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Jim of All Trades

Interview with Jim Dattolo, event promoter

By Scarlet Apron*
Some folks get a seven-year-itch, but Jim Dattolo has a self-confessed five-year-itch. It’s made him an amateur expert in various fields like macrobiotic cooking and Irish traditional dance music. Lately, the enterprising, engineering 35-year-old has ventured from his own corsetry line, Curious Couture to event promotions under the name acuriousproduction.com. You can catch his curved creations and many others in the upcoming New Designers’ Fashion Show in Providence, a non-stop showcase of hot, young, local talent. Not only will edgy erotic clothing and accessories take the stage, but burlesque dancers, novelty performers, multimedia artists and one kinky folk singer will make up an evening-long fetish extravaganza. Here, we sit down with show coordinator Dattolo, decked in denim kilt and stripped socks, as he tells us how it all comes together and apart…and together again.

What’s your background for corsetry?
My dad worked at The Ford Motor Company as an engineer and I interned there starting at the end of high school and throughout college. I also helped my mom run a shoe repair shop. That got me exposed to leather working and fixing shoes and purses. I always did my own Halloween costumes, so people knew I could make whatever I said I could. I wasn’t classically trained at a fashion school but I’m an engineer; I know how to draft. I have all the skills, they just weren’t based on humans. They were based on nice, straight edges and perfect corners, so moving on to do people’s measurements was a challenge. Working in the custom clothing area is something I can do for people to give them something they’ve always wanted, but could never find. I’ve been doing this five years, but then again I tend to be on five-year immersion cycles. I pick a topic, push, learn, buy old books and really focus on it. Previous to this, I was a traditional Irish musician and teaching young kids’ music. It’s like a mind exercise. It’s about not getting stuck doing the same thing, year after year.

How did the New Designers’ Fashion Show evolve?
I knew a lot of people at NELA (New England Leather Alliance) like Cecilia Tan and Danny of Leather by Danny, so I approached them around three years ago about this project. One of the things I wanted to do for anyone getting started in business, was to give them the opportunity to do so in a very low key, low pressure environment. At the New Designers’ Fashion Show, they won’t have to worry about failing. As a community, there are lots of people selling and making stuff. Why can’t we have younger companies, younger ideas coming out of Boston and Providence? I wanted to give people the ability to show-off what they can do, without having to shell out money to rent a table at the Flea. I wanted them to get hits on their website and enough word-of-mouth, so when they do get their table, they have a really good first year.

What happened the first year?
It was good, about five designers, plus a few better known companies donating some accessories and a lot of people shared models. It was very much an ad hoc thing. I threw flyers together, for the Summer Flea, and didn’t get really started until December for January. We opened up the doors and 250 people were standing there, waiting to get in. We had a lot more interest in the show than I expected. I didn’t have enough program books. People complained: not big enough, not long enough and not enough to see. Those are good problems to have. I went back to Cecilia and said: I want to make it bigger and longer and bring in DJs and a do dance afterwards. Let’s just do it and do it BIG! From 7 to 9 p.m., we’ll have the show and from 9 to 1 a.m., we’ll have large dance. It’ll be like a big club environment, lights, music, fabulous people in fabulous outfits dancing. We’re going to set-up a studio with photographers doing small sets of people for a minimum charge. Plus, a videographer covering the whole event. It’s really getting big. I’m really happy with it so far, if I can just make it through January….

Promoters blues?
I run events in Boston. You do it, no one shows up. You do it, again, no one shows up. You do it, again, no one shows up. You do it again, 100s of people show up, because that’s just the way it works. It takes a certain personality to persevere and a lot of patience.

Give us a sneak peak into the show…what’s new?
Most of the designers are making the stuff up as they go. I do know there is a wide variety of styles. That’s what I look forward to. It’s not the same black PVC outfit that a dozen different people are wearing because it’s from Lipservice. Not that it’s bad, but it’s commercial, off-the-shelf. Everyone else has it, too. We have anywhere from full-on latex outfits to industrial gasmasks and goggles to a complete line of vegan-based furry costumes, and a ton of performers from the Rhode Island area. Good local talent, instead of having to bring people in -that’s my focus on this. Make it free, make it accessible.

Act you’re looking forward to?
My friend, Tanya Bezreh is doing some folk singing on kink topics. She comes up with the craziest stuff, yet it always works.

Your own Best of Show piece(s)?
Well, there is what I'm wearing as MC. I’ll describe it as a “black widow gender (expletive)” kind-of-thing. If there’s one animal in the animal kingdom that has a pretty good delineation between genders, it’s the black widow spider. All the things I play off of are trying to blur the lines. My other big costume will be a leather fetish Strawberry Shortcake. Oh, and I also have a third outfit that I’ve taken styles from Marie Antoinette forward and slammed them all together and mashed them up into one outfit. It would probably take a costume major to figure it all out. The overall effect is going to be a whole lot of pink and a whole lot of beads. It should be pretty good, just hope I can get it done.

Celebrity you’d like to get your corsets around?
I’m sure any corset maker would say ‘Dita von Tease.’ I’d rather focus on people who don’t think they should be wearing a corset because they don’t think they’re pretty enough or have the right shape. Dita has a ton of corsets I want to be people's first.

Describe your creative mojo?
I take small things and stitch them together to make a much greater whole. Whether it’s gluing wood or sewing fabric or transitioning songs… it’s always about taking things apart and putting them together in a new pattern that no one has seen before.

What’s at the top of your personal play list?
“Dead Stars” by Covenant. It’s so over played, yet no one gets tired of it. I’m also immersing in house (music). It used to be so cheesy, ‘Yah, we’re over that techno ravey thing…,’ but now, you can bring it back. I can play Zombie Nation and people say, ‘Wow! I remember that from ten years ago!’

How do you chill out?
I like to recharge when there are a lot of people around. I’ll grab a book and go to a loud noodle house.

Childhood memory?
Running around town on a bike.

Where can we find you on the airwaves?
I’m the newest Guest DJ on radiogolgotha.com. I start January 25th at 2 p.m..

Book on your night stand?
“Holy Fire” by Bruce Sterling.

Food you can be seduced with?
Bacon. Good bacon, not the stuff in the grocery store. Go to the butcher, get the good stuff.

*Contact Scarlet Apron with erotic news and events at scarletapron@yahoo.com