Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Shana Goodman

Shana Goodman has told me on more than one occasion that her natural state is sitting on the couch in our living room watching Mad Men with a jar of peanut butter and a spoon. But as her roommate, I know she is constantly running around from auditions to her job as a rowing instructor to her waitressing gig. Mad Men and peanut butter is her way of relaxing after throwing herself around New York making her dream happen (and also a way for her to watch good acting on a regular basis, she tells me). So this week it was lovely to sit across from her as we had brunch in the middle of a Tuesday because we are ladies with flexible schedules so why not?

Shana is an actress--in fact, after we hang out, she will get another voiceover audition--and has been acting since she was eight years old. Not because she was a stage diva from a young age, but rather the opposite--she wouldn’t talk, so to draw her out of her shell her mother sent her to acting classes. She has stuck with it ever since, and hopes to work in independent film. Being an actor is not easy, and I always admire her resolve to keep going. I don’t know if I could do it myself.

The first week Shana and I lived together was a huge blizzard in New York. We had barely known each other a week when we trenched out in the snow together and she let me take pictures of her. Even then she had a sparkle, something that was so much fun to photograph, that I was looking forward to taking her picture again.

For brunch, Shana chose Poco, a restaurant in Alphabet City where she used to work. You can add lobster to almost any dish, which I do to avocado toast like a true millennial, and she orders a quinoa and kale salad with steak. The restaurant is empty save for us and the waiter, who has a Grateful Dead tattoo on his arm, flirts with her shamelessly. So much, perhaps, that he forgets to bring the steak she ordered. “This is a picture of me looking annoyed that the steak hasn’t come yet,” she says, and makes a face. It’s hilarious--she’s not actually that upset, but the girl can act.

Acting feels weird sometimes, Shana says, because even though it’s something she’s been doing most of her life she feels like she’s starting from scratch. We talk about Jon Hamm, how Mad Men was maybe his first big break, besides a bunch of smaller television shows, in 2007 at the age of 36. Shana wants to keep hustling even if it takes that long, or longer. She just wants to be happy and do what she loves. I don’t think that’s a lot to ask of this life. She looks great in front of the camera, even when she’s accidentally standing next to a pile of trash.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Claire Beaudreault

The best part of Fashion Week this year was meeting Claire Beaudreault backstage. She wore a beanie detailed with big, sparkly Tina Louise-esque eyes and grey furry coat. In a sea of fake people, I immediately admired her positive energy and openness.

Claire had been working in customer service at what’s now a major retail site but, inspired by The Artist’s Way, has in the last few years branched out into being a full-time freelance nail artist, writer, actress, and rapper. You may recognize her as Clara Bizna$$ from the rap group Hand Job Academy, though she’s now recording in the studio on her own. Claire has also written for HelloGiggles, Bust, Salon, and others. Her nail work has appeared in places like i-D, Free People and Carven lookbooks, PeopleStyle, and DKNY ads. She has also been the key nail artist for designers like Titania Inglis and Maki Oh’s runway shows. Last year, she appeared in the off-Broadway play The Sex Myth and in a non-sex role as a queen in the musical porn parody Hamiltoe.

It’s a sunny but cold day when I meet up with Claire at her apartment. She takes Freenie, her dog daughter who she adoringly calls “Dingus,” for a walk after zipping Freenie into a teenie black hoodie and herself into a bright pink one. She tops her own hoodie with a motorcycle jacket adorned with both Betty Boop and Hand Job Academy buttons. “Let’s walk to the cemetery like goth kids,” she says, and off we go. She carries Freenie most of the way as we talk about dating, sexuality, and murders in Ridgewood.

Back at her apartment, Claire shows me her stack of Sassy magazines from the ‘90s, her article clips, her treasure trove of makeup from being a beauty writer, her neverending cases of colorful nail polish that look like bags of candy after trick-or-treating. She tells me what it was like doing nails for Marina Abramović, Karlie Kloss, Cara Delevigne (they were all really nice, she says). She shows me an article written about her in her hometown newspaper when she was a teenager, about being a finalist in Seventeen magazine’s “Color of the Year” contest. She had always been interested in nails, she says. It’s serendipitous how her life came back to it.

We head to the Lower East Side for a slice or two at Champion Pizza (Claire is a dollar slice connoisseur, she tells me) before we go to Chillhouse, a sleek white, marble space with eco-friendly nail polish and matcha lattes where she does nails usually on Saturdays. But she practices on me with a polish change, her own nails printed with a galaxy of nail art while I choose a pink that makes me feel like Barbie’s older sister. While she files and then paints, Claire makes me think about New York, how people have a never-ending diversity of experiences not just in a single day but in a lifetime, and just how beautiful it is.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Micah Gaugh

If I’m lucky, I get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art maybe a few times a year, but it’s one of musician and artist Micah Gaugh’s favorite places in the city so he goes far more often than I do. For him, it’s a place to check out completely, to see something new, to make fun of the artwork, to wander and, on a day like today, escape the sleet-snow-wind combination plaguing the city.

Micah is originally from Panama, was raised in Texas, and lives in Brazil part of the year. The rest of the year, he stays in the East Village, where by this point he has spent much of his life. Credited with coining the phrase and genre “avant-pop,” Micah has performed with music greats like Arto Lindsay, Cecil Taylor, The Roots, Lauryn Hill, Bootsy Collins, Thurston Moore, and countless others. He plays alto saxophone, piano, bass, and more; he sings, writes lyrics, and composes. One of his compositions, a ballet called Highrise, was performed at Lincoln Center. He has four albums under his belt, the latest possibly coming this year. As a visual artist, Micah has shown his work around the world as well.

When Micah arrives at the Met to meet me, he’s wearing a suede poncho of layered colors, a black furry coat, paint-patterned jeans, a brown blazer with a checked shirt and a polka dot ascot of sorts from which hang a teeny stuffed animal, chains, a small skull.

Though the museum is teeming with tourists, as it always is, Micah knows his way around well enough that soon we’re no longer immersed in the throng. Today I will see parts of the museum I didn’t know existed, from the simple coat check downstairs for which there is no line, to the below-ground entrance, to rooms of medieval and Renaissance decor, a Frank Lloyd Wright on-site installation, a recreation of a traditional Shaker room, an ancient iron staircase, Tiffany lamps, and god knows what else. We also end up seeing work that Micah didn’t know about, even as someone who comes to the museum several times a year. He knows where his favorite things are--like an enclave between Medieval Art and Arms and Armor that houses a bedroom circa 1719 from Venice’s Sagredo Palace--but has to wander to find them because that’s how he found them in the first place.

Toward the end of our visit to the museum, we check out one of Micah’s favorite works in the collection, “Allegory of the Planets and Continents,” an oil sketch by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo from 1752. The sketch shows the god Apollo about to embark on his daily trip across the sky. Micah puts on a pair of big, black Jackie O-style glasses to look at it before we move on. We’ll soon make our way down the museum’s grand stairs, take a peek at the Egyptian collection, and head back out into the sleet which will stick to Micah’s poncho as he walks away.

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