Super exciting: I have finally joined the ranks of people who have a website! For some this is something of a routine feat but for me it’s a pretty big deal. As I’ve mentioned before I have no knack for technology and gadgetry and certainly never though that I would have an actual website. In this day and age though, if you want to be visible, you have to be omnipresent and that means getting onto the great, wide inter-tron. So, here’s me, Blair Petty, in an attempt to go viral with www.blairpetty.com
I haven’t drawn anything in years. Correction, I should say that I haven’t actually sat down to draw in years. I’ve doodled on the occasional business card or napkin or in the pages of a binder, but no real art the way I used to.
When I was growing up I was always drawing something. Always. I would get giant sketch pads as birthday presents and I’d fill them with all sorts of ridiculous images. If you looked at the books you might have thought that you were looking at the early sketches of a young Hugh Hefner as most of the pictures were of gorgeous girls with fluttery lashes, long hair and even longer legs. My grandmother still jokes about my near obsession with drawing “babes.” I don’t anymore though. I don’t really need to because the make-uping has completely eclipsed the drawing.
When I was wrapping up a shoot a week ago with Matthew Burditt we were discussing Vancouver’s very small fashion industry and how it’s not the easiest on in which to make a living. He said that he does what he does though because he’s making art. It’s true, and sometimes I forget that this is what we’re doing. Working on shoots has definitely provided a creative outlet for me and as long as they keep up, I don’t know if I’ll sit down and put a pencil to paper and render a supermodel.
The shots from above were from a shoot I worked on on Sunday with photographer Matthew Burditt. The model was Oliver, a really hilarious British guy from Elmer Olson Models and the stylist was Erin Stanley who is a Renaissance woman if there ever was one (she is the music buyer for Zulu Records and runs the vintage clothing company Daughters of Dawn). Busy girl. I hope you enjoy them because I sure enjoyed working on ‘em.
When I was a little kid I thought about what I would do when I was a grown-up. I thought that I would be something like a wildly successful film director and marry my best friend Kalie. I’d work with people I loved. I’d have complete control over everything I produced and people would hand me large bucketfuls of money that I wouldn’t have to pay tax on.
I grew up.
Things have changed slightly. I am still best friends with Kalie but a marriage for us seems rather pointless. The career with loved ones however is holding true. The shots from above were done with my friend Lyle Reimer of Evan and Dean as the stylist. Please check out their designs: amazing, architectural, wearable. Every time I get to glance through their look book I think of how much nicer everyone would look if they were donning a piece from the collection. Anyway, it was the first time Lyle and I were able to collaborate on a shoot and we were able to do so with the expert, artistic eye of Tyson Fast. Tyson is trained as a photo-journalist and you definitely get a sense of that spontaneity in his work. The softness isn’t lost though and I think that was crucial to our theme here, which was based on the 1970′s horror flick Carrie (minus the bucket o’ pig’s blood). Lyle had found a giant rosary that we used in the shoot (I loves me some religious imagery) and we were able to photograph one of my favorite Harley Davidson tee-shirts which was amazing.
We were sent Lisa from Liz Bell whom Lyle and I met a day prior at the Aritzia show. Both she and her mom were a blast to work with and Lisa was an absolute champion when Lyle and I decided to douse her eyes with Fix+ (a M.A.C facial mist) in order to make her mascara run. She’s barely in high school but this kid had the confidence of a 30 year old and took the stinging spray like and absolute professional. I’m excited to see where Lisa goes with modeling and with any luck, we’ll be able to see her and her mom Marion again. Hope you enjoy the shots.
In truth I still don’t think I feel like a true grown-up but man, to work on something you’re good at with people that you love, that’s sure evidence you’re going in the right direction.
It never happens honestly: me, sitting at home thinking, “damn I’ve got it all figured out.” Mostly whenever I’m in my own space for any length of time I start to feel a little like I’m running behind. Silly. Anyway, the shots I’m putting up are from a shoot I did a while ago with photographer Mike Chatwin and relate sort of to how I view my apartment.
The shoot itself was a small kerfuffle (sp?) because we were originally going to shoot another model with Wilhelmina who happened to be in town. I managed to work some voodoo on my shifts at work and somehow got the day off only to find that the model left town almost as quickly as she got here. Crap. It ended up being amazing though because Britt at Next agreed to do the shoot. I mentioned earlier about down to earth people–she’s one of ‘em. Mike and Britt came to my apartment and we shot around the neighborhood and for the last look Mike decided to shoot it right at my
really dirty gorgeous window. It gave me a bit of a new perspective on this little box I call home. Enjoy! Credits: Photo: Mike Chatwin, Model: Britt @ Next, Hair/Make-up: Me
So here it is, the first post in the new format. I might throw some images from past shoots up here to get the ball rolling and then moving forward I’ll try and upload images from the new ones. Did that make any sense?
Whatever, anyway this shoot was done with photographer Matthew Burditt whom I adore and whom I hounded for weeks into working with me a while back. Luck has given me a bunch of opportunities to work with him and I must say, the guy is amazing. There’s something lovely about discovering down-to-earth people in fashion and I’m lucky that I’ve now met a few. Styling was done by Leanne Trigg whom I finally met in person at this shoot. She’d styled a few others that I’d worked on but was actually so booked that she had to deliver the outfits and jet. Multitasking is undeniably a talent. The model was Robyn at Richard’s, and though I covered her eyes in gloss texture, she still managed to crack jokes and gave me the run down on the Rich Dad, Poor Dad books. Free education rules!
It’s true, I am a neglectful blogger. I haven’t really paid much attention to this thing as of late and so I have decided to do a bit of a renovation on the blog itself to better enable me to contribute to it on a more regular basis.
Gone now are the days of witty, sarcastic entries about jobs, job hunting, finding my way in life and then loosing it just as quick. No more posts about random gym visits and the concrete reality that I am indeed a “hard gainer” and will not now, nor in the foreseeable future start a cycle of anabolic steroids. No more rants about the Vancouver police’s merry band of drug dealing, prostitute visiting, binge drinking, disable person assaulting serial rapists, their bogus “recruiting” practices and a certain closeted lesbian detective with whom I’ve had the
misfortune pleasure of encountering on a number of occasions. I’m moving on past bits on gay stereotypes and bites on trying to seek out a literary agent in favor of a more shameless approach to self-promotion.
As it stands now, I am still a
mid late 20-something guy working as a make-up artist. I am still a writer. I am still a foodie. I figure that a recessionist (read: shorter and more visual) version of Degrees Of… will probably be more legible, more understood and ultimately more interesting than the previous long-winded and dare I say it, verbose essays of yester-month.
So dear and loyal reader, I will now be displaying a great deal more visual content and a great deal less “rant.” Sure, from time to time I might have an overwhelming urge to post an epic letter about something such as my hatred of Vancouver city transit’s insistence on using fabric seats, but mostly I’ll be sticking to putting up work from photo shoots, culinary experiments and the occasional fiction piece (book 2 is trucking along just fine actually).
I thank you for popping in from time to time and reading each piece in the past and I hope that as Degrees Of… evolves, you will continue to do so. It is because of you, gentle reader, that I continue to be inspired to do this.
It’s an undeniable fact that Vancouver is a bizarre city. There’s some contention as to whether or not you can use the adjectives ‘International’ and ‘Cosmopolitan’ to describe this fair place we call home, because to some it’s a bustling gateway between Asia and North America and to others it’s a celeb-obsessed, pseudo bohemian hamlet too far West for anyone to give a rip about it. To me it’s just gay. I don’t mean the slanderous “Don’t be so gay,” gay, but the literal, capital ‘G’ kind. It’s GHEY!
I think when I first moved here, the city merely seemed more liberal in comparison to the cities I’d lived in Alberta. The people here appeared more open minded and on more than one occasion I would get introduced to someone and his or her “partner,” which was something that would have never happened in Little Texas. Of course this was six years ago and I think that since then, there has been a steady, rainbow-coloured stream filtering into the city. I may have a slightly inaccurate cross-section from which to judge the population though.
A couple weeks ago I signed up at the new YMCA centre on Burrard Street. Now, I already have a gym membership at the decaying Kits Workout on 4th and Cypress but because it’s summer (well…sort of) and because I vowed to become a better swimmer and because the combined cost of the two memberships was still less expensive than a single trip to Whole Foods, I decided to join the ranks of fanatical, image obsessed Vancouverites with multiple gym passes. If I feel like slumming it and risk contracting a strange bacterial infection, I’ll do a workout in Kits (honestly, the place is drrrty) and if I want to see how the other half lives and witness first hand how a full-grown man is able to work out in a sequined size-zero onesie, then I’ll head to the YMCA. Both have their own unique charm but they share one major similarity: they’re both outrageously homosexual, and not just because I’m there.
Now obviously the YMCA has a solid history with the gays ever since the Village People immortalized the facilities in their iconic anthem, but I think there’s more to it than that. Gays have a tendency to flock en masse to the newest and best and I tell you friend, this place is crazy sauce. The inside of it resembles a spaceship of sorts, with multiple “decks” featuring different amenities. There’s the ozone pool with the floor that mechanically moves up and down to adjust the depth and there’s the locker room with the spinning machines that miraculously whirl your swimsuit dry. Then there’s the weight room with a selection of completely digitized equipment that allows you to have a simulated personal trainer guide you through your fat loss. The male “trainer” is a blonde, rather buff looking mandroid who instructs you to squeeze your glutes as you pedal on the spinning bike. Again, gay. There’s also a “Reflection Room,” but nobody uses it.
The main thing I’ve noticed though is how the gays begin to set up something of a traditional social structure when they’re in such high concentrations. I’m reminded of the movie Land of the Dead where the zombies have more or less taken over the world and only a few outposts of humanity remain. When left alone, the zombies began to adopt behavior reminiscent of the humans: they went on dates, held down jobs, pumped gas, raised their families and watered their gardens. To outsiders they looked like a regular Joes just going about their business. The same goes for the gays at the ‘Y’. I’m sure I’ll be crucified for comparing my people to the living dead but if you happen to take in a workout downtown you’ll see what I’m talking about.
At the YMCA, the gay social hierarchy is obvious and well defined. There are the Muscle Heads (the gays on steroids who stick to the free weights) the Cheer Squad (the gays on steroids who stay on the machines and wear the above mentioned onesies) the Jocks (the gays on steroids who stick to the basketball courts) the Nerds (the gays on steroids who read while on the ellipticals) and the lesbians (the gays on steroids who date women). The groups are well defined and don’t intermingle much except to cruise a bit or to ask if a machine is in use. Looking around you’d swear that we’ve taken over the world.
I was talking to a guy at my gym in Kitsilano one afternoon just after I finished my workout. Between talk about the weather and him trying to interest me in a cycle of steroids (‘Gear’ he called it) I informed him of my new membership at the YMCA where I go with my partner, Matt. He paused for a moment considering the statement and I anticipated a punch to the chin. Instead he smiled, told me he was thinking of getting a membership there himself because “all those guys are good customers,” and if I changed my mind about adding 20 lbs of lean muscle to my frame I knew where to find him, same went for my partner. How nice.
I think it’s the total normalcy of the gayness that makes this city seem so flamboyant. I mean, if a 250 lb drug dealer isn’t fazed by someone’s orientation then I think it’s safe to say that nobody is. We’ve arguably entered the age of the “boring gay,” where we’re no longer screamingly fabulous queens or the outrageous “Betchs” of decades past. Ultimately that’s the whole point I think: for gays to be thought of as typical, ordinary people. I doubt if I’ll ever get to the point where sequins don’t seem out of place or even all together ridiculous in a gym (or anywhere) but I suppose I could stand to be a little less shockable. After all, these guys are just people who, when they’re not working out are just average Joes who go on dates, hold down jobs, pump gas, water lawns and raise families and if they do it with the help of a little “Gear,” it’s only to help them fill out the onesie that they throw on for old time’s sake