The last thing Shirley Payne wanted to do while in high school was sew.
“Instead of getting a summer job, I got to learn how to use the sewing machine,” Payne says.
Now, it’s her livelihood. In the last six years of running her home-based costume designing business, Glitter and Glamour, the Woodrow Wilson High School graduate has used those lessons to create costumes for the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders dance team, a Miss Oklahoma pageant winner, famous DJ’s, national body building title holders, the kids in Color Guard, and the drill teams over at Woodrow and Highland Park High schools.
During her time as part of the Class of ’65, Payne did more than learn to sew as preparation: She danced, twirled and “pretty much did it all. I was in a group called the Dallas Stars and won several national and world titles. I was Miss Majorette of Texas,” she says.
“[Designing] is very challenging. First of all, we ask if you have a design, find out what you like, and then determine what the costume is for,” Payne says. Then, what type of music will the contestant use? What would go with her skin color? Body type? It makes a difference because costumes are made differently.
“And in the world we deal with, style doesn’t matter.”
It is indeed a world with its own orbit, one in which Payne doesn’t have to do much advertising since the people who attend competitions are a very tight-knit group. Over the years, they will see each other at any number of events throughout the south and swap trade secrets, such as her contact information.
“Someone’ll see someone and say: Oh, who made your costume? Shirley Payne from Glitter and Glamour. Here’s her phone number.”
Since Payne has been in the beauty and twirling worlds for so long, people aren’t surprised when they see her sitting behind the judge’s desk as opposed to backstage helping out with fittings, as she is wont to do sometimes. This summer saw her on the judging panel at the national and world championship twirling competitions.
“Everyone knows how many hats I wear,” Payne says.
Admittedly, she has a difficult time not looking at the costumes a contestant is wearing, “especially if it’s not well done,” she says.
But for the woman who learned how to sew at her mother’s knee, Payne is pained (if you will) to admit that while she has managed to impart a bit of her passion to her two daughters – one made extra money teaching dance throughout college, the other was an eight-time national twirling champion who now teaches – “one daughter can sew on a button, and the other would use masking tape,” she says, laughing. “They do not have the desire.”
That leaves her and four helpers at Glitter and Glamour to dress the ranks from fall through spring, the high season for competitions of this nature. After that, you can typically find Payne at her husband’s studio, John Payne Photography. Interestingly enough, it was in an effort to help Shirley with her last business – the 28-year-old Allison Academy of the Arts studio, a dance and twirling school – that the photography studio became a part of their lives.
“About 30 years ago, John had been furloughed from the airlines, and we needed someone to take photos for us. How hard can it be? I thought. Well,” she says ironically, “little did I know.”
By giving her husband something to do during his “off season” all those years ago, he has given her something to do during hers.
Just one more endeavor where Shirley Payne got more than she bargained for. *
Isn’t It Fantastic? by Anne McDonald Davis
“I’ve loved Halloween since I was a little kid,” says Pamela Sedmak, neighborhood artist and head of Fantastic Fangs, which makes professional hand-carved costume teeth – everything from Austin Powers to tusks to, by far the most popular of all, Dracula’s trademark choppers. Although Sedmak’s customers include actors, musicians, circus performers and filmmakers, her busiest time of year is this month and the bulk of her orders still come from party goers.
Sedmak makes her product out of dental acrylic, which won’t irritate gums, and takes impressions like a dentist would in order to fashion a retainer or dentures.
“They’re a work of art – no two sets are alike. My dad is a dentist and I worked for him for years – obligatorily,” laughs Sedmak. “He wanted me to be a dentist, but I stuck to my art. The fang business was a fluke because about 10 years ago, I asked him: Couldn’t I make some fangs? He said: Sure, you know what to do. So I wore them and people went crazy wanting to know where to get them.”
Sedmak says her little nippers really aren’t meant for little nippers: “Their mouths aren’t developed – this is pretty much adult fun.”
At a cost of $125 for a basic pair of vampire fangs, most parents would agree.
“But I have lots of toys for the kids to play with and they seem to enjoy watching their parents getting fitted … with the trays in their mouths, they can’t say anything for awhile.”
Although Sedmak has been introduced to luminaries like Gary Oldman, who played Bram Stoker’s Dracula and to best-selling horror novelist Anne Rice – who said Sedmak’s fangs were “simply divine” most of her contacts are with ordinary folk who hear of her by word of mouth, so to speak. The scary tooth merchant says she’s “never had a bad experience with a customer” and that her civilian clientele runs the gambit from “students to nurses to librarians to housewives to a lot of couples, which is always fun. My oldest client was 70 – he wanted to surprise his wife on their anniversary.” (She didn’t ask him to explain.)
She has also fitted a number of lawyers with vampire fangs, which she says “is totally appropriate … and you can quote me on that.”
Sedmak’s setting up most of her Halloween appointments at Z Café. She stresses that fittings are “by appointment only, 214-821-7478.”
Looking forward to the end-of- the-month fun here, Sedmak says: “I adore my neighbors and my neighborhood” and that she thinks dressing up in costume is “very liberating.”
She says: “I think Halloween has gotten a bad rap – it can be the one night, especially for kids, when nothing is real-life scary because everything is funny, ‘pretend scary’. A couple of years ago when I took some little girls trick-or-treating … oh my gosh, they loved it.” *
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