Check this out! Amanda, of the outstanding BerryPolished blog, interviewed me for her blog! She's my guest blogger today - here's her post:
Hello my wonderful readers! I am so excited to share today's post with you because its the first in a new series I will be doing every couple of Wednesdays. I am calling this my "Blogger Bio Series", where I will interview other nail bloggers! I feel like we all look at the pretty pictures and (sometimes) read these awesome blogs, but we don't know much about the writers, except for maybe a short blurb they created for an "About Me" section. These interviews will be done virtually (through e-mail usually), so the responses are written by the bloggers themselves - I am not transcribing them and nothing has been edited. So I hope you will enjoy reading these as much as I am enjoying writing them :)
My first blogger is Steve from the blog "Lacquer Man" and his blog can be found at http://lacquerman.blogspot.com/ or on my "Blogs" tab. Steve is an exceptionally special nail blogger because... he's a guy! I began to get to know Steve after he commented that he was wearing the same hot pink polish on his toes that I was wearing in one of my pictures on Berry Polished's Facebook page. The way he explained how he got started in the nail polish community was so fascinating that it made me feel I needed to share his story with my fans. I orignially started off with 10 questions (something I am planning for all these interviews), but Steve's story is so unique in the polish community that it required a couple follow-ups. I highly recommend you read the entire interview because Steve expresses himself very well and this is a perspective on nail polish we don't often get! So with no further ado, here is the interview:
1. First of all, what are you wearing on your toes and/or fingernails right now?
- Right now, I’m wearing OPI “Fly” on my toes, and ManGlaze “Santorum” on my hands. Santorum is a matte brown, so each pinkie is topcoated with OPI topcoat as an accent nail.
2. Take us back to the beginning - how did you first start wearing nail polish?
- In July, some friends and I were making bets on movie trivia – but since none of us have money to spare, we were wagering dares. I thought I had an impossible question about “Apocalypse Now”, so I bet a friend that he couldn’t answer my question. We negotiated the wager – the loser would have to paint his toenails hot pink for a whole week… display his toes in public… take photos in public… post the photos to his Facebook and any dating sites… and could conceal his toes only while at work. I lost the bet. In a way, this was fortunate for me – I’ve met other men online who polish their toes (I belong to several Flickr groups related to toenail polish on men), who have struggled, sometimes for years, with the question of how to take the big step out the front door. I had to just man-up and do it, so I didn’t have the time for doubt to grow into an insurmountable fear.
**Follow-Up Question: So, you had to wear polish for a week. When that week ended, why did you keep wearing it?
- Well, during that first week, I discovered that the polish – even pink – made my feet look better than they ever had. I work in heavy construction, so I’m required to wear steel-toe boots all day. They are poorly ventilated, they trap moisture and breed nastiness, so that I have always been embarrassed to let anybody see my bare feet. I was literally the guy who brings a pair of old sneakers to the beach in order to go into the lake. Compared to that, the polish was not embarrassing at all. Then, because I had to – and could – wear sandals, the extra exposure to light and air made my feet healthier overall. After about a month, I made another discovery. The real reason Ford paints their cars, is to protect them from rust and decay. Nail polish PROTECTS my toes from the hostile environment inside my work boots, it prevents the fugly yellow staining. To me, this is reason enough for any man to wear it – if only clear.
- Also, the nail polish helped me to achieve a better understanding of myself and my masculinity. I’m not saying that it “made” me a better man – but in that first week, I did a lot of thinking about how society defines masculinity, and what it really means to “be a man”. In a way, it gave me a different perspective on the issue, and it helped me to discover some of the absurd assumptions I had unconsciously accepted. By stripping these away, it helped me focus on and realize the things that really are relevant to who I am.
3. How have your friends and family responded to you incorporating nail polish into your life?
- My son has no problem with it at all. But then, he works at Hot Topic, so he sees all sorts of bizarre fashions on his customers. My sister chuckled but didn't say anything pro or con. My friends have been accepting – the ones who witnessed the bet, and the resulting improvement in my social life, insist that I've managed to “cheat” the winner by having such a positive experience with it. (I was supposed to suffer embarrassment and humiliation… not improve my standing with women…) My parents are uncomfortable – my mother categorically rejects this (and she forgets that her mother was a manicurist for almost 50 years… or perhaps her attitude comes from something her mother might have said way back when.. I don’t know). My father – who is also my boss – apologized as he begged me not to wear polished fingernails to work, in order that I not embarrass the company to our customers and suppliers. I have no problem with that – the time I sell him becomes his time, and the image I project in that time is part of what he buys, and is therefore his to define.
4. How often do you paint your nails?
- My toes have been painted constantly since July 10, 2011. I generally will wear one color on my toes for one to three weeks, and except for one pedicure, I've done all my own application. I started painting my fingers in October, and I generally paint them every Thursday or Friday for the upcoming weekend, then remove it Sunday night. I don’t know if this is “normal”, but I rarely repeat a color – most of my collection (30) is 80% full. I've heard men complain that mechanical work (and I do plenty of that) ruins their polishes quickly, but I get very good durability – I think its because I adhere rigorously to an incremental drying schedule: BC – 10 min dry – C1 – 15 min – C2 – 20 min – C3 – 25 min - TC
5. What's it like being a guy in the female dominated world of nail polish blogging?
- I love the company! <WINK!> Seriously, I’m relatively new to actual blogging – I've mostly been a participant on FB pages (mainly women) and the Flickr groups (mainly other polished men, including a fair number of crossdressers). Everyone, everywhere has been incredibly nice and very accepting and tolerant of me. (And, I know I can strain people’s tolerance… among the women, I have a tendency to “advocate”… for example, when someone says “My BF/DH says I have to stop buying so much polish”, my reply is usually along the lines of “Buy him a bottle of a ‘manly’ color, put it on him, then ‘celebrate’ <wink> how sexy he is in color. Turn him on to the stuff, and he’ll start encouraging you to buy more!”) Overall, I've been amazed by how completely our common love of lacquer can overcome even gender differences…. I really feel welcome in this community, and I thank everybody here for that!
**Follow-Up Question: You mentioned crossdressers before. Are you a crossdresser?
- No. I have nothing against them – they have the same rights I have to dress as they choose – but I’m more like the opposite of a crossdresser. To me, a crossdresser wears nail polish as part of an effort to appear female. His use of nail color depends on his acceptance of the premise that this paint is inherently feminine. I reject that premise. I wear colors that I believe enhance my masculinity as they demonstrate confidence and independence. I recognize that some colors are symbols of femininity – pink, for example, and many pastels – but it’s the color itself (whether on a shirt, a webpage, a bedroom wall, fingernails, a Hummer H-1 or a Glock 9 handgun ) that is feminine, not the material that carries the color. I also understand why society is uncomfortable with full-on crossdressing. Ultimately, society has a need to provide separate public restrooms – and women need privacy and security when they use the restroom. A man who can convincingly appear female, can infiltrate the women’s restroom, where he could pose a threat to this societal need. But, nobody would look at me with painted nails and believe I was female – nobody would accept my presence in a woman’s restroom – so I have “crossed” nothing.
6. What would you tell other guys who are interested in nail polish but feel intimated by today's social norms?
- Man, it’s JUST PAINT! There’s nothing in the bottle that is inherently feminine, nothing that has any power to change you or make you less of a man. In fact, for a guy to wear nail color, he has to have an abundance of boldness, confidence, adventurousness, independence and a little defiance. These traits are at the heart of REAL masculinity. Do you remember the movie “Fight Club”? Remember Tyler Durden’s quote “You are not your job… not the money you have in the bank.. not the car you drive.. not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis!” That’s all true – and, I am not the color on my nails! My masculinity is MINE to define, and I base my definition on how I answer the question, “Am I proud of the man I see in the mirror? Am I a devoted father, a faithful partner, a trustworthy friend and a compassionate person? Do I tell the truth, keep my promises, honor my commitments? Is the world a better place because I’m in it?” THAT is masculinity, everything else is distraction – it’s not how many hot women I can have, or how much beer I can drink, or how much stuff I can buy, or how loud I can cheer for a football team or belch at the dinner table… or whether there’s paint on my nails.
7. Do you have a particularly funny or interesting story that happened as a result of you wearing nail polish?
- Oh… I have stories! Here are two from the same night: Once, I was out at a bar, wearing sandals and a metallic ruby polish similar to OPI “Bogota Blackberry”. I noticed that a group of women had noticed my feet – they were whispering to each other, stealing glances. They called over one of their husbands and asked him to ask me about my toes. He refused, saying “Because I really don’t care, and I’m NOT going over there like “Hey man, what is that color on your toes?”. So, one of the women came over to ask. I told her the color, explained about the lost bet. She introduced me to her friends, and we stood for photos. Then I drifted away, I went over to the Super-K and bought her a bottle. When I returned with it, we took a few more photos and talked a while more…. while the women in the group took turns putting my color on their toes, right there on the bar! At this point, the men were drifting closer, and were admiring the show!* They started telling me that I must be some kind of GENIUS, because every woman in the place was talking about me!
- There was one woman in the group who wasn't having fun though. She was one of the youngest, blonde, and very drunk. And, apparently, she was unhappy that she wasn't the center of attention, so she decided she would verbally beat me up and take the spotlight. She started asking accusatory questions, like how many skirts I own, how many pairs of heels, nylons etc… I put up with this for maybe 2 minutes, then I smiled, pointed at a flaming skull in her biker sleeve tattoo and sweetly said “Hey, that’s really pretty! Is that a butterfly or a unicorn?” She backed up, sat down, and I didn't hear another word from her. Her mistake was trying to defend the indefensible, to stand for ‘the way things are’ when there is no reason for the way things are. And, she demonstrated that there is no rational argument for it, the only things that keep men away from nail polish are mindless, prejudiced bullying, and the fear of it. And, given a choice between her judgment of what color my nails should be, and my own, I’ll choose my own judgment every time!
8. What are your favorite colors or trends in polish to see on women or is there anything guys don't particularly like seeing on women's nails?
- OK, here’s the thing about guys… we are visual creatures. That means, we tend to respond to things we see…. and we don’t think about things we don’t see. Nail polish on women isn't a terribly important thing to most guys, it’s not like we go out thinking “I’m going to find a woman tonight with really great nails”, we don’t tell our buddies “Yeah, I met someone, and you should SEE her cuticles, man… really hot!” Nails, for guys, are kinda like the music in an elevator… it’s there, sometimes it fades into the background, other times we notice it and think “Hey, cool song”.. but the music isn't really related to the purpose of the elevator. With women’s nails, the brighter they are, the more likely we are to notice them, but when a woman doesn't wear polish, we rarely notice that it’s not there. Maybe a better analogy would be to the cherry on top of a banana split. It’s just part of the recipe, we all expect to see it there, we grab it and eat it without much thought, then dig in to the ice cream. If the split came without a cherry (“hey, we’re all out of cherries today, is that OK?”) I’m pretty sure most people would enjoy the split just as much.
- Things men notice in a negative way include “claws” (I’d say, longer than maybe ¾” past the fingertip, especially if they’re filed to the pointy spade shape that’s so popular now), and that 3-D, “stuff glued on” thing – a few stones or beads is one thing, but when the stuff starts spilling over the sides and obscuring the skin, then it’s gone too far. (“Aquarium Nails”? Seriously?) We like to hold your hands – really – and both of these items interfere with that and make us worry about damaging a mani you probably really like.
- (I think this - men's tendency to not think about things they don't see - is also part of why men haven’t ever thought about whether they would wear polish. They've simply never seen a man wearing it as a man, so it’s just never crossed their minds. It’s not like we had a secret “Man Convention” and voted “We hate wearing nail polish, and any man who does is a traitor”. I've seen hundreds of stories from men who never thought about wearing it until their GF/DW suggested it (to hide crustiness, to cover bruises from marathon running, to cure a nail-biting habit, or simply to amuse her), and discovered that it’s really pretty cool.)
- As for women’s nail trends I like – flat nail art is very cool, some of the entries in OPI’s recent contests were spectacular! I love the sponged gradients, and water marbling, and some of the “blingy” topcoats.
9. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only have 3 polishes with you, what would they be and why (color names and brands please)?
- OPI “Save Me”, “Save Me” and “Save Me”, duuu-uhh! I’m pretty sure that stuff can be seen from passing airplanes! Seriously, I’d have one “Save Me”, one OPI “A Good Man-darin Is Hard to Find” (but I hope they keep searching…) and one Butter London “British Racing Green” – I think I could use BRG plus some SM to paint a rock into a convincing fishing lure….
- <<P.S., 2/2/12 - Funny thing... Amanda wrote that this question was intended to find out my three favorite, must-have, "can't live without" colors - which would be BB Couture "Grenade", OPI "Swimsuit.. Nailed It", and (brand new to me..) "OPI Ink" (bumped "Bogota Blackberry" to #4). I knew what she was asking - and I really wanted to give a prop to BB Couture here - but when one is planning to get stranded on a deserted island, "cant live without" becomes a question of survival until rescue, and fashion goes on the back burner. I've always been close to the water - boating, scuba diving, a little fishing - so "castaway" stories have always fascinated me. One of my favorite books is "Adrift" by Steven Callahan - his true life account of surviving 76 days drifting across the Atlantic in his boat's liferaft. "Cast Away" with Tom Hanks was an awesome film. So, it was easy for me to imagine myself in that situation and think about which colors I would really want to have with me... AND how I would use those colors to prolong my survival. ;) >>
10. And finally, if you were asked to name a berry-colored polish, what would you call it?
- “Berry The Hatchet”… “Berry-lyn Monroe”… “SolsBerry Hill”…. It’s funny that you should ask this – because I have been doing research into nail lacquer chemistry and formulation, with the goal of starting a little company to manufacture nail color. One of my first lines will be “Nail Superstars”, a tribute to bloggers and vloggers, with each color named for them. The first color in the collection will be “Plasma Speedo”, for the girl in the “Sh*t Nail Polish Addicts say” video. She says that the color of “Plasma Speedo” should be a purple jelly base, with gold sparks, some holo shimmer, some rainbow flakies of all shapes – a big shiny mess, “like a rainbow Santa pooped into a bottle”. That’s not a color she’d wear often – she loves crèmes – but it’s a color that she feels captures her spirit and answers the question “which color is YOU?” There’s definitely a spot in that line for “Berry the Hatchet” or “SolsBerry Hill”, if you want it!
** Hey Steve, I'll take Berry-lyn Monroe please!
There you have it! I think Steve makes a great advocate for male nail polishers everywhere and his blog, Lacquer Man, is a unique gem amongst nail blogs! You can also find this interview at Lacquer Man. I hope you enjoyed the first of the Blogger Bio Series and are looking forward to more. If you are a blogger and would like to participate, or are a fan and would like to see someone interviewed, please email me :)
Thanks for reading, I post every Sunday and usually on Wednesdays. And please don’t forget to “like” my Facebook page www.facebook.com/BerryPolished for extra news! I also have a “nail ideas” board on Pinterest.com under the user name “berrybear”.
~A. Berry - 1 Feb., 2012
That's my story... I want to thank Amanda, she did a great job with the questions (definitely the hardest part of an interview..) If you haven't yet, please check out her blog at http://berrypolished.com/ !
- Steve - 1 Feb., 2012
* Ladies, here's a trick to get free drinks out at the bars... forget "barsexual" dancing with your girlfriends - most guys know that's mostly fake, those that don't will want you to bring your friend for a threesome to cap the night, and by now enough guys have "been there, done that and got dumped for another woman" that it's losing its appeal. INSTEAD - sit at the bar with a friend, and take turns painting each others' toes! Plop a foot right up on the bar! (Put a napkin under the heel, and the bartender probably won't say a word about sanitation or health codes..) It will definitely get guys' attention... in a way that also says (or lets you say) "kinda busy right now.." I promise, drinks will start lining up. If a guy is bold enough to approach, offer to paint his toes too!