The Ultimate Carnival Baby

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Saucy Diva is arguably Trinidad and Tobago’s most popular blogger.

To date, she’s had over two million visitors to her blog, Trinidad Carnival Diary, and her welcome mat just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Saucy describes her blog as “the only place on the world wide web to get current and constant information about the World’s Greatest Festival, Trinidad Carnival!”

Blame her success on consistency, content, dedication, and Carnival. With Trinis and Carnival lovers scattered all over the globe, the Internet really is her oyster, as visitors looking for information or the latest news or gossip about anything Trinidad Carnival-related flock to her site.

A true Carnival baby, born in November, she started the blog in 2006 to post photographs and chronicle her Carnival lead-up from band launching to actually playing mas, after being a member of an online forum, where fellow members, living abroad, would anxiously await her photo uploads to get a first look at costumes.

The blog eventually grew to engage discussions on topics related to Carnival. Almost four years later, with a vibrant community, and an ever-increasing fan-base, Saucy is one of the few people who get a kick out of showing people her ‘diary’.

Outlish recently caught up with Saucy to maco her business (and her blogging den). Here she talks about her spies, what she’d do if she were Minister of Carnival, and her ideal job.

 

O: Tell us about Saucy. Who is the person behind the persona?

SD: This question suggests some kind of dual personality and to me I am the same way in real life, as I am on the blog. My big mouth has gotten me in trouble many times, but I always stand up for what I believe is right, have an opinion about everything, and will argue down to having the last word when I am passionate about something. But I have to add that I do not take myself as seriously as some of the people who read my blog seem to think I do.

 

O: How does it feel to be considered somewhat of a Carnival guru?

SD: Am I a Carnival guru? I really do not consider myself as a Carnival guru, and I am always quite amused when referred to as such.

 

O: Are you as outspoken in person as you are on your blog?

SD: Yes I am, unfortunately for some!

 

‘My big mouth has gotten me in trouble many times’

 

O: Why did you decide to be anonymous?

SD: There was never a conscious decision to be anonymous. At first, I just started writing the blog and wanted it to be the genuine experience of a masquerader without getting any favours or special treatment from the mas bands. This made it easier to go unnoticed when I visited a mas camp, experience first-hand the customer service, and even speak to the band leaders, having them respond as if I was just average Jane and not the author of Trinidad Carnival Diary.

Now that some of the persons involved in mas can identify who I am (and I do know some of these people as my non-Saucy persona), it is more difficult to get that average masquerader experience, like being able to go to a band launch and not be accosted by members from certain bands asking me questions about reviews I did or even why I dislike their band, for example.

It makes life a bit complicated as well because people expect that maybe I should be easier on them because of familiarity and they take it personally when I give a less than favourable review of their costume or band.

 

O: Will “Saucy” ever be revealed to her fans?

SD: Not on the blog for sure, I will always remain as “anonymous” as I think I am. This does not mean that my fans haven’t been doing their own digging; several of them have introduced themselves to me at events and at Carnival.

 

O: When did you realise that a lot of people were actually reading and relying on your blog for Carnival information?

SD: When the emails started coming in with the questions…. lots of questions!

 

O: Is Trinidad Carnival Diary your first blog? What were some of your learning curves in taking on the project, especially when your readership started to grow immensely?

SD: Trinidad Carnival Diary is my first blog, but not my first website or my only blog. When I started blogging, it was not always apparent that I should protect my intellectual property or even how to do so.  And, no one prepares you to deal with issues that may arise with copyright, slander, libel or the legality involved in endorsing products even if you are not being paid to do so.

Because the blogging world is now gaining popularity, as a potentially lucrative area of social media, it is a learning process for sure. I now have a better understanding of the “rules of the internet”.

 

O: What’s your readership like? What’s the average monthly number of visits?

SD: Even though I write about Carnival all year there are certain peak periods where I see monthly number of page visits reach as high as 140,000, with page views more than twice that figure; these peak periods will be during “band launch season” and the months leading up to Carnival. Doing a mathematical average for the year, it is approximately 70,000 hits per month.

 

O: You’ve grown your blog through partnerships with Triniscene and other entertainment entities. Got any plans to build a Carnival media empire?

SD: Of course! There is the opportunity to cover all the Carnivals taking place both regionally and internationally for the entire year. I think it is a viable option to explore, as there is a Carnival taking place each practically each month. My ideal job would be a “Carnival Travel Blogger”!

 

O: Where do you get your information for your blog?

SD: I do lots of investigative research whether on the Internet or using my super sleuth skills – intuition, power of observation and memory of an elephant. In addition to having well placed, reliable sources, confidantes and spies, people just love to give me information.

I get anonymous tips sent via email, but more often than you would think people just love to talk and they talk to other people who I just happen to know. Trinidad is pretty small; it is very hard to keep things a secret especially from me.

 

 

‘Trinidad is pretty small; it is very hard to keep things a secret especially from me’

 


 

TrinidadCarnivalDiaryO: How do you ensure accuracy? Is that an important issue for you?

SD: Yes, I like to follow up tips or any information that I may have been privy to by consulting several persons who I can rely on to confirm any rumours that I may have heard. I want my readers to be in the loop with the accurate news of what is happening in the Carnival world and not just idle gossip and chitchat.

You can pretty much depend on me keeping you in the loop and if it is unconfirmed I do state that the rumours are allegations, take it with a pinch of salt. If I have to make a correction to something that was incorrectly posted on the blog I also do so as soon as I have the correct information to share.

 

O: We’re officially entering band launch season. What would you like to see from bands for Carnival 2011?

SD: A fresh perspective on costume design because I do believe there can be creativity in bikini mas. We just need designers to start thinking outside the box.

 

O: What advice do you have for the new bands popping up for Carnival 2011?

SD: I would leave them with a few lines to ponder from my favourite quote: The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticisms. – Norman Vincent Peale.

 

O: If you were the ‘Minister of Carnival’, what would you do?

SD: First I would over turn the ban on wee wee trucks, but put in place measures to ensure that a standard of hygiene is met for all Carnival bands offering this service on both Carnival Monday and Tuesday. I’d also:

* Establish a Masqueraders Complaints Board to take action against Carnival bands that do not offer what they have contracted to provide based on what they advertise to their masqueraders. Under this complaints board will also be a section to handle costume quality control issues, especially costumes that have problems upon collection with missing items, deviation from the prototype etc.

* Ensure that all judging points along the Carnival route have adequate media coverage so the main focus is taken away from the Savannah. There will also be a stipulation that bands choose which day they want to parade at the Savannah; each band cannot cross the Savannah stage on BOTH days. Also, split the Carnival route so that bands parade in certain areas at certain times of the day, not one behind the other.

* Band of the Year will be awarded in different categories – Traditional Mas, Artistic Mas and Contemporary (bikini and beads) Mas. Therefore, there will be three Band of the Year awards given. The criteria for categorizing small, medium and large bands by number of masqueraders will also change to take into consideration that the large bands have grown in size to the thousands. Incentives will be offered to bands wishing to start up a traditional or artistic mas band, as well as sponsorship will be given to the bands in these categories as I think we need to keep the traditional mas alive and get more designers doing artistic creations.

* Revamp the National Carnival Commission so that it gets in tune with social media (Twitter, Facebook, blogging), and use it for Carnival promotion, marketing and advertising.

 

O: What are your plans for Carnival 2011? Is there anything you plan to do differently or to up your mas game for Carnival Monday and Tuesday?

SD: At this point I am a bit cautious of making plans for Carnival 2011 because I was jaded by my experience on Carnival Tuesday 2010. I am hoping my prayers for a smaller band (my band of choice is TRIBE) are answered and that there is a costume that WOWS me.

 

O: What’s your response to people who, despite you saying that you’re unbiased, claim that you do have a bias to certain bands?

SD: I have never said that I personally was unbiased when it comes to mas bands. I have been playing with TRIBE over the last few years and as a consequence I have publicly stated that I am biased to TRIBE because of my experiences with them as a masquerader. That is not saying TRIBE is above criticism; when I have something to say about a negative experience with any band, I write about it. TRIBE has gotten their share many times.

I do try to be unbiased in publishing commentary, coverage, gossip and general newsworthy information that I have to pass along. If someone writes me with a complaint about TRIBE for instance I will publish it. Once I get information on any band, no matter if it is a small unknown band I will write about it, I believe in giving people as much information on the other options as possible. Compared to how much I write about other bands overall, the TRIBE related content much less actually.

During band launching season there is a lot of coverage on the blog about bands that launch – photographs, mas camp visits and registration information being some of the coverage. I publish as much information from the bands that I can get; some bands do not allow you to take photographs at their mas camp or may not have sent out an invitation to their band launch so there will be less coverage on bands where information is not so readily available.

However, being a masquerader in TRIBE, and having to go through all the steps from registration to collecting costumes, you will get my first person account of those experiences. I guess because of this some people will say that there is too much TRIBE coverage. If I were playing in any other band the coverage will be the same for that band; it just happens that I am a TRIBE masquerader.

 

 

‘I have never said that I personally was unbiased when it comes to mas bands’

 

O: What do you think accounts for your success?

SD: I think it is a combination of things. I write every single day, 365 days a year so there is constantly new content for people to read about and view. My content is solely on Carnival, I do not write about anything non-Carnival-related so I have created a niche as being the place to come to for anything on Carnival.

I also give masqueraders who are not physically in Trinidad information that they would not have been privy to otherwise. They especially enjoy the gossip and knowing about what is happening with Trinidad Carnival before the information is released. And finally my obsessive nature in planning my own Carnival experience has rubbed off on some of my readers, I tend to get a bit carried away in hype for Carnival!

 

O: Due to the extent of your success, do you now feel pressured to fulfil the expectations of “fans”, and how do you manage this?

SD: The only time I feel pressured to churn out a new post daily is when I am on vacation, otherwise I would be writing every day as long as I have something to say even if no one was reading the blog. Vacation is “down time” for me so I would rather not be on a laptop blogging away, so I sometimes schedule posts in advance or I just wake up early, check my email and whip up a post in five minutes before I get out and about.

 

O: Where and how do you find the time to blog? Some of your posts are like 5.30 a.m. in the morning. Just how much does blogging consume you?

SD: Surprisingly I do not take much time out of my day blogging. Writing a post is very easy; the hardest part is in research. I am a morning person, 5.30 a.m. I am already out of bed bouncing off the walls with energy. And as soon as I get information I write about it, sometimes I have something new to write about several times a day.

It also helps that I am wired to the Internet at all times; mobile, PC, Laptop, I am connected. The question should be how much does the Internet consume you. I confess; I am an addict.

 

O: When you’re not blogging – which is something that seems to take up a large portion of your time  – what is “Saucy” doing?

SD: Contrary to popular belief I do have a day job so that is what I do between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Other than that I am surfing the Internet, chatting online, shopping (online of course) and planning my next vacation. I do enjoy travelling, a good movie, the beach and socialising with my friends.

 

O: We’re seeing more blogs and entertainment sites popping up. Do you think Trinidad Carnival Diary’s success provided encouragement for that?

SD: Blogs have been growing in popularity with people who want their own little piece of cyber space to express their opinions. When I started blogging about Carnival, I was in good company with several other blogs covering Carnival as well.

Some of those blogs are no longer in existence, but new ones have come along covering even more Carnivals. While I may have provided a catalyst for the Carnival blogs I certainly cannot be credited with the popularity of other blogs with a much wider subject matter.

 

O: What are some of your favourite Trini blogs?

SD: I absolutely love reading Wuzdescene, her pictorial view and commentary of the insanity of everyday life in Trinidad is sure to make me laugh; she gives a whole new spin to reading the newspapers! My other favourites are The Chronicles of Afro Chic, Survivein Trinidad, Adventures in Tralaland and Carnival Jumbie when she updates.

 

O: What are your plans for the future?

SD: (laughing) One word: Bliss!

 

Photography by Mark Lyndersay.

 

Karel Mc Intosh

Karel Mc Intosh is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Outlish Magazine. She's also the Lead Communications Trainer at Livewired Group, where she conducts workshops in business writing, social media, and other communications areas. A real online junkie, when she isn't surfing the Internet, she's thinking about surfing the Internet. Find out more about her here or tweet her @outlishmagazine.

6 Comments

  1. Chris @ Caribbeanpot.com

    June 28, 2010 at 2:14 am

    Been reading her blog for a couple yrs now and must congratulate the author for the wealth of information that’s provided. Though at times I do find that she favors a certain “band” with the amount of coverage she gives to them, but if that’s what the audience wants..give it to them.

    Sauce your work is truly appreciated and I commend you on helping to spread the culture of the islands to a bigger audience.

  2. Afro Chic

    June 28, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Best Trini blog for days! Cover who and what yuh want yes chick, is your prerogative.

  3. wuzdescene

    June 28, 2010 at 3:22 am

    Hey Saucy …. yuh know how long I want tuh maco your business! …. thanks fuh dis interview :-)

  4. shells

    June 28, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Love the interview Sauce. And for the detractors who say yuh giving more space to one band over another, glad yuh put it as you did (@Chirs: read over SD’s response to the question “O: What’s your response to people who, despite you saying that you’re unbiased, claim that you do have a bias to certain bands?”)

  5. Anonomus97

    July 22, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Her blog is one of the GREATEST Trinidadian blogs of ALL TIMEs ! But i think TRIBE is OVER Highlighted on the blog !! She loves to bash bands in her chatbox saying *Who is 36 and playing in R&C or Wee or Legacy * Look the blog is good but do not be bashing other bands

  6. Admin

    October 30, 2010 at 4:48 am

    Hi Karel,

    Great article and keep up the good work from http://www.trinidadcarnivalexperience.com

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