On Sunday, I had the honor of giving my Hepkitten* presentation as part of the Winter Reading and Arts Festival at Cedar Mill Community Library. A hepkitten what they called a girl who was crazy for dancing, back in the day--like the main character of my novel, Ruby. The Hepkitten talk is a blast to do, and what makes it even more fun is dressing the part.
Now, as anyone who knows me will attest, I am not a girly-girl. Makeup and I are barely acquainted, nail polish and I are strangers, and most days, my hair runs rampant. But after some practice, I've mostly got the process down. So here, for the first time ever, I present to you:
How to Become a Hepkitten in 5 Easy Steps
Step 1: Gather raw materials: big round brush, rat-tail comb, foam rollers, long & short bobby pins, setting lotion, hair spray, setting lotion, artificial flowers, freshly scrubbed face and a head of frizzy hair. Oh, wait. That last bit might just be me.
Step 2: Make a deep side part (de rigueur for 1940s hairstyles); then gather hank o' hair for first victory roll. Use big round brush and setting lotion to get it all nice and smooth and ready to roll. In theory. Some days, my hair behaves. I love those days. Most of the time, though, the dynamic goes like this:
Me: Okay, hair, remember how we do this? Remember how much fun it is? Whoo-hoo, here we go!
Hair: Oh, yeah. That thing you make me do sometimes. I'm not doing that.
Me: You start behaving right now, or... *threatens hair with hairspray*
Hair: Now you've made me mad. You're gonna be sorry.
*Scene deleted due to graphic violence*
Ah, victory! Big roll on the left: Done.
(Tip: If you're seriously interested in learning vintage hairstyles, search YouTube for tutorials. People have posted instructional videos for everything from finger waves to beehives.** My fave for victory rolls is here.)
Step 3: Roll the right side. This is a smaller roll, and goes much better when you use the setting lotion instead of super-hold category-5-hurricane-proof hair spray, like I accidentally did on Sunday. (Can I help it the bottles are the same color?) Too late to wash my hair and start over, so (mild cursing deleted)...
...I remind myself that this is why God made artificial flowers.
Step 4: For the back: If I have time, I'll set pin curls, let them dry and brush them out into '40s curls. If not, then a little setting lotion, foam rollers, sit 20 minutes, then swirl into one big uproll. Quick and easy.
Another tip: If all else fails, this is why God made snoods. Also 1940s authentic and perfect for almost any hair disaster.
Hmm. Rolled, flowered, made up and mascara'd. Seems like I'm forgetting something, though...
Step 5: Ah, yes...that red, red lipstick. If you ain't got a red lip, you ain't 1940s. Wartime, baby--it was all about the bold.
Add a vintage suit jacket, vintage skirt, seamed stockings and high-heel oxford shoes...
...and voila! You are now a bona-fide hepkitten.
Many thanks to the Cedar Mill Community Library for hosting me, and also to the folks who came to hear me speak on a sunny Sunday afternoon. We had a great time and the audience was fab!
*Full title: A Hepkitten's Guide to the War. Oodles of vintage photos, video clips, and stories about what it was like to be a teen in the 1940s, with jitterbugging, taxi dancing, and the upheavals in homefront life brought by WWII.
**Click here to see the horror that is the making of a beehive. If I ever write a historical set in the early '60s, I am NOT doing this. Just watching makes my scalp whimper.