Last week, I was lucky enough to be in Sydney for the Everything Elvis Weekend at the Rooty Hill RSA. I thought I’d give the pinup pageant a go and really have some fun, make new friends and try something a little different on stage. Oh boy! What a day it turned out to be!
I was excited to hear that one of the three rounds on stage was themed ‘Elvis in the Movies’ and we were required to perform something out of our favourite Elvis film (as long as we remembered to keep it family friendly). I automatically thought of doing something from Blue Hawaii or Viva Las Vegas but thought that they might be a bit too obvious so I decided to go with the film King Creole which in my opinion is one of Elvis’ best films as you can really see him pull away from his ‘good boy’ characters and play someone a bit more complex. Also, this film has a very young Walter Matthau and Carolyn Jones (better known as Morticia Adams and oh boy was she beautiful in the film). From the first time I watched King Creole, I fell in love with one of the showgirls banana costumes. The scene is very short, tucked away in the middle of the film and it’s not a monumental part but I’ve always loved her performance and of course, the costume. As the film is still in black and white, after a bit of research I found that the banana costumes bodysuit base was in fact skin toned so to keep the family-friendly aspect of the competition, I decided to go with a green body suit as depicted on the films DVD front cover artwork.
After I decided on what my ‘Elvis in the movies’ section would be, I chose a pink vintage dress that I bought from Oh Henry Vintage for my daywear section and a pink tulle gown I bought off a friend for my Evening section. Now all I had to do was create my banana costume.
Creating the Banana Bodysuit
To start with, I bought a green strapless bodysuit that was intended to be a playboy bunny outfit from eBay for a couple of dollars. I also ordered 8 plastic bananas, yellow and green rhinestones, green ribbon, floral wire and about 10 sheets of yellow felt. Once everything arrived, I printed out some banana images in various sizes and used them as templates for the bananas on the costume. I used old interfacing to sketch out custom banana shapes that would be used for more curvy areas such as the breasts and crotch. I put the bodysuit onto my dressmaking mannequin and snipped off the bunny tail. I then proceeded to cut out various sizes bananas from the felt trying to fit as many as I could on one sheet. After the bananas were cut out, I pinned them all over the bodysuit until I was happy with the placement. This process took a while and I had to fiddle around with custom shaped bananas to make the suit look as close to the original costume. If I were to make this again, I would customize the bananas to be a bit less curvey so they fitted in together a bit smoother.
Once all the bananas were placed where I wanted them. I took them off one at a time, got a permanent marker, gave them a border and some detailing, then using fabric glue, I stuck them on. This process took a very long time as I didn’t want to mess it up. By using felt, the bananas didn’t fray and the glue meant that the bananas had a bit of stretch in them and I wouldn’t have to worry about sewing on each one. By keeping the bodysuit on the dressmaking mannequin, the suit was stretched enough to fit to my body so the bananas wouldn’t fall off or be glued in strange places, if you are planning on making your own, I recommend putting the bodysuit onto a mannequin as well. Once all the bananas were stuck on. I cut out two lengths of ribbon and hand sewed them as straps.
To attach my bananas, I drilled a hole into the top of the banana, wrapped some floral wire through the hole several times to form a loop and then sewed the wire loop onto the bodysuit wherever I wanted my bananas. I sewed three onto one shoulder strap and then three onto the opposite hip. Originally in the film, the costume has a whole bunch of bananas on the hip which she is able to pull off and throw but I decided to just sew the remaining five. Two of the bananas were attached to a short piece of ribbon and then to the hip to give a two-level effect and make the bananas look more like a bunch rather than a skirt.
To finish off, I attached heat activated rhinestones all over the bodysuit matching yellow onto the felt bananas and plastic bananas, and green rhinestones over the rest of the suit. I also bedazzled a palm leaf as a prop much like the one used in the film. Overall, the costume took me four days (to allow the glue to dry etc) and I only burned myself three times (the scars are perfectly aligned because the heating tool fell on my leg and burnt me in three places). I decided to compliment the bodysuit with rhinestoned flesh-nets and yellow Deluxe Creations earrings. I also recommend doing this project whilst watching many Elvis films!
The only other thing I had to do was to dye some long white satin evening gloves a light shade of pink. I bought some ‘pink petal’ dye from Spotlight and followed the packet instructions. After half an hour of stiring my gloves inside a bucket of dye, they were the perfect shade so I rinsed them and let them dry.
I arrived at Rooty Hill RSA just on 11 and waited around the assigned change room for the other girls. It was so lovely to see so many familiar faces but also people who I had admired/stalked for a while (not creepy at all I know). We all had a good chat whilst we got ready for our first round and I made sure to have all my things organised for rounds two and three. Pageants with multiple rounds can get a bit hectic especially when they are in a short time frame, I recommend being as organised as you can and even creating a checklist of each outfit per round including accessories. Keep all accessories, props etc in either a sandwich ziplock bag or in a neat pile so when you finish a round, you have everything in front of you and can check your checklist before you go on stage. This came in handy as I suddenly remembered I forgot a pair of gloves before a round started!
The rounds zoomed by and unfortunately, we didn’t get to see our fellow finalists perform on stage; as soon as we finished our round we had to run back to the change room and be ready for the next round as soon as possible. There’s very little time for a toilet break or anything else so go go go!
Round One/Day Wear: True vintage dress from Oh Henry Vintage, true vintage hat, pink bag from Lola Von Rose, Stockings and suspenders from What Katie Did, Petticoat from Banned, Earrings from Deluxe Creations, Shoes from Williams.
Round Two/Elvis in the Movies: Self made costume, stockings from eBay, shoes from Williams, Earrings from Deluxe Creations.
Round Three/Evening Wear: True vintage ball gown, petticoat from Etsy, suspenders and stockings from What Katie Did, shoes from Kitten d’Amour, earrings from Deluxe Creations, gloves custom dyed and bag true vintage.
I don’t remember the last time I had so much fun at a pageant. Sure things didn’t always go to plan (my music was lost for my Elvis routine) but it’s all about thinking on your feet, having fun and going with the flow. No matter what happens at a pageant, as soon as it’s your turn on stage, that’s your minute to shine. So SHINE AS BRIGHT AS YOU CAN!
I am honored and proud to announce that after a fabulous day, the results were in and I was given the amazing title of Miss Memphis Vintage 2019! I was so shocked I froze for a second before I realized that my name was called! The results posted here below:
Miss Memphis Vintage – Miss Mon Mon
1st Runner up – Miss Tiffany Diamond
2nd Runner up – Miss Kat Coupe DeVille
I couldn’t be prouder of all the girls that got up on stage and gave it their all! There was dancing, costume reveals, sass and a whole lot of glamour. I’d like to also extend a huge thank you to the judges, sponsors, organizers and to Rooty Hill RSL for hosting a wonderful event. This event will now hold a special place in my heart as I couldn’t get over how genuinely kind, generous, open and supportive all the finalists, organisers and judges were. We had some very open and honest conversation, there was no judgement and the room was full of encouragement, support and love. I left the event feeling uplifted and loved which was so amazing when you met most of these ladies for the first time. I was happy that I got to talk to each finalist and get to know them, some of the girls were returning to the pageant scene, others had their first ever twirls on stage and I couldn’t be happier for them and the amazing results we all achieved.
Thank you also to all the wonderful people who gave prizes to all the finalists including:
Miz Smitten Kitten
My 50’s Closet
Pearl Davies Photography
And a final thank you to the following wonderful people who had backstage and judging roles throughout the day:
Miss Von from Miz Smitten Kitten
Miss Kit’n’Kaboodle our stage Mumma
Miss Elaine for organising a wonderful Event
Miss Pearl Lee Shells
Miss Bluebelle Kitty for Stage Mumma-ing
Sharon Trejbal Photography for taking photos throughout the day and everyone else who I may have accidentally forgotten to mention. Thank you all so so much!