In Second Life™ the next beach is always just around the corner, or at the very least a quick transport away. Something tells me we’re still at leas a couple of centuries removed from that type of transportation in real life, so we have to create the illusion of a quick getaway in our minds, or alternatively, find beauty in the little things in real life. As this blog is about Second Life, I’ll stick with the illusion for now.
Sapphire’s Pearl Dreams is a picturesque coastal island town that seems both full off life and yet abandoned. All the little rezzed details come together to paint an intriguing story and the whole sim is just so darn cute, you’ll definitely want to wander all over the place and investigate every crook and nook. I particularly like the relaxing lounge music that’s streaming at this sim. I know many people have there SL viewer set up not to automatically stream, but for me it’s been a way to discover new streams and music all the time. Totally unrelated to this sim: I never knew how much German hip hop is being made until discovered the stream at the Backdrop City sim. I also never knew how much I disliked German hip hop but how after a while a kind love to hate it or hate to love it. I didn’t realise how conflicted I could feel about music. But let’s get back to Sapphire’s Pearl Dreams…
This is a moderate sim so you shouldn’t get down and dirty, but there are plenty of romantic spots you can lie back and have a cuddle. The rainbow flag isn’t officially waving at this place, but unless otherwise stated I always take that for granted. If straight people are allowed to rub their “lifestyle” in my face on a daily basis, I don’t see why same sex couples should refrein from public displays of affection. I don’t particularly enjoy being in a queue just behind a couple who can’t keep their hands of each other, but I don’t see my personal qualms as a valid reason for stopping people from living their life. But I am digressing again! It’s one of those days. Anyhoo, in short: this sim has some romantic spots for hanging out with your favourite person (or people) and no area is private here, so you can stick your nose in everywhere. It’s not hard to see how this sim made the Editor’s Picks list for Second Life™ destinations. I for one had a rather therapeutic experience putting my little photoshoot together.
Sometimes skin creators in Second Life™ take inspiration from real life to create a pretty convincing look-alike avatar of a person who actually exists. I wonder if skins we don’t necessarily recognise are in fact also based on or inspired by real people. Maybe we’re all running around in SL looking like someone’s relative. Sooner or later, someone in a gasmask will ask you “are you my mommy” (that’s a Doctor Who reference that will be making a colourful stain on the wall over the heads of a lot of people, but oh well… philistines!) Birth created the Freddie skin for the Lelutka Skyler head and I immediately recognised which real life person they were emulating with this look. A Swedish football-playing and Calvin Klein underwear modelling blast from the past, Freddie Ljungberg.
If you want it to look like the poster you need to use the shape and brow shape that comes with this skin, which were made for the “dated” version of the Skyler head. You’ll find the dated version in the head’s package as a separate item that needs to be unpacked. The only thing that is “dated” about this version of the head is the rigging, in any other sense it’s up to date. Newer versions have been updated with more/different connection points to the SL bones, which means the head reacts differently to the sliders in the shape editor and shapes that look good with the dated version, will look quite weird with the updated head and visa versa.
I created my own shape for the updated Lelutka Skyler head and the Birth Freddie skin, without making any effort to make it look like Mr Ljungberg, but of course there was always going to be hint of Freddie in it. I gave him hair, which is a luxury the real life Freddie hasn’t had in quite some time now. There is something in the DNA of many blond Swedish men that makes them lose their hair quite early on, or at least that’s my best guess going by what I’m seeing in the streets of Stockholm. Now without any further ado, here are the full credits
I finally coughed up the L$5900 for Catwa’s first and so far only male “HDPRO” mesh head. The catalyst for this purchase was a new skin by Birth made for this head specifically (I am on Birth’s blogger team) and of course I always like a new mesh head to play with, especially if it has all the latest bells and whistles. It’s interesting to see that Catwa’s price point is not being affected by the, in my opinion, steep competition of Lelutka, where you can pick up one of their new “Evox” mesh heads for just L$3990. But let us not discuss the tacky matter of price and take a closer look at George.
Combined with Legacy Meshbody, this head gives you pretty much the best you can hope for when it comes to an invisible neck seam. I looked at it in default and ultra graphic settings and different windlights, with the face light switched on and off and I had to look extremely close to be able to spot a neck seam. Another improvement I noticed right away are the ears. I rather disliked the ears on older Catwa mesh heads and almost always replaced them with separate mesh ears. The problem with those is that they never really match up perfectly with the skin on the head. There’s no more need for all that faff, because not only have the ears on this new mesh head been sculpted much more carefully, you can also turn them into pixy or elf ears and rotate them. Such fun! That is just one of the many features in the new hud for this mesh head. Speaking of the hud, it can be overwhelming but Catwa has created an extensive introduction video which talks you through it, albeit in a creepy robot voice. The head shown in the video is female, but the male mesh head has the same options as far as I can see. I’ll admit that I didn’t watch the whole video myself. I like to just push buttons and see what happens. Another thing I found interesting is that the mesh eyes are now built-in. I won’t pretend that I fully understood how I got there, but I was able to apply the Avi-Glam solstice eyes and make that interact with the built-in materials of the eyes, making them look more lively. I’ll figure it out more properly sooner or later, because all of this radom button-pushing is going to result in a mushroom cloud explosion (in my mind) one if these days.
Of course I put together a complete dressed look with this head, partly as an excuse to showcase the Will outfit again Noche released some months ago. I especially love the buckle in the back of the trousers and the leather suspenders. I know that Noche’s creator got his inspiration for this outfit from a Taylor Swift video and I haven’t been able to find the SL-equivalent of the exact kind of boots the man in this video is wearing with the outfit (without clashing with the trouser cuffs), but I rather like how the Ascend Harry Long Boots look with it.
Sometimes the inspiration for a whole outfit starts with an accessory. There’s a scene in The Magicians in which Margo screams something along the lines of “I based my whole outfit on that f*cking bottle” when here emotions bottle breaks (which makes all her emotions rush back, so obviously the reaction is somewhat o.t.t.). I can’t remember the exact line as she tends to be pretty creative with swearwords, but the point is the magenta bottle was the inspiration for a whole outfit.
In the same way I’m letting myself be inspired by Noche’s newest accessory, a collar collection which is currently a gacha set at The Epiphany until August 12th. I went for a bitchin’ look (to quote yet another tv series, can you guess which one?) and had to drag an old Gacha set by Riot out of my wardrobe. I don’t wear that spiked leather jacket very often, but when I do, I make it count.
The Noche collar collection gacha is unrigged (meaning that you can stretch it to fit any (mesh) body) and comes in 16 versions: boy, boss, bottom bear, bitch, cunt, daddy, dom, papi, pup, verse, whore, slut, sub, top and without text. The rare item is an extensive hud with 26 colours for the collar and 7 metal options for th letters and buckle. As the Riot Rebel gacha set doesn’t exist in the Legacy size, the Noche collar has the added advantage of hiding the more visible neck seam on the Belleza Jake mesh body and Lelutka Evolution mesh head. You know what they say: if you can’t fix it, cover it (do “they” say that? really? who?)
Today’s therapy session takes us to Krak Bak Caye at The Sim Quarterly. You haven’t got much time left to emerge yourself in the sights and sounds of this tropical installation by creator Elizabeth Jewell, inspired by the beautiful island of Belize. On July the 25th it will be going *poof*, as that is the nature of all installations at The Sim Quarterly. This sim offers plenty of typical experiences one would expect on a tropical island, such as boating, windsurfing, paddle-boarding, sunbathing, snoozing and snorkeling. The landing spot puts you at a place where you can take a short flight to either the Resort or the Main Street, but once you’re at either of those places it’s easy enough to wade through the shallow water to get to the other side.
I really enjoyed the explosion of colour at Main Street. Sure, it’s a bit of tourist trap and those typically don’t truly reflect what a place is really about, but I’m able to see it’s charm. It’s the hustle and bustle of people trying to make a living, flogging their nick-nacks, thingamabobs and delicious seafood. Of course this is Second Life, and one should be grateful that Main Street here isn’t actually too busy and lag free.
Another charming touch are the couple of cabins at the Resort where you can just relax and enjoy the cool breeze, enjoy the view or maybe have snooze on the bed. People too often say something crass like “I sleep when I’m dead”. Personally I rather enjoy drifting off to the land of fluffy pink clouds and dreams. I can only imagine what those dreams would be like in such a tropical setting. Make sure you’ve got sounds switched on when you visit Krak Bak Caye, as you don’t want to miss out on the relaxing sound of waves crashing on the beach, birds and even the occasional low hum of a plane flying over.
I recently created some looks with the Akeruka Advanced M09 mesh had. The sad news is that this was a group gift only and the M09 head will not become part of the range at Akeruka. The good news is that the creator has been quite a busy little bee and has put out plenty of Advanced mesh heads. A while ago I bought the M05 mesh head, when it was launched at half price. It’s worth joining the Akeruka group if you like their heads, because it will keep you up to date of all the launches and you’ll know when a new head is on offer at half price. If all this makes me sounds like an official (Blogotex) blogger for Akeruka, then you’re wrong. I started blogging about Akeruka way back when they were the first ones to have a bento male mesh head and I’ve witnessed the quality of their mesh heads grow to what it is today. The great thing about the Advanced range is that Akeruka has been given permission by Lelutka to use the same UV map as the Lelutka Evolution heads, so all those lovely skins that have been created for Lelutka, now also work for the Akeruka Advanced heads.
For the M05 mesh head I went with a more Asian look, though this could be someone of mixed heritage, half Chinese and half Caucasian. I don’t like to put a label on it. I used this same skin on other heads, ending up with a much subtler hint of Asian looks. Possibly the Akeruka Advanced M05 mesh heads lends itself better to work with Asian skins.
At L$3.900 the Akeruka Advanced heads are a big chunk cheaper than the Catwa mesh heads, but only marginally less expensive than the Lelutka Evolution mesh heads. As far as the look goes, I personally feel Akeruka now mostly matches the sophistication of these other two brands, but is still lagging behind with animation, but these are not a top priority for many people. I think I can know honestly say the choice will be mostly down to personal taste and no longer based on a difference in overal quality between brands or a lack of skin options, but that’s just my opinion. Go demo the hell out of all of them. That’s my advice.
I found the NX-Nardcotix David mesh body lying around in his underpants humming Bruno Mars’ Lazy Song and I realised that it was time to do some sort of styling exercise with him again. I had to nip that behaviour in the bud. It starts out as a seemingly harmless lazy bum day, but before you know it, you’ll find him in some storage box getting up to no good with other stark naked avatars like a bunch of slutty discarded Barbie dolls. Not under my roof!
So I went to the current round of Man Cave (runs till August 11th) to look for a bottom piece in the Aesthetic / Enzo size, because when it comes to jeans, trousers and some shorts, that size often works well for the David mesh body (I may have mentioned that once or twice or a hundred times before). The Tom shorts by Imagine Moda are just what this hot Swedish summer is calling for. It’s always a plus when something can be combined with the NX-Nardcotix Darrel tank top, which thankfully is the case with these shorts. For some reason I was desperate to wear the Deadwool Espadrilles with this outfit. Sadly, these of course do not come in David’s size, none of the available sizes are a viable substitute and there is no non-rigged version included (I guess that’s gone out of style). Then I remembered that the NX-Nardcotix body has a setting, allowing you to use it with Slink feet and I actually had a pair of those in my inventory (hardly any millage on them, the previous owner was a little old lady, they’ve been in storage most of the time, you know the story). Anyhoo, I popped on the feet, toggled the setting in the HUD and hey pesto (I know it’s presto, but my magician has a lisp), I could wear the espadrilles… and I had an ugly seam on my legs. Oh well, you win some, you lose some. C’est la vie. Que sera sera. Add your own cliché here. At least I put a look together.
For this episode of Virtual Beach Therapy I didn’t discover a new beach, instead I stuck with the familiar Oost Beach, which is part of the Oost West Estate for gay men. It’s not one of those places where a big old pussy alert goes off as soon as a female avatar lands at the sim. Your female friends are welcome to visit, they just can’t rent a place… Because we don’t want you to rub your heterosexual lifestyle in our faces, deuh! Only kidding! Or am I?
Anyhoo, what’s different this time, is that I got wet wet wet. I found an applicator that works with Legacy Meshbody that makes my skin look wet. It’s the Soaked Shine 3D by This Is Wrong, which goes on the 3rd layer of the body. Once applied, you can easily toggle it on and off with a button in the body’s hud. The wet hair I’m using is by Argrace and it’s called Enju but is no longer available. Instead they now have the Natsume hair, which you can see on my elegantly carried friend. The head I’m using is the Akeruka Advanced M09 mesh head which is currently a group gift until July 15th and after that it will NOT be at the store, so depending on when you’re reading this: hurry or oh well, better luck next time. This head has a wet look option built-in, just like all the other Akeruka Adavanced mesh heads. What’s also helping with this soaked look, is the new Auryn sarong by Noche. Click on the sarong once and it goes from dry to wet, click on it again and it goes off. You can wear the Clint swim briefs and other (Noche) briefs underneath it, as long as you stick with the #2 bulge size. If you’re packing a bigger gun, it’s going to poke through. If you want to go commando and be anatomically correct underneath the sarong, you may have to shift your package backwards quite a bit, cause the thing is going to poke through the sarong willy-nilly and that’s just not a good look.
If you recently got yourself the Noche Jack Singlet, you will have noticed that the box included a looser fitting version, so you could wear a skintight top underneath it. Now Noche has launched the Jack crop vest to do just that, at the current round of Fameshed, which runs until July 27th.
Of course you can wear this with anything you like. I’ll probably show it off with the singlet at some point, but for now I headed over to Fameshed to get myself a spunky bottom to go with this daring top, so to speak. I quickly came across the new Lewis denims by Legal Insanity and decided to splash out on the megapack, because it’s the only one that included the funky embroidered and painted jeans. With Legacy Meshbody I’m yet again getting away with fitting a Noche thong underneath these denims and the funny thing about that is, while you’re actually a little bit more covered up, in a way it’s more tittilating than having butt cleavage.
I used the Akeruka Advanced M09 mesh head again, which is a group gift until July 15th and will NOT be available at the Akeruka store after that. The skin is the same one as in my previous blog post, but I’ve used another beard and mesh hair instead of just a hair base. Just a few simple changes can make big difference in SL.
Once upon a time, Akeruka gave away mesh heads at a more regular interval. It looked like most mesh heads they launched were free for a short while for group members, until they made you pay for it. Maybe that marketing strategy didn’t really work out. Now they’ve dialed it back to just one freebie a year. I think it might be to celebrate their anniversary, but that’s not clearly stated in the group notice. You do need to be in their group to be able to snatch up the head (oh, that sounds like a job at a guillotine) and the joining fee is L$ 150, but that still makes it a great bargain. Speaking of bargains, do keep an eye out for new launches at Akeruka, as the heads are often rolling at half price for the first three days or so. Basically I’m saying: join that group!
This Akeruka M09 mesh head is limited and by that I don’t mean that you can’t do much with it. Far from it! Now that all Akeruka mesh heads come with a version that uses the Lelutka UV map, you can pretty much use any skin that has been made for Lelutka Evolution mesh heads and there are tons of those available. For female heads, Lelutka has taken it a step further with the EvoX mesh heads. Whenever they launch a male EvoX mesh head and someone makes a skin for it, this will not work with the Akeruka Advanced mesh head, but that definitely doesn’t stop you from creating some really smashing good looks right here and now. The head is limited in the sense that you can only get it NOW! It’s a group gift until July 15th and after that it is Gone With The Wind, and frankly darling, you will give a damn.