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By Julie Garisto
Published February 22, 2008
If you don't get what's cool about scrapbooking, glue guns and sweaters studded with fake gems, clearly you haven't met Leslie Hall.
The 26-year-old cult sensation from Iowa - one of VH1's top Internet celebrities of 2007 thanks to her viral web videos - makes her Tampa Bay debut on Friday at Crowbar in Ybor City, performing in support of her new CD, Cewebrity.
Hall began her unconventional trip to stardom by showing off her collection of crafty, handmade faux gem sweaters online, which she also showcases on the road in an RV (which, sadly, is broken down right now). The oddball obsession inspired Gem Sweater, a tune that proclaims her as "keeper of the gems."
The Midwestern mom shtick doesn't end there. Hall welcomes fans for a chat into her cyber home at leslieandthelys.com, where she showcases drawings and photos as if the World Wide Web were her fridge door. There, devotees pay homage to Hall's musical act, Leslie and the Lys (pronounced "lies") by aping her big '80s up-do hairstyle, deadpan backup singers and oversize glasses.
When it comes to her tunes, the art school graduate is no frump. Hall's vocal delivery can go from the operatic to the rap-tastic, a style that rolls the Beastie Boys, Cher and Frank Zappa into one groovealicious package.
In her videos, she romps around town, does a robot dance, fights off animated villains and pops and locks with a beat box. Her words are as clever - "You get me hotter than a stick of hot glue, and I'm scrapbooking everything we do" - as her flow is smooth. She makes an art form out of the everyday - flea market couture, sci-fi pop trivia and Saturday nights at Dairy Queen.
Considering Hall's fun and unique take on life, we asked her to share her pearls, er, gems of wisdom.
Dressing for success: "For me it's a personal touch that allows me to dress for success. As in handcrafted wearables and thrift-store unique finds. I myself make a lot of my clothes, mostly out of spandex and Jo-Ann Fabrics' bargain bins. I tend to make a lot of one-piece outfits; that way I don't have to deal with zippers and elastic. It's so nice to know that I won't run into anyone else with the same outfit."
Recommended exercise: "I love to burn my calories at the dance clubs or walkin' the mall. When I'm at the club, I wear my good running shoes and lots of mesh to absorb the sweat, and my shoes keep my arches up and airy! When I'm walking the mall I stay in the speed lane, and dodge those Gap sacks, and I always keep my eyes on the prize: THE PRETZEL STAND KIOSK!"
Balanced diet: "On my plate, you're gonna find the same thing every day: beans, tofu and cheese. I'll tell you what I balance - vitamins. I take a SuperFood powder scoop in a glass of water every day. I think when we live in space or live on boats on the ocean, like in Waterworld, we probably will be living off SuperFood powders and recycling our urine into drinking water."
Getting a good night's sleep: "My TV puts me to sleep like a baby in a blanket. Nothing like the show Intervention - about methheads and crack addicts - to put me to sleep and dream my dreams of wonder."
Family relations: "Distance makes the love strong. Keep your disgust and disappointment to yourself. Spend a $20 minimum on their birthday and Christmas gifts."
Maintaining a fun and positive support system: "No matter how much I wanna talk about my gold suits, my new dance moves or my new album, I ask friends and family about what they are up to. No matter how painful that discussion might be."
The right attitude: "Be thankful. Be nice. Be happy. Dance away the hurt, and eat away the pain."
Leslie and the Lys
Catch the gemtastic performer with Super Secret Best Friends, Flexxehawk, Ricky Diamond and Ryan Wendell Bauer, at 9 p.m. Friday at Crowbar, 1812 N 17th St., Ybor City. $8. 18 and older admitted. (813) 241-8600.
[Last modified February 19, 2008, 15:47:07]