Thursday, November 21, 2013

Torture before murder - the death of living art

 Monday morning I woke up early with the intent of transcribing an interview done with a very bright spirited artist, instead I'm writing an obituary.  According to a series of tweets from Jonathan Cohen/Meres One, the present owners of the warehouse complex in Long Island City found a way to kill dreams and spirits.  With a whole lot of white paint and apparently an equal amount of police protection, 5 Pointz was beaten and stripped, left for dead.  Meres says that this morning all the exterior walls are stark white.

Dear Goddess I wish I had the money to pack my bags and move to Europe.  If I hear one more "patriot", "real American" aka Redneck asshole yell "We're number one" while fist pumping, I think I'm going to resort to physical violence.  For sure I will reply "No! No we're not! At least as long as jerks like you and corporate money grabbers are steering the culture of this country.  It's interesting, when I interviewed an Eastern European street artist, he reminded me that graffiti as art is one of the few things that the United States can claim as native culture (post Caucasian arrival).  Street painting was born here.  But just like our great music of the last thirty or so years, artists have to take it overseas for it to be appreciated.  

Dear skin heads, red necks, pearl clutchers, Tea Partiers, "middle America" what is your thing with wanting a country full of boring architecture, giant chain discount stores, awful music, cheesy movies and complete disinterest in visual art?  You want all women still dressed like June Cleaver and all males are supposed to be dude bro, knuckledraggers who drink lousy, corporately brewed beer while yelling at some sport on TV every weekend?  You find it revolting if a man chooses a career in the arts or sciences.  Most of you never travel beyond the borders of your states.  If you do go to New York, Boston or L.A., you wander around with your mouths open only visiting the tourist traps.  You take in the Broadway show that is getting the most media attention.  Do you know there is something called "off-Broadway"?  Did you know not all plays are musicals?  Have you ever taken yourself downtown and checked out all the cool boutiques, gardens and galleries?  Of course not. You all bolt for the closest chain restaurant because it's safe while mom & pop eateries that make superior, more creative food are suffering. You have no idea what the true personality of any of these cities are.  None at all. 

Gods forbid you would ever travel abroad.  Did you know that most European and Japanese kids have passports before they are old enough to walk?  In the U.S. most of us will die without ever having a passport.  

Safe is boring.  Safe does not expand your mind.  You will die only slightly more educated than when you were born.  The truth is is that you're too scared of truth and progress.  Corporations and big money keep you that way and you like it.  It's too easy to sit on the couch, in your safe little house and bitch and moan about all the horrible people in America...all the people who aren't just like you.  Did you know that your "god", my Divine Creator, made each and every one of us different for a reason and it wasn't to make yourself feel better by putting someone else down.  Yes, street artists are different from you.  Most of them work at night.  They can't take safety measures because people like you parrot the "its vandalism" song.  But their art is that important to them, needs to get out of them that bad that they are willing to risk their lives to paint.  I pray every day that corporations don't succeed in turning this country into a bunch of wooden, glass and steel boxes.  The more they can keep things the same, the safer you feel while they take over your life, your country.  You left your balls back in the 60's.  

So last night your apathy and fear resulted in the death of probably the only living aerosol gallery in the country.  With police protection but no permits, the owners of 5 Pointz renigged on their invitation to street artists again all for the all mighty dollar.  The steel and glass towers that will be built are just more of the "gentrification" of New York City. In the beginning, giving NYC a make-over consisted of try to hang onto to some of it's old beauty-sandblasting and renovating brownstones and other historic structures.  But not it just seems to be more and more homogenizing, tear down and put up more gray boxes.  This project is not only not necessary but more of the stripping away of New York City's heart and making it look like every place.  At least my son and I have our visit to 5 Pointz to carry in our hearts forever and also have many photos.  But future generations won't have that.  I hope the people who manage the street art project in Little Italy can provide spaces for more artists and other building owners around the five boroughs will open their walls to these painters and writers.  Our children, their children and on and on NEED art.  It is part of what makes us human.  It is our very souls in a tangible form that we share with the world.  Rest In Peace 5 Pointz.  You were a strong and beautiful being.  I am honored to have gotten to know you and will miss you dearly.   

Friday, November 8, 2013

Rahab - the Princess behind the Prince

In researching my first interview with Joshua Titchkosky/Prince Puja, I discovered his fierce alter ego, who he explains is his twin sister, Rahab.  It's taken me all this time to put together questions that I felt would do this phenomenal girl justice and allow her to really help people to get to know her better.

Joshua has told me that your a his sister. Are you older or younger?

We're identical twins but he's a couple minutes older.

Indian spirituality embraces reincarnation and past lives.  Have you two been family or friends in the past?

I think we've been together through most of our past lives... husband+wife, lovers, brother and sister, mother and son, father and daughter, etc. Eternally connected.

Which one of of you is a bigger inspiration on the other fashion-wise?

To be honest, I want to say that it's pretty equal. (Ok, maybe I think I inspire him a little more but shhh.) Our styles really play off of each other a lot. We kind of do the things that the other wouldn't. I feel like together we could wear anything. Sometimes I'm feminine and he's masculine or vice versa. We just like to play dress up and have fun!

Who are some of your fashion muses?

I have so many. I'm constantly inspired by everyone around me... friends, strangers, celebrities, icons, etc. But to name a few more well known people... Isabella Blow, Daphne Guinness, Grimes, Kirsten Dunst, MIA, Tilda Swinton, Lady Gaga, Yolandi Visser.

Do you have a drag mother?

Puja is my drag brother!

You seem to embrace a more androgynous esthetic. Any particular reason for that choice?  (Personally I've come to appreciate this style. I love people like Raja and Jeffree Star and their "the rules are there are no rules" approach)

I believe that everyone has masculine and feminine energy in them and it's just a matter of how you choose to express it. Sometimes I express my femininity more and sometimes my masculinity. I feel that it's really empowering to just embrace the way you truly feel in a moment and live that out to it's fullest. So for me, sometimes that means putting on a suit and sometimes that means putting on a dress. But it almost always means putting on a pair of killer heels.

People like Raja and Jeffree Star were my biggest inspirations when I first starting exploring and discovering myself. That individuality and fearlessness is what I try to live in my own way every day.

In a follow-up round Rahab and I talked a bit further about Jeffree and Raja's roles in her life.  I especially loved what she had to say about Jeffree "Jeffree is so amazing because she just doesn't give any fucks. I applaud anyone who can be themselves amongst the sea of basic bitches."

What's the biggest difference between yours and Puja's personalities?  What's your biggest pet peeve with him?

I think I'm just a little louder and more outgoing. I really could give less fucks about what people think of me and my look/attitude/lifestyle/whatever. Sometimes he's so shy! I wouldn't even say it's a pet peeve but sometimes I just wish he would speak up a little more and be a little more aggressive/forward.

What's that one thing guaranteed to make you belly laugh?

Paris & Nicole in The Simple Life. It just never gets old! Haha.

Are you a hopeful romantic and relationship realist?

The only two relationships I truly care about are the one with Puj and the one with myself. I have romantic relationships with every person I meet and I'm very realistic about the fact that every person I encounter is my soul mate.

Suzie Homemaker or Party Girl?

Party Girl. Sometimes I dream of me being a cute little housewife but then I just imagine putting mollies in the punch and serving mints for lunch. Maybe not a bad idea? You can take the girl out of the party but you can't take the party out of the girl!

Movie night.  Will it be action-adventure, horror or comedy?

I just like movies with great characters, great stories, great visuals and great soundtracks. It's kind of like life...there are action moments, comedic moments and horrifying moments but they all make up part of the story. Sometimes I'm not very into the darker stuff but it's interesting to explore because there is darkness (and light) in each of us.

L.A. or NYC?

I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't been to NYC yet =( But I do love LA! So many amazing, talented people here. And it's just very laidback and free.

Anything at all that you want to include. I want to tell your story.

I just want to say that I feel so lucky to be able to share my story and I just want to tell everyone who reads this that I love you and I think you are beautiful and amazing and talented and if you don't already, I hope that one day you believe those things about yourself! This is the only life you have in this body so enjoy it and don't worry so much! HAVE FUN! CAUSE YOU'RE DAMN FIERCE!!! <3<3<3

It should be no surprise after this interview, I've told Rahab that now more than ever, I want to go to L.A. if for no other reason than to to paint the town red with her one night.  Can you blame me?

You can get find out even more about Rahab at:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The keys to Prince Puja's kingdom

Thanks to a new product line that Prince Puja has added, I was drawn back to this beautiful soul.  It is my honor and pleasure to finally add him to this blog where he belongs and share his journey and the latest additions to his jewelry creations.

It's been over three years since we last talked.  I have been keeping an eye on you and know that you are still promoting your lines on the web and have done trunk shows, arts events and Etsy.  What else has been happening with Puja both in the jewelry and fashion worlds?

I've just really been working on my craft. Developing my skills as well as my vision. I started taking some metal smithing classes and I just recently released a new collection (Key Elements) and have a few more things that I'm getting ready to release.

What are some of your biggest challenges getting your work recognized?

There are just so many super talented people out there doing their own thing now so it's just a matter of continuing to develop my skills and vision and constantly being out in the world in whatever way I can... social media, events, collaborations, etc. But I've realized lately that the most important thing to me is to create my work. I feel like there will always be ups and downs and there will always be people who like my work and people who don't so it's just a matter of creating what I truly believe in and sharing it with the people who care and want to support it.

Over the past two years I've become more aware of the differences between L.A. and the NY metro area as far as arts communities, lack thereof and arts cultures.  In your art, does competition play a big role in getting your "voice heard" above the others?

I think there is a healthy level of competition but I don't like to focus on that aspect too much. I think everyone who is truly following their own voice has a place in the art community (or world for that matter). I'm more interested in supporting and collaborating with other talented artists than trying to compete.

Is there collaboration in the jewelry world like there is in the performance and other visual arts part of the tribe.  Where, if at all, do you find a "leg up" from other members of the tribe?

I haven't done a lot of collaborative work but it's definitely something I'm very interested in getting into. At some point I would love to do some jewelry for a designer's show/presentation/lookbook. Again, I think my only real "leg up" is my ability to follow my own voice and persevere (continuing to create my work and get it out there as much as possible).

Your new key line was the spiritual kick for me to get back in touch with you.  What inspired it?  Do you find symbolism in keys, whole or broken, that fuels your muses?  Has this key line opened any doors for you?  What are your sources for keys (tag sales, found on the street, etc)?

My new key collection (Key Elements) all started with a lock and key that I got at a market in India a few years ago. They were just so beautiful so I got them and just had them on my bookshelf for a while and then the collection just came to me one day and I knew I had to physically manifest the ideas in my head. The lock has Shiva on one side (the Hindu God of Destruction) and an Om on the back.

Keys to me have so much symbolism. They open up worlds of possibilities. They can unlock secrets, treasures, memories, etc. And this collection in particular is all about finding the elements that make up the key(s) to unlocking your inner strength/power.

Are there other new lines in the works?  What are some of your current inspirations?

Working on a couple new collections right now. I feel like I've really started to find my voice recently and I'm so excited about the direction that I'm going now. I'm constantly inspired by anything and everything around me but a few of the big inspirations that I always go back to are India, religion, tribal people, traditional ethnic clothes, etc.

As for fashion...Do you strictly design for yourself?  Do you think you will explore more in that medium over time?  I know your culture/heritage is a big factor in your designing.  Where else do you draw inspiration from?

I'm always trying to bring all of the ideas in my head into reality so clothing/fashion always plays a big part in that. Whenever I go to India I get stuff made there because the quality and their knowledge of traditional Indian clothes is amazing. One day I might do a line but I feel like when I do it will be very specific and concentrated. Again there are so many talented people and so much great stuff out there right now that I just don't want to put out something unless I feel like it's really special/unique.

Lately I'm in what I'm calling "Dorothy mode".  My trip to CA in July never happened.  Initially it really bummed me out and then I found myself remembering Glinda's question to Dorothy just before she shows her how to use the ruby slippers.  "What have you learned?"  After a moment's thought Dorothy replies "If you can't find your heart's desire in your own backyard, then you never lost it in the first place".  Once I accepted that more and more members of the tribe have been coming east and I have gotten to spend time with them in NYC.  Do you think you will be traveling in this direction any time?

I love that! I haven't been to NYC in a few years and I've been itching to get out there. Don't have any plans yet but it's definitely something I'm working on! That line really rings true for me because I have loved traveling my whole life and I haven't gotten to do a lot of it in the past couple years and it's really forced me to appreciate where I am and learn that if I don't need to leave and go somewhere else to follow my dreams. (Although it is super fun to explore new places and is always such a learning experience so I'm looking forward to traveling again soon!)

I have gotten to know many members of the L.A. tribe now.  I also know that more than one of them are not "burners".  Have you ever been to Burning Man or any of the arts festivals?

I actually haven't! =( YET! Haha. I've been wanting to go for a few years but same thing with me, it just hasn't worked out with money/logistics. Part of me is a little sad that I didn't get to go sooner because I've heard Burning Man has changed quite a bit in the past few years but it's definitely something I want to experience and I feel like it will really be an important experience for me.

For more information on Prince Puja please visit:

Please check back tomorrow for my interview with Puja's gorgeous "twin sister", Rahab.