A Princess Dream Come True

Our court from 1991. I am second from left on the bottom row. This was taken about a month before our Nisei Week Pageant and Queen selection.

Over two decades ago, my first seemingly dreamy and unattainable goal was to be involved in a yearly Japanese-American festival in Los Angeles known as Nisei Week, which was established back in 1934.  Aside from a period of seven years between 1942 and 1948, during which World War II raged and carried a solid and jarring impact on the Japanese-American community, the Nisei Week festival has continued to run throughout the decades.

As a child, I remember seeing the Nisei Week Queen and court each year, and it became a dream of mine to be selected as a court member when I got older. However, I got sidetracked by life and didn’t bother to enter the  competition for the local queen selection until the year I turned 25.  I was stunned when I was chosen as the Queen of my community center (the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, or SFVJACC) for that year.

Once I was selected, I spent the next three months in regular meetings with the queens from the other eight participating communities, meetings in which we would practice all the routines for the beauty pageant which would mark the beginning of that year’s Nisei Week. We competed in that pageant for over 1,000 audience members in a 3 hour event, and though I didn’t win the Nisei Week Queen title, I was happy with being a Nisei Week Princess. We rode on floats, visited businesses, and fostered good will throughout the Japanese-American community.

August 16, 2015: Nisei Week Queen and Court on the float of Nisei Week Japanese Festival Parade at Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles.

When we were on stage, on parade floats, and on visitations, we would wear our sashes, a definite marker which identified us all as queen and court.  On some occasions, we would wear our crowns, and were either clad in matching dresses, or in kimono.

Queen?  Princess?  I guess so, at least in pageant terms!

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The Challenges Of Modeling

If you’ve never balanced on a craggy boulder, while freezing your ass off and also managing to muster a facial expression which makes everyone believe that you are having the time of your life, then you have no idea what models often have to endure in order to get “the shot”.

Shot by the late Weiferd Watts in 2010

Modeling often is hard work. Those of you who are snickering need to hear me out. Those elegant or sexy poses which you will often see models in are often incredibly uncomfortable, especially when there are boulders, creepy crawly things, nasty wind gusts, and weather extremes to negotiate as well. Outdoor locations can be teeming with insects, or they may have shards of broken glass everywhere which makes it quite treacherous for a model to strike a pose. Models often have to “cheat” a shoulder or limb, meaning that they have to turn a body part in a certain way to create an angle which looks right in the camera lens, but which feels completely unnatural and often sparks muscle cramps which linger for days after the shoot wraps. I still remember holding a pretzel pose for a full ten minutes while the photographer happily shot away (see blog image at top of this post), but because I put myself into a bit of a meditative state, I was able to hold the pose without much discomfort. Alas, as I have gotten older, my joints are far less forgiving, and I must take a brief break after several frames are shot.

Another major challenge which models constantly face is that they have to evoke certain moods and looks at the drop of a hat, even if they feel ill, tired, bloated, or otherwise uninspired to shoot. If a model can’t convince the photographer, and more importantly, the camera lens, that she is indeed the vision which is called for in a campaign, she can forget about lining up much work as time goes on.

Over the decades in which I have been modeling, I have learned so many tricks which increase efficiency and reduce the risk of injury while on the job. I know what essentials to pack in my bag, even if I end up not using them at all. When shooting on location, I always bring a large black robe, which I refer to as my changing robe, and which gets so much flak from the photographers because it makes me look like a transient when I wear it. If I have to put my bikini-clad ass on a felled tree stump which threatens to deposit some splinters into my flesh, I grab a small towel or scarf to protect my skin. I have also adopted the habit of wearing aqua shoes when on location so that my feet don’t get scorched by hot sand or torn up by rough terrain.

Believe me when I say that being a model isn’t just about standing in front of a camera and looking pretty. Good models WORK HARD, and they maintain a positive, cooperative attitude. Even when the ocean water is freezing cold, or the weather is so blazing hot that makeup is literally melting off, models who know how to be professional will honestly grin and bear it unless it is actually causing frank injury.

New Vino D. Shootout Locations

Vino Darius Calloway has outdone himself again, with new shoot locations for the Vino D. Utah Shootout for next June! I had the opportunity to shoot at these new locations last month, so I wanted to provide the models with some tips on how to prepare for them.

INFINITE TATTOO AND ART GALLERY:

This awesome location is in downtown Ogden, which is about an hour away from Park City. It’s a great place to shoot in if the weather doesn’t cooperate, and most of the shoot locations are inside the building. Infinite Tattoo and Art Gallery is a tattoo parlor, an art gallery, and a barber shop, and is filled with great furniture, art pieces, and outdoor murals. There is a lot of red and burgundy in this establishment, so colors which pop against red tones work best in this location. If Vino chooses this location, you will most likely leave the house late, perhaps around 3 pm, since you would be able to shoot until around 9 pm during the summer.

MOAB:

Moab was an amazing find, and though it is quite far from Park City, it is well worth the long drive. Moab is a four hour trek from Park City, situated in the southeast border of Utah, and is blessed with the warmest temperatures, making it a great shoot location if mother nature decides to fling some cold weather and wicked wind around Utah. Prepare to leave the house around noon. Once wrapped at this location, you ladies won’t return to the house until 1 am or later! Be sure to pack food for this long trip. Restroom facilities are VERY scarce in Moab, so be prepared to wrap a beach towel around you and find a bush to crouch behind to do your business. I always recommend carrying some tissue or a roll of toilet paper with you for those situations.

Shot at Infinite Tattoo and Art Gallery

Moab has some beautiful spots to shoot in, with panoramic canyon views, but the silt is slippery, there are rocks, twigs and brambles everywhere, and broken glass also litters some spots. For these reasons, it is imperative that you wear rubber-soled shoes or aqua shoes while climbing around in those areas! Keep your eyes open for any broken glass, and hold on to sturdy branches while climbing up and down the embankments.

You might be thinking that it would be better to avoid drinking any fluids, just so you can minimize your restroom breaks, but with the hot weather, you should hydrate throughout the day. Bring water with you to drink while traveling in the van. Every day that I was in Utah for the 2017 Shootout, I drank close to a gallon of water. My skin looked great as a result, and I didn’t have any issues with belly bloat.

It’s also a good idea to carry some extra water which you can use to rinse your feet and legs when at Moab, Salt Flats or Little Sahara.

Moab, Salt Flats, Little Sahara and the marina can get VERY windy. If you have long hair, I recommend shooting so that you are facing the oncoming wind. This way, you’ll avoid having your hair whip in your face and ruin the shots. I also recommend putting your hair in a very durable style, such as crimped waves which won’t unravel when the wind blows. Use a good setting spray to hold your hairstyle in place.

The sun’s rays can be brutal on location, so make sure you slather on sunblock, and use sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun. If you shoot without sunglasses, and you have difficulty with squinting while facing the sun, close your eyes and have the photographer count to three, then open your eyes for the shot.

Vino D. Utah Shootout Packing List

The Bonneville Salt Flats are amazing to shoot at, but there are hazards there. Be prepared and pack well!

After attending the Vino D. Utah Shootout event both last year and this year, I felt compelled to compile a survival guide for fellow models who intend on coming to future events. The Shootout is a stellar event, and everyone who attends has the potential to create amazing content which can either be used for portfolios or submissions to publications. However, there are hazards to shooting at the chosen locations, and if you aren’t prepared, your body can get pretty battered.

I paid attention to some key issues which arose last June while on location in Utah, and as a result, I was much better prepared for this year’s event. In an effort to pass some tips along, I have compiled a packing list, with explanations as to why most of these items should be considered essential for the Shootout. Some are pretty obvious, while others may seem strange before you read the explanation.

Sweatshirt or jacket (It can get COLD on location, and the evenings are also brisk.)
Beach towel (This can be used to wipe off sand and salt, and can be rigged up to change wardrobe.)
First aid kit (You can get scrapes, cuts, etc., while on location, so a small first aid kit is definitely good to have.)
Bug spray (There are insects at the ruins and at other locations, and they bite!)
Sunblock (The sun’s rays are BRUTAL on location.)
Sunglasses (Most days are sunny, so you will need shades. Also, the sand dunes are very dusty, so the sunglasses will protect your eyes from flying sand.)
Double-sided tape (This is great to have for those outfits which threaten to create a wardrobe malfunction when the wind whips up.)
Trash bags (These are great for throwing wardrobe in and carrying around while you shoot on the sand and salt.)
Water shoes (These are INDISPENSIBLE for walking on the hot sand of Little Sahara, the salt flats, and the broken glass-littered ruins. Trust me, for less than $10, you can get a pair and protect your feet, while also saving your better shoes from being completely destroyed by the elements.)
Safety pins (Have these in your travel bag in case a clothing item rips or a bra strap breaks.)
Knee pads (These are fantastic for that standard bikini model pose on your knees, especially on the Salt Flats. You can also cushion other body areas, such as your booty and your hips if you are lying on your side. I recommend getting WHITE since it will blend in better with the salt and sand.)
Body wash (Body wash tends to disappear in the house, so I advise packing extra, or a bar of soap, so you aren’t forced to take a shower with no soap!)
Muscle rub like Biofreeze, Tiger Balm or Icy Hot(Not a bad idea, especially considering the pretzel poses we are often asked to hold!)
Lotion (Choose an emollient lotion which really hydrates your skin.)
False lashes and lash adhesive (Pack extra sets…the windy conditions can literally rip the lashes off your lids!)
Scarves (Pick large, flowy scarves which can pick up the wind and make a nice shape behind you.)
Extra hold hairspray (The wind threatens to undo any hairstyle, so if you use hairspray, get the kind that is maximum hold.)
Hair styling tools (Blow dryer, flat iron, waver, curling wand)
Makeup
Sharpie marker (This is for marking your food items so that no one else eats them!)
Phone charger
Battery charger for cell phone
Earbuds (If you want to listen to music in the van, or if you want to wind down at night and shut out extraneous noise, these are good to have.)
Earplugs (The house can be NOISY all hours of the night, so these are also a good idea to wear while you sleep.)
Eye mask for sleep (Since people fly in at all hours, you may be interrupted in the middle of the night by a new roomie, so an eye mask can ensure that your slumber is relatively undisturbed.)
Brimmed hat (This is for the brutal sun’s rays.)
Small scissors (Good to have if you have tags to remove, etc.)
Hydrocortisone (Bug bites and random rashes respond well to this.)
Advil or Tylenol (You never know if you might develop a headache, muscle ache, etc.)
Panty liners and tampons (You never know when Aunt Flow may make a sudden visit.)
Chapstick (The windy conditions really dry out your skin, including your lips.)
Lots of bikinis, lingerie, etc.
CHEAP shoes and boots (Ladies, please don’t take expensive shoes and boots with you to shoot in. The salt from the Salt Flats will DESTROY them. Pack cheaper options which won’t upset you when and if they get chewed up.)
Jewelry (Once again, cheaper options are better than expensive pieces you may lament the loss of. Bold pieces can look amazing on location. Hit places like Forever 21, H and M, Amazon, and the stripper stores for items.)
Body jewelry (This kind of embellishment looks so beautiful when juxtapositioned against the sand or salt flats. I’ve found nice pieces at Aldo, Forever 21, and H and M.)
Tote bag or backpack (A nice, rugged, water-resistant tote bag or backpack is great for carrying your wardrobe items with you on location. You can use the trash bags to carry a few items to a specific shooting spot once you are on location.)
Snack bars (I suggest packing a box or two of your favorite snack or protein bars. Food availability is quite unpredictable on location, en route and at the house. Be prepared!)

If you are flying on Southwest Airlines, take advantage of the two bag allowance and pack a LARGE suitcase with all wardrobe items, and a second medium to large suitcase with your essentials, regular clothing, and any overflow of wardrobe.

My Website Has Been Revamped and Updated!

Hey folks! My main website, https://www.staceynaito.com/, has a new look and greater functionality for 2017. Three of my websites were consolidated into a fantastic main site which enables you to navigate through Fitness and Nutrition Plans, Contest Prep Services, Fitness Products for sale through affiliates, Hormone Balance Consultations, Autographed 8×10’s, a Gallery full of updated professional images, Bio, and my Blog.

Check it out!

https://www.staceynaito.com/

Bound And Determined

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People frequently ask me what my biggest life goals are.  As a chronic overachiever, I entertain many different interests and am pretty fearless about diving into new ventures and determining whether I have talents which fee them. 

My BIGGEST passions lie in the fields of medicine and fitness.  From the time I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science, I have been completely committed to fitness and to leading by example.  My medical degree is another feather in my cap which increases my knowledge and my influence, but I always strive to combine all my talents and interests together as much as I can in order to lend a number of perspectives on health, wellness, anti-aging and fitness.

My ultimate goals in medicine and fitness are to:

1) Have my own TV show.  A few years ago, I began stating that I wanted to become the female version of Dr. Oz.  I said this at first in jest, then became more intrigued by the idea until it became one of my ultimate goals.  I reasoned that if Dr. Oz can command the attention of women around the globe (his viewer demographic appears to be mostly women between their early 20’s and late 60’s), why couldn’t an attractive 50-year old female physician, fitness professional, IFBB Pro, writer, and model who is also highly experienced in aesthetic medicine, nutrition, fitness and anti-aging achieve something similar? That shift in thinking was all I needed to spark a tremendous goal which I am constantly trying to manifest. And come hell or high water, I will reach this goal.

2) Establish a foothold in the fitness industry as an icon for the older crowd.   This is also HUGE for me, whether it manifests via workout content, products which are sold with my name or endorsement on them, or even a specific show on television or the internet. Instead of allowing my chronological age to deter me from going after I want, I use it to empower my goal set and am proud of forging new ground in territories which other people may be afraid of stepping into. I also refuse to allow others to discourage me because they have narrow minded ideas about what someone my age should be doing. I will not be the stereotypical fuddy-duddy who grumbles about my age and who lets it block me from my goals.

3) Launch my own specialty skin care line.  I have wanted to do this ever since I held the position of Director of Cosmetic Research at a Los Angeles area hospital.  Since I am of mixed ethnicity I would love to tailor a line of skincare products and cosmetics towards individuals of multiple ethnicities who have unique concerns. I honestly believe that there are too many harsh and reactive chemicals which are used in skincare products and cosmetics, and also understand first-hand that people of color have different needs and issues.

4) Design women’s fitness apparel and swimsuits with a distinctive edge.  I have yet to see clothing and swimsuit designs which incorporate the design elements I have always wanted to see and which are edgy and appealing.  The only thing that has been my real stopping point here is that I cannot stand sewing! When I was 17, I designed an entire spring line of active apparel for a company, and was thrilled to see my vision made and sold. Decades later, I’d love the opportunity to delve into that world once more.

What do I want to be when I grow up?  Lots of things!  I will keep my nose to the grindstone to make these goals and dreams manifest.