Living Like Empresses


Rebar, located at 223 W 19th, has a bit more of a relaxed, casual atmosphere than you might expect from a nightclub in the heart of Chelsea. Given the name and the Puma-chic workout attire of the bartenders, my guess would be that it’s channeling the more muscular side of NYC gay culture, with some kind of a cross between jock, beach bum, and South Florida stucco. That might make it sound like a strange place to host a glamour shoot for three trans women, but the lighting, the spacious interior, and the extra room with leather couches and velvet curtains ended up making it the perfect fit. Luna, Jaemy, and  Charmaine showed up, dressed, and set to work.

Luna was the first one I got a chance to chat with. When she’s not doing makeup for people behind the camera, she spends her time writing about causes near and dear to her heart. Principally, that means the trans community and undocumented immigrants. Actually, her blogging background is somewhat relevant to how the day went, and not just because this is the LGBTQ issue. See, we got into a conversation at one point about how Walgreens, or one of those stores, puts hair care products marketed to ethnic women under locked glass, even though they’re the same price as the unlocked products marketed to white women. I don’t want to elaborate really because I don’t know the specifics myself and wouldn’t want to say something wrong but, yeah, I’m sure it’s not a great look.

But speaking of good looks, her makeup background really helped in the shoot. Luna is one of those people with super fine, thin hair, and the way that she paired those bangly, long, kind of willowy earrings from Roberto Coin really complimented her face. If you don’t want to necessarily frame your face with your hair, which is kind of tough when it’s as round as hers, then that’s really the only way to go. Blush and red lipstick to match the asymmetrical dress from DHELA let the rest of your features stand on their own. It does make it hard to find matching shoes though. I think we settled on light pink suede pumps and had Francisco, our photographer, touch it up digitally.

“So Luna here’s a good question because my editor and I have been going back or forth on this one. Would you rather we explicitly mention that you’re trans, because that promotes visibility, or not mention it and just direct people to your page, because then the implicit sort of affirmation connotes normalization?”

“I think we need more visibility. We’re still at a point in America where probably most people don’t know someone trans, even if they’ve become aware of the phenomenon through people like Caitlyn Jenner or Laverne Cox. Maybe it’s a higher percentage of people who have a trans friend in cities, but even here it’s not normal, not yet. I think people need to see that we’re out here living life.”

After that I noticed Jaemy. Honestly, it was surprising it took me so long. Her golden sequin dress was poppin (apparently so poppin that her nipples kept poppin out of it), and was really, I think, the only thing in the building which stood up to her personality. We’re not just talking her club promoter emcee personality either. She channeled every ounce of those Roaring Twenties Cecil B. DeMille movie stars, with oh-so-airbrushed it barely looks touched-up eye shadow. Sultry stiletto heels, plunging necklines, and dresses which make you say “evening wear” completed the wardrobe. Even without the mink fur, Jaemy’s personality was playing her part to a tee.

“Nice hair.”

“[Taking off my hat] What? Oh, me. Hahaha, yeah thanks.”

“Come by the club later. Then we can *really* mess it up.”

Charmaine and I were vibing on the same wavelength. We had both gone out the night before, so as fun as the fashion shoot was it still felt like work. Of course, we were both looking for a little hair of the dog. Charmaine also had a blend of elite and sporty which I really dig, and after the empire apple trifecta shot, I think Francisco went outside with her to take some Instagram shots of her in the actual, like, clothes she came in. Striped, form fitting yoga pants were balanced by mesh sneakers, and the white tank top screamed post-workout brunch. I think she made the right decision to keep her hair down because she had a more angular, aquiline face that a ponytail might have elongated.

And then I just, like, went to IHOP with my boyfriend. I don’t know, uh, I maybe stay inside like two days of the week. I make my own hours as a stylist so I get the days off I want. Oh my God, that sounds lame! You’re going to make me sound so lame with this interview, right? I swear I have fun. I turned up last night, I’m turning up tonight too. I love to travel”

“In that case, making you sound lame would be impossible.”

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