The 5th interview in the inspirational travel interview series is with La Carmina, a professional travel and fashion blogger who has also hosts TV travel shows, writes wacky books and models her unique fashion sense for high end magazines. She is an inspiration for any would be travel or fashion blogger and I’m so happy I got to interview her for this site.
1: Hi La Carmina, why don’t you start by introducing yourself to the readers? What is it that you do?
I’m La Carmina, and my world revolves around travel, spooky fashion, and subcultures. Starting my La Carmina blog in 2007 has led to dream opportunities in travel and media. Today, in addition to blogging professionally, I’m a TV presenter and production coordinator. I’ve appeared on Bizarre Foods (Travel Channel), World’s Weirdest Restaurants (Food Network), Oddities (Discovery Science) and other TV shows, including The Doctors and Today Show.
I wrote 3 books on Japanese pop culture and restaurants – for Penguin and Random House – and am a travel journalist for CNN, HuffPost / AOL, and Business Insider. My “First Mate” and I also run a consulting and TV fixing company, La Carmina & The Pirates. We’re best known for arranging segments about body modifications, such as the “bagelhead” forehead inflation episode of Taboo that went viral. I’m also constantly on the road with my filmmaking team; we shoot short travel videos in worldwide destinations, including Maldives, Dubai, Belgrade and Zagreb. You can see clips and my full bio at http://www.lacarmina.com/bio.php
2: There a number of great travel and fashion blogs around today, how did you make the leap to TV host, model and author?
Initially, my site focused more heavily on street style and outfit posts. Like many fashion bloggers, I got opportunities to partner with brands and model every so often. I also do professional photoshoots when they are commissioned for magazines.
Readers kept asking me for Tokyo restaurant and travel tips, so I expanded my blog’s content to other areas of Asia pop culture like cat cafes and metal bars. These got a big response, and led me to signing with a literary agent. We pitched two ideas that could be a good fit for books, and ended up with publishing deals. “Cute Yummy Time” (Penguin USA) is about the cute (kawaii) food-decorating trend, and “Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants” is a guide to Japan’s weirdest eateries.
Since my posts about Japan underground culture were quite popular, I began getting emails from producers, asking me to arrange shows and host TV shows about these subjects. My business partner and I began a TV fixing, presenting and production company to offer these services, and we’ve been working nonstop since. Some people describe us as coolhunters, as we give insight and access to underground cultures, and film TV shows in Japan and worldwide. You can see my travel television clips at http://www.lacarmina.com/bio.php; they include National Geographic, CNN, Food Network, Fuel TV.
3: What advice would you give to the readers who see you as an inspiration and who would also love to make a career out of their passions?
This is a path that takes constant work, trials and experimenting. I advise people to learn as much as they can about writing, social networks, blogs and SEO. They shouldn’t be afraid to publish their works and make their voices heard – it’s the only way they can build something bigger. I think it’s important to be motivated by one’s passions. Personally, I try to do stories that encourage people to travel and think of subcultures in a positive way. I’m motivated to work hard when I feel my coverage has meaning and hopefully helps open people’s eyes.
4: What is your favourite place you have travelled to and why? Where would you love to go to next?
I began going to Japan at a young age, and loved everything about it. Today, Japan remains one of my favorite countries to visit; nothing beats the alternative shopping, clubs, food and kind people. Egypt is at the top of my list of places I want to visit, but unfortunately with the current crisis, it may be some years before I can be there.
5: Your fashion sense is rather unique, how would you describe it and who is your favourite designer?
I’m heavily influenced by alternative “style tribes” especially in Japan, such as Gothic, Lolita and Gyaru. I like to mix these looks, so I wouldn’t classify myself under any single label. However, there’s usually an element of darkness, decadence and pirates. One of my favorite brands is, funny enough, the Miffy clothing store in Hong Kong! The poppy designs, which mostly incorporate the cute bunny’s face, are unlike anything else. Photos: http://www.lacarmina.com/blog/2013/08/hong-kong-designer-clothes-shops-miffy-store-izzue/
6: We noticed that you have appeared in a number of photo shoots for a variety of magazines, which one has been your favourite?
It’s hard to name just one. I especially loved the latex looks I did for Alt Noir magazine, and the glittery sugar skull makeup for Gothic Beauty.
7: For one of your TV spots you covered the Japanese Bagel Head obsession. Was this the weirdest thing you have ever seen or have you covered stranger?
At the Tokyo fetish party, Department H, even I continue to be surprised and awed by the body modifications on display. These range from snake tongues to skin sewing, to incredible full-body costumes such as anime girls with giant doll-heads. Here are some photos if you dare: http://www.lacarmina.com/blog/?s=department+h+uguisidani
8: You’ve also written and illustrated a number of books yourself, which one was your favourite to create?
I loved writing Crazy, Wacky Theme Restaurants because it gave me an excuse to dine at the weirdest restaurants in Tokyo! I felt like a princess at the butler cafe, petted dozens of kitties in a cat cafe, got spooked by monsters at a jail restaurant… You can find out more about my books at http://www.lacarmina.com/books.php
9: Do you have any further books, TV appearances or travel plans coming up soon?
I have quite a few international trips in the works – I’m actually booked through next April. I have another magazine cover shoot this month, and just finished my Dubai and Abu Dhabi travel video. The next destination is Thailand, and the rest will be announced soon. Stay tuned to my La Carmina website and social networks to see where I head next.
10: When you’re not busy being an all-round blogger, TV host, author and traveller what do you like to do in your spare time?
When I’m home, I spend quality time with my round-headed Scottish Fold cat, Basil Farrow. Nothing calms me down like squishing his big, fuzzy cheeks!
A huge thank you to La Carmina for giving such fantastic answers and I hope you all enjoyed the interview.