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Seasons of Love

Seasons of Love 0

Seasons of Love
  • Renee Harper
Debauchery at Camp John Waters

Debauchery at Camp John Waters 1

I distinctly remember seeing the original movie Hairspray in the theatre, as a child. I was mesmerized by the music, the clothes and Divine. I remember my father explaining to me that the main character, Tracy’s mother, was really played by a man. It was the first time I became aware of drag queens. My life changed forever that day! Every time Hairspray played on TV I glued myself in front of the TV to watch it.
After Hairspray, I saw Crybaby and it was the start of my Johnny Depp crush. Again the songs, dancing, and clothes are what interested me. Both films had a very cartoon-like feel to them. It was a world I knew nothing about but wish I lived in. 
It wasn’t until many years later when I was living in Los Angeles, that I was exposed to Pink Flamingos, Polyester, and Female Trouble. John Waters in my mind was both genius and trash all wrapped up into one and I loved every ounce of it. Dirty movies with plots so ridiculous and absurd;  you couldn’t not watch them. Characters so over the top that you wish you knew them in real life. I wanted to jump into the screen and live in his zanny world. Never in my life did I think I would have the opportunity to be a part of it!!
That was until they announced that Club Getaway was hosting Camp John Waters. A weekend summer camp hosted by John Waters. It seemed like a joke no way this could be real. But it was! I immediately went onto their website and the event was completely sold out. I emailed Club Getaway requesting to be put on their standby list in case there were any cancellations. Less then 24 hours later they e mailed me back stating that they had opened up camping spots. I immediately booked our camping spot regardless of the fact that I had never camped before in my life. Such a minor detail could not and would not deter me from a weekend in the world of John Waters! 
We entered the campgrounds in Kent Connecticut (which I am convinced is the backdrop for every great horror movie. It is both serine and a bit creepy all at the same time. I could totally live there, at least in the spring and fall) an hour early. We checked in, signed a release form and carried our bags and newly purchased tent and sleeping bags onto a big blue school bus. I led the bus in one of my favorite camp songs from my childhood, Down By the Bay (long live Hunters Run Day Camp, in my memory at least, as the property was sold off many years ago and turned into a housing development. I hate progress). As I looked around the bus, I realized that I surrounded by the most interesting people! It was an eclectic mixture of every race, sexual orientation, hair color, clothing style and musical taste. For once I felt as if I belonged and that everyone on the bus were once the outcasts, yet here we were all accepted and not judged for who we were.
Our Camp John Waters Halloween Tent
The bus dropped us off in the middle of the camp. Green grass, lush woods, a perfectly still lake with lily pads, cabins and down a hill; the campgrounds. Jimmy and I set up our tent, decorated it for Halloween and ventured out to explore the campgrounds. There were aerial obstacle courses, giant swings, oversized chairs that overlooked the lake, tennis courts, basketball courts, bungee trampolines, zip lines and a bunch of buildings and tents. Soon it was time for dinner. A John Waters themed menu was passed around. We ate, made small talk and then the 300 plus guests started to cheer and scream. John Waters himself entered the tent. Dressed in one of his crazy suits and his pencil mustache, he stood on the stage and got a standing ovation that lasted almost as long as his speech did. He then sat down at a round table in the center of the tent and ate his dinner with us all. Then there was another abrupt cheer as Mink Stole entered the tent. She sat down next to John Waters and received her own standing ovation. I was in hog heaven. Not only was John Waters a mere 20 feet away, but Mink Stole was as well.
Camp John Waters menu
After we finished our chocolate poop mousse, John Waters read us a bedtime story from his book Car Sick. Some of the guests then went down to the Boathouse for a dance party and Karaoke, the rest of us went to our campsite and went to sleep. Contrary to what people told me, I enjoyed sleeping in the wilderness, listening to the crickets and frogs while they lured me to dreamland. 
The next day we woke early, got breakfast, and headed to the aerial park. We climbed 40 feet into the air and managed to get through the obstacle courses. We climbed up a tree and did the Geronimo drop, which was a free fall drop attached to an apparatus that caught you and slowed you down before you hit the ground. We zip lined and did the giant swing, which felt like flying as you were hoisted up then dropped and swung up to 20 feet in the air. We went to the lake and I relaxed in the pink flotation flamingo. We also learned how to stand up paddle board! We got to see a performance by Pissi Myles.
When we were done, it was time to get in line to meet John Waters!
As I waited in line, Jimmy ran down to our tent to retrieve our pink flamingo lawn ornament and can of hairspray to get signed. While saving our place in line, I struck up a conversation with the very intoxicated gentlemen behind me. His name was Scott and he didn’t have anything to get autographed, so I told him to ask John Waters to autograph his ass. He said that if John Waters agreed to that, he would take it to his tattoo shop to have them make the autograph permanent!
I also had a promise to my friend Amanda to keep. That promise was to give John Waters a kiss. As our turn approached, I got super excited and nervous. We approached his autograph table and we had John Waters sign my flamingo and book. We asked him to write something dirty on the back of Jimmy’s book, so he wrote the word ‘dirty’ and signed it underneath. Then I told him that I had a very strange request. I explained that Amanda wanted me to give him a kiss, and he told me that I could kiss him on his cheek. So I leaned down and kissed his cheek, which my husband was unable to get a photo off, so he allowed me to kiss him again! Yes dear readers I got to kiss John Waters not once, but twice!  We thanked him and I told him that the  guy behind us had an even stranger request. 
Sure enough, Scott asked for John Waters to sign his ass. Mr. Waters replied that it would better if he signed a piece of paper and the tattoo artist just copied it onto his ass. But Scott was adamant about it, and so, John Waters obliged. The Scott dropped his shorts and John Waters signed his first name on the left butt cheek and his last name on the right. The line's applause were defining.
That evening, I popped Jimmy’s John Water’s cherry by making him watch the public viewing of Female Trouble, which if you have never seen an old school Waters film, is a very difficult one to digest and I’m sure he had little to no appetite for dinner afterwards.
We dined that evening among a crowd of die hard core fans who were all dressed to the nines in their John Waters themed costumes. I simply wore my new Roach Skirt inspired by the dress worn by Ricki Lake in Hairspray. Some of the costumes were so obscure I couldn’t tell who they were. 
After our meal, we had the pleasure of seeing John Waters perform his Filthy World stand up routine. Which he obviously received a standing ovation for. 
We slept another night under the stars as some of the guests partied to the wee hours of the morning. Photos of the debauchery ended up on the private facebook group for the campers. During my LA Days I did go to some pretty crazy parties, but none compared to what was photographed at the lake party that evening! Those photos are too graphic and not appropriate for a public blog!! But if you want a visual, it involved a man on all fours butt naked with his frank and beans showing and something that I can’t describe being done to him while someone snapped away photographic evidence of the fun. 
We woke the next morning to one of the guests playing his ukulele, ready for our last day of fun. I did flips on the bungee trampoline, and  made ornaments at Arts and Farts. We also took a canoe across the lake and back, payed dodge ball and bingo and attempted to participate in a burlesque class. We enjoyed lunch with facebook friend and Sweet Midnight customer Kellie who was there with a friend of hers.
Finally, we said our adieus to the new friends we made.
It was so nice to be surrounded by like minded people in an environment where it was accepted and appreciated. We didn't have to put on face facades for our friends, family and co workers. It was us being us in a place where we were all equals. It was beautiful.

Until next year Camp John Waters!!! I can't wait!!!!



And if you are wondering, yes Scott took his ass to his tattoo artist and had the autograph made permanent. He added 'Property Of' in front of the signature so next year John Waters knows who his bitch is!



Flash in the Past

Flash in the Past 0

Very rarely do you find a photo studio like Flash in the Past! I can't say enough good things about Ramsey Borrego and her art.

Her collection of vintage clothes are arranged from floor to ceiling and range from 1920's all the way up to the 1960's. All authentic, all beautiful, all amazing!

Her hair and makeup artists turn everyday women into retro superstars. Ramsey is the photographer, pose director, and editor. She makes sure that you are looking your very best as she snaps away on her SLR camera!

This video is a behind the scenes look at our photo shoot for our Glamping in the Graveyard skirt! My Shih Tzu Gizmo made his modeling debut in this shoot because fur children are welcome at Flash in the Past!!!


Meeting the Queen of Billboards, Angelyne

Meeting the Queen of Billboards, Angelyne 0

When I lived in Los Angeles, it was impossible not to pass by one of Angelyne’s huge billboards on Sunset Blvd. She was an enigma, a mystery, a legend. In a time before the world wide web was as convenient as looking at your phone. In a time before people were famous, just for being famous. I remember reading about her in the book LA Bizarro, which was my go-to book for fun, out of the ordinary things to do in LA. When I would see her pink Corvette around town, it would be the highlight of my week. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that one day I would be a passenger in that pink car.

When I got a txt message stating that I had won a ride with Angelyne, (the result of putting my name and phone number on a post it note and throwing it in a box with her photograph on it), I was more scared then excited. Just days prior; a huge article published by the Hollywood Reporter went viral. In the article they claim to have identified who Angelyne really is. Including her being the Jewish daughter of two holocaust survivors, and her real name being Renee. Off the bat I already had 3 things in common with her, our names are the same, we love the color pink, and we are both decedents of holocaust survivors.Yet every person I met, kept telling me that she will expect my husband and I to pay for her groceries, gas for her corvette, and that she does a hard sell of Angelyne merch out of the trunk of her car. So add another item to our list of similarities between us, because I sell copies of the book I wrote, called Southern Arizona’s Most Haunted, out of my hearse when I am the Ghost Host on the Old Bisbee Ghost Tour.

My anxiety regarding this once in a lifetime opportunity hit an all time high when I told my friend Rick about it. Rick, little had I known, was Angelyne’s art manager. His job was to promote her and her art, yet every time he got a gallery interested in her and her art, she would back out of the deal. Corey Helford Gallery and Hyaena Gallery :were both interested in having her art displayed and she turned them both down. Rick went so far as to want to marry Angelyne as a publicity stunt to help his efforts in getting her artwork into the LA art scene.
Angelyne's Movie Script The Bra That Ate L.A.

Rick invited us to his home to see his collection of Angelyne memorabilia that he collected from his short 3 months of working with her. His collection included business cards, bumper stickers, postcards, t shirts, posters, a copy of the film script she wrote and the crowning achievement of his collection: an original acrylic Angelyne painting.

Angelyne Painting

Dancing Flame painting by Angelyne

Dancing Flame is an original self portrait acrylic painting which is 36x48 inches big. It depicts Angelyne as a Shiva-esk type being. In the painting, her blond hair forms a halo effect around her 6 arms and 6 legs. Though her eyes are painted with glitter (yet another thing we have in common), what stands out the most in this piece are her larger than life breasts, unrealistically tiny waste, and no genitals. A random skull painted in glitter is held in one of her left hands as she dances in front of what appears to be fire. Of course her signature was done in glitter as well.

Angelyne Painting Face Detail

Rick told us the painting was for sale if we wanted to buy it, but we opted for the poster, t shirt, bumper sticker and business card he gifted to us instead

Angelyne signature

Our meeting location for our celebrity encounter was at the corner of Argyle and Sunset at the Coffee Bean at 6pm. We arrived thirty minutes early. I had butterflies in my stomach from excitement as I anxiously waited for her to pull up on Sunset Blvd in her pink car. I imagined people would flock to it, knowing who it belonged to and I would have to fight my way through wannabe paparazzi to introduce myself. 
At 6:05pm I thought that the 'star' stood us up and I was thinking of ways to write a blog about being stood up by Angelyne. Then I noticed her pink Corvette parked on the side of Argyle. There were no fans, no wannabe paparazzi. Just a pink Corvette with Angelyne sitting inside, fiddling with her iPhone.
When I approached the car, she saw me and waved. The passenger window was open so I crouched down to speak to her through the window. She admired my Sweet Midnight Webs We Weave shirt and my bright pink hair. She then imminently made the sales pitch asking if I would like to see her T Shirts for sale. She got out of her car and the first thing I noticed was how petite she was,  wearing a mini dress that looked tie dyed with peace signs all over it, platform sandals (with stockings on. Which is a pet peeve of mine), a bright pink coat (that matched my hair) and holding a very dirty Hello Kitty bag.  Her platinum hair was teased up and accented with two cute bright pink (again matching my hair) ribbon hair clips. She walked to the back of the Corvette (which had obviously been in an accident and had used duct tape to fix)  opened her trunk and the Angelyne Store was open for business.
"you can charge anything you want" she said in her quiet whisper of a voice. 
"Have you've seen the billboard?" she cut me off to ask.
"Oh you remind me of Barbara Stanwyck" she interrupted me again to tell me. 
"Do you want to look at any paintings" she asked again
I told her that I couldn't afford one of her paintings and she seemed very, very disappointed.
She then tried to sell me an 8x10 for her to autograph. I told her that we brought our own poster (from Rick) of her to sign for us. She told us to give the poster back to our friend and buy the 8x10 off of her.


Angelyne Memorabilia
I told her that my husband was waiting for us at the Coffee Bean and she looked up and saw him wearing the T Shirt with her face that Rick had given us. She was perplexed and disappointed knowing that her sales pitch would be more difficult now. I told her that my husband was her fan and to bring stuff with us to the coffee shop. She threw a black t shirt, CD, DVD, buttons, and business cards into her leopard print bag and handed it to me to carry. We walked into the Coffee Bean, my husband carrying a Sweet Midnight gift for her, and I carrying her bag of merchandise. She picked a table by the window, lowered the shade so no one could see her, but then found a better table in the back corner. She asked Jimmy to go with her to the counter to order 'The Angelyne' drink.  Which we came to find out was 1/3 African Sunrise tea, 1/3 coffee and the rest vanilla. 

Angelyne's bag full of her merch, fan and sunglasses


She asked if I was a 'sweet or salty' type of girl. I responded 'both'.

She asked if I was a 'sweet or salty' type of girl. I responded 'both'.
As we waited for her drink to be made she chose to sit with her back to the rest of the coffee shop. Jimmy and I sat against the wall facing the shop. We chit chatted about what Jimmy and I do, why we were in LA, how I resemble Barbara Stanwyck, showed her photos from my Flash in the Past photo shoots, she opened her gift we gave her (a Sweet Midnight Coffin Bag). She told us how superstitious she was and made sure no black cats were in the box. She said that Dave Nivarro from Jane's Addiction had a coffin as a coffee table and we told her that our kitchen table was an embalming table, and she felt we won that contest on who is the creepiest person. She made compliments on how beautiful I was, and how I reminded her of Barbara Stanwyke again. She then asked where we lived and I told her Bisbee, Arizona. She then made a creepy comment and said 'Busy Bisbee Bats' which is the vanity plate on the hearse 'bzbbatz'. This lead me to believe that perhaps they did a little bit of research on us prior to the meeting. Why else would she have said such an out of the blue comment?


Angelyne merch and The Angelyne drink we all shared

At this point her drink was ready. She came back holding the Coffee Bean paper cup and 3 little espresso mugs. She placed one in front of each of us and poured The Angelyne drink from the paper cup into the three mugs so we all could share. We toasted to Angelyne. She got up and asked to borrow Jimmy and walked him over to the ladies room. She had him stand outside the bathroom and watch the door, explaining that she did not trust the lock. She came back and explained to us how she wants to make everyone feel special. She told us that both Jimmy and myself were special. 
She returned to the table and we spoke about how wonderful glitter is, compared our lipstick colors, had a discussion about her fan and Alf. Then came the sales pitch again! She claimed everything she sold was handmade and nothing was mass produced, which is why a T Shirt cost $60 and a button cost $20. Jimmy explained to her our budget, but she said we could pay cash for some and charge the rest. 
It was then time for our ride! I opened the passenger door after my chauffeur got in on the driver's side. As I opened the door Angelyne cleaned off some papers and an empty Starbucks cup (I wonder if they make her signature drink too) and threw them into the back of the pink Corvette which doubled as her store. She put on red knit gloves which she had cut the fingertips off of. She put on her sunglasses as I buckled my seat belt. Her Hello Kitty bag was between us and I asked her if she liked Hello Kitty. 
"only because she is good luck! If she wasn't good luck she would be outta here"
She put on her music (as in, the music she recorded from the CD she tried to sell us). We rode up the street and she slammed on the breaks, put her arm out across my chest and looked at me to make sure I was OK. We joked about her having insurance and then drove up to see her newest billboard. She pulled over so I could take a photograph of it.

Angelyne Billboard taken from inside her pink Corvette

The sun was just setting at this point so she took out a fan from the driver side car pocket and handed it to me so I could use it to block the sun from my eyes. At this point I noticed how people walking around Hollywood started to take photos and videos of us in the car. People would pull up next to us and blow kisses at us (fine, they were really blowing kisses of Angelyne but whatever...). At one point a gentleman in an SUV pulled up next to us and took out his cell phone, she grabbed the fan out of my hand to cover her face with. She then handed it back to me after the light turned green. I didn't dare ask why she didn't want her face photographed. Rumors and Rick told me that it was due to her botched plastic surgery, her aging, or that she wanted people to pay her for face photos. 
 As her song Kiss Me LA blared on her Boise stereo we continued to drive around LA. We passed the Gelson's market where years earlier I had met Drew Barrymore with my friend Cassie Townsend. She drove through the parking lot and asked if I needed to stop for any groceries. Even if I did it seemed a bit strange because the Angelyne Store took up any room in the car for groceries.
We drove some more, she tried to make a phone call, told me how she got food poisoning, turned up a dead end street, played more of her music to which I told her that Gwen Stefani
completely stole her vocal styling. We then returned to the Coffee Bean on Sunset and Argyle. We got out of the car where Jimmy met us. She posed me in the same stance that she was standing in, with one leg bent like a flamingo. Jimmy snapped a few shots which Angelyne had to approve to make sure her eyes were open. She then
allowed Jimmy to take a photo with her at no extra charge.

I gave Angelyne a hug, she hugged Jimmy we said our 'goodbyes' and then she got back into her pink corvette and we got into our glitter covered hearse with one hell of a story to tell.