Bare a little less for swimsuit season Less isn’t more this season: High-waisted swimsuit bottoms are making a splash. Nanette Lepore’s designs have reverted back about 60 years. Made popular by a group of shamelessly risqué Frenchies and Brigitte Bardot, the bikini found its way into the pinup world and, eventually, American wardrobes. Now Lepore, whose two-piece take from New York Fashion Week is seen here, and other swimwear designers are indulging in this retro treat. Unlike low-slung, teeny bikinis, high-waisted, brief-bottom designs are practical and offer greater midriff coverage. Paired with a thick-strapped, supportive top, you won’t have to constantly tug and adjust. “It can camouflage extra tummy flab, especially if you just had a baby, and it elongates you,” said Kelly Bietka, merchandise buyer for Swim Quik. “It’s a style that can be flattering whether you’re 25 or 45.” If you’re still worried about making your poolside debut, stick with bold patterns or dark colors. Lepore’s “Provence Rose” pattern is a great distracter, taking attention away from trouble spots. Posted on Sat, Jun. 25, 2011 10:15 PM

Bare a little less for swimsuit season

So you want to be a Playboy photographer By JACKIE HOERMANN The Kansas City Star   Playboy model hopefuls from as far as Florida and Canada line the halls of a Crossroads Arts District studio, fanning themselves, trembling in their silk robes and waiting for their moment with Jodi Vander Woude.Photographer Jodi Vander Woude sets up a shoot with Alisha Keeling of St. Louis during a casting call at earlier this month. “I promise this will be painless,” Vander Woude assures them. Vander Woude is a photographer for Playboy Enterprises. Every month, she travels across the country doing casting calls, this month at the StagePort KC soundstage. She shoots preliminary photos for the magazine’s bigwigs, helping to find Playboy’s next generation of models. Originally from Topeka, she earned her bachelor’s degree in graphic design with an emphasis in photography from the University of Kansas. In 1992, one week after graduation, an acquaintance called and told her Playboy was hiring in Chicago. She landed an art assistant position. “I made coffee and copies,” she says of her first month on the job. “I really did start at the bottom by getting my foot in the door.” She has lived in Chicago, Las Vegas and northern California working as a senior designer and a producer, which has included directing shoots and applying the models’ makeup. She’s now based in Kansas City. At the casting calls, her biggest challenge is the art of relaxation. A woman walks in. The first thing that needs to go is self-consciousness, but usually it’s the robe. “You look fabulous,” Vander Woude says, “You really do.” “Great butt … great smile … great legs. … Do you run?” From behind her Canon lens, she searches for the most beautiful feature on every model. But don’t they all look the same: thin, leggy and well-endowed? “Not at all,” she says. “That’s the beauty of Playboy. We’ve had 5- to 6-foot Playmates, from boy body types to voluptuous. There isn’t one type, other than beautiful.” There is, however, a philosophy in play. Playboy’s theory behind what makes a woman attractive is simple, she says: “It all goes back to the girl next door. You want them to be soft, you want them to be pretty, and it’s always classy.” Vander Woude does her best to bring out these qualities by asking ordinary questions while she’s shooting. She asks a model at the Kansas City casting call where she’s from, about her tattoo and her hobbies. This one likes roller derby. After 15 minutes of small talk, background music and a little ego-padding, Vander Woude finishes the session with a simple request: “Say ‘yes.’ ” A shy, flattered “yes” tumbles out, and she gets the final shot with a sincere smile. Vander Woude is one of only two female photographers working for Playboy. She makes light of being surrounded by male colleagues, but she also considers it an advantage. “They tend to send the extremely nervous girls to me,” she says. “I think they like that I’m a woman.” At work, she’s warm and talkative. She eases models through the shoot, even showing them how to pose. Afterward, it’s time for the computer editing wand. Vander Woude insists, though, that heavy retouching is a misconception. She says her goal isn’t to change the models’ bodies but to “perfect” them by removing bruises, veins and other blemishes. And yes, she has been to the Playboy mansion and met the man behind the empire, Hugh Hefner. “He has a true presence, and he always has an entourage,” she says with a grin. Although she hasn’t met Hef’s most recent ex, Crystal Harris, she has worked with another ex, Holly Madison. She has also worked with Jenny McCarthy and several Playmates of the Year. Vander Woude will continue to hit the road for Playboy’s casting calls, but these days she’s spending most of her time in Kansas City. “I’ve traveled all over,” she says, “but I love that I have a base now and a studio. I’m just so happy to be here.” To learn more about Vander Woude’s Kansas City studio, visit To reach Jackie Hoermann, call 816-234-4767 or send email to Posted on Sun, Jun. 26, 2011 10:15 PM

So you want to be a Playboy photographer?

Call to Harry Potter fans: The Kansas City Star is seeking KC’s #1 Potter fan. Someone who has read every book, seen every movie and gone above and beyond normal fandom. We’re talking naming your pets, attending exhibits or conferences, … Continue reading

SO YOU WANT TO BE … A SCUBA DIVER Marcy Barham makes it possible for anyone to dive By JACKIE HOERMANN The Kansas City Star SHANE KEYSER | The Kansas City StarPart of the “classroom” work for diving students is in the pool with instructors, including Marcy Barham, at the Dive Shop in Merriam. Marcy Barham has a sickness most would envy. “I call it the scuba-diving sickness,” Barham said. “You get it, and you can’t turn back.” Barham is a dive master and interactive teacher at the Dive Shop in Merriam. She left behind a job in pharmaceutical sales to pursue teaching, and 12 years in, she’s more passionate about the sport than ever. How does an inlander get addicted to scuba diving? I grew up as a fish; I swam all the time. When I was in college, a friend of mine asked me to be a guest on his boat. He said, “Get certified, get a ticket and come spend a week on this sailboat.” I called the Dive Shop, got signed up for classes and made my way down to the Bahamas. It grew from there. Where have you dived? Most of my dives have been in the Bahamas, but I’ve also dived in Roatan, Honduras; Cayman Brac; Cayman Islands and Chuuk, Micronesia. In Micronesia, we swam around the islands where Japanese ships from World War II had sunk. How deep can you dive? I’m certified for 130 feet, but when I was in Micronesia I was dying to see the sunken army tanks. So I went about 160 feet. Do you collect anything from reefs or shipwrecks? Just memories and pictures. I’m a firm believer of not touching and not taking. A lot of underwater national parks say you can’t take a grain of sand or a shell. The less we touch, the longer it lasts. So what’s it like down there in the deep blue? It’s euphoria. You can go down and tune everything out and just hear yourself breathe. I’ve had a few students with ADD, and they’ve told me that when they scuba, they relax. It’s their opportunity to mellow out and take it easy. For them to be able to do that underwater is neat. Sounds like you love teaching. Yeah. It’s hard to make a living, especially in the Midwest, but it fulfills a passion. And I understand what those kids mean. It’s sort of my underwater yoga world, too. It seems like kicking and swimming would be physically demanding, not yoga-esque … Most of the time, no. It’s a Sunday-drive kind of sport. You just relax, kick and glide. Is your equipment heavy? Under or above water? Both. A tank, BCD (buoyancy compensator device) and regulator weigh about 30 pounds. The lead weights add another 10 pounds or so, but once you’re in the water, all that weight only feels like 5 to 10 pounds, almost weightless. What kind of certification do you have? I got my open-water certification in 1999 and followed with my advanced scuba diving certification in 2002 and rescue diver certification in 2002-2003. Completed my dive master certification in 2004, and now I’m starting my assistant instructor program. Any trips planned? I always have a revolving list of dream destinations. My next trip will be back to the Bahamas at the end of this month. What a great excuse to travel. When you have the time and money. I do have reservations. Most of them are shark-related. I’ve never had my life threatened, and I’ve been on many shark dives with blacktip reef sharks, silvertip reef sharks, nurse sharks and Caribbean reef sharks. Yikes. Unfortunately, due to some movies in the ’70s, they get a bad rep. But on average, there are more dog bites each year than shark bites. I’ve heard your lungs can pop. The No. 1 rule is never hold your breath. That causes lung expansion. We cover how to deal with all that. If you do what you’re trained to do, you’ll be fine. And nervousness is normal. One of the divers here has extreme claustrophobia, but she can now dive and teach because she allowed herself to work through it. Is there a good beginner class for someone like me, with zero experience? At 10 a.m. on Saturday mornings we have “Discover Lessons” for ages 10 and up, and for $15 you can get the lesson and equipment. Just schedule with us a week or two in advance ( Well, maybe I’ll bring the boyfriend along. If he likes it, then you’ve got Christmas, birthdays and everything else covered. This hobby makes shopping very easy. To reach Jackie Hoermann, call 816-234-4767 or send email to Posted on Sun, Jun. 19, 2011 10:15 PM Read more:

Marcy Barham makes it possible anyone to dive

Paging through summer’s offerings for kids By JACKIE HOERMANN The Kansas City Star Anola Pickett has written a coming-of-age tale for girls that is steeped in pioneer history. Paging through summer’s offerings for kids Summer “break” might give some young readers an excuse to ditch books, but it’s the perfect time to read when and what one pleases. With exciting and engaging titles to choose from — including new books by local authors — now’s the time to dive in. Joining a summer reading club is a great way to find interesting reads and earn free books and prizes. Check your neighborhood public library for details. Shawnee Mission West sophomore Andy Gottschalk participates in Johnson County Library’s summer reading club and is co-president of the library’s Young Adult Advisory Council. “We plan lots of events for teens, like video game days and movie programs. We also get to tell publishers and the librarians what we think,” Gottschalk said. Right now Gottschalk, 15, is reading “Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You” by Peter Cameron, and his friends are reading a mix of classics — like “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen — and fantasy titles — like “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” by Seth Grahame-Smith. Gottschalk has read local authors, too, including Jennifer Brown’s “Hate List,” noting “how deep the plot was.” He also plans to read her latest novel, “Bitter End,” which was released in May. Brown isn’t the only KC author having a big summer. Anola Pickett and Roderick Townley also released titles suitable for young readers (and the young at heart). Jennifer Brown Though Brown is a former humor columnist, her two books have taken a more serious approach to life. “Bitter End” deals with dating violence. “Bitter End’s” heroine, Alex, is torn between two boys: an old friend and a new love. But when her boyfriend begins using threats and abuse to push Alex away from her old friend, she feels conflicted. “I don’t think we can shy away from teens’ issues anymore,” Brown said. “I think teens are inundated with tough stuff, and talking about it can initiate important discussions.” A KC native, Brown often envisions her high school in Lee’s Summit or the one in Liberty, where she lives, when she writes. “When you’re reading a local author, there’s a good chance you’re going to know what they’re writing about.” “Bitter End” (Little, Brown and Co., $17.99), age 15 and older, www.jenniferbrownya .com Anola Pickett Anola Pickett’s “Wasatch Summer” is a coming-of-age tale that takes readers out of air-conditioned living rooms and libraries and into the Wild West, circa 1889. Pickett’s heroine, 11-year-old Hannah, spends her summer tending to a flock of sheep in the mountains of Utah — alone. With only a few Blackfoot and her animals to keep her company, she faces dangers unknown to most young readers. “It’s good for today’s kids to realize all they have,” Pickett said. “In the pioneer days, kids had to do these things so their families could survive.” Pickett’s novel is based on historical accounts. Hannah was envisioned after an acquaintance told Pickett about his pioneer grandmother who went into the mountains alone at age 8. Pickett also built her novel around the family history of a missionary from Cache Valley, Utah, where the novel is set. “Even though it’s set in another location and time, it’s relatable,” Pickett said. “It’s about a young person who had to take on a heavy load.” The story isn’t all hardship, though. Hannah is a playful preteen who amuses herself with simple games and toys, such as her button charm string — collecting enough buttons was thought to reveal a girl’s true love. Pickett found this game and others in “The American Girls Handy Book,” first published in 1887. More pioneer games are available on her website. “Wasatch Summer” (Cedar Fort; $9.99), age 9 and older, www.anola Roderick Townley Want to transport your mind to another place? Lovers of fantasy, mystery and quest stories can get lost in Roderick Townley’s “The Door in the Forest.” “My books are a vacation,” Townley said. “They can take you pretty far away.” Townley has traveled and researched extensively for previous books, including time in England for “The Red Thread.” But this novel came right out of his Overland Park backyard. “In my backyard we see coyotes, deer and even a great blue heron,” he said. “And there’s an island surrounded by a stream. And I started thinking: ‘What if the blue heron was a guardian from the island? What if there was quicksand? What if there were poisonous snakes and those snakes had human heads?’ ” The novel’s characters, Daniel and Emily, are up against all those dangers and more but are still determined to get to the mysterious wooded island. The plot thickens when up-to-no-good soldiers show up in town, the same soldiers who took Emily’s mother away. This is Townley’s seventh novel and 15th book. “Expect plenty of explosions … and an unstated love,” Townley said. “Every boy loves explosions and villains, but it was still written with my girl readers in mind.” “The Door in the Forest” (Knopf; $16.99), age 8 and older, KIDS’ PICKS In May, the Children’s Book Council announced the winners of the 2011 Children’s Choice Book Awards. •Author of the Year: Rick Riordan for “The Lost Hero” (The Heroes of Olympus, Book One) •Illustrator of the Year: David Wiesner for “Art & Max” •Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year: “Little Pink Pup” by Johanna Kerby •Third Grade to Fourth Grade Book of the Year: “Lunch Lady and the Summer Camp Shakedown” by Jarrett J. Krosoczka •Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year: “The Red Pyramid” (The Kane Chronicles, Book One) by Rick Riordan •Teen Choice Book of the Year: “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” by John Green and David Levithan LIBRARIAN FORECAST “Zombies may be the new vampires,” said Sherry Ellison, Smithville branch manager of the Mid-Continent Public Library. “There are a lot of zombie books being published right now,” because of the popularity of “Twilight” and other fantasy movies. Ellison said teen readers are also catching on to the Steampunk genre. “Steampunk writers take a world, like 1850s England, and the characters use modern gadgets that wouldn’t be typical for that time period.” RECOMMENDED SUMMER READING Picture books •“Alfie Runs Away,” by Kenneth M. Cadow, illustrated by Lauren Castillo •“My Side of the Car,” by Kate Feiffer, illustrated by Jules Feiffer •“One Big Rain: Poems for Rainy Days,” compiled by Rita Gray, illustrated by Ryan O’Rourke •“Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring,” by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca •“Three by the Sea,” written and illustrated by Mini Grey •“The Day Ray Got Away,” by Angela Johnson, illustrated by Luke LaMarca •“Red Wagon,” written and illustrated by Renata Liwska •“Pocketful of Posies: A Treasury of Nursery Rhymes,” written and illustrated by Salley Mavor •“Pop!: The Invention of Bubble Gum,” written and illustrated by Meghan McCarthy •“Celebritrees: Historic and Famous Trees of the World,” by Margi Preus, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon •“Big Belching Bog,” by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Betsy Bowen •“Where’s Walrus?,” written and illustrated by Stephen Savage •“Madlenka Soccer Star,” written and illustrated by Peter Sís •“A Sick Day for Amos McGee,” by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead •“Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion,” written and illustrated by Mo Willems •“Air Show!,” by Treat Williams, illustrated by Robert Neubecker Early readers and younger fiction •“Bink & Gollie,” by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile •“Just Grace and the Terrible Tutu,” written and illustrated by Charise Mericle Harper •“Dizzy Dinosaurs: Silly Dino Poems,” by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Barry Gott •“Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!,” written and illustrated by Grace Lin •“Lulu and the Brontosaurus,” by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith •“Time to Sleep, Sheep the Sheep!,” written and illustrated by Mo Willems Intermediate •“Keeper,” by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by August Hall •“Sky Sailors: True Stories of the Balloon Era,” by David L. Bristow •“I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird: My Adventures Photographing Wild Animals From a Helicopter,” by Robert B. Haas •“Turtle in Paradise,” by Jennifer L. Holm •“Small as an Elephant,” by Jennifer Richard Jacobson •“Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid,” by HP Newquist •“The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester,” by Barbara O’Connor •“The Red Pyramid,” by Rick Riordan •“What Happened on Fox Street,” by Tricia Springstubb •“The Romeo and Juliet Code,” by Phoebe Stone •“Project Seahorse,” by Pamela S. Turner, photographed by Scott Tuason •“Young Fredle,” by Cynthia Voigt, illustrated by Louise Yates Middle school •“Close to Famous,” by Joan Bauer •“No Passengers Beyond This Point,” by Gennifer Choldenko •“Mockingjay,” by Suzanne Collins •“Take Me to the River,” by Will Hobbs •“The Mermaid’s Mirror” by L. K. Madigan •“Trash,” by Andy Mulligan •“As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth,” by Lynne Rae Perkins •“The Grimm Legacy,” by Polly Shulman •“The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us,” by Tanya Lee Stone •“The Ring of Solomon: A Bartimaeus Novel,” by Jonathan Stroud •“Alien Invasion and Other Inconveniences,” by Brian Yansky High school •“Ship Breaker,” by Paolo Bacigalupi •“Chime,” by Franny Billingsley •“Dark Water,” by Laura McNeal •“Sisters Red,” by Jackson Pearce •“Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story,” by Adam Rex (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray) •“Stay,” by Deb Caletti To reach Jackie Hoermann, call 816-234-4767 or send email to Source: Reviews and recommendations from the Horn Book, Posted on Fri, Jun. 17, 2011 10:15 PM Read more:

Paging through summer’s offerings for kids

Swimming for a record and a lesson on water safety By JACKIE HOERMANN The Kansas City Star SHANE KEYSER/Kansas City StarSwim instructor Rebecca Ferm demonstrated the streamlined position to kids earlier this week at Lifetime Fitness in Lenexa. Fifty-seven splashing bodies kicked with gusto this week in Lenexa in hopes of going down in the Guinness World Records as part of the world’s largest swimming lesson. At 10 a.m. Tuesday, 75 Life Time Fitness centers across the country, including the Lenexa location, taught swimming lessons. The official tally won’t be final until the end of the month, but Alicia Kockler, the company’s national aquatics director, said more than 4,000 took part nationwide. The number to beat is 3,971. The feat wasn’t attempted for infamy alone: The importance of swimming lessons was the real mission. “We’re doing this to build awareness about teaching kids how to swim — to prevent drownings,” said Elizabeth Gibson, head of the Overland Park location’s aquatics department. “Childhood drowning is the second leading cause of unintended death in ages 1 through 14,” Gibson said. “And research shows that if a child doesn’t swim before third grade, they likely won’t.” In Lenexa, instructor and swim team coach Ann Sherlock taught swimmers about holding their breath underwater, floating and treading. “Nothing is worse than seeing a kid who can’t swim or is afraid of the water,” she said. Children can drown in any amount of water, even when parents and guardians are standing nearby. If swimming is part of your family’s summer plans, follow these safety precautions from the experts. •Supervision: Keep a careful watch over youngsters at all times. In the minute it takes to check something on the stove, a drowning can occur. •25:10 rule: If a child can’t swim more than 25 meters (about 27 yards), then a parent should be no more than 10 feet (or an arm’s reach) away, Gibson said. •Alcohol and drugs: Parents should abstain from substances that impair judgment while supervising young swimmers. •Lessons: Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics approved swim classes for children as young as 12 months. Life Time Fitness offers “Splash Classes” starting at 9 months old. However, lessons are not a safeguard against drownings, and trained swimmers should still be watched. •Unknown waters: Scope out pools and natural bodies of water before jumping in. Check out water depths and look for rocks, currents and other potential hazards. Don’t let shallow water fool you. Drownings have occurred in as little as 1 inch of water. •Flotation devices: Replace foam or air-filled floaties with Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices ( Some pools have even banned water wings because they can easily deflate, and noodles, which don’t provide adequate flotation. •Breaks: Take the kids out of the pool once an hour to cool off, re-hydrate, get snacks and prevent exhaustion. @ Go to to see a photo gallery of swimmers. To reach Jackie Hoermann, call 816-234-4767 or send email to Posted on Fri, Jun. 17, 2011 10:15 PM Read more:

Swimming for a record and a lesson on water safety

Models to walk in benefit for JoplinBy JACKIE HOERMANNThe Kansas City StarIf you have a passion for fashion and for helping others, add the Models on a Mission: Benefit Fashion Show for Joplin to your calendar.Interior designer and part-time model Teisha Barber is coordinating the Thursday event at the Vox Theatre in Kansas City, Kan. Proceeds go to Heart of Missouri United Way and Joplin Humane Society tornado relief efforts.Barber said it has been tough to plan the event in such a short time, but thinking about the people it will help drives her.“After seeing all the devastation on the news, I thought, ‘What a great way for me to bring all my resources together,’ ” Barber said. “Everyone has really pitched in, and I think it’s a great way to help Joplin.”Models, hairstylists and designers have donated time to the show’s production, while local boutiques, artists, photographers and others provided items for the silent auction. Jewelry, clothing, photography packages and gift certificates will be up for grabs.The generosity doesn’t end with one night. Several of the models already have traveled to Joplin to volunteer. Kirsten Moore has been volunteering at donation centers and with animal relief organizations since the day after the May 22 disaster.Seeing the damage with your own eyes is a powerful experience, she said. “There’s a lot of destruction, and it gets to you.”MODELS ON A MISSIONWhen: Doors open at 7 p.m. Thursday; fashion show begins at 8 p.m.Where: Vox Theatre, 1405 Southwest Blvd., Kansas City, Kan.Admission: $10 in advance, $15 at the door. VIP runway seating, $20; VIP table seating (10 people), $150Details: www.joplin-modelsonamission.blogspot.comTo reach Jackie Hoermann, call 816-234-4767 or send email to on Thu, Jun. 09, 2011 10:15 PMRead more:

Models to walk in benefit for Joplin