The Correct Way To Do Yoga Push-Ups

A chaturanga dandasana, the Sanskrit term for “four-limbed staff pose,” is typically done 15 to 20 times in a classic 60-minute Vinyasa class. It’s a pose that energizes and strengthens the entire body, especially the arms, legs and core. This half push-up is one of the most frequently practiced poses in class, and yet it is commonly done incorrectly. As a yoga instructor, I’ve witnessed this all too often, and as a practitioner, I too fall prey to misalignment on occasion. But with proper guidance and practice, your body should be able to feel the difference between improper alignment and proper alignment.

 


 

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Incorrect Chaturanga Dandasana
Example A:
In this misaligned pose, the arms are wide apart and the elbows are facing outwards. The shoulders are tense. You can see that the core isn’t engaged because the lower back is sinking down, which will eventually cause pain in your lower back. The glutes are not engaged, and the tailbone is sticking up. The heels are shifting the body and flow of energy backward and down instead of forward.

 


 

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Incorrect Chaturanga Dandasana
Example B:
Here, the core is sinking way too low and isn’t supporting the lower back, which affects the alignment of the entire body. You can see the legs are drooping down towards the ground. The torso, quads and hamstrings are not fully engaged. Also, the shoulders should be back away from the ears, and the upper body should be in line with the hips.

 


 

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A Proper Chaturanga Dandasana:
Start at plank position. Lower the body halfway only with the tailbone tucked under. There should be a long line of energy flowing straight forward from the heels of the feet all the way up to the crown of the head. The elbows are at a 90-degree angle and hugging in towards the ribcage. The fingers are wide open, knuckles pushing down towards the ground. Your gaze should be relaxed, keeping the cervical spine long. You will know if you are doing it incorrectly if your body doesn’t feel engaged. While in the pose, squeeze the inner thighs, the glutes and the core to get the full expression of the chaturanga dandasana.

 


 

STORY BY SUNINA YOUNG
Sunina Young (sunina.com) is a yoga + SLT pilates instructor in New York City
Photos by Andy Hur, andyhur.com

This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here

Controversial K-pop Boyband Turns Out To Be A Thesis Project

Story by James S. Kim

When fans of K-pop boy group EXO recently heard about a non-Korean boy band debuting in Korea as “EXP,” they weren’t having it. Especially when they found out that this EXP group would be using the tagline “EXP Planet,” just one letter off from EXO’s “EXO Planet.”

The group was no joke. EXP’s Instagram claimed a week ago that the “first and only NYC-born K-pop band” would be dropping their new single, “LUV/WRONG,” on iTunes very soon. The boy band also announced that it would make its debut at the Columbia University MFA Thesis Show in NYC on April 26. Wait, what?

As it turns out, EXP is the product of a thesis project by a Columbia graduate student, Bora Kim, an interdisciplinary artist and sociologist from Seoul. Kim began the project, titled “I’m Making a Boy Band” (IMMABB), in October 2014 as an “ongoing collective experience, in-depth research, experimentation, filmmaking as well as business endeavor.”

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The ideas had already been running through her mind since the success of PSY’s “Gangnam Style” back in 2012. Kim said she was interested in researching how K-pop had finally “made it” in the Western world.

“The Korean pop industry has always appropriated its concepts from the West, and also the West through Japan, until not, and the reverse was a shock for the Korean public,” Kim explains in an interview with Columbia University. “‘Idol Groups’ became national heroes and K-pop became part of a proud national identity. But there is a double standard at play here. … K-pop had been looked down upon until outsiders started to consume it and its related products as well.”

Kim found that K-pop exports were directly tied to an increase in profit for Korean IT products, such as mobile phones–in fact, she says the biggest beneficiaries of the Korean Wave are companies like Samsung and LG.

But why make a boy band?

“I was interested in K-pop and idol groups on this level initially as I was thinking about cultural flow, or the relationship of dominant culture and peripheral culture, and how that is interwoven with one’s identity or one’s national identity,” Kim says. “I wanted to see what would happen if I made American boys into K-pop performers, by teaching them how to sing in Korean and act like Korean boys, and complicate this flow/appropriation even more.”

“Complicating the flow” also meant exploring how masculinity is portrayed in boy groups.

“These boys are tailored to attract straight young females, originally,” Kim says. “but the presentation of their sexuality is very complicated. … For example, a young group of pretty boys with great skin start rapping in a hip-hop music video while wearing a lot of make-up. What does this mean? Who is the target audience? It is totally gender-bending and experimental, but, at the same time, it is very typical, mainstream K-pop.

“And the acceptance of this strangeness (in the eyes of Western audiences) started to happen when Korean economic prosperity reached a point where it was enough for the entertainment industry to produce high-quality pop culture products,” she adds. “Cultural barriers or mistranslation are overcome by the shiny framing/packaging of K-pop.”

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Kim’s partners, Karin Kuroda and Samantha Shao, each brought their own expertise and perspectives to the project. Kuroda’s studies focused primarily on art criticism, photography, sculpture and fashion, while Shao studied arts administration and cultural theory at Maastricht University, Netherlands.

“The ‘I’m Making a Boy Band’ project aims to examine critical aspects of pop/business culture through the lens of an artist,” explains Kuroda, who first befriended Kim at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. “By asking oneself what it means to assimilate or twist the rudimentary formula in K-pop ‘idol’ culture, this project highlights social issues on a global and personal level.”

Shao and Kim discussed the differences between Asian pop culture–particularly Taiwanese and Korean–with American pop culture, as well as the connection between popular culture and fine arts.

“By changing the working process (of making ‘art’), we intend to re-think and re-define what it means to communicate with the art world and its audience,” Shao says. “Since the main characters of this work are people–not only band members, but also collaborators–we try to challenge ourselves by giving up authorship from time to time.”

Shao adds that she believes IMMABB focuses more on communicating with the audience throughout the process rather than the outcome of the band. The project “welcomes interactions, encourages questions and provokes confrontations.”

You can read more of Bora Kim’s interview with the Columbia University School of the Arts here. You can also follow EXP’s exploits at their Instagram, exp_theband.

 

All images courtesy of Columbia University School of the Arts
This story was originally published on iamkoream.com

 

It’s Not The Hangover: The Truth About Bachelor Parties

 

Women fantasize about their dream wedding; men dream about the Epic Bachelor Party. Columnist Paul Nakayama on what’s wrong with this age-old rite of passage, but also what’s right about it.


 

The bachelor party. A time-honored tradition of celebrating (and overloading) a groom with debauchery on his last night as a single man. You’re supposed to send the groom off with a bang (not literally, though there are those who believe a bachelor party isn’t a bachelor party until you test his commitment and fortitude to the lifelong promise of marriage). Speaking of “time-honored,” even the Spartans during the 5th century were doing it. But perhaps because partying was already too crazy in ancient Greece, the wild thing to do back then was to make the bachelor party a simple gathering for dinner and drinks. Though really, who can believe that? I bet the Spartans were the original inventors of the Bro Code and took the secrets of their actual ridiculous, orgy-like stag parties to their tombs. In present day, things aren’t so epic day-by-day for the average Joe, so the bachelor party is something of a male fantasy, seeded from their teenage years. We’ve all seen these wild fantasies come to life in movies like The Hangover, but most bachelor parties I’ve attended were nothing like these movies, and I’m here to point out why that’s unfortunate.

Before you think I’m advocating strippers and prostitutes, which I’m not, let me explain. I mentioned that the bachelor party is a man’s fantasy growing up, something like how some girls dream of a perfect wedding. But every man wants that EPIC party that he and his friends can reminisce about for years to come. With the acceptance that the groom is less likely to party after being married, the expectation to make the bachelor party grander than an average weekend bender is high, and therefore, the stakes are raised with as many trouble-causing elements as the groom finds comfortable. That said, most bachelor parties never go beyond drinking and strip clubs (notwithstanding the Mario Lopez scandal where he was accused of being unfaithful to Ali Landry at a beach party). I attended one where all we did was drink schnapps with old people on a cruise ship.

Now, what’s mainly wrong with bachelor parties these days is that many of the attendees have all but forgotten what the party is for — to honor their friend. Instead, it has become a convenient excuse for married men to crawl out of their sweatpants and party their brains out. Years of working, family time and raising babies must be a mental pressure cooker because you can feel their elation when an engagement is announced — not for the marriage necessarily but because they can smell the hall pass, like chickens being let out of the cages to become free-range birds if only for a few days. In my experience, it’s been the married guys who spur the party to darker and more perilous places, whether to live vicariously or, knowing what they know, to create a more memorable contrast to the world that the groom is headed for. When I see that gentle tear of escapist joy trickle down the cheek of a long-married man as he receives a lap dance from an exotic dancer lathered in coconut oil, and he’s downing his tequila shots like it’s his last night on Earth, I do remind myself that I haven’t yet walked in his shoes. I’m a newlywed myself and without kids, so who knows how I’ll be in a few years. I hope I can contain myself a little better.

Still, the bachelor party is for the groom and not the attendees, so I have to frown on the ones who choose to party selfishly. I was once at a bachelor party where 90 percent of the guys were in the strip club’s VIP section for hours, so it wasn’t so much a party as it was an alibi.

There’s also a second kind of bachelor party that I find distasteful, and that’s the sadistic send-off, where the main goal is to make the groom suffer for abandoning the herd. This might consist of binge drinking far beyond his capacity, placing him in embarrassing situations that require NDAs, and having strippers and random women beat the sh-t out of him. These are the parties I truly dread. I was once at a bachelor party where the groom sat on a chair placed on a stage, and the strippers (many of whom were more suited to construction work than dancing) would jump and land onto his body, like it was a Wrestlemania battle royale. Yeah, we were all crying with laughter, but I can’t imagine the groom had too much fun explaining why his body was massively riddled with pumpkin-shaped bruises. I know the point is to make his (single) life flash before his eyes, but I was sure that that flash was causing a booze-and pain-triggered seizure. If I could do it all again, I guess I would’ve jumped in there and guarded my friend from some of those body slams, but then again, no bachelor party is worth dying over.

But I don’t want the women out there to think that bachelor parties are evil and something to fear. Most are sensible and fun. Like my own. Now, I can hear all of you trying to call bullsh-t, but it’s true. A series of personal milestones (turning 40 and getting married) in the span of two months promised substantial damage to my internal organs from booze, so I dreaded my bachelor party. But I ended up celebrating my transition into being a married man very simply. My friends knew that I was beyond thankful to have found a woman to accept me and all of my bungling ways, and that I wasn’t going to risk any of it over whatever monsters lay in the dark. I had a fantastic time, at least from what my memory was able to retain: monk robes, an Oliver Stone cameo, Korean BBQ, obligatory karaoke and heartfelt toasts from some really good dudes. So maybe the Spartans weren’t lying, and they got it right after all. My bachelor party was everything I wanted it to be: an affirmation that nothing worthwhile was ending, but that some wonderful things were beginning.

 

This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here.
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

What’s Next For NYX Founder Toni Ko?

You may have heard of a popular yet under-the-radar beauty brand called NYX Cosmetics. High tech ingredients, the trendiest colors, affordable prices (think less than $5 for a liquid eyeliner) — what’s not to love? Well, let’s just say a mega giant beauty company called L’Oréal also fell head over heels for the line, purchasing NYX last summer for an undisclosed amount. (Women’s Wear Daily reported that it could have been up to $500 million.)

And the beneficiary of that major payday? NYX’s founder, Toni Ko.

For our interview, Ko invites me to her penthouse condo in downtown Los Angeles. Spacious with lots of natural light, her home has arguably the best views in the city. Ko has eclectic taste when it comes to home décor, the space filled with traditional Asian furnishings with a modern twist. Of course, there’s the requisite walk-in closet dedicated to just shoes, but what takes this place to another level is the in-house pastry café, where fresh pastries are baked just for her. Ko, along with her bichon frise, Bruce (he has his own Instagram, @SirBruceBarkalot), has lived in the penthouse for about seven years now and isn’t planning on going anywhere unless a) she becomes a billionaire (a goal of hers) or b) kids come into the picture (she just recently got married).

Makeup, it seems, has always been in Ko’s DNA. When Ko was 13, her family emigrated from South Korea to the U.S. and opened a beauty supply store. Though she wasn’t allowed to wear makeup in junior high, Ko says she would save all her lunch money to buy it and then hide it in her backpack so she could put it on at school and remove it before she got home. Even back then, Ko had keen business instincts. “I remember buying eyeliner at a local drugstore and it being very difficult to apply,” she says. “The red lipstick didn’t appear red, the blue eyeshadow wasn’t exactly blue. That’s when I realized there was a niche for an affordable yet high performing product.” It wasn’t until years later, however, when Ko was 25, that she would found NYX. In a humble 600-square-foot space, NYX sold only one product back then: eyeliner pencils. But within the first year of business, NYX generated over $2 million in sales.

Initially, Ko was inspired by brands like M.A.C and Urban Decay, which offered “professional makeup to the everyday consumer.” But as NYX grew, Ko found herself looking to her homeland for inspiration. “I would go trend shopping in Korea all the time,” she says, ticking off the trendiest neighborhoods of Seoul. “Technology is amazing there, and their products are so advanced.” She had discovered BB cream about 10 years ago, but as a smaller company, held off on introducing NYX’s own version until there was a demand for the product by American consumers.

As NYX grew, so did its social footprint. With 1.7 million followers on Instagram and an active channel on YouTube, NYX’s democratization of quality makeup was right in step with the mass outreach social media afforded it. “It really works for the beauty industry,” says Ko. “Before, if you didn’t run traditional advertising, you couldn’t reach your audience. But YouTube and Instagram has changed the game in terms of viewing tutorials in real time, seeing actual color on a real person and much more. People who didn’t know how to apply makeup now have the tools and accessibility to find makeup artists online and learn how to do every trick of the trade.”

While selling NYX — a company Ko nurtured into a worldwide best-seller, available in over 70 countries and sold at retail giants like Target and Ulta — to L’Oréal may be every entrepreneur’s dream come true, for Ko, it was like losing a best friend. “It hit me the next day,” she says. “Most people would celebrate and pop champagne after selling a company, but I felt deflated like a balloon. Up until I sold the company, I was so excited. I never considered working at NYX actual work — that’s how much I loved what I was doing. But I truly struggled [after the sale], getting used to the fact that NYX no longer belonged to me.”

On the upside, if she did get a nine-figure payoff, she’ll be set for life. And after years of always being conscious of her spending, Ko’s first splurge after the sale was not one, but five Hermès Birkin bags. (Yes, the ones with the rumored multiyear waiting lists that can go for $10,000+ a pop.)

Ko is now channeling her energy into building a real estate portfolio, as well as three local charities that focus on schools and underprivileged children. In fact, she started her own nonprofit, the Toni Ko Foundation, which not only supports organizations that help children in need but also those that empower women to start their own businesses. “The only way for many women around the globe to be more liberated is to become financially independent,” says Ko, whose own mother immigrated to the U.S. with three young children. “I think it’s incredibly important to lead women in the right direction to achieve independence.”

Ko also plans on returning to beauty as soon as her 5-year non-compete clause with L’Oréal is up. “Trust me, I’m counting down the days, and time is flying by!”

In the meantime, Ko keeps a smile on her face (“The act alone makes you happy,” she says), striving to work hard and stay honest. “I wish to learn something new every day and surround myself with people that I can learn from,” she says. “I want to set my timetable every 10 years and look back at myself and say, ‘Hey, I really became a better person, and I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.’”

 

STORY BY ESTHER CHO
Photo courtesy of Toni Co
This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here

Spotlight on Malese Jow

After more than a decade navigating the travails of Hollywood, actress Malese Jow has developed her own method for dealing with the madness.

“Being open and ready for anything, that’s my thing. I audition for, like, a million things at a time. It’s like throwing mud at the wall and seeing what sticks,” says Jow. “And when something sticks — when I know I can completely dive into a character — I start making it my own, which is really freeing.”

And yet for one recent audition, it was looking like she wouldn’t have that chance. “I was running super late,” she says. “I could not find the building. I was flustered. I had people calling me, ‘Where are you?!’ I was the last girl that they saw, and I was winded and out of breath and probably sweaty and gross.”

The role in question was for The CW’s The Flash — the network’s shiny counterpart to its more somber and gritty Arrow, about forensic scientist Barry Allen and his transformation into Central City’s fastest human being — and at that moment, Jow could have really used the title character’s super speed. Instead, she had another power at her disposal: her sense of humor.

“All the producers were in there, and after my first read, Andrew [Kreisberg, one of the producers,] said, ‘OK, now, take a deep breath, and let’s do it one more time,’” recounts Jow.

“We ended up laughing about the whole thing. I was just a mess, and he was like, ‘Watch, this is a role that you book.’ I got the call later that day. It’s the one you least expect, that you’re least perfect for, that works out best for you.”

Jow landed the role of Linda Park, a reporter for Central City Picture News, on the adaptation of the DC comic series. But when news of this casting was released, it caused quite a stir in the world of comic fans. Beware, nerdy digression ahead: In this televised version, the Flash’s alter ego is Barry Allen, whose unrequited love is Linda’s friend Iris West. But in the source comic, other persons succeed Barry as the Flash, including one Wally West, who ends up marrying Linda. So the Internet erupted, wondering, will there be more than one love interest for the Flash?

In the ever more ubiquitous — and lucrative — world of comics being translated for TV and film, Jow remains tantalizingly vague about plot lines. “She gets to shake things up in her own right, being the woman that she is,” says Jow. “She definitely shakes things up for Barry. She keeps him on his toes, and she’s not going to let him shimmy his way out of things. She corners him and makes things very interesting. Especially as we get deeper into her arc, it goes into his relationship with Iris, and Iris herself has to see Barry moving on and being in a relationship.”

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It’s clear that Jow is enjoying immersing herself in the role of Linda, not only because Linda is someone more mature than Jow is used to playing (“Before, I’ve been playing high school roles, which is great, but it’s good finally being able to play my age,” says the 24-year-old), but also because of the character itself. “She’s a strong, independent woman who knows what she wants. This girl has been around the block a few times. No drama, definitely, and she fulfills that whole female empowerment thing. I love her to death; she’s amazing.”

Jow, who got her start on Barney and Friends, appearing with the lovable purple dinosaur, says she was born to be an entertainer. “It’s in my DNA or something because every time there’s a camera around or I have material in front of me, I come alive. I have a natural” — she pauses to find the appropriate word — “bent for it.”

She moved to the teenaged playground of Nickelodeon in Unfabulous, and would later return to the network for recurring episodes of Big Time Rush and the fantastical The Troop. She then moved on to The CW, portraying a fan-favorite blood-sucker on The Vampire Diaries and the ailing Julia Yeung on Star-Crossed. She’s also made appearances on the big screen in Bratz: The Movie and The Social Network.

“It’s always thrilling for me with all these new characters,” says Jow, enthusiastically. “It’s different [each time], meeting a new group of people, working with new things and at new places. It feeds this desire inside of me. When you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing, it just works, you know?”

Linda Park, who is Korean American in the comic book, will be Jow’s second explicit Asian American role. In Big Time Rush, she is introduced as having a Caucasian mother and Asian American father. Other than that, most of her roles never dwelled on her character’s ethnicity beyond her appearance and maybe her character’s last name. When asked about how her ethnicity and identity has played into her experience in Hollywood, Jow, whose father is Chinese American and mother is of mixed Cherokee heritage, takes a beat to think before answering. “I think everyone has their own struggles in acting, in that way, because sometimes when people are casting, they’re very specific with what they want,” she says. “Sometimes you feel like you’re missing out on something because you look a certain way or you’re not old enough or you’re not pretty enough. Everyone will feel that at some point in the acting business. I’m hoping to be part of the movement of breaking stereotypes, because we’re in 2015. We have an African American president, the world is changing, the look of the world is changing. I can’t wait until TV completely reflects that. So I’m excited about [people] like Shonda Rhimes and the shows that she’s doing and helping that movement along. I’m hoping to be a part of that.”

And like Rhimes, the creator of series like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, Jow is all about female camaraderie and the importance of support and strong friendships among women within the entertainment industry. Already, she’s bonded with co-star Candice Patton, who plays Iris on The Flash. “I love strong women in the business who stay classy, women like [Meryl Streep] who aren’t afraid to take risks,” says Jow. “Life’s too short to have envy and jealousy, especially between women. We all need to lift each other up.”

Though Linda’s four-episode arc will be it for season one, Jow’s hoping the character will make an appearance in the second season, due out in the fall. Meanwhile, Jow has been singing — her first love — and writing songs. “I’m [doing] local shows in L.A., and it’s really exciting. I’m hoping that grows gracefully; I’m not trying to take over the world overnight,” she says, laughing. “I’ve tried to make music in the past. But I feel that, in my 20s, I know myself better and I’m more confident in who I am, in what I have to offer to people, as well as in my voice. So I’ve been writing a lot more and really trying to find that right sound. And when I do, I’m sure social media will be first to know, so be on the lookout for that.”

The Flash airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.

 

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STORY BY JASMINE LEE
PHOTOS BY ADAM HENDERSHOTT
This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here

 

Get to Know Anna Akana

 

HERITAGE: Japanese, Hawaiian, a bunch of Caucasian
AGE: 25
BORN & RAISED: Born in California, raised all over the world (military brat)
CLAIM TO FAME: Actress and filmmaker Anna Akana creates vlogs and short films on her popular YouTube channel, where she has over 1 million subscribers and 90 million views. While she discusses everything from mental illness and sexual harassment to hypnotherapy and her four cats, in her most popular video, “How To Put on Your Face,” (see below) she flips expectations by doing a makeup tutorial while giving tips on inner beauty. Akana will next direct and act in a female-driven comedy feature film that combines wedding photographers, love and sabotage.

My go-to karaoke song: “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor.
Last time I cried: In acting class, doing a dramatic scene.
What always makes me laugh: Kitten videos.
My go-to comfort food: Chicken tikka masala.
Last thing I ate: Chicken tikka masala.
Currently on “repeat”: “Nobody to Love” by Alex Newell.
A guilty pleasure I don’t feel guilty about: Getting my nails done.
Current favorite place: Magic Castle!
Favorite drink: Strawberry mule.
Current obsessions: My new passion planner, buying sweaters for my cat, Congress.
Pet peeve: People who don’t say thank you.
Habit I need to break: Obsessing over all details and failing to focus.
Talent I’d like to have: Be more outgoing.
Word or phrase I most overuse: “You know?”
My most treasured possession: My passion planner and “Think.” notebook.
Greatest fear: That I’ll lose sight of what’s important.
Favorite childhood pastime: Playing with my siblings.
Motto: It changes often, but as of now it’s “forget yourself.”
What’s cool about being Asian: Everyone assumes I’m much smarter than I am.
My job in another life: Probably be in the military.

 

This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here. 

 


Audrey Fashion Show 2015 Recap

 

The Audrey Fashion Show 2015 took place at 440 Seaton in downtown Los Angeles on March 28, and it was a grand celebration honoring Asian Americans in fashion, beauty, and entertainment. Satine Boutique owner Jeannie Lee was the chosen curator for the show, handpicking designers from all over the world to showcase their summer collections. And because Audrey Magazine had invited some of the most fashion-forward celebrities in the Asian community — from Hana Mae Lee, to Lindsay Price, to Eugenie Grey — the entire venue had become a runway, even before the show officially started.

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Hana Mae Lee. Photo courtesy of John Park

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Jeannie Mai. Photo courtesy of John Park

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The Filharmonic. Photo courtesy of John Park

Kicking off the show was Korean American indie folk-rock band Run River North. After releasing their self-titled album last year, the group has been touring all over America and parts of Europe, but they still made time to blow us away at the Audrey Fashion Show. Their passionate performance held the audience’s attention until the very end, as they played signature tracks like “Monsters Calling North” as well as testing out newer songs for the crowd.

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Run River North. Photo courtesy of John Park

Following their set, the night’s host Jeannie Mai, from FOX’s talk show The Real, took the stage to welcome the audience and introduce the designers. She told stories about what it meant to her when she first saw Audrey Magazine at a bookstore 12 years ago, when the premier Asian American women’s lifestyle magazine first launched, and she even had time to crack a few jokes, asking the audience where she could find a good bowl of pho in LA and doing a spot-on impression of her Vietnamese mother telling her to drive safely back when she got her first car — which was, incidentally, a Toyota, the title sponsor of the night. Other sponsors included PIA, The Korea Daily, WacowLA, MYX TV, Johnnie Walker, Asahi, Qupid, South Coast Plaza and Make-Up Artist Network.

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Photo courtesy of John Park

With everyone’s spirits enlivened, the show began, starting with New York City based designer Rachel Antonoff and L.A. based designer Heidi Merrick. Focused mainly on flowing casual wear, models were dressed in a variety of vacation-worthy styles, complete with straw hats and matching platform wedges provided by Qupid.

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Photo courtesy of John Park

Next came L.A. based contemporary brand AND B paired with Sachin & Babi, named after its husband and wife founders, who stormed the runway with its more modern take on the upcoming season. Models wore contemporary pieces in mainly neutral colors, but still managed to engage onlookers with the addition of bold accessories.

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Photo courtesy of John Park

As a pleasant surprise for the females in the audience, French brand Elevenparis, was the first of the designers to have male models, earning copious applause from the women throughout the venue. With a more street style bent, models sported jersey-esque sets printed with tropical florals and even headshots of model Kate Moss.

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Photo courtesy of John Park

Taking a short break from the fashion, world renowned dancer/choreographer Mike Song and beatboxer Terry Im, better known by his stage name KRNFX, paired up to give a more than memorable performance. Perfectly synchronizing his moves with KRNFX’s beats, Mike Song moved with ease, portraying comical scenarios such as killing a fly, dancing in a club, and a ping pong game between friends. After beatboxing along with Song, KRNFX took center stage to perform a mind-blowing solo, his power never faltering, earning the respect of all the guests.

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Mike Song and KRNFX. Photo courtesy of John Park

The show continued with JACHS New York paired with designer April Mun’s Stella & Jamie. The rock-chic brand strayed from its usually women’s only collection and expanded into menswear. L.A. based brand Cult Gaia and L.A. based designer Sechung showcased a line of cheerful spring styles, while Becca by Rebecca Virtue paired with Lezard Swim to fully embody the upcoming summer season with beachwear.

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Photo courtesy of John Park

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Photo courtesy of John Park

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Photo courtesy of John Park

Ending the performances of the night was the six member group The Filharmonic, an L.A.-based boy band who first gained fame in the NBC reality show The Sing-Off and who will appear in the upcoming highly-anticipated movie Pitch Perfect 2. While on stage, they sang a myriad of songs including Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You,” the popular “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, and “All of Me” by John Legend. All a capella, their rich vocals effortlessly filled the venue.

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The Filharmonic. Photo courtesy of John Park

For the last time, Jeannie Mai took the stage with runway show curator Jeannie Lee to thank James Campbell of James Campbell Productions and to bid the audience farewell, encouraging them to continue the festivities, ending the show on high note.


Story by Amber Chen
Feature image courtesy of John Park.

Model Casting for Audrey Fashion Show 2015

It’s time to go behind the scenes! Check out our model casting for Audrey Fashion Show 2015. Love the pieces you see? Stop by satineboutique.com.

We’ll be revealing our chosen models at Audrey Fashion Show 2015 tomorrow. Can’t wait to see you there!

 

Can Women Really Have It All? It Depends On Whom You Ask

 

It used to be that “having it all” meant you could bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. And read to your kids. And engage with your partner. And get in an hour of yoga. But as more women are starting to realize, maybe the question isn’t “Do you have it all?” but rather “Do you love all that you have?”

 

 

Story by Teena Apeles

 

Last year at the Aspen Ideas Festival, when David Bradley, who owns The Atlantic, asked PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi if she thinks women can have it all, the married mother of two told the audience, “I don’t think women can have it all. I just don’t think so. We pretend we have it all. We pretend we can have it all.”

Her answer stirred a lot of dialogue around the subject, as recent generations have been saying that American women can indeed have it all. But when seemingly more liberal companies like Apple and Facebook are offering such benefits as elective egg freezing for female employees, these gestures seem to be signaling the same thing that Nooyi expressed: You can’t have it all. For one, you may have to wait to have a family in order to have a career, or at least that’s what many of the women in these organizations may be feeling.

It’s true, ladies, you have to make hard choices — choices that your male counterparts generally don’t have to make.

Even President Obama touched upon these points in his January State of the Union: “Today, we’re the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers. … And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home.” And here’s another painful reminder from our Commander-in-Chief: “Congress still needs to pass a law that makes sure a woman is paid the same as a man for doing the same work.”

Welcome to America, where it can feel like so many forces are against you when it comes to being — or considering becoming — a working mother. In Canada, working mothers are guaranteed one-year maternity leave. Imagine that.

Granted, Nooyi, who is of South Asian descent, runs a billion-dollar company with thousands of employees — that’s a whole other breed of busy — but many career-driven women and mothers often talk about being pulled in many different directions. Because let’s remember that having a family doesn’t just mean being a mother, which Nooyi’s own mother told her and whose words Nooyi recounted to the Aspen audience: “Let me explain something to you. You might be president of PepsiCo. You might be on the board of directors. But when you enter this house, you’re the wife, you’re the daughter, you’re the daughter-in-law, you’re the mother. You’re all of that. Nobody else can take that place.”

I understand this well. It’s actually 12:30 a.m. as I write this. My 2-year-old has finally fallen back asleep (my husband went to bed two hours earlier), I did the dishes, put toys away, paid some bills, did 100 crunches, fed the animals, folded the laundry; and earlier in the day, I walked the dog with my daughter, got her bathed (but not myself!), took her to her classmate’s birthday party, had my parents over and much more. And now, I’m working. This is what I call Saturday. Thousands of other women, including Nooyi, probably did even more — and maybe even got in a shower and blow-dry.

Is this what I consider having it all? Or pretending to have it all, as Nooyi put it? That’s not what I’d call it. I’d call it having it all … to do.

 

SUCCESS DEFINED

When you hear the phrase “having it all,” what comes to your mind? Is it having a career, a life partner and a family? Hell, tons of people have those. But let’s add a few words and see how that changes things: a successful career, a supportive life partner and a loving family. But defining what successful, supportive and loving are is very subjective, as is defining “having it all.”

 

“I think that at the end of the day, everyone has his or her own definition of what it means ‘to have it all,’” says award-winning and bestselling paranormal romance/urban fantasy author Marjorie Liu, speaking by phone from New York. “For some people, that means being a mother and having a career, having the perfect home, the perfect husband or partner. But I happen to believe in the beauty and power of imperfection and not always getting everything you want — staying a little hungry, growing and learning; and, most importantly, being humble and grateful for what you do have.”

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Another New Yorker, Christina Seid, owner of the popular Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, believes “you can have it all … at different times.” And while Seid doesn’t run a big operation like PepsiCo, her daily schedule could probably compete with Nooyi’s. (She actually spoke to me by phone at 11 p.m. her time, because that was the only time she had free.) A former board member of the organization Asian Women In Business, the Chinese American is very committed to various causes — she’s been known to serve on 10 committees or boards at a time — in addition to running her own business. She is also the author of the bilingual children’s book Saturdays in Chinatown, has a small consulting firm, occasionally teaches at the Metropolitan College of New York, plus is a wife (she met her husband when she served as a board member on the American Cancer Society), a daughter (her dad originally founded the ice cream business), a sister and a mother to a 2-year-old. Oh, yes, and she often manages to get to the gym for an hour a day and will soon be serving as a judge on the popular Food Network show Chopped. Phew. If there’s ever been a woman who can do it all, Seid is it.

“There are times, when my business is slow, when I get to spend more time with my family,” she explains. “There are times when I’m on vacation when I have more down time, but I don’t think you ever have it all on one day at one time.” Seid goes on to add that while she does spend a lot of time with her family, maybe she’ll miss what many would consider big moments: her daughter’s exact birthday or celebrating a major holiday together on the exact day, which her family has adapted to. “I think when you have a business or you’re a career woman, you have to be very flexible, and your family has to be very flexible.”

 

Meanwhile, Daria Yudacufski, cofounder of feminist magazine Make/shift and executive director of the University of Southern California’s arts and humanities initiative Visions and Voices, questions the notion of “all” that society has put forth. “This concept of ‘having it all’ is just kind of weird and problematic. It just depends on so many factors, who we are, which we can’t really define, and what people want,” says the biracial Japanese American. “I think that the way it is being defined is having a successful career and family, and that is not for everybody,” she says. (I should note that her 5-year-old daughter and mine, who both have school holidays on the day of our meeting, periodically interrupt us. This is called juggling — or perhaps enjoying it all at once?)

“I think that there are people who can very easily choose to not have a family and have a successful career and have it all,” she adds. “Or they can have a family and not have a job and also have it all. And there are also class and privilege issues with all of that, too. I think that if you are a working single mother, you are dealing with a whole other set of issues.”

But if you ask Yudacufski simply if she’s happy, her answer is simple. “I am really happy where I am at. I feel incredibly lucky that I have a job that I really like, and I have this amazing daughter. And I am still able to publish this magazine that is so important to me.” That says a lot from this working mother, who is also a breast cancer survivor. (She had a double mastectomy two years ago.)

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As for Liu, her answer is also simple, albeit different. “Yes, I do have it all,” says the biracial Chinese American, who, in addition to penning more than 17 novels, teaches writing at MIT, writes comic books and makes appearances all over the world; and whose partner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Diaz, very much understands the demands of a writer’s life. “But having it all doesn’t mean being content to just be in my place. Having it all means being content with where I am, but also thinking what is going to happen next. Success in my mind implies that the game is over, that there’s nothing left to dream about or accomplish.”

 

STRIKING A BALANCE

What I found really interesting about these women is that the words “sacrifice” and “compromise” never came up. They all seemed to own their, at times, difficult choices without lamenting them. Though Seid does share she’s “actually taking more time to be a mother,” overall, she feels great about her relationship with her daughter. “We have very full days together, so I have no guilt about not spending enough time with her,” she says. And Seid truly loves working. “If I don’t have my job, and I don’t put energy into my career, I can’t give my daughter the things that she wants, so it’s hand-in-hand in a way.”

Likewise, Yudacufski doesn’t necessarily have to juggle motherhood and two jobs — she had been planning to just work on the magazine before the USC opportunity presented itself — but her well-being depends on it, she says. “I think that the work that I do with my daughter, just being there as a parent, is so critical, but really I need all of those things [running the feminist magazine and directing the USC arts program] to have my own happiness.”

After a whirlwind writing period of eight years, Liu, on the other hand, who used to call a 14-hour workday the norm, realized that she wanted more than her work. “I did an excellent job of being alone, all in the name of work — but I woke up one day and realized that if I wasn’t careful, another eight years would pass, and I still wouldn’t see my friends at all, except for once or twice a year. I wouldn’t have a family of my own, unless it was a family of five cats and a bunch of little dogs. Which isn’t so bad, but also not what I wanted for myself.”

 

THE ROAD AHEAD

So what to think? Are these women the exceptions? Are they just “pretending” to have it all? If I talked to these women again five months or five years from now, would their answers be different? Perhaps. If you asked me if I had it all a year ago, I would have a different answer than I do today, though I believe that I can have my “all” again and again.

Perhaps it’s time to redefine what “having it all” means. It’s not about having the career and the partner and the children and the fill-in-the-blank, and managing each and every one of them perfectly. It’s about how you feel about what you do have.

 

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Daria Yudacufski. Photo by Marie-Reine Velez.

 

Yudacufski’s advice for women just starting to cope with these issues is what we’ve heard before, so simple yet seemingly so unattainable: “Do what you love. Do what makes you happy. Not what makes you more or less money, or what everyone else tells you that you are supposed to be doing.” And specifically addressing Asian American women, she says, “It is not about getting the job that your parents want you to have, but it is about following your heart and figuring out your passion.” (Honestly, for me, since becoming a mother, I’ve forgotten just what that is, but I’m up for the challenge.)

“It’s a balancing act,” says the ever-striving Liu. “Staying grounded and satisfied, while also looking forward — dwelling in possibility.” Her words of wisdom? “I think the key to making it all work is gratitude. If you appreciate what you have, that creates a healthy space for growth and exploration.”

Think on that, and perhaps you’ll find yourself having it all, and so much more.

 

This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here.

 

The Filharmonic Show Off Their Talent in ‘Pitch Perfect 2′

The six young men in The Filharmonic, an all-Filipino American a cappella group, are adorable. That is, if you’re into well-dressed, charming and funny guys who also happen to have great vocal talent. Excuse my gushing, but after meeting The Filharmonic — vocalists VJ Rosales, Joe Caigoy, Trace Gaynor and Barry Fortgang; vocal bass Jules Cruz; and beatboxer Niko Del Rey — you can count me as a “Filharmaniac,” the affectionate moniker assigned to the group’s legions of enthusiastic fans.

The Filharmonic boys came together in 2013 to compete in season four of NBC’s musical competition The Sing-Off. Week after week, they wowed judges Ben Folds, Jewel and Shawn Stockman (of Boyz II Men) with their infectiously fun arrangements, which infused hip-hop beats, bright pop inflections and soulful vocals that invoked a classic ’90s R&B sound. The Filharmonic thrilled with renditions of “This Is How We Do It” (Montell Jordan), “Treasure” (Bruno Mars) and others; they made it all the way to the semi-finals, finishing in fourth place.

“We practiced so much,” says Caigoy, 26, the powerhouse singer of the sextet. “Thirteen hours a day.”

“We lived in that hotel for two months,” adds Cruz, 23. “It was so stressful being on a reality show, non-stop singing, your voice is dying.”

Del Rey, 24, quips, “My dad says we lost so much weight, from the first episode to the last.”

I ask if they felt disappointed by the elimination, and there is a brief silence. Then, Cruz, the de facto leader of the group, says, “It was the biggest relief.” The guys start to laugh, and everyone chimes in with stories about what happened the next day: They slept in, treated themselves to massages and just relaxed by the hotel pool.

“No rehearsal, no nothing,” says Cruz with a smile. “It was the first time we could leave on our own. It was great!”

In 2014, The Filharmonic traveled across the country as part of the Sing-Off tour. “We love performing,” says Caigoy. “The lights, the audience cheering. It’s surreal, crazy, fun. We feed off of that great energy.” In every city, they were greeted by rabid Filharmaniacs, who waved elaborately decorated posters and brought gifts for the boys. Caigoy recalls a meet-and-greet where one fan walked up to the table and spontaneously began to cry. “I’d never experienced anything like that. I was like, why are you crying? It’s only me,” he says, chuckling.

***

 

On the day of the interview, the guys inadvertently dress in theme: Everyone wears shades of navy blue, rusty red and black. They’re effortlessly stylish, in a variety of V-neck tees, button-down shirts, Vans and baseball hats turned backwards. Rosales, 27, in a pair of Malcolm X glasses, is the only one with his shirt tucked.

Before The Sing-Off and the birth of The Filharmonic, Rosales was a solo artist and, at one time, a contestant on NBC’s The Voice. He describes the experience as “rough.” The scheme of the reality competition involves a blind audition for four celebrity judges with their backs turned; if the singer impresses, the judges may choose to swing their chairs to face the stage. For Rosales, however, not a single chair turned.

“I learned a lot about the industry and about myself as an artist,” Rosales says. “In the end, I learned I can’t do things alone. Things went downhill for me after The Voice, but when I joined The Filharmonic for The Sing-Off, everything brightened up. I enjoyed the process of singing again.”

For Fortgang, 22, the youngest of the group — and the quietest — Rosales is an inspiration. “VJ is very classy. He’s good at everything musical — great pianist, great singer.”

As the songwriter for The Filharmonic, Rosales is working to create original music for an upcoming album, which will also include covers of popular hits. With their first album slated to drop in April, 2015 is shaping up to be a busy year for the group. In addition to live performances, giving master classes at high schools and colleges across the nation, and recording YouTube videos of their creatively arranged covers like “All of Me” by John Legend and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” (“Videos are fun because we get to play make-believe,” says Rosales), on May 15, The Filharmonic makes their big screen debut in Pitch Perfect 2.

I ask if they’d seen the first Pitch Perfect, the 2012 hit starring Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, and Caigoy answers, stifling a laugh, “Oh yeah. Like … a lot.”

Cruz recalls a night at the hotel, during the taping of The Sing-Off, when the guys decided to order a pizza and watch the first Pitch Perfect together. The musical comedy features Kendrick as a member of The Bellas, a college a cappella group, and follows their misadventures and triumphs on the road to the national a cappella competition.

“And now we’re in it!” Caigoy cries with glee.

The sequel, directed by Elizabeth Banks, brings the fictional Bellas to the world a cappella championships. The Filharmonic boys play a competing group, representing the Philippines.

In case it’s not obvious, The Filharmonic’s band name is meant as a shout-out to their Filipino American cultural heritage. “We wanted to personify the Filipino vibe,” explains Del Rey. “We went to Mel’s Diner and threw out names. Jules came up with Manila Ice.” A round of laughter ensues, and they shuffle through other rejected band names: Fresh Off the Note, Filosophy, Filanthropy.

“Every Filipino family sings,” says Gaynor, 23. “There’s always karaoke at every Filipino event. There’s a ton of talent in the community, but it’s not reflected in pop culture today. We’re helping to show that Filipino talent.”

 

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Though it’s hard work being in the band, the guys clearly enjoy each other’s company. They crack jokes and tease each other with an easy camaraderie.

“We see each other five, six days out of the week,” says Del Rey. “Mostly rehearsals, but at least one day we’ll get lunch and just hang.”

“It’s such a passion,” says Rosales. “Sometimes it does take away from having a social life, but I enjoy it. I’m such a workaholic.”

While the group sometimes disagrees on creative choices, the guys don’t shy away from it. “When we don’t have disagreements, the arrangement turns out kind of flat, because we didn’t have a ton of good ideas,” explains Gaynor.

Caigoy says, “It’s not ever like the group’s going to break up. Sometimes we disagree on who should sing which part and how high.” He tells a story about being assigned to sing a part in the upper register. “Super high, and I was like, I’m not going to sing that. That was my diva moment,” he says, laughing.

“But whatever we argue about in practice, afterwards we’re fine,” adds Del Rey. “We go get lunch.”

Hear their music, get tour dates and more at TheFilharmonic.com. Want to see The Filharmonic live? Check them out at the Audrey Fashion Show 2015!

 

Story Jean Ho
Photo Ben Miller
Stylist Franzy Staedter 
Grooming Cat White 

 

This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here.