BY AUSTERE MAGAZINE
ÂŠ 2015 Austere Magazine. All rights reserved.
THIS GOES BEYOND LOVE Austere Affinity is about acceptance. Inside, you will find a glimpse of the way our generation deals with love and selfidentity. This issue holds so much of what Austere is and what we believe is important. We tried to break down some of the boundaries that we face as lovers, creatives, friends, and most importantly, as people. And we only cried like, 20 times while making it. I really hope it makes you feel something too.
LOVE, Vicky Andres, editor-in-chief
TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S
STARFISH LOVER 10 THE L WORD 12 MEN HAVE FEELINGS 18 CACTUS HEART 22 USING PROTECTION 24
SAM WITH THE HAIR 32 PM DAWN 38 ARIEL + NAOMI 40 WELCOME TO THE SAD GIRLS CLUB 42
WOMEN AS OBJECTS 50 MR. DASHER 54 ULTRA VIOLET 56
MOLLY SODA 70 TO BE BLUE 78 LAURENCE PHILOMÈNE 84 A LIFETIME OF LOVE 92 LOVER BOYS 96
L I F E
L I F E
S T A R F I S H . L O V E R H
S T A R F I S H . L O V E R T
MEN_HAVE_FEELINGS C A C T U S . H E A R T U S I N G . P R O T E C T I O N [ T O _ P R E V E N T _ H E A R TAC H E ]
C A C T U S . H E A R T
M E N _ H AV E _ F E E L I N G S
PHOTOGRAPHER BRITTANY SOWACKE, AUSTERE / MODEL LAUREN BELL, AUSTERE / HMUA JACQUELINE CREECH, AUSTERE
BY LAUREN BELL
Love truly is beyond sex.
STARFISH LOVER 10
I’m not going to lie. Sex and sexuality have confused me my whole life, perhaps because I was instilled with Christian values passed down from my grandmother. She taught me to be sweet, demure and wholesome, like a little lady. When I was growing up, sex was a bad thing. It was a given that good girls don’t think about sex. That touching yourself was wrong, immoral, even disgraceful. That girls and boys were inherently different, but we were not at all encouraged to understand the physical differences between the sexes. It was extremely conflicting for me, because even though I was told sex was wrong, I was also told that the love between my parents made me. TV and movies only made me more curious. Beauty and sexuality in the media were ridiculously conflicting and utterly unattainable. Sex seemed like the surest way to show intimacy with someone. To expose one’s self intimately would bring that person closer to you, sharing the most private physical parts of yourself and expressing love beyond that of friendship. Naturally, it was as if my first kiss would change me, alter my chemical makeup somehow, and awaken something in me - that’s what I believed anyway. In reality, it felt obscure, like an octopus’ suction cup pressing against my mouth. It simply wasn’t what I expected. In fact, it disturbed me and I hardly spoke the rest of the day. Every Disney princess movie promised
that true love’s kiss was pure magic, able to revive dead Snow White and awake the Sleeping Beauty. At fifteen years old, it stunned me that this was what I had been pining for. If I had heard of asexuality then, I would have been intrigued, and perhaps, happy to know that I wasn’t alone. Instead, experience guided me. Most of my high school friends were sexually active around the time they could operate a vehicle, so I was curious but guarded. I waited until I was eighteen to pursue my driver’s license, afraid of any potential consequences from my own actions. There were many times that I questioned if there was something wrong with me. As it turned out, my first time was with another virgin, and no, it wasn’t disastrous. I was nineteen and so was he. Actually, we were the exact same age, because we share the same birthday. We did not say I love you, not yet, but the feeling was there. There was no shame, no discomfort, no pain. That was one of the few occasions that it felt special and loving. I didn’t feel like I had lost something, like
a power or a part of myself. Throughout most of my other experiences, sex has left me feeling hollow and regretful, hung out to dry like some sheets you can’t get clean. It has ruined so many good friendships. For me, and many others, sex is not at all what it is cracked up to be - neither on screens nor in our minds. This is part of what asexuality is all about. The film (A)sexual was my first introduction to asexuality. To clarify, an asexual person is someone who does not experience sexual attraction. This is different from celibacy, because celibacy is a choice. There are some who argue that asexuals are born this way, without any sexual attraction to others. My sexual orientation has changed over the course of my life through self discovery and exploration. David Jay, the founder of asexuality.org, said it best: “I started talking about how identity is a tool and not a label - an idea that you should be able to pick it up if it’s useful to you and put it down if it’s not, and one that you can redefine for yourself.” Reading through the
stories on AVEN, or the Asexual Visibility and Education Network, has given me a lot of insight about other asexuals and all the variety of experiences that asexual people share. Some are romantic, some are not. There are some asexuals who are aromantic - someone who experiences little to zero romantic attraction. Having dated men and women, I have always felt a romantic attraction to having a partner and falling in love, so I suppose I would fall under the category of romantic asexuals. Somewhere between asexual and sexual people are demisexuals, who lack sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone. Demisexuality still falls under the umbrella of asexuality. My asexuality has deepened my belief in unconditional love more than anything. Love transcends gender, sex, sexual orientation, etc. It is true that sex is not necessary for everyone to be happy, but to me, love is absolutely necessary and essential for us as human beings. Unconditional and unadulterated, love truly is beyond sex.
Austere AFFINITY // 11
WORD PHOTOGRAPHER SABINE FLETCHER, AUSTERE
When a girl tells you that she loves you, she is buzzing and passionate. BY RACHEL WAGONER We, as women, are all brought up with the same expectations. Someday you will meet a man. There will be an instant spark, desire, a yearning for his lips or his hands, the breadth of his shoulders. You will fall in love and you will get married, in front of all of your friends, your family, and their eyes will glow as he kisses the bride. Fast-forward, months or years, and your stomach will grow, your body will change, you will birth a child who has his eyes and his chin. You and your darling family will move to the suburbs; you will raise this child and you will ascend into adulthood, motherhood, and life feeling fulfilled and content. As a child, I swallowed this fantasy. I dreamed of this heroic and dashing man who would take my hand and send electricity coursing through my body. Like the books I read, the movies I watched. I yearned for this. No one wants to be gay. The first girl I had a crush on, I ran away from. She was my best friend in middle school, a red-head with blue eyes
and the soft curve of a dimple in her right cheek. We would have sleepovers each weekend, and I craved the moments when she would, in her sleep, curl up against me. The scent of sweet pea blossoms lingered on her skin. She would slip her hand into mine when we walked around the neighborhood we both lived in, and pull strands of my hair away when they got caught in the Lip-smacker’s lip gloss I wore in 7th grade. When we were teased in the athletic locker room for being “gaytards” - middle schoolers are so eloquent - I cracked the friendship down the middle because I was too panicked to face the feelings that she stirred up in me. I started dating guys that year, and turned it into a numb habit. No one could accuse me of being gay if I walked around the school halls clutching a boy’s sweaty hand in mine. It was later, when I lost my virginity to a sweet, but simple, boy in highschool, that I began to panic. For me, there was no spark. No desire. No yearning for his touch- in fact, the touch of a man’s hand stirred up a sense of awkwardness and caused me to clench into my core until I couldn’t breathe. So when I left the comfort of my hometown, I finally left behind the facade of my straightness; I tumbled out of the closet in my freshman year of college with all the clumsy hope of a first love, one that utterly
broke down and transformed my previous ideas of intimacy. When a boy tells you that he loves you, there is almost a sense of shame that hangs on his voice. He is embarrassed, daunted, overwhelmed. When a girl tells you that she loves you, she is buzzing and passionate; her words are honest, they are sweet, they are bursting out of her; they are a gift that she hands you in her tiny, trembling hands.
"I LOVE WOMEN WITH A HUNGER THAT DEVASTATES ME..." I will never grasp that dream that I held on to as a child. I will never marry a man. I will never birth a child that has my spouse’s eyes or chin, and I will never raise a family with a husband. I have given up this concept of womanhood for something else- something that devastates and consumes me, electrifies me, and satisfies every bit of my core.
And because of this, I have been told that I am broken. That I am a “waste of a pretty girl” simply because I won’t spread my legs for a man, and that homosexuality falls neatly into the same category as incest and beastiality. I have heard the secret ways people speak to one another about gay people, not realizing that in their midst sits a quiet girl who doesn’t know how to defend the way she kissed the collarbone of a girl that very morning before walking out the door to face the day. I blend in with every other person in the room, and I am given a clear glimpse of the toxicity that so many people wear around the meat of their shoulders. This can be a gift, in some ways. But as I grew in years and boldness, I began to realize that my shyness and my fear couldn’t last forever. If you turn such an integral fragment of yourself into something hidden, it becomes small and shameful; you can’t help but begin to store it with the rest of your dirty little secrets. By hiding who you love, you allow the silvery, pervasive thunder of heteronormativity to continue. I am a lesbian, and I love women with a hunger that devastates me, consumes me, breaks me down and gives new life to parts of me I never before realized exist. And despite the disapproval and the hostility that burns against it, I will forever be proud of this love.
Austere AFFINITY // 13
THIS DISCUSSION WAS COMPILED FROM CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN THE AUSTERE MAGAZINE STAFF. THEY WERE MADE ANONYMOUS TO ENCOURAGE AN OPEN DISCUSSION.
\\\\\\ It was really funny – I didn’t want to admit that I was gay for the longest time so I used to HATE on lesbians all the time. Back in the Xanga days I would say things like LESBIANS ARE DUMB AND STUPID in those questionnaires you would fill out. Whenever it would say what is your sexual orientation I would be like 'straight, lesbians grosssss.' I was so in denial. \\\\\\ For me, I knew since I was pretty young that I liked boys. I’ve always been really flirty, even as a kid. I remember boys in my elementary school in fifth or sixth grade being like, “I don’t like girls,” and we would be like, “Why not? Why don’t you like us?” and they would say, “I don’t know, I just don't want to.” \\\\\\ I saw this thing on Tumblr about sexist baby clothing. One said “Ladies’ man” and the other, for girls, I forget what it said, but basically both statements kind of chose the sexual orientation for the baby. \\\\\\ Oh! We are talking about that in my fashion class – how people always confuse sex with
sexuality and gender. \\\\\\ I would always get to dress however I wanted to. I was always in the dirt, and I was never into 'girly' stuff. For awhile I questioned my sexuality because I was a tomboy when I was younger. \\\\\\ I remember when I was in 8th grade and I went on a trip with some friends and there were like five of us sleeping in a bed. I woke up in the middle of the night and I heard kissing noises, and I turned to my side and two of my friends were making out. I was like, “What are y'all doing?” and they said, “We’re just practicing! It's fun! Wanna try?” So I tried and they were like, “Uhhh you aren’t very good!” I didn’t really think it was weird, or I wasn't opposed to it, but at the same time I’ve never been super sexually attracted to women. \\\\\\ And that is the reverse for me! I can acknowledge a beautiful man...your physique, everything, but I don’t want to have sex with you! \\\\\\ That's interesting because I'm comfortable with both genders and can be equally attracted to boys and girls, but two girls have broken my heart and I can’t sleep with girls anymore because … \\\\\\ Because it was more emotionally scarring? \\\\\\ Taxing? Yes, it hurt me more. But, I don’t know I like both in different ways.
\\\\\\ I mean sexuality is such a spectrum, it just drives me crazy that people expect you to say that you are anything. \\\\\\ I’ve never ruled out being with other women, but it's just never happened. \\\\\\ Maybe after you’ve had a lot of experience with sex in one way a change like that feels like starting over in a lot of ways? \\\\\\ Yeah, it would be very new. If you’re like 25 and you meet an amazing woman you might just be like, nahhhh, just because it's unfamiliar. But I don’t know, when I say it out loud I don't think it's true at all. I’ve known lots of adults who discover their sexuality as they get older. \\\\\\ Its very true! I dated a woman who never had been with a girl before. We dated for two years and lived together and everything. \\\\\\ I think people have exceptions. I know one guy that is the only man I think I could ever be with, I would totally date him, but other than that I can’t imagine. \\\\\\ It’s case by case, one thing I’ve always learned throughout my experiences is you can’t compare sex and love with one person to any other person because it’s always different. \\\\\\ I've wondered a lot if I am missing out on
anything by having only had sex with two people when my boyfriend has been with so many. Like am I not as good as some of the other people he’s had sex with? But then I always end up rationalizing it by thinking\\\\\\ – If you have an emotional connection – \\\\\\ - I’ve never had the same sex twice, you know, you really can’t you just can’t it’s\\\\\\ -It’s not about your number at all \\\\\\ It’s not; it’s about the people and if two is enough for you, then 2 is enough for you. That doesn’t mean that you’re worse at sex. \\\\\\ Or that you’re not experiencing enough. Well, if your connection with that person is strong, why would you feel like you would need to experience more with someone else? That doesn’t mean that you’re going to have better sex. If you add to your number that does not mean you’re gonna have better sex. \\\\\\ There are so many different ways to take it. Maybe you’ve had sex with a ton of people, maybe you’ve had one partner, maybe you've had none; every experience is totally different and you’re gonna change constantly, even if you’re with someone for forever. \\\\\\ Sex is not the same the first time you’ve had it
with someone or like the hundredth time you’ve had it with someone. \\\\\\ There are some people that I’ve had sex with that I don’t think about or think about the sex I had with them. I know that it happened, but it’s not something I ever think about or worry about. I don’t know exactly what that means in the scheme of it. There's people I’ve maybe had sex with once that I think about - not fantasize about- but they cross my mind. \\\\\\ I’m kind of the same way with that. I haven’t had sex with two people, I’ve had sex with a few, but I was never taught to look at it in a loving way because my parents were just like, “You look at it however you want to.” They were just very open about how my parents weren’t the first people they had sex with. They’re like, “Go out and try it.” I’m glad that they did that though. I mean my first time was horrid – I dated this guy for 6 months in high school when I was 16, and it lasted for like two seconds and then I cried after. I was like, why is this supposed to be the most glorious thing? After that I was like, “Fuck sex,” basically. I had fun and I didn’t have sex with a crazy amount of people, but it wasn’t until I started dating the guy I’m dating now; we’ve been dating for like a year now, and he has taught me to look at it in [a loving way], without him even knowing. This is what
it should be, at least for me now. \\\\\\ It’s crazy how we haven’t mentioned this at all, but when you compare just having sex with people to having intimacy and love with people... like I still don’t even, that is something that is just so complex and weird to just put in a box. Sometimes I think about it and I think about my relationships and I just cannot come up with an answer. \\\\\\ My first time, well I’ve had sex with girls and guys, but my first time with a girl, I was dating this girl and she was the first person I ever had sex with, when I was 17, and it was really beautiful. It was scary as shit though, and I was nervous the whole time. She was really, really good to me for a long time and it was the first time I ever felt super comfortable with anyone. I don’t know, after that I was like...I don’t like one night stands, I’ve had a few and every time I do them I’m just like, “I regret this so much” because there’s no emotional connection for me. I associate love and sex as the same thing. \\\\\\ For me, I’ve always felt like love and sex aren't my goals in life. I thought I might be asexual for a while in high school. I was just never really interested in anyone in a physical way because of a lot of personal issues I have with physical touch. I was really surprised when I fell in love.
Austere AFFINITY // 15
PHOTOGRAPHER KELSIE SHELTON / MODEL ARIN DESAI, AUSTERE
“WHAT WOULD PRINCE CHARMING HAVE FOR AN OCCUPATION IF HE HAD NOT TO AWAKEN THE SLEEPING BEAUTY?”
Yes, men have feelings.
PHOTOGRAPHER FEY SANDOVAL, AUSTERE
BY DAVID MORGAN
Men have feelings. This is not a hypothesis. This is a fact. A statement. A collection of words as firm and concrete as the pavement. Men have feelings. This is not an observation. I am a man, a young one, but still, I am speaking from experience. I am a newscaster who actually has to live in the field he is reporting from. I know several men. I have friends who are men, and I know for a fact, they have feelings. I know because we’ve talked about them. Not in the same way we’d openly talk about sports or ideas. We talk about our true emotions in secrecy, when the restless world is asleep and we are sure no one else can hear us. But we still talk about them. Men have feelings, but for some reason, society has made it an embarrassment for us to express our emotions. As if expressing your feelings is equivalent to your masculinity walking down a never ending hall of shame with it’s pants down, heart exposed like a full moon, crowds on both sides of that wretched lane, pointing, laughing, making you feel less
than whatever a man is “supposed” to be, simply because you’d rather not hide how you feel. Men have feelings. Those who belittle them for embracing their inner self are usually other men. Other men who are too afraid of their feelings. Men who do not know how to express those feelings. There are people in this world that, when they are too afraid or do not know how to do something, will do whatever it takes to make sure no one else can do it either. They will try their best to make you wish you weren’t you, only because they wish they could do what you do. Men have feelings. Every man is not Drake or Frank Ocean. Every man does not know how to take the clustered static of emotion and compress it in to a cohesive program that can be easily consumed and understood by a broad audience. Every man does not know how to express how he feels. But every man has feelings. Even when it seems like he feels nothing, don’t worry, he does.
We all have feelings. Do not hide your feelings. You do not know when you will get to tell someone you love them for the last time. Do not hide your feelings. You do not know if the last face your mother will ever see you make is a frown. Do not hide your feelings. You do not know how the young boy who looks up to you will grow cold because you told him that boys should never cry. Do not hide your feelings. No matter how hard you try to keep them hidden, no matter how hard you try to keep the world from finding your safely guarded vault of emotion, your emotions will always find you. You will explode. Do not bottle in anything anymore. You do not know when this will all be over. But you do know how you feel. Do not hide that. Let it out. Men have feelings. And, although we’ve been taught that it’s not, it is okay to have feelings. Do not hide them. Express yourself. Just try it. We do not like to say we are sad or depressed or excited or hurt. But just try it, and soon you’ll discover a new feeling you’ll never want to lose: Freedom.
MEN H AV E
Austere AFFINITY // 19
PHOTOGRAPHER NATASHA BRITO, AUSTERE / FEATURED COUPLE JACOB SMALLS AND ALEXANDER R. HERNANDEZ
MODEL BRANDON ADAMS
Austere AFFINITY // 21
BY GABRIELE SLAUGHTER
You're the kind of girl they call "rough around the edges" because pieces of you are always snagging onto someone, leaving tiny tears wherever you go. It never begins on purpose. One day you simply meet someone and they just happen to fit into whatever cavities of yours need filling at that moment. In that instant you are complete, and it leaves you breathless because it feels like no one has ever fit into you so perfectly before. Except that they have, and they will, and they will, until you decide that your edges have morphed into something sharper, and they just don't fill you like they used to. Sometimes your margins need to interlock with a one-night-stand that you can hold in your mouth like a mint until they melt away. Then there is the time your edges will clumsily brush up against your first love and you will hold fast, fast, breathing it in because nothing, nothing will ever compare to this. When you finally manage to untangle yourself from that one, little bits of you have broken off in her, leaving you jagged in places you've never been jagged before. It's easy to think that the concave parts of you are meant to house the convexities of other people.
FEATURED COUPLE JAMIE JONES AND STEVEN FISCHER
PHOTOGRAPHER HILLARY HEAD, AUSTERE / STYLIST ARIN DESAI, AUSTERE
Between tenants you fill yourself up with other things, darker things that blur out the truths of you and block out the light. So long as you are filled with something louder than your echoing hollows, you can be whole again. That's what you were looking for when you found him, wasn't it? Someone to plug up the spaces you didn't want to feel anymore. You curled up beside him and let him hold you close while you buried your hands in your chest. You passive, passive girl. He placed his heart in your mouth and you let him, daring yourself to swallow it when you were alone. He drove 950 miles to get to you, and it took you twice that many to walk away. A year and a half later you will still be picking him out from between your teeth. It happened one day on Interstate 10. While he was asleep beside you, you let out a long, shuddering breath. The sun was beating on the flat golden ranches on either side, and ahead of you the road was long. Two lanes, no exit, only forward; another silent hour, another golden mile, another empty heart, another bitter smile. You played the song on repeat because he wasn't awake to stop you or to feel the stirrings the lyrics made in your heart. With the blue bowl of the West Texas sky above you, you peeled yourself away from him, spine by embedded spine.
Austere AFFINITY // 23
U S I N G
PRO T E C TION [TO PREVENT HEARTACHE] PHOTOGRAPHER BRITTANY SHABAN, AUSTERE
We don't have trust funds of the heart, or savings accounts for the soul.
BY GARRETT SMITH
What can I tell you? It seems like no matter what we do, we tend to invest ourselves in things that cannot live up to our standards. We so easily break each other that the natural thought of this anxious generation is to put up barriers. I can't tell you a list of the top ten ways to keep yourself emotionally safe and sane during sex. I’m not Buzzfeed and this isn’t Cosmo. I’m stumbling through this dark room as much as you, but I just so happen to have felt these walls before. First was a girl, a perfect fit: someone I wasn't going to get invested in. I thought I didn’t want anything committal, but I played the part. Things happened the way they did, and after a couple dates, there we were, and there it happened, and there she left. My feigned affection was repaid karmically in kind - suddenly, I found someone I really did
like, by some flick of fate’s hand. First, a girl who held more desire for me than the desire I took from her, and then, a girl who would take no more desire from me than the one night she gave. You can tell yourself that you will remain whole no matter how much you invest yourself, or that you can slip into any person’s life as you desire and emerge unscathed, unattached as ever to the tides. Whatever you do, there's no shame in it, so long as you consider other people. If we get too caught up in the perennial practice of self-love, we might end up hurting others. And, conversely, if we love others too much, we might lose ourselves, our confidence, our solid ground. We, as a generation, are so ready to invest ourselves in anything other than the number of vapid distractions we have at our disposal. We are so yearning for
something real and heartfelt and, above all - not ironic. So we are ready to invest, and yet paradoxically, we are just as quick to quit. The internet has taught us that pleasure is a right-swipe away, and if something isn't immediately satisfying, then we are free to move on. It’s hard to find any truly lasting pleasure. It’s hard to decide what is worth the investment. Our emotions are not like millions of dollars, cast into the wild seas of economy, with ready replacements when they are lost. We don't have trust funds of the heart, or savings accounts for the soul, to tap into. If we place our being into something that cannot return our investment, we are lost. Balance - that's all you need. Juggle your own perspective with those of others. We've all got our identities and our own stories, so we can't just push some under the covers because they're different from
our own. We can’t use people or allow ourselves to be mistreated. Yet, just this once, we can't wrap ourselves up in efforts of protection - we've got to drop it all, cut away every preconceived notion, and love every crack in the porcelain of our stories as brokenness made beautiful. Maybe I could tell you this anything that is true and that is real takes struggle to maintain, and anything that is beautiful and worth loving takes suffering. This is the riskiest thing I can tell you: give all of yourself over to the moment. It’s not always right to invest in someone else. And it is not always easy to invest solely in yourself - it’s quite the gamble, to hedge one’s bets so singularly. But if you invest in the moment, if you appreciate every experience as an expansion of your story - then maybe you’ll find something to love - in yourself, in someone else, or simply, in life itself.
"THE INTERNET HAS TAUGHT US THAT PLEASURE IS A RIGHT-SWIPE AWAY." Austere AFFINITY // 25
26 PHOTOGRAPHER SABINE FLETCHER, AUSTERE / ART DIRECTOR SAMANTHA MELOMO, AUSTERE / MODEL ANGELICA DAVIS
ART REVOLVES AROUND CREATING SOMETHING THAT ISN'T THERE. KATHLEEN HANNA
Austere AFFINITY // 27
THIS DISCUSSION WAS COMPILED FROM CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN THE LADIES OF THE AUSTERE MAGAZINE STAFF. WE REALLY THINK YOU SHOULD TALK ABOUT THIS STUFF WITH YOUR FRIENDS TOO. WE FOUND THAT SHARING EXPERIENCES IN A LOVING ENVIRONMENT NOT ONLY HELPS YOU LEARN ABOUT YOURSELF, BUT ALSO MAKES YOU LAUGH SO HARD YOU SNORT SODA OUT YOUR NOSE.
\\\\\\ Do y’all remember how you learned how to masturbate? \\\\\\ I started masturbating very young! *Everyone talking at once* \\\\\\ Under ten, I was already masturbating. \\\\\\ I did not know what I was doing! \\\\\\ I didn’t either and then my mom caught me once and that was not fun. \\\\\\ No, but as a kid you are just like, this feels good, I don’t know what this is, but I’m gonna keep doing it every day when my parents aren’t home. \\\\\\ The edge of my twin bed was really sharp and I would get like.. \\\\\\ I'll never forget – probably in 3rd grade, my friend and I were waiting in her mom’s office for a ride home, and she needed to pee. So, of course I, wanting to help, was like, I can show you
something that will make you not need to pee. *Laughing* \\\\\\ I wonder if she remembers me, and if she tells people, “This girl taught me how to masturbate in third grade.” \\\\\\ It was such a shameful thing, ‘cause I would always feel guilty later on. There were never conversations about it. \\\\\\ I would feel guilty too. \\\\\\ Nobody talked to me about it. \\\\\\ Everyone was masturbating. \\\\\\ I never touched myself at all for a long time, because I was just fine with sex. But I had a sex friend, a few years ago, and he was really into using vibrators on girls, using dildos, but I was like, “No, what, I’ve never used a sex toy.” So he bought me one so I could take it home and like...discover myself. I didn’t want to do it ‘cause I was really scared, but I really liked it. I like vibrators. \\\\\\ Well, they’re fun! \\\\\\ And like now, if he asked me to do sexy things like that with him? I’d be like hell yes. A year and a half ago, I’d be like fuck no, ‘cause you know how you don’t want someone to have so much power over you? \\\\\\ Also, people don’t know how you are feeling.
\\\\\\ It’s so nice just to be able to do it yourself. \\\\\\ I’ve never owned a vibrator. \\\\\\ Detachable shower heads! \\\\\\ I was at the beach with my friend and we were getting all the sand off, I was holding the hose and I was just like, “Dude, stick this down your pants, it feels good.” And the pressure of the water...it felt good, and she tried it, so we were standing there and people in their condos were watching us, and we just waved to them, and then casually just left. We didn’t think of it in a super sexual way, we just thought, that feels good, and we didn’t know about masturbation. I mean, I knew guys could jack off. \\\\\\ I think it’s really interesting talking about a girl’s experience learning about that because I think for boys - it’s on TV, it’s in a joke \\\\\\ Yeah, it’s so socially talked about. \\\\\\ For girls, it’s like a discovery thing. \\\\\\ You’re literally just discovering it on your own because nobody really talks to you about it. \\\\\\ I needed something else ‘cause I thought I was gonna be a virgin until I got married. But one night, it was like four in the morning, but for some reason my mom woke up and came into my room. She caught me, but I don’t think she knew
what I was doing. It wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was embarrassing ‘cause I felt like she knew what I was doing. And it’s so shameful for a girl to be fingering herself. \\\\\\ Yeah, it’s true. My mom caught me one time and I don’t even know why she came in. And I was a little kid - I don’t know what happened. I just remember being in my bed and the sheets were above me and she like came in, she was talking to me, and sat on the bed. We had this long conversation and I was like, are you gonna leave, my pants are down underneath here. I don’t wanna talk to you! She knew I was being awkward ‘cause I had no poker face yet ‘cause I was still a little kid. And so she catches on and she’s like, give me your fingers. \\\\\\ Oh my gosh. \\\\\\ She smelled my hands. \\\\\\ For the longest time, I don’t think I ever orgasmed. Like, as a kid, I think I did a little bit, but I didn’t really know until I learned how to perfect it and then I finally had the perfect orgasm. \\\\\\ When girls discover toys, it’s crazy \\\\\\ Um, when girls discover cum, it’s fucking crazy. \\\\\\ I remember the first time I came and I was
having sex with this guy and I just actually really liked him. He was my first college crush or whatever. We were having sex this one time after we had gotten in some argument and all of a sudden, I was on top. It was like a fucking lake beneath me. He thought I peed on him ‘cause that had never happened before. I don’t think I peed on you, I don’t know! And we got up and we were like, what’s happening. We were like, is that what’s - is that normal, what the fuck is happening? That was just me coming and then afterwards we were like...yeahhhh. \\\\\\ It’s not pee. \\\\\\ I’ve never been able to squirt though. \\\\\\ It’s really clear. \\\\\\ It’s not even that mucusy. \\\\\\ It’s just like clear. \\\\\\ Squirting is different. \\\\\\ I have a weird coming story. I have never come from a guy having sex with me. And I’ve also never come from a vibrator, you know, until a year ago or something, two years. So this one time, I did acid with my housemates the summer of 2012 and I’d never had an orgasm before. \\\\\\ You had an orgasm on acid?! \\\\\\ Wait. What? \\\\\\ Listen, listen, listen. So I started tripping in this
giant house, and it was so big you could have your own encounter. So my room for the summer was like a couch in there, so I was pretty much chillin’ on the couch and I started tripping. I was laying on this couch by myself a really long time, and then all of sudden, I started orgasming. No one was touching me. I wasn’t touching myself. \\\\\\ That’s a real thing. It’s a real, real thing. \\\\\\ I was in kaleidoscopes and shit. I was sweating and I was like, oh no, am I like peeing or something? And then during the course of the rest of my time, I went up to my friend and I was like, I just had a rainbow orgasm. \\\\\\ That is beautiful. \\\\\\ That’s what got me to really accept getting a vibrator. \\\\\\ Simultaneous orgasms are the best ones. \\\\\\ I definitely had a simultaneous orgasm this morning and it was fucking amazing. \\\\\\ I'm kinda living through you vicariously now. \\\\\\ It was so good. \\\\\\ I have a question though. Am I the only one who doesn’t have orgasms during sex? \\\\\\\ It’s really hard. \\\\\\ I think it’s position based, too. \\\\\\ No, it’s true.
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M U S I C M U S I C
[ T H E _ O R I G I N A L _ S A D _ B OYS ] A R I E L + N A O M I W E L C O M E _ T O _ T H E _ S A D _ G I R L S _ C L U B
A R I E L + N A O M I
P M . D A W N [THE_ORIGINAL_SAD_BOYS]
PHOTOGRAPHER NATASHA BRITO, AUSTERE / ART DIRECTOR ELIZA TRONO, AUSTERE
SAM WITH THE HAIR Dallas-based rapper Sam Lao is known as a talented performer on stage, but she has another side, her nickname among friends: Sam with the Hair, a down-to-earth, creative, ambitious woman. We got a chance to talk about creativity, feminism and more. BY MORGAN GENTRY
Do you think you have an upper hand coming into the music world, being a creative already? It's been invaluable. Everybody always wants to think of the rewards and they never want to think of the work. I already had that mindset like, “Okay there is a lot of work that needs to happen for this very small thing.” The input is always greater than the output, that’s just how it’s going to be. One of the main things that has helped me the most is the branding aspect of all of that. Knowing how to have consistent brand identities and visuals. Making sure you have the total package there, the visuals have to be on point. For the consumer, their subconscious picks up on those things that aren’t quite there. They may not be able to articulate it but they know something is missing. I think that understanding that aspect has really helped my team package the SAM LAO brand. Designers design for other designers, it is what it is.
Where do your influences and inspirations in the music realm come from? I never like to use the word influenced, because I feel like it gives them too much control over what I’ve done. I prefer the word inspired, which is where I put Kanye, Queen and Prince. All of [them are] great artists; those are the artists I grew up listening to. I grew up in a Queen and Prince household. They’re idols - that personality, that brand, that music that touched everybody across the world, that’s something I want to capture in my own work. I would say that’s something that really inspires me to be better. One of the things I always think of when I’m painting or designing is that nobody knows your vision but you. So if it’s not completely there and you’ve only been giving them 65% they’re thinking it’s 100%. But you yourself know you’re missing that other 35%. So if I really want to be great, not just for other people but for myself, its gotta be that 100%.
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"YOU CAN’T KEEP FEEDING THE FIRE INSTEAD OF LETTING IT BURN OUT. YOU MIGHT BE COLD FOR A LITTLE WHILE BUT YOU’LL FIND A BETTER FIRE."
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Have you hit any struggles music wise? Business is business so don’t come to me with bullshit, I’m working. I think as a female in a male-dominated industry (because it’s not a male industry - just dominated, and I think they forget that) when they say “oh you did good for a girl.” So one of the things that I found that bothers me is that guys do this thing where they get really soft spoken with me after I’m done performing. You don’t get to sweet talk to me. I hate that aspect. I hate the “excuse me, miss thing” or “hey ma, you did a good job”. Thanks, I did a good job but I have a name. It really bothers me because it feels dismissive and very condescending. I can’t handle condescending. How do you feel about female musicians exploiting themselves in the music industry? It’s one of those things I have to check myself on. At its core, selling sex has been around since the beginning of time. We eat with our eyes. If someone is exploiting our need to eat with our eyes who are we to tell them that they’re wrong? I don’t like that aspect of it because nobody talks about Trey Songz selling sex, and that fool can’t make a goddamn song without talking about sex. R Kelly made a whole career talking about sex. 36
It’s only an issue when a woman is doing it and that bothers me so much, because it’s really unfair. If she’s fine, she’s fine. It goes back and forth, because at some point you need to have something else to offer or bring to the table. And that’s where things get iffy for me, like okay what else do you got? By all means use it as an advancement, but use it as a supplement for something else. There has to be something else. I think that’s the only time it bothers me when there’s not something else. How do you feel about women of today and the peaks and valleys of feminism? I feel like feminism is seeing a resurgence. There are a lot of varying beliefs in feminism and everybody thinks they’re correct. But I’m happy to see women take control of the way they’re presented and people react. Really being like, "Fuck your standards, this is what it is and this is what’s happening.” I also believe that feminism reaches outside of just women, it’s definitely an “equality for all” thing. I’m really happy that people are really speaking out about it. That being said, there is stupidity and ignorance that meets them like a wall of fuckshit every time. How do you feel about women of color today?
I have two thoughts. It’s one of the things that I’ve been forced to think about recently with everything that’s happening with the climate of our society. I’m mixed, I know that. I love my dad - he’s the white one. I love him I do, but I’ve realized that no one ever is going to look at me and say she’s white. I do like that black feminism is happening, that women are deciding you can’t tell me that there’s something wrong with the way that I was born. It’s just not going to work, I really love that that is happening. What I don’t really like is there is still a standard there that people think is beautiful with women of color and what’s not acceptable. Thats extremely unfair. I struggle with it, because if you’re going to cape for one type… Being a woman with lighter skin, not only have I never been white, I’ve never been black enough. Having that attack from both sides, like what the fuck man, I didn’t ask for this just like you didn’t ask for that. How are you going to go through these same struggles and then be like nah you don’t have to deal with that. Touching on love, what does the word intimacy mean to you? I feel like for most people intimacy defaults into a sexual context, and up until I was probably 17 or 18 that’s what I thought too. It wasn’t until that time
that I started realizing that intimacy means you could be your full, true, honest self without fear of judgment or repercussions from someone else. That was true intimacy. Then once I got into a relationship with my fiancé [Jeremy Biggers] I was at the point of, "This is me; if he doesn't like it then fuck it, he don’t like it." Every time I peeled back a layer and he didn't run away, I was like ‘oh this is what it’s suppose to be like’. Being able to share your full self with someone else, that is what intimacy means to me. How has your outlook on love changed as you have gotten older? People will either feel like love should be impossibly perfect or exceptionally impossible. Like that’s the only two flavors love can come in - it’s either perfect or broken. I’m seeing this growing trend of people who are totally okay with their love being broken, being in miserable relationships and letting it be known. They have this weird ‘I feel like this is broken but I don’t want to hurt the other person’s mindset. I saw this quote the other day, I want to say it was by Paulo Coelho, “A mistake made more than once is a decision”. That’s exactly what it is. You can’t keep feeding the fire instead of letting it burn out. You might be cold for a little while but you’ll find a better fire.
Keep up with Sam's music, art and general wonderfulness: THESAMLAO.COM.
Before Drake, there was Attrell and Jarrett Cordes. BY ANTENEH GEBRE Looking back on mainstream hip hop in the past seven or so years, it’s hard to see how the old stereotype of the super street, hyper-aggressive rap star was the standard for so long. About 25 years ago, being especially macho was the norm in that culture. In 1990, you didn’t have to be Ice-T, but you certainly couldn’t be Drake. Although the album styles vary among the top rap albums of 1990 – Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet, Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Brand Nubian’s One For All – none could necessarily be described as soft. With this man’s man climate, it’s hard to believe anything tender or remotely delicate would make much of a splash in the genre. Enter PM Dawn, the first openly sensitive group in hip-hop. I want you, the reader, to know that I just lit a candle and dimmed the lighting in my room to write the remainder of this piece. PM Dawn, the duo formed by brothers Attrell (Prince Be) and Jarrett Cordes (DJ Minutemix), made music that was tender; Prince Be often read his lyrics like poetry as opposed to using more common flows. In the 1993 international hit “Looking Through Patient Eyes”, he reads, “I’ll life and death my way through the sun / Where originates all the pain that leaves / my memory a traumatic sponge and sings
to you.” The songs feels very spacious and airy; some, like “The Ways Of The Wind”, are even comparable to quiet storm R&B. The pair’s whole aesthetic was totally distinct and as unique as their music. From their album covers to how they dressed, PM Dawn was clearly out to set themselves apart from the pack in everything they did. From their pink jewelry in the video for their biggest hit “Set Adrift On Memory Bliss” to Prince Be’s dreads that hung over his eyes like an emo kid’s bangs, they were always different and always ahead of their time. The group enjoyed critical and commercial success on their first two albums, Of Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience (1991) and The Bliss Album…? (1993), but unfortunately missed out on the latter in their later work. The group went on to release a live album in 2010. At the height of their popularity and for many years after, there was nothing like PM Dawn. Prince Be opened the door for artists like Drake and Childish Gambino – who covered “I’d Die Without You” for BBC Radio – to continue this path in music. So when you hear people praise these artists for their openness and sensitivity in their music, politely – this is not a license to be a music snob – inform them that Prince Be is the original #sadboy of hip-hop.
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A R I E L + N A O M I
PHOTOGRAPHER ELLIE ALONZO, AUSTERE
We grabbed a beer and relaxed on the porch of Oak St. Drafthouse with Denton musicians Naomi Kliewer, the guitar -playing lead singer and co-visionary behind the harmoniously eccentric soul-folk-jazz fusion band The Mothers, and Ariel Hartley, who sings and strums for the fuzzy pop rock band Pearl Earl, plays keys and guitar for the garagesurf-psych band Mink Coats and drops mad lines in the “white trash” hip-hop collective GROSS BITCH.
How did you get into music? Naomi: My mom played guitar when I was little, so I guess my
Ariel: But then again it’s a good thing and a bad thing because
feminist standpoint. With the past movements there’s been
earliest would be church because I sang with my mom. Then
people ARE paying attention to girls. They’re like ‘oh shit
a goal that they were trying to accomplish. The feminism
when I was in 6th grade I got into marching band, which is
there’s girls that can play music’.
with our generation is more introspective and it’s whatever
like the love of my life still. Then I got my guitar when I was 16
feminism is to you as a feminist. I do agree that there have
and played with my best friend.
Do you think our ability to sell sex is a negative or positive thing?
been major strides in society as far as equality goes. But I
Ariel: I did choir in elementary school. Then when I was 19,
Naomi: It’s a double-bind because there’s something very
still can’t get married in the state of Texas. I’m very active in
I met Julia Blake who taught me some chords on the guitar,
empowering and rebellious about owning female sexuality,
the queer and trans community and I have friends who still
then I took that and ran with it. I just started playing and
because society tells you you’re not suppose to have it. But at
can’t go to the bathroom of their choice, they can’t identify
writing songs. But I always had kind of written poetry, bad
the same time you can get a lot of flack, because it’s another
as who they are. I went to a waffle house on Saturday with
poetry, so I always felt like I was writings songs without
thing society says it’s too sexy.
my partner and someone sat down next to us and stared for
knowing it. Without the instruments.
Ariel: I agree. I find a lot of female musicians posing for the
like three minutes not saying a word and just walked away. We
camera, cleavage out and pointing out of the fact that they’re
got skipped ahead of in line. So yes, there has been strides. I
How did you perceive women in music growing up?
beautiful. And that kind of makes me uncomfortable because
can be out and black and in an interracial couple, but it’s very
Ariel: They were these beautiful goddess pop stars, with
music for me is about just making music.
real for me that there are things still wrong. Which is why is
What are your thoughts on feminism?
musician and a burlesque performer to speak to those things and make people aware that oppression is still very real to a
revealing glamorous clothes, always being sexy. Naomi: For me it was a little different because my mom listened
is important to create safe spaces and use my position as a
to a lot of Tracy Chapman, Jewel, and Alanis Morissette. So I
Naomi: I love it! I love it! I just switched my minor to women
was more into the coffee shop, acoustic, songwriting type of
in gender studies so I’ve been getting a lot of feminist theory
lot of people.
and I just want to be more political. I want my position as a
Ariel: I think us being in the bible belt of Texas, some people
How has your perception changed? How does it feel to be a
musician to be more political and change things, because
like yourself get treated way differently than me. The thing is
there’s a lot of stuff that’s fucked up that doesn’t need to be.
people like us don’t choose to associate with people like that anymore, but it's still very present.
woman in music now?
Like asking someone their pronoun preference or creating
Ariel: It’s kind of bothering me a little bit. I notice people take
safe spaces for people or having a song that might be
Naomi: That shit happens all the time. I benefit in my
you less seriously because you’re a female. We think a lot of
triggering to some people and speaking on it. To me it’s just
community because I am femme and I present as a female
girls aren’t playing but they’ve always been playing, they’ve
about creating safe spaces for people and using my music to
and I look like a female, but my partner is trans and they don’t
just been overlooked.
speak to that and create social change.
get the same benefits or get treated the same as I do. The rest
Naomi: I definitely feel the need to work harder so that people
Ariel: I definitely get feminism, I like it and I understand it, I’ve
of Texas is not Denton and it feels like a safe bubble so when
take me seriously. I’ve been playing shows since I was around
taken a few classes on feminist studies. The only problem
you get out of it, it’s awful.
18 or 19. I can’t tell you how many times we would go play a
I have with it is, I don’t like the word feminist because it
show and get on stage and no one would take us seriously.
automatically puts the direction towards me as a female only.
And they would set the bar so low that after we were done they were like ‘oh shit you guys were great’. Yeah, but you were
With all the mixed views being thrown out, do you feel it is creating
being an asshole about it. I don’t know why you don’t expect
a stigma around what feminism really means?
us to be just as good as anyone else who gets on the stage.
Naomi: I have mixed feelings about it, especially from a
\\\\\\ Our conversation continued with racism, Hillary Clinton, tripping balls on your period and the perception of women before capitalism. You’ve heard what they’ve had to say, now go check out their tunes. Austere AFFINITY // 41
BY CLAIRE MORALES + JENA PYLE While recording our cover of P a t s y C l i n e ’ s “ S t r a n g e ,” w e h a d a chance to reflect on heartache and love lost. No one knows this s t u f f b e t t e r t h a n h e r . We w e r e inspired to write our own AntiLove Letters in her honor and as a celebration of loneliness.
PHOTOGRAPHER LUKAZ WIERZBOWSKI
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F A S H I O N F A S H I O N
U L T R A . V I O L E T
U L T R A . V I O L E T
H O M M E . F E M M E
M R . D A S H E R
WOMEN AS OBJECTS PHOTOGRAPHER NATASHA BRITO, AUSTERE ART DIRECTORS JACQUELINE CREECH, AUSTERE VICKY ANDRES, AUSTERE
COAT: NASTY GAL PURSE: NASTY GAL X NILA ANTHONY NECKLACE: NEIMEN MARCUS
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FAR LEFT BRA TOP: UNIF PANTS: AMERICAN APPAREL SHOES: SHELLY'S LONDON EARRINGS: NIKKI LIPSTICK
CENTER TOP: NIKKI LIPSTICK SKIRT: O MIGHTY SHOES: VAGABOND SUNGLASSES: CRAP EYEWEAR
RIGHT TOP: TIGER MIST SKIRT: UNIF SHOES: RED KISS EARRINGS: FRILLY POPS
MR. DASHER 54
TOP JACKET: TOPMAN DESIGN SHIRT: CREEP BY HIROSHI AWAI VEST: STYLIST’S OWN JEWELRY: VITALY TROUSERS: EDWIN SHOES: RED WING SHOES
BOTTOM JACKET: TOPMAN DESIGN SHIRT: AN ORIGINAL PENGUIN JEWELRY: PYRRHA VEST: STYLIST’S OWN TROUSERS: TOPMAN DESIGN TRAINERS: TOPMAN DESIGN
RIGHT JACKET: HARDY AMIES SHIRT: LEVI’S VEST: STYLIST’S OWN
This is the story of an unspoken relationship that bursts into colour when the two are together. Inspired by the style of Mr. Dasher in the film Female Trouble by John Waters.
JEWELRY: PYRRHA TROUSERS: UNIQLO SHOES: G.H. BASS & CO.
LEFT JACKET: HARDY AMIES SHIRT: LEE PATON
PHOTOGRAPHER RENE AUGUST STYLIST ALEX BAKER MODELS HENRY ASHTON @ NEVS / DYLAN MONK @ ELITE
JEWELRY: VITALY SHORTS: BEN SHERMAN SHOES: HUDSON
U LT R A VIOLET PHOTOGRAPHER ALICIA STEPP STYLIST LAUREN JENKINS, AUSTERE HMUA WALTER FUENTES MODEL ANGEER AMOL CLOTHING ELEMENTS BOUTIQUE, DALLAS SHOES STYLIST'S OWN
"I think beauty is very complicated because most of us think we know the answer to what beauty really is. But the fact is, the things and people we know to be beautiful are so different to every individual. Beauty is a label we attach to different experiences and it canâ€™t really be defined by one thing or a certain look. I feel beautiful when I am confident and comfortable in my own skin and self. It's no one's responsibility to make me feel beautiful, it's my responsibility to make myself feel beautiful."
â€“Angeer Amol, Model
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PHOTOGRAPHER BRITTANY SHABAN, AUSTERE MODELS / HMUA JACQUELINE CREECH, AUSTERE HILLARY HEAD, AUSTERE SAMANTHA MELOMO, AUSTERE
Sorry Kitten, it’s over. Oh Darling, you’re not my type anyway...
Austere AFFINITY // 61
POETRY She walks in cursive her lips rhyme with mine poetry in motion I can quote every line of her existence. a phenomenal woman, indeed written in body language I am willing to read the greatest piece that I’ve seen is simply her in her sleep nothing is more beautiful than beauty at peace. her soul is a simile her mind a metaphor I’ve been through plenty of books but this one I’ve not read before we are pen and pad every touch, a new line she is the kind of poetry that does not leave the mind...
PHOTOGRAPHER FEY SANDOVAL, AUSTERE
David Morgan is a poet. His poems make everyone at Austere blush. Follow his work at: DavidFnMorgan.com
IRRITATION I want to Get under Your skin And irritate you In the most romantic way possible. I want to Be a migraine Invading Your brain Giving you headaches That feel like heaven. I want to Infect you And Make you sick Of being alone. I want to Trip you up And Make you fall Just so I could catch you.
But Don’t let me Love you. You’ll learn to love rashes And You’ll never stop scratchin’ Because I hurt So good. Austere AFFINITY // 63
HOMME FEMME PHOTOGRAPHER BRITTANY SHABAN, AUSTERE
Austere AFFINITY // 65
P E O P L E
P E O P L E
T O _ B E _ B L U E
Molly Soda: digital artist and all around kween. Seriously. We talked to her about Molly irl, self love and her thoughts on cyber fame.
"IF I WAS LIMITED TO ONLY THE PEOPLE I KNOW IRL, I DON’T THINK MY QUALITY OF LIFE WOULD BE AS GOOD."
Why do you think people favor you on the internet and what do you think brought people your way? I’d like to think that people are interested in me because I’m relatable on some level. The people that I look up to and keep up with the most aren’t people that I put up on a pedestal or idolize, but [they’re] people I feel I can be friends with. I think that accessible personalities are much more valuable than the idea of a pop star or a flawless being. I’m not sure exactly what I did to make so many people interested in my life and my work. Do you think that maybe your willingness to be vulnerable on the internet plays a part in it? I think so. I’ve always been very open online...and it’s evolved in a lot of ways. I never want to seem whiny or bratty. I think there’s a fine line there and I think people want to put words to what they’re going through. I’ve felt more obligated to be sincere… When I started using Tumblr, I was really sarcastic but now I’m a little less harsh and I’ve let that wall down a little more because people are so receptive to sincerity.
How do you balance online communication with face-toface relationships? I don’t know what that healthy balance is and I get frustrated with the idea that one is better than the other. I have friends in real life and when I’m with them, I’m present, but I value my time on the internet very much and [many of] the people that I’m friends with are people that I’ve met online and have talked to for years before meeting them in real life. If I was limited to only the people I know in real life, I don’t think my quality of life would be as good. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with them, it’s just that I need more than that. I think everyone does. Do you think that the digital world has created another element of our personalities? I think it adds more depth to a person. There are people [who] only know me in real life who don’t use the internet and I’m always like, ‘I kind of wish you could see what I do online because I feel like you would know me a little bit better.’ It opens up a new layer - an informative aspect. So do you think your perspective on love changed as you’ve gotten older, do you think you've gotten wiser? Oh god. I think the older I get, the more I realize that my fantasies, or the way I expected to be in love, are not my realities. I’ve been single for almost two years now and I’ve thought about how relationships are necessary for personal growth, but being alone [is too]. Romantic love is not really something that I think people should strive for. I think that’s what everyone wants deep down in some form and because we’re always looking for that, our motivations are fucked up and our expectations [become] weird. Austere AFFINITY // 71
It’s almost like having a crush on someone isn’t actually like them, it’s liking the idea of them. The sooner I can give up the idea of ideal love or the things that I was supposed to have by now, the better I can feel about myself. I used to feel my self esteem was lower when I didn’t have a fling, or a crush...and I would feel really bad about myself. That’s so fucked up and I know so many women who feel that way. This has been the most confident I’ve felt in a really long time, these last six months and it’s all been me. Once I let go of needing that validation, I’ve been a lot more content. Has internet fame added to your confidence or has it mostly been growth in your personal life? I have a validation meter with Tumblr and I think it adds to [my confidence] but I think it’s more self-reflecting and things I’ve done in my daily life to improve. I quit drinking alcohol and denounced this notion of romantic love...and I started focusing on what I want to do more than what I want to look like. The internet sort of amplifies what I’m doing right in real life. Do you think self love and body positivity is a part of your confidence? I’ve had girls tell me that after following my blog for a while, they feel more positive about themselves and their bodies and I think that’s really awesome. Everyone should feel good about themselves and I don’t always feel good about myself, but I make sure to talk about
that. I’ve considered getting plastic surgery and I’ve written about that. I don’t want it to turn into me complaining, I want to turn it into a discussion. What advice would you give to others based on what you know? There’s a way to appreciate another’s beauty but not compare yourself. That’s the main thing I struggled with and I would wish I looked like that and that’s negative. You get down on yourself. It’s commonplace…[but] it’s not going to help you in the long run. Do you have a stance on hooking up? I have a hard time believing anyone enjoys casual sex and I don’t want to be negative, but I’m just thinking on my personal experiences with one night stands. I don’t want to speak for all women but the reason I would want to have casual sex would be for some form of validation. I was having unsatisfactory sex and sex with people I didn’t want to have sex with again because I wanted to feel good about myself, but it never did. It never made me feel worse, it just made me feel different. There’s something really bizarre about casual sex
to me. I think it’s cool for people to have sex with whoever they want...but the most fun sex I’ve had is with partners that I’ve actually been able to talk to about what I want. I don’t want to say all casual sex is bad because I definitely don’t think it is, but there’s this part of me that feels that it’s not something I want to do anymore. Once I get the notion out of my head that I hope I meet someone tonight and go home with them, it makes it more fun. Do you have any projects coming up? The most recent thing is a project called, Story of my Life and it’s a crowdsource project that I put out for people to send me videos of them talking to their webcams. [They] can talk anything...and I’m making an archive of them for a website. There’s a really good one of a girl watching a video from when she was 12-years-old and reacting to it. Some of them are really hard to watch [because] they’re sad and some are really light-hearted. \\\\\\ Keep up with Molly's world: MOLLYSODA.BIZ
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FEATURED COUPLE HOBBES GINSBERG (@HHOBBESS) AND CHLOE FELLER (@HOLLYWOODTR ASHQUEEN)
PHOTOGRAPHER RICHARD RAMIREZ JR. (@RICHARDRJR)
CHLOE AND HOBBES
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ANTHONY, BRYAN AND BRANDON ILLUSTRATOR MOLLY FORD CORONADO
BLUE TO BE
BY MORGAN GENTRY
There’s always a person in the family that seems to have it all. Everything they touch turns to gold, while you’re just the awkward kid who’s not quite as naturally brilliant. The chances of an entire family possessing this touch, this juice, are refreshingly uncommon. The Blue family is that rare family. I met creative brothers Brandon, Bryan and Anthony Blue over the course of five years. I’ve come to see and appreciate the brilliance that shines from each of them, in their own way. The oldest brother, Brandon, better known as Blue, The Misfit, is a producer and rapper in Dallas. He’s won a few Dallas Observer Music Awards and a supporting spotlight from the city. I first met Brandon when he was a part of the duo Sore Losers. They weren’t such a big deal then, but I im-
mediately recognized his creativity. As my friendship with him grew I came to know the rest of his talented family. Bryan, the middle child, lives in Los Angeles. His charismatic aura and artistic talent has taken him so far as a recent commissioned 20-foot mural on Melrose Avenue. Gifted with the ability to master whatever he puts his mind to, he’s created a personal brand of mummy-wrapped art pieces, sketches, clothing and any medium he can get his hands on. He’s mummified everything from a pair of high tops for Converse to movie posters and snapchats. The youngest of the brothers is Anthony, a photographer and DJ currently living in New York. He’s shot everyone from ASAP Rocky, Amber Rose and Blood Orange, to Pharrell and Ron English. Humble and diligent, his work ethic and detailed
eye has propelled him into a league of young visionaries. But talent doesn’t form out of thin air. Talent needs to be acknowledged, nurtured, supported, and disciplined. I got a chance to talk to their mother Shawndra, AKA “Mama Blue” to get more insight on the family. “Most parents want their kids to go the traditional route, but these three have proven that the reward is much greater when you follow your path,” Mama Blue said. “I’m really proud of them...I’ve got three going on four and they turned out to be such goal setters and trendsetters. It makes my heart warm.” The fourth child is Sydneigh. Ten years behind Anthony, she has already started carving her own lane as a dancer, and has a passion for fashion. She’s still
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evolving, but as Brandon pointed out to me the other day: keep your eyes on that one. Though the two other boys weren’t in the house much while Syd grew up, she says she still picked up their artsy side. She trickled into fashion because of Bryan’s clothing line, War Club, and the outfits she saw in Seventeen magazine. She dabbles in music thanks to Brandon’s music and looks up to artists like Willow Smith and Zendaya. Shawndra mentioned a morning when Sydneigh was listening to Brandon’s music and instead of getting mad about the foul language, she shrugged it off, saying, “It’s her brother. I can’t get mad at her for that.” “She is taking the same paths as us: we played sports growing up, she plays sports; she has the freedom to go hang with her friends and discover herself. Nobody is locking her in the house just because she’s a girl. She has the same life we had,” Brandon said. Shawndra remembers when Brandon was around two or three and would be in the backseat making his own little tunes in his head. “There was a tune me and my sister would always laugh at because he would be back there just ‘Gah gah, gah gah gah. Gah gah, gah gah gah’. That was his thing day in and day out,” she reminisced.
Brandon was always soft spoken, laid back, always marching to his own beat. He admits he struggled to find himself as they grew up. He also felt overshadowed by Bryan, who seemed to have everything. “Bryan was always super talented since basically day one. He always had his art thing down and it was like, whatever he touched, he would figure it out and become really good at it,” Brandon exclaimed about his younger brother. “He dressed cooler, knew more people, he was good at sports and he could draw.” Bryan begs to differ. "I think a lot of it came from me always feeling like an underdog, feeling like a stranger because we moved a lot as kids," he said. "So I had the underdog mentality and I was pretty quiet and chill in school. I think the newly-found juice has developed from just that mentality of feeling like you have to prove and show people why you’re tight." Shawndra says Bryan has been doodling since he was a little kid. He was always drawing on something or creating something and she saved every little bit of it. “Bryan was very free, independent, headstrong and always wanted to do it his way,” she said. “He was always that kid, and is growing up to be that man.” Shawndra jokes about Anthony, saying he didn’t leave her hip till he was
about 12. With a naturally nurturing spir- it,” Brandon told me. “If we can somehow it and a quiet demeanor, he was always bring all three of our crafts together then it making sure his mom and dad were okay. can be something big…we’ve been talking But it turns out, Anthony was the shocker. and plotting a tour of all three of us. ” Shawndra said she wasn’t expecting him Bryan is on the same wavelength. to take to photography and painting. She “I think what we’re doing right now thought he was going to be the produc- is already a branding of like the whole er of the family; he was the guy in high family. To have three brothers and young school who would burn CDs for every- Syd on different coasts. Like I’m in the body. West, AJ’s in the East and Brandon’s in Since his move to New York, Antho- the South. Someone will come in town ny has been at the right place at the right and I’m throwing some event and sometimes and meeting all the right connec- one will ask them, do you know Blue? tions. His portfolio continues to grow and And they’ll know one of us. They’ll say, his reputation is undeniable. Nowadays, “Oh yeah, I know Blue, we kick it all the Anthony is opening his lens to selfless time,” and then they get there and it’s me. excursions and following the fun. He ex- They respond “Oh, I know your brother.” celled at his first DJ tour #BIYDIY with It’s already growing an organic brand, but Matt Nelson and joined Skate For Change I think we just have to figure out what we on their Hot Dogs 4 Homeless tour. want to make. Maybe a CD or some shit. "I just want to help people in a genu- There are so many options of what we can ine space and I just want to be selfless for make. I don’t know, we can make a proa little while," Anthony said. "Instead of sit- duction company or something. Or open ting in New York trying to figure out ways a restaurant or a bar. Blue’s Bar and Grill,” to work with people you don’t necessar- Bryan laughs. ily care for, and trying to figure out how As cliché as it may sound, this family you’re going to come up or profit from truly does posses the juice. this opportunity." That doesn't mean the grind won't \\\\\\ continue. Keep up with the Blue brothers. As for the future of this family? “I think that the perception of all Bryan - @BluetheGreat three of us is going to grow and it might Brandon - @BluetheMisfit be some legendary thing if we stick with Anthony - @AntBlueJr
"IF WE CAN SOMEHOW BRING ALL THREE OF OUR CRAFTS TOGETHER, THEN IT CAN BE SOMETHING BIG."
SHAWNDRA / MAMA BLUE
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82 PHOTOGRAPHER MAISIE COUSINS
PHOTOGRAPHER LAURENCE PHILOMÈNE
"I shot this last year when I briefly had pink hair. I'm obsessed with wearing matching pink tracksuits."
//// Montreal artist and photographer Laurence Philomène reimagines comfort and femininity around her subjects and the world. We caught up with Laurence and gained a lot of wisdom learning about her idealized femme utopia.
Here's what Laurence had to say... ON GROWING UP I had a really creative childhood, but I was sick for most of it. I have an illness that I got when I was three years old, so a lot of my childhood was spent in hospitals and getting blood tests and all that. I didn’t have siblings because I was sick, so I guess it was kind of lonely. I started using the arts as an escape.
They are just projections of myself on to others. So the series that I’m doing right now is kind of that, but to the extreme. I am literally putting other people as myself. I’ve been having a lot of fun with it. Sometimes it really feels like I’m photographing myself.
sick my whole life. I was always in pain, and my body changes a lot depending on my illness; this was a way for me to come to terms with that. When I photograph others it often becomes more about the shapes and the visuals, and how it looks. I think skin is beautiful.
ON NUDITY AND SEXUALITY
ON PHOTOGRAPHING MEN
One thing that bothers me is that my work I use to photograph only girls, and is viewed as sexual, but to me it really isn’t. then I started photographing guys and It’s very much about showing nudity in a I got really into it. What’s been really non-sexual context. And some people will bothering me lately is the way people argue that nudity is inherently sexual, but I are seen as objects in photos. I really ON SELF-PORTRAITS don’t think it has to be. It really bothers me, like to photograph men the exact same actually, when my work gets viewed as way I photograph girls. I like to eradicate When I was a teenager, self-portraits were sexual. A lot of my work gets reblogged on masculinity from my work as much as a really big thing for me. I was lonely and porn blogs, and I can’t control that, which possible. I just act as if it doesn’t exist I would just put myself in weird scenarios really bothers me because I don’t want -- and it doesn’t exist to me. I used to and take pictures. It was a whole thing to objectify the people that I photograph. photograph dolls a lot, and someone told with the online Flickr generation, and all And it bothers me that there’s nothing I me the way I photograph boys is kind of my friends were doing it. We would all can do against the fact that the world will the same way I photograph dolls. I kind take pictures of ourselves and try to see still objectify them. of just pose them around as I wish and how creative we could get with it. have fun with it. I’ve been really lucky to Then it became a sort of self-care thing ON RECLAIMING NUDITY work with guys who are super open to it for me to take pictures of myself. There and let me do whatever I want with them. was a time when I stepped away from When I started taking self-portraits that It’s very much a reversal of typical power the whole self-portraiture thing, but I feel included nudity, it was very much about structures, as I’m completely in control like every picture I take is still of myself. reclaiming my body because I’ve been so when I photograph boys.
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PHOTOGRAPHER LAURENCE PHILOMĂˆNE
Check out more of Laurence's work: LAURENCEPHILOMENE.COM.
Pink Studies (Edwin), 2014 - "This was the first installment of my color studies series. I always think of Edwin when I have ideas for new photos so I asked him if I could paint him all pink and he was in! I went for pink as my first color because it's my favorite, and it's what made the most sense to me."
Lavender Studies (Ariana), 2014 - "Another one from my color studies series of my friend Ariana painted lavender."
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88 PHOTOGRAPHER ELLIE ALONZO, AUSTERE / MODEL AVIS NEWTON / MUA TANNY SMITH STYLISTS ARIN DESAI AND AVERY HASTINGS, AUSTERE
AVIS NEWTO N
"Avis is everyday, working 2 retail jobs, the reality, and Onyx is when I can have a day off and can get on stage and become Onyx."
90 PHOTOGRAPHER KATE SWEENEY
PETER Austere AFFINITY // 91
A LIFETIME OF LOVE BY LAUREN BELL
Today, there is no norm for family life. There is no norm for love. It was once the American dream to fall in love and marry young, for a wife to raise the children in a fine home and for her husband to be the breadwinner. For Barbara Jackson, an 83 year old Bostonian now living in North Texas, this dream came easily. It was a week after her sixteenth birthday in 1948 when she met Herb Jackson. “The sun was shining a certain way on him. I took one look at him…” Her eyes were lit up, as if she could see him right in front of her. “That was it,” she said, as if love was so simple. “We went out that night to a movie. We went out every night. It was such an instant thing.” She spoke as if they had just met, as if not a day had gone by. She was eighteen and he was twenty when they got married on May 6, 1950, both virgins and crazy for each other. It would be two years following their marriage until she bore her first son Bruce, then Mark, and their youngest son Keith. Barbara acknowledged that it was hard work maintaining her home with three boys running around.
From someone who knows, she explained that having a home, raising a family, and working a job was unimaginable for her. Her husband would not have allowed her to work, regardless. It was a matter of pride for him to support his family, a value that has evolved overtime. “You know, kids - young people today - they treat their friends with more courtesy than their girlfriend or their wife, and vice versa,” Barbara observed. She stressed that respect is the core issue between people, especially for women, but Barbara grew up in “gentler times” when women were more respected than they are today. From her experience, men treated women like they were special, like they were princesses. Today, a lot of people would argue that chivalry is dead, and perhaps that is true, but this could be seen as a transitional period for everyone: men must wonder if they should open doors and walk on the edge of the sidewalk, while women fight for equal pay and an equal voice in government. “Never say anything (to your significant other) that you wouldn’t want coming back to you,” was Barbara’s motto. She didn’t pick at him. If she had an argument, it would be a hell of a battle and she would aim to win. There were times, of course, that they fought. “One time he called me a bitch, and I probably deserved it,” she said. “But I cried my eyes out and I made him suffer for that. He had just bought me a diamond ring and I took the diamond ring and I threw it at him. I told him I was leaving. I have no idea where I thought I’d go, but if we ever had an argument, and it was very, very seldom, I usually caused it, because he was so easy to get along with.” For the most part, their personalities were compatible, but if they were a couple living in America today, it does not seem quite so likely that they would have felt as strongly about staying together, since di-
vorce has become an acceptable option in our society. Loving him was easy, she kept telling me, and I believe her. It just seems so extraordinary that two people can love each other from adolescence to retirement, working through every obstacle to be together, raise children, and support one another. Fighting between them made them stronger and nothing could change their status of husband and wife. These roles supplied the backbone and the heart of what they were fighting for: their love for each other. They loved to surprise each other. Without her knowledge, Herb planned every detail for a five day exploration throughout England, because he knew how much she loved British history. When he was working in Germany, he managed to surprise her there too with trips to Switzerland and Austria. Perhaps this was part of the success behind their marriage: a spontaneous, joyful exploration of each other
About twelve years ago, Herb’s leg was amputated due to a complication with a blood clot. Barbara explained how their love transformed through this hardship. “It got better,” she said. “It got so much deeper. When he lost his leg, I would look at him and I would have such empathy for him. The love that was in my heart just overwhelmed me.” Then, four years ago, Barbara was helping Herb adjust in his bed. She heard a distinct popping noise - it was the aneurysm in one of his main arteries. He was gone, right there in her arms. The paramedics tried reviving him on the living room floor, but Barbara kept telling them to leave him alone because she knew he was not coming back. Altogether, they would have been married sixty-five years now. “Sometimes missing him is an ache,” Barbara says. Barbara and Herb were fortunate to find each other in that time and place, and to have as much time together as they did. In today’s world, where everyone and everything is disposable, where change is constant, it would be much harder to find such a deep soul-seeded commitment. Femininity was defined and pulled back with apron strings, masculinity was pronounced in strength and Old Spice, each gender carefully restricted to future roles and prospects. Nowadays these lines are blurred and far more brazen than before. We are a generation of convenience and spoiled with instant gratification, but it does not seem any better or worse than generations from the past. Communication, respect, and fun-loving worked wonders for Barbara and Herb. As the rules of engagement between men and women seem to deteriorate, it could just be that we are in transition. We are a generation with the benefit of appreciating values of the past, but we are allowed the grace of finding our true selves and love on our own terms.
PHOTOGRAPHER BRITTANY SOWACKE, AUSTERE
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PHOTOGRAPHER SARA CATH
This work is a comment on the affinity the artist has for its muse. Inspired by the early 16th century paintings of reclining nude women - ex. "The Sleeping Venus" Giorgione & "Venus of Urbino" Titian, the women referenced were immortalized from a man's view. This work portrays a woman in a place of power as both subject and artist. Through self-portraiture, the artist expresses her sexuality & control over her own image as a woman in the 21st century.
PHOTOGRAPHER AUBRY ROACH
AUBRY ROACH AND TIMOTHY MAX ARE CELEBRATING
MALE SEXUALITY THROUGH THEIR NEW SERIES
We caught up with Dallas-based artists Aubry Roach and Timothy Max to talk about their vibrant new series 'California Boys' and their undeniable love. Tell us about your new series. What is your intended message? Aubry: To change the perception of sexuality. Primarily, homosexuality because Tim: - It’s still taboo in Dallas. People are so uncomfortable and you can feel it. Whether we mean to or not, we also live what we are creating. We are practicing something in our daily lives, which is just being more open. It’s a celebration of [being gay]. It’s taking away the “gayness” from it. It’s really just a comment on being free in your sexuality and for it to not be something that’s a secret or that you’re ashamed of, or something that’s taboo, weird, or uncomfortable. Aubry: Neither one of us personally suffers from HIV or an STD, but of course, when people think of the gay community…we think it comes from a lack of education. It comes from not being told that sex is okay and natural. People should be taught they have a choice of what they do or don’t want to do. When you tell someone that
something is bad, they are going to do it, but they aren’t going to be safe about it. We are, in a way, trying to change the way people bring up kids. It’s so sad to us the way that sexuality is taught. It’s affected both of our lives as far as our self-esteem and self worth. When we are together we still have to battle that kind of stuff. Tim: And the bottom line is that it’s just part of the free world we believe in. Aubry: You know, that’s why I love this kind of 70s theme [for the series]. When I think of the 70s I think of freedom, California, women topless, men having sex in the woods. It was a lot more free. The 70s was pre-aids, pre-HIV. And then that caused everyone to be really afraid. Instead of just understanding that it was a spread [of a disease] just like any other spread of anything, it became a shame thing, and whenever someone caught that they were ashamed. And I think that’s why gay culture kind of got pushed aside. You know, after the war people were like ‘war was bad, this shit is okay.’ I feel like they forgot the little shit for a while, and then the 80s happened and fear starting escalating all through the 90s. And then through the early 2000s it’s just been fear, fear, fear. And it’s slowly getting back to where people are loosening up a little more and realizing you can’t be afraid of everything. In Dallas, of
course, it takes about 5 years for everything to trickle the fuck down. Tim: But we’re working on that. That’s why we’re here. Aubry: That’s why we’re trying to put this out there and in people’s faces. One of the main messages we’re trying to get across is that we have a genuine love. We also have a really wild, sexual side to us. And you can have both; there’s nothing to be scared of. I think a lot of people don’t associate gay sex with love. They automatically just think sex. And there is that, but there can be more. We just want people to take away that as overly sexual as we can be, we really love each other. What was it like growing up for each of you? Aubry: In retrospect it was really interesting. It was hard at the time, because when you feel really different and that everything you are isn’t okay, it can be really bad on your self-esteem. Early on, nothing settled right with me about where I lived or the beliefs or the way people behaved there. I grew up in a town called Alba, in deep East Texas. Tim: For me, it was just really confusing. I knew who I was, but I grew up in a really religious household. My dad was a preacher. I grew up jumping around from church to church in small East Texas towns. I was
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consistently not fitting in. I spent my years knowing I was gay, but saying I wasn’t because I was a Christian. I had to be, or I would lose everything - my family, my friends, and everything around me. My childhood was very suffocating. My mom was also the principal. When it came time for me to start realizing I was gay and that I couldn’t deny that, I started acting out in little ways by talking to guys from other towns and my dad would find out and be really pissed. So he knew? Tim: Yeah, he knew, but he thought I could change it. For about 4 months, he made me promise him that I would go to Dallas with him to this church that has a meeting for gays. So I was going there and going through all that and it was actually really humorous. I stop going to those meetings because I get kicked out of my house when my dad marries a new witch of a wife, and that’s when I start living with my mom. Then the summer after my junior year in high school, we were on vacation and somehow at a women's barbershAubry: Beauty shop? Tim: Oh god… what a gay am I? So at a woman’s beauty shop in my hometown that my grandma was at, another mom was talking about how she heard from the grapevine of her kid that I was gay. So my mom, my sisters and I were 15 hours away at the beach. My grandma calls my mom. Then my mom comes after me and she looks through all my phone messages, and sees all the random guys I’m talking
to. So the next morning we wake up at 6 am, and she says we’re going to drive back that day. And I’m in the backseat and I don’t have my phone, and we drive all the way back to our town and it’s about 6 pm. So then she drops my little sister off and I don’t know what’s going on. I see a few texts between my mom and my dad’s wife, and they are all triangulating on this. I see texts about the Salvation Army, and little drops like “well we need to figure something out.” And my hearts beating, I know something is happening. We pull up to my house and there’s my entire family’s cars. Like I know all their cars. So it’s my aunt, my uncle, my grandpa.. It’s an intervention? Tim: Yes. So they all start telling me how wrong it is [to be gay]. And I had just turned 18 the week before vacation, so I’m like, I can’t do this anymore. I’m going to figure out this whole God thing later, but I can’t hide this and change it and apologize for it. And so basically the solution was that my dad had already found this “Pray the Gay Away” rehab center. The solution was that my dad would take me. And I told him that I hated him that night. I had this best friend that was going to let me come stay with her, and my dad called her and told her parents, and told her dad he would kick him off the [school] board if he let me stay there. Aubry: His dad was also the dean of the board of his private school. Tim: So yeah, I got kicked out so I didn’t get to finish high school. I got my GED later when I was living with
Aubry. That entire year of my life was a complete blur. I mean, I remember it all because it was the most devastating, but most amazing, because that’s when I met Aubry. So I left the next morning. Long story short, I called some friends to pick me up and I got to live with them for a week. And then they told me I’d have to change who I am because they’re Tyler Christians. Aubry: It was the day after we met. Tim: The night after we met up with each other, and that’s what triggered my friends telling me I had to change. So I texted him and said I didn’t know what to do and I had nowhere to stay, and he told me to come live with him. And that he trusted me, and that I trusted him, and then we fell in love. Aubry: And we haven’t been a day apart literally since our first date. There was only one night this past year, when I had to go shoot this video and we were just sending each other videos all night. From the first time I met him I thought I ‘knew.’ And that night we kissed and immediately we both just knew. Tim: It was the first night you got me stoned. Aubry: Tim always talks about how I saved him but really he saved me at the same time. \\\\\\ Keep up with these two and the 'California Boys' series. Aubry: AubryRoach.com / @Mizterroach Timothy: @Timothymax
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100 PHOTOGRAPHER BRITTANY SHABAN, AUSTERE
PHOTOGRAPHER NATASHA BRITO, AUSTERE / FEATURED COUPLE JAMIE JONES AND STEVEN FISCHER
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A FINAL THOUGHT When I think about Austere Affinity, I think about all these little moments. I think about sitting in my car, listening to the recording of Natasha’s interview with Molly Soda, thinking, “Holy shit, how does she understand everything I’ve ever felt?” I remember during one of our first interviews watching Sam Lao listen to her fiancé Jeremy Biggers talk about love and creativity, playing with her ring and smiling at him like he was the only person in the room. I think about when we got the pictures of Hobbes and Chloe, two people who I have never met, and immediately feeling like I could see their connection radiating from the images. I think about sitting in Natasha’s apartment late on a Sunday night and listening to her and Vicky tell the camera that for the first time they felt like Affinity was what they always wanted Austere to be. I think of Louis who, without thinking for a second, said for the same video, “Love doesn’t ask for anything; you are obliged to it.”
When we shot the cover, Natasha asked what the concept meant to me and I had to think about it. I thought about a conversation Vicky and I had when we were struggling to find a specific shoot to define Affinity, and we realized that in this issue there isn’t one shot or story that defines it, because in its essence Affinity is not about one experience. To me, the cover, and subsequently the rest of the magazine, is about that. There’s all this stuff that you are handed throughout the course of your life and you’re expected to know what to do with it, but fuck it. In the end you can use all of that stuff however you want, and no matter what you choose to do with it, it doesn’t make it any less exciting, beautiful or meaningful than anyone tells you it’s supposed to be. This issue was not effortless. This content didn’t just fall onto these pages. We had to search for artists, refine ideas, and question our own perceptions. I think about one night at the end of April when I was sitting with Vicky, panicking, “We can’t print this, we have
to change the colors, it looks like cotton candy puke.” But things that are important, things that you love, they work out, they fall together, they grow. As we finished this issue, I kept thinking about what Louis said; “Love doesn’t ask for anything; you are obliged to it.” And if you take anything from Affinity I hope it is that. Affinity was made with love in a way that we have never made anything before. This kind of love doesn’t mean that things are easy, or that they work out perfectly, but what it does mean is that love is compelling, that if you love something you feel obliged to it. This kind of love doesn’t ask for anything. But when you truly love something all you want to do is give. When you truly love something, you have, in a way, an affinity for it. Eliza Trono (editor-at-large)
PHOTOGRAPHER NATASHA BRITO, AUSTERE / FEATURED COUPLE JAMIE JONES AND STEPHEN FISCHER
STAFF Natasha Brito, founder / publisher Vicky Andres, editor-in-chief Eliza Trono, editor-at-large Morgan Gentry, music editor Jacqueline Creech, designer Lauren Jenkins, stylist
Rachel Wagoner, copy editor Lauren Bell, writer
Fey Sandoval, photographer
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