4th Street Photoshoot, part 2/ Recollections with Ashley Mckinley and Racheal Matthews


Ashley McKinley / an email from june 19th, 2009… recollections ~

“I get here first. Unlock the door, re-lock it behind me, turn on the lights, and then head straight to the sewing machine.
I have about 1.5 hours before everyone else is due to show up.  Time to think.  Time to meditate.  Time to prepare before the hustle and bustle of a promising to be busy day.
Keep sewing, ear plugs in.
8am, time to unlock the doors for when Rebecca arrives.
Small, spry, bright hair designer shows up.
Right behind her is Racheal.
Rebecca starts to inquire details about the shoot, of which I have little to no idea.
Racheal goes to get coffee as I keep sewing and Rebecca sets up.
After her artistic sea of colors and brushes are arranged and overwhelming the table, we finally get started.
Hair first, then makeup. Updo and smokey eyes.
Dress and hop in the car.
South end of 4th street, dead end to the train tracks, we get started.
It’s cold, but the wind and the light is soft in the foggy morning.
Struggling to figure out setting, mood, posture, face, and shape, we all slowly start to warm up to the shoot.
The drama of the clothes, the mask of makeup, and the lack of an audience help me slowly open up.
Over the course of the day, I try to let the clothes melt into my skin and tell me where they are most natural.


We get back to the studio in the Subaru.
Racheal’s ready.
Take two.
Take Three.
Take Four.
Go, go go!
Rotten city pizza for lunch.
Yummy fungi!
makeup retouching, Bye Rebecca.
Take Five.
naked car changes.
kimono shields for outdoor changes.
little moments with Racheal in our matchy matchy outfits.
oops!  ran out of selvage on that one.
doorways, mailboxes, doorknobs, iron bars, windows, and a little confused man.
sandpiles, onlooking construction workers, scrap metal, trucks, sunlight, much too much sunlight.
colors: purples, pinks, blues, greens, dirty house?
Heike balances the photoshoot, mommy phone calls, and a cigarette.
Such an exposing, intimate, and exhausting endeavor.
So much fun.
No playing dress up.  This is dress up for real.
The sunlight cuts the shadows sharper making it more difficult to find good backgrounds.
Dead battery at the train tracks.
regroup at the studio.
Last round.
No worries, it’s almost time to go.
Not before we get our girl band photos.
After watching giant logs fall off a truck, we strut our stuff down a newly discovered hallway, our pretend runway.
Closing time.
Time to call an end to the photoshoot.
hugs, pull up and into comfy clothes.
See everyone tomorrow.
What a cool job I have!
Must go show off fancy hairdo (now falling down), and dramatic makeup to friends before becoming myself again without it all.
Happy, tipsy, good night.”





Racheal Matthews, stylist/designer. Interview #21,
Trader Vic’s, Emeryville ~ coconut cocktails.
Wednesday April 2nd 2014

on style and fashion: “I like fantasy and romance. things that are flamboyant ~ like your clothes; Alexander Mcqueen, All Saints ~ their photographs and images. Why fashion? Because it’s a fantasy world and it’s called fashion and every single person can have their own style. You can do anything (be anyone). It’s endless possibility with what you can do in fashion ~ what inspires you and what inspires others. It’s always changing but things always come back around. At this point nothing is really original but somehow it always seems original.”



the past ~ on raves and fashion then: “I coordinated raves ~ Maya and I, and Ernie was a DJ. I was the missing link. It was SOMA, SF, 1998 ~ a rave for about 2000 people in an old building. It was the beginning of the dot.com and we would go in and clear out a space and the next day get it back to “business as usual”. We had to cover the walls in carpet.. and it would be $20 a party. Maya 13 was the DJ and Ernie was called DEAKS. The style? The brighter the better ~ neon clothes, black light stuff and the guys wore big baggy pants and bright clothing. I remember I laughed a lot and I could be whoever I wanted to be and still be accepted into this world. Everyone was there to have a good time. You could be on the dance floor with a thousand people and no one ran into one another. It was this scientific experiment. It’s this beautiful energy that happens. It was fun and I laughed a lot.”

on making things: “I like the process with making things. You can put it away and come back to it. I like that it’s constantly evolving. There’s a starting point and it always goes back to an inspiration and it’s so fun to create. The world would be so dull and bland if people didn’t create new and exciting things.”

on Ochame, on 4th street, berkeley: “I loved the food ~ the salmon soba which wasn’t on the menu but you could get it. I liked the owners and the aesthetic of the place. I felt like family. I really liked the deep training to make this really simple food like rice…. and clean and neat aesthetic but they (japanese) have this really dark and not talked about side so it fits into that fantasy world. Also, it’s sensual, simple. Sake is an example. It’s very clean and you don’t have a hangover. It’s an alcohol and a drug and it can make you do crazy things too.. but it’s elegant.”

on SALA Boutique, in Berkeley 2009-2012 ~ “I loved the tiny curated boutiques in the Czech Republic, where I lived when I was 14, 18, and 20. For me, one of my dreams was to own a boutique. I wanted a space that was completely empty and I was in control of creating the look of that.. and it was in an empty state and being able to create exactly what I want. Like my house for example. My backyard is an empty slate. It’s awesome. I can create exactly what I want there, and I want to have a farm, with cherries and apricots, corn, raspberries and squashes. I would love to have a community garden.”



The window of SALA, with one of my “textile sculptures” on the wall, and “the Beast” on the mannequin.


Racheal, Analisa Garcia and I, in front of Sala Boutique on Shattuck in Berkeley… a couple doors down from Cafe Gratitude.

on food ~ “Food is huge in my life. I love flavors.. simple flavors… a lot of Japanese stuff like sushi rice and simple cooked things ~ cooked in butter; not overly crazily spiced. Santiago loves to grill stuff and in the summertime I make a hibiscus juice and he took the flavors and blended it up and made a bbq sauce that he put on chicken.”

on modeling ~“I love the rush of it all ~ the fantasy. You can be whoever you want. All the experiences you get to experience ~ to see yourself in the clothes; but there are down sides too, of the idea of a glamorous world.”



“on meeting you at Ochame in 2001, before my first runway show “Shedding Skins” ~ “I remember I was bar tending and had fire engine red hair and you came in with Nick Black and I was thinking that woman is totally checking me out; and it was at the end of my modeling career, and you told me about this show. I remember thinking the clothes were out of this world and I thought you were crazy because you wanted us to dance on stage. I can walk on stage, on a runway, but expressing myself?! I remember Mark Siebert and Radek were there…”

on RABAT on 4th street, berkeley, and shoes ~ “I have access to shoes and clothes I wouldn’t be able to afford if I didn’t work there. It’s a stable thing in my life… Shoes make an outfit, of course, and shoes and sex have a very similar place in the brain. They can make you feel sexy and i have like 50 pairs of shoes, but I’ve been there 8 years and I have all the shoes i need, especially because i don’t wear heels…”

on passions, what’s next? ~“Right now, I have no clue. I’m just trying to pull for things to do. The farm… Do I want to have a kid or not want to have a kid; and there’s pressure because I’m at that age… and then traveling, to Asia. iI’d love to go to Nepal, Bhutan, and some parts of India and Turkey.”

on working together, and collaborating ~“I’ve been with you 8, 9 years?! but it goes back to aesthetic. I have confidence that what I make you’re going to like, and you’re very lax about stuff if I mess up. You’re nice about things. You’re willing to take chances and I work better with people. Remember that purple dress with tulle on the bottom? You came in and whipped it up and made it beautiful. Where I stop, you can finish. We complement each other.”


EAT: drink
DRINK: love
WATCH: movies
LISTEN: to me
SEE: beautiful sunsets
HEAR: music
BE: here, now
LOVE: live
REMEMBER: everything
DO: nothing
SWEAR: cunt (gasp)… just because it’s so bad. I used to live with this English woman and she used the word very freely and I used to say “hush!” but now it’s funny ~ people’s reactions to it…



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