Beauty You Canâ€™t Resist
ISIS &ARISCE Photographed by: Jono Madison
Ricky Rebel, Kimora Blac, Queen Victoria Ortega, Enemies of Dorothy, + More
Arisce Wanzer Isis King
fäp noun a man who is concerned with his clothes and appearance in an affected and excessive way; a dandy. synonyms: dandy, man about town, poseur; informal snappy dresser, trendoid, hipster; archaiccoxcomb, popinjay “he was known as quite a fop in the old neighborhood, always dressed to the nines”
Cover Photography: Jono Madison Gowns: Stello
© 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission from the publisher. Views expressed in Fop Magazine are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by Fop Magazine.
Editor-in-Chief Quentin Fears Copy Editor Ayeza Nxumalo Political Columnist Kim L. Hunt Contributing Photographers Jono Madison Clint Keller Thomas Evans Jeremy Lucido Dior Davis A Special Thanks Gaea Honeycutt Dylan Higgins Brian Sabowski Walton Elliot Zack Hemenway James Loy Alex Lepkowski
In My Own Words
Beauty You t ’ n a C Resist!
Once in the shadows, transgender beauty is now in the forefront of American popular culture. Done are the days where iconic models with huge contracts, like Tracey Norman, have to hide their truth. Transgender role models like Janet Mock, Justin Vivian Bond, Leigh Ashley, Laverne Cox, and many more, are garnering mainstream attention. Nevertheless, there are still major hurdles to true understanding and acceptance of safety and basic human rights. According to GLAAD.org, with statistics pulled from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program, 55% of all reported LGBT homicide victims are transgender women. And of that percentage, 50% were transgender women of color. With only this statistic, it’s obvious that there is much more we as the LGBTQ community and the rest of America must do to ensure that our transgender, gender non-conforming, and gender non-binary family are given the respect, representation, safety, praise, equality, equity, and everything else in between, in this country. In this issue, we feature the ever so beautiful Isis King and Arisce Wanzer, the stars of Oxygen’s reality show “Strut”, produced by Whoopi Goldberg. “Strut” is a reality show featuring the first transgender modeling agency, Slay. We chat with these ladies and get the scoop on their once explosive rivalry, their love lives, the obstacles and joys of being transgender women of color and of course their new web series “Fish Tank”, which covers it all. Next up, we interview Rick Rebel--a star with undeniable talent and style. He can’t be overlooked! He has performed around the globe opening up for Britney Spears and was once signed to Michael Jackson’s and Madonna’s respective labels. We talk to Ricky about conforming to gender roles to appease music industry suits. We continue this theme of non-conforming with our interview with Queen Victoria Ortega, an activist and pioneer. She has spent much of her adult life fighting for the rights of transgender, gender non-conforming, and Chicano people. Oh, but we didn’t stop there! We give you an interview with this comedic duo, and adorable couple, Ryan Leslie Fisher and Christopher Smith Bryant, also the makers of this wildly hilarious web series,” Enemies of Dorothy”. And of course, we wouldn’t be Fop Magazine without stunning, sexy and fashion forward editorials. We didn’t just give you one but two! The first editorial was shot by Clint Keller at an exclusive Palm Springs resort, Inndulge. Palm Springs is always sizzling hot and so is this spread featuring fashion by Mr. Turk, Argyle Grant, Oak NYC, and Marco Marco. The second editorial was photographed in New York City. It’s dramatic, cutting-edge and cool; just what you would expect from photographer Dior Davis. Finally, we give you images from our exclusive Fop Magazine (7), party at a high-end fashion boutique, Oak NYC with sponsors Our Vodka and Mixwell. The guest list includes Alaska Thunderfuck, Cory Binney, Photographer Jono Madison, Robert Sepulveda, Isis King, Arisce Wanzer, Maulik Pancholy, Drew Mac, Stan Zimmerman, Dean McCarthy, and more. You can also look forward to other fashion and industry insiders to keep you interested and informed. So don’t waste any time. Enjoy every tantalizing page! With Love, Quentin A. Fears Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
8. Simply Inndulge 14. Unveiling Kimora Blac
20. Isis & Arisce - Beauty You Canâ€™t Resist 30. The Ever So Fabulous: Ricky Rebel
36. Activist & Pioneer: Queen Victoria Ortega 39. Issue 6 Release Party 42. Enemies of Dorothy 44. NYC Re Deemed
Available On Fopmag.com
Inndulge Photography: Clint Keller @actuallyclint Location: Inndulge Palm Springs @inndulgeps Stylist: Quentin Fears @mrqfears Model: Darius @dariusdio
Jacket & Shorts: Mr. Turk Jewelry & Sunglasses Provided by: Argyle Grant
Jacket: Oak NYC Swim: Mr. Turk Sunglasses Provided by: Argyle Grant
Tank Top : Argyle Grant Swim & Shorts : Argyle Grant
Shirt: Mr. Turk Sunglasses Provided by: Argyle Grant
Swim: Marco Marco Sunglasses Provided by: Argyle Grant
Black Sweater: H & M Black Swimsuit: D. HEDRAL
Kimora Blac Unveiling
Photography: Thomas Evans @thomasevansphotography
You may not know Von Nguyen, but if you’re a “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fan you’ll definitely know Kimora Blac. Kimora is the self-proclaimed Kim Kardashian of drag and we would have to agree. Selling sex is her trademark in and out of drag. She has the body, the boobs, the smoldering eyes, the pouty lips and that signature Kardashian contour. Even though she was one of the first on Ru’s elimination block, she’s still a fierce queen and a force of nature. Here’s our little têteà-tête with Kimora Blac: What brought you to Drag? Drag has always been a part of my life since I was a baby teenager. I’ve always been into fashion, makeup and the best of all, DRAG QUEENS! RuPaul was one of the first drag queens I’ve seen and fell in love since. Drag was my way to express my creative side without being under the “knife.” What was it like for you when you first stepped into drag? I’m pretty sure I have some of the most similar stories like any other drag queen. When I was 18, I remember I dressed up for the first time! Being a “girl” was my comfort zone because I got to express the most creative side of me without judgment as a man. I fell in love ever since. How has Vegas inspired and influenced your drag? Las Vegas was my first choice of the “new city” to live in. I wanted to live in [an] international city [in] the US and continue my drag profession. It was the city of Showgirls and [other] entertainment and I knew it was my destiny to be a showgirl. Las Vegas has taught me many tips and tricks and being friends with so many entertainers in the city, I got to learn [how] to juggle my profession and live as an entertainer! Do you have a drag mother? If not, who’s your drag inspiration? I wouldn’t say I have a drag mother, but I do have drag sisters and RuPaul alums that have shown me ways to survive the show. I have sisters that [have] guided me through the drag life and also helped me bring my name into the light. I thank the ladies almost every day! You once mentioned that your drag is p*ssy/c*nt drag? What does that mean to you? My drag aesthetic is very p*ssy-c*nt. It’s a term that I use in my shows a lot because who doesn’t like a sexy drag that has a mouth of a sailor and looks to kill? My drag look is very vix-
My drag aesthetic is very p*ssy c*nt. It’s a term that I use in my shows a lot because who doesn’t like a sexy drag that has a mouth of a sailor and the looks to kill? en-meets-Kardashian. Do you find more confidence when being in drag? As Gia Gunn would say, ABSOLUTELY! Being in makeup and costumes helps you gain this confidence that no other person has. It makes you feel 100% and ready to show the world what you’re made of. I would definitely say me as a boy vs Kimora Blac are two opposite people for sure! What makes your type of drag different from the rest? I’m the Kim Kardashian of drag. I am the “it” girl. What I mean when I say these titles is that I have the looks to kill, I represent beauty, sex, body, jubilee show girl, popularity, etc. But with all these titles, I am THE MOST sensitive, sweet and kind girl you’ll ever find. I love surprising people when they meet me for the first time because they create this monster of me from what they see on television and in person they are blown away! Why did you choose the name Kimora? Kimora Blac was originated from Kimora Lee Simmons and Kim Kardashian all in one. She is a true diva and needed a name of a diva. The Blac comes from the color of her soul, all of her clothes and her obsession with strippers to represent Blac Chyna. Were you intimidated by being on the show? I was a little shy! Being on “RPDR” was always a pan on my bucket list. I knew being on the show would open the doors to drag and also a huge step into my career as a performer. I also
got to meet legends of legends and work alongside the girls that will go down in her story! I wanted to be a part of this for the longest! Who did you see as your biggest competition on the show? Trinity--not only is [she] my sister but also my competition. Her look I relate to because it’s also sex and beauty. She is amazing! Who were you closest with on the show? Trinity, but also the rest of the girls! My time on the show was short so [there] wasn’t enough time to hate me. You once mentioned you have a crush on Miss Fame. Can you tell us more about it? I have the biggest crush on Miss Fame because she is beautiful! Her look is striking and polished and her as a man? Wow! She’s talented and i hope she takes the world by the hand! You mentioned you’ve been doing drag for over ten years. How do you think drag has changed over the years? SO much! I went from no makeup drag to makeup drag! Thanks to social media and all of the tools we have to learn as a performer! How has your life changed since being on Drag Race? Management, tours and fans! I’m able to meet every single fan and work with the best of the best! Being a drag queen from working for tips to now a solid check has been one of the best blessings of my life. I am almost 30 and I can say I am exactly where I’m supposed to be in my life right now! What’s next for you? Where do you want to take your career and drag? I want my own makeup line & maybe a management group for the talented drag queens! I want to show the world that you don’t have to be on the show to be amazing. Do you have a secret obsession, something no one else knows about you? I’m obsessed with transformation. I’ve always been intrigued by transsexuals and living the life of transformation. That’s why I love when people congratulate me on my boy to girl look. When you are dating someone do they see two different sides to you? Do they feel like they are
dating two different people? Yes! I’ve been with my partner for 5 years and he always tells me he hates Kimora but loves Von. It’s only because she’s super “diva” and Von is chill! What’s the process like to get the Kimora Blac look? I love getting ready and makeup is my passion. I love making myself beautiful and sexy! I live my life like a life size Barbie and take pride in my looks. Have you ever had a freakout moment onstage where something went wrong? Honestly, the only thing I can remember is when one of my songs skipped on a cd (in 2009) so all my ladies used a usb! If you didn’t do drag what would you do? Interior design. I cheat on fashion for furniture! Is there anything else you want to add? Thank you “RPDR” for adopting me in this beautiful drag legacy! I can’t explain how amazing this journey has been and how excited I am to live my future with the coolest job ever! Thank you to mama RuPaul for being a true mama and allowing me to shine with you on stage! You’re not only a legend but also a shining leader to everyone who dreams to be the impossible! This is only the beginning for Kimora Blac!
ISIS &ARISCE Beauty You Canâ€™t Resist
Photography: Jono Madison
@jonophotography Models/Feature: Isis King @msisisking, Arisce Wanzer @ariscetocrat Creative Direction, Story & Styling: Quentin Fears @mrqfears Location Provided by: James Loy @jamesloyphoto Hair: Michael Livsey @michaellivsey Makeup: Reginald Raphael @facesrmycanvas Photography Assistance: Ruben C. @ruruhowls BTS Video: Alex Lepkowski @alexlepkowski
On Left Pink Neoprene Dress: Zendaya On Right Embroidered Gown: Danielle Leigh Davis Designs
Isis King and Arisce Wanzer are the two jaw droppingly gorgeous models from Oxygen’s reality show “Strut”, they also happen to be transgender women. You may remember Isis King of Tyra Bank’s show “America’s Next Top Model”. Isis appeared on the eleventh cycle and then again on the seventeenth cycle. This was back in 2007 way before we met the likes of the widely famous and often problematic Caitlyn Jenner. Isis was the first trans women to compete on the show and became one of the most visible transgender personalities. We met Arisce Wanzer a little later on “Strut” but her presence can’t be denied. She was a force of nature and one to get the man she wants. Together, these women can not be stopped. We go from playful to serious with these two. We talk reality tv, relationships as trans women, beauty ideals and their new web series, “Fish Tank”. How did you two first meet? Isis: We briefly met at a rooftop party in NYC, but our real introduction to each other came when we bumped heads filming “Strut”. I hear there was a bit of a rivalry between the two of you at first. Can you tell me more and how you two got over your differences? Isis: That’s hard to say, I think it’s because Arisce has a big personality and initially I thought she was kind of a bully to others, then I realized she’s just a loud fabulous bitch. Arisce: I think our rivalry was pushed by producers. It was less about our own ambitions or natural feelings toward each other, but we are both admittedly competitive creatures. So, it’s all good. Isis we first met you on “America’s Next Top Model”. You were a dynamic presence on that show especially being the first transgender model to appear. How was that experience different from the filming of “Strut”? Do you think America is finally ready to embrace a transgender model? Isis: [America’s Next] Top Model was completely unscripted--just throw the models all together and see what happens--while “Strut” was more strategic in the scenes and storyboard of how the show is going to go. As far as embracing transgender models, America has no choice. There are trans models everywhere. Arisce we are told you have been modeling for years. At first as a male model and now as a female model. Was that transition difficult for you? Were you able to keep the same agency? Arisce: My transition from male to female as a model was made easy for me by being surround-
Arisce: The stigma for dating trans people is still alive and well, many staying stealth to keep their relationships. So for us out people, dating is a nightmare, one we’ve made into comedic satire. ed by such great people. My family and friends were already a great support system, but my agents in Miami were equally so. The agencies’ main concern was whether I would be able to fit the sample size clothes or not, rather than how I wished to present myself. That made me a lot more confident in what I was about to embark on and for that, I am eternally grateful. How has the show, “Strut” affected your lives now? Isis: “Strut” hasn’t changed my life honestly. I’ve been a public figure for a decade now if anything it let everyone know that I was moving cross country and still trying to figure things out all these years later! Arisce: My life is more or less the same aside from the random paid appearances. The show didn’t have the reach or advertising necessary to launch us into the “Kardashian” stratosphere of reality TV, so I’ve been able to maintain a pretty unbothered life. The best thing I got out of the show was Laith--and of course my girl Isis. Arisce was the chemistry between you and Laith immediate? Did you feel competition from the other girls for his attention? Arisce: I was attracted to him immediately, but I was dating someone else at the time so my mind wasn’t there exactly. After speaking with him more and more I knew I was encountering someone very special. And I’ve never felt competitive over a mans’ attention in my life. I’ve always gotten the man I’ve wanted. Arisce, does dating someone else who is transgender make the relationship easier in some ways? Arisce: It makes it easier in most ways. I don’t have to be self-conscious in public or feel like he won’t come to my defense if a man gets aggressive because I’m trans, as I’m often clocked for
On Left Fringe Top: Aunt Funkys Closet Breast Plate: SHOKRA Shirt: Rey Ortiz
On Right Top: Rey Ortiz Shirt: Rey Ortiz
Now you two seem to be inseparable and have even been seen holding hands at the glad awards. What made you two so close? Isis: I just get that bitch (lightly chuckles). We are both Libra’s, from the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area, both went to Art Institute’s, both lived in NYC then LA. We realized we were too similar to not be friends, then it just happened. Arisce: Going through almost seven months of filming and re-shooting scenes takes a toll on the body and human psyche. There are times where you feel like you’re going crazy, constantly being lied to and told what to do. It helps to have somebody to go through all of that with. Reality TV folks all have an unspoken bond where they know the trash that goes on behind the scenes and the unfair treatment we can be subjected to. There’s all of that and the fact that we are both from the D.C./Maryland/Virginia (DMV) area, are Libra’s and have endless other things in common. We now even live one block away from each other. Isis right now you seem to be rebranding yourself. What is that process like for you? Isis: “Strut” didn’t allow me to talk about my acting, but acting was actually the main reason I moved cross-country. It’s been a tough journey, but I have faith there is so much more in store for me and that aspect of my career!
Gown: Stello my height or voice. I love that I don’t have to explain why my life is complicated because he already knows how cruel the world is to different people. Whoopi Goldberg is an Executive Producer of the show. Did you two get to meet her? If so, did she give you any special advice or words of wisdom? Isis: We and a couple of the NYC based cast got to meet her first backstage at “The View”, but that awesome moment was when she had the cast over to her house for dinner and have us each a bit of a focus/aura reading--let’s just say she is freaking amazing!
Word on the street is you two are working on a web series together. Can you tell me a little more about that? Arisce: Your sources are absolutely correct, we’ve been filming for a few months now and the footage looks incredible. The series is called “Fish Tank” and it’s a comedy based on our true stories as trans women of color dating. Production has been spread out due to scheduling conflicts, I alone have been out of town for almost two months working, but it’s coming along perfectly. Isis: Trans women have it bad when it comes to dating. We thought it would be funny to have a scripted web series based on our real life dating experiences. We got together with our friend Brandon Smithson who is a director and filmmaker, brainstormed our craziest dating stores--and the series was born! There seems to be a lot of great special appearances by people like Robert Sepulveda and TS Madison. We are obsessed with TS. Is she as wild in person as she seems to be on social media. Isis: She is also a Libra like us. We are all crazy together (laughs out loud). She is definitely the “Karen” on the show to our “Will & Grace” (laughs
Isis: To me beautiful is finding happiness in what you see once everything is stripped away and you are bare. Accepting what is, and learning to live it.
magic and self-awareness a trans person has to offer. Isis coming from an abusive relationship what are you now looking for in a partner? Isis: I was actually in 2 abusive relationships, unfortunately. After a lot of soul searching, honestly, I just want to be with a nice guy, someone who is funny, smart, emotionally available, and career minded.
out loud again). Arisce: TS Madison is a godsend--an absolute dream to shoot and work with. She is the queen of improvisational shade and I’m here to consign the claim. She is hysterical and now a really good girlfriend of ours. She will be back for season 2! Why is the show called “Fish Tank”. Can you tell me more about the meaning? Isis: We are like fish in a tank surrounded by so many other fish. Watched and judged. There are so many meanings I will stop there! Arisce: For cisgender, heterosexual, and even LGB people, the dating pool is just that--a pool. But it seems for trans people, at least from our shared experiences and of many girls that we know, we have a tiny little fish tank to get our partners and dates from. And, damn, can that tank get murky! The stigma for dating trans people is still alive and well, many staying stealth to keep their relationships. So for us “out” people, dating is a nightmare, one we’ve made into comedic satire. Do you think dating is more difficult for a trans person? Do you think men find you to be a fantasy or a fetish? Isis: You just answered the question (laughs out loud, amused). It’s tough! Arisce: I absolutely think it’s harder for trans women to date. People think that just because Isis and I are models or “passable” that we don’t have problems dating or finding men who want to stay in relationships with us. I said I could get any man I want, keeping him is a different story. Men these days are so insecure, they won’t ever admit or allow themselves to be with us and I don’t feel bad about it. I think they are pathetic. They don’t deserve the Gown: Stello
Left Red Sequin Gown: Rey Ortiz Right Gold Sequin Gown: Danielle Leigh Davis Designs
What do you think about the representation of transgender women in the media today? Isis: We are getting so many voices which are important because everyone can see that we have different view points. We come from different walks of life and we think differently. Arisce: I think it’s definitely getting better, but I need to see more. I want us all to win, I need every shape color and size of people to be evenly represented in the media. Period. Who are some of your inspirations? Isis: My mom is my biggest inspiration! Tyra, Whoopi, Vivica and so many other established women of color that I have had the pleasure of being around. Ellen is also, like, one of my biggest inspirations. Similar paths and I hope to be as successful as her--to also move across areas from acting to hosting and changing lives. I would love to follow in her footsteps and get to smile and dance along the way. Arisce: My mother and sisters are my real life and main role models. They’re all strong black women who made their dreams come true despite the obstacles and constantly being told “no” by dream smashers. After that, I wake up every morning and think “WWVBD” (What would Victoria Beckham do?) She and Gwen Stefani are my wardrobe and lifestyle icons, and my “woke” icon being the late great George Carlin. How would you two describe your style? Isis: I would say that my style is that of a chameleon. From glam to fashion forward, wearing my own designs, to street, to edgy. It depends on my mood and hair that day (laughs softly to herself). Arisce: Mine is sophisticated sexy with a splash of “that-bitch-needs-tostart-dressing-her-own-age” when it comes to the short shorts and tanks department. What advice would you give other transgender women? Isis: Never give up, and keep your head up along the journey. Take your time. Arisce: Keep fighting to be seen and heard. We are people who deserve love and at the very least general respect. Do not be silenced or back down. Our genie is out of the bottle--it’s time to work our magic and show the world we are a force. How would you describe beauty? Isis: To me beautiful is finding happiness in what you see once everything is stripped away and you are bare. Accepting what is, and learning to live it. Arisce: Beauty is skin deep. True beauty is the light you radiate from within--a confidence, a sparkle that nobody can take from you. That’s why beauty is ageless, colorless, and without gender.
THE EVER So FABULOUS
RICKY REBEL @rickyrebel
Ricky Rebel Images Provided by: Project Publicity
There’s no forgetting Ricky Rebel. His flamboyance is brilliantly spectacular. He’s not afraid to let his star shine and for good reason, his talent is real. But his desire for self-expression wasn’t always accepted or allowed. We first met Ricky in the 90s. He was a member of the boy band “No Authority”. They were first signed to MJJ Music (Michael Jackson’s Label) and eventually picked up by Maverick (Madonna’s Label). During this time, they went on tour with Britney Spears and even peaked at #33 on the Billboard Pop Charts with the hit “Can I Get Your Number.” But all of this success came with a price. He had to hide his sexuality and flamboyance. We talked to Ricky about finding himself--what keeps him going and proving himself in an industry that can still be closed minded. When did you first know you had a love for music? When I was a child. I was obsessed with musicals like “Annie” and “Grease”. According to my parents, I had perfect pitch and preferred to play the girl parts. I know “Annie” and “Grease” like the back of my hand to this day. Let’s start with your boy band days. You were the lead in “No Authority”. What was it like having that first taste of success? It was dream and a nightmare at the same time. Being discovered and signed to Michael Jackson’s record label and hanging out with him at the Neverland Ranch are stories that I will never forget. Later we got signed to Madonna’s label Maverick Records and toured and opened for Britney Spears. It was a wild ride. I loved the crowds and the mania, but I always wanted more. It was the 2000s and “No Authority” was a boy band signed to a major label. Did you feel you had to hide your sexuality? In the band I had to constantly hold back my femininity in front of the cameras and fans. The label made us take media courses on how to appear “more masculine.” It was embarrassing and a little terrifying at the same time. There was this unspoken deal that if I appeared too gay or feminine, I was going to be kicked out of the group. That’s a heavy weight to bear at such a young age, especially since my heroes were Madonna, Prince, and Michael Jackson. “No Authority” opened up for so many stars including Britney Spears. What is she like in person? Is she as carefree and effortlessly flawless in person? Britney is a class act. She is a hard worker, nice as all get out. In fact, at first I thought to myself, “No one can be this nice and famous at the same time,” but she really was that sweet and innocent. She was a sexual girl. I loved that about her. I knew from the very beginning that she was the next Madonna, or as close as anyone could be to Madonna. What made you create this persona Ricky Rebel? I felt a need to rebel against an industry that told me time and time again that there was absolutely no way that I could be openly gay, mainstream and successful at the same time. I think that I proved something big when my song “Boys & Sometimes Girls” charted #27 on the Billboard Dance Club Charts and stayed there for 9 weeks. I love that music has evolved. People’s perception of good and bad have also changed. It took everyone decades to catch up with me, but I think that we are finally ready as a society to embrace openly gay male artists in the mainstream. One artist friend of mine told me that I am a gay, male, artist pioneer. It was a great compliment. Is it like Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce? Do you find strength performing as Ricky Rebel? I absolutely find strength in being Ricky Rebel. I usually just go by Rebel now in my mind. Rebel doesn’t give a damn about what most people think. He is BOLD and fearless. He is the new alpha, a perfect blend of masculinity and femininity. That’s why I named my new record The New Alpha. How would you describe your current music? I call it “Alpha Pop.” It’s more world sounding than I have ever produced. I took tribal elements of Africa, Latin beats, Middle Eastern vibes, and even Native American influences. I wanted to channel all of the world warriors into my voice and my body. It’s warrior pop. There is a war going on for your mind, and I am one fighting bitch. My mind is strong and I wanted other people to toughen up. Stop being so weak. The goal of my record is to take people’s minds to the gym. A lot of people have out of shape brains that need to read and broaden and stretch and see multiple views. Our society and culture is transfixed on black and white thinking, a lower intelligence type of thinking. We need to evolve, stop picking sides and start to think for yourself. My new record will
be a cultural bitch slap. What have you learned from being in the music business over the years? I learned that people are going to try to pull you in all directions, thinking that they know what’s best for your career and that they know the secret to your success. In reality, only you hold the key. What was the inspiration for your hit single “Boys and Sometimes Girls?” I remember one day hearing the instrumental track playing in my car and I got so fed up with not knowing what to write, I just decided to write exactly what I thought. What a concept, right? It is an honest track. I have had multiple relationships with men and women. I can see the good, the bad and the ugly from both sides. I am proud to say that I have had those experiences and not closed my mind to the possibilities. How does your track “If You Were My Baby” expand on your artistry? “If You Were My Baby” is the first time that I collaborated with someone else that wasn’t a remix. As Ricky Rebel, I have never released a track that was not produced by me. IYWMB track was produced by Sam Harmonix, a huge producer. I had something to prove to him, mainly that I know how to really sing. I busted out the vocals and sent them to him, and he was blown away. He used the same synths that Prince used on some of his records. I can definitely hear the Prince vibe on this record. It is an homage to one of my musical heroes. A Fop is a man who is concerned with his clothes and appearance in an affected and excessive way; a dandy. Would you consider yourself a Fop? Absolutely. Fashion is a big part of my life. You are always so fiercely dressed. You aren’t afraid to be daring. Where does that come from? I never went to public high school. I was home schooled, being that I was always on tour with the pop group. I never had to go through that insane homogenization that occurs during that time. I worked with adults at a young age that understood that it was my job to be an artist. I did, however, get bullied in junior high, but at the end of the day I never let it get to me. I just thought to myself, “One day I am going to be a big star and you’re going to be stuck in this town.” As a kid I had the awareness that I possessed big talent. My talent has always given me
I love humanity. I want us to stop hurting one another. I want us to strengthen our defenses and minds. I want us to be honest about what’s really happening in the world today. confidence in myself. Who are some of your favorite designers? Gareth Pugh, John Galliano, Jean Paul Galtier, Maggie Barry. Who are some of your music idols? My idols are Madonna, Prince, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Elvis Presley--powerful solo performers. Do you think America is ready for such a fierce and daring artist? Hell yeah! More than ever! There are more supporters of the LGBT community than there ever have been in human history. However, we have supporters who act like supporters, but when the going gets tough, they act out in homophobic ways. The gay community is notorious for treating fellow gays like shit, obsessing over straight men, masc4masc only, no fems, no fats, no Asians, etc. We need to be kinder and more supportive of one another. What do you look for in a partner? Intelligence above all things. If you do not have a brain, we can f*&k, and that’ll be about where it goes. In relationships, unintelligent people misunderstand me a lot. They will never get me, and it’s a problem. My mind is a maze. Only people who have mental fortitude can withstand the labyrinth that is my psyche. I piss a lot of people off, and they love and hate it at the same time. It’s in my nature to challenge people to be better. Some people can’t take it. What turns you on?
I love a big d*&k and ass and a pretty face. What can I say? I like young guys, older guys, in shape guys, intelligent guys and every now and then women catch my attention with their smell, boobs, legs and charisma. Remember my song “Boys and sometimes Girls?” I meant it. What makes you sad? I get sad when I work really hard for something and it doesn’t work out the way that I planned or even at all. Failure makes me sad. People not returning phone calls or backing out on their promises. Or when people don’t do their job when it comes to working for me or when someone drops the ball and I suffer for it. Really it gets me angry more than anything. Anger is just sadness in disguise. The constant mainstream media propaganda also enrages me; lopsided to one narrative. The imbalanced way that people are thinking these days, especially surrounding politics, makes me sad and incredibly angry. I have a lot of rage but I channel it into my music. I am trying my best to channel my fire constructively, not destructively. You know what really makes me sad? The gays that are being rounded up in Chechnya, thrown into camps and murdered. And the radical Islamic terrorists that are throwing gay men off of buildings for being gay, that really enrages me! Also, the fact that mainstream media barely covers it, if at all. ISIS makes me sad and angry as fuck. Terrorism makes me sad. People who are ISIS and radical Islamic sympathizers make me sad and mad. People that blow up other people at Ariana Grande concerts, run trucks over people and stab them to death, gun down gay nightclubs, killing our LGBT brothers and sisters, and chop peoples heads off because of their own ideologically disturbed thinking really pisses me off. I love humanity. I want us to stop hurting one another. I want us to strengthen our defenses and minds. I want us to be honest about what’s really happening in the world today. I also wish that we would stop punishing people who are speaking their minds. We need more diversity of thought, even when it is different than our own. What keeps you going? What keeps me going is my insane drive to succeed. I have something to prove. You can be as gay as you like, be a man, love and celebrate sex and love with another man, and be mainstream and successful. I am out to prove that because no one I know has yet.
Activist & Pioneer QUEEN VICTORIA ORTEGA
Image Provided by: Flux
Queen Victoria, who hails from Boyle Heights, a community of over 100,000 residents east of Downtown Los Angeles, has given her adult life to serving her community. She uses her intersectionality of being Latina and transgender to make an impact to develop new avenues and increase capacity for the transgender, gender nonconforming and Chicano communities. Her work dates back to 1996--not only is she a leader, she’s a pioneer. At this time, we were just making headway with the Hate Crimes Sentencing Act and the Defense of Marriage Act which acknowledged same-sex civil unions, but not marriage. This was a year before Ellen DeGeneres came out on national television. Imagine being a proud transgender activist then. So to get a little more clarity, we sat down with this reigning Queen of Boyle Heights to find out more about her journey and particularly her work with Flux, a new advocacy group for transgender and gender non-conforming community. Can you tell me more about what you do? I’m very privileged to sit at many decision-making tables. One of the most important ones is Flux-a new division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. About a year ago I was invited to be a part of the group to help build capacity. I have worked with nonprofits for twenty years. With me, I bring my intersectionality of being transgender, Latina and plus-size from Boyle Heights. A lot of my work focuses on the social determinates of health or structural bias that affects the trans community. For example, in healthcare if you need insurance you have to have your legal name and gender on official documents. Some of us haven’t changed it. Current medical records aren’t built with us in mind.
When looking at policy perspective and priorities there was a recent emphasis on marriage equality, but basic issues like “the battle of the bathrooms” is still a huge issue for the trans community. Who’s really focusing on that for trans people? In many states in our country, we could be fired for being trans. So many issues aren’t being brought to the forefront. Erasure and misogyny are real, especially for trans women of color. We need to look at those issues and be able to articulate the problem and for our allies to look at being an ally as a verb. We need trans voices heard and their work valued. How did you first get involved with the community and creating this career? I created a career path for myself. It was back in 1996. I wanted to transition and I started volunteering at Bienestar Human Services, which is a Latino organization that addresses HIV and treatment in East LA. I volunteered [and] worked my way up the ranks. I was the first transgender employee of the year and I was the first trans woman to be a part of the senior management team as a center supervisor. So you were openly trans at this time. Always! I hit the ground running. From High School? I was about 18 when I started working for Bienestar. I got to be their Transgender Program Manager for a group called Transgender United. It’s still one of the largest groups. I think one of the things that help me was being from Boyle Heights and my family. Being a part of the royal family of Boyle Heights who spends so much time in do-
ing community work, especially around Chicano rights, it was expected of me to overachieve and to be a part of the community. Eventually, I began working at the Gay and Lesbian Center from 2005 to the economic crash in 2009. There, I started looking at my work from a new perspective. I started going to meetings and conferences and started talking about how being poor can be bad for your health. People at that time were saying, “You are saying poor people are disease ridden?” No, what I’m saying is if you look at morbidities like heart disease [and] diabetes, they disproportionately impact places of poverty. Because of where we live, we have a lack of access to healthy food, a lack of access to competitive education, facilities where we feel safe, and health facilities that provide preventative health alternatives. I started looking at social determinants of health and how it relates to the economy. From there I started having those conversations with my trans brothers and sisters and created an organization called The Lotus Society. There, we did a little formative research by creating a survey. We would ask questions like, “Have you ever been discriminated [against] at work.” In the Lotus Society, we wanted to [band] together professional trans women and sex working trans women. So is that one of the issues, finding jobs for trans people and being discriminated against when applying for a job? Of course, from that survey, we found that a majority of our community wasn’t given the same opportunities. Having family support and a support system is probably a huge issue as well. Oh, of course! Having my family support is definitely one part of my success and the other is my feeling of self-worth. I was a part of producing a project called the Chingona Now Project. Everyone in the government was using the term until they found out what it means. It means “Badass.” The idea behind the term is claiming a bright future. So if you think you’re going to have a bright future and are a badass then you take care of yourself in the present. But if you think you’re going to have a crappy future then you say “Yolo (You Only Live Once), f*ck it, I don’t care. I’ll have sex without a condom. Who cares, I’m not worthy, no one cares about me.” But I was taught that very early on it’s important to walk into a room with my head held high, knowing that I belong there and that I had the same right as everyone else to be there.
So, specifically with Flux, what are you trying to achieve and what is the mission of the organization? The goal of Flux is to create an intentional network throughout the country leveraging the sites that already exist within the Aids Healthcare Foundation. Over the last year, we have utilized funds from Flux to create trans specific events--produced for and by trans people--that are committed to elevating trans voices, raising the visibility and showcasing our magnificence--I love using that word--and even showcasing what we’ve already done. People forget Silvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson who were at Stonewall, women whose shoulders we stand on as LGBT Queer people of color. We want to make sure people don’t forget them. At our Los Angeles Launch Party we had special guests, Carmen Carrera and Laith Ashley. Carmen Carrera is a part of the inside and out visibility campaign. We celebrate trans and gender nonconforming people and want to provide a platform for them to tell their stories. A lot of us who are at the table don’t live every trans person’s experience and we want to make sure that people know that. So the organization is mostly focused towards policy changing and visibility. Yes, and we want to leverage innovative social media and marketing opportunities for trans people. We want to create content. Social Media content. Of course, we want to take hold of our own narrative. Entertainment? If that’s possible then why not? We should have those opportunities. We want to sponsor financial events that are for and by transgender people. Or people who want to give trans people a platform and who are doing the legwork. We want to intentionally create impact. At our launch party for most of us in the room and this is the feedback I got from most people were, “I’ve never been to an upscale trans event that was off the chain that way.” Not that the club scene or the bar scene or the ball scene or the drag scene are less than, but we deserve spaces that are equal to our cisgender counterparts. Our power gay and lesbian folk are going to be creating those kinds of events. Will Flux have a brick and mortar? Flux doesn’t have a brick and mortar presence, but we will be leveraging the network that exists within the AHF. These spaces will be available for us to utilize. So Stephanie, myself, and Hector want to go
I think the real beauty within the trans community lives within our tenacity and the wear with all that it takes to be a trans person navigating life. Our power lies in living our authentic truth! into these communities like Miami to find the local organizations started for and by trans people and see how we can support without saying this is what you’re going to do. We want these communities to know they have a support system and a network to help [even if it is] spreading the information to media outlets and other organizations. I hope to see us as [the] beginning of a movement. We want to create opportunities for people to get together. I would love to take this globally and even have a group in Paris. Ultimately, I think there is an opportunity to truly talk about intersectionality. That is what strengthens movements. We are all talking about the same things--either you’re oppressed because of the color of your skin, or your religious beliefs, nationality or gender. We all deal with discrimination or oppression of some sort. I think the most important thing to remember is that you’re talking to another human being. That makes sense. Another question I wanted to ask is, do you see a difference between the way a transgender person who could pass for a cisgender person is treated compared to a person who doesn’t pass or doesn’t have the desire to pass? Of course, aesthetically some looks are seen as more palatable right? For a lack of comparison, something that can be seen in both of our communities--you as an African American and me as a Latina--is colorism. If you are lighter skin there is this “halo effect”. Everyone is like, “OMG you’re so beautiful.” If you have darker skin, people look at you differently. It’s similar to what happens with passability. People gag on your beauty. OMG, you’re trans and they want to be your friend and be around you. Which is a great tool and can be utilized, but it can also be held against individuals who don’t meet those markers. That’s why we want to be intentional in not speaking for individuals and that we are creating platforms for all of the diversity that is trans and gender nonconforming people to have a say and say what they want.
Do you think people are putting themselves at risk to obtain those beauty standards? Yes, there are a lot of risks that are not talked about. In the Latino culture, you want to have the JLo booty. You want to have the big breast, small waist, big butt right. In most communities of color, [that is] the obtainment of beauty. I actually wrote a spoken word piece called “The Rose”. I felt like a lot of your community was taught that you have to obtain this certain level of beauty and once you do you die because you don’t have any more purpose. But we’re living longer, we’re living stronger and that also means for us to look at how we show up in the world. Great, you want to be aesthetically beautiful for the rest of your life, but once you hit eighty that’s hard to keep up. What else do you have to offer? I think the real beauty within the trans community lives within our tenacity and the wear that it takes to be a trans person navigating life. Our power lies in living our authentic truth! Do you think the media is representing trans people well? I know there has been more of a push towards inclusiveness especially in beauty advertisements and roles in movies and television. Do you think it is a good thing or do you think the media is sometimes taking advantage or try to capitalize on the trend? It’s a thing, it’s definitely a thing and it has been happening for a long time that groups of us have been prioritized. If you’re “gagaliously” gorgeous, then there is this ease where you get more employment, you get those opportunities. Is it a bad thing or a positive thing? I wouldn’t want to say--it’s a thing. If someone is working and making money and giving back to the community, then great! I definitely think that in our advancement we should definitely reach back and help other people advance. Media has been a tool. We are a sophisticated community. We know how to make this happen. We may not have money. We don’t have our hands on the levers of power yet, but when we do, everyone better watch the f*ck out. We already come with so much capability and so much strength. What changes things for historically oppressed communities is when you start creating your own content. We are starting to be hired, but not sufficiently. The median income for trans people across the country still stands at $10,000. We are twice as likely in California to have a degree, but 4 times as likely not to be hired as your average person.
Issue 6 Release Party Photography: Jeremy Lucido @jeremylucido
SPONSORS: OAK NYC, OUR VODKA & MIXWELL
Ryan Leslie Fisher + Christopher Smith Bryant
Image Provided by: Enemies of Dorothy
What do you need to know about Ryan Leslie Fisher and Christopher Smith Bryant? Well, they’re both comedians. They’re both queer. They’re both dating. To be clear, they are both dating each other which means they are probably having sex with each other. More importantly, they are a power couple and co-creators of a sketch comedy series, “Enemies of Dorothy”. See if you can feel the tension in this conversation with these funny guys. RLF: Hey I’m Ryan Leslie Fisher. CSB: Hello. I’m Christopher Smith Bryant. RLF: You’re cute, are you seeing anyone? CSB: Yeah, you! Don’t you recognize me? RLF: Yeah, but I want to tell the readers who we are, so I thought I’d interview you. CSB: Great idea! RLF: I’m full of them. So we’re in Los Angeles. Are you from here? Follow up question: Why’d you come here? CSB: I’m actually from North Carolina. I moved here right after high school because I wanted to become a non-union commercial actor. HBU? RLF: I’ve been here for 4 years. After studying theatre in Toronto I found success in indie movies that
can be streamed online only in Europe! So I hit the road and moved to Hollywood. CSB: That’s where you met your adorable boyfriend! How did you two find love in a hopeless place? RLF: I saw his belfie’s on Instagram @tenderchris! It was love at first butt-selfie. CSB: Right, that was while you were hosting an LGBT Advocacy channel on YouTube where I first saw you! RLF: “Openly Jake!”. That was a fun gig! [still-on-YouTube-you-should-check-it-out] My experience on that show was what actually inspired me to create more of my own content for the Queer community. CSB: Well, I’m a comedian and I’m gay--we should do something creative together! RLF: We are! It’s called “Enemies of Dorothy”. CSB: Oh, that hilarious and amazing sketch comedy series on Revry? RLF: Uh-huh! You have the LGBT streaming app, Revry? CSB: No, how do I get it! RLF: It’s available on Apple TV and Roku. Just visit the app store and subscribe. It’s got over 200 hours of original LGBT content. Sort of like the gay Netflix! CSB: Well, if it’s got stuff as good as “Enemies of Dorothy”, sign me up. Speaking of, how did we get the name for our sketch show? RLF: Well, in the 1940’s saying ‘gay’ was still pretty taboo and people would use the term ‘friend of Dorothy’ as a euphemism to describe someone who was gay. CSB: Oh, right. And a name like “Enemies of Dorothy” is sort of a sarcastic millennial take on LGBT politics and culture, while giving a nod to the history of our brothers and sisters from the past. RLF: What are some of your biggest influences from the past? CSB: I always loved “Little Britain” and “Mad TV”, “SNL”, “Kids in the Hall”. Those are the reasons we wanted to be the world’s first 100% LGBT sketch comedy show. RLF: Yeah. I mean, aren’t you tired of comedy where being gay is the punchline? It’s time for comedy that uses gay lifestyle as the narrative. That way nothing else is off limits. CSB: Good point, but some of our sketches have been pretty edgy. What happens when we offend our audience? RLF: That’s the point. The truth can be offensive. With queer people making queer comedy, we can finally tell our own stories. If a person is offended, they may be facing an uncomfortable truth that they need to hear. CSB: I agree. It’s 2017. The digital age is not only about using your voice, but also making the right impact. We are using comedy to call out oppressors, sometimes with a lot of sarcasm and irony. That’s what makes us cheeky monkeys! RLF: Like in “Things Only Gay Guys Can Do”, “The Bisexual Test”, or “My Date With Gays for Trump.” Even the titles of our sketches can be offensive. CSB: Wow, I’ve gotta see what each of those are about! RLF: You can! And there’s a lot more of that to come! Just follow us on Facebook to keep up to date with our new sketches. Find us on Revry, YouTube, IG, and Twitter as “Enemies of Dorothy”. CSB: Consider me subscribed!
NYC RE DEEMED Photography: Dior Davis of StampDMV
@DiorDavis @stampdmv Model: Ramsey Hamlin @rxmsxy Agency: E4 Model Management/E4 Men NYCreative @e4models Director: Theo Hanson @theoavantgarde Wardrobe Stylist: Keenan Jordan @secret2fashion Location: Imaginations: New York
Shirt/Top: Ungaro Pants: Cabin Fever Shoes: Models Own
Shirt/Top: American Apparel Pants: Jones New York Jeans Harness: Stylist Own
Shirt/Top: Urban Outfitters Pants: Ellen Tracy Frames: Stylist Own
Vest: Vintage Pants: Zara Frames: Stylist Own
Beauty You Canâ€™t Resist
ISIS &ARISCE Photographed by: Jono Madison
Ricky Rebel, Kimora Blac, Queen Victoria Ortega, Enemies of Dorothy, + More
Once in the shadows, transgender beauty is now in the forefront of American popular culture. Done are the days where iconic models with huge...
Published on Nov 1, 2017
Once in the shadows, transgender beauty is now in the forefront of American popular culture. Done are the days where iconic models with huge...