The Femme FATales

I think my blog is in need of a gorgeous, opulent and voluptuous photograph to see in the new year so here it is. This is the delightful, Carina Shero, Founder of the plus size burlesque group, The Femme FATales. I loved doing this shoot for my show, Chicago Lights- we had a lot of fun as she’s very creative.

Here she is, in her own words, in an excerpt from my coffee table book, which is released this Tuesday.

Carina Shero 

You can’t go to Target and buy confidence and self love – there’s no handbook for it, it’s something that you have to find for yourself and no one can hand it to you. 

Imagine there’s this wall in our mind, that is made up of restrictions that society has placed upon it – things like “I can’t show my body in a bikini at the beach”, “I’m too fat to have sex with the lights on”, “I’m not pretty enough to be desirable” and so on. 

However, once people see my photos, in which I exude sensuality and confidence and am not at all hiding that I am fat – it starts forming cracks in that wall. 

The more representation people see of people being unapologetic about what society deems as undesirable – the more cracks form and the more their own perception of themselves changes.

It will be gradual at first, from – “I have no worth because I am too much of this or not enough of that and I hate my body because of such and such” – to finally breaking large holes out of that wall and realizing: “Holy crap – I actually do have worth regardless of what societal beauty standards say! …maybe I’m even perfect.”

Because in reality, beauty standards are all made up and no one person can ever be what everyone likes and it is not our purpose in life to cater to what society thinks we should look like. 

It is the most liberating experience getting to choose how you perceive yourself and choosing to love yourself. 

It is in fact, a revolutionary act. 

Goodbye and Farewell

My father
Picture taken of me, my daughter when she was tiny and my father, at my sister’s wedding .


Well, goodbye to 2018.

Goodbye to my father Christopher Martin Zakheim, who died on Christmas Day 2018.

Hello to a show that was life changing for me. Hello to a book I had dreamed of for twenty years.

A trip to the dentist in February gave me a rare mouth condition which troubles me daily BUT after endless research I discovered loads of vitamins that helped me and loads of others. I’ve tried to turn every difficult situation into a positive but sometimes life can be gruelling.

My father’s death was too dreadful from brain cancer but instead of dwelling on that, I’d like to celebrate what a character he was. He wasn’t normal or conventional- ever. He was charming and only walked his own path. He never complained and certainly never explained! Ever! I hope I can be that brave. He used to rock up to my boarding school in a shirt unbuttoned to the waist (1970s!) and skin tight jeans. No other father looked like him. The matrons would be staring out of the window to witness his approach, which even then I knew was funny, if slightly embarrassing- for them! He paid my school fees with cash that he had tucked down his sock- he was a true antiques dealer of the old school kind.

Once he got over his 1970s look, he grew into one of the best dressed men I ever met and one of the few men who could actually were velvet and look slick. Brocade waistcoats, perfect cufflinks, brogues – these were the mainstays of his wardrobe. He always loved a character and attracted them wherever we went, especially in his Russian Art Gallery in London’s West End. He would have loved my show as it was packed with extraordinary people.

He was a bit of a rockstar – a mischief maker and a maverick. He got things wrong as he had me at 23, so he was really just a boy, but by his third marriage he had started to work out this thing we call life. I called him at least three times a week to waffle on and on and on (and I can really talk) and he never minded. He loathed FaceTime and would listen but direct the camera to the cat. He said the wrong thing quite often (!) but it could be very funny.

I don’t think that for the rest of my life on planet Earth I will ever meet anyone like him.

Goodbye 2018. No more words about you. Let’s see what 2019 brings.

A mini film montage of the Chicago Lights opening

Film 🎥 by Gunnar Curry shot on Friday 16 November at the Zhou B Art Center for the opening night of my audio/visual show, “Chicago Lights”. Performers featured in this mini film include Theatre Director and actor, Anthony Moseley, Cabaret star the Duchess Darling Shear and Vocal Performance Artist, Kiara Lanier.

Chicago Lights! A review by Candace Jordan

The wonderful Candace Jordan, Chicago Tribune Social columnist, ex-playboy centrefold and sparkling human who radiates warmth and sunshine wherever she goes, just wrote this gorgeous piece for her blog which summed up the opening night of my show. It includes photos from the opening night and really captures what it was all about!

Pink shoes – Part One- press Play…

How long has she been walking; she’s lost track of time. She can feel the gravel crunch beneath her shoes, the pain of the blisters as they rub and bleed on her heels. Faded curtains blow slowly in the breeze in the house up ahead. The heat is stifling, the front door ajar. She enters, wipes the grimy sweat from her neck, breath ragged.

Music plays faintly from another part of the house. “Is anyone home?” – no response. Flies buzz in the corner over some left overs. All she needs is a glass of water and to use the phone. She takes another step … a floorboard creaks and she feels a creeping sensation in the pit of her stomach. …tbc

Chicago Lights the exhibition- this is beginning to feel like a wedding!

Why? Well now you ask…

1. I am feeling fried and frazzled.

2. I spent three months planning what to wear. Possibly longer.

3. I am obsessed by my show shoes. Really obsessed. I even photographed them and sent them out to friends in text form. I like to try them on and swish about in them.

4. Friends keep texting me telling me they are clothes shopping/ shoe shopping for the event. A lot of them.

5. Others contact me to discuss their outfits.

6. My sister has sent me photos of herself in ten different dresses so far from various London changing rooms. I even got a video.

7. We have catering. We have chairs.

8. We have a band! Yes a band!!!!

9. Who else has a band at an exhibition? That’s definitely a wedding!

10. We sent out real invitations that people put on their mantle pieces. Proper posh ones with gold edges!

11. Money… the bills are escalating…

12. We have loads of people coming. Loads. So many my brain hurts. I need to start planning my three second small talk x 400 plus.

13. We have a DJ!

14. I know for a fact that Michael Jackson will be on the turntable! (Wedding!)

15. I spent two hours choosing my earrings. Two! I tried on every pair in the boutique. The shop assistants were trying to stifle yawns but I persisted and persisted until I achieved perfection!

16. I’m getting my hair done and my makeup!

17. All I need now is a honeymoon!

18. That’s it! It’s a wedding!

Chicago Lights- an article written by Rick Kogan of the Chicago Tribune (UK and Europe version!)

Ok, so here we go… after waking up to a number of texts and messages telling me that the link I posted previously doesn’t work in the UK or Europe, I managed to screen shot each page and here is the actual article as it appears in the Chicago Tribune today! Hooray! We are all so global!

Chicago Tribune Article about my show, “Chicago Lights”, written by Rick Kogan

Please click on this link to read an article that was just published online in the Chicago Tribune about my show, “Chicago Lights”, which has its grand opening on Friday 16 November at the Zhou B Art Center in Bridgeport, Chicago. I am thrilled and chuffed to bits with this. I was thinking about writing a blog piece saying what I’ve been up to this last year and wonderful Rick has done the job for me! Now that’s what I call perfect timing! He has really captured the essence of what I’m doing and he even spoke to some of my subjects about the experience so you really get a proper overview. Anyway, here it is. Please have a read. It takes about four minutes.

Don Gibson, Musician



I photographed Don Gibson; musician, singer, songwriter and bouncer, in Logan Square, a trendy and artistic area of Chicago. I had only been in touch with him by email before we met and I was struck by how calm, quiet and gentlemanly he was. He chose to do his shoot in front of the inspiring wall art in the area.

Here is lovely Don’s interview:

I’m from Brooklyn, New York and I’ve been in Chicago since 1997. I work at Double Door, which is a music venue as security. I have played numerous venues in Chicago, such as Schubas, Double Door, Gallery Cabaret, Old Town School of Folk Music, Elbo Room, Fitzgerald’s. 

When I’m playing, I feel a sense of fulfillment that reaches down into my soul, which I rarely feel from anything else, except for a few things here and there.

Music is like a religion to me. I’ve always felt a passion for it. Whether I’m listening to different arrays of music, or playing my own, I’ve always felt that the mysteries of life can be revealed in a well written song. 

I started playing when I was around 19 or 20. Always a student of the craft. That’s the exciting aspect of playing an instrument. There’s always something else to learn. I started singing when I was in school chorus. 

No one in my family really inspired me to sing, but it was always encouraged to have something creative to do.


I do write my own songs and I enjoy the challenge of writing songs that are very visual in nature, while having a rough acoustic sound as background. I do enjoy singing other people’s songs, but I work more from my original stuff.

Me: What brings you joy Don?

Don: Hmm… Walking in the rain with my headphones on…. Reading a good book with a whiskey at my side…. The feeling of acoustic strings against my slightly blistered fingers while I’m strumming for my life… Finishing a song that has been constantly calling and evading me in my mind for a long time… The Yankees winning the World Series…

Sophia, Political Science Student

I photographed gorgeous Sophia Kravets back in May at the Art Institute of Chicago, which is quite possibly one of the most beautiful art institutions I’ve ever encountered.

I was instantly charmed by Sophia’s lovely demeanour and gentle, happy attitude.

Here is our interview:

What do you do?

Sophia: I am a student at De Paul University in Chicago. I also work in PR. I study Public Relations and Communication with a double major in political science.

What would you like to do with your life?

Sophia: I would love to work within PR or advertising as a short term goal. What to do with my life still rests in my hands.

How long have you lived in Chicago?

Sophia: The entirety of my life.

What would you say is the most positive aspect of your personality?

Sophia: My smiles


What would you like to see more of in Chicago?

Sophia: I would love to see more street food, i miss crepes and falafel at my fingertips at all times.

What’s your favourite food?

Sophia: Chocolate croissants and cappuccinos

What can’t you live without?

Sophia: I can’t live without the movie, “When Harry met Sally” (my easy pick me up) almonds and my loafers.

How does music and/ or art make you feel?

Sophia: Its the core of my being. My moods set the tone for my daily music choices and my peaceful state of mind rests at the Art Institute of Chicago.

What do you think is your life’s purpose?

Sophia: To make a difference for women within my city and throughout the world. To travel and learn, immerse and change.

Is there any woman’s organisation that you actively support?

Sophia: “Let girls learn”, which is the Michelle Obama initiative that she’s taken globally.

Art Institute Chicago, 111 S Michigan Avenue, Chicago, USA


The Art Institute of Chicago has recently been named one of the best museums in the world. If you come to Chicago, this is definitely a must see. You can spend hours here and there are loads of activities for kids!

In keeping with Sophia’s life purpose, she volunteers regularly with the homeless in particular the organisation “Back on my feet”