Saturday, March 31, 2012

Seven Nights, Seven Clubs - Starfall

The second in my series of "Seven Nights, Seven Clubs" features a place that's dear to my heart, for several reasons.  I got my start as a SecondLife DJ there, and, uncommon in SL, this club was a true product of "community," forged by a group of like-minded individuals who suddenly found their favorite dancing and socializing venue closing down, and decided to build their own.

Starfall 3.0, The Refuge of Awesome, today
The place?  It's "Starfall", now celebrating nearly four years of existence, and going strong, despite humble roots and a spontaneous "birth" from an unfortunate circumstance.

Some will remember "The Wharf", a venue operated by Finnegan Chesnikov and Chester Howley, several years ago, and which became popular almost overnight, with a crowd of cantankerous "regulars" who made our hours of dancing and conversation a real treat, with events often evolving into pure fun, like running popgun battles and silly avatar distortions and clowning-around of the first order.  Go AFK in this crowd, and you usually found yourself returning to an avatar 20 meters underwater, pushed offshore by the pranksters who'd let no opportunity for such mischief go unattended.

When the Wharf was suddenly closed, this little group of alternative music fans and creative minds were adrift, and promptly decided, practically within an afternoon, to "roll our own" club, and continue our gatherings in a venue of our very own.

The usual questions ensued.   Where do we go?  This was quickly solved by the donation of a bit of land from Koen Whitfield, longtime "kliraton" sim owner and operator of "Camerade", a beautifully crafted Neko-centric sim and shopping venue.   What do we call it?  Well, that came about in a funny and interesting way.

My memory of "the day" of Starfall's creation is scrambled... it was a mad, two-day rush, with Kyne Tigerpaw and myself and a relatively new resident and budding DJ, Merrick Ying, as the key "builders" in the effort, Kyne constructing the main structure of the build, and myself and Merrick Ying adding many decorative textures, plants and trees, and a water-feature consisting of a waterfall into a pool, with stars afloat in the moving water.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Springtime at the Parish

After months of being extremely busy, I suddenly found myself with nothing to do last night. I stared at the almost finished issue of Blithe SL Magazine, wandered around kicking a few stones, and pestered a few friends with cries of "I'M BOOOOORRRED!" Finally, it dawned on me: I hadn't fully explored Menswear Fashion Week. Excited and ready to do my part to help the Second Life economy, I tped over and wandered the stores. Honestly, if you haven't been to Menswear Fashion Week yet, you need to go. It is full of the best designers for men.

I've been searching for new spring-wear as warmer weather approaches. It's been difficult to find as designers hold on to the winter styles, but at Menswear Fashion Week, I discovered what I'd been looking for.
An open shirt says, "Bring on the sun."

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Virtual Venice

My RL summer travel plans include a trip to Venice, so I thought I'd check out its SL counterpart in preparation for the real thing. 
The tiled roofs and golden colouring of the buildings is quite faithful to the original, and it was a pleasure to stroll around the narrow streets, peeking into shops and admiring the hidden plazas. I felt pretty shabby in my jeans and running shoes, so I ducked into a corner of shop to change. It felt more glamorous, more James Bond-ish, to be strolling the Venetian streets in a handsome suit.

The famous Rialto Bridge dominates the main open area, spanning the Grand Canal and connecting the districts of San Palo and San Marco. On one side of it, a row of gondolas lie in wait for visitors' use. While I was there, a French-speaking family arrived to take a trip in one.

I expected that a member of the party would have to row the craft but then noticed a board near where they were docked that allowed travellers to summon a staff member to serve as a gondolier. In RL, the profession of gondolier is strictly regulated and requires broad knowledge of Venetian history and landmarks, in addition to the skill required to the handle the vessel. I'm not sure if there's a uniform requirement, but if there is, SL Venice seems not to have adopted it.
 I spent some time lingering by the docks, watching the visitors come and go. The French family, rowed by their diminutive gondolier, toured the city and returned to the starting point. A self-proclaimed "SL & RL" master, clad in black leather from head to toe, passed through, as did a lady in an evening gown, who dashed about with her long skirts swirling, looking every bit like Cinderella racing to get home before her coach turned back into a pumpkin. I had a bit of a laugh as I looked forward to my RL trip, imagining myself strolling along the canal people-watching in the same way but without the ability to right-click and view a helpful profile.
Even if you don't have plans to visit the original, stop by Venice in SL. Wear a suit. Take your sweetheart. If you're adventurous, summon a gondolier - just don't expect him to be wearing a striped shirt. Or to be a him.

Find Venice in SL. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Blithe SL Magazine Launch Party

We've been working hard to bring you the highest quality publication for gay men in Second Life and are finally ready to share the fruits of our labor with you. Our commitment to excellence and style ensures that our magazine will be enjoyable to read. You are invited to join us at the new Boots Beach for Blithe SL Magazine's launch party on April 1st from 5-7 PM SLT. We'll have a sploder, great music, prizes, and fun as we release our project to the grid. We're looking forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Seven Nights, Seven Clubs - PluggedIn2

In this series I'll be discussing, photographing, and visiting seven SL club venues, and presenting here a few snapshots and discussions of those events.  Those who know me, know that I'm a pub-crawler of the first order, and try to make it to every new club or event in SL's active and vibrant gay community, to see and be seen at the hottest and most active party locations available.  I try to tip well, support the venues when I can, and I'm grateful for this opportunity to blog about, IMHO, the best of the best that's "out there".

PluggedIn2's amazing sky platform
Kharissa rockin' the wash tub!
On Saturday night, March 24, 2012, I once again joined the "late set" of clubbers at Xade Undamann and Kharissa Indigo's "PluggedIn2" at Gay Riviera, a late-night (10pm - 1am, SLT) event that's run for several weeks now, each time an ingenious "theme" applied, open to broad interpretation and providing an opportunity for inventive costumes and gadgets to be worn in competition for a Linden prize. Situated in the skies over Gay Riviera sim, the most striking feature of this venue is the club build, itself. I contacted Xade to get some photos of his build, and was stunned to find out that Kharissa and Xade build these fantastic creations to theme, each week, and only rezz them onsite the day of the event, a rather ingenious use of resources that makes the quality of the builds just that much more respectable.  Here's an image of the March 24th "Rubber Ducky" version of the build.  The week prior, the theme was "Pink Elephants", and every week a different theme results in yet another amazing build and expression of the decorative talents of Kharissa and Xade, who've come up with an amazing late-night venue to enjoy.

 Xade's inimitable DJ stylings, his "hard style" electronica, house, and dance music selections, along with Kharissa's well-known talents for hosting, welcoming, and chatting up the crowd, make PluggedIn2 a welcome refuge on a late Saturday night.  Indeed, the events tend to begin with sparse attendance, the club filling with more and more residents as the late hours progress and other venues come to an end.  Typically by 11pm the dance floor's packed with some of the SL gay community's hottest and "danciest", cavorting among the stunning decorations and lights.  The theme of "Rubber Ducky" found us cavorting in a
Xade duckin' it up!
huge puddle of Xade's self-crafted "low lag foam", a nice departure from typical foam parties, with avatars still visible, rather than covered to the chest level in textures.

Rubber Duckies of yellow and blue, bars of soap, and bubbles everywhere,  and naked and semi-naked beauties cavorting in outfits of bubbles, shoulder-pet rubber ducks, or whatever expression of "bath time" seemed like fun for them.

Mmm, scrub-a-dub!  Guess who?
The foam was thick, the guests were heating it up with hot outfits of soap bubbles and not a whole lot more... naked, slick bodies whirling beneath the lights, the pounding beats, all the elements of a great Saturday night party, with the added fun of a contest for best in theme, frequently loaded 'sploder, and great conversation, humor, and pure hedonistic fun.  If you've not made this a Saturday night destination, you've missed some really rockin' parties, and I suggest an extra cup of coffee and a late-night stop at Gay Riviera for this event!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Menswear Fashion Week 2012

All the best for men, all in one place? It's true. Stop by the Menswear Fashion Week sim and rest assured that every store you enter will cater to your male styling needs. Anything a man needs to fill his inventory has been gathered to make shopping a dream.

In addition to shopping, Menswear Fashion Week offers a variety of runway shows, demonstrating the designs of talented creators across the grid. Earlier, Aleida's runway show displayed the new male releases of a talented designer who has been creating gorgeous feminine fashion since 2009.

Aleida's designs brighten up the runway.
Orange isn't really a color that appeals to my fashion sensibilities, but the sexy Edmilson Blazer in orange by Aleida challenges my preconceptions; not only can orange be worn well, it's sexy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tourism in SL

I love when people use the tools of SL to create fantastical and otherworldly creations that could never exist in RL, but I love it just a little bit more when someone re-creates something from RL in SL. I found the SL Eiffel Tower to be as lovely and romantic as its RL counterpart, and I followed the same path out of the train station in RL Amsterdam when I was there as I had in SL Amsterdam. I really enjoy being able to (virtually) visit a site I may never have the chance to see in RL. So it was with real pleasure that I discovered the Terracotta Warrior Army of Xi'an, China.

The Terracotta Warrior Army is "a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China." This UNESCO World Heritage site has thousands of warriors, generals, and horses, standing in formation in excavated pits. The site has been produced in SL on a slightly smaller scale by Pravda Core with impressive detail and is well worth visiting.

The entrance to the subterranean site is a simple dip into the ground, not unlike the entrance to a mine shaft. 
The opening to the Terracotta Warriors Army exhibit doesn't reveal much about what's to come.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Free Accessory from Kal Rau

Kal Rau's highly detailed mesh keychain in green.
I was thrilled to see this new gift from Kal Rau and excited to share it with everyone. This intricately detailed keychain is available with clasp metal in green, red, pink, black and silver. It's an amazing complement to a variety of outfits and the colors ensure infinite coordination options. Although this keychain is mesh, it is unrigged, meaning you can move it to different locations on your avatar, ensuring that it hangs from a belt loop on any jeans. To receive the gift, join the Kal Rau premium group and check the notices. Be sure to remain in the group so you can receive the latest information about new releases, gifts and more.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Toast to CHAMPAGNE! Sparkling Couture

It's not often that one stumbles across a shop with the versatility of CHAMPAGNE! Sparkling Couture. From stunning couture gowns to elegant suits, Enzo Champagne's designs have graced runways across Second Life. However, CHAMPAGNE! Sparkling Couture isn't just high society apparel. In fact, the CHAMPAGNE! Sparkling Couture satellite stores, including one located at Romanum, contain clusters of costumes and outfits that are sure to spice up your wardrobe.
CHAMPAGNE! Sparkling Couture's REBEL in red
CHAMPAGNE! Sparkling Couture's REBEL in red demonstrates how Enzo has captured a sexy, tough guy feel, while staying true to the line's texture and quality standards. The outfit comes complete with bracelets and headband and is available in black, blue, brown and red.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mesh Baggies from Kal Rau

Kal Rau Baggies with Red Plaid Boxers
I have to admit that I'm not fond of baggies. I just don't like the fact that the style makes my legs look shorter and my torso longer. However, I do acknowledge that it is a popular style, loved by many, and even fashionable on avs shaped differently than mine. Despite my resistance to hop on the baggy wagon, I tried out Kal Rau's mesh baggy jeans and found myself quite pleased. Like Kal's other designs, these pants have amazing textures. They fit the baggy fashion, but don't drop down to the knees, making me look like I'm all torso and no legs. Yes, they work for me in ways other baggy jeans I've tried don't.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

When Creativity and Mesh Mix

Mesh takes artistic expression to surreal new levels.
One of the best things in Second Life, in my opinion, is the expansive creativity that colors the grid. With only the tools provided by Linden Labs and impressive imaginations, creators bring us objects to enhance our world and beautiful sims to explore. An example of the creativity inworld is Art Screamer's "spirit", a sculptural installation viewable in SL now through the end of the month. Claudia222 Jewell is the mind behind this amazing, multi-faceted mesh exhibit, and says she only started working with 3D rendering in January of 2011.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fashion For Life: Time For A Cure

Fashion for Life (FFL) has arrived, uniting 200 designers on 10 sims for the purpose of raising money for Relay for Life. The event provides an opportunity for a variety of fashion designers to raise money for cancer research. Until March 20th, you're invited to explore the low lag sims, discover designers you may not be aware of and help a very worthy cause.

Unlike so many other events where the prospect of attending comes with the knowledge that there will be lag, FFL organizers have designed the sims with the intention of reducing lag. According to Harper Beresford, FFL lead, a great deal of thought went into keeping lag low so shoppers can enjoy the experience. Fundraising through sales works best when people can see what designers offer, so the attention to low lag sims was necessary to ensure that FFL exceeds its goal of L$5 million raised for cancer research. When I visited the sims, I was stunned that I could keep my graphics on ultra while shopping. That's an achievement.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Styling InspiratioN

For as long as I've been in Second Life, I've heard the complaint, "There aren't enough good clothes for men here!" We all know that there enough male clothing designers creating attractive, quality items to ensure that we could never own ALL the clothes, but we can't help but feel a twinge of jealousy over everything that the girls have. After all, women get the majority of the hunts, what seems like millions of stores filled with clothes just for them, and accessories galore. The envy is unnecessary though. With a bit of adjustment and styling, clothes designed for females can be transformed into sexy dancing outfits.

Case in point: GizzA's Valentino InspiratioN outfit.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Mesh, Part 2: The Controversy

I fell in love with mesh hair at first sight (or first wear). Done right, mesh hair has beautiful shape, fabulous textures and the added function of moving with the avatar, rather than poking through the shoulders. This is an example of rigged mesh. Creations that are rigged are designed to flex and bend as the avatar moves, so it works well for hair and clothing, adding to the clothing options in Second Life.

Dragon Mesh Hair from Wasabi Pills

Wasabi Pills's Dragon Mesh Hair (and other mesh styles) demonstrates how mesh hair wears and moves. See that curve in the hair? While the lower part of the wig stays still, the rest of the hair moves as the head moves. This eliminates the hair-through-the-body problem that comes with prim and flexi hair.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

These are a few of my favourite things

There’s lots to love about SL, and I love lots about it. But some of the things I love best are small things or silly things or run-of-the-mill things that don’t really seem fantastic on the surface. This is the first of a semi-regular series on Case’s Random Likes.

1. The crate at Hubs’

If there’s not a dent in this crate the shape of my pixel ass, well, there ought to be. I’ve spent hours in this spot, in IMs with friends who are off doing what they’re doing, organizing my inventory, or just reading the profiles of others as they drop in at the landing point in front of me. It’s the perfect location in a cruisey place: within chat range of the action on the pier, but not quite involved in it, near enough to seem approachable without being too obviously interested, and right across from the landing point so you see everyone as they arrive. I’ve met some of the best men in my SL seated in this very spot, interesting, intelligent people who charmed and challenged and impressed me. Places come and go quickly in SL; your favourite spot could be there one day and gone the next, with no forwarding address. Maybe it’s that precariousness that makes them, and the memories they hold, so special. 

Best seat in the house.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Gabriel Shirred Jacket

I find ways to justify expenditures, especially when it comes to Gabriel. So, this morning I took a trip to the mainstore to see what I neeeeeded (because I really don't have enough clothes). Of course, this Shirred Jacket was something I couldn't refuse.
Just look at that fit!
This jacket is beautifully created with sexy styling and intricate detailing. Who could ask for anything more? (Okay, I could, but I want the whole store). This creation isn't mesh, so you don't have to worry about people on older viewers not seeing the sexiness of your belly button peaking through that bottom opening. This hot style is available in 4 colors, stone, khaki, dark olive and black. Each color is available for L$450, a steal for such high quality.

Hair: Shag - Trophy Hunter in Honeypot
Skin: Evian - Noah Pale
Sunglasses - SZD - Sunglasses Black (group gift)
Necklace - Gabriel - Angel Heart Necklace (group gift)
Jacket - Gabriel - Shirred Jacket in stone

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Mesh Leather Jackets!

I'm not supposed to have this bike. I'm dangerous when it comes to steering pixel vehicles.

Nothing beats a well designed leather jacket when it comes to wardrobe musts. They add a nice, masculine touch to an outfit and are perfect for riding your bike along the mainland roads. When Kal Rau released his new, mesh leather jackets, it was impossible for me to contain my excitement.