For Pride 2023, I released the track and accompanying music video “VILENCE”. This is a video that I directed and filmed. I had one day of prep and no budget.
This video is about a gang of queer anarchists who worship a god of violence. They offer flowers to the possessed totem of their god. The flowers are grown in the blood of their fascist enemies whom they saw apart while living. They fetishize crude weapons and party and plot their crimes of queer resilience and retribution in a flower-laden lair.
It is dedicated to the real life groups of queer anarchists who do stand in violence for LGBTQ rights.
The song lyrics discuss the ongoing trans genocide in this country and beg an answer to the question, “What will you do when your friends are in the ground?”
The music video for TEAR UP was my reaction to the Wi Spa controversy. It was directed by Frances Orr, a trans individual who was at Wi Spa in support of trans rights.
This video was a rage and joy laden defiantly mocking depiction of what the bigots thought transpired at Wi Spa.
It is set in a spa.
In the video I whip spa goers with an 8 foot long scorpion cock.
This video is loathed by the bigots and that pleases me.
In July 2021, as a result of the notoriety and fame I gained being an activist streamer, I was accused of a non-crime in a viral hoax. An actor's reaction video went viral, with her hysterical about there being a “man” in the women's section of Wi Spa, a LA Korean spa. In California, trans people are allowed to use the bathroom and spa section of their gender and this should have been a non issue and it happens all the time without problem. Nevertheless, the reaction video was sensational and went viral. Because of my mere visibility as a trans activist, I was falsely labeled as the “man” in the spa.
This went so viral that it was covered on national news for a week with the biggest news shows talking about it nonstop. This was the start of the current moral panic about trans people. It led to hundreds of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ laws being pushed through at the state and local level. At this time in December 2023, the Republican presidential candidates all rant about the trans menace and how they'll put us in camps or outright kill us.
I received thousands of hate messages online, death threats of people holding guns, callers telling me they were coming to kill me. I began carrying a gun. On social media I responded defiantly and some people- queer anarchists rallied to my support. Institutions like the LGBTQ center of LA and supposed LGBTQ-ally council people did and said nothing.
Right wing fascist hate groups organized protests of Wi Spa, directly rallying people against me. LAPD supported them. The queers anarchists organized counterprotests. On July 3rd and July 17th there were riots and brawls in the streets. There were attempted murders with multiple people stabbed, some beaten with sticks, many fistfights. 40 LGBTQ advocates were arrested. These were the most violent LGBTQ protests of the 21st century.
Until this point in my life, nobody had ever directly advocated for my rights, stood up for me for the color of my skin, my mixed race, my girlish looks and soft skin. I had never connected with any queer community and experienced life as a brown queer artist without a support system that acknowledged or understood my circumstances.
On a day that I thought I might die, my friends did not show up at Wi Spa to stand with me. But people with their faces hidden flying the black flag did.
I will never forget this. Wi Spa was not my art. But it changed me as an artist. It connected me deeply, as deep as life and death. It connected me with people that stand against power with all the hate in their battered hearts.
I had always been interested in making political art but it always felt impersonal to me. Wi Spa connected me to the bottom of the world- to humanity. Not to the lie of money. Not to the lie of fame and clout. But to real power. The power in the bonds that lie between us. People are hypnotized by false power- domination over others. They are the enemy, and they are lost fools.
Since Wi Spa, my art speaks this.
“I ERASE THIS” was my private name for one of my most unconventional works. In 2020 and 2021, I live streamed the Los Angeles racial justice movement on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. My real time footage was of the marches in the streets, the speakers, the words of the families and friends of those that were murdered by the police. I saw the blood in the grass of Anthony McLain. Blood on the sidewalk and the body of Dijon Kizzee which had been left there for the neighborhood to see. I was a protestor and a reporter. And I was a racist.
On May 30th, I was at home. The George Floyd uprising had just begun but I thought it had nothing to do with me. So I was at home. I was working on a song when I heard a large number of people yelling in unison. They were on a march. It was so close to me that I decided that I had to go see what was going on in my city. I grabbed my hyrbid video/photo camera, a compact zoom lens, and ran and caught up with the march. It had come to stop at Pan Pacific Park in the Fairfax District. Shit was going down.
There were several thousand people on Beverly. I know because I counted them. As a performing artist, it's a compulsion via necessity to deal with exploitative promoters. At Stanley Ave, there were people kneeling before a line of LAPD cops in riot gear. This was back when people thought that the only thing that was needed to stop the police from incessantly murdering people was to ask nicely. More cops were on the rooftop of Etz Jacob synagogue. One sniper swept their rifle across the crowd, including at me. The cops were saying that people needed to leave. I started taking pictures. Immediately following that, I was teargassed. Fleeing to a side street, I aided someone else that had been gassed with water.
People panicked from the tear gas. It hurts. It's worse than onions; it gets in your lungs, causes lingering respiratory problems, birth defects. LAPD then began shooting rubber bullets at the crowd. I myself got shot. I was just there to take pictures though. I wasn't even protesting, didn't give a fuck about the cause. I had and have no criminal record, not even points on my drivers license. I am a martial artist and had even made friends with several cops at the gym.
People weren't throwing rocks at the police- that part of fairfax is a shopping district. They were fleeing. LAPD fired more tear gas and rubber bullets and began to advance. Then, the riot started. Enraged, people began smashing windows and and setting fire to trash cans. We all fled. All of us, victims of indiscriminate harm and none of the cops faced repercussions for their inhumane cruelty.
That day deeply enraged me. By societal standards, I was a righteous citizen of the city. Despite this, I had been brutalized. So, I joined the uprising.
Across hundreds of marches and protests, I came to understand that I was not only a perpetrator of systemic racism, but I also came to acknowledge that I had also been a victim of it. I perpetuated systemic racism by enabling and directly supporting white supremacy in broad ways. I also had been specifically and directly racist with use of the n* word, mocking AAVE, making racist jokes with friends.
It was via kneeling and listening to Black voices day after day that I saw that Black people had won the rights that I, a brown mixed race person enjoyed. They won my rights by blood and death. That they had also won the rights that I, a queer person enjoy- also by blood and death. I came to deeply respect and appreciate their persistence in an leering world that is bent against them. So I marched and yelled and took photos and video and most of all, listened.
On July 28th, for the first time, I decided to live stream a protest in Beverly Hills. Everyone ended up getting arrested without resistance and that included me. Out of 40, I was the last person arrested and I was live until they cuffed me. Several hundred thousand people were watching my live stream. They were enchanted by the peacable and venerated nonviolent actions of all of us, as well as my own.
Immediately following that, I developed an audience of tens of thousands. I am disgusted by the blatant and often exploitative profiteering around live streaming, and decided to do more with my streams. I began “I ERASE THIS”. On the streams, I functioned as an aggravated reporter and explained the circumstances around each specific protest, the local politics, and the formal and informal legal mechanisms that granted police thorough immunity to prosecution. LA news wasn't doing this. They didn't cover protests. They were too dangerous. I was one of perhaps 5 racial justice street reporters in the entire city.
On these streams, in front of thousands, I also confronted my racism. This was humiliating to admit to the camera and I felt wet shame. I did this as part of a personal antiracist practice. I also did it because I had the mic and knew that I had caused direct harm to others and myself. I didn't want to apologize but to recognize. “I'm sorry” is perpetually cheap. Understanding and contemplation is not. In becoming part of a racist system, I erased my own misdeeds, profited from them. I no longer wanted to become a racist. So I became an antiracist, and after years, today, I will say that now, I am no racist.
I marched and streamed and protested. I was arrested several times, brutalized many more. I am recovering from PTSD- many days I couldn't stop shaking after a march. I saw people get hit deliberately by cars. I saw people bleeding, unconscious or disfigured after being rubber bulleted. I saw friends getting held on the ground getting punched in the face by cops, getting smashed with riot shields. I walked with and was sheltered by gang members whose friends had been killed for the crime of running from the cops. I wrote a song mocking the LASD's yellow crowd control fence. I blocked roads and highways and harassed the DA and the mayor. I was and am an activist.
This was all public, on the internet. This was art. The art was me, an artist becoming a reporter for the common cause of the people and being part of the story. The art was the public transformation of myself from a racist into a non racist. It was utterly self-effacing and thoroughly generating. I do not erase this.
For Art Basel, the world's premiere international art fair I made an experiential installation titled DIVINITY.
This was at the time of the now-Supreme-Court-Justice Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings. The hearings were sensational, with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, a laureled professor accusing him of sexual assault. Her accusation prompted other women to share that they too had been assaulted by Kavanaugh. Social and traditional media was saturated with his contorted face and interviews with the accusers.
Reactions were divided by political affiliation. Him being a Trump backed nominee, Conservative Republicans believed he was innocent or that what he was accused of was inconsequential. Liberal Democrats believed he was a criminal.
Although I am a political artist, I am not a Democrat or a Republican. Let it be known that I am an Anarchist.
I was revolted.
Amidst everyone's roaring self-righteous opinions about the circumstances, I perceived that there were actual victims. Either the women were SA victims, or Kavanaugh was a victim by false accusation. Only those people know what happened but the outrage money machine of media demanded that everyone pick a side. Opinions are free. We're taught that opinions are a form of prayer and that prayer is effective action. It is not.
It was entertainment and nobody was paying but the victims.
I coated the floor of the gallery space with roses and then placed translucent plastic over them. As the guests of the show entered the gallery they were greeted on early days by rose fragrance, and on later days by rose rot. The roses were crushed beneath their shoes.
On the walls, upon plaques were more roses encased in resin while fresh. They too rotted during the installation. I built a tunnel two feet high off the ground and six feet wide out of plywood and placed it against the wall. On the wall at the end of the tunnel I mounted a TV that played a loop of flowers being burned to dust. To view the video, the voyeur and culprit had to pay a price. They had to get down on their hands and knees and feel the thorns through the plastic to watch to beautiful footage. In the gallery played my 14 minute sound piece, “DIVINE”.
My gallery statement follows:
“DIVINITY is about the private and public experiences of abuse, illuminating the lasting effects and the metamorphosis of private trauma into a public phenomenon. In DIVINITY, all gallery spectators are complicit. Sheet plastic insulates petals and flowers underfoot. When you leave, the flowers are crushed but your shoes are clean. Flowers are immaculately frozen in acrylic resin while fresh so you can witness their decay without mess. Mixed in with the truth of injury is the cheapness of lies; synthetic flowers mingle in. They don’t wilt, they don’t crush. The honest rot of the petals and buds is also contaminated by floral perfume. Keep it pleasant for the audience. There is a film in a clean tunnel but there is a price to watch it. You pay with your body but your shoes are clean. Spectate upon the flowers, watch each story. Go ahead, lie down. It’s ok, these roses had all their thorns removed. Watch it all and then stroll out as the flowers pop under your feet; it’s free for you.”
This music video was the first of multiple collaborations with the LA artist Cade, director of this video. We worked on the concepts and themes together, with them making the CGI and editing. We both operated the camera over three days of filming. Budget was nonexistent. The video consists of scenes of performance art, sexual body horror, and CGI.
We prepared for the shoot with discussions over many days. We had similar esoteric views and sexual interests. We also had intensely existential personalities. Both of us had fascinations with transgressing physical norms in search of stimulation.
I prepared for the shoot by food fasting for a week and water fasting for three days. I wanted to be empty.
The first day, Cade captured my key lip synch performances. Cade had taken LSD which amplified the drama around me eating their blood. That night I encased my face in Saniderm film and filled it with xanthan gum mixed with blood. Cade filmed that too.
The second day, I filmed their saran wrap encased body being cut open with a scalpel. I then filmed cables in their chastity-belt-enclosed vagina. It was my idea for them to contract, making the cables pulse. That day I also filmed them performing plastic surgery preoperative markings on their body. The third day, we filmed the observation center masturbation scene where the cables replaced my penis and the mouse ball replaced a clit. That day I also drew my blood and poured it in my eyes. Blood has the same pH as tears. Remember this when your eyes feel dry.
The music video for My Little Problem (Violet Door) was my first overtly political work. We made the video in November 2016 and the U.K. had just banned vaginal ejaculation from porn. Cade made porn and pointedly included a moment where they squirted on the cables at the end of the video.
The video was strongly received with over half a million views across platforms and premiered on PASTE Magazine (pdf).
I have a lot more that I can say about the video and why we did what we did, but I don't want to.
I'm more interested in what you think about it than what I have to say about this particular work.
PHANTOM was the first time I had work go viral over controversy. PHANTOM is the opening track on my album “TRAPPED”. It's not a song, it's a statement about the infinite mystery and according terror of identity. Despite being with ourselves our entire lives, much of who we are is invisible to us. I believe that we lack the technology in depth of language to accurately characterize motivation behind choice, beyond perception.
PHANTOM states that one can see beyond one's flesh and discover the shape of the invisible via extreme stimuli.
I remember writing and recording the track at 4AM on December 28th, 2016. I was aghast and thrilled.
I made a simple video that captured performative movement in front of the camera and edited it with frame repeats, loops, and strobing flashes.
Released on valentines day, against my following of 5000, it went viral on Facebook, with 200K views and hundreds of comments. On Instagram, the video (in pre-reel days) got over two million views and thousands of comments. Some people loved it, and even more experienced it as some type of satanic spell- which it is not. I disavow satanism, both Lavey sataism and Church of Satan satanism. Both are like major religions- sniveling greedy scams.
Via people tagging their friends, the video found its way to fundamentalist religious circles who felt it was too dangerous to be allowed to exist. They mass reported my account and the crusade was won. Despite being well within the policy guidelines of Instagram, my account @preciouschild was deleted.
Note that PHANTOM has no nudity, no violence, no spooky symbols, not even a curse word. The words have nothing to do with religion or politics.
I feel good. Being an artist is an incredible experience. You break the rules of the world and the world breaks its own rules in response.
My most beloved song, "My Little Problem (Violet Door)" has several million plays across all platforms.
The story of this song is quite ancient. When I was a kid, I was known as the tough one; I never cried when I fell. The truth is that my childhood was notably filled with all sorts of abuse and I dealt with this by repressing my feelings completely. In spite of repression, my emotions of despair and self-loathing persisted and manifested in aggressive self harm. As a young adult, it was via art that I explored and characterized my hatred and complete disappointment in life.
I made a pact with my demon. I would bind myself to it. I would feed it my blood in order to possess the entirety of self. The lyric in the song “You'll be the master, you'll be the slave” refers to this. I suffered, but I lived, and I dwelt in my pain until I not only came to understand it, but until it was no longer generative for me to experience.
The inventor of MDMA and hundreds of psychoactive and psychedelic compounds, Alexander Shulgin stated “our entire universe is contained in the mind and spirit. We may choose not to find access to it, we may even deny its existence, but it is indeed there inside us”. My Little Problem is about the world that was alive inside me, and discovering it at all costs. I have no scorn for psychedelics but I am proud that I did so without them.
The confrontational emotional self-discipline I developed has been essential to my art. It has led me to boldness such as my activism as well as extended durability in times of suffering.
When I released this track, I was contacted by hundreds of people and still am. They expressed resonance with the song and alluded experience and process. Delving far into my waters to attain emotional self mastery was, is the most potent solo spiritual experience of my life. It was amazing for me to find that others experienced similar. I was so glad that for some, self understanding was not motivated by curiosity, but by necessary compulsion.
This melodies of this song were played on a hybrid synthesizer. The song contains unrecognizable samples from Peter Jackson's movie “Meet the Feebles”.
I recorded this song 11 years prior to its release.
Listen on streaming services:
ESCAPE is an album I wrote for the Neil Gaiman biopic film “Dream Dangerously". I have long enjoyed his deviant fantasy writing so this was a treat. This was composed in a style resembling that of his Sandman graphic novel. It was visually notable for having over ten artists across 75 issues, each with a distinct technique.
Accordingly, I approached each piece of music on ESCAPE with a different sonic palette and stylistic manner. An unifying characteristic was my use of sonic gradients. Imagine a color gradient where one color is blended into another. On this album, I did the same thing with sound, crossmixing and automating the evolution of themes and textures.
Most contemporary popular music is highly structured, with clear-cut sections and distinct textures. Although I do not appreciate or respect noise music as an art form (it is lazy, uninformed, and only deserves a dismissive parenthetical as an explanation), I did utilize the genre's disrespect for structure.
The visual art for this is a self-shot image. I stood against a black background and then turned on my temporal echo machine. This created the radiant afterimages as well as 3D appearance.
This video was my first step into motion picture art. It was the year 2014, I had recorded my first Precious Child album “Bloody Knees”, and I wanted a music video to support the lead single. I called and emailed various production houses asking for ballpark quotes. I was horrified. None of them were below $20,000. I was an independent, unfunded band and did not have the money.
Art is strangely tied to technology. Even essential forms of expression that only rely on the body such as dancing, and singing rely on technology. Technology is knowledge, applied. A deliberate pattern of movement or a pattern of vocalizations require knowledge.
2014 coincided with the rise of a new technology- DSLR videography. This tech allowed for non-motion-picture-studio-budget projects to attain excellent cinematic quality at low costs. Per the advice of a cinematographer friend of a friend that I came to work with later, I purchased a Canon camera and a set of Rokinon budget lenses that I still use.
The technical aspects of filming are comparatively easy to learn. But creating communicative images is difficult. When I was a teen, fortunately, I took a videography class at school. The basics stuck with me and forever changed my eye.
Unlike many artistic disciplines, with film, you can develop your artist-film-brain in every day circumstances. What's going on with light in the moment? What is the framing that you perceive in a certain perspective? How does ordinary human behavior and interaction communicate action? These are things I perpetually consider.
So, knowing how to look through the viewfinder and perceive, I cast my script, and assembled the production team of my drummer. Together, we built a void, a water tank. We figured out the action, practical FX, blocking, and camera moves long before our actress got on set.
We shot over three days at four locations, I edited it, and we released the video. Success!
On the vision:
Originally, the entire video was going to be shot in slow motion, but this posed both an editing and performance problem. Test footage was unconvincing. I recalled the deliberate slowness of Japanese Noh performance. It also looked quite distinct in the camera at 24fps.
Thematically, the subject matter of suicide still resonates with me. Since I was 11 I have wanted to die. I found and make reasons to live, but pain and trauma lasts. Even though I live, over various years, I committed slow suicide via personally invalidating behavior, reckless lifestyles, and by being cruel in my relationships. Similar to the protagonist in the video, I lie with darkness and have suffered much for it.
This said, today, I would not approach the topic as literally as I do in this work. In the manner of Noh, I would like to see deliberate symbolism in the minimalism. This said, reviewing “I Fall”, I still find it appealing and am quite proud of my first video. The density of the visual simplicity and charismatic performance are winning and it is primordially dark.
Having no prior experience with film, making this video opened a door inside me. I found the entire experience to be joyful and extraordinarily fun. It opened doors with others as well, leading to numerous collaborations.