how long have you been in business?
I have been an Ebay seller since 2002, running Elisa’s Bodacious House of Style, and started selling on Specialist Auctions on 2007. My store there is the Mad Fashionista's Plus Size Boutique. SA is a far more humane environment than Ebay, that’s for sure, although I still sell on the Evil Empire. The emphasis at the Bodacious House of Style is on contemporary clothing, although I sell vintage there as well. Mad Fashionista’s Vintage and Modern is an outgrowth of my blog, “Diary of A Mad Fashionista". My fabulously glam alter-ego needed an equally fabulous vintage store!
What motivated you to go into the plus size vintage clothing business?
Being a large-sized woman and having a terrible time finding the kind of vintage clothing I like to wear. I love bombshell 40s and 50s things, lots of cleavage; I’ve been (pardon the pun) heavily influenced by old movies. I decided there had to be a market out there for women like me, and I was right! Also men who want to look like women like me. (The Internet is a wonderful thing.) I also sell other vintage from other decades, up through the 80s. Whenever I find something I like, I grab it. Being large has other advantages; I can body-block other buyers at estate sales!
What did you do before this?
For years, I was one of those show biz people who had “other jobs” (i.e. temp work). Then I became disabled in 1999 and needed to work out of my home. I became an abridger of audiobooks, mostly. Audiobooks are those books on CD that you listen to in your car. I would take the original manuscript, which would be, say, 154,000 words, and cut it down to 56,000 words for six hours of listening pleasure. I used to refer to myself as “The Book Butcher.” But the audiobook business stopped using freelancers. I’m also a professional writer, have published two novels, and am a professional actress. I refuse to let my disability get in the way of making an exhibition out of myself!
Where are you based?
Big Bad New York City, along with my CEO, Bucky the Wonderdog, and my husband, who thinks I sell “old clothes.”
More fun questions:
What's the weirdest/best/craziest/most beautiful thing you've ever
A 1940s navy crepe halter dress that fit like a glove. The bosom was navy floral lace over nude ‘soufflé’ and incredibly low-cut, and the back had a butt swag! Best of all, it had a bolero jacket that you could button over the dress and it looked like a one-piece. That was one of the sexiest dresses I have ever owned. I have no idea what happened to it, however I do recall one New Year's Eve when the men present played a game that involved throwing peanuts into my decolletage. This is not the place to reveal what the winner received.
What do you have in stock that you can't believe hasn't sold?
Just about everything in my store, The Mad Fashionista’s Vintage and Modern. Sometimes I think Specialist Auctions is a “buried treasure.” However, I’ve been very surprised that this beauty hasn’t sold. It is a two piece cotton jacket dress with gorgeous embroidery and beading, in great condition.
What do you dream about finding?
Where to start? A huge rack of plus-size 1950s shelf-bust evening gowns with full skirts in near mint condition! An Adrian gown or suit, even if it was a small size; a real Dior, ditto; an armoire of plus-size fur coats. For myself, I want a 1940s black silk evening gown and a mink coat like the one Bette Davis wore in ‘All About Eve’.
What do you enjoy most about working with vintage?
I love turning the clothes inside out and looking at the construction. I don’t sew, so you might say I’m a seamstress wannabe or a vintage voyeur. But nothing amazes me more than the inner construction of a really beautiful dress. I had a Paul Parnes two-piece blue dress that was a masterpiece.
What is your dearest wish about your site?
That it's discovered and I sell everything on it in less than a week, and have an excuse to shop some more!
It’s a good day at work when …
Somebody buys something.
If I ran the internet for a day I’d …
Abolish Ebay and send all of the Ebay sellers their fees for the last two years.
You’d laugh if you knew this about me …
I was one of the first women to do male drag professionally, in the late 1980s; now they are referred to as “drag kings,” like drag queens, but with the obvious difference! I think I’m still the only heterosexual drag king.
For some reason I thought today was Thursday. I love the mirror pictures! You should look at my "About Me" page on Ebay … I added a picture of myself with "I CAN'T SEW!" across the top. I first made it for a sale I had of damaged items a year or two ago.
Also, Elisa will have a booth at the MANHATTAN VINTAGE SHOW!
The Mad Fashionista's Plus Size Boutique
The ONLY Plus-Size Vintage Booth at the Entire Show, of over 85 dealers!
125 West 18th Street, between 6 & 7 Avenues, New York City
Friday October 10 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Saturday October 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
Mark your calendars, she'll have an amazing selection of plus-sized vintage, including coats, furs, suits, evening gowns, and day dresses! Not to mention fine and costume jewelry, vintage designer handbags, and hats!
[Mirror photos — actually, I figured out how to use the timer! — will return tomorrow, or maybe later today. I forgot to take a picture on Wednesday but there was a photographer at the conference where I was talking, so maybe I can get one of those lovely pictures where I'm making a funny grimace as I'm trying to make a joke. We can only hope.]