesn’t necessarily like what she finds.


Wings of a Butterf ly Story by Caroline A. Wong Photographs by Alexander Herman


L

isa Jenkins looked up at the flashy screens that made up the walls of the Cosmopolitan hotel lobby with a faint smile on her lips and a flutter in her heart. Dark columns stretched up grandly toward the ceiling, and a heavy chandelier glittered at the end of the monolithic hall. This hotel promised to be the fairytale castle she desperately wanted it to be. The trip, after all, was Lisa’s present to herself—as were the new mirrored Prada platform pumps on her feet—a treat after that grueling months-long hell-hole of an ad campaign she had just wrapped. Besides, Lisa had been wanting to visit Vegas for a while now, since back when she had been living in Springfield, Missouri almost three years ago, back before—

“You would like it.” Lisa’s mother, uncharacteristically domestic that morning, had been wearing an apron while standing over the stove in her kitchen. “Vegas suits you. That’s the kind of place you need, not this Nowhere, Misery.” Lisa had nearly choked on her orange juice. “Don’t you think Vegas is some kind of black hole for morality?” “There’s no such thing as morality if all you’re doing is sitting pretty on a porch swing all day like that young what’s-her-face down the street. Don’t let girls like her get to you. She’s only trying to scare you into thinking you’re playing with the devil, when really it’s just that she’s not strong enough to resist him herself.” Her mother poked her spatula in the direction of What’s-Her-Face. “That girl wouldn’t last in a big city. She’d wet herself from all the sin she’d think she was seeing.” “I don’t want people thinking I’m planning on becoming a slut.” “You can become any woman you want to become. The meaning to those labels comes from in your heart, not out of those girls’ mouths.” Her mom put a plate of eggs and

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bacon in front of Lisa. “You can take care of yourself.” Lisa shrugged and finished a bite of bacon. “Still need me to drive you to the observatory later?” Her mother nodded, untied her apron, and laid it down on the edge of the table.

Lisa sighed and let herself fall onto her bed at the Cosmo. The light was changing in the room as the sun shifted toward the horizon outside. A soft breeze blew in, and Lisa thought she could almost smell the Bellagio fountains next door. It was magical, but it was nothing close to a Springfield sunset in winter, with the dying daylight glinting off the snow. Lisa wondered if her mother would have approved of the exorbitant luxury vacations and all the designer shoes. She scratched absently at the butterfly tattoo on her left wrist that she had gotten after her mother— She didn’t think about it anymore. A little part of Lisa hated herself for all the labels, but she wanted, needed, some sign that she was moving on and up. And her mother had always said Lisa would become whatever woman she would become. This was who she had chosen to be. She fell asleep with her mirrored Prada pumps still on her feet.

***

The next morning Lisa arrived at her massage appointment at the Sahra Spa thirty minutes early. She hadn’t slept well the night before, dreaming of flying, of falling. She wanted to escape, and Sahra was supposed to be the place to do just that. “A true oasis inspired by the desert’s ever-expanding canopy of sky,” the brochure read. But the long narrow hallways and the striated brown walls felt too cave-like, and Lisa only felt like she was underground. In one of the dark massage rooms, Lisa stripped off her clothes and got under the


towel on the table. The room was warm and smelled faintly of earth. She lay staring up at the ceiling with her arms at her side until a white-smiled woman came into the room. She smiled at Lisa with her white, white teeth. Lisa shuffled under the towel, rolling bit by bit away from that smile until she could put her face in the table opening. “Just let me know if the pressure gets to be too much.” The woman started pressing into the muscles in Lisa’s back. Lisa wanted to laugh—drily. When had the pressure ever not been too much? She loved her job, but sometimes the stress felt worse than the woman’s deep tissue strokes. Lisa closed her eyes. The scent of earth was still in the air, perhaps even stronger now with her eyes shut. She tried not to squirm. The room was balmy and reminded her of the observatory and that day when her mother— She always tried not to think about it, but the room was so warm and she thought anyway.

Lisa had driven her mother to the butterfly observatory after they had finished breakfast. She had pulled up to the front of the building, but her mom hadn’t gotten out of the car right away. “Lisa,” she said, her hand on the door handle. “I really do think that you can take care of yourself.” “Yeah, Mom, of course. Don’t worry about me. I’m happy.” “Do you think people should make their own happiness?” “Like how?” Her mother didn’t answer right away. Her hand was still on the door handle. “If someone is unhappy, do you think they have the right to do something to change that? Can you blame them if they do something?” Lisa looked at her mother. “Why should we blame them? You’re the one who’s always saying we can become whoever we want to become and do whatever we want to do and

fuck what other people think.” “You’re starting to sound like a black hole for morality already.” “To an extent.” Lisa smirked. “You always need morals, Lisa. It’s just how you practice them.” Her mom looked out the passenger window at the butterfly observatory. “Did I ever tell you why I love this place?” She inhaled. “I read this Greek myth once that said butterflies live forever, and if you rip the wings off of one, it means you’ll live forever too because the butterfly paid for your immortality with its life.” Lisa laughed. “Is that what you do when you volunteer here all the time? Chase down butterflies and try to rip their wings off?” “No.” Her mother shook her head. “No, I don’t.”

Lisa blamed herself still for saying it was okay, for saying that people had the right to make their own happiness. Her mother hadn’t been happy. Lisa hadn’t seen that. And when her mom had walked into the butterfly observatory that day, she hadn’t walked out again. Lisa kept still on the massage table and tried not to breathe the balmy air. The earth seemed to be coming up through the floor, filling the room with dirt and burying her deep under the ground, swallowing her. The woman was still kneading her back. Lisa silently screamed and prayed that the pressure would stop.

***

After her massage, Lisa had needed fresh, fresh air and had gone shopping for a new dress to take out for a spin that night. To spin out of control that night. A club promoter had comped Lisa’s cover for the Marquee, but only up until midnight. That night at the club, Lisa took long, purposeful steps in the direction of the bar at the far end of the Marquee, feeling relieved that she had made it before the clock struck twelve. She felt like

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This page: Blue dress, Millau, price upon request. Choker necklace, model’s own. Opposite page: Slingback pumps, Christian Louboutin, $625. Previous spread (and next): Peep-toe pumps, Christian Louboutin, $690. Necklace, same.


some twisted reverse Cinderella—although her short hemline might qualify her more for a perverse Cinderella. “I like your shoes.” A guy pointed at Lisa’s crystal-embellished Louboutins. “Red hot soles like your red hot body!” Lisa rolled her eyes and kept walking, passing the pool where a couple of mermaids were doing laps. She wondered how the girls could swim so well in those flippers—or were those real tails? Those looked like real tails. She thought that the air might even smell faintly of fish, but the only odor she could definitively make out was the scent of drunkenness. She headed toward the glowing megatron screen above the bar. Right now it was streaming a video of a digitized bronze Angelina-circa-Beowulf woman swaying to the music pouring from the dance floor inside. Lisa made it to the bar and looked at the people standing next to her. The man to her right was tall, attractive. He wore a fitted black blazer over a black shirt. His slim tie clip was silver, and the bottom of his navy tie hit at just the right point. In fewer words, a winner. But she noticed that he was looking at her feet. She raised an eyebrow. “If you say one word about my shoes, I’ll strongly consider throwing a drink in your face.” He shrugged. “There’s something on the bottom of your foot.” Lisa looked down. He was right. A torn paper wristband—probably someone’s lost souvenir from another club—had gotten stuck to the sole of her left heel. She kicked it off with her other foot. “Sorry,” she said. Was she blushing? He laughed and shook his head. “Let me get you a drink.” He nodded slightly when one of the bartenders looked their way. “Vodka cranberry, please,” Lisa told him. Tie-Clip looked at her. “That’s the girliest drink of them all.” “I am a girl.” The bartender served up the drink, and Lisa took a long sip, finishing half

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the glass. “So what brings you to Las Vegas?” Lisa asked as she drank again. “Is that supposed to be a pick-up line?” “No.” Lisa sniffed, drained the glass, and put it on the counter. He laughed. “I’ve heard my fair share of bad pick-up lines. Hell, I have my own assortment of bad pick-up lines.” He gestured for the bartender to refill Lisa’s glass. “I come here every month on business. I’m Jacob.” “Lisa.” Jacob motioned at the inside of her wrist. “Beautiful tattoo, Lisa.” She took a sip from the new drink and pursed her lips. “My mother’s name was Vanessa, Greek for ‘butterfly.’” Jacob drank from his glass and tried to look more closely. “It’s smiling.” Lisa nodded, although she thought it was more of a half-smile, half-snarl. “So Lisa, you never answered your own question. What brings you to Vegas?” She looked up at the night stretched above her. The lights of the city drowned out all but a few stars. The ones that she could see were like silver nails holding up the dark grey blanket of sky. The blanket looked like it was falling. She wanted to float up and sleep there, above the noise, standing still in time. Jacob glanced up too, probably to figure out what she was looking at. A generic bass line drummed out from the dance floor inside the club. Her heartbeat matched the empty sound. “What can I say?” She squinted her eyes at him. “I thought you’re supposed to be the one who’s heard it all before.” He sipped from his glass. “It gets old doing the same thing over and over again.” “Sometimes it’s all we’re looking for,” Lisa swallowed the rest of the drink, “to do the same thing so we don’t have to think about what we’re doing or where we’re going.” Jacob nodded to the bartender for another round, at least for Lisa. “That’s probably


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not too far from the truth.” “What would you do over again if you could?” “I’d be a better friend, a better worker.” He shrugged. “What would you do?” Lisa didn’t answer until after she sipped from yet another drink. “There’s this Greek myth I heard once that butterflies live forever until you rip off their wings, and then you steal their eternal life. I’d want to find something beautiful and then destroy it. Maybe I’d live forever.” She looked at the pinky liquid in her glass. “Well, aren’t you melodramatic?” Jacob shook his head. “I don’t think I would want to live forever. You can live a thousand lives, but at the end of the day, you become the person you become.” The air was balmy, and the pressure of it was too much for Lisa. Behind them, the music droned, invited. It was loud enough to be silent. Lisa tilted her head up at Jacob. “Want to dance?” They made their way inside, hand-inhand, to the dance floor. They danced and swayed and moved as the sound of an empty heartbeat pulsed above the crowd.

***

Lisa’s mother had always said that drunken sex was like spilling a glass of wine. It was the sign of a good party, but it was gonna stain something. The room was quiet but for inhaling and exhaling. It was all soft moans and the sound of the city outside the open terrace doors. Lisa was on top of the world. Jacob was on top. The world was high and it was spinning. She let him breathe her, exhale her. He sighed and relaxed, collapsed. They lay next to each other, and he breathed himself to sleep. The closet door was open, and Lisa could see from her place on the bed that, beyond the dress thrown on the floor beside the blazer and the tie-clip, all her designer shoes—

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her Jimmy Choos and her Louboutins and her Prada pumps—were lined up like shiny glass slippers. They were looking back at her, judging her. She looked away. Lisa had to become something new, didn’t she? Isn’t that what her mom had wanted for her? For her to become the person she was going to become? But who to become? Did she have to like that person? She had to show the world something. She had to make up for her loss so the lesson was somehow worthwhile. She stretched her arms above her head and wiggled her fingers, feeling the life in them. Her butterfly tattoo smiled down on her, snarled down on her, and Lisa could feel the blood pulsing in her veins beneath it, life flowing through her veins like wine, staining her. She frowned. The room was balmy and smelled like earth. The butterfly’s wings were flapping, flapping toward her. They were moving, eternally moving, moving without her and she couldn’t stop them. Even when she stopped wiggling her fingers, she couldn’t stop the wings. She brought her wrist closer to her face to see better. The butterfly was staring at her, wings flapping, wings still flapping. She rubbed at her wrist. She rubbed at the butterfly. It kept flapping its wings like it didn’t care that it was scaring her, like it didn’t even know that Lisa couldn’t do anything, couldn’t fix what had been done. She kept rubbing at it. She scratched at it. She clawed at it. Lisa kept scratching at the butterfly. She ripped at its wings. She ripped at the butterfly wings. She tore the wings off. But the butterfly kept smiling.


blackmilkclothing.com 79 Tastevin Magazine July 2013


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Black dress, Boulee, $360. Rings, model’s own.Slingback pumps, Christian Louboutin, $625. Model: Lisa Eberly

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Celebrate Something Sweet On Wednesday, June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, allowing full federal recognition of legally married gay couples.

In a 5-4 ruling, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down by justices of the Supreme Court. The 1996 DOMA denied same-sex couples federal benefits such as Social Security or the ability to file joint tax returns. “DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment,” said Justice Anthony Kennedy in a written statement on behalf of the majority, adding, “DOMA writes inequality into the entire United States Code.” However you feel about the Supreme Court’s decision, the ultimate end goal of our culture now should be upholding and celebrating love in all its forms.

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Tastevin Magazine July 2013  

A Fashion and Lifestyle Tasting Menu

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