I didn’t know Jwlyfer de Winter personally.
She was a huge part of the Bay Area goth and costuming scene, before I arrived in ’97 and after. But I only saw her and drew her at events, where she was a marvelous, elegant presence in the most incredible clothes.
When I began drawing people live at events, I went to both costume events and kink events. There were TWO costumers’ groups in the Bay then, the Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild and another whose name escapes me. They had passionate rivalries and strong feelings about lots of details!
Eventually my lack of proper period wardrobe and affinity for overt freakiness led me to lean much more heavily into the Bay’s alt, kink, Burner and Goth communities (which heavily overlapped!)
Plus, I love people in fancy clothes, but I had enough making sure I got the number of pips on a uniform right when I worked on Star Trek.
In the Fall of 2005, The Greater Bay Area Costumer’s Guild held a Lord of the Rings themed dinner at a lodge in an East Bay park.
I bought a ticket and went – that was long before I got into things for free! It was a beautiful and magical candlelit night of silk and velvet and bells.
I sat next to a couple dressed as Tom Bombadil and Goldberry.
They had brought their own wooden plates and brass mugs.
As at all these events, there was dancing.
I lived for many years among people who could waltz, Lindy Hop and do the gavotte and farandole without missing a step, in clothes they had sewn themselves.
Jwlyfer was dressed as Arwen, in an incredible costume she won awards for at costume events.
She was a Presence, a regal queen surrounded by her own aura.
The most incredible, lyrically beautiful moment of the night was when Jwlyfer sang “May it Be.”
The theme song of the LOTR movies. She was haunting, ethereal, otherworldly – you could feel the charge in the air. Everyone had goosebumps.
Jwlyfer passed in April after years of painful chronic illness, but her legend will remain forever in California’s alt communities, and here in Berlin.
Her Youtube Gothic Bohemian Salon is still up, and you can visit her Pinterest boards to enjoy her exquisite taste. Her website is still up, for now – on 50megs! I hope someone in the community who knew her personally will be able to ensure her online presence remains.
These drawings had been scanned, but never posted; no online record of them existed – if we had a fire or flood they would just be gone forever.