Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strange) Ch-ch-changes, oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strange) Ch-ch-changes, pretty soon now you’re gonna get older Time may change me But I can’t trace time I said that time may change me But I can’t trace time
—Changes, by David Bowie
You may have noticed that my pace of blogging has slowed markedly over the past few months, well, actually, for far longer than that. More like half a year, or almost a full year.
Life has been throwing changes fast and furiously at me lately. Big changes and small ones. Changes that I deliberately started, and changes that kinda just happened to me, when I wasn’t looking. There have been so many changes in my life, that I am feeling a bit overwhelmed at times. Sometimes, a lot overwhelmed. Some days I feel that I am doing well, rolling with the punches, and other days, I feel depressed and hopeless, barely able to get out of bed and face the day.
I have, rather deliberately, made a decision to cut back on my consumption of mainstream news media, as well as my formerly heavy use of social media. I was spending too much time learning about whatever the latest outrage was in the world, and getting upset over it, when in most cases, there was absolutely nothing I could do about it (particularly if it was happening in another state, province, or country nowhere near me).
I was also spending a lot of time—too much time—on the snark subreddits, a habit I am slowly weaning myself from (more on that here, in a blogpost I wrote in February). I did delete my Reddit account, and I also switched from the web version of Reddit to a mobile app, Apollo, using it without bothering to set up a new account, which makes it easier to avoid seeing news stories which might trigger me in some way. And I stay off the news and politics subreddits now!
I also learned that I had simply swapped my former Facebook and Twitter addictions with a Mastodon addiction (different platform, but the same problems), and I have therefore decided to cut back significantly on the time I spend on Mastodon, and use a mobile app (Toot!) that, again, allows me to avoid seeing news stories about whatever political outrage is currently trending in the U.S. or somewhere else, that I can’t do a damn thing about, and which only lands up enraging or depressing me.
The result of these changes is that I am feeling less depressed—at the cost of being a little more ignorant about what’s going on in the real world!
I have also decided to incorporate more physical activity into my life. The easiest way for me to do that is to replace my 10-minute car drive to and from work with a 40-to-50-minute walk (depending on how often I stop and sit down on a nearby park bench!). I’m still working my way up to walking both ways, both to and from work, and my legs and feet are often sore lately, but it feels good. I feel like this is a positive step (or, literally, steps!).
Speaking of transportation, I finally went and purchased a new vehicle after driving my old car for twenty years, until it was literally falling apart! In fact, it was an expensive throttle problem with my old car that forced me to start shopping for a new car a few months earlier than I had planned, and then I had to wait several months for my new vehicle to be delivered. I love my new car!
Also, three weeks ago my family helped pack up and move my octogenarian mother and nonagenarian stepfather from their condo in Winnipeg to Alberta, to live with my brother and his wife. This was a major, MAJOR undertaking, and I am still working through all the emotions relating to this change, including dealing with the new reality that I no longer have any immediate family in my home city (although I do have my friends, and some more distant relatives, here). That’s a big change.
So, as you can see, I have been dealing with a lot of changes in my life recently (including a few that I don’t wish to talk about here). What does that mean for the blog? Well, I do plan to continue blogging, but I’m not sure when I will return to my formerly blistering pace of blog posting! This is yet another change, this one the result of the other changes I have enumerated here (plus the few that I haven’t talked about, ones that involve other people whose privacy I wish to respect).
David Bowie’s song, which I quoted up top, is all about the impermanence of life and the difficulty of adjusting to the changes that come with it. I find myself identifying with this song a lot lately, and more often than not, turning to face the strange.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Since writing this blogpost, I have learned that the Erika Zero mesh body is no longer available for free; instead, you can pick up an improved version (with detachable, tintable nails, optional belly and butt deformers, and a high-heeled feet option) for only L$50 if you join the brand new Erika Mesh Body group. You will also need to join the Erika Mesh Body group to pick up all the group gifts at the Kalhene store. Please see the last update to this blogpost for more details.
If you’re in the market for a nice, low-lag, free mesh body, you’re in luck! The Kalhene Erika mesh body, which I reviewed previously here, is now offering a version called Erika Zero, which consists of a Bento, Bakes on Mesh body with flat feet, plus one outfit (top, shorts, and sneakers). To pick one up, just teleport here to the N-Core/Kalhene store and buy it for L$0 (no group needed). Warning: word has gotten out and the store is busy!
The notecard included with the Erika Zero body package states:
ERIKA Zero are a simplified Bake on Mesh Body. The pack includes the Erika Zero body, shape, one skin and basic outfit.
Full Erika Version Includes:
Complete Erika mesh body modifiable.
Body shine and oiled skin levels.
Individual hand poses.
5 Hand nails shapes with 32 colors and removable.
4 Feet indvidual shape (Flat, Medium, TipToe and Pointy) with 32 colors and removable.
Includes a feet long nails add on.
3 Nipples sizes with HD textures and tintable via HUD.
HD Pubic Hair with some hairy shapes and tintable via HUD.
HD Mesh Vagina with animated states.
HUD Built-in Breast and Butt deformers.
Breathing and Butt jiggling animations.
Alpha Cuts sections.
Built-in Add-ons: Bubble Boobs, Petits Seins, Petite Waist and Squeeze Legs.
4 Bento Mesh heads.
Transgender Add-on in 4 sizes and Penis states via HUD.
Adult Playset with some accessories.
Cel Shading effect Add-on.
Weareable body deformers Add-on for Breast, Belly, Back and Butt.
Wardrobe with some outfits and clothes for Bubble Boobs, Petits Seins and Squeeze Legs.
5 BoM Skins and Eyes.
Please note that the Kalhene Zero body does not include an alpha HUD, or any kind of HUD, for that matter! However, you can always use Bakes on Mesh alphas, like the ones that come with your clothes you buy. You can also pick up free packs of clothing alphas from various locations on the grid for free (like the Little Black Dress store). You can also pick up free sets of body alphas on the SL Marketplace; here are four:
The Erika Zero body is the perfect wearable demo for you to road-test, and try out various Bakes on Mesh skins with, before deciding whether to spring for the full-priced version! I have it for one of my alts, and I am seriously considering buying the full-price version for a couple more. (Please see the note at the very end of this blogpost—right now there’s a 25%-off sale going on!)
While you are in the N-Core/Kalhene store, be sure to join the Kalhene group for free, which enables you to pick up eleven group gifts from the Kalhene gift wall:
In addition to clothing, the gifts include several shapes for the Erika body, which are all illustrated in the gallery below. I have found that the Kalhene Erika body adjusts extremely well to the body sliders, allowing you to make your avatar as thin, thicc, or curvy as you desire! The default shape included in the Erika Zero package is quite pleasing, I think (see the first image below), but as you can see, you can get this body much more curvaceous!
So, now I am also going to share with you where you can pick up free clothing designed to fit Kalhene Erika mesh bodies (both the free and full-priced versions). First stop is Hilly Haalan’s freebie store, where you can snap up no less than seven outfits for Erika (see red arrows below):
You can also pick up some nice free footwear for the full-price Kalhene Erika feet, which allows for high heels. The Kalehen Zero free body only allows for flat feet, but don’t despair! The good news is that shoes designed for Maitreya Lara feet fit the Kalhene mesh body, but only up to the ankle—Maitreya shoes with lacing up the calves, or boots, won’t work. Fortunately, on the opposite wall from all the Kalhene Erika freebies are a nice set of Amy flats with a fatpack HUD. You’ll probably have to adjust the foot size smaller on the body sliders to make them fit, but they will fit, and look great! They come in a complete fatpack of colours, with either silver or gold trim.
Now, let’s drop into a few other places where you can pick up free clothing for your Erika body. At Reed, you can pick up a free dress fatpack, Andreza, plus the sexy Amore outfit fatpack (just join the Reed store group for free):
Then hop on over to Spotlight, and head to the gift wall next to the front counter, where for another free group join, you can get two fabulous dress fatpacks (Leina and Samara), plus a top fatpack (Luka). Just pay the vendors one Linden dollar each, which will be automatically refunded, and they’re yours!
Avale offers a gift of that classic wardrobe staple, a little black dress which comes in a size for Kalhene Erika; just join the Avale group for free and click on the yellow gift box icon to receive your present:
BlondeQueen is also offering a jumper for free (with a free group join):
The DM store has two freebie/dollarbie fatpacks, which include sizes to fit Kalhene Erika, as shown in the diagram below (with the relevant group to join indicated):
Rebane has four gifts of tops and bodysuits for Erika (again, the group is free to join):
And did you know that The Free Dove, the venerable and long-running freebie store run by Palomma Casanova for 17 years, has now been replaced with a memorial named in her honour? It’s a brand new freebie store/shopping mall called Palomma Plaza, with many new free items (plus a few carryovers from The Free Dove) and yes, there are fabulous freebies here for the Kalhene Erika body as well!
Palomma Plaza has a new central spawn point, but save this SLURL to your inventory, then right-click on it and select Show on Map from the drop-down menu, and simply follow the red arrow/column of light to pick up three lovely gifts from Grumble and Scrappy Scorpion!
All the Second Life vloggers are saying that the free version of the Erika mesh body is only going to be available for a limited time, but I don’t know for how long. Also, the full-price version of Erika is currently available for 25% off, at L$1,995, which is also a great deal! Note that the full package includes a very nice capsule wardrobe with ten outfits. Again, I don’t know how long the sale will last, so if you’re interested in either the free or full versions of this mesh body, don’t wait!
Also, if you have either the free or full versions of the Kalhene Erika body, you need to join the Dreamer’s SL Discord server (here’s an invite), where they maintain a kalhene-erika discussion channel, just for free and inexpensive gifts for that body!
Happy freebie shopping!
P.S. I wanted to show you yet another fetching free outfit for the Kalhene Erika body, this wonderful Grace dress, which actually consists of two pieces, a blouse and a matching long skirt. It is the Enchantment Dark Academia Hunt prize from Web Dew. You are looking for an open book, and the hint is: “Cozy place, pillow and coffee.” Quite easy to find! 😉
I paired the Kalhene Zero body with the skin included in the package (which is LeLutka Evolution compatible, not LeLutka Evo X!), and used the LeLutka Lilly Bento mesh head, which was a freebie from three Christmases ago. The long nails on the Erika Zero hands don’t quite fit the historical, Victorian-era nature of this look, and they unfortunately can’t be changed, but hey, this entire avatar look is completely free, from head to toe! (I once again used the free Amy flats from Hilly Haalan.)
Not too shabby for zero Linden dollars, I must say!
UPDATE May 20th, 2023: Well, in response to numerous user requests, the creator of the Erika Zero body has upgraded the body to include the ability to wear high-heeled shoes! Just teleport to the same location in the N-Core/Kalhene store where you picked up the original Erika Zero mesh body (SLURL), join the brand new Erika Mesh Body group for L$50, and you can pick up the new group gift of the Erika Zero Plus body (just click on the mannequin):
A note from the creator posted to the Kalhene Second Life group says:
Hi, after the high request to include tip toe feet to be able to wear heels, we have updated “Erika Zero” to “Erika Zero Plus”. Now includes flat feet and tip toe, removable finger nails, belly and butt deformers, and more…You will be able to get it joining the – Erika Mesh Body – new VIP group. Only for a limited time.
The Erika Zero Plus package contains:
a shape, two skins (medium and tan), and two bodies: one with flat feet (the original Erika Zero) and a new one with tiptoe feet, so you can wear high heels now;
separate fingernails, which are tintable, and which you can replace with other nails (see below for some free nails for Erika hands);
two body add-ons called “Belly Flat” and “Butt Up”, which work with both the flat-feet and tiptoe-feet versions of the Erika Zero Plus mesh body;
a mini wardrobe: bikini bra and thong; shorts; a tank top and shorts outfit; sneakers; and stiletto heels.
Remember that the tiptoe feet on the Erika Zero Plus mesh body are compatible with shoes made for Maitreya Lara feet, but only up the ankle! You can also pick up some free high-heeled shoes specifically designed for Erika bodies from the Hilly Haalan freebie store, which I mentioned higher up in this blogpost. There are three pairs of high-heeled shoes available for Kalhene Erika feet, as shown by the red arrows in the image below:
If you wish to replace the included fingernails with others, there are two free fatpacks of nails available from the group gift wall at the BINGE Events store (just join the BINGE Events group for free, and click the panels indicated by the red arrows):
UPDATE May 29th, 2023: Another place where you can pick up four sets of fingernails for the Erika mesh body is Dalila (SLURL; the Dalila store group is free to join). Apparently, each set allows you to choose one of five different designs for each nail separately!
Apparently, the Erika Zero Plus mesh body package is only available for a limited time, so don’t delay in picking this up! Even at the cost of L$50 to join the group, this is a true bargain, and as we have seen, more and more designers are now creating clothing for the Kalhene Erika mesh body, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding clothing for it.
WARNING! This is a super-long blogpost because, late yesterday evening, I received news about SeraPRIDE and their Ultimate Drag Superstar Contest, so instead of writing up a separate blogpost, I decided to add it to this one, which I was already writing. So go pour yourself a coffee (or some wine, or whatever your favourite beverage is!), settle in, and enjoy a little longform reading. 🙂
As my regular blog readers know, I have a drag queen avatar in Second Life, named MissDrag, and I have written about creating a look for her many times before on this blog (here, here, here, and here). I have spent many an enjoyable hour gallivanting around the grid as a drag queen, in search of sisters or a place to death drop. Alas, my search was always in vain (and searching for “drag” under Places in Search led me only to the countless drag car racing communities in Second Life).
Well, I am pleased to announce that I have taken my RuPaul’s Drag Race obsession a step further: I am now performing in drag shows in Second Life! Yes, I can now proudly add digital drag artist to my resume! I even earn money from it!!
Pal’z SL Premier Drag Club (SLURL) is operated by Pal Mally, and holds drag shows Thursdays and Fridays from 8:00-10:00 p.m. SL Time/Pacific Time. Pal is assisted on stage by a hostess, who is usually FrankOh, but at last night’s show drag queen Red Rioja filled in. (Please click on each picture in the gallery below to see it in its full-size glory; these are just one of multiple costume changes each queen did during their shows!)
As you can see from these pictures, you can do drag in EVERY body: classic system body or modern mesh body, male body or female body or something in-between (more on that in a moment). Pal Mally’s notecard with instructions for potential drag artists states: “No avatar will be refused (except child avatars), so the sky is the limit.”
Here’s a 25-second video clip of my very first drag performance last week, with Pal Mally and other drag queens! You can use the dance animations Pal provides, as we did here, or provide your own, as I did for my second show this week.
Just as in real life, drag queens can receive tips from the audience during their performance! In the one-minute video below, you can see the drag queen Red Rioja set up her tip jar during her set, and receive a L$100 tip from me:
I actually earned over L$1,000 in tips from an appreciative audience each of the two times I stepped on stage at Pal’z drag club! It’s the best feeling in the world.
I donated some of my earnings back to support the club; there’s a donation box located at the rear of the dance floor.
At the end of the evening, Pal Mally invites everybody to dance on stage:
How I came across Pal’z drag club is quite a story in itself. At this year’s SL Skin Fair, Malediction announced a new male mesh body called Anatomy, which could work with both male and female heads, and could be shaped using the body sliders for a wide variety of masculine and feminine looks:
The body comes in two versions, Fit and Soft, and the package includes six base shapes which you can use as a starting point: Feminine Curvy, Feminine Slim, Masculine Chubby, Masculine Classic, Masculine Muscle, and Masculine Slim. The Anatomy body features 7 nail types and lengths, 5 feet types (flat, low, medium, high, and tiptoe), and something I hadn’t seen before in a mesh body, optional asymmetrical arms Bakes-on-Mesh (in other words, you can have different tattoos on each arm, if you wish).
In an April Fool’s joke, the Anatomy body creator, Adrien Absinthe, said they were going to release a “Bimbo Body”, and then instead released a free add-on to the Anatomy body, a ridiculously oversized set of breasts called Big Boobs which completely replace the regular male chest pecs on the Soft version of the body.
My first thought in seeing this was, “Wow, that would make a great drag queen breast plate!,” and I laughed so hard that I landed up buying the Anatomy body! So congratulations, Adrien, your April Fool’s joke made a sale. 😉 The Anatomy body retails for L$4,499 here in SL or L$4,949 on the Second Life Marketplace, so if you want to save some money, buy it in-world.
Below you see MissDrag, wearing the Anatomy body with the Big Boobs add-on, with a female LeLutka Evo X mesh head, Lilly, which I picked up as a free Christmas gift in a previous year (I alpha’ed out the feet completely and used a pair of older feet-in-high-heeled shoes I picked up at a freebie store several years ago):
Anyway, to get to the point: I posted some of these photos on the Anatomy Discord server (where, by the way, they have a gallery featuring works by the many designers already creating clothing, footwear, and accessories for this body!), and somebody DM’ed me to ask where I got the wig in the third picture above, and he told me about Pal’z drag club! It’s funny how often that sort of thing happens in Second Life…the butterfly effect in full force.
Late last night, I got the following message via Discord:
Hi Ryan. I don’t know if you’d consider sharing this information with your blogging community, but I am wanting to spread the word as far as I can for the Rainbow Railroad project. This weekend is our final weekend to receive applications for contestants to sign up and participate in this year’s drag race. The winner will receive L$25,000 worth of gift cards, and they will be crowned this year’s Ultimate Drag Super Star.
The team of Seraphim has also been working very hard to reach out to creators and entertainers to ask for their time and/or donations for this event. The Second Life community has donated over 1 million Linden dollars’ worth of matching donations and prizes towards the SeraPRIDE event. We are hoping to bring in guests to join us in the celebration and help raise awareness and funds that go directly to the Rainbow Railroad project. If this is something that interests you, and you’d like to pass on this information to others, I am including some links and video clips to include in your publication.
PLEASE NOTE that the deadline for applying to perform at the SeraPRIDE Drag Race event is very soon! The contestant application will remain open until 11:59pm Second Life Time/Pacific Time on May 15th, 2023 (the day after tomorrow). Chosen contestants will be notified with more information by May 22nd, 2023.
Seraphim is always up for a great party, and what better reason to celebrate than PRIDE?! Seraphim is planning a full day of activities on the SeraSim, including giveaways, gifts, live music, parties, and a brand new, exclusive drag performance for 2023!
Rainbow Railroad works with LGBTQIA+ individuals facing persecution and violence simply because of their sexual identity by helping secure relocation, safety, and support. Since 2006, Rainbow Railroad has helped more than 7,621 persecuted individuals from over 38 countries.
So, what are you waiting for? Get your application in today! And be sure to tell ’em Miss Drag sent you… 😉