Now that the dust has settled on another year for Pinup Doll Australia All-Stars, I thought that it’s about time I share my experience and discuss the pageant from my perspective. Last time I participated in Pinup Doll Australia, I blogged about the process and turned it into three parts, part 1, part 2 and part 3. It’s probably been a bit hard to miss the fact that this year I took part in Pinup Doll Australia All-Stars but I decided not to blog the process. I think it came down to time and the mountain of work I had to do as well as collaborations with deadlines so instead, now that Pinup Doll Australia is over, I thought I’d do one big blog all about it.
**Please Note; There have been several uploading issues so some photographs could not be uploaded at this time. I was also unable to tag all businesses mentioned so my apologies. Once these issue is resolved, all tags and new photos will be added. Thank you**
It was around November that I decided to put my hand up for another round of Pinup Doll Australia. I wasn’t in the greatest mental space coming off the back of a very stressful year, dealing with some severe bullying and also just struggling with some personal issues. I felt that I was not in the best mind-set to do such a big pageant but also that I wasn’t worthy of doing it again. I think I was one of the last to register and I remember getting into a panic after I finally said I’d do it. Did I really want to go through it all again? It was so draining the first time and life hasn’t slowed down or gotten easier since. I also felt that I gave so much of myself in my first attempt that perhaps I didn’t have much else to give or anything new to bring; there were so many doubts I had entering but I also remembered that I had some big dreams and you can’t achieve things by staying in your comfort zone. It was a bit of a mental Rubix cube but I’m glad I pushed myself to do it.
Pinup Doll Australia All-Stars has a slightly different formula to normal Pinup Doll Australia. All-Stars normally invites girls who have participated in Pinup Doll before or girls who already have a national title. To do normal Pinup Doll Australia, you can’t have a national title but you must have placed in a local pageant or send in a video submission to be a wildcard. To keep the performances new and interesting, All-Stars has three different rounds and then charity; the rounds are Pinup Star, Pinup by Country and Pinup by Hot Rod. I’m really glad that these rounds were open to interpretation and a chance for all the participants to get creative and try new things. Once we were registered, the planning could begin and boy oh boy was there a lot of work to do.
Let’s start with charity, my favourite round. There are very few pageants where charity and charity work are such a huge component but that’s one of the main reasons I love Pinup Doll Australia. Although it’s nice to get dresses up, be silly on stage with props and be social, having a chance to give back to the community and spread love and support to people who need it is the most rewarding thing. For my charity, I chose Bully Zero Australia; after being attacked online, I realised how much I needed all my support systems around me but I couldn’t help but feel for those in the same situation but who felt completely alone. Bully Zero was kind enough to let me fundraise for them so I began planning everything. I wanted to host a few events but also sell charity items; I brainstormed a whole list of different things and once I was happy with my list I got to work to see what was do-able and start setting everything up.
I did have a few hiccups along the way, I was late in organising the T-shirts so I didn’t receive my sample until after my online store was open. I also didn’t release the mug on the first opening (how I didn’t think of a mug until later I will never know). I was so happy with my two custom illustrations made for me by PDA sponsor Miss Vintage Orchid and I couldn’t have done this project without her. Our T-shirts ended up being delivered all over the world which was super exciting! I never expected them to be as popular as they were and I’m keen now to work on this project a bit more in the future. I love my new mug as it feels a little bit like a graduation mug so I know I’ll treasure it for a very long time. I’m thinking of keeping it in my study or in my sewing area and keeping pens in it to lower the risk of it breaking.
Besides that, I also had to cancel a few events; I had one venue close for renovations, another close due to an electrical issue and the third cancel because the venue owner got sick. It was a little stressful but that’s why I always have heaps of back up plans. In the end, over the last two months for my charity I hosted three events: Miss MonMon’s Charity Burlesque High Tea at Peel Manor House, Miss MonMon’s Let’s Get Quizzical and I co-hosted a Pinup Pool Party with Angie Delarie Pinup Photography. At all of my events, I had a mini-market including vintage jewellery, my charity items, aprons and other goodies all for sale with funds going straight to Bully Zero.
I designed and collaborated with Pinup Doll Australia sponsor 𝓜𝓲𝓼𝓼 𝓥𝓲𝓷𝓽𝓪𝓰𝓮 𝓞𝓻𝓬𝓱𝓲𝓭 to create some limited edition t-shirts, mugs and postcards. These items were sent all over the globe and are now adorning the bodies of many different beauties which I am ridiculously proud of. I also made and sold custom vintage aprons. Many were sold at my events but most were custom orders which I completed over the past few months. I collaborated with Pinup Doll Australia sponsor Erstwilder to host a brooch auction. I sold off two gorgeous brooches all for charity. I also co-auctioned off a gorgeous hand-made koala cuddly blanket made by Peta Ellen Fletcher (Miss Perky Platinum) with fellow Pinup Doll Australia sister, Miss Kitt ‘n’ Kaboodle and Beyond Blue. We were able to split the cost and help both of our charities! I partnered up with another fellow Pinup Doll Australia sister Miss Cherry La Blaze to sell off a true vintage dress and we split the costs benefiting Bully Zero and Black Dog Institute. I also ran a raffle with a chance to win a custom couture gown from Chein Noir Dezines! The raffle was drawn at my High Tea and by golly what a prize that was! Lastly, I had my good old trusty donation tin. This guy started getting pretty heavy towards the end but was totally worth lugging around to all my events as all funds went straight to Bully Zero.
PHEW!! What a wild ride it all was. I may be exhausted but seeing all those funds going towards helping fellow Australians in need and come together to help make the world a kinder place is completely worth it. Thank you to all those who came to my events or purchased any of my items. Thank you to all those who helped work with me on ideas and collaborated with me. I couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you to all the wonderful locations who let us use your space to host these events. Thank you to my fellow Pinup Doll Australia sisters who worked with me to help raise funds for our charities collectively. I love how we all just worked together and it wasn’t a competition, it was a chance to make a difference together. Our voices are stronger if we all stick together and together we made such a difference! Love you guys. Thank you to Pinup Doll Australia for giving me the chance to do more fundraising and learn more things about myself. I may not be over my fear of public speaking but this time has really pushed me out of my comfort zone and I am grateful for that. Thank you to Bully Zero for being such an amazing charity, for doing such great and much-needed work in our community and for being super encouraging and supportive. I’ve loved sharing who you are, what you do and your future goals. I am honoured to have been a part of your journey. Thank you to all those who helped in any way shape or form. I could not have done this without you.
The charity was always going to be the biggest section of Pinup Doll Australia so it got most of my attention, regardless, there were still three more rounds to plan and organise to perform on the day. No time to relax here so let’s get started with the most exciting round, Pinup Star! The Pinup Star round required all the contestants to embody and transform into a vintage icon; we had to look as close to our star as possible. There were so many great figures that came to mind, Judy Garland, Lauren Becall, Hedy Lamar but in the end, the choice for me was simple; Mae West. I’ve always loved Mae West, her boldness, her uniqueness and her command of space. She never backed down, she spoke her mind and she revolutionised the way we perform onstage today. The first thing I did was buy a copy of all her movies and order as many biographies and autobiographies as I could and I started my research.
I don’t think I could have truly embodied Miss West without knowing about her life so reading about her was a huge help. I understood so much more about her and got inside her head; always a necessity when trying to emulate someone. Next came choosing a look and boy oh boy there were many to choose from! I was going to go with one of her more sparkly gowns but the thought of attaching so much hand embroidery felt really overwhelming so I settled on her classic black number from Klondike Annie. It was a fitted mermaid style gown with mutton sleeves, bow accents on the neckline, petals on the wrist cuffs and a gorgeous train. I drew up a few sketches, realised I could not make this one my own and contacted a dear friend and bridal dress designer, Beata from Chein Noir Dezigns to help me and we were so excited over the project. We started creating the dress in December and it was complete the day before I filmed the segment so we really made sure to keep perfecting the dress. One of the main challenges we came across was there are no actual photos of the garment and all photos were in black and white. We thought about making the dress in a dark green or purple but originally went with black with purple in the mermaid skirt. This however looked too much like an evil sea witch so we ended up sticking with all black. I could not be happier with how the dress turned out. I will be writing a full post about the transformation including progress pictures so if you’d like more details, you’ll have to be a little patient.
To create the iconic Mae West hat, I reached out to milliner friend Holly Barker who did an absolutely amazing job. We decided on adding purple feathers to the hat as we thought black would be very dark on stage and purple was a favourite colour of Miss West’s. Holly was a godsend in this project as my original idea was to paint an old hat I already had but no, I now own my very own beautiful Mae West hat and I can’t wait to create more hats with Holly in the future. To finish off my outfit, I reached out to Mirror Mirror Bijoux who has in the past created some Mae West jewellery and I was so happy she was happy to create the jewellery I needed for this piece. This was the scariest part for me as it’s something I could not achieve on my own. I wouldn’t know where to start so I was very grateful to her. When the pieces arrived they were absolutely amazing! They looked just like the real thing.
Finally, the next hurdle was my hair and makeup. I had a custom wig styled by Carl Brown Hair and he did an absolutely amazing job! I have never owned my own wig yet alone styled one. I was petrified taking it out of the box and every time I knocked a hair out I screamed in fear that it was going to fall apart. Putting it on for the first time was a feat of glory but I only cut the lace the morning of the performance. Lastly, the makeup. From about January onwards, I taught myself my 1930’s makeup but most of all, how to block out my eyebrows. I have never realised how dark and thick my brows were until I needed them to vanish. Oh my gosh, so many tutorials were watched and I was sure my eyebrows were going to fall off because of all the practising I did over the last two and a half months. I practised most evenings right before shower time so I could wash it off once I was done. I tried many variations with the makeup and played with different colours but ended up sticking to as close to historically accurate as I could. The urge to use super shimmers and glitters were huge!
When it came to putting it all together, it still took me three attempts at glueing my eyebrows down. In the end, it all came together and I felt amazing as Mae West, I don’t normally wear something that extravagant so I felt just a little bit fabulous. I was so proud of my efforts to become Mae West and whilst answering my question on the screen, I felt I knew her well enough to answer for her.
Once we are out of lockdown, I plan on doing an entire shoot just for this outfit so there will be better photos eventually. These are just the ones I was required to submit with no editing (besides clicking black and white filter). I can’t wait to photograph her in all her glory.
The next round to prepare for was ‘Pinup by Country’ which was open to interpretation. At first, I thought about doing something very Country and Western but I decided to pay homage to my Polish roots and put together a traditional outfit but make it pinup. It took me a while to come up with a routine that would work on stage and translate into a simple story. I ended up deciding to be a flower seller like a few women in my family were but also show off my favourite Polish food, pierogi (a boiled dumpling with various fillings such as cheese and potato, mushroom and cabbage or meats). The props for this round were pretty simple as I had most of the items around the house such as the basket, the flowers and the fork. I used a tortilla blanket as the main part of my giant pierogi as it looked textured and gave the illusion of being pastry without me having to paint felt which was my original idea. I made the pierogi as unsymmetrical as possible as I didn’t want it to look perfect, I wanted it to look homemade but delicious.
The skirt was sewn from traditional Polish fabric I purchased whilst visiting my mother last year and I bought it for no reason; I’m so glad I did! I also got to wear my traditional Polish vest which I had to convince myself was a good idea. The vest wasn’t very pinup but without it, I didn’t feel very Polish. To make sure it would work, I made everything else as close to pinup as I could such as the peasant blouse, the skirt, seamed stockings and shoes. I toyed with adding a scarf but it was getting very busy and although it’s traditional, I didn’t want to distract people who weren’t used to this type of outfit. To complete the look, all accessories were to mimic traditional Polish jewellery from PDA sponsors and my hair flowers were custom made by Georgie Girl by Sandy. She did such a great job and included the perfect mix of traditional flowers and colour.
I had a lot of fun with this routine and even got to use a Polish song from the ’50s for it to be a bit more authentic. I remember being young and being driven to family picnics in the hills whilst listening and singing to this song in the car. It brings back fond memories and was a chance to share some Polish music with others.
The final round was ‘Pinup by Hot Rod’ which was so much fun to plan and organise. Now I have done Hot Rod and car-inspired routines many times so it was a challenge to do something completely different. I started with my outfit which I didn’t want to have any denim at all. I had done denim in all my other car looks so instead I chose my favourite colour, pink! I recently did a Hot Rod performance in a garage playsuit so I wanted to do that again but add some bold colours to it so drawing inspiration from a vintage dress with contrasting hems, I chose a red/raspberry colour. Pink and red is my favourite colour combination so I wanted to drag that through the whole look. Whilst sewing, I made a dress with some atomic looking sleeves which I loved so I added that style to the arm and leg hems. A thick red zipper was an absolute mus and a belt to cinch in the waist and pull it all together. The amazing Violets in May whipped up my vision and she did such a great job!
All accessories were from PDA sponsors which I chose in various shades of reds and pinks (luckily they are two very popular colours so if something was sold out in one colour, I could choose the other colour. I had some friends suggest to put a big logo on my back to make it look like I was a mechanic pinup with her own business. Brilliant! I designed a logo with PDA sponsor Miss Vintage Orchid and had it embroidered onto the back. Of course, I had to add some rhinestones to the logo because is it really a MonMon performance without glitter and rhinestones? Finally, the front brooch is a badge from my dad’s Holden HR Premier because I thought it was cute.
My props were all from previous performances except the toolbox. My dad and I built it and painted it the most obnoxious shade of pink to complete the outfit. The lipstick was from Miss Vintage Kiss and made from a Pringles can and toilet roll, and the wrench has been used in Miss Weekend on Wheels, Miss Koolsville and various other performances. It was made from a pallet, paint and glitter. To complete my props, I ordered a custom vinyl sticker with my name on it and some pyrex images to make it a bit more feminine (yeah, because everything being bright pink wasn’t feminine enough). It was complete! I was really proud of my routine as it was fun, goofy and completely ridiculous. I didn’t want to take myself seriously at all and prefered making people laugh and have a good time over being serious or sultry.
All planning and charity aside, now came the fun part; dealing with the current world crisis that is COVID-19. We didn’t know what was going to happen to our competition and tensions were getting high. There was talk of cancelling, rescheduling but thank goodness we decided to just move online. To my own knowledge, there has never been an online pinup pageant so we were in unchartered territory but we had come too far to give up.
I started with a plan and a schedule (which went out the window almost immediately). As I’m in the middle of redoing the back garden and the biggest open space in my house is the back of the house, I put up a c-stand and draped some bedsheets over it, they were clean I swear! Luckily I had two softboxes and a ring light from my filming so I set those up; if you want to prioritise anything in this situation, it’s lighting and my house can get very dark (mainly because I keep planting things next to windows). Before each round, I ran through the routines one more time so my filmer could know where to go and how to pivot the phone we were filming on and then off we go.
As soon as we were told we were filming at home, we all realised that we could reshoot and redo our routines as many times as needed but for me, on the day, I found that as soon as the camera was on, I gave everything I had into that performance. I think only my Mae West I had to redo as my hat fell off but the others were filmed only about twice more as a ‘just in case’ kind of thing! I had to film the routines over two days mainly because my partner had a lot of classes to teach and he couldn’t have noise in the background, my migraines also meant that the afternoon was the only time to work before the pain got too strong. We made it work with minimal hiccups. I submitted my videos and then wandered around the house looking for a distraction. Why did I Marie Kondo my house before the isolation?
When it came to the crowning day, I, of course, did the mature thing and accidentally slept through my alarm, leapt out of bed and did my makeup in about 9 minutes. I plugged to the laptop onto the tv so we could watch the girls on the big screen and the viewing party began! I felt a little silly sitting on my couch in my big vintage ballgown, Disney mug of tea, fluffy Cheshire cat slippers on and cuddling my big dumpling pillow but when I saw all the girls start their performances, I was so happy! I kept leaping up and cheering so loudly I was worried I’d wake the neighbours! But how could I sit still or quiet! You could see the effort and time that had gone into each and every performance; it needed to be cheered and praised. I loved seeing the girls transform into their stars; so many icons appeared on my screen and what an amazing job they all did! The charity speeches were all so heartfelt and touching; to see all those months of charity work, preparations and fundraising going to help so many people was truly empowering and uplifting. Sure it’s great to get all glammed up but together we made a huge difference in our communities. Finally, the Pinup by Country and Pinup by Hot Rod rounds were played and I loved each and every second of them! I laughed, I cheered, I screamed with excitement and I was absolutely living! Although we weren’t together, it was the first time I could watch a pageant from the front row and not from the side of the stage or behind a curtain. My heart was so full when I saw all my PDA sisters perform; each and everyone shone so bright and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the judges!
I never realised how nervous I was for the results until I had to hide behind my dumpling pillow (for once I didn’t have to look composed on stage!). An absolute huge congratulations to Miss Velvet Crush for receiving the Spirit of PDA award; she is so very deserving and was a gem throughout the whole process. She supported everyone and was positive and kind throughout it all. Another huge congratulation to Miss Kitt n’ Kaboodle for receiving Miss Congeniality! Miss Kitt is such a beautiful person inside and out with a heart of gold and a great sense of humour. She is open, true and authentically herself; a truly wonderful friend and she gives some amazing hugs. I’m so glad she received this award to highlight how beautiful she is inside and out. I am beyond honoured and humbled to announce that I took out the Miss Charity title once again. I was just as shocked this time as I was the first time! There were so many amazing events run by the other finalists and so much money was raised so I know this was a hard decision for the judges. I am so happy to be receiving this title again and can’t help but laugh that the pinup I passed it onto originally, Miss Kitty la’Vie, will now be returning it to me.
Finally, the placement titles. It was an intense last few placings with so many girls being deserving of the title; I wanted to see them all succeed and place! A huge congratulations to Miss Cherrybomb for placing Runner Up! You worked so hard from start to finish running amazing charity events, being the perfect Lucille Ball and having way too much on stage so some banging tunes. Take your horse to the old town road and shine in your crown! Finally, I don’t know how it happened, but I am beyond excited to announce that I am your current and reigning Pinup Doll Australia 2020 All-Star. Oh my goodness, I was in absolute shock for several hours that I didn’t know if I wanted to cry, laugh or take a nap. In an instant my phone was being flooded with calls, messages, tags and so much love; it was truly overwhelming and uplifting.
Throughout my journey I went through many ups and downs; I started at a pretty low point but I knew that I had to get my mind and mental state over the finish line as well as my outfits and charity work. Towards the end, I took some time out for myself, I started switching off the computer at 6:30pm so I wouldn’t keep working till late, I stopped filming to give myself more me-time and I took on fewer collaborations with companies. I started to meditate more and made sure to self-care regularly. I would acknowledge my doubts and fears but find ways to work them out and push through. I made sure not to second guess myself and really tried hard to be my own biggest cheerleader. I didn’t want to be the kind of pinup who on the surface looks propper and all put together but on the inside is a complete mess. I’d rather show the struggles, the truth and the pain because I know I’m not alone when it comes to such things as mental health, body image, being bullied or attacked online and self-worth. I truly tried to make myself a better person before the competition was out; even though I didn’t voice all this openly, it was a huge internal goal. If I were to win, I wanted to be the kind of pinup who was open, honest and true to themselves. By far this was the hardest part of the competition but it was the most rewarding.
Now that it’s all over, I plan on returning to Youtube, working on a few private projects and trying some new things. I am still crawling out of the glitter crash but ever so thankful that everyone is being so supportive. I entered PDA completely unsure of myself, with loads of self-doubt and very low self-esteem all because of what a stranger said online about me, yet right now, I sit here learning to love myself again and knowing that if I take small steps, I can achieve my dreams and goals no matter how long it takes. The words of a stranger broke me, but the support of my community and those around me pieced me back together. Without the awful experience of being bullied online, I don’t think I would be where I am now so in a way, I’m glad their own hurt projected onto me, gave me the inner strength I needed to build myself back up again. So thank you to all those who have stuck around, supported me, encouraged me and put up with me panicking over little details.
Of course, it only makes sense to give a huge thank you to my friends and family for putting up with my stress, my melt downs and constantly asking them for their opinion. A special thanks to my partner for being so supportive during this time, making me lots of tea and pretending that he really knows the difference between two petticoats that looked the same to him. Another special thank you again to Miss Vintage Orchid who was there by my side from start to finish. From brainstorming silly ideas, sketching out outfits and props and always picking up the phone when I needed a bit of a boost. This girl dragged me through so many tough times and I could not have done it without her; she did more than just design my images and playsuit logo; she helped me bring my ideas to life and was amazing throughout this whole experience. Both Miss Vintage Orchid and my partner pulled me back down to Earth when I needed help and pulled me out of some sad days when I didn’t believe in myself. They never faultered in their love for me and I am so grateful for that.
Before I wrap it up, a huge thank you to the PDA committee for all their hard work, support and management of such a stressful competition. You guys were put up against some crazy circumstances and you came out paving the way for a whole new era of pinup pageants. Thank you to all the amazing sponsors of PDA this year; we have loved having you apart of our competition and are ever so grateful for your time, generosity and support. Thank you to the judges for putting up with all the changes and for offering your expertise, advice and support on the day. Thank you for seeing something special in all the girls, myself included. Thank you to everyone who has been apart of my journey; I could not have done this alone and I am so grateful for each and every one of you. It’s been a week since the event and I feel I am still trying to get around to thank everyone (and also write up this post which was supposed to be out last Friday). Once my prize pack arrives, I’d love to film an unboxing but we will have to wait a little longer for the crown as it’s stuck in China.
So that’s Pinup Doll Australia for another year; I did it with your help. If you are thinking about doing a pinup pageant but there are things holding you back, I hope something in my words can give you the courage to put your hand up and apply anyway. If you are stuck, please feel free to reach out and have a chat with me. I’d love to support you on your own journey.
Note: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions and thoughts expressed are solely my own and not influenced in any way.