Ask Sam: The Disguises We Wear

Times Square ChroniclesOur imaginations, sense of play, and enthusiasm for make believe are things we often lose as we get older.  Halloween gives us an excuse to keep these things alive. With age we lose wonder.  As our lifeline shortens we are less able to try on new hats.  Life leaves its little scars and we become thick skinned. We try to hold on to tenderness, like when we give affection to a pet or feel our heart warm toward another person. It’s these moments that keep us human. To feel, connect, create, express, play and communicate are the best parts of being human.  Our complexity is what makes us so interesting.

Halloween, more than any holiday, allows us to play, fantasize and wear different hats.

We wear different hats in real life, but during Halloween, who we portray is solely of our choosing, and includes beings that we could never be in the real world.  How do we choose our costume?  What does our choice say about us?  What are we expressing? By not dressing up are we expressing indifference or that we don’t want to play?

I love Halloween, especially in New York where we have a treasure trove of creative talent and exhibitionists.  There is also a vast audience of voyeurs.  (In nature everything is balanced.) It’s the perfect holiday for those who like to masquerade and those who like people watching.  Any excuse for a costume!

Part of Halloween is our thought process when looking at people.  We look for a costume.  If we conclude that who we are looking at is indeed in costume as opposed to badly dressed, the next thing we do is assess the costume and judge, just like in everyday life.  During Halloween the evaluation is exaggerated because it’s part of the ritual.  The whole population is doing it collectively at once, judging one anther, based on appearances.  It’s rare when we can stop criticizing, judging, analyzing, and playing mental games long enough to just take a person in, just as they are.  Look past the disguise, or better yet understand that the disguise is also an extension of them.

There is nothing like a birthday with a moment alone at the bar of the Ritz to make one think existentially.  Who are we?  The best of us leave behind small contributions.  Somehow I blinked and found myself midlife and alone in an overwhelming jungle of asphalt and cyber space.  If we cease to insist on a meaning for our life, and just be grateful to experience living, it might be easier.  To simply be in the moment without expectation might give us the breathing room to allow our life to take on its own significance.

The opportunity of Halloween: Decide who you want to be! Create the costume.  Show the world who you are.  Be praised for your efforts and showered with sweets!  It’s the psychological thriller of celebrations!

The essence of our personality is completely formed by age five.  They say the older we get, the more we become who we are.  Yet still we change over time.  We used to live to an average age of forty.  Now we are living into our nineties, even hundreds.  How many of us are the same person at forty that we were at twenty?  How many of us turned out as we imagined? Is it any wonder fifty percent of marriages end in divorce?  The person we marry is never the same person we divorce.  We wear many hats, and many disguises, that is part of our dynamism. Spouse, lover, parent, sibling, friend, professional are just a few of the roles we play. The problems only arise when a hat we wear becomes a disguise and no longer really fits.

I wish we could just be free to be ourselves and accepted for who we choose to be.  I wish that everyday could be more like Halloween in that there would always be room for freely expressing ourselves.  Encouraged by our community to let our spirits have a romp.  Halloween allows us to explore different facets of our identity, giving us greater personal insight.  Knowing that we cannot be all things to all people, Halloween also provides a little space to love different people in different ways for different reasons.  Masks and all.

Ask Sam: 300 Joules – My New Drink of Choice

www.t2conlinecomThe latest project of our friend Steve Shaw, liquor guru is an amazing infusion of artisan Liqueurs. Locally made in New Jersey, 300 Joules is the love child of retired cardiologist Dr. Ron Haberman and his very lovely wife Kim.
300 Joules, Ron tells me is the required amount of energy to zap a person back to life. I certainly feel refreshed after tasting the ginger flavor over ice. This delicious all natural liquor comes in three flavors, Ginger, (my fave) cinnamon and lemon. Made with just three ingredients, vodka, pasteurized milk and the zest of it’s flavor. Mmm! this is one tasty drink.

Ask Sam: These Days We Need Knights

www.t2conline.comRecently a reporter for Fox News asked me to weigh in on the question, “Why don’t men make an effort?”

The short answer is that we have stopped educating them. We have ceased imparting at an early age for men to value women as treasures and they no longer treat us as such. Women seem to tolerate and even accept lack luster treatment. The result is men have no reason to make an effort, because we have accepted their absence of chivalry.

I travel extensively and in other parts of the world, chivalry is alive and well. It has nothing to do with expecting sexual favors in return. As I write this I am in South America, a strong hold for chivalry and machismo.This week, several of my male friends took me out, picked me up, dropped me off and never let me pay. They opened all the doors. They relayed my order to waiters for me at restaurants, carried my luggage and reiterated to me that I am a princess and deserve to be treated as such. These men happen to be gay. They didn’t expect anything in return. It’s simply how they were educated to treat women in their company.

I agree the women’s movement in the US may have helped kill chivalry. One could argue that when we stood up and said, “We can do it,” we were punished by being treated not as equals but as men.

We could have had our cake and eaten it, but instead we burned our bras. We sent the wrong message. When coaching my male clients, I tell them open the door. I find that if I stand aside at doors and don’t move, men get the hint and open the door.  We will only get respect when we demand it. Men if you would like to learn more contact my office for an appointment

Gestures say, “I respect and value you, even if you are a high powered executive that makes three times my salary. I am the man and it is my duty, my honor, my pleasure to take care of you at this moment. Men’s chief complaint is that women are so quick to open the door or whip out their credit card, they feel slightly stripped of their opportunities to shine in a woman’s company.  Men like building and conquering things, weather it’s skyscrapers, industry or our affections.

Women have become bitter and untrusting because they aren’t treated well or dare I say taken care of. Women still warmly await Prince Charming.  But how many frogs must we kiss? As much as it pains me, I don’t think men in America will ever get their sense of chivalry back unless we make a collective stand for it within our culture. It must be taught at home and in school. We need older men to set the example and coach the younger ones.

The decline in chivalry is our own fault, but if we want to reverse this social malady, it will take time and collective effort. I believe this ailment is reversible.

Ask Sam: Style Still Counts

“I like New York in June. How about you?”asks the romantic Cole Porter tune.

I like it just fine thanks. Happy to finally thaw out from the winter. Was it the abnormally tough, cold and Sandy wind blown year? The non-existent spring? Have we simply lost our sense of romance? I’m hoping that the warm weather restores our sense of play.

Spring in New York has always been a lovely time of year. It recalls romantic comedies with well dressed people saying clever things on a bench in Central Park or a roof top somewhere and friendly, good natured tongue in cheek flirtations in the work place as office romances bloom like tulips. The darkness lifts and our hearts warm like dewy crocuses in the morning sun. Ah spring! But not this year it seems. Perhaps we simply have not had the time to warm up to the idea, resulting in our approach being as abrupt as the summer heat.

Recently, when asked for directions by a tourist from the middle of nowhere, I welcomed her to NY and asked how she liked it here. “It’s not like in the movies.” She drawled. Her sneakers, baggy T-shirt, ill fitting shorts and left over from the 70′s feathered do certainly not adding to the panorama. Sadly I had to agree.

A friend told me a story of the most effective, most original pick up he had ever seen. He was at a large “U” shaped bar. Next to him sat a man who had caught the eye of a woman on the other side of the bar. On a napkin he drew a tic tac toe board with an “x” in the middle. He wrote, “Your move” next to it, tipped the bartender and had him send it over. It worked like a charm!  Originality, a sense of humor, style in your physical presentation and delivery, matter.

If successful in seduction what’s going to happen between the sheets is the inevitable end result. If you’re lucky, that too will be interesting and enjoyable, but the game of getting there is what juicy stories, and movies are made of. The challenge, the game of wits, the flirting, the anticipation….that’s the aphrodisiac. I’m sorry but a text that reads, “Hey” simply doesn’t do it for me.

A client of mine recently expressed that as a young man, courting was pretty lack luster, especially when the pursued parties seem to prefer to text than speak. Sadly, they are missing all the good stuff. Engaging in complete sentences, the sparkling of the eyes, body language and the intonation of voice. Sigh.

Please, men of New York, do not give up! Take back the joy of the dance, reclaim romanticism.  Suit up to win and come get us!  Rescue us from predictability. Surprise us, make our hearts flutter again. Come on, sweep us off our feet, I dare you!….. ladies,
now that I’ve rattled the cages get ready!

I’m not asking you to whip out your plume and write us a sonnet, but style still counts.

Ask Sam: Those Creative Types

Award shows like the Tony Awards celebrate the stars of our beloved Broadway.  These people managed against all odds to act, dance and sing their way to the top, often while barely making a living. (All the big money seems to be reserved for the Hollywood stars that are cast for box office draw because tickets to see theatre have become outrageous, verging on elitist.)

Those creative types – we all know at least one – whether they’re a dancer, choreographer, director, composer, singer, set designer, costume designer, writer, makeup artist, hair stylist, painter, etc., they all have something in common, a need to create, to perform for an audience and a desperate longing to be appreciated for their talents.  For them, it’s not just a “gig” it is an intrinsic part of who they are.

When your accountant goes home after a long day of crunching numbers, they leave their desk and return to the rest of their life, but for creatives there in no release.  They do what they do because that is who they are.  Their need to create and perform is intrinsic to their personality; it’s their identity.  When they are not in the act of doing it they are thinking about it.  Some have managed to thrive at their chosen profession.  A blessing.  For the rest, they are forever unfulfilled.  An all-consuming yearning stays in their blood like an addict.  When they are lucky, there is work, or hope of work that fills them with a fleeting high.  When not in the process of doing what they were put on this earth to do, there is only despair, an emptiness accompanied by symptoms of withdrawal that eats away at their very soul.  A demoralizing, slow and painful decline.

Often, when people speak of support for the arts, it’s in terms of education in the arts or obscure grants that few artists ever manage to gain access to.  We need to embrace the creative disciplines as part of our culture.  Without, color and music, performances that provoke us to think, laugh or cry, and visually stunning endeavors that move us, we would be in a totally bleak, uncivilized world, void of all the best parts of life.  We need to value the arts and the creative forces who pursue them.

More outlets for our friends who need to make things beautiful, would mean a world filled with more vibrancy and happiness and less misery from your waitress, bartender or sales person because instead of dreaming of a chance to be doing something else, they would be doing it.  In fact, that goes for all of us.  We are all meant to do something in this life.  The lucky ones find their path, it welcomes them, and they are the most fulfilled, happiest people you know.  It is when we have a passion for doing things and our lives don’t contain any of what fulfills us that leads to antidepressants.  We all need to find and chase our calling in life; we are as a whole much richer, more peaceful and happier that way.  If we can say “yes” more often, instead of “no” and help each other pursue our dreams we would live in this very positive technicolor environment filled with taste, music and motion and words that have meaning.  If the theory behind “Six Degrees of Separation” is true, than we should all be able to have the life we want while helping others to do the same.

Ask Sam: Your Kids Are Not That Cute

Screaming-Children-Sign1I recently attended a dinner that I had really been looking forward to. Lately my schedule has been all work and no play. An evening of relaxed, adult conversation was a long awaited event. Unfortunately, after one hour, I could not wait for the evening to be over. Three hours of relentless screaming and a splitting headache later, I was silently begging for mercy, trying to drown out the decibels with wine. At one point, during the first hour of dinner, after trying to make out what the woman sitting diagonally across from me was saying, I had to apologize to her and explain that I had not been able to hear the last fifteen seconds of what she had said. To my amazement, the parents of the screaming children did and said nothing. At one point during dinner, a rug rat from under the table attacked my leg and screamed, “A bug!” Pounding a plastic pest against my leg he yelled at me again. I looked down in his direction and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t respond to yelling.” Again, no response from a parent or any of the adults related to the trouble maker. An hour later, I ran into the little gang’s ringleader in a hallway. I asked her if she would please do me a favor and kindly use her indoor voice. I was disregarded and ignored. The pandemonium continued.

A week before, I was applying some make-up to one of my clients. Her daughter, about seven, who was with her, pushed into my legs with both hands while making a grunting noise then whined, “Me too!” Her mother kind of smiled at her and half-heartedly said, “Don’t be rude.” I was stunned, I never would have dared to push anyone, (with the occasional exception of my little brother) certainly not an adult.

Divorce, media, households in which parents work full time with no one qualified to watch them at home have changed the environment in which children are governed. Parents want to be their child’s friend instead of their parents. Civility is rarely taught or enforced in school. So we are raising the next generation to be rude, antisocial, self- centered and selfish with delusional perceptions of entitlement. It seems to me that no- one says “No” anymore, leaving us to be lorded over by little tyrants. When children are rude, look at the parents and there you will find the root of the problem.

I frequently give etiquette classes to children, hired by parents who wish to outsource this kind of training. Thinking that one hour’s worth of dining etiquette is going to turn the little heathen into an angel is not going to work if the parent does not continue the training at home, every day.

So I’m wondering what this means for society. What kind of world will be wrought by the next generation? I am afraid. All rules of etiquette, protocol and diplomacy stem from a common denominator – respect for others. I cringe at the thought of what the implications are for humanity from this pandemic. The problem is global. A world devoid of civility is going to be far more unpleasant and scarier than it already is.

Please, consider “Please”, “Thank you,” chewing with your mouth closed and giving up your seat on the train to someone who needs it more than you and other basic good manners. The future of our society depends on it.

The End of Civilization

As I tap this article on my iPad going to lunch, I think, “There is too much to do in this hour!  There is no way I can get it all done. It’s Saturday, and that means that most business calls will now have to wait until Monday.  There is never enough time.  With my cell phone glued to my hand, head phones on, special high tech gloves made to protect me from the cold while still allowing me to dial, text and e-mail so I can multi task on the run, I race to get it done. The technologies that were supposed to make us more efficient have enslaved us and forever changed the way we live. While on my phone I read an e-mail from my mother. “Cherie, Last night I was at a benefit seated at a table with nine men.  Not a single man spoke to me – nor to each other – the whole night they were on their cell phones. The end of civilization!” This is why when American women go on vacation abroad they feel back in tune with their womanhood, they feel sexy and appreciated.  Here, you can be pregnant to the teeth carrying packages and still not get a seat on the train.  Within a week of returning from their trip, the glow is gone. When I hear men in New York complaining about women of a certain age being bitter, I reflect on this bad behavior and think, “Well gentlemen, that’s why!  They feel invisible, and under appreciated.” Not only is it incredibly rude to sit at any table with other people on your phone the whole time, it can also be insulting. My mother who is a glamorous, sophisticated, and alluring older woman (a French Sophia Loren) was scandalized not just by the lack of manners but by being made to feel uncomfortable with all those men that could not lift their eyes away from their screen.  Polite dinner conversation does not exist anymore.  What a shame! Every time a new technology is introduced there is always some lag time for the etiquette around the technology to emerge.  We have had phones in our pockets for years now, yet ignore the protocol as they become more and more of an affixed appendage. These technologies that were invented to help us be more productive, have in reality changed the speed at which we are expected to live and work.  There is no turning back. As each day becomes a greater challenge to function at fiber optic speed, in the totality of what is now an integral part of our existence, e-mail, scheduling, texts, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Four Square, Instagram and countless other portholes, it strikes me that perhaps technology has finally developed  faster than we have biologically evolved to function at this pace.  So attached are we to the gadget in our hand, in our compulsive efforts to keep up with all that it demands of us, we no longer can come up for air long enough to engage with the person sitting across from us at a table. What does this imply for us as a species?  Will evolution demand that we evolve into beings that do not require human contact?  Will microchips be implanted into our brains so we can keep up instead of keeling over?  Clearly, this is the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it because we have ceased to be civilized.  Hopefully a new way of being will emerge from the present chaos.  Either the novelty of keeping up with cyber space will subside and we will achieve better balance in our lives or we will mutate and evolve into beings better suited to the current tempo we live by.

Exclusive Interview with Tanay Jackson – VIDEO!

Here’s your Jackson family lesson of the day: Tanay Jackson, the niece of the lateMichael Jackson, is pursuing a music career!

Tanay, who began talking to her father, Michael’s older brother Tito, when she was in her teens, is following in the family business. Not only has she rerecorded the classic ’80s hit “Naughty Girls (Need Love Too!),” she’s working on a new single, “In the Spotlight” (seems like an appropriate title!)

Watch below as Image Gal Samantha von Sperling gets the exclusive scoop on Tanay’s career and her NY Fashion Week adventures!

NY FASHION WEEK Fall 2013 – Image Gal Interview with Rocco!

Image Gal Samantha von Sperling interviews fellow image expert Rocco Gaglioti at the CONAIR STYLE360ʼs semi-annual New York Fashion Week showcase showing Fall/Winter 2013 Collections. Check out her exclusive interview below!

Enter our NY Fashion Week Swag Gift Bag giveaway and take home some Fashion Week of your own!

IMAGE GAL’S Excellent Fashion Week Adventure – PHOTOS!


NY Fashion Week Fall 2013 was one excellent adventure for our Image Gal Samantha von Sperling, who weaved her way from the tents at Lincoln Center to Pier 59, and captured it all in photos!

The beginning of Fashion Week at Demeter custom fragrance event at the Duane Reade Look Boutique.

I’ve always wanted to hold an Oscar, from Oscar Roadtrip at Distrikt Hotel.

Backstage in the chaos at W Hotel Union Square with Bobbi Brown Cosmetics,Prive and KISS Nails.

Cool nails by KISS for NY Fashion Week!

With designer Mathieu Mirano at his show at Lincoln Center.

With Conair Style360 host Rocco at Tumbler and Tipsy by Michael Kuluva show.

At Vantan Tokyo at the Stage at Lincoln Center.

The NOLCHA  clothes!

At Yotel for NOLCHA Fashion Week Closing Party with liquor rep and friend Steve Shaw Jr. in a private booth sponsored by Iceberg Vodka!

I sent my mom a Papyrus card from Lincoln Center to tell her I wish she could have been with me at the shows!

Until next season!
Image Gal