Monday, August 24, 2009

History Bite: Madame Tussaud

The woman behind the legacy of a massive modern empire of wax museums is a character clouded in mysteriousness and intrigue. Not many people know the fortitude that surrounded the life and times of that Marie Grosholtz or Grosholz (we better known as Marie Tussaud). Born in Strasbourg, France in 1761, Marie was raised exposed into a unique life surrounded by great art and artisans. The daughter of housemaid Anne-Marie Walder, Marie never knew her father, Joseph Grosholz, he died in the Seven Years War.

Her mother would make the first step to exposing Marie to the life of waxwork when she took on the position of housemaid for Dr. Phillipe Curtius, a skilled and valued physician in Berne, France. What is known is that Curtius took Marie in much like a daughter and as an apprentice, showing her the workshop in which he moulded remarkable wax models of humans that were then used for anatomical advancement. He quickly recognized her eagerness and natural talent in the craft.

There was certainly a curiosity among the educated classes for further understanding the human body and its functions, while there still seemed to also be a heavy regulation of one’s actual body based on a strongly implemented caste system that divided people into different Estates of value. This would only crumble after the French Revolution that began with the storming of the Bastille in 1789. In fact this bloody moment in history would also seal a fate for the demand of Marie's talent under the watchful eye of the revolutionaries.

Curtius, in 1765 decided to move to Paris and begin work on his own wax exhibition. Paris was the city of all cities at this point in European history, the arts were booming as quickly as the pockets of the rich. Curtius' work had grown in popularity through a reputation that preceded him and managed to reach the courts of France's noble families and even the notice of King Louis XVI.

Curtius' work continued to grow in reputation and in 1767 Marie joined him in Paris with great astonishment to his wide success. In fact Curtius had recently commemorated Madame du Barry, the mistress of the King of France. Curtius transition of mass appeal would again lay path for young Marie's later success, for when he opened his exhibit in 1770, and later moved it to the hub for artists on the Palais Royale in 1776, he was so well received and respected by his local performers, the everyday working-class people of France, and the highest elite. This was indeed a very transgressive expressed attitude.

Curtuis continued to sweep the nation by waxwork and his success flourished among the pushers and shakers of the time. This in turn allowed Marie access to meet some of the finest and established thinkers leading up to the French Revolution and that were prominent in bringing about this social upheaval.

The result of Cutius’ continuous appeal was a second exhibition on Boluvard du Temple in 1782. Around this time was also when Marie produced her first work, the great French writer and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau who she personally befriended. Marie continued to dazzle her own reputation as a skilled craftswoman and also created wax figures of Voltaire and many other great figures of this time. She was even invited as an extended guest to Versailles in 1780, where for close to a decade she tutored Louis XVI’s sister, Madame Elizabeth. However, Marie’s involvement with the heightening political atmosphere was about to get complicated with the lurking overthrow of the French monarchy within vision.

In 1789 the climate was curious in France and Marie returned to Paris after a long stay at Versailles. Nobody was safe when the French Revolution erupted, Paris was flowing with blood and the guillotine was a regular monument to remind people of the consequences of going against the Revolution. The streets of Paris were filled with bodies and even Marie was to suffer an ill fate. In 1793 during The Reign of Terror Marie was without cause imprisoned alongside her mother in the notorious and rough Laforce Prison. Here she also encountered prisoner Jos├ęphine de Beauharnais, who would become the first wife of Napoleon. A friendship and bond quickly grew among these women. Perhaps throwing Marie in prison was a strategic move on behalf of the budding powers that be, for upon her release Marie became the official death mask maker of those who were beheaded as nobles and former employees of the King and Queen – those who had once hosted her at Versailles. In effect, the idea that would become the Chamber of Horrors was born.

Marie was kept busy for the years of the French Revolution; she created death masks of some of the greatest figures of the time, including Robspierre, Marat, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. One can say she was captive to her talent and the circumstances that surrounded France. Finally in 1794 the French Revolution ended and Marie inherited Curtius’ entire wax exhibition. Curtius died most likely by poisoning during the year past, but it is not known for sure.

Madame Tussuad

The following year Marie would marry Francois Tussaud, a non-ambitious middle-class man who somehow charmed Marie. He would cause her much agony in the years to come. Francois had little desire to make money on his own and support his family of two sons. This lead Marie to make an difficult decision, she left her youngest son behind and decided to travel with a show across the British Isles. At this point the collection had grown grand from Marie’s own hand. Marie was tireless and she traveled non-stop pushing her show around Europe to audiences of all corners. She was a sleek and intelligent business woman, she was involved in every step of her shows reveal.

Everyone of this time in England wanted to see the figures that had been part of this French Revolution that people could not stop speaking about, and Marie was much like a modern gossip reporter having been a firsthand witness and acquaintance of many of these figures. By this point Napoleon was all the buzz and Marie capitalized by creating a exhibit of him and his wife, Marie's former cellmate, Jos├ęphine de Beauharnais. She even incorporated genuine relics that Napoleon had used into the exhibit. The public could not get enough and her show was a tremendous success.

It would be many years before Marie was re-united her with youngest son because of the circumstance that her husband rarely returned her letters, and she was not able to provide the young boy a stable home. He did however eventually join his mother and in 1835 when Madame Tussaud opened its first permanent showing on Baker St in London. Marie’s Chamber of Horrors was a continual favourite of locals and foreigners and those of all classes and pockets of society. Marie can be thought of being the proprietor of modern day popular culture in some sense-she brought everyone closer to the stars of her age.

In 1850 Madame Tussaud at the age of 88 died in London with her sons by her side. Today her exhibit is on Maryleborne Rd. but carries just the same intrigue as the woman who sculpted these masterpieces. Madame Tussaud has grown to be an international attraction and continues dazzle those who come into contact with these life-like figures of those who tell history’s tale.

EXIT HAIR SALON: Bringing Great Hair to the People

We all care about what lays up there. Yes Im speaking of hair. I had the opportunity to discuss everything you can possible want to know about our crowning glory with Rob Pizzuti, owner of fresh, funky and cutting-edge Exit Hair Salon in Toronto.

P: Can you tell me a little about your training and why you decided to enter the hair salon industry?

R: I started training when I was 14. I was always asking my dads friend about his salon and all the funny stories he had made it sound more like play than work. By the end of that summer, I not only had mastered the social skills to entertain clients but had a few requests for services. It became my part time job until I finished university. I then decided to leave my home town Windsor Ontario, and move to Toronto at the age of 21 with $500 in my pocket and free rent (thanks to my brother who lives here). That was 18 years ago and I am so glad I made the move; I have had the pleasure to train and work with the best in the industry. I have to say that most of my training though comes from years of experience of working in top salons in Toronto, LA and New York and now back home in Toronto. I love the diversity in Toronto, because you can really be yourself, no matter what that is.

P: Can you give me a brief bio of Exit Hair Salon, and the ambiance and services you offer to your clients?

R: EXIT was created in January 2004. My grandmother used to always say (in Italian): Everyone looks good going into a party, but when you can EXIT in style that's when everyone notices. Our goal is to make sure our clients always get noticed. EXIT is a place you come to relax and surround yourself with beauty. Toronto Fashion has nominated us one of the 10 best salons in Toronto 6 years in a row, continually being described as: having all the right tools without a drop of pretension. The salon is set up like a New York loft with 12-15 foot ceilings and floor to ceiling windows facing an always bustling Yonge Street. We have a living room set up for clients to relax in and enjoy a coffee and the whole salon has a secure Wi-Fi set up for those who need to keep working on laptops as there hair is being done.

EXIT is comprised of 4 colourists and 9 stylists. We offer exclusive custom blended colour that each of our colourists mix to meet the specifics needs of each guest. All of our stylists have awards and magazine covers and continue to take classes to ensure we stay on top of the latest techniques.

P: What do you believe makes Exit Hair Salon attractive enough to keep your clients coming back for more?

R: The quality of the work and the salons atmosphere are the two major reasons guests are so loyal.

All of our colour work is guaranteed. We have built a reputation of being able to fix anything from bad home colour to a not-quite-there-yet blonde. Once you have fixed someones bad hair colour, they are sure to remain loyal. Our stylists have received not only numerous awards for their work, but have graced magazine covers and have worked on celebrities. There are no junior stylists so everyone gets A-list treatment and leaves the salon looking amazing. All my team knows I refuse to have any drama or attitude in my salon. As a result, I have the luxury of having the most talented group of professionals working in a soothing and positive environment unlike any other salon in the city.

P: I know you have worked with some A-listers, can you name a few? Do you have one particular experience that stands out as cool to you?

R: Petra Nemcova- Victoria Secret Super Model, Petra is so cool! The first time we met her for Film festival she seemed like just an ordinary pretty girl. But once we finished her hair, make-up, and she slipped on her killer heels and stood up those six feet of legs screamed super model! It didn't hurt that she had an amazing personality and was such a sweetie. I have to say, I'd switch teams for her.

Other celebrities we've done are: Sarah Ferguson -The Duchess of York, Jacqueline Bissett, Nina Dobrev, and Tara Spencer Nairn.

P: Exit Hair Salon is a flagship REDKEN salon in Toronto--can you tell me a little about your relationship with REDKEN and what makes you believe that the vision of your salon is inline with the REDKENs appeal?

R: Fashion leader REDKEN asked for a sneak peek before we opened the EXIT doors on January 13th 2004. When they witnessed the salon design and the stylists that would be involved, EXIT was offered the exclusive invitation to be their 1st Canadian Flagship salon!

REDKENs leadership in providing top notch products is a result of their keen awareness of fashion, street trends and modern hair needs. EXIT strives to provide the same level of excellence in all of our work.

REDKEN Vice-President Doriane Dalati says: "This salon is a perfect blend of urban chic and sexy that REDKEN is known for. Rob and his team are inspired by beauty and understand the importance of business expertise."

P: What are clients approaching you with that seems to be hot for Summer 09? Styles? Cuts? Colours?

R: Top of the request list:

For colour:

1)High definition blonde, I can make an Asian girl look like a natural blonde.
2)Creamy tones with lots of shine. Silky strands not brittle broom whiskers-
no mo' dull faded ends. We all know that girl with highlights that starts out strong at the root, okay at eyebrow level, but disappear into bland at the mashed up ends.
3)Flaming coppers & reds. Our multi-layering technique guarantees to stop traffic.

For cuts:

1)Super girly-girl soft waves and curls that bounce (think: Giselle)
2)Hard clean angles (think: Katie Holmes, Victoria Bekham)

P: What attracts you to hire a colourist and stylist as part of your team?

R: Level of education and experience, an ability to work well on the team and you must be able to fit the salons positive and no drama vibe.

P: Has Exit Hair Salon participated in any recent fashion shoots and/or competitions? If so, how did they go, and is there a place where we can see your work?

R: I was recently asked to compete for the first ever Master Colourist Award at the Contessas- Canadian Hairstyling Awards. Its a real honor to have been invited to submit my work as the award is open only to those who are nominated as possible recipients based on various criteria such as the level and quality of work, years in the industry and being a recipient of previous awards. As such, my team will also be competing in this years awards in various other categories, as well. We recently have completed the photo shoot and are geared to send our submissions for consideration at the end of the summer!

The best place to see our work is to check out the website: We constantly update the site and have photos, magazine work all our services and EXIT News Updates.

This year, for the 6th year in a row, we've been nominated by Toronto Fashion as one of Toronto's 10 best salons. We've also been featured in ELLE Canada Magazine, Hello! Canada, Faze Teen, In Touch, Flare and Eye Candy for 2009.

P: What motivates you to keep coming back each day to the salon? What is in your future and what's next for Exit Hair Salon?

R: I still have fun at work. Not many adults can say that.

I really enjoy the fact that guest comes in and look and feel better after we are done. I really like and respect my team and the fact that we work together and help each other out. Its funny when someone asks me about the teams rules.. I don't have many but I really enforce the few I have. The important rules for my team are saying good morning and good night to each other -every day. Do your best work and ask for help when you need it, and remember that we work with the best in the industry, there is NO room for attitude, just good work.

I hope to expand with my dear friend Marc one day. He is a very well known plastic surgeon (Visage Clinic) and we both share the need for perfection. I think we could open a beauty institute for one shop glam make overs from head to toe.

P: What era represents your favorite hair styles and do you pull influence from any particular time in history?

R: This is a toss up I love the fact that in the 80s (don't boo yet!!). Boys were encouraged to do there hair and search out the stores for the strongest hairspray a la cure coif.

But I have to say my all time favorites were the severe angles that Vidal Sassoon gave the world. I have been strictly a Colourist for 12 years and you can have a lot of fun with colour when you have strong lines and a great base to start with.

P: What is good hair?!!!!!!!

R: Good Hair makes you look like the best version of yourself in 20 min flat. That's all it should take in the morning when its cut right.

Good Colour Hair- Shines and reflects light, even if your born with the blackest ruffed up nest and you want to be golden smooth. Its got to be shiny, soft and reflective. If you cant do that now, its time to go to another salon.

I highly recommend visiting Rob and his talented team at the Exit Hair Salon, I'm confident you'll walk away feeling sexy, sophisticated and strong. Located at 1360 Yonge St just south of St.Clair, its worth a trip uptown to take in the serene ambiance and interact with the friendly staff.

It seems great hair is always a prime way to feel shiny and new, no matter the season or the trend. Mold and create a fresh new look for yourself with the help of some insightful professionals at Exit Hair Salon, they are willing to offer you advice and work with your overall style vision. Now is the time for you to dazzle those around you!

Also join the Exit Salon Facebook group and you will receive a 20% discount and free product when you book your first appointment!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Fall to Grace

At Peace with the Universe, Lee Claremont

I got a feeling that I am blessed more than I can ever imagine. I feel that if I laid down all my fears of what will happen I could focus a little more on what is happening. It is all happening to me now. Every moment I have put into the field of magnetic spiritualism often called god is coming back to bring me more rapture and possession of ecstasy. I am boundless, I am limitless, I am open to charting the course of my own ebb and flow. I can love without hesitation, I can leave this place without regret. I won't look back in anger because this is my timeless, my reckless paradise.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Latest in Xtra: The Queerest Dyke

Hello my friends, please find here my latest piece in Xtra. I would like each one of us to realize how special we are just the way we are. One Love. Xxo

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eternal Sanctuary

My emotions willingly reveal the certainty of being touched. Silent in the ears of the pale interpreter my feelings steadily drift like identity, from diaspora to diaspora. All too often my desires are pressed and interpreted like my words. Each time I feel, each time I speak, I am purposely misunderstood.
When I was young I spent too much time flirting frustration with the teasing adolescent hope of finding a reflection of myself in others; with seeking people that understood where I came from and that would openly invite me to be a guest in their homes. I was young and foolish then. Now stronger, wiser and riper, I am aware that we create ghettos in the concaves of our own minds, and that an ignorant state of grace is result of a controlled environment where uniqueness is not thought of as great.
To me the temple of my body, each curve of my delicate yet stern brown skin represents a colonial fight for survival, a refusal of submittal towards being both what my parents were in Africa, what I was in England and what the oligarchies of pressure want my colours to washout into in Canada today. I am a wild and humble country withstanding and free.
I am my own master and my own citizen, and through my deviant and empowered sexuality I will continue to harvests my ancestor’s refusal to yield to another’s push and shove. I will not conform to the vulnerable position of a calf down on her knees, or hold a trigger to my own head from fear of persecution or another’s homophobic mislead. I live evasive of social and cultural captivity by escaping both gay and straight confines of sexual tyranny. They may choose to make me a spectacle, they may choose to not see me at all, but I am here to haunt awareness and make you have no choice but to acknowledge me, no matter how small the spotlight may be.
I won’t accept conforming to be a ventriloquist so that I can manufacture myself as a coward that fears the aptitude of my power as a creator, preserver and destroyer. You see my body aligned with my mind is where I find my thoughts unwind. All the scars I wear from lovers past (though they may look unattractive to others,) I trace proudly as reminders of the fortitude I possesses to birth infinite love for women who inspire me to release beauty. Women to me are such insatiable creatures of elegance and embrace that to not fall blindly in love with them would make me go insane like a damsel in distress of stress.
Dreaming of having this mysterious, unseen woman by my side is the reason why I continue to pray for her to take her throne at my side. An epic love between two women is hard to disguise, for like any love that is love pure and true, devotion is the reason that you humble yourself to make her the place you call a home. When your bodies collide underneath the veil of moonlight, the strike of undying passion unfolds that would strike ordinary metal into rich gold.
To feel exiled from the woman that dwells deep inside your soul is as violent an experience as being ripped away from my native home. I would be displaced, shamed, broken and blue without possessions or religion to turn too with hopes to pull through. Like Krishna without his Radha, the surface of my body cannot be inhibited as a home without the devotion of the woman I love to call my own.
Again and again I am able to see that my homeland is not only where I comes from, but where I wish to plant the seeds of my dreams and cultivate the growth of my spirituality. My homeland is her arms wrapped around my body at night, her head tucked into my chest and the feeling that everything is going to be alright.
From the niche of a cloudy yet protective tree top, my existential soul continues its journey by forming a ribbon of free and vibrant sentimentality. The ribbon of colour it expels is suspended at times through criticism, yet somehow my soul manages to need no reason or rhyme to find a way through the crescendo of seasons that change, or the constant propaganda of discrimination that if swallowed will covert love to pain. I will peacefully fight for my homeland to develop religion until the end of time.