As the weather starts to turn nasty, Miss Pin-Up New Zealand 2015 runner up, Miss Charlotte Cake shares her recipe for the perfect pasta sauce.
I grew up in a household full of girls (Mum took the role of both parents) so when it came to helping around the house, we had a “get stuck in” mentality from an early age.
Making dinner was always one of my favourite jobs. I can remember cooking spaghetti bolognaise with my own homemade tomato sauce when I was 11 or 12. We always had a vegetable garden so we would wander down and grab herbs and veges like parsley and spinach then pop them straight into whatever we were making.
Knowing how to prepare food and where it comes from has always been important to me. That’s why I love homemade baking. I know exactly what’s gone into the mixture, it helps curb my sweet tooth, plus it’s so nice to cut into a freshly baked cake and share it among friends with a good ol’ cup of English breakfast tea. What more could you ask for?
Rather than a cake recipe, which can be found in abundance on my website misscharlottecake.com, I’ve decided to pass on my super-easy, delicious and nutritious tomato sauce, which is fabulous with pasta dishes. You can buy tomatoes in bulk cheaply when they are in season from your local market, and spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon simmering this recipe.
Use washed recycled jars if you don’t want to buy new ones, and as long as you’ve sterilised them properly, you’ll always have a fresh batch of sauce on hand.
The method I use to preserve fruit and vegetables has been around for thousands of years. It was a way to make sure there was always enough food throughout the year. Not only is it humbling to know you have a pantry full of homemade preserves, but they are a real treat to make for gifts too. Simply tie some cute ribbon around the top and buy (or make, if you’re crafty) some nice labels so you can write down the flavour and the date it was made.
Charlotte's Perfect Pasta Sauce
Glory Days editor Natasha Francois chats to Amourous Ava about burlesque, feminism and how she's marrying the two in her new “trade journal with boobs” Pastie Politics.
How did the idea for Pastie Politics come about?
I’d been interested for some time in how feminism relates to burlesque performance. It was something I thought about a lot when I first started performing – how my views on equality for all people and my dislike of objectification of women sit with my career as a bumpin’, grindin’ burlesque performer. So many women describe their experiences with burlesque as “empowering”, I wanted to look at why this is. I realised that if I wanted to read a publication on this topic, I was probably going to have to make it myself and I decided it would be much better if the burlesque community was involved.
What do you hope to achieve?
Pastie Politics aims to contribute positively to the development of the New Zealand burlesque community by showcasing writing and artwork created by performers on the theme of burlesque and feminism/gender. Although I don’t consider myself an expert on feminism, or on burlesque for that matter, it’s more about opening up dialogue. I’m also hoping it will encourage upcoming performers to think critically about their burlesque practice and how it relates to society.
And I’d like to provide insight to non-performers regarding what burlesque is about and what makes it culturally significant.
What role does feminism play in the burlesque world?
Firstly we should define feminism as a belief in equality for everyone. I hit my teenage years in an era that academics would call ‘third wave feminism’. One of the basic tenets of third wave feminism is challenging expected gender roles and stereotypes. I think burlesque does this every time a performer does something on stage that you would not expect a partially naked woman, or a man, or any other gender for that matter, to be doing. Burlesque is often risque, it challenges the idea that ‘nice girls don’t’.
There would be some feminists who would argue burlesque is objectifying, and others who would argue it’s empowering. I think burlesque is like any art form – it’s not inherently feminist, but it can be. What burlesque does have as a feature is that it deals with body, image, sexuality and often, notions of femininity. This lends burlesque well to exploring feminist ideas.
How did you become interested in feminism?
Ever since I can remember I’ve been interested in feminism and considered myself a feminist, even when it was deeply unfashionable. Being a feminist seems like a no-brainer to me. I’ve always been interested in social movements, though I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as an activist – I tend to make things rather than organize rallies. I’m interested in positive social change. It feels like there has been a resurgence of interest in feminism in the last year or so, it seems more present in the media. I think the internet and social media have played a big part in this.
Has your own act always had feminist overtones?
Yes and no. Some of my acts such as 'Teenwolf' have a very clear feminist subtext. Others not so much…but whatever I’m doing on stage obviously is informed by who I am and what I believe as a person, so what I’m doing on stage is going to be consistent with my politics.
Why do you think burlesque is so popular with women?
It’s run, performed and attended mostly by women (and some discerning men who enjoy entertainment and a little light titillation), so it caters to women’s tastes. It could be that women are often interested in body positivity, in reframing what a ‘desirable female body’ is supposed to look like. When we are bombarded with so many messages daily on what we are supposed to look like and do, it’s exhilarating to see someone who looks like us – who isn’t airbrushed to perfection – get up, shake their wobbly bits, be as funny or sexy as hell, and have the best time entertaining an audience. It flies against the idea that as women we should be ashamed of our bodies or sexuality. Plus all the sparkly bits and costumes are divine.
How did you catch the burlycue bug?
I think the first real-life burlesque performance I saw was at the New Plymouth Tattoo Festival about a decade ago – Eva Strangelove performed and Venus Starr did a hoop act. They were amazing, but it didn’t occur to me it was something I could actually do myself. Before I moved to Auckland I went to New York for a while, caught a bunch of shows, took at few classes and was hooked. My first performance was with the Hootchy Kootchy Girls (a burlesque school & Auckland’s longest running burlesque amateur show).
I loved the combination of humour and intelligence in Pastie Politics. To me it conjured the spirit of one of my favourite feminist magazines Bust – are you familiar with this publication?
I discovered Bust and Bitch magazines over a decade ago, and both these magazines were definitely an influence on Pastie Politics. I like my feminism with a hearty dose of pop culture, and vice versa.
Burlesque as an art form has always been lighthearted and bawdy, originally it was employed by lower class people to make fun of and critique the upper classes. So it’s always had a mixture of humour and social critique, which has carried through to this publication.
It’s interesting you bring up intelligence – I think there is sometimes a perception about women who strip as being uneducated or somehow lacking in intelligence, which is something I particularly wanted to challenge with Pastie Politics. Mostly burlesque is performed by fiercely smart and funny women, who if they strip, do so because they choose to and enjoy it. Not all burlesque performers have masters degrees, but some do. A lot do.
How did you get your contributors? I love the vast selection of viewpoints and I found Miss Chevious Cinders' story particularly inspiring.
Initially I contacted a couple of performers who I knew also had written on feminist topics such as body shaming, just to canvass interest, then I put an open call for submissions amongst the NZ burlesque community. I had a great response, and this issue has 7 contributors, most of whom I was lucky enough to already know from the burlesque scene.
Miss Chevious Cinders is amazing – she has such a genuine love of burlesque – she’s at every show, and sometimes travels great distances to be there. I got quite choked up when I first read Miss Chevious Cinders story – what a life she’s had so far! She’s definitely inspiration to follow your dreams.
How often will Pastie Politics be published?
I always intended it to be an annual publication, but there may be two this year as I’m hoping to have Issue 2 out in time for the New Zealand Burlesque Festival in October.
Where can we buy a copy?
You can buy a copy of Pastie Politics right here from the Glory Days Emporium or email email@example.com and the list of stockists is at http://www.pastiepolitics.com/stockists.html
Amourous Ava says...
...that she's looking for contributors for the next issue of Pastie Politics. Submissions for publication close 30 May. This issue performers based in New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Islands are welcome to submit content. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.pastiepolitics.com for more info.
Less is more and if, after reading Ava's story, you're as inspired as we are to be a little more daring while wearing a little less, we've got something for you. We have shed our modesty, along with a few items of clothing, teamed up with the crew at Southbound Records and can offer you a great incentive to put your own Burlesque act together by listening to a bunch of sexy tunes on Burlesque - The Absolutely Essential 3CD Collection available now from the Emporium. Our favourite track at the moment is Harlem Nocturne by the Sam 'The Man' Taylor though our routine needs work! Have a listen below, work out your routine and let us know how it goes.