Kitchie Ohh: A Muse in Grief

Portrait of Kitchie Ohh in front of an antique car
Kitchie Ohh. First Shoot.  Photo: Michael Bann aka Victor Devilbliss. Copyright 2024

Text by Kitchie Ohh, Copyright 2024

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In Memorium

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A Muse in Grief

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“Sometimes, you meet someone and, in an instant, you connect with them and know no matter what your relationship becomes, you will be forever comforted by their mere existence.”

It’s true. The man who said that would know, of course. I think for as much as he felt it about anyone, more people than he realized felt that way about him. Who is he, you wonder? Musician, writer, photographer extraordinaire, and my friend, Micael F. Bann. Quite a few of my previous posts here include photos taken by him under his alias of Victor Devilbliss.

My very first photoshoot occurred in 2013. I hadn’t planned on doing more, or doing anything with the resulting photos. But something just clicked and I wanted more. It took me a while to work up the nerve. The first first step came unexpectedly. Social media served me up an ad for a retro-themed magazine called Retro Lovely. I began following it, loving the posts and images. I wanted to be among them, but didn’t think I was good enough. Then, I saw a call for submissions for a spinoff of this main magazine called Kat Club. I decided I would go for it. With the permission of the photographer from that first shoot, I sent in a few images. On April 24, 2015 my picture was promoted as being included in the latest issue. Sadly, just before going to print, the entire Retro Lovely line folded. At the time, all issues were being traditionally printed and sold through mail order. The cost and effort just was not feasible, long-term,  for a one-man operation. I was bummed but so proud of myself for doing it! 

I went on to do three more shoots before stepping onto a set with the incredible Michael Bann, a.k.a. Victor Devilbliss, creator of the Retro Lovely Magazine line, in October 2017. Looking back, what’s incredibly funny is that I booked that photoshoot due to being a huge fan of the artist scheduled to provide hair and makeup, figuring it was probably the one chance I would ever have to work with her. The legendary photographer was secondary in my decision. Funny how that shook out. I never worked with that artist again but developed a close friendship with Michael and shot with him seven more times in his studio, his home, and other awesome locations requiring significant road tripping. I submitted our photos to various publications and was always excited to share when accepted.

Somewhere in the middle of that friendship and photography, Retro Lovely Magazine found new life. It was reborn in mid 2018, through a more cost-effective print-on-demand platform but with the same meticulously curated content for which the original publication was known. I was trusted with the news before the relaunch, assisting with proofreading the website copy and submission forms before they went live. I was excited for him. We had discussed at length how much he loved it and how devastated he was when he had to give it up. While it was a project he enjoyed and poured himself into, it came with pitfalls of course. He had developed quite the aversion to models and photographers who begged and bargained to appear on covers; who contacted him with horror stories about others to persuade him not to accept submissions or work with them; and so much more. He navigated it all without ever compromising who he was. I was extremely honored, and incredibly humbled when he messaged one day with a “so I was thinking…” and then a few minutes pause, which was a very Michael thing to do. I was expecting a novel-length message to follow about some crazy thing he experienced or an idea he had and wanted to bounce off me. Instead, it was a photo from that first time we worked together, mocked up for the cover of his magazine. I had barely grasped what it was he was showing me before several more messages came through pointing out how the set was perfect because he was able to shoot wide and the picture lined up for a wraparound cover. I finally understood and Retro Lovely Magazine No. 14 published in August 2018. He shocked me further by later telling me that he also sent a few photos from this set to a ‘hot rod’ magazine. They had chosen one to include in their upcoming issue. It was a publication that was a regularly mailed subscription and was also available in retail stores and newsstands. When it was released, he sent me a video of him entering the local Wal-Mart, finding the magazine on the shelf, flipping to our page, and purchasing it. He surprised me one more time after that, in April 2022. After our final spontaneous road-trip, destination photoshoot, I found myself once again, unexpectedly, on the cover of a Retro Lovely publication, this time it was Cassandra which had a very glamorous, opulent kind of feel to the images it contained. He made sure that I recognized that the title of the magazine was made to look like the glittery surface of the table in the photo. Of course it did. That was the kind of detail he just loved, the small things that made huge difference if you took the time to notice. 

On set for photoshoots and in between, we often talked about life in general; family, work, relationships, anything, everything, and absolutely nothing, because sometimes you just need to talk nonsense and laugh. He was really good at that; at listening, remembering details, and making people feel at ease. It didn’t matter if you knew him for decades or days, he left an impression. Michael accepted people for who they were, brought out the best in them and and captured that in his photography. There are countless people who would say the same and then some. In fact, many of them poured good thoughts, prayers and energy out to him when he announced in early June that needed to take a brief break from everything – photos, music, Retro Lovely – due to a medical issue. Shortly after that announcement, he shared the gravity of the situation with all of us. He was diagnosed with a large mass on the back of his brain. It would require near-immediate surgery to remove it. Despite the seriousness, Michael posted with all the irreverence and humor we loved about him right up until that surgery. And never posted again. 

Technically, he made it through the procedure. Complications afterward proved fatal.  

He entered the hospital on June 7, and left this world June 21. It won’t ever be the same. I don’t just mean that for me. I don’t think he would have ever, in life, acknowledged the impact he had. I hope he knew it was enormous and reached so far. I still have not wrapped my head around the fact that he is gone. 

How do you say goodbye to someone so much larger than life itself? You don’t, really. You remember, fondly. You cry, you laugh, you create, you keep them alive through you. I’ll close this the way I opened, with words from my friend, Michael Bann, who will be missed more than any words can ever express. 

“The days after my last, think of me with peace. Recall a smile I drew from you, though new ones will have ceased. The weeks after my last, remember love I gave you, forgive the times I let you down, it was not my wish to do so. The years after my last, let my memory hold you. Know you meant the world to me, though I’m unable to console you.” 

Photos shared here are from our first shoot and our last shoot. 

In loving memory of Michael F. Bann, March 25, 1965-June 21, 2024. 

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Portrait of glam model Kitchie Ohh
Kitchie Ohh. Last Shoot. Photo: Michael Bann aka Victor Devilbliss, Copyright 2024

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Kitchie Ohh is a full-time professional fundraiser who has worked with a number of health and human services nonprofits in the Philadelphia area over the last 20 years. She found her passion for modeling after a pinup-style photoshoot in 2013. Since then, she has worked with many talented photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists in a variety of styles. She has been featured in- and on the covers of – multiple print and digital publications. Over the years, she has branched out from pinup studio modeling to serve as a figure model for live sketching, walked a runway, and was part of two campaigns for Philadelphia designer K. Vaughn.

In addition to her philanthropy-focused career, she has volunteered with art, historical, and community organizations, and even the events team of a local brewery for a while, pre-pandemic.

You’re just as likely to find her whipping up something deliciously plant-based in her kitchen or knitting a sweater as you are to find her on a photography set. Her motto is “be both.” The model and the homemaker, sultry and sweet, serious and silly. All the things, all at once. To access additional articles by Kitchie Ohh, link here: https://tonyward.com/kitchie-ohh-theres-always-one/

Nefertari Williams: Take Care of Your Heart

Portrait of Nefertari Williams and her lovely daughter Shawna wearing a corset
Nefertari Williams and her daughter Shawna. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

Text by Nefertari Williams, Copyright 2024

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Take Care of Your Heart

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Surviving a heart attack while nine months pregnant is part of my story. I never thought that such a terrifying event would launch me into the public eye and open doors for me to speak in front of people that I may not have otherwise met. BUT that life changing event did that and so much more. It forced me to stop just surviving and start living. It wasn’t thought that I would survive but I did – One accomplishment out of the way – do I dare to add another goal to my list?! I did and I achieved it!! My list is now very long.

Archery was added later but jumped to the top of the list when I entered a pro shop and the man behind the counter placed a bow in my hand. He taught me the steps and told me to take a deep breath – then release – and I did. With that arrow I let go of so much fear, pain, guilt sadness and grief. It was a beautiful feeling. I’m hooked and I hope I never have to put down my bow.

Although I have a weakened heart due to CHF, SCAD uncontrolled tachycardia an aneurysm in my heart and much much more, I live proudly and fearlessly as a person battling heart disease. I tell my story/stories and I help others to understand that their trials and tribulations may be building blocks to a better tomorrow. Allow your story to be released into the world and help others to know that they too can make it to the other side of what may have seemed like something that could have broken them. From my quiver to my bow – I aim and release. Hopefully inspiring others along the way. 

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Nefertari Williams shooting with a archery bow and arrow
Nefertari Williams

About The Author:  Nefertari Williams is a jewelry maker, activist for women with heart disease and the mother of five beautiful children.  She lives in Willingboro, New Jersey.  To access additional articles by Nefertari Williams link here: https://tonyward.com/nefertari-williams-trolls-have-tells/

Bob Shell: Fighting Fire With Fire

Glamour portrait of a very pretty young woman wearing just panties
Lani. Photo: Bob Shell, Copyright 2024.

Text by Bob Shell, Copyright 2024

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Fighting Fire With Fire

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I have just received correspondence from an attorney named Adam Steinbaugh with FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression in Philadelphia (adam@thefire.org).
He’s offering his possible help with the problems I’m having with the Virginia Department of Corrections interfering with my right to write and publish my books.

I hope you’re aware of FIRE, as I was not. It sounds like he and his organization are things you should know about, particularly because they’re right there in Philadelphia.

I wrote letters about my problems to a variety of organizations. This wasn’t one of them, but Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts from for warded my letter to him.
I’ve also heard from PEN America in NYC offering their help, even though I didn’t write to them.

His address is:

FIRE
510 Walnut Street, Suite 1250
Philadelphia, PA 19106

Telephone:
(215) 717-3473, ext. 213

I thought I should keep our readers in the loop on this. You or others you know might need their help at some point since the book burners are active again.

The VDOC’s Publication Review Committee banned my book Heaven and Hell on the Road to Reno based on an unpublished proof they seized. The idiots don’t understand that it’s not a publication until it’s published! Their authority extends only to publications. They had no authority to confiscate, review, or disapprove it. They’ve blocked publication, because without the proof I can’t make necessary corrections or editorial changes, so it remains an unpublished proof on my Amazon account.

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About The Author: Bob Shell is a professional photographer, author, former editor in chief of Shutterbug Magazine and veteran contributor to this blog. He is currently serving a 35 year sentence for involuntary manslaughter for the death of Marion Franklin, one of his former models.  He is serving the 17th year of his sentence at Pocahontas State Correctional Facility, Virginia. To read additional articles by Bob Shell link here: https://tonyward.com/bob-shell-trump-and-me/

Milton White: Linen is HOT!!!


Text by Milton White, Copyright 2024

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Linen is HOT!!!

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Photographs and Video Clip by Ted Kawalerski, Copyright 2024

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The photographers, models, creative director and assistants gathered on the grounds at Tony Ward’s studio for what became a great collaboration of talent. 
 
Each of us being inspired to bring life to the product…Kvaughn Scarves.
 
***Love, Unabridged – Prose and Poetry by Zachary Starr.But where does inspiration come from? Some say that it is born from the depths of our souls, a wellspring of creativity that flows endlessly within us. Others believe it to be a gift from the universe, bestowed upon those who are open to receiving its divine wisdom.***
 
I have been a muse for Kvaughn Scarves for many years, always wanting more to show off Kevin’s gift of finding fabrics and patterns that turns heads not only at special events, but also everyday wear.
 
The Parisian scenes and settings in the TWS studio are provided by TW. The outdoor scenes are also exceptional, provided by the enclave and grounds at TWS.
 
Though we had planned to shoot until 2pm, we wrapped an hour earlier. We were on fire! The flow of energy throughout each setting kept us all on top of our game. 
 
Matt Sampson, aka the sneaker guy, brought colors that completed the look for each scene.
 
Larson Hunt, model extraordinaire, was playful on the tire swing, blow up pool and for a finale, he got hosed down in linen.
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KV (Kvaughn), always creative, wore his scarves with style and flare, as only he can.
 
I, myself, was simply there…natural.
 
The photographers, TW, Ted Kawalerski (who visited from New York), AlbFor and Isiah, and the assistants Brian Hunt and Tony Colagreco gave their all in making the magic happen.
 
Afterwards, we sat down around food, drinks, good music and conversation.
 
Sunday was a day to unwind, regroup and refresh our vision for the next shoot. KV, Brian Hunt and TW joined me at my cabana poolside for a dip in the pool. Cocktails, lunch, music and conversation (which lead to a little brainstorming) defeating our purpose for the time together, but we did return to relaxing with drinks. Then a final dip before saying farewell to until we meet again.
 
Looking forward to our next venture!
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poolside with Milton White and fashion designer KVaughn
Poolside: KVaughn and Milton White:  Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

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Milton White models KVaughn scave 100% linen 2024 summer collection
Milton White. Photo: Tony Ward, Copyright 2024

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About The Author: 
Milton White is a fashion aficionado, collector and consultant.  He is currently creative assistant to KVaughn Studio and style editor at TWS. To access additional articles by Milton White, link here: https://tonyward.com/milton-white-the-supreme-diva/
 

Kitchie Ohh: There’s Always One

Portrait of glamour model Kitchie Ohh for Tony Ward Studio
Kitchie Ohh: Photo: Victor Devilbliss, Copyright 2024

Text by Kitchie Ohh, Copyright 2024

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There’s Always One

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I have worked damn hard to get where I am, professionally. Believe me when I say there is no one harder on me than me when it comes to judging the role I play, the work I produce, and its impact on the bigger picture. Despite what anyone says to the contrary about the quality of my work, I often focus on what went ‘wrong’ and kick myself for it.  There is always a level of self-doubt, the moments of confidently feeling I know exactly what I’m doing are amazing, but even when they arrive I tend to downplay the feeling. However, my current role – it’s been over a year, I should stop calling it “new”- is slowly changing this. I have a great boss. I have a great team. And most of my colleagues are amazing.

Most. But definitely not all. There’s always one. Everyone seems to know about them; their personality issues, their comments, lack of collaboration, expectation that their way is the right way, the ONLY way. And yet, no one does anything about it. Instead, there are miles of workarounds, modifications to processes that make them a tad more complicated but increasingly more likely to get past this person with their probably unnecessary, but historically asked for anyway, approval. It’s frustrating and creates problems where there should be none, and comes complete with thinly veiled insults hurled regularly. 

My first run in with this particular brick wall, occurred very early in my role with this organization. I was asked to create a communications strategy for the year. I presented it, complete with a content calendar, and a regular series of collaboration meetings to ensure my pant was aligned with, but did not compete with, anything other outreach across the company. I take this moment to point out that this task is not outside of my skill set. It actually is exactly what I have been doing for much of my career, very successfully. It is also very much on track for the focus of my university-issued academic degree.  So, there I found myself, in this known to be difficult person’s office at a table that was too small for our group of five- them, me, my boss, and two additional colleagues. When the plan was presented, all but this person were happy to have something in place to keep things on track and on brand. I felt extremely proud of what I had put together. And then it happened. This ONE person finally chimed in, asking who would be creating content, who would be responsible for that part, because there was money in the budget for them to add someone to their team to handle it as we had no one with that qualification on staff. I was shocked. I had just presented the plan, clearly stating that this was MY role, MY team would be leading the effort, with review and input from the people at this table. Before I could open my mouth, my boss calmly looked this person in the face and stated, “no additional staff is needed as this plan was created by the extremely qualified individual already on staff, and her team. She called this meeting and is sitting directly across from you.” To say that went over terribly is an understatement. Silence fell, the meeting ended, and by the time I walked back to my office, the remaining meetings in the series were declined by this person with no explanation and no offer to reschedule. It happened, the professional equivalent of packing up toys and going home because the kids weren’t playing by your rules.  I was a mixture of feeling angry and insulted, but also proud that I didn’t have to defend myself, my boss handled it – showing full support of me and my work.

As a result of this failed collaboration attempt, it was left to me to devise a new plan that involved this person without the need for meeting with them. A precedent had been set that their input and approval was required. If we attempted to proceed without it, a flag was raised at the last minute and we, literally, had to start over.  I tried. I was not having my work derailed ever again by one person’s ego. So, everything filtered through my boss, still does. An extended time frame was factored into the original plan I created that allows this person ample time to complete their portion of the project. Though they agreed to the revised plan, I can count on one hand the number of times they actually adhered to it since that day. It’s been a year of communications, sometimes several per week, gently, and then not-so-gently reminding this person to do what they agreed to do by specific deadlines. And a near year of my having to rework timelines when those specific deadlines come and go with no response. Peppered throughout this year were plenty of other insults and not so constructive criticism. 

I have a fairly thick skin and a wild stubborn streak when it comes to people like this. I will not react as everyone else up until this point has. I will not compromise my hard work and the good I know it will do, simply because it’s easier to just give up or give in to doing everything their way. As annoying as these exhibited behaviors are, I can deal with them while advocating for myself and the job I have been tasked with doing to get it done. However, this person also has the nasty habit of speaking down to people, in a way that can only be described as bullying because they only do it to people who take it, the ones who are visibly shaken after any conversation with this person. I have watched it happen, they are sought out to be used as a kind of punching bag. I refuse to stand for this behavior in or out of the workplace, and that goes double when it happens to people on my team. I keep a running documentation of incidents. I informed my entire team, not just those who report to me, that if this person reaches out for anything they are to be referred to me for assistance. Whatever they need falls under my role. Effective immediately. It was rough going for a while, but over time I learned and still am learning ways to navigate the mess that was made long before I signed on.

There has been progress, though. Some wins, some losses, definite compromise. Shockingly, on both sides! The only constant has been me, holding myself and this person accountable. If we have to work together, then we will do so in a way that isn’t entirely mine, or theirs, it’s ours;  a mutually agreed upon, respectful, path forward. As more people sign on and join in, we see more forward momentum. As we work together to prove that through true collaboration, we can accomplish so much more, the power this person has held for so long begins to wane. The control they slowly gained over people and projects that never should have involved them is being given back to those to whom it belonged. Of all the things I’m proud of since beginning this job, this is pretty high up on the list. And we still have a long way to go. 

If there’s always that one person who makes things hard for everyone else, shouldn’t there also be that one who steps up to them? I know which one I want to be, and the one I never will. 

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Portrait of glamour model Kitchie Ohh for Tony Ward Studio
Kitchie Ohh: Photo: Victor Devilbliss, Copyright 2024

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Kitchie Ohh is a full-time professional fundraiser who has worked with a number of health and human services nonprofits in the Philadelphia area over the last 20 years. She found her passion for modeling after a pinup-style photoshoot in 2013. Since then, she has worked with many talented photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists in a variety of styles. She has been featured in- and on the covers of – multiple print and digital publications. Over the years, she has branched out from pinup studio modeling to serve as a figure model for live sketching, walked a runway, and was part of two campaigns for Philadelphia designer K. Vaughn.

In addition to her philanthropy-focused career, she has volunteered with art, historical, and community organizations, and even the events team of a local brewery for a while, pre-pandemic.

You’re just as likely to find her whipping up something deliciously plant-based in her kitchen or knitting a sweater as you are to find her on a photography set. Her motto is “be both.” The model and the homemaker, sultry and sweet, serious and silly. All the things, all at once. To access additional articles by Kitchie Ohh, link here: https://tonyward.com/kitchie-ohh-rebuilding-my-self-esteem/