Video from the 2017 Krewe D’Etat and Morpheus parades

Video from the 2017 Krewe D’Etat and Morpheus parades in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The “Join the Parade” theme song was composed and performed by Manolo Boudet for John N. Collins, Mardi Gras Memories, and The Weird Review.

Mardi Gras 2017 is in full swing!

Mardi Gras is in full swing all along the Gulf Coast with Mardi Gras Balls, Parades, and other celebrations happening from Pensacola to Galveston and beyond!

The dropping of the Moon Pie over Mobile
The dropping of the Moon Pie over Mobile

The Mardi Gras celebrations begin with the dropping of the Moon Pie in Mobile, Alabama at 12 a.m. on January first.

 

Mardi Gras fun on Dauphin Island
Mardi Gras fun on Dauphin Island

The first parade of the season rolled on Dauphin Island, Alabama on January 28th and a second on on February 4th, 2017.

Mardi Gras is now in full swing along  the Gulf Coast with parades every weekend in Mobile and New Orleans Mardi Gras will be starting up in earnest this weekend.

Mardi Gras in Hattiesburg, MS surrounds the U of Southern Mississippi's campus with celebration!
Mardi Gras in Hattiesburg, MS surrounds the U of Southern Mississippi’s campus with celebration!

 

After shooting the Dauphin Island parades one of the Old  Biloxi Marching Club krewe gave an invite to the Mardi Gras Ball of Les Badineurs.

Tinkerbell at the Les Badineurs ball
Tinkerbell at the Les Badineurs ball

While there were official programs handed out, this years theme appeared to be “Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.”

Were there bunnies in the original Peter Pan?
Were there bunnies in the original Peter Pan?

As Mardi Gras Masquerades go, this one was a bit hit with the audience and at times folds did go bananas.

Going bananas with Les Badineurs
Going bananas with Les Badineurs

For more photos from Mardi Gras 2017 check out our photo albums.

For more about writer/photographer John N. Collins find him on:
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For the Mardi Gras Memories card game, coloring book, t-shirts, stickers, and other Mardi Gras Parade fun, check out our Indiegogo campaign and Join the Parade!

An interview with New Orleans burlesque beauty and naughty nerd – Xena Zeit-Geist!

Xena Zeit-Geist as Batman in her Bat-Jammies at the opening of "Arkham ASS-YLUM!"
Xena Zeit-Geist as Batman in her Bat-Jammies at the opening of “Arkham ASS-YLUM!”

Intro: Xena Zeit-Geist is the stage name of a popular New Orleans artist, dancer, Burlesque and Nerdlesque performer.  Catch her as Princess Leia on 12/30/2016 and next weekend at Wizard World in New Orleans January 6-8, 2017.

John N Collins (JNC): Thanks for agreeing to an interview with me Xena! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Xena Zeit-Geist (XZG): Thanks for having me, John! Well, I’m a full-time New Orleans burlesque performer and producer, and I specialize in producing, writing, directing, and performing in satirical burlesque plays with pop culture themes. I’m the Founder and Artistic Director of The Society of Sin, New Orleans’ premiere nerdlesque troupe, and I basically spend my time creating and embodying live-action fan fiction.

(JNC): How did you get into the performing arts? Burlesque?

(XZG): I’ve been interested in performing since I was really young — one of my earliest memories, maybe from age 3 or 4, is going to see the Rockettes with my family and running up onto the stage to dance with them. I loved the show so much and thought that the dancers were so beautiful that I wanted to be apart of it more than anything. I took acting classes when I was young and wrote a lot of scripts that I’d force my sisters and neighborhood kids to be in. I got into burlesque when I was about 23. I was working a day job at an advertising agency, occasionally picking up shifts as a dancer at local strip clubs, and working on my creative writing in my off hours, but I was feeling pretty unfulfilled, creatively speaking. My partner at the time suggested that I look into burlesque and introduced me to one of the big New Orleans burlesque producers & performers, Trixie Minx, who started hiring me to help out with her shows, and I loved it immediately. Within a couple of months, Remy Dee (who I now refer to as my “burlesque fairy godmother”) hired me to play the part of “Lock the Demon Trick-or-Treater” in her Nightmare Before Christmas burlesque show, and the rest is history.

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(JNC): What is Nerdlesque?

(XZG): Nerdlesque combines the classic art of the striptease with nerd culture. In a typical nerdlesque act, a performer will choose an iconic character from one of their favorite fandoms and use costuming, dance, props, and striptease to tell a little of the character’s story. You don’t have to necessarily portray a character, for instance, Sailor St. Claire does a beautiful fan dance as the ship Serenity from “Firefly” and Franki Markstone has an award-winning nerdlesque act where she dresses in Gryffindor colors with a Snitch in her hair (which she catches in her mouth at the end of the act). It’s a lot like fan fiction or cosplay in that it allows performers to play with their favorite fandoms while bringing their own artistic expression to the table.

(JNC): What inspires you and gets your creative juices flowing?

(XZG): Oh gosh, so many things! With any movie, TV show, stage show, book, or other piece of creative material that I consume, I try really hard to pick out what is done well and what isn’t and what I can take away from that and apply to my own work. I always carry a notebook and pen with me and have been known to jot down notes or little sketches whenever I see or hear something interesting. Some people don’t like it. I think they think I’m not paying attention to them when I do that, but I promise, I am. Maybe too much attention, even.

(JNC): Tell us about your current projects.

(XZG): Well, I’ve been putting a lot of time into creating all of The Society of Sin’s shows for Wizard World next week and have been putting a lot of time into my new Sailor Mars costume for The Crystal Cabaret show 1/6, but today, I’m focusing all of my attention on preparing to host The Society of Sin’s Star Wars Burlesque show this Friday. I’d been planning to host the show dressed as Princess Leia, since both the character Leia and the actress/writer Carrie Fisher are two of my lifelong heroes, but now that Carrie Fisher has passed away, it’s even more important to me that Friday’s show be spectacular. I really want to honor her memory and put together a big celebration of her life, and I know the rest of the troupe feels the same way.

Society of Sin Wizard World Kickoff
Society of Sin Wizard World Kickoff

(JNC): Do you have any future plans or dreams you would like to let us in on?

(XZG): I’d love to tour someday, perhaps with a comic convention like Wizard World, and bring my nerdlesque shows all over the country, or even the world. That’s something I’ve been trying to figure out how to do for a little while now.

(JNC): Can you tell us something weird and wonderful about yourself that your fans might not know about?

(XZG): Last year, I wrote and performed in a sketch comedy Youtube series with my friend Alana Torres called City of No.   Alana recently moved to L.A., but City of No is still online  and we hope to figure out a way to keep making things together, even if it means some traveling.

(JNC): Do you have anything you would like to add? (Upcoming performances? Website? Facebook? Twitter? etc?)

(XZG): Upcoming performances: This week I have 12/30 at 8p & Midnight “The Mos Eisley Cantina Cabaret: A Star Wars Burlesque Revue” at Eiffel Society, and then every Saturday at 7p at The Dragon’s Den I have “Talk Nerdy To Me: A Weekly Nerdlesque Revue” with The Society of Sin (entry $10 cash at the door). Next week, Jan. 6-8, I’ll be back at Wizard World Comic Con manning The Society of Sin’s booth by day and providing nerdlesque entertainment by night. We’ve got “The Crystal Cabaret: A Sailor Moon Burlesque Revue” Friday 1/6 at 8p & Midnight at The Willow, Talk Nerdy To Me Saturday once again, and a very special show to close out the convention featuring the best of the best in New Orleans nerdlesque entertainment, which you should be on the lookout for more information about.
Facebook: Facebook.com/thexenazeitgeist
Twitter/Instagram: @xenazeitgeist

(JNC): Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. I am looking forward to seeing you at Wizard World New Orleans!

(XZG): Thank you again for interviewing me! I can’t wait!

The initial interviews with the Second Hand Model Contestants

The Second Hand Models competition began with our crew member Aaron Robins interviewing the contestants.  Click on the photos below to view each model’s interview.  Your likes, shares, etc. on the models pages will be used in part to determine the voting.  So make sure you like/share your favorite model or all of the models if you can’t decide.  Likes, shares and page views will be compared to YouTube/Google Statistics to counter “stuffing” the ballot box (i.e if a video’s page gets 10,000 likes but the video was only viewed 100 times or if YouTube showed that the 10,000 viewers only viewed 1% of the video, the actual count would be reduced accordingly.) 

The Runway Fashion Show is scheduled for October 23, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Woodland Mall Celebration Cinema and will be $10 at the door or prepay online  Seating will be limited to 100 unless there are 100 prepays.  Due to technical difficulties the venue has been changed to the Atomic Vixens’ studio at 447 Century Avenue.  The attendees will also put their ticket stubs in containers to vote for their favorite contestant in the Runway Fashion Show.

Sõnya Hernandez
Sõnya Hernandez

Destiny Driftmeyer
Destiny Driftmeyer

Heather Lobbezoo
Heather Lobbezoo

Emily Doney
Emily Doney

Kelsey Dunneback
Kelsey Dunneback

Marie Klosowski
Marie Klosowski

Second Hand Models – The Contest

Second Hand Models is a concept I dreamed up a few years ago.  We decided to make it the first project for the production team I have been assembling for over a year.  It is intended as a real life training exercise for the team as well as a pilot production for Second Hand Studio L.L.C.  It is also a real competition in which the contestants will receive the wardrobes they assemble and the winning contestants will receive cash prizes that may even cover their gas expenses to get to the shoots!

Due to various complications (such as not having any of the models make all the shoots so scheduling and rescheduling has been a big problem!) the official start of the competition has lagged behind the shooting of the competition.  When the budget of the film is limited to what is in the Executive Producer’s wallet, delays are to be expected.  The competition is now on.

How will the competitors be ranked?  We will be posting YouTube interviews, music videos, pictures from their photo shoots and tabulating the views and likes each person gets.  YouTube gives us the ability to check the duration of the views so we will probably implement a graded counting system for the votes.  That is, 100 views and 100 likes and only 1% of the video viewed would turn into 1 vote/like.  While 10 views and 10 like that viewed 100% of the video would be 10 views/likes.

On October 23, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Woodland Mall Celebration Cinema in Kentwood, Michigan (the greater Grand Rapids area) we will have a runway fashion show.

Due to technical difficulties the venue has been changed to the Atomic Vixens’ studio at 447 Century Avenue.  

The models will have their first opportunity to wear their wardrobes for a live audience.  We will also have videos with highlights of their interviews, shopping trips, and photo shoots while they are changing into the next outfit.  The audience will also have the opportunity to purchase and have autographed photos of the models from their choice of favorites from the photo shoots and to put their ticket stub in a sealed container as a vote for their favorite model.  Seating is limited to 100 (if it sells out in advance we will move to a larger theater) so purchase your ticket in advance!

Thanks for the support and I hope to see you next Sunday at Celebration Cinema!

John N. Collins

Coming soon – Second Hand Models!

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Premise:        A model competition in which the cast are given a minimal budget ($20 per store at both stores) and must purchase their wardrobe at second hand shops.  After they assemble their wardrobes, they have a photoshoots and a runway show.  As the shows run, the models will work to promote their own pictures and videos via social media.  Voting via social media will factor into the determination of the winner.
Episodes:

  • 1) Interviews – meeting the competitors
  • 2) Shopping at a low end second hand shop (St. Vincent de Paul)
  • 3) Shopping at a higher end second hand/consignment shop (The Urban Exchange Epic Sale)
  • 4) Photoshoots in their outfits
  • 5) Gala runway model show at the Celebration Cinema

Episodes 1-4 are shot and into the hands of the editor.  Episode 5 is scheduled for October 23, 2016 at 7 p.m. at the Woodland Mall Celebration Cinema and will be $10 at the door or prepay online  Seating will be limited to 100 unless there are 100 prepays.  Due to technical difficulties the venue has been changed to the Atomic Vixens’ studio at 447 Century Avenue.  

Theme song:            “Second Hand Sexy” composed for the show by Manolo Boudet

Locations: WKTV Studio Wyoming, Michigan, St Vincent de Paul’s Grand Rapids, Michigan, The Urban Exchange Grand Rapids, Michigan, The Atomic Vixen’s Studio Grand Rapids, Michigan and Celebration Cinema, Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

The Second Hand Models

Sõnya Hernandez

Sõnya Hernandez

A proud Mexican American educator, Doctoral student, mother of two and Governor appointed member of Michigan’s Hispanic, Latino Commission.  She grew up as a second hand shopper due to poverty and now embraces it as a lifestyle.

 

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Destiny Driftmeyer

Was shaped by her attendance at the Toledo School for the Arts where she studied Visual Art, Photography, Ethnic Percussion, Technical Theater and Yoga.  She is a full time promotional model and a fashion guru.  She loves thrifting and pairing together vintage pieces with today’s modern vibe for use in photoshoots.

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Heather

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Heather Lobbezoo

 A wife mom, Civil War reenactor, and engineering student.  She loves color as well as the Victorian and Steampunk styles.  She wants to show that a mom can be stylish even on a really tight budget.

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Emily

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Emily Doney

A stay at home mommy to a 4.5 year old spitfire and proud wife of a Michigan National Guard Soldier.  She is the owner of an online cosmetic business, Carpe Noctem Cosmetics, making custom nail polish.  She likes to sew, dye second hand clothes, cook, sing, dance and about a quadrillion other things, usually all at once.

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Marie Klosowski

A casual cosplayer who goes by “Ruheil Kuro” with interests in singing, crafting, and nature photography.  More often working with stone, wire, and chainmail but is pretty handy with a sewing machine and duct tape.  While cosplaying, photographers often told her she should be a model.  She decided the Second Hand Model competition would be a great opportunity to experience it.

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Kelsey

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Kelsey Dunneback

A Central Michigan University graduate with a degree in Fashion Merchandising and a love for second hand shopping.  She finds it a challenge and inspiration to her creativity mixing different pieces she might not have otherwise considered.  She is a Marketing Specialist for Cat Footwear, a division of Wolverine Worldwide.  She also writes her own blog, Lady in Menswear, where she shares her love for fashion.  She wants to inspire people to get creative with their clothing, explore their options and express themselves through their clothes.

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The Crew:

Laura Earle – Casting Director, model wrangler, Associate Producer, second hand fashionista, model and organic cosmetician.

Leslie Vaas – Associate Producer, Director, camera operator and crew wrangler.

Adam Sorensen – Associate Producer, camera operator, logistics specialist and male model.

Doug “Styles” Rowland – Camera operator, editor and the voice behind the face.

Travis Mandenberg – Camera operator.

James Keating – Photographer, mentor and creative consultant.

John N. Collins – Creator, Executive Producer, and pizza delivery driver.

John N. Collins (JNC): Thanks for agreeing to do an interview with me Dempsey. You have a pretty broad background in filmmaking. Can you tell me a bit about it?

Dempsey Tillman (DT): When I was a kid back in Michigan, my mom got me and my brother a VHS camcorder. My brother had no interest, but I had more than enough to keep that camera busy. Shot everything I could as kid. Grew up and went to school for film production. Now, nothing against Michigan filmmaking programs because they taught me a lot, but I knew if I wanted to be around the filmmakers I looked up to I had to move to the place they made movies. California. So I loaded up the truck… you know the rest. I found my on to the set of Starship Troopers and worked my way into a position that eventually allowed me to work on over 50 major film productions.

(JNC): Where did you study filmmaking and how did that help prepare you for dealing with Hollywood?

(DT): I studied at Eastern Michigan University.  Making films in college is just like getting a job in the film industry. You have to be a go- getter. You have to look for ways to get it done. Now when you’re in a film program at a university you’re constantly looking for a way to make you project better than your classmates. It teaches you competitiveness and how to push your creativity just like working in or getting a job in the film industry. You have to stay outside of your comfort zone 100% of the time to get it done… to get that first job.

EMU’s filmmaking program gave me hands on access to the equipment I needed and the support that allowed me to make student films that set the curve in all my classes. The program also grounds you in film studies so that you have a good base to grow from.

(JNC): It is always sad to hear Michigan lost another filmmaker to Hollywood but we are proud to see you doing well there. Speaking of doing well, you recently had an entry at Hollywood’s Shriekfest. Can you tell me about that?

(DT): Yes. In 2015, my sci-fi film “The Art of Human Salvage” was a finalist at Shriekfest in the short film category. This year, I entered a new script which was based on a true story of a Florida man’s alien abduction. My screenplay “Red Light” was chosen as a finalist in this years festival.

(JNC): I watched, “The Art of Human Salvage” on YouTube. For a ten minute film it really packs a punch. Awesome!

(DT): Thanks…. It’s more of a teaser for the feature script of the same title.  The short film won the Best Short Film at the 2016 Phillip K. Dick film festival.

(JNC): How well has the “Red Light” script done and will you be producing it too?

(DT): The Red Light screenplay recently won Best Scifi Screenplay at the Oaxaca Film Festival. We are trying to crowdfund the budget for Red Light through Indiegogo.com

I will be one of the producers on the film but mainly focused on directing the film. I’m looking for investors and producers.

(JNC): From what you have told me and what I have seen of your work, this should be a good one to fund. What sort of incentives do you have on Indiegogo to entice us to chip in?

(DT): We have lots of great incentives. Your name in the credits, signed posters, script, DVD of the finished film, digital download of the film, online video diary as we shoot, we have autographed DVDs from JJ Abrams, Greg Nicotero, David Green (Director From Earth To Echo),Grant to Curtis (Producer of 3 Spiderman films), Producers of the Star Wars The Force Awakens Poster…. tons of cool things donated and given away as Perks for donations to the project.

We have season 1 thru 4 autographed box sets by Greg Nicotero (Producer/Director of the show)

 We even have visit the set.
(JNC): Sounds awesome! I may have to go for getting my name in the credits. Is there anything you would like to add? Your website, Facebook, Twitter, etc?
(DT): Yes, check out our Facebook page and our Indiegogo page to support us.
(JNC): Thanks so much for taking the time out to chat with me. Keep in touch and I am looking forward to seeing “Red Light” turned into a film!
(DT): Thank you and I appreciate the interview.
(JNC): You’re welcome.  It is a pleasure to see a Michigan export doing well in the film industry!

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