Miss Tosh @misstosh #badgirlcrush
Miss Tosh is a performance artist who combines her love for The Golden Era of Cinema with her love for fashion. Her performances challenge tropes of femininity and notions of the erotic, while always leaving the audience dazzled, dazed and wanting more.
Miss Tosh, thank you for being our #badgirlcrush and taking the time to chat with us! The aim of the #badgirlcrush is to give our readers and followers some insight into creative women that inspire us, we love you glamorous style!
Thank you for having me as your Bad Girl Crush, I love The Original Bad Girl brand.
Miss Tosh wears The Untamed Woman Turtleneck & Vixen Top. Images via: Nina Palomba
Q) We can see you are a California girl now living in Chicago, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Venice Beach. My father is a surfer dude and my mom a beach bombshell. My parents were very much the Barbie and Ken of their youth, but I was interested in a different era. When I was a little girl I was obsessed with the big Technicolor movies and 1940’s animations of showgirls. My grandfather took up cell animation as a hobby. In his studio I taught my self to draw by tracing images of Betty Grable, and Tex Avery’s “Red Hot Riding Hood.” I would imagine new outfits for the characters and draw them new clothes kind of like a paper doll. Always playing dress up with my drawings and putting on shows in our outfits. Imagining my hand-me-down dresses were glorious sparkling gowns fit for a starlet of the Golden Era. I was creating an image that would later be my future self.
I lived in Chicago for seven years and recently moved home to Hollywood. When I moved to Chicago to study, I was so excited to live in a city whose history is rooted in burlesque and early Americana performance. There was always a link between my work and performance.
Q) How did you get started in burlesque, have you danced since a young age?
I used to be a ballerina and danced for Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy. During one of our dance intensives Debbie showed us a video of Josephine Baker performing in her famous banana skirt with strands of pearls across her bare chest. I fell in love with her story as the first black woman to star in a major motion picture and refusing to perform for segregated audiences. I had so many questions and had to know more about her. She opened the door to my love for burlesque history. I researched everything I could about the history of women in erotic dance. I discovered legends of the Burly Q like Gypsy Rose Lee, Tempest Storm, Lili st Cryr, Sally Rand and my great-great grandmother, Mazie Evans and her Banjo Boys. A common thread between these women was their rebellious spirit. They were in charge of their actions, and their bodies. What, how, and who they performed was their choice.
Q) Who is your favorite burlesque performer?
I adore Sally Rand. She was such an elegant performer and pioneer of burlesque, a rebel for her time. She is most noted for her original ostrich feather fan dance that she performed during the 1933 Chicago Worlds Fair. Sally was arrested four times in a single day during the fair for indecent exposure after a fan dance performance while riding a white horse, Gwenevire style, down the streets of Chicago body painted by Max Factor, Sr. She never let anything stop her trajectory, and continued to perform her feather fan dance well into her 70s in venues including Madison Square Garden. What an awesome Bad Girl!
Q) Where are some of you favorite places to perform?
I’m grateful to have performed at several amazing places, but two of those performances are very memorable for me. I performed for SAIC’s 150th Year Celebration. It was very special to have my performance work recognized by my university at such a prestigious event. This past year I also held a performance fundraiser in support of Project Fierce, a local Chicago organization providing transitional housing and support services to homeless LGBTQ young adults. It was a beautiful opportunity to use my creative work to produce an event that would raise awareness and funds towards the young LGBTQ youth in Chicago. My performance work has been a part of my personal self-exploration and learning to be proud of what makes me different. It has been a powerful experience to present my self on the stage and choose to reveal who I am while being comfortable in my own skin.
Q) Do you have a particular genre of music you perform to?
I like to perform to big bang covers of classic burlesque songs. I have fantasies about working with a band to create personalized music for my shows.
Q) Training at the School of the art institute of Chicago must have been amazing, have you always been interested in fashion design?
I always thought I would be a ballerina, painter or sculptor. I didn’t know how to sew or draft patterns before school. I saw a corsetry course offered and I had to take it. It was the first course that really stood out for me. That led me to be trained in millinery, learning how to carve head blocks and hat forms. I took a leap and applied for the fashion department at SAIC. It was rigorous and brutal training, but it wasn’t far from the discipline required to be a ballerina. In a way all my creative interests have now found a home in fashion.
Q) Do you make your own burlesque costumes; if so how long do they take and where do you draw inspiration from?
I design and create my acts from start to finish. From concept, lighting, costuming, choreography, music selection, creating and constructing props, to makeup and hair. Every detail is fine tuned to reflect my creative vision for the act. The experience is a glamorous fantasy that manifests and sparkles before your very eyes. I will fantasize about acts for many months but once I commit to an idea the whole act from start to finish can take a year or more to create.
To speed up my process I have found the best of burlesque costumers to assist me. Moura Designs created the most elegant bespoke corset. The fit is so artful and perfect. Manugeettoi created the most delicate of underpinnings for me. My most recent act is a decadent rose gold ensemble with over 200,000 Swarovski rhinestones.
My performances are influenced by anything visually stimulating that triggered an intense "VA VA VOOM” feeling, a spectacle phenomenon where I could not remove my eyes from the dazzling quality of a movie, photos, garments, or characters.
Q) If you could describe your style in three words, what would they be?
Intuitive. Nostalgic. Sentimental.
Q) If there was one starlet’s wardrobe you could have as your own, who would it be and why?
Isabella Blow. She discovered so many amazing talents and two legends of fashion, Alexander McQueen and Phillip Tracey. I can only fantasize about the fashion archive she would have decorated and adorned herself with.
Q) You always have the classic Hollywood hair and makeup perfected; do you have any favorite beauty products? Can you share any tips and trick with our readers?
I feel nude without crimson lips and red fingertips! My mom always wore red lipstick and painted her nails red and I couldn’t wait until I could lacquer my nails and indulge in a tube of red lipstick.
My hairstyle evolved from my obsession with animated characters. I am very inspired by the yummy and gratifying way early bad girl animated characters were illustrated.
Number 1 Rule: Practice makes perfect!
I set my hair in wet sets, with hot rollers or a curling iron and pins depending on the desired spring of the curl. The key is listening to which way you hair wants to move and capturing the wave with long clips then spraying once you’ve set it. I’ll even wear my silver clips in the car and remove them before I arrive to my destination so that my hair is sharp once I step out from the car. Just be sure to take them off, you don’t want to ruin the illusion with a head full of clips.
Another trick for keeping the curls fresh for a few days is sleeping on a satin pillowcase. If I like my hair I will roll the curls back up before bed and wear a chiffon scarf and go to bed with my satin pillow. This way the hair won’t frizz or tangle.
I line my eyes with any dark black gel liner using a very thin brush looking down into a hand mirror. I blot my lips with powder before lining them with a sharp mac lip liner. I change lipstick colors and brands from deep blue reds to raspberry reds. Some of my favorites are Mac Ruby Woo, Russian red and Mac red. I like variety in color even if it might seem subtle to others.
Q) Who would you describe as you’re ultimate Bad Girl and why?
I thought about this for a while and dug deep to think of the first bad girls that really caught my attention. The women who always stood out to me the most were the bad girls that stepped onto paper through the ink pens held John Willy, Bill Ward, and Tex Avery. Characters like Gwendoline, “Red Hot Riding Hood,” “Swing Shift Cinderella” and the Ward’s femme fatales. Their confidant, shameless, and badass energy strikes a cord. I identify with their hyper stylized female form and extreme animated gestures. I resonate with the characters not as eye candy for men but a celebration of exaggerated femininity.
Q) Can you describe to our readers what would be your perfect weekend?
I enjoy going to cocktail lounges that have gorgeous style and great music. But what I really love to do is to think of creative ways to have fun. I love to go roller skating and bowling with my fiancée’. She is an artist and painted a pair of custom bowling shoes for me as a Christmas Gift. I also love cooking and hosting parties that require a theme or dress code like a onesie trampoline evening.
Miss Tosh wears our JD Top and The Original Bad Girl T. Images via: Nina Palomba
Q) What do you love about the Original Bad Girl?
What I love about the Original Bad Girl is that you have captured the glamour in casual dress. Your cut and fit is on point and tailored to the hourglass shaped, while being light and comfortable. People ask me what do I wear when I’m not dressed up or if I wear comfortable clothes. I do and the clothes I wear are still chic, original and fit for this bad girl.
Q) What does 2016 have in store for you?
I am excited to start the New Year in my new home with my fiancée’ along with our kitties and new puppy. I debuted my newest act on January 30th at The Million Dollar Theater for Night On Broadway. Down Town Los Angeles will be opening up all the historic theaters for one night in celebration of the golden era of performance and cinema. I will also be traveling to London this summer as a guest of the Oxford Conference of Corsetry. You can join us for hands on experience learning the art of corsetry from the masters. This year I’ll be making special appearances and modeling corsetry creations.
Patsy - Jungle Pat
(Columnist for The Original Bad Girl Blog)