Jacklyn Janeksela

HUSTLE* Lunch Box

At the first strip joint I worked at there was a free buffet –a bonus for lunchtime patrons just cheap enough to pay the cover, but not for lunch or to tip the girls. It was not a full-buffet, mind you, but it had fried stuff and wings and shit. Also, hot dogs and sausages rotating on heated metal rods next to the whitest of white pasty buns from the discount bakery down the road. I had to pick up a dozen packages one day before work, so I know where they came from. The manager, Tom, asked me for the favor and, in return, I wouldn’t have to tip out the DJ or the house mom that day. I agreed. And the buffet guys got their precious hot dog buns.

Tom often referred to his male part as Jerry, like the cartoon character. “Jerry’s so sly, he’s a feisty one, more weasel than mouse really,” he’d say, jingling change in his pockets. Tom couldn’t catch him, couldn’t keep track of him –I think you see the point here. We were so repulsed by this thought that my friend and I had to turn it into a joke, otherwise we’d go green with nausea thinking about fat Tom’s pecker. We’d whisper to customers under our breaths, “Have yourself another Jerry, buddy!”   We snickered into cupped hands and turned into little girls. Once Tom heard us, but he just shoved his hands in his pocket and grinned from a very dark place.

Having a buffet or food of any kind near naked girls in heels equals filth, disaster and the Midwest. That is until I went to Las Vegas and saw how things were really done. Their buffets were delicate sushi and spring rolls. They had cloth napkins and wet wipes. They used real plates and not soak-through, flimsy paper ones. They had real silverware and a bathroom guy and ramekins for sauces. It was a classy set-up for sure. The customers ate with chopsticks even. It was a world I had never seen before where men wore belts and not suspenders.

The black box where I worked at was doing its best imitation. I think the name might have been Paradise for the objective was to give men a place where they could lick their fingers clean of chicken wing sauce while getting their cocks sucked. It was gluttony and sodomy, it was Sodom and Gomorrah –but for some it was simple sin without sinning.

For me it was fire and brimstone, adulterers and pedophiles –all lit with moments of greedy bliss.

There was no place he’d rather be, the common man. Rules were not really enforced and sometimes girls got broken or left broke. Women were no more than a thing to be played with like a schnitzel, like a cock. And if a man wanted to play, he’d get his way.

I did my best game by hiding in the corner, holding back gags watching greasy weenies slip into mouth after mouth.

Seeing men shove phallic foods into their mouths while ogling a pair of lady bits –well, it made a young thing like me chuckle. Those wieners must have produced envy in many a men.

Oily fingers fishing for dollar bills to tuck into g-string after g-string, with the occasional titty-grab. Hygiene was wiping down a wet couch with the bartender’s moldy dishrag that soaked in a magic water pot with Clorox. Hygiene was clean hands on week old trousers and using ties as big man bibs.

Oh, how men chopped away at those porky, beefy long links drooling over the meaty bits of nipples. Their mouths and fingers were slippery wet and slimy like slugs, dead baby bird or aborted embryos. As I watched with the eyes of a child, I felt something grow inside me. It conjured pictures of Roman orgies where gender didn’t matter. It made me think of transsexuals and transvestites –of which the club had plenty– and it brought me to Ginger the line cook.

Our titty-bar’s chef was a lovely 6-foot tall–in flats–bottle-blonde hermaphrodite named Ginger. She, she told me she preferred that pronoun, was as raunchy as they got and I loved slipping back to the closet-kitchen to hear her stories. She had the best almost-love stories.

Unfortunately, during one of her romps in the hay, she was whisked away in lust with a miniature Mexican man. She’d chuckle making hamburgers, “This is what he did to my face last night” and she’d pulverize the patty to pieces.

Lifting her frizzed hair from the left eye, I saw the bruise. Then she’d chuckle some more, “This is what I gave him after he beat me,” while she grabbed her genitals with that same meat-covered hand.

“He likes that shit,” she said. Tightening my mouth I said, “You should stop fucking with him, you deserve better.” But she knew and I knew that in this part of middle-America chances were unlikely and slim to none. She felt lucky that someone accepted her franks and beans as she called them. One day she’d go for the operation she swore to herself.

“I won’t have to tuck when I wear my cookie shorts, bitches,” she screamed towards the darkened crowd. And we laughed and munched on celery sticks.

Once she asked me if I wanted to see it, to see down there. I said sure, why not. But just as she was about to show me, Tom popped his head in. He said Jerry’d like a steak sandwich.

“I got your steak sandwich right here, big daddy,” she said as she rolled her tongue around her lips and winked that old classy porno shit of the 70s, “with a side of salchica, papi.”

Ginger was that in real life –a walking, talking blow-up doll, a big haired tramp. Tom snarled and said 20 minutes or else. When he left, she said that Tom liked butt stuff, that’s why he could never keep Jerry on a leash. Jerry had a mind of his own.

“I let him do me once, but Jerry is like the tiniest little creature, honey. I could’ve filled my mouth with a dozen Jerries,” slipping the steak onto the grill she spun around. “Wanna pickle, doll?” she passed me the jar and I gobbled down like three.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

HUSTLE* box worthy

Once, I was offered $5,000 to go home with a customer. He was a businessman or at least he wore a business suit. Not bad looking, her was a little on the chubby side and Latino. Most girls would’ve spread leg right then and there, but I didn’t. Afraid of crossing the line and never being able to turn back, I walked away. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider it for a moment, after all he wasn’t a monster. But then I thought, monsters can be tricky –they can take on forms of the beholder’s weakness. It became apparent I had been visited by the devil himself, at least that’s what I told myself. And I can’t say I never fantasized about the hotel sex scene with mister monster, non-monster. Letting Lucifer himself have his way with me, thrashing me about and whatnot, giving me some good old fashioned spankings; and me, afterwards laying on my back in some black lacey something or other bruised but brimming, counting the stack bill by bill and laughing hysterically.

On a few occasions, I’ve told that story hoping to convince myself that I was better than the average stripper, to convince others that not all strippers put out, to convince myself I was special enough that the devil would bestow me a visit. Or at the very least, I wanted to prove I was worth something. Girls often put their worth in the amount of paper they can stack, in this line of business, that is. Glorified housewives or some shit, only no house and no husband: glorified non-entities with vaginas. Yep, that’s it. Glorified vaginas. Some worth more than others, I guess.

And I guess I weighted myself in paper often.

Once, I was offered a steady gig as a house-call stripper. You know, bachelor parties and birthdays, shit like that. Maybe girl on girl stuff or popping out of cakes, the guy, or manager he called himself, wasn’t too sure on all the details. But I was promised a personal bouncer and a “company” cellphone in case of emergencies. I could be certain that I would not become another statistic, plus the clientele were exclusive Southern gentlemen who were really into tipping big –that’s what the little pee-wee shit tried to sell me on. I knew what that meant. White men with power looking to get off on degrading women’s bodies; looking to beat another stripper bitch or gang bang her because she’s not human or because she deserves it for being [quote, unquote] a slut. I was not trying to become gator grub or fertilizer. I shut that man down with a “fuck no.” Big tips equal I shit on you and you take it.

It’s not movies that make stripping look dangerous, it’s life –it’s reality. Stripping, if done outside of regulated zones, is dangerous because men are dangerous. Not all men, but a substantial amount that provoke me write this piece. Women and women’s bodies are vulnerable. That much I knew. While the clubs were I stripped might have been considered seedy or were located in less than savory neighborhoods, there was a sense of protection that I knew didn’t exist outside. Outside is wild like the beast, the beast of man.

Strangely enough, or perhaps not, I felt safer inside the club than outside of it –like a cocoon or a blanket.

Once, I was offered money to stick pins in a dick. This freaky old man coming at me like, “Yeah, I’m turned on by sharp objects and I want you to stick me.” I cringed. Through his slinky, black, lycra-blend T-shirt, he showed me nipple piercings of quite the large caliber. Said he got them pierced a couple of times, multiple actually, because with each time he got pierced, he ejaculated. I felt bad for the piercer, unless they were into that sort of thing. Then I thought about the mess in his pants and wondered how he dealt with that afterwards.

Did he wear some sort of diaper or a condom? Did he wrap himself in plastic wrap or wear two sets of underwear? It was all too much for me. Then he opened a wallet bulging with one hundred dollar bills. He said we’d have to do it at his place because hygiene or whatever to which I quickly stood up. He called me back with doll face. Said he’d settle for me digging my stiletto heel into his dick for 20 bucks a song, I didn’t have to dance or take off my clothes. It was a pretty sweet deal minus the touching his dick with my heel. It was my Betty Page bangs he liked.

Highly likely that the guy was just a regular run of the mill pervert, but also highly likely that what really got him off was cutting off stripper’s heads or nipples or clitorises. Men lure women with cash and empty promises. Shit, men do that in relationships where no money is involved. Women need to wizen up. Enough of this holy giving-of-ourselves shit, giving of our time and bodies and spirits. Meanwhile men take and take until there’s no more taking to be had. Too much taking is a sin, you know? It makes man, in all his forms, the biggest sinner on the planet.

If I were sticking anything sharp into anything, it would be a knife into my heart.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

Marlowe: The Trinity Box Set

There are clips. They come and go as they please, without much regard for my emotional state; they interrupt many quiet moments or resurface in the bedroom. Some of them are reeling –projected on a brain screen, on repeat, and, almost always, in black and white. Others are twinklings of things that cannot be confirmed as real or fictional, but are there nonetheless. The majority of them creep into my dreams, sultry yet panicked. Half naked, I am unsure of my role as a human being, as a woman, as an object of desire, as a stripper, as creature. But all of them are me, a version of me, all of them are Marlowe, albeit a decade ago.

Clips in three parts, like a trinity, like a threesome, like multiple personalities. The beginning, the middle, and the end; like birth, crisis, and death –all swarming into something that makes me a complex person, all telling stories of once upon a time. Although in my dreams, there is no such concept of time. It’s all Marlowe, all the time, without time. No time no lapse, no time ticking, and no time to rewind or look forward to –just a time of Marlowe so many years ago. She streams in like a ribbon, hair tendrils, or a film reel. Marlowe, despite time ebbing and flowing, never ages –she defeats time and she defeats herself.

The Beginning

Innocence hoisted me forward in the business. A young thing, a doll baby with no clue about nipple tape and latex glue or how to walk steady in platform heels, I chose a niche to which I would affix myself. Chubby cheeks and lollipop tongue twirls brought all the pedophiles to the forefront, they were easy to spot and even easier to pickpocket. Some customers tried to get me to grind them saying things like, “It’s okay, don’t worry, you’re not doing anything wrong” to more aggressive tactics like, “I paid for this dance and I’m gonna get what I paid for”. And all the while the girl face was fooling them. Innocence was only a cover, a mask, a layer of make-up and cotton candy body spray. From day one, I understood the push and pull of customer versus dancer. I was tricking them before they could trick me. Parading in pigtails and white ankle socks, I pouted my way into private dances and cried my way out of finishing touches –wiping my tears on 20-dollar bills.

Just 19, I was ripe enough, just old enough. That same year I had lost my virginity. My first name choice was Cleo or Chloe; I was looking for a reinforcement of my girlish ways. Once I had learned how to maneuver the floor, the private dances, the stage tricks –I felt seasoned, bought a wig, and changed my name to Marlowe. In my second year at the university, studying Literature, the name change made sense to me. Christopher Marlowe was a rebel, he pushed limits, he was a bad boy; I was all of that. I was the title character and devils danced around me –the parallels were uncanny. My only fear was that I, too, would be stabbed in the eye; hence my infamous phase of wearing a patch over my eye while stripping.

The Middle

Somewhere in the middle when I should have peaked, I retreated. While my pockets increased, inside I shrunk. Money spent, money coming and going, money filling up my breasts, money paying for bills and blow, money saved for someday.

Hollowed out bodies crowding around me, hollowed out spirits, hollowed out hearts. It appeared as though I was not alone. No one was real. Everyone was an apparition. And I watched as one by one apparitions grew hair extensions and boobs and bought cars and bags of drugs. As everything spun, spider-webbing designs of the designers, the rich, the famous, the superficial and the dead –I watched tears crystalize on a hardened face, mine.

Somewhere in the middle when I should have left, I stayed. I sniffed more cocaine in bathroom stalls with sluts and dealers. Getting bags for free, for letting a dealer do lines off my ass, I was just another ghost wandering a land that felt as foreign to me as my own body. Found the raggedy of raggedy of shit boyfriends –one a drug dealer, the other a Latin King, and another an abuser from a long line of abusers stemming from the Italian Mob. Sleeping was the most pleasant part of my day –it was a pseudo death where I and everything else vanished; Marlowe could be squished into a star and only seen, admired, from a very, very far distance.

The End

A truth unheard and unseen strapped me down to see destruction. Never had I felt both confident and scared at the same time. Tricks I could pull, but without tricks where would I go? In street clothes and without make-up, I was just me. I was not a character. I was not a spinning doll. I was not a spotlight harlot. Stripping had glued itself to my identity or, rather, I had stitched it to me. And leaving would be like breaking up, breaking up with a part of myself that I had constructed, a part of myself that had taught me about the hustle and the grind, a part of myself that I could never get back. I would have to let her go. That alone, not the lack of attention or money was horrific. Oh, the horror!

After sticking my heels into the dicks of pricks, squeezing nipple clamps on elderly customers, and faking organisms with girls –what was next for me, for Marlowe? Marlowe would not get her eye stabbed; she would stab it herself. And so she, I, waited inside a black box for the knife to appear –waited to see the shiny blade appear in the dark and rush herself, myself, upon it.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

Jacklyn Janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, & female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

Renee Cox, Still Snapping Necks

The eye of the heart of a superwoman –Renee Cox has not disappointed her public for over two decades. Well, except for that moment when Mayor Rudolf Guillani objected to her take on Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” titled “Yo Mama’s Last Supper”. It was a manifestation, no doubt; but in flipping the art scene and cultural assumptions at large, Cox turned over gender roles bringing the black woman to the forefront, finally.

What is Cox doing? Whatever she feels like, that’s what; mostly mixed media and fighting for her rights. Embellishing the world with black beauty, she continues to astonish by admonishing the colonizer’s standards. And she in not shy about revealing, right in the faces of those brave enough to look. Let her pull back the curtain and show you her woman.

Renee Cox, Still Snapping Necks

Renee Cox, Still Snapping Necks

Primarily known for her nudes, but more so her intrepid nature, she uses her own body as an object of art, a statue of sorts because she is quite statue-esque. Without using proper analysis, one might call her work egocentric. But they couldn’t be more wrong. How can a black woman’s voice be heard if she uses the devices of the colonizer? She must use what she knows; and the results attest to a soul as strong as any iron or as brazen as any mother’s heart.

Imitating scenes of classic proportions, reinventing the solider narrative, criticizing the bourgeois –Cox approaches her subject with the strength of many black women, for she is many black woman layering one upon the other for fortitude and perseverance. Behind each photo is a story with Cox as the protagonist. There is nothing passive about her position. At the same time, she assumes the role of director; the viewer cannot invent a story because Cox has already written it. In using a variety of backdrops –from nature to cityscapes– she proliferates that the black woman is everywhere; has been and always will be.

Both fearless and reckless, she takes the world on by storm introducing herself as super hero, super woman. Tearing away at the standard role of men as warrior, pulling back the curtain on the “women are the weaker sex” argument and offering a positive image of black women, Cox seems to revel in her ability to breakdown what society has fashioned by fashioning her own world. In this world, she rules, thus reclaiming identity –which has predicated the erasing of many black women throughout history. In power stances, she claims her identity and those of who have been forgotten, accumulating generations of overlooked women.

Renee Cox, Still Snapping Necks

Reinforcing a black woman’s persistence, she assumes power positions typically reserved for the colonizer. Calculating the risk, she weights in favor of telling the truth –of what was and what will be. Protesting through her art, she demands a change and she is the change she wants to see.

Renee Cox, Still Snapping Necks

See more of her work here.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, & female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

Awol Erizku, Documenting Reality

He’s no longer an artist by title, but appears to be a sensation –something altogether bigger than himself, yet still tangible; he’s the art world’s new “it” boy. A lot to live up to, no doubt; but, no worries, he’s up for the challenge. Ready to conquer conceptions and rattle preconceived notions, Awol Erizku, tired of all the art-talk, builds his own world, photo by photo.

Visualizing the day when he can give back to his childhood stomping grounds, the Bronx: Erizku represents his barrio. Not only about race and culture in America, his work houses sensationalistic nuances; unflinching, he depicts optimism with exhibition titles like, “The Only Way is Up.” He gives back, alright; positive vibes in motion.

His photos dictate his reality, a reality that paints a new picture –a picture that posits a true sense of black lives matter. No longer just hashtags, his art and readymades protest when he cannot be physically present at rallies and gatherings. He, himself, then becomes a demonstration. Art becomes life becomes protest. It’s what art should be about –Erizku, ahead of the game.

Awol Erizku

Portraits like paintings, Erizku has set his sights on transforming ideas about photography and black beauty. Molding postures like bourgeoning flowers, capturing pain like existentialism, emphasizing faces like animal spirits. More than just asking questions about race, he’s proposing an evolution of exposure. Watch him expose you to a world culture. Watch him build an emporium of non-white and non-colonized beauty.

There’s a glorifying of sorts. Indicating a majestic past of African proportion –one that should be not forgotten, Erizku illustrates warriors alongside queens. The royal blue is a major clue. Erizku, precise and with serious purpose – further highlights his subjects by contrasting most of them with dark backgrounds or the contrary, bright, bold primary colors. He defies standards of beauty and appears to be saying wake up, witness the revolution.

Taking classic poses and making them modern, Erizku plays with time. He interrupts philosophies with new school flair. By reshuffling art history to make a statement about race and gender, disfranchising certain images that archetypally belong to certain groups and refusing categorization, he demands a reevaluation of our eyes and hearts. Smashing ideas like statues, Erizku is serious about his vision.

Serendipity is a collection of film and photography further demonstrating his knack for distributing art through a modern lens. His laboratory, equally as post-modern, sits beneath a flower shop in SoHo where his visions sprout up and reach for sky.

Awol Erizku - Serendipity

He also makes mixtapes on Soundcloud. No stone is left unturned in Erizku’s world. He really is owning that title, the “it” boy of the art world. As he once said to viewers at the MOMA show in New York, “Expect to open [their] minds a little more. Be cognizant of what the artist requests and seek it out.”

Hey art world, be prepared for more expansion and explosion. Erizku isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Awol Erizku

 

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

Jacklyn Janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, & female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

This is a Box, Not a Vagina

I’m in a box.  Not like any box you know.  Well, most of you don’t anyways.  I’m in a black box where there are mirrors.  If there’s smoke, it could come from a pussy.  I have seen, on more than one occasion, a girl smoke with her pussy.  The first girl who showed me this trick slid her white panties aside, spread her legs just wide enough for me to have a peek.  Draped her long blonde hair over her shoulder, parted her slit, slid a Marlboro 100 between her legs, then inserted the filter into her opening.  So casually she revealed her little pink part to me, it was both grotesque and exciting.  In the back of the black box, just her and me.  She had invited me secretly; I think she wanted me to lick it.  Or maybe suck the smoke from it.  She –watching me while I watched it, her.  I could see my reaction in a mirror behind her.  We reflected infinitely.  Her pussy smoking in fragments. 

Her name is Savannah.

_______________________

I’m on the side of the box.  While most girls are twerking and doing pole tricks, there’s one who gallops in extra slow stride.  Her outfit some string and tassels.  A show pony if I ever saw one.  Everyone freezes; we are icebox, ice-cubes.  Her thighs are pressed together with such pressure she begins to melt all of us, her tongue flicks to the corner of her mouth –she is serpent-like and serpentine, she is a phoenix if it had thighs.  From between her legs a second tongue; drooling, a drop hits the floor.  We are helpless and speechless and insignificant.  In these brief lapses of time, she becomes the torque around which we all twirl.  A tiny writhe of the body and we stutter.  I watch her as she watches me, she calls me with the curve of her finger, her hips, her tits.  As if suspended in gelatin, I move towards her –but only in my mind.  I am shivering from cold and chicken shit against a leather couch. 

Her name is Cocoa. 

_______________________

I’m in a corner of the box.  My eyes turned into slits, like the slit of the vagina I watch peek from behind a triangular-shaped piece of fabric.  The girl, of unusually tall height, teases a patron with her pink part; she also parts it with her index and middle finger.  As if I will be caught, I slink away into the couch; the cushions hold me like lips of a vagina.  The cushions moldy and moist –I feel as I’ve been birthed of a whore.  The customer’s belly bulges over his part that I’m certain is as hard as a knife.  And I’d cut myself with that knife if it weren’t attached to a saturated human blob.  The girl seems more than willing to cut herself as she lifts and juggles the belly until it’s practically sitting on her back.  As she grinds away, I see her wipe sweat from her upper lip.  She talks about her throbbing pussy; I can hear her from the corner.  Half of it is mumbling, though, because she’s drunk –she changes positions a few dozen times.  After about three songs, she looks over her shoulder at me and puts her finger to her lips.  I see the man go all-quiet then, almost limp.

Her name is Timber.

_______________________

I’m in the center of the box.  There’s a stage, not like the stage of a theatre, but a stage nonetheless.  Lights line the floor and ceiling; black lights bounce off pieces of cellulite and stretchmarks and return to the client’s gaze without imperfection, like waxed dolls or mannequin legs and tits.  Most of us are aspirations of something we could never be.  But there are some who are flawless –flawless, indeed.  One who mounts the stage like a real acid trip or a ketamine high.  Her wavy hair just long enough to cover her nipples.  Thighs just long enough to make any man tremble or any girl jealous.  She is angle dusk spinning on poles and disco balls.  She arches her back and we all arch with her.  As she twirls we can almost see her fly. If her nipples were to glow, they would be in rainbow colors.  She tips upside down on the pole and our focal point becomes her heart’s center, not her face.  Her face would be the color of unicorns if they existed –she is a mermaid out of water, a fairy caught in web.  As she spreads her legs the room hushes; slipping out slowly –a lollipop.

Her name is Celeste.

_______________________

I’m under the box.  It’s both hot and cold, of both temperatures neither you nor I have felt; it’s an imaginary temperature.  It’s a temperature of the dead and the living.  It’s a temperature that suits me just fine.  Under the box, I find things buried –a locket, latex gloves, a half-filled diary, porn magazines, and candy wrappers.  It’s so dark, I cannot imagine anything darker.  I plunge my hand into the dirt that lines the belly of the box.  The first time I took to the stage I felt the same thrilling terror.  So used to it now, I almost laugh.  Something tells me to dig, it’s a voice from behind –if I weren’t so blind, I might be able to see who was lurking.  The voice multiplies and I’m surrounded.  And I’m naked.  Pushing my face forward, my hands sink deeper into the pith, I touch a face.  I open my eyes and see the pinpoint, red eyes of a bald client leaning forward towards my center, towards my most sacred part.  Lights fade and I hear them announced my name.

My name is Marlowe. 

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

Jacklyn Janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, &female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

The Earth Warrior Speaks of More than Just Trees

Surax

The Earth Warrior Speaks of More Than Just Trees

Her Dominican, Afro Latina roots are at the forefront. Her work emphasizes black and brown women in flight, in transition, in movement –The Earth Warrior, aka Suhaly Bautista-Carolina, uncovers the magic, secret steps of the dance called womanhood.

She is a triad of educator, artist, and woman; but, those are just synonyms. She is art. Through captions, inscriptions, poems & photos, she invents a world where women are visible and valuable. She pioneers through jungle, the social construct of female identity and conformity.

Photos and words dance as if in ceremonial bliss. She creates a space, a home, a universe of recognition. The Earth Warrio beats a drum and shakes an ankle bracelet; a painted face appears to tell the stories of one female after another. These are not just stories; they are footprints to follow, the sacrifices that make a girl into a woman.

Becoming The Surax is an early version of her modern day identity of The Earth Warrior. Here she tackles Dr. Seuss;fighting for Mother Earth’s right to her fecundity:

Black.Girl.Fly is a project with wings, an online archive of black girls traveling. Soon she will be accepting submissions, stay awake, don’t sleep on this one: http://www.theearthwarrior.com/black-girl-fly/

blackgirlfly

blackgirlfly2

A Ribbon Around A Bomb is a project that opens the heart and illuminates women from the inside out. It speaks to the power of attraction and the enigma of sheer female force. Here, women discuss what makes them powerful – female fire and light, tiny galaxies galloping on land. In acknowledging their inner magnitude they flourish further; they multiply their beauty. Witness the budding.

tanya

Tanya: Courageous

jollilian

Jolillian: Caretaker

josie

Josie: Authentic

A collection of forces and energies allowed us to connect. We shared art & heart. A sister in making & creating, I was lucky to have the chance to talk to her about her inspiring ways.

How was Black.Girl.Fly born and where you do envision it (her) going?

Black.Girl.Fly. was born this summer on my wife’s first-ever journey out of the country to Italy. There were so many beautiful, powerful moments during that trip where we would just look at each other + cry + those tears were filled with the full spectrum of human emotions: courage, love, devotion, curiosity about the world, limitlessness, inspiration -all of it. It made me think about what motivates us to thrust ourselves into a world that doesn’t always love black + brown womyn. Black.Girl.Fly. will be an archive, a collection of photographs, art works + stories from black+brown womyn travelers, gypsiers, explorers that will answer the question, “what motivates you to fly?” I hope that this project will inspire the next generation of black+brown girls to climb, float, fly, ascend…to know they can…to rest on our legacy + continue to add to our collective story.

suhaly7

Is there a story behind the name The Earth Warrior?

Yes. It comes from my activism in the world of environmental justice as student leader of a group called, “The Green Stream” that organized Spring Break service-learning opportunities to NOLA, partnering with Historic Green New Orleans -an organization working to sustainably rebuild the Lower 9th Ward post-Katrina. So, I sort of made a name for myself in that arena on campus. One day, I came back to my room to find a quote taped onto my door that read “I’m not an environmentalist, I’m an earth warrior.” I think that’s really the instant I became The Earth Warrior. I adopted The Earth Warrior as my artist name + the rest is history. As my work evolved over the years to include themes + ideas outside of environmentalism + eco-justice, I started to think about the way I continue to be a defender of not only the physical Earth but also the people that activate this planet -especially womyn + girls. I started to think about how my projects are time capsules + memories of earthlings being + becoming; + how my work as an educator, artist + organizer is an effort to make this place just a little better for us.

If you were not human what would you be and why?

This one’s easy. I’d be a Sunflower, radiating Energy. A living thing with purpose and responsibility, upward facing, optimistic, fueled by nature, nourished by the earth + sky.   Bright, intense, dramatic, inspiring joy…I’d be myself, still.

Find her work here:

http://www.theearthwarrior.com/

https://www.facebook.com/theearthwarrior/?fref=ts

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, & female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

Tau Battice’s Mission: Re-constructing Gaze/Revamping Imagery

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When the subject matter is so close to the heart that it becomes the heart, the end result is Tau Battice’s “Harlem I(nf)lux,” “Afro Latina: Intimacies and Identities” and “Daddying.” It is with a click of his camera and tongue that he wrestles and summons the spirit out of people. For with each snap, each chat, he brings them closer to him and, thus, closer to themselves.  The subjects speak, but not through voice –Battice’s own expert eye illuminating others.

There’s a conjuring of DuBois. Souls of black folk, the agent for which his photos hover before our very eyes. What we witness is a stripped down identity, bare boned and stunning that takes allegiance with a higher calling for justice and truth.

Black is beautiful is not a slogan.  It’s a mantra Battice chants to his subjects. In a white-washed world where ghostly standards intimidate and European ideals continue to dominate, Battice aspires for the unbridled, for a non-colonized gaze, for a heart that beats not for capitalism or propaganda. He is a modern day hero of the anti-hero variety. He is a blessing and a beast. He is a soldier –armed with his camera and mind, not gun and brawn; he fights the good fight, shakes up notions, and imposes images that defy social canons.

Battice presents enduring stories –stories that deserve more consideration than ever before, worthy of every eye. He seems to be telling us a history that has been ignored for ages.

How do you approach your subject matter and subjects?

For the most part, I photograph my indignations. Much of my subject matter has been bothering me and particular communities for years.  Combined with conversation, these images allow me, but more-so my partners, to purge, to get free. Hopefully, the camera allows me to document those very real but silenced narratives. Where images are concerned, photography is not just a way of liberating bodies, but also, and even more importantly, a way of liberating minds.

Regarding my physical approach to my subjects/ partners, for my Harlem and South Bronx personal projects, I walk the streets looking for energies or certain looks that I think will resonate 50 years from now. With “Afro Latina: Intimacies and Identities” and “Daddying,” I meet partners strictly through word of mouth. It’s a slow process, but it works well for me in terms of getting to know my subjects intimately before we even photograph.

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Jamilah and Serenity, Harlem, 2012

Or better yet, what attracts you to your subjects?

Simply put, our shared humanity. My parents were teenagers, my father was Rastafari, and they lived in the so-called ghetto. Coming from that setting and growing up keenly aware of perceptions and lived outcomes, I am organically attracted to the stories of those on the fringes: the marginalized, the mute, the subaltern, the counted-out, the excluded, el subestimado. And so these are the people I strive to help articulate their stories.

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Hassana and Zainab, Harlem 2014

In under 10 words, what do you hope to capture with your portrait pictures?

Deity, dignity, high humanity, realism, natural beauty, majesty, agency, universality.

Which piece of literature would be indicative of you as artist and person?

Notebook of a Return to the Native Land by Aimé Césaire.

Women have been dehumanized and limited in many ways, I’m paraphrasing you here, but why did you feel it was your duty to help break, or at least loosen, these chains for the Afro-Latina?

I am constantly reminded of the phrase, ” To whom much is given, much is expected.” So, I am duty bound–if I come into some sort of helping light, freedom, or higher consciousness— to help mi vecina into the light. The Afro Latina project had been in my bosom years before I started photographing it. When I first started teaching college writing, I had a newly arrived Dominicana student who would soon share her stories of the internalized racisms, color-isms, and hair-isms within her home. I was moved and saddened by what she was enduring as an African descent Latina in a mostly European-norming culture. The more I researched, I realized the inter-generational racial trauma and skewed beauty standards visited upon her and millions of other Afro Latinas and, indeed, black women, had robbed way too many women of being fully confident, self-loving humans. I took a personal vow to address the issue with a journalistic article of some sort. That buried essay became the “Afro Latina: Intimacies and Identities” book project.

Bruja, The Dominican Republic, 2015

Bruja, The Dominican Republic, 2015

Alexandra, Puerto Rico, 2013

Alexandra, Puerto Rico, 2013

Mari, Brazil, 2015

Who would you call your biggest influence?

If by influence, you mean inspiration, three of multiple come to mind readily. First, Bob Marley, for his grueling work ethic, the use of his songs to bring people together, and the personal anthems he has given me. Where my photography is concerned, I’ve internalized that bit of 1979’s “Zimbabwe” when he sings, “arm and arm with arms, we’ll fight this little struggle, cause that’s the only way we can overcome a little trouble.” Those “arms” for me are my camera and my pen. Second, Irving Penn for his clean, revealing portraiture. A yellowed copy of his “Worlds in A Small Room” is constant companion and re-invigoration. Third, veteran documentarian Jamel Shabazz for his genuine love and respect for his subjects. I am also inspired that he never attended any fancy photo schools, photographed his instincts and passions in the streets for three decades, and has published five photography books to date.

In reference to your upcoming project titled “Daddying” can you please address the issue of mass incarceration of black men in North America.

This blight of mass incarceration of black men in America has been going on since 1619, so I’m not sure how much new insight I can bring to the topic. Clearly, mass incarceration of a disproportionately high number of black men wreaks havoc on the black family. Too many locked away fathers computes to too many dysfunctional young men. As incarceration relates to my ongoing “Daddying” project of Black men with their sons, I can see how the viewer would juxtapose the photographs with the rough reality of 1.2 million black American children currently having a parent locked up in a state or federal faculty. Or that 1 in 3 black men in America can expect to do a jail or prison bid in his lifetime. And then, of course, there is the narrative of the black man as hyper-sexing, but hypo-daddying. He is hardly around. And black boys are the worse for it. Well, I also know a contrary but totally ordinary culture of lots of black fathers who are not just around but full participants and loving guides in their sons’ lives. In fact, when my mother moved to America in the 1980s, I was raised by my father in St.Kitts-Nevis. This project, then, is a reflection of my personal reality, my normalcy. If “Daddying” simultaneously indicts mass incarceration and willful black father absenteeism while celebrating father-son relationships, then missions accomplished.

Ted and Marcus, 2014

 

Karlton and Jacari, 2014

Find his work here:

https://www.instagram.com/taubattice/

http://www.tau-battice-4zgq.squarespace.com/

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, & female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

PHOTOS BY:  Tau Battice

 

 

 

 

 

Hustle* Other Dead Girls

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*hustle*  Peek into a keyhole, search in a fragmented mirror, crack open a tinted door that could lead to a naked body –a collection of secrets & memories from Marlowe, a former stripper.

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The black box is taciturn, and cold all year round. Walking around for seven hours in an ice-tray, g-strings and nipple tape, produces goosebumps –permanent. We are ice-cubes, bobbling in a fountain of male squash, the first-press, the last-press, the only press –until they come back. We’ll juice them again, no matter. Try and get them before they get us first. That’s the trick. The hoax is an equal opportunity assailant.

If someone asks for special favors, which doesn’t happen as often as one might imagine, we are so outside of ourselves that the purged answer isn’t a part of who we are while inside the box. It’s attached to a we that can be seen in the mirror, but not felt. A we only recognizable by body, not name, and hardly ever face. We are frozen nails and hair. We are corpses twisting like DNA. What wavers is a soul that floats on ice pick heels. Animated corpses, animated meat. Pushing forward, but falling under. Living is a word we use in secret.

There is no discontent for we are disconnected. Strung together, yet despondent. Purgatorian shape shifters; ghost-like, whimsical, ethereal –we dwell in dynamic altercations and alternate currents. If only we could conjure Tesla. Light up the black box, highlight parts of a once preserved existence, perhaps charred or at the very least glowing. Scorch a mother who might or might not be one of us. Circle the burning witch, circle the once beating heart, circle the girl trapped in a cellophane wrapper.

Those flames extinguished before born. Sparks die like dreams on a drunken, blacked-out night.

The black box is frigid. Perfume spritzes freeze mid-air. They are dispelled by a customer´s breath; the molecules move around freely almost like us; some in structured spirals, some in chaotic curves, others in non-linear neutrals. They are unexpected whiffs of a sad girl’s story.

Despite its darkness we shimmer, golds and silvers sprinkled –eyelids, cheekbones, shoulders; faeries of the night, forgotten pixies searching the black box over for the one, anyone, the one that might take us away, or at least out of the box. And that happens sometimes, some of the girls go from this box into another where they will get paid to fuck or something like it. The belly crease or button drizzled with a glittery goo, it sticks to shirt tails or pants –the wife or girlfriend notices but says nothing. We are mythological; we don’t really exist until seen with the naked eye. The wife or girlfriend will find more clues, but until we’ve been spotted we can only be figments and fragments, faceless fables, fictitious forest fawns. It is with a wink we re-appear. Or the snap of fingers recently removed from a bank teller´s hand shake.

We travel on ice in the black box, clear platforms on which we skate. The costumes as glamourous and dramatic as any Olympic-status ice princess. The stage, our rink. We dismount onto piles of flesh and receive paper instead of points. We convert it all into self-esteem, revenue for creating envy, assets for staking claims. It’s our fantasy –we can make those stacks of bills anything.

Our moves, methods for garnering paper stacks, a peek into the center of us –not just some hole, like pussy or cavernous mouth. We all cling to our best tricks. We cling to the pole as if it were a life force or at least a source of heat. And yes, of course, because of its phallic appeal, we are compelled to writhe against it.

The box grows colder after the stage dismount. What cracks is not the stage or the mirrors surrounding our performance, it’s the heart of a heart we once had. We are empty pods, pods of shiny, twinkling iridescence with pearly mouths, and gem-colored eyes –we are like a velvet box.

Hangers to flesh, tiny sequined or florescent outfits. To hang ourselves above the crowd, a ceiling fan or a cobweb –to hang ourselves like spindles of flesh and fluid –to hang ourselves hands outstretched grasping for something. To hang ourselves onto anything.

Trickery thick, we keep looking at the door of the box as if there were a way out; as if the exit were an actual exit. But the reality is a box –a box we’ve hidden inside the heart, since forgotten or misplaced. We dream of a box-illusory. And we become the box. We are walking around inside ourselves. Beyond cold, unfelt and unfeeling; iced filigrees shivering against dejected blobs of men. They are flesh imitating our hearts. They are our hearts. And they are us; we –them. All the while, everyone remains still, frozen perhaps, for the triple axel dismount, that spinning madness that defies gravity.

We defy gravity, too, living inside one another. So close, but not touching. Touching so much, but not at all. There are no opposites, but plenty. There is confusion, but only always. All of it an alter unto a fetishized society, layered like loas, open like orishas –we are dancing dioses. Replicating and destroying, a torn knee, a bad rotator cuff, a broken hand, heart, head. Life-sized dolls, we are. Seen not heard, fucked and fondled, coveted then thrown away. We are reality ridiculous, we are dreams demanded. We are invented names. We are fruits and desserts and drinks –we are other dead girls.

WORDS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, & female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.

Kingdom North is Not Imaginary, Just Ask Josh

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JOSH, a dreamy-folk band from Switzerland breezes into the singer/songwriter scene with their EP Kingdom North.

Three siblings are part of this six-piece Indie band –Janine, lead vocals and guitar –Vera, her sister, vocals, bass, electric guitar –Simon, her brother, vocals, xylophone, cello. A closeness of skin and memory comprise half of this band. A collection of journey seekers and truth hunters. JOSH instigates self-exploration in ways of yesterday, from the barefooted, face-painted youth settling on ideas of happiness contrary to popular belief. Rebels for happiness.

When my husband and I went to Zürich, we had the pleasure of staying with Janine and Vera in Egg, a small village just outside of the city. I was moved by their long hair and toothy smiles, then I listened and was haunted by Janine’s voice, almost quivering –inviting me to enter her Kingdom North.

What does JOSH mean? Why this name for the band?

It’s just a male first name. I always liked boys names for girls.

The name doesn’t give away anything about our genre, it’s short and we just like it.

What musicians or artists inspired the sound for JOSH?

I began playing guitar and writing songs when I was 12 years old, and at that point in time I had been a girl scout for 6 years, sitting around camp fires and singing songs to guitar strumming. I had written poems long before that.  I started when I was maybe 9 years old because I found out that I had an ancestor, who was a great poet, Benjamin Franklin Wedekind. I was fascinated by how one could form a story or mold feelings into words and then into sentences that could move you, touch something deep inside you. I wanted to be able to do the same.

After a couple of  years writing poems, I started to write songs. I grew up with music around me all of the time, classical and jazz, hip hop, reggae and funk. It’s just always been a part of me and it was plain natural to me to play music –  the violin, the piano, to sing.

Nowadays I am inspired by lots of different artists and I’ll try to name a few:

Ben Howard, Lucy Rose, The Tallest Man On Earth, Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, Bear’s Den, Balthazar, Half Moon Run,…

But I listen to all kinds of music.

If JOSH were a country what country would it be and why?

Oh wow, I don’t think this country exists. It’d need mountains, big mountains, and the ocean so that you can go for a surf at dawn and there would be the big city, where you can see live bands and cry on old bridges and get lost or get fucked up and get rid of yourself for a night. It’d have forests and places where nothing is ever happening, like forsaken wideness. There’d be four seasons and there’d be wild animals. Because those are the places that inspire me, those are the places where life is happening. Even if I sometimes think it’s not happening at all, it is.

Where is JOSH going in the future?

We are currently recording new songs and we definitely want to bring them out one way or the other and then get back on the road and play as many shows as we can, wherever the people want us. We don’t want to be stuck in Switzerland. Don’t get me wrong, I love my country but it’s small and there are other things to see in the world that help me open my mind and stay awake, stay alive.

We don’t want to be world-famous or stinky rich, we just want to make music, play shows and move people in whatever way, makes them happy or sad. Music is a powerful thing.

What is JOSH’s prized possession in this world?

Passion, honesty, naivety, the love for music and a life philosophy to always do what I love. To me, that’s the most important thing in life.

Find their music here:

http://www.joshmusic.ch/

https://www.facebook.com/joshmusicofficial

https://joshmusicofficial.bandcamp.com/album/kingdom-north-ep

Find the JOSH documentary here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XiuZb7HkYs

 

WORDS AND PHOTOS BY:  Jacklyn Janeksela

jacklyn janeksela, MFA is an artist and an energy. Find her work @ art mugre, jota cuadrada, & female filet. Her music with The Velblouds @ band camp.