Sixties Spy

Sixties Spy

Monday, January 19, 2015

Entertainment Weekly

Got my name and book listed in a NATIONALLY DISTRIBUTED magazine!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

American Girl DJ

On October 26, 2014 I was the DJ for my first Wedding Party! Below is the glowing review they gave me that I hope to use as a reference in the future <3
Wedding DJ REVIEW (1):

Hi Michelle,

We wanted to thank you for being our wedding DJ! Our guests had a really fantastic time, and we felt the music went very smoothly. We appreciate you getting out on the dance floor to get folks moving. I wanted to check if there is a helpful place for me to post a review for you? We really enjoyed having you, and I know it's helpful to have positive reviews for weddings in order to get future bookings.

Thanks again!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Punk Rock Country Chic Wedding

I got this "David's Bridal Plum Y Neck Charmeuse" dress at a thrift store for $15 (it retails for close to $75). I splurged and took it to Zip's Dry Cleaners for a $1.99 wash and press and now it looks like it's never been worn!

My friend Samantha's wedding is October 12th. Because she is one of the coolest, laid back girls ever, she is totally cool with me wearing Glitter Combat boots to accentuate the Y Neck of my Bridesmaid dress.

The wedding is outdoors on a crisp, fall day and she didn't want the Bridesmaid's to wear pesky high heels that would puncture the beautiful field where she and her future husband will say their "I do's". She suggested a sensible pair of flats or thick boots if we were afraid of cold feet. I know Samantha and her fiance will NOT have cold feet, but my toes are always chattering.

After the glitter boot approval, I was starting to feel extra excited for Samantha's Big Day. I searched for images of my dress so I could work on my eccentric accessorizing. Turns out everyone else who has worn this particular dress is a complete weirdo too. Whether rocking it with cheesy sunglasses or witness protection style face cutouts, this dress can handle any style.

My fellow Bridesmaid and best friend Erica hopes to make floral, nature goddess crowns for us to wear while accompanying Samantha down the aisle. I already know that my bouquet will be made of daisies, so I am imagining a hairpiece to match. 

This wedding is going to KICK BUTT! Samantha told me that her fiance, Andy said "HELL YES to Gold Combat Boots!" 

I told her that if she changes her mind, I'll marry him based on glitter acceptance alone <3

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mistress of Ceremonies

Michelle Dwyer: 

Mistress of Karaoke Ceremonies

With the whimsicality of a snow globe-wielding kitten and the energy of an infomercial host, Michelle Dwyer can make even the stodgiest of crowds smile, which she does masterfully as The Lithuanian Hall’s karaoke DJ (a.k.a. MC Dwyer).

Not that the crowd at Lith Hall is stodgy; Michelle – donning go-go boots, a blue-and-white retro-patterned dress, and a ponytail high enough to put the U.S. women’s gymnastics team to shame – guides them through their melodious evening with grace.

I make my way up to the front of the room to talk to her.

“Hey!” she shouts, hugging me. “I’m so glad you’re here. Where’s the photographer?”

I shout back, “She’s sick! I’ll have to do!”

Then Michelle’s mom walks up. She and Michelle are spitting images of each other, with smiling eyes and a knack for buoyantly impatient pleas: “C’mon, c’mon,” Michelle’s mom says, bobbing on her feet, “Find the song.”

“Alright already!” Michelle shakes her head and hands her mother a mic.

As she does this, I look for a less conspicuous area from which I can perform observational research. I find this beneath one of two elevated amplifiers – probably not the safest place for me to be. I shrug to no one in particular, then scroll through my cell phone for the questions I’d emailed Michelle a few days ago.
So what makes your gig at the Lithuanian Hall so unique?
Michelle: The Lithuanian Hall has the feel of an American Legion Post with a kitschy, European twist. There is a mermaid painted on the wall and a glowing aquarium next to an old cigarette machine. You can bring your grandmother and/or meet up with hip kids who you originally only knew from Instagram.
Michelle’s mom has decided to sing Quiet Riot’s “Bang Your Head!” She goes all out, with defiantly brandished devil horns and self-inflicted whiplash. I snap a photo of her from my spot beneath the amps. Then I head for the bar. On the way, I trip on the dance floor, which is about twenty feet on all sides and elevated a few inches off the ground. Tables and chairs are stationed around it in haphazard fashion.

Many of my friends are sitting at a nearby table littered with cupcakes, farewell cards, and one super-impressive brand-new shrink-wrapped Battlestar Galactica board game. It’s a special karaoke night tonight – three folks who are not just regular attendees but fervid advocates of this monthly fete are moving out of state. To Michelle, the loss of these steadfast companions is heartbreaking.

It’s a bittersweet evening.

There are also several folks I know sitting and standing around the bar, which is a large square that encases the bartender. One thing that seems to please Lith Hall patrons is the genuine Lithuanian beer offered. Many of my friends are drinking some kind of lobster ale, which, like all the other homeland ales available, comes in a 500 ml bottle (roughly 17 oz.). Essentially, for every 100 ml of beer they get, my friends are only being charged a dollar. This is stellar news for the the thrifty poverty-stricken type.

I get a diet soda, sit down with some friends and wonder aloud about whether or not Michelle will be singing anything by her pop music idol, Celine Dion, tonight. “She’s got to,” I say. “She always sings Celine.”

So, how long have you been a Celine Dion fan and… why?
Michelle: I fell in love with Celine Dion when my Nana bought me a cassette of her first American album at Wal-Mart. Before long at school, kids I didn’t even know would point at me in the hallway and murmur, “That’s the girl obsessed with Celine Dion.” It probably got annoying for my teachers when I endlessly did all my book reports on her, but at least I wasn’t the, “scab kid.”
When there’s a lull in the lineup, Michelle puts on music meant to inspire movement from the crowd. Some folks at the table get up to dance, doing so with reckless abandon, having long ago abandoned their inhibitions recklessly. A few are even doing “the robot.”

Michelle joins the group, jumping and flinging her blonde ponytail back and forth.

Her sprightly effervescence makes it somewhat difficult for people to believe that, aside from being a party-rockin’ karaoke emcee, she’s a writer. A talented writer. With nary an ounce of angst or pretention in her, one might assume (as I did) that her 2012 book Junk Drunk was likely just a collection of saccharine-sweet anecdotal essays meant to be read in geriatric wards, outpatient clinics, or the suburbs.

When I finally read Michelle’s book, I was taken aback by her uproarious and plucky narrative style. If Amy Sedaris could somehow mate with and get pregnant by Judy Blume and then give birth to a self-published collection of essays about thrift-store shopping and befriending other neurotic mavericks of the trade, Junk Drunk would most certainly be that love child.

What types of people do or did you meet while thrifting? Was there a favorite or most memorable person?
Michelle: I obviously adore old people. When you go to a thrift store and you see a small, white-haired lady looking at secondhand pet taxis, most people assume she’s just another crazy cat lady. But once you get her talking and start asking her a lot of personal questions, you might get to hear all kinds of dirt about naughty things she did when she was younger. People really like to chit-chat in thrift stores because they are surrounded by “conversation pieces” and things that might remind them of their past. Once the past opens up, you’ve got stories galore!
If there’s one thing Michelle loves just as much as writing and being a karaoke DJ, it’s chit-chatting. All night she’s been walking around Lith Hall, up to various tables, smiling and laughing. There’s a strong likelihood that she knows most of the people here, but there’s just as strong a likelihood that, if she doesn’t know one of them now, she will by the end of the night. Michelle has no qualms approaching strangers to start up a conversation.

What’s a common misconception that people have about you?
Michelle: If you ask anyone who has met me, they will most often describe me as happy-go-lucky and bubbly. I agree that I am these things without being phony at all, but I’m also neurotic and often envisioning the worst-case scenario at all times.
After Michelle’s mother’s rendition of “Bang Your Head!” belting the commanding chorus with such heavy-metal gusto that several of us in the crowd were convinced to comply, two lively charismatic men get up to sing a tune from Hedwig and The Angry Inch. Their shadowy duet waxes dramatic beneath the orange-red lights that are silhouetted by their lead-footed pirouettes. Like proletariat ballerinas, these men don’t require glitter. The little square elevated stage will do.

And after this, songs of all tempos and frequencies are sung – some on-key, some off. The night progresses; the singers gather more courage while the crowd does less observing and more dancing. It’s not so much a show now; it’s a revival. Until the moment I’ve been waiting for arrives: Michelle prepares to sing her final number.

This is it, I think. Now she’s going to sing Celine.

But no, it’s Cher’s “If I Could Turn Back Time.” I edge closer to the stage to take a couple photographs. Michelle’s voice seems practically interchangeable with Cher’s. Maybe this is a better song choice after all, I think. If Michelle could turn back time, would she try to convince her soon-to-be departed friends to stay?
I look around Lith Hall. There are people in every nook and cranny. Over by the Battlestar Galactica board game, people are bidding each other long-term farewells. I worry that the thrill of Karaoke Friday will go with them. But soon realize I’m not giving Michelle the benefit of the doubt. Surely, she’ll keep the gig going. Just look at her up there! She’s giving Cher her all, the Lithuanian Hall her all, Baltimore’s literary and thrifting communities her all.

Now that’s the power of love.

Disclaimer: This article originally appeared on and is owned by What Works Studio

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hair Growth

I have been monitoring my hair growth for almost two years to compile research for my upcoming zine/book HAIR ON SOAP. It all started in October of 2012 when one of my best friends gave me an At Home Perm. For about a week it was very cute and retro looking, but after that I was an absolute frizz ball. My already super short hair was now crimped beyond repair and the only thing I could do was let it grow out and hope for the best.

During this time I dreamed of having Britney Spears' Lucky hair. I watched the music video on mute because I could only handle hearing the song so many times, and I studied her shoulder length wonder of a mane. I figured that if I could modestly aim for straight and slightly past my shoulders, I wouldn't be disappointed. I didn't dare look at pictures of mermaids with the perfect sea salt waves or any other enviable big-haired diva on the Internet. I remained dreamy, but realistic.

Next month is the 2 year anniversary of when I started my "hair diaries" and took a serious effort to lengthen my hair. Sure, I made some mistakes along the way, most notably paying almost $200 for highlights and a glamorized mullet haircut after bringing in a picture of Dido into a trendy salon. I went a little crazy for the flower headband trend and a lot of good bobby pins were lost in the way I contorted them to hold my Disney Channel inspired buns. But I made it through those dark times, and as my friend Erica recently pointed out, now my hair is way longer than Britney's Lucky phase. I have a solid, thick ponytail and there is no trace of the bad perm that once was. 

It seems that nothing inspires a writer like a good head of hair and I hope you'll stick with me for HAIR ON SOAP!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Lilac Lindsay


It turns out that the "cute lilac haired girl" I interviewed at the Saver's in Towson was Lindsay Bottos of feminist tumblr fame. And you know what? She was really, really sweet. 

Read about her art project "Anonymous" here: 

As someone who used to have a mean, stalker ex-boyfriend who would post "anonymously" on my old blog, I felt extremely inspired when I initially saw Lindsay's project. 

Of course I just want people to get along, but that's an idealistic way of thinking.

If we can't have a perfect world, at least we can strive for less girl on girl hate. It's all in our hands sisters. One of my dreams is to run a zine/motivational workshop for young girls, and people like Lindsay are proof that it can be done no matter what anyone says.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hungover Thrift Score


Saturday I spent most of my day feeling like shit, drinking soda pop, slinging back ibuprofen, and watching scenes from My Girl. (I always wish that movie was a little better than it actually is, but if I ever have a girl,  her name is going to be Vada.)

Sunday I still wasn't in the mood for gussying up, but at least I went out into the land of the living with Shayna and her friend Kate. We tore up the Towson Saver's Thrift Store and I tried on this burnt orange dress over my clothes.

Kate modeled an entire basket load of outfits in under five minutes and I was very impressed. While Shayna and Kate scavenged for blazers and career wear, I crept over to the bric-a-brac section. I just can't help myself when it comes to funky little figurines and used office supplies.

Savers has all of their home decor displayed on metal shelves that you can peek though to see into the next row of goods. In my case, I wasn't just spotting out of season Christmas plaques, but a cute lilac haired girl.

Like any other typical Sunday for me, I felt like a weirdo spying on this perfectly hip stranger. I loved her pale green daisy dress, her black tights in August, and her purple spritzed bangs. It took me at least three attempts, walking into the same aisle as her, feigning interest in crockpots and teacups without saucers, to gather up the nerve to say that I loved her style.

Thankfully she didn't run screaming, even though I looked like hangover hell two days after my gay bar antics (I must really be getting old). She told me her name was Lindsay and she posed beautifully and let me take some pictures that turned out great. Considering how broken my iPhone is, it was like taking snapshots with a disposable camera and crossing your fingers that they developed halfway decent at a 1 Hour Photo.

After Savers, Shayna took me and Kate to the Book Thing and it was the cherry on top of my Sunday afternoon. Can't wait to go back to both of these places soon and maybe spy another cute thrift look!