Those who survive the sometimes insane confines of NYC’s fashion industry do so by discovering some sense of outside sanctuary. Tea was mine.
My teahead street cred gets flashed all over on the road for Globalboho but it is rooted in how I used to ground myself when it got too wild in Nyc.
A lifetime ago, every time I hid away from all things art, underground and design it was in some sort of “tea house haven” situation.
I’ve worked for a tea maven who was once a nose in the perfume industry and making boozy tea cocktails decades ahead of the curve with one hand while Michelin starred chefs were getting drunk sniffing the headiness of her bespoke blends out of the other, promising to add nothing.
I gigged at a spot that was a boisterous blip on the Nyc Tea radar solely for executing the perfect Moroccan Mint tea experience for those who wanted to be transported, even for a serene teahouse temple built into the basement of a juggernaut Japanese department store tucked away on Fifth Avenue.
Now (literal lifetimes later), in each place I go the finest espresso fuel in town is hunted down as well as the de rigueur teahead sanctuary… just in case my arthead GPS needs to re-center. It’s an absent yin and yang of keeping it moving in search of globalboho geists and lends a kinetic, spatial equilibrium to it all.
But this love of tea didn’t just come from being blessed with a perfect 4pm English tea experience ( thanks to art mentors from the UK wandering the halls of the Education Department of the Cleveland Museum of Art) when I was an impressionable intern.
Tea already ran deep in my veins by then. You could even say it was responsible for the slightly unconventional saunter to my DNA the entire time I’ve been on planet earth.
My parents met at a notoriously wild club in Cleveland, a hedonistic disco before disco even existed built on the pyre of an infamous Rock N Roll venue the Rolling Stones beat the fuck out of whenever they roared through town. The name of it? The Mad Hatter.
My 6 foot three and a half inch tall dad was a deejay with cherry black skin and a cheshire cat grin that exploded out of his face in the dark like a gambler’s tell whenever he was about to do something that’d turn everything upside down. And my mom, a lithe, Diana Ross/Mahogany lookalike Piscean Dancing Queen…was named Alice.
The Mad Hatter is the looking glass through which my demented, preternatural cherub self peered in to this earthly realm. I raised my fat lil hand volunteering to beam straight down into the madness.
The only thing more important to me than teddy bear picnics and making crazy movies with my dolls as a kid were tea parties. Batshit crazy…tea parties.
Long before I was prowling the antique row around the corner from where I spent 18 years of my life for vintage fashion pieces and accessories, I was losing my mind over antique tea cups and saucers.
Dainty, fragile pieces of wonder. I’d shyly always wanted to grab the misfits and welcome them into my world but even though Alice only cooked to poison us so we’d never ask her to cook again the aesthetics and colorlines of her kitchen were set in stone.
Red, black and white.
Ironically, I’m only now seeing the correlations of that, even though she did indeed become a caricature of the Red Queen down the road. But even though I was the only one cooking in it~it was her kitchen. So I never amassed my own tea service.
Later on, the road I roamed had no space in the satchels for that kind of stuff, even though I was notorious for finding special cups, bowls and saucers everywhere I went and using them in that city, only to bequeath them in gratitude for the sense of connection to place each had helped me feel. On the road I was known for leaving behind two things at art residencies and retreats for whomever came after me: travel blenders for margaritas and whatever cool, weird bowl or tea cup I was drinking from.
I stood in front of this massive barn and slowly spun around, counting.
Blocks away from where I was based in Soquel was the most dense collection of Antique shops I’d allowed myself to be in since I had left Cleveland.
I looked up at the sky and felt God kiss my Donnie Darko-ing ass on the forehead in bendecir.
The Spirit of Soquel tipped her Mad Hatter chapeau and disappeared.
…And down I plunged into a rabbit hole of feverish antiquing the fishnet bodysuited under ripped denim Visigoth hadn’t succumbed to in over 28 years, a madness that lasted for days on end.
The BEST kept secret in Soquel is the town’s Antique Row, a concentration of just shy of ten portals into whatever your antiquing fancies may be.
Every shop was completely different and curated for those who would know what they’d happened upon when they entered each emporium.
These stores were so flush with seductive vintage contraband that the brunt of it was priced to move.
Perhaps it’s the result of so much dot.com money circulating and monied people making room for the new. I saw more pristine, vintage Wedgwood china piled in Antique shops for pennies on the dollar than I’ve seen in the back areas of some serious museum collections.
Depression glass, gloriously bound art books, jewelry-
If you have a sweet spot for special pieces across the spectrum, come prepared to be dazzled. And slightly alarmed by how good it feels to feed.
For the first time ever I just let myself go. Every lone teacup and saucer that thought it had reached the end of the line was picked up, carefully wrapped and taken with me. It was my first time ever doing that.
In the end, the isle of misfit toys come tea service was completed. All were mailed to meet me back in LA.
Soquel Drive and Main Street is where your journey begins.