Sunday, December 29, 2013


In the last few days of every year, many people begin making their New Years Resolutions. It’s universal and widespread; it’s practically a requirement! But as we all know, this practice often doesn’t have a very stellar track record. It’s almost as though in the act of deciding to better ourselves, we’re actually setting ourselves up for failure.  Then we beat ourselves up because we can’t stick to the impossible and rigid standards we’ve created.

This is often due to the fact that we set such lofty goals, there’s almost no way we can keep them. For years, I was so damn good at creating my own completely generalized and unrealistic goals in the name of New Years Resolutions that I wound up making crazy declarations that would implode in a matter of weeks … which lead to giving up and not making any at all!

Finally, I wised up and realized that the New Year should be a time for growing and redefining. It became clear that if I really wanted to make some life improvements for the up-coming year, I needed to set attainable goals, think them through and also decide on a do-able plan of action to bring them to life.

 Here’s what I do- while it may not be exactly right for you, it works for me.  You’ll need a pen and paper, a calendar, and some quiet time.

Reflect And Honor
 Before making any Resolutions, take some time to think about the past year.  Take stock and ruminate on what practices or habits that worked for you, as well as those that didn’t.

Think lovingly about special moments that you had with family, friends, your students or the cast of a show you worked on. Spend a little time honoring anyone you loved who passed away… be it two-legged, four-legged, someone you knew or a person that you admired from afar.

 Make two stream-of-consciousness lists. One should be of everything you accomplished and all the good things that happened to you. The other one is for goals you wanted to achieve but didn’t; relationships and events that were tinged with negativity, resentment- things that are bothering you or just never worked out.  Let your mind wander and write down anything that comes into your head.  Then look at both lists.  On the Accomplishment List, you’ll probably be kind of amazed at everything you did in the past year:  the projects you finished, the friends you made, and the triumphs you had. Own them!

Forgive, Forget or Reach Out
Now look at the other list. Allow yourself a few minutes to remember these incidents, and take a few moments to ponder why they didn’t work.  Don’t mull them over or beat yourself up… Let them go!

Sometimes, in order to really process through your unfinished business, you might need to write a New Years Note.  This may take a little more time, but the note doesn’t need to be lengthy, it can be simple, just a few lines. You can reach out with love to an estranged family member or friend…or you can “break up”-even if it’s just in your mind- with a person or project that is sapping your energy or patience. Just write a private note to yourself, separating yourself from this problem.  If you clarify why the situation is bothering you, you can change your own behavior and reactions to it, which will eventually allow you to make peace…at least with yourself.

List Specific Goals, Make A Plan Of Action And Take Baby Steps
 Now that you’ve let go of your baggage, it’s time to make a list of Resolutions. Again, it doesn’t need to be long- but it shouldn’t be vague. Be specific, and break everything down into bite-sized chunks that will easily allow your plans to spring into action by slowly and deliberately changing your habits.  A widely accepted thought is that it takes at least three weeks to develop a new habit…so allow yourself some time to change, and cut yourself some slack when the change isn’t instantaneous.

For example, instead of writing down “dance more”, aim to take an extra class or two a month and set aside some time for home practice. Instead of vowing to “lose weight”, promise yourself to be more mindful of what you’re eating and to begin walking two or three times a week.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that once I start adding in small positive changes, I start to feel better about myself, my new habits and what I’ve achieved…which in turn makes me want to accomplish even more.

 Give Yourself The Gift Of Time
 In our busy lives, time is the most valuable commodity we have. We’re always rushing off to dance class, rehearsals, gigs, the school carpool, or whatever.  We’re on our phones non-stop, checking texts, social media, and business emails.

Carve out some time for you to work on your projects and goals. Write it down, make it a reality. In the very act of writing everything you want to do down, it becomes “concrete”  and not just some ethereal idea floating around that can be postponed or procrastinated.

Once I’ve decided what larger goals I’d like to work towards, I split them up into   daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly mini-goals that all go towards the greater goal I’d like to achieve. Before the New Year starts, I mark these notations on my calendar, and  during the New Year, I check them off as I fulfill them.

How do I find the time to do this? Sometimes I think I don’t have any spare time, but once I start looking, there’s a lot of it. I like to multi-task, but only to the extent that I can actually do two things at once in a competent way.  If I’m in line at the store or the bank, I return emails. When I absolutely need to watch “The Walking Dead”, I make damn sure I’m sewing a costume. If I’m sitting on an airplane, I’m planning out classes or workshops. But there are also times when a task needs my full attention.  I’ve learned to recognize   that, too!

Maybe most important things I’ve learned through the whole process of making New Years Resolutions is to identify goals and prioritize time…and also to respect myself for trying…even if things don’t turn out exactly the way I wanted them to!

Coming  in January, 2014:  "The Belly Dance Handbook: A Companion For The Serious Dancer"

By Princess Farhana, designed by Maharet Christina Hughes, foreword by Artemis Mourat

This book was a New Years Resolution in 2008!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


May favorite onstage look: dramatic, lush-lashed coal black eyes and over-lined lips

 We all know how the classic Little Black Dress is always an elegant but extremely sex-aaaay wardrobe choice, right? Well, for a really arresting look for the stage or Holiday parties, there’s no way you can go wrong with black make up. Black eye make up is every bit as timeless as The Little Black Dress. Alluring and exotic, it has been used for centuries, from the application of   kohl eyeliner in ancient Egypt  (which was allegedly Cleopatra’s secret weapon of seduction) to modern times. Velvety black eye make up calls to mind the smoldering intensity of 1920’s silent film stars and legendary vamps like Mata Hari…as well as the bad-girl sassiness of early 1960’s girl groups like The Ronnettes. In the 1970’s, lush liner and thick false eyelashes adorned the lids of everyone from Raquel Welch to the stars of Valley Of The Dolls. More recently, starlets like Kristen Stewart and Taylor Momsen have rocked pitch black eyes to great affect.

 The key to beautiful black eyes is shading. If you get very graphic with your application, you’ll wind up looking too Goth- and unless that’s your intention, you need to make sure that you blend your black eye make up carefully, which will soften it up a bit, but still retain the intensity. 
Metallic smoky make up in shades of black, silver & white

When I use black shadow, I always prefer a pearly or iridescent shade, because when water is added, it magnifies the color. A matte shade doesn’t work this way; it can’t be made wet because it will just look muddy.   Also, any type of pearly or iridescent eye shadow will work, even drug store brands. I prefer using Nars Nightbreed (a gorgeous black shadow flecked with tiny specks of silver glitter) but Urban Decay and even Wet And Wild both have a black pearly, sparkly shadow that works almost as as well!

First, I apply the shadow dry, all over the lid with a small brush, really working it well into the roots of lashes. Next, I brush upwards, into and above the crease in my eye, blending it well, and sort of swooshing the outer corner of the eyelid upwards and outwards. Then I line the bottom lid with the same dry shadow, and bring it up at the outermost corner to meet the top lid’s extension, so that it creates an inverted sideways  “V” shape.  After that, I go over the lid with a soft brush full of the black shadow that I carefully wet then pinch dry before applying to the top lid and just barely above the crease. It will be layered over the dry shadow, creating a smudged, smoky effect.
Pearly black shadow dry, and intensified by wetting it

 Next, I add on thick lashes to the top lid, then line the top and bottom lids with MAC’s Blacktrack gel liner, though a soft black pencil would probably work just as well. After the liner has dried-or just after the pencil application-I go over the liner with a small, soft brush loaded with the dry iridescent shadow. This diffuses the harsh line and makes it softer and thicker. Finish this look up with a pearly white powder shadow highlight just under the eyebrow at the outside corner, and you’ll be good to go!  For a bit of glitz, lightly dip your dry fingertip into a pot of MAC’s Reflects Pearl cosmetic glitter, and pat it on carefully to the white highlighted area. Because the glitter is applied dry, it will “migrate” just a little, adding a touch of sparkle, which will show up under any sort of lighting.  This looks terrific either onstage or for Real Life.  The reason I love this particular glitter so damn much is because it is so highly reflective…it’s truly my favorite glitter ever. The individual flecks are large enough to really catch the light, but not too big, so they don’t give you that over-the-top Hot Mess At A Club look. I’m not being facetious when I tell you that I (seriously!) have a container of Reflects Pearl in my earthquake kit…cause if there’s a Global Apocalypse, I want to look good!

Teal shadow by itself, and  mixed with black

Red shadow by itself,and mixed with black
Still another way to use black eye shadow is to mix it in with other brighter colors. This will tone the colors down a bit, but they’ll retain their richness and make them more complex.  I like to mix black pearly shadow into emerald green, dark blue, teal and even red. Red eye shadow on it’s own will look crazy and garish, sickly or clown-like… trust me, you do not want to use it on it’s own!  But mixed with black, it’ll create a soft burgundy color that creates a sophisticated smoky eye look. Words to the wise- don’t get the red shadow close to the lash line. It can cause eye irritation in some individuals. When you mix the red and black shadows, stipple in the red above your eye crease, and blend it onto the outside corner wing.

 You can even use black on the lips- sounds crazy, I know, but it looks incredible!  Think of Tim Curry, as Doctor Frankenfurter in The Rocky Horror Show, but you’ll definitely want to go a little less extreme. What you’re after is a sculpted, kissable look. Apply the red lipstick first… and use a nice red with blue- as opposed to orange- undertones. 

This looks amazing on every skin tone from the ghostliest pale to richest brown; not only that, the blue tones in the red will make your teeth appear brilliant white! Blot the lipstick just a little, then take a soft black pencil and line the outside of your lips. Shade in the corners of your mouth, too. Then apply another coat of the red, and if you need to, smudge and blend the black into your lips with a lip brush or your finger.  For a party, apply a little bit of clear gloss only to the bottom lip at the center for a bee-stung look.  If you’re going to wear this look onstage, forego the gloss and use a small dot of pearly white, light pink or even gold eye shadow to create the same illusion.

 Remember, cosmetics are the most instantaneous and temporary changes we can make to our appearance, so don’t be scared, just take an hour or two to experiment and have fun playing!

 For more make up  tips and tricks, try my  instructional  DVD 
“Bombshell: Dramatic  Make Up For The Stage, Photos And Glamourous Occasions” available here:

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Happy Holidays  to you!

 I’m really feeling the spirit, and as always,  it’s  full of sparkly goodness.

My co-producer DeVilla and I just put on our Second Annual Jingle Belles Holiday  Extravaganza…it was a fabulous show, and a great turn out! I’m sitting here  right now surrounded by three giant garbage bags full of toys, which , along with the considerable amount of  money raised, are going to be delivered to my local fire department’s  holiday toy drive.
Leon Mancilla, Christmas Angel
 I’m no stranger to putting on  benefits… I’ve produced shows for causes I believed were worthy since 1985… but the generosity  that is always  shown by the performers who donate their time and talent, the selfless volunteers  who work backstage, on the door and  behind the scenes,  and the very giving audiences who attend never cease to amaze me!

There is something very special in knowing  that you’ll make the holidays  better for  children- and everyone goes all out. It never fails to literally bring tears to my eyes!

The Jingle Belles  show took place December 10 at Skinny’s Lounge in Los Angeles, and featured  world class as well as local performers.  Some of the acts were holida-themed, others were'nt but it didn't matter, cause the spirit was there! We had traditional  as well as tribal fusion belly dance, burlesque and stand up comedy. Thanks to those who performed: Ansuya, Rania, Lux LaCroix, Penny Starr, Jr. Leon Mancilla, Jennelah, comedian Selene Luna, Sherri Wheatley, and Devilla's  troupe Isis-Siren Sekhmet.  I’d  also like to thank the club for having us- and I wish  we could  all see the looks on the children’s  faces when  they open their presents!!!!
Penny Starr,Jr. "Ghosts Of Christmas Past:
I know many of you readers donate regularly,  all year round…but in case you’re wondering where to donate, here’s some ideas for Holiday Giving Opportunities.  These are just some links,  please check  the  deadlines  and specifications for donating in your local area.

Christmas Shoebox Project


Sleep Country Program for Foster Kids

Santa Paws Program for Shelter Animals

Salvation Army Adopt A Family Program

For Veterans  during the holidays:

 All photos  and  by Christina Maharet Hughes,
Graphic Vibe LA

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Happy Holidays,  everyone!
This is a re-post from 2011,  but according to my blog stats, it’s one of my most popular posts ever!  Enjoy…

Ah, glitter! Where would we dancers be without it? No doubt you've heard this saying  before:

"Glitter Is The Herpes Of The Art World"

I'm not sure who originally said this, but like Herpes, glitter is certainly the gift that keeps on giving-it gets all over everything, and stays embedded no matter how much you try to get rid of it. It sticks to you, your significant other, your pets, your furniture. In fact, I don't even think comparing it to Herpes drives home the point of how much glitter pollutes everything it gets near.

I prefer this saying, which I made up myself:

"Glitter Has More Of A Half-Life Than Uranium!"

What was once the sole domain of pre-teens and strippers, glitter is now a performance mainstay for all types of well as gymnasts, cheerleaders and gals who like to sparkle on the dance floor during a night on the town.

And now that the Holidays are upon us, glitter is EVERYWHERE.

Glitter looks lovely under stage lights, it will highlight your every movement and make you look like a fairy dusted fantasy. It can be applied to the skin , and even on top of the stockings on your legs - or body stockings, if you wear them. There are many types of commercial body glitters available; they come in sprays, oils, and in little solid waxy bars as well as in the “sprinkle on” type. However, I prefer to make my own body glitter mix; it looks much better with my coloring, and it also saves money!

On your face and especially around your eyes, you must wear cosmetic glitter. In the old days glitter was made of metal flakes. Now, glitter is usually made of some type of copolymer plastic. The individual cosmetic glitter flakes are laser cut, in shapes that are are oval and/or rounded, not square or octagonal the way most craft glitter is cut. When used on your face, this will reduce (but not prevent!) any injury, should the glitter get into your eyes. Also, some craft glitter is still made of metal.

How do I know this? I am so glitter-obsessed that I actually have a friend who was a biology student at Berkeley look at many types of body glitter, craft glitter and cosmetic grade glitter under her microscope! I sent her lots of unlabeled glitter samples, and she told me what shape they were and what they were made of…it was extremely educational!

But back to making your own body glitter and saving money by doing it- since you will not risk potential injury by using craft glitter on your body, there is no need for you to buy expensive, pre-made body glitter.

Buy a few different colors of regular, inexpensive craft glitter, the kind in the big shakers, then mix them up in a jar and pop it into your gig bag, along with a small container of hand lotion or body cream. When you want to glitter up, just mix the two products in the palm of your hand and apply it liberally to your skin.

For my own body glitter mix, since I am fair-skinned, I use equal parts of lavender, opalescent pink, iridescent white, gold and silver. If you have skin that is darker, you might want to also mix in shades of bronze, orange, opalescent yellow and copper.

Deeper colors of glitter such as dark reds, purples, black, blues or greens tend to look ashy and strange onstage, so stick to a mix of shades that enhance your natural skin tone.

Insane as this may sound, I also think glitter is a great exfoliant! When you wash it off in the shower, it totally helps to slough off any rough or dead skin cells.

A word to the wise: though glitter looks great in motion ( such as in performance, on film or videotape) but in still photos, but it can appear gritty and make your skin look bumpy, unless you are photographed from very close up, so think about doing some promo shots without it, then adding on the sparkles... or just saving it for performances.

Oh, and be prepared to sleep in a bed full of pixie dust, because that’s exactly what you’ll be doing post-show, even if you showered the moment you got home!

I’ll say it one more time: do not use craft glitter on your face!

Now get on out there and SPARKLE!


If you’d like to purchase latest book, Showgirl Confidential: My Life Onstage, Backstage And On The Road  and have me sign it for you, or for a gift, click here: