Pride & Joy Day 21: Glamping

[Today’s donation was made to Snap for FreedomClick here to see my Pride & Joy Project 2020 Daily Donations List.]

Glamping: a portmanteau for “glamor” and “camping,” but the “camp” part is Billie Porter camp because it makes more sense than Bear Grylls camp.

“Why are you wearing make-up?” a guy asked, he pointed at my black smokey eyes and black nail polish.

It was 2013, sometime in April. I was on BART, still recovering from a breakup. RuPaul’s Drag Race helped me. So did Steven Sondheim’s Into the Woods with Bernadette Peters and Joanna Gleason and the handsome Chip Zien.

“It’s my saving grace,” I said. The doors slid open and it was the Orinda station. My stop. I exhaled, thankful to get off the train.

I remember feeling uncharacteristically down after reading Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar for the first time in 2010. This was in Jakarta. I was already a belly dancer back then, but I never wore make-up when I wasn’t performing. But I felt the urge to paint my nails black and put black eyeliner and eyeshadow. Like Selina Kyle says in Batman Returns, it made me feel so much yummier. People snickered and gave me side-eyes when I went out, but I didn’t care. I was happy.

When I came to the US in January 2011, I first lived in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. I took American Tribal Style belly dance classes at FatChanceBellyDance twice a week in The Mission. I wore make-up all the time and nobody batted an eyelash. In 2012, I started feeling lazy, so I stopped wearing make-up, met a guy, and never really put it back on, until the day after he dumped me.

As for jewelry, well, one of my first real jobs in the US was as a photographer for a wholesale fashion jewelry company in Van Nuys.

“You were the only candidate who gasped when you saw the rows of necklaces on the corridor wall,” my boss said on my first day.

What can I say? I love jewelry. I love making them, I love wearing them. From cheap Chinese pieces that turn your skin green to vintage silver pieces from Rajasthan and Morocco. If I were rich, I’d probably spend most of my money on bling and baubles.

In these photos, I want to highlight the peacock ring from Kate Spade and so I wear a peacock-inspired color palette make-up. I also have on two Egyptian Revival Cleopatra eagle rings (from 1993) with faux amethyst and turquoise stones from Elizabeth Taylor for Avon (yes, I have a pair, just in case one of them breaks). And I just had to put on the sterling silver Carol Felley cat ring (circa 1980), also with an amethyst. It’s not my birthstone (ruby is), but I’m obsessed with it because of DC Comic’s Amethyst Princess of Gemworld I read when I was five. I’m so glad it’s now being revived as a young adult comic book series.

The necklaces are my own creations. The chunky one is made of glass and metal beads and has a vintage carnelian Tanfouk/Talhakimt capped by a vintage Turkoman brass button. The other, longer necklace has a Swarovski teardrop crystal, a tiny sterling silver Bast pendant, and a sterling silver Kali amulet.

Photography by Yuska Lutfi Tuanakotta.