by Josephine Jael Jimenez
Time used to move slowly when I didn’t enjoy every minute.
It was agonizing to watch the clock as it ticked slower and slower,
making each day before my new life hurt with every little stop around.
But still, those years are gone and those days with them.
They no longer exist, only the memory of the pain remains.
But now time moves quickly and I’m having trouble keeping up.
It moves even quicker when I’m in the presence of my love.
What kind of mania is that,
to feel minutes as if they’re seconds and hours as if they’re minutes
in the presence of your heart in human form?
It’s a different kind of pain.
If we were to be apart, time would move slowly again.
The pain of my younger youth would return
as I stared at clock after clock until I could be together again with my heart.
My life would feel longer and maybe I would have more time to be great and good,
but length of life doesn’t feel as important as it used to.
All I want is to fill every second of everyday with bickering and love and silence
between me and my heart in human form.
Clocks can move at record speeds
and my life can feel short and full of nothing that can be called great,
but it would be sweet and full of minutes and seconds and hours
that were more beautiful than the painful moments that lasted forever when we were apart.
Never did I think I would crave a faster life, a quicker timeline.
Time was all I wanted,
death was the only thing I feared.
That all changed when love came to hold my hourglass and whatever angle it chose.
All that matters now is when I’ll get my next dose of love
and how long I get to be intoxicated with it before I have to go away,
even for a second, and hour or a minute.
Time used to be the love I hoped to hold with me when I died,
but now she means nothing to me.
She’s kind when you hold her close,
but she’s cruel when you forget to love her the most.
by Katie Garner
Originally featured in the FUTURE issue
“Space plague. Yup. I’ve got space plague.”
“Uh, yeah, but don’t worry, I don’t think I’m contagious.”
“There’s no such thing as space plague you dumb fuck.”
“Maybe they don’t call it space plague wherever your backwater alien ass is from, but where I come from they call it space plague. So. Suck on that.”
“What? Okay, look-- I don’t have time for this.”
“You have an escape plan?”
“I’m working on it.”
“Well while you’re working on your escape plan, can you tell me what year it is?”
“I don’t get the question.”
“C’mon man, the year! Jesus, uh, I don’t know, how much time has passed in the history of humans?”
“Wait, years? Years haven’t been used as a unit of temporality since the early electric age.”
“... that wasn’t the response I was looking for. Sorry if it starts to smell in here. Little bit of pee escaped just now.”
“Something is definitely wrong with you, but it’s not space plague.”
“Focus instead on how we’re going to escape from this... cell. Can you see anything? I can’t see shit.”
“No, I can’t see anything. I’m blind. Can you move your arms? Try to feel around behind you.”
“You’re blind? Like, blind blind? Are all people blind now?”
“What? No. I was born blind. Where are you getting all this crap?”
“I was a pretty sheltered kid growin’ up, man.”
“Do you feel anything behind you or not?”
“Just a smooth wall. No grooves or knobs or anything like that.”
“Yeah, this sucks. Hey, I told you why I’m in here, why’re you here?”
“You did not tell me why you were here. Even if there was such an illness called ‘space plague’ there would be no reason to imprison you. Also, anything with ‘plague’ in its description would imply that such an illness would be contagious--”
“Fine, fuck. I don’t have space plague. Happy now?”
“No. Now I’m just trapped in a storage closet with a bad liar.”
“Fuck, just, listen for a sec. I actually don’t know why they shoved me in here. I’m from the past. The extremely distant past. I woke up this morning on a spaceship and that’s all I know.”
“What do you mean, you woke up on a spaceship? Traveling into the future wasn’t your intention?”
“No! All I remember is drinking a few with Johnny last night and crashing on his couch. Next morning, my back’s killing me, and it’s really bright, so I thought maybe I passed out on the sidewalk again. Instead I’m slumped against the wall of some hallway, but like, a clean hallway, like a dentist’s office. And a woman was standing over me. But, like, there was something wrong with her face. You know how on TV they blur out advertisements and dicks and stuff? Her face was like that.”
“I don’t know what a TV is, but the woman was probably Candace.”
“You know her?”
“Not exactly. Candace is the AI for all the Hegemony ships. Apparently her original design was so unsettling that they altered her into what you saw.”
“Hold up, that was the uncreepy version? God, the future sucks.”
“Then what happened?”
“I sorta freaked out when I saw her, so I bolted. Ran in the opposite direction for a while. Sirens were going off, which freaked me out more, and then something shattered and my ears were ringing, like my brain was rattling against my skull. And then I woke up here.”
“That’s it? You didn’t see anyone?”
“No man. Just the censored robot maid and a bunch of windows that clued me into that fact that I’m on a goddamn spaceship. Now c’mon, what are you in for?”
“They arrested me on charges of treason, but in reality this is an attempt to silence a leading voice of dissent.”
“You keep saying they. Whose ‘they’?”
“The Hegemony. They’re the primary executors of law and order throughout all inhabited worlds, whether those worlds want it or not.”
“So they suck?”
“Crude, but not inaccurate.”
“And we’re on a Hegemony ship?”
“That’s why I can’t stress the importance of finding a way out of here. The Hegemony isn’t known for being merciful.”
“Like, I get that, but I’m a shitty time traveler and you’re a blind revolutionary, so what the hell are we supposed to do against a ship full of space cops?”
“The only thing we can do. We bargain.”
“Buddy, I don’t think you got the gist of my story, cause I didn’t exactly bring my wallet with me into the future. Time travel didn’t even, uh, let me bring my clothes.”
“That doesn’t matter. You’re the bargaining chip.”
“What you experienced is a documented phenomena. It’s extremely rare, of course, but it happens. A while back, a man materialized on a medic vessel, screaming gibberish at the doctors and nurses until they realized he was speaking Latin. The Hegemony goes crazy over these people. They’d do anything to get information out of you. Even, just maybe, give us our freedom.”
“What’s this ‘us’ shit? So I get to be probed by shady space government and you get to go back to raging against the machine?”
“...I know it sounds bad, but you need to understand my importance as a political leader in a growing movement against an unjust entity--”
“This is how this is gonna go. You help me get back to my time, and I’ll get you out of here.”
“If the Hegemony can’t even master time travel, what makes you think I can? I’m not a scientist!”
“Fuck, I don’t care! You can at least help me figure my shit out! I don’t know what to do, I don’t know where to go, and I don’t know anyone else!”
“Okay, fine, just shut up. We can work together...for the time being.”
“Awesome. Do you think the robot maid can bring me some clothes? I’m freezing my nuts off.”
“I think I hate you.”
“S’all good buddy, I think I hate you too.”
Poem by Sarah Rizvi
Not all men can discern their purpose
Many want a family but forget the first rule: to stay
Not my dad
Ali Rizvi was always destined for something
Youngest son of Syed Muhammad Rizvi and Sultana Rizvi
Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
Not only did he begin in the name of Allah the most merciful
He didn’t need to say the prayer out loud,
his life was that of a prophet
His mother grew sunflowers in Lahore and his grandfather beat him at chess
Life takes work and even with enough sunshine flowers can still wither
He is like the trees in his new California home, Sequoias
Short roots in the soil but branches in the sky
An immigrant with an imagination
He taught me that even if the most you accomplish in life is patience
And even if my greatest feat
Is being his daughter
Is holding his hand when he passes
That's more than enough
Because who doesn't want to go down in history as a superhero’s child?
Brenda Hernández Jaimes
There are Drag Queens, and then there’s Mexican Drag Queen, @YayoiBowery, who will sparkle your brain with a colorful explosion of a glossy shark and a divine Monarch butterfly. She stands out from the rest by being true to both of her namesakes: Yayoi Kusama and Leigh Bowery, and who is obsessed with anime by giving a mind-blowing taste for a whimsical and fantastical world. Through her Instagram account and Youtube channel she provides an insight to her wonderful creativity by uploading magnificent photos and informative videos. It all began when she was invited to the A Hell of a Party!, the annual Halloween party organized by @AnalMagazine in Mexico City. It was 2014 and Yayoi Kusama’s retrospective Infinite Obsession had turned the whole city upside down to the point that people were camping outside the Tamayo Museum. It was in that moment that Bowery jokingly said she would dress up as Yayoi Kusama.
“I love to wear costumes. Halloween and Día de Muertos are parties that I never miss. I love to disguise myself and it fascinates me. After I said I would dress up as Yayoi Kusama, I thought why not? The following year, I was super excited with that party because the people who go put in a lot work into their outfits, it’s so impressive! What I loved the most was that it is not a classic Halloween party that everyone has scary costumes, but it’s a lot of pop culture. The costumes refer to characters, artists and cartoons. The second time I went as Leigh Bowery and the third time as Divine. I saw people approaching me and taking photos with me. It was at that moment that I wanted to create a character that could be whatever I wanted.”
Yayoi Bowery is the perfect combination of fashion, art, and anime. She grew up watching Dragon Ball Z and going to the Mole Comic-Con. By combining these two important artists with her love of Dragon Ball Z, Takashi Murakami, Jeremy Scott, and Drag Queens such as Divine and Kim Chi, Yayoi Bowery was born.
“What drove this creativity was that when I was going to study I was between visual communication, industrial design, and fashion design. I was hesitating a lot and ended up studying visual communication because I really like design and partly because I never felt that my family was going to accept that I study fashion design,” she confesses. “So two years ago I started with Yayoi when a friend was moving to Spain and she was selling her things. Among her possessions was a sewing machine. So I said I would take it. That's where I started to sew, learn how to sew, and that's where I got everything. Because what I offer to Yayoi is this creative part through makeup and my outfits. And working as a Publicist, I think the obsession and fascination with brands and products were what Yayoi ended up being.”
It was alongside another friend that Yayoi began to experiment with makeup and find inspiration with Pantone’s Color of the Year and Valentine’s Day. She started doing more conceptual makeup and photograph herself.
“That's when I decided to open my Instagram account to start "documenting" how my progress was going. The first photo I have is the first time I did Drag makeup - that was disastrous,” Yayoi laughs, “But it was worth it because we all start so basic and the thing is to continue practicing and learning. It was through this Instagram account that little by little I went to experiment with makeup and create Yayoi. But the day I can say that Yayoi was born because it was the day I said, ‘I want Yayoi to be this way’ was January 6 during the Three Kings Day because I gave myself a grey wig. For me, Yayoi is an anime character that loves to use white outfits because I feel like I’m in limbo.”
Like many of her generation of Mexican Drag Queens, Yayoi shares RuPaul’s Drag Race as the spark that motivated her to do Drag. And like some of her counterparts, she also shares that before doing Drag she felt ignorant. Nevertheless, that changed when she started to do Drag. It opened her to a world of many possibilities of living as fully as possible.
“I remember once an ex showed me RuPaul’s Drag Race and got weirded out. I didn’t understand, but at the same time, it was because I think that many gays live with a certain amount of internalized homophobia. Before I didn’t wear tights or paint my nails. I would always say, why do I have to do that?” Right now I feel so free doing it and that's thanks to Drag. So that’s something that’s also very important and I’m grateful that we’re going to take this feminine part and we’ill accept it because we all have it and I think it’s good.”
“In the end it’s ignorance. I remember the first time I met a Drag Queen and it was @DeborahLaGrandeDrag and I perfectly remember my feelings were between fear of who is this? Why are they doing this? Now that I do Drag, I see that it’s cool being creative. Drag has led me to have the courage to get on a stage! And I always try to make the public have a good time. Even when I'm not on stage, we're going to laugh and we're going to have a good time,” she says.
Yayoi is true to her words and loves taking Drag to different spaces in Mexico City. She used to see Drag as a fun experiment that took her to parties and an opportunity to post photos about it. She didn’t have a clear vision of where she wanted to take Yayoi. This all changed after hearing about the Drag Queen Story Hour program, founded by fellow Queen @LoryStoryy, was being sued by ‘United Strong Families for Nuevo León’ for allegedly corrupting children. However, this inspired many Queens of Monterrey and the rest of the country to help extend the project.
“We live in a machista and very homophobic country. With Drag Queen Story Hour I realized that Drag can take you to many places and not just a club. I want Yayoi to contribute little by little. Last year I went to a foster home and that was fun! It was a super nice experience. I want to do more of these things, not only with children but also make an exhibition for Drag art. I want to invite Drags to create and share their art either a performance or a painting. I want to take Drag to many spaces because I think it’s so creative that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to lip sync at a bar, which is fine, but I think we can expand it because that’s what Drag gives me. It’s a creative explosion that I can take wherever I want it and that the Drags and the people who want to do it can be inspired to do it!”
Yayoi also shares that for her being a Drag Queen should be a balance of fun and responsibility. She’s adamant about people giving respect to the work that many Queens do before and during their show.
“I think it's a balance. Take it seriously, but there’s also the fun part. If you do Drag for fun then that’s very valid, but if it turns into a job and you only do it for fun then you’re damaging the work of other Drags. Then there’s this big responsibility of meeting schedules and demanding a fair wage. We’re very used to being paid with three beers and they expect us to work for 200 pesos and you’re up there all night and don’t even have money for an Uber. Also, there needs to be respected before and during the show, your transportation, your Drag show and the props you use. And many times you even end up paying to be there,” Yayoi continues. “I feel that there’s a responsibility, but beyond that, I think that what I like to show is this diversity that we have. That Drags aren’t only for thin or young people. No matter how old you are, you can live your dream. I studied and have a career and work in advertising. At the age of 28 I started doing Drag and I found something, I don’t know if it’s a vocation, but it’s something that fills me up a lot. No matter how old you are, always encourage yourself to get rid of that itch and do what you have always wanted to do. Because maybe it doesn’t work, but you at least tried, but maybe it does work! And it gives you a new perspective on life and that’s incredible. If you die tomorrow...you didn’t do it! I really want to go out of this world and say to that cool I did what I wanted!”
She also talks about the economic barrier that Mexican Drag Queens suffer and that people shouldn’t compare them to American Queens.
“Many people say that Mexican Drag compared to RuPaul’s Drag Race isn’t polished. I always say that Drag is an expression that comes from popular culture. So we can’t ask the Mexican Drags to be like the ones in the United States because, in the end, it’s a very different culture. And because in the end American Drags are better paid than the ones here in Mexico. All these socioeconomic factors arise where we have to be creative. That's why in Mexico we’re very good at bewitching and that’s the tea! That's why I love the word bewitch because with what we have we try to solve it in the best way!”
Yayoi also shares that when she went to DragCon in New York and then to Los Angeles, she couldn’t help but notice the obvious difference between the two.
“I dare to say that Mexican Drag is more like New York. It’s more experimental and that gives me great pleasure. We might look basic, but we’re giving our fight. And projects like La Más Draga are providing a professional look of Mexican Drag to an international audience and leaving a good impression. And people are seeing it! People from California, when [my mother], @MargaretYYa went there and I was surprised how many people know her in Los Angeles! It’s cool that there’s a vision towards Mexican Drag and that it’s very unique.” she says and shares her advice for people interested in doing Drag.
“I wish you first of all to have fun. Because a lot of people say that Drag is not art and from a certain point I agree, but for me, art doesn’t have to be in a museum. For me, it’s the expression of your creativity. In the end, creativity is all your feelings that you have and you express them in a way. And it doesn’t matter if it's a painting, a poem, it doesn’t matter if it's a dress or Drag makeup. Just do it! Because you set yourself free! It’s as if you were an Instant Pot and you’re releasing this heat from inside you in a creative way,” she says.
As for the future, Yayoi is currently shining in ads for Urban Decay and Reebok Mexico. She’s been working to reach these different spaces and she’s not stopping anytime soon. Along with her exhibit and Drag Queen Story Hour, Yayoi would love to give creative workshops to help lessen the exploitation of fellow artists and Queens to continue being #ExtrañasPeroMuyInteresante !
Brenda Hernández Jaimes
Dressed in a varied selection of masks that range from a fierce latex dominatrix to a glossy piñata or a captivating cactus, @Ssuculenta always takes center stage. What started as a photographic project has now become the lightning rod of empowerment for Mexican photographer, Memo Hojas. Suculenta’s intense aesthetic leads the conversation and shines in whatever space she’s in. Simply put, Suculenta is unapologetically a latex-wrapped beacon of risqué fascination that is sparkled with Mexican tradition.
“Suculenta was an exploration of my feminine side. For me the project is an escape because I suffer from depression and Suculenta gives me this empowerment that I sometimes don’t find as Memo,” he shares. “When going out, people look at me and ask me for photos. Having this grandeur and dazzle on the street feels pretty good and I like it. Because at the end of the day, Drag is a show. Going out on the street is the show. It’s a whole show letting everyone see you and telling you that you look incredible. The project has been that - really driving that confidence towards me for Suculenta and Memo.”
When Memo began to create Suculenta, he wanted her to have a clear duality. Starting from her name, he was inspired by combining his love for plants and having fun with sexual innuendo. For her aesthetic, Memo turned to his bondage and shibari experience which easily translated to masks and his wish for not using makeup.
“Suculenta is a very crazy character, but she has a very clear aesthetic that she doesn’t want to be pretty. She’s a dominatrix that is imposing,” he says. “As Suculenta, I try to do many things. I can’t do my makeup in a pretty way, because I don’t want to do that. I want to have certain elements that people say, ‘your mask is cool’. I would also like that when people see me that they feel inspired to break that fear of using makeup and just be daring,” Memo says.
Being a Drag Queen, he feels his responsibility is to inspire and have fun in one way or another and to break into the spaces. From his corner, Memo wants to inspire people with Suculenta’s aesthetic, reference and story. Even though Memo has been doing drag for less than a year, he’s proud of Suculenta’s growth in terms of aesthetic and character. Memo encourages anyone interested in Drag to just do it and to buy an eyeliner that won’t smudge.
Memo has been fortunate of being surrounded by many iconic Drag Queens that have driven the scene in Mexico. One of them is his mother, @ninade_lafuente who did Suculenta’s makeup for a Valentine’s Day party. For Memo, it was in that moment that he felt beautiful and empowered to have this feeling forever. Little by little, he learned how to do his makeup and how to execute his outfits. Since the very beginning, Suculenta has and still is seen through photos. This all began when Memo approached his boyfriend, Memo Díaz Martín to collaborate with him. For Hojas it was clear that Suculenta’s aesthetic was perfect for Memo’s colorful photographic style.
“When I met Memo, I was afraid to say, ‘Hey, can you help me?’ Because there’s also this discrimination within the gay community that doing Drag is too feminine because you dress like a woman. So for me, it was hard to tell him, but I knew that Memo would help me in one way or another because his aesthetic goes well with the drag scene,” he smiles. “Before me, Memo had the aesthetic of using women as his models. I think what’s cool is that we both complement each other. It’s cool that I’ve been introduced to his world and he’s part of the one that surrounds me. What motivated me to continue was to teach him about the Drag Queens, the aesthetic and feeling his support,” Memo says.
Their romantic relationship has also cultivated their artistic collaboration. While Díaz Martín is the photographer and creative director, Hojas can help him produce the magic that is shown on the exuberant Drag Queen photography. He’s also a link between the Queens and Díaz Martín.
“I think it’s very important to give voice to Drag Queens. I think it’s something very political and each Drag shapes it in their way in terms of aesthetics,” Memo says.
They’ve worked with @ameliawaldorf, @margaretyya, @quetzal.lv, @cordeliadurango, @deseosfab, and @debramen. The Memos have created sharp and bright photos of these iconic Queens. Mixing their stories and aesthetic with important Mexican political moments and figures have shaped a new era in the Drag scene of Mexico.
Their artistic collaboration has just begun and they’ve been producing magnificent photos. Starting with Suculenta’s first photos, Díaz Martín was able to communicate her story and aesthetic through his lens.
“It’s cool because Memo and I are also inspired by their aesthetic. It visually nourishes us. Each Drag has their own varied aesthetic and character that can help me develop certain concepts,” he says,
Memo admits that for now, he has placed Suculenta to a side a bit. He’s currently studying at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), working and focused on his other photographic project: Morrxs. And Hojas isn't stopping anytime soon.
“I want to put more production to Suculenta’s photos. I told Memo that it would be cool to takes photos on important dates. We’ve done Valentine’s and Christmas. We already have certain photos and concepts developed that we would like to produce,” he informs. “At this moment I want to start different things. Right now it was fun and strange, we collaborated with a friend of Memo, who is a florist and it was very strange. It was something new for him because he’s heterosexual so it was very difficult for him to understand. But it was interesting.”
The result was creating a blossoming kingdom of beautiful flowers surrounding Succulenta that showcased her feminine side.
“I wouldn’t like to be stuck in one single aesthetic. I feel that many times Drags become stagnate in a single makeup and look. I’m not saying it’s wrong, but Drag gives you a lot to explore of different themes with various makeup, clothes, and references. Drag can use art, design, architecture and so many things that are also references from characters and artists. At least I would like to start pulling certain aspects from those elements,” he continues and shares the level of difficulty it is to be a Drag Queen in Mexico City.
“It’s daring. Beyond the heels, makeup and all this. To dare is to take a great step of really doing it. In that step, it involves personal situations of personality, self-esteem, and many things that at the end will be reflected onto the character,” Memo says. “I think the important thing about Drag is to dare yourself to do it and enjoy it. That's the important thing about Drag. Enjoy it. Not only for you but for those around you. In the end, you’re sharing your art with others. I think that's pretty cool. Having this communication, contact with people and that you can engage with. At least I did it for that reason. It’s these situations of being asked for a photo that makes you feel like a Queen. It's cool. Beyond looking good or not, enjoy it because, in the end, it’s an experience. Every Drag Queen showcases and lives it in their way.”
Memo is true to Suculenta as she is with him. He’s in no rush to bombard everyone by showcasing her wild and feminine side. There will always be another Drag Race in Mexico City and another opportunity for Suculenta to shine. For Memo it’s all about investing the time, dedication and love to Suculenta so when she’s in front of the camera, her confidence is reflected onto Memo and ultimately inspire another young gay man to discover his inner Queen.
Brenda Hernández Jaimes
It has always been vital for Díaz Martín to showcase certain aspects of life such as the Drag community in Mexico. He had always been curious to go in and see how it was all done. Yet at the time he didn’t know anyone who was part of the Drag Queen culture. That all changed when he met his current boyfriend, photographer Memo Hojas, who also does Drag under the name of Suculenta. Their wonderful collaboration began with Memo’s colorful aesthetic complementing Suculenta’s audacious vision. They’re able to produce images that are both imaginative and hyperreal. The fruits of such impacting images were able to build a bridge for Memo to connect with other Drag Queens who were captivated by his photographic style.
“I love it because I think they’re extremely creative people. I’m very excited to work with people that I admire and I think we connect our worlds very well,” he continues. “At least the ones I’ve worked with so far have been people that have taught me something. That’s important in photography, being able to work with people and learning from them. I’m the photographer and direct the session, but they also contribute a lot to the vision that I have.”
“She’s just beginning her transition. It’s not that drag led her to discover that she’s a trans person, but in the end, it connects a lot with who she is. It gives her that bridge to the person she wants to be,” he continues. “This is so authentic and courageous. Her courage also amazes me a lot because a Drag Queen walking on the street doesn’t go unnoticed. Just the fact of going out on the street like this is already aggression and transgression for many. Their strength of doing Drag, being who they want to be and not ask permission or approval inspires me.”
Inspiration has fueled Memo’s creative system and prompted a breakthrough in his photography. Never one for permitting an obstacle or lack of resources from stopping him to create his stories through photography, Memo now feels new ideas arise. For him the inspiration is inevitable and with open arms, he receives the constant imagery that Drag Queens produce.
“As a photographer, I think we tend to give ourselves obstacles for not starting on projects because we don’t have the fancy set. Then when you see the wonders they can do with a little paper, a piece of cloth and glue make you realize that anything is possible. The point is to have an idea and know how to execute it,” he says.
“What I’ve learned a lot from them is how they make works of art. I can’t say it’s not art! The way they put on makeup, change their features and their body. It’s not comfortable. I mean, using a belt that has a small waist with a man's body, you suffer too. But add all these challenges and being able to do it incredibly. It inspires me a lot. I love knowing them a little more closely, their stories, to know what they’re doing and where they want to take their drag character.”
“Be very brave. Beyond being a person of the LGBTTTIQ community or whatever you decide to identify as...I think the world will be difficult. It’s difficult for everybody even for people that we think have their life resolved. But I think that helping others opens doors for you and others,” he says.
“Always believe in your work even if it’s not so good, nobody was born as the great photographer. I discovered photography late into life. I discovered it at 21 and started doing it later. Even as a non-heterosexual person I got out at 25 that’s late because most of the people do it at 16 or 18. But it doesn’t matter, there’s always time but don’t just do nothing,” he says. “Keep working, help people and believe in yourself. Those three things seem fundamental to me always. When someone needs you if you can help people, do it. Don’t say, ‘well they’re not going to pay me’. Not everything is for money. it doesn’t have to be recompensed. There are things you can do to help others, for passion and because you like it. Photography isn’t about only having talent, it’s also about commitment to the people around you, to inspire others, to help others. If you only use your talent to earn money, it seems to me that you are also betraying it.”
Memo is true to his words and values. He isn’t one to keep his talent and vision to only produce money. He holds them high and helps other creatives in Mexico City to make their stories into reality through photos. His good energy has been a pivotal factor for being able to photograph many Drag Queens and helping their stories be seen.
“It sounds very optimistic, but we can all make a more friendly world and more beautiful for others. If you can use what life gave you and can use it in the arts then do it. Do it with courage, with humility and things will happen.”
JAYO is no stranger to major transitions. As an up and coming artist with a steadily growing Instagram and YouTube following, he has his sights set high and is consistently working towards a music career that almost didn’t happen. With an EP already under his belt, it’s hard to believe that JAYO started his music journey only a short five and half years ago.
His college days started with a track career that didn’t pan out and that almost caused a major set back in his education. After his track scholarship fell through, JAYO had the choice to continue running on the track team in one community college or pursuing his first love, basketball, at another. He chose love.
Unfortunately, JAYO injured his shoulder during summer practice and was unable to continue playing, but a new opportunity arose after one of his teammate suggested he try out for his original university’s gospel choir.
The transition from sports to music may seem unusual, but to JAYO’s teammates, it was the most natural thing they saw in him. While on the team, he earned the nickname Happy Feet after singing and dancing around. He had always sang in his everyday life, but never thought to do it formally or in any kind of organized setting, but when the suggestion came up, he leapt towards the opportunity to invest time into something he had always had fun doing.
In the beginning, he didn’t consider himself a great singer, but after that first year in Gospel Choir, he was able to develop his voice enough to earn scholarships to leave community college and go back to his university with invitations to join other choirs.
After developing his voice in a choral setting, JAYO started a YouTube channel and posting covers that people readily gravitated to. From continuing to post covers and participating in open mics, JAYO was starting to find his voice as a solo artist and to dream of doing something he loved and thought was fun for a living.
“Musically, I transitioned from being a background singer and singing in choirs to really owning my own voice and being a soloist while being a songwriter and telling my story,” he said.
According to him, songwriting came easy. His first song release, ILY2, was the first song he had ever written.
“Ed Sheeran says that song writing is a running faucet. When you first start running, it’s like mucky water and all your first songs are trash. Then the more it flows, the cleaner the water comes out. He said it took him a thousand songs to start writing good songs, which is probably an over exaggeration, but for me… my first song has already been released. I feel like my song writing, already at this early stage, where I haven’t even written 25 songs, are mostly bops. I feel like I can reach [Ed Sheeran’s] level or beyond,” said JAYO.
His EP, “Say It,” is heavily influenced by the music he listens to. While driving for Uber, he was able to invest time into discovering and listening to artists that would continue to inspire him and his sound. He describes his musical style as transitioning between hip hop, urban contemporary, pop, and R&B, among other genres. As for his intention, JAYO describes himself as a melodic storyteller.
“I love to portray stories and take people to places that allow them to enjoy the moment,” he said.
In the coming year, JAYO plans on playing more live shows to practice for his dream of opening up for artists like Justin Bieber and Frank Ocean. Currently, he’s in a state of transitioning from being an up and coming artist to making it big and being a full time artist.
All he can say about where he’s going is, “I’m not trying to stay in the middle, I’m trying to go to the top.”
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“To be a conscious crowd whisper my challenge in every room that I walk in is to find the threadline, the theme that we’re all human beings. Everybody is different and everybody is unique, but we all have a heartbeat, we all have a brain, and we all wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night,” Reign explains. “There’s a common thread and when someone steps onto a stage and presents themselves to be a orator or MCM, the challenge is to find a commonality between the masses. The reason why I chose singing and song, is because music is a universal language. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like music and so that’s a common thread for me,” he says.
Through this common thread Reign was able to place us into 3 groups consisting of fire, water and air signs. His challenge, unbeknownst to us, was to make us feel we were all at the same page in order to fine tune our singing. The results as mentioned before encouraged us to open up about our experience and find similarities between us.
That instant feedback is gratifying for Reign. Not only has he accomplished his goal to heal, but it also helps him grow as a creator. Reign is a veteran and describes himself as a multi-facet, complicated, art junkie of all different spectrums. He has the discipline of a soldier but the mind of an artist. The evidence of his dedication and passion is quite clear, he’s a trained dancer that paints, sings, composes and has even appeared on commercials.
“I’m a lover of the arts so I figured anything that you find passion in you can perfect. You can find joy in different mediums in art. I’m a lover of life. I do enjoy people and sometimes I can get caught up and be in the martyrdom of saving humanity with art,” he shares.
Originally from Virginia and the middle child of three, his interest of the arts began with gaining his mother’s attention and approval. Once he discovered that she liked his paintings and singing, Reign dove deep into making her smile with his talent. It ultimately transitioned to being the young child who would sing at family functions and noticed the joy that it brought to them.
“When I finally decided to go to college and to the army, I just recreated family in other people. The same things I did to make my family happy, to make them joyous and inspired I did for my friends and people that I met,” he shares. “I grew up in the church and that was a very big part of my childhood singing together, we ate together, we stood together, we fought together and we cried together. And I think those are all the ingredients to be able to heal together,” he says.
Reign goes on to share that his vision for song therapy is to contribute and help people gain the skill sets to forgive and heal. Although his work is currently based in Southern California, he’s planning on traveling and taking his work to the people that may not be conscious of being healed through the power of sounds and vibrations.
“When I go home, I’m always reminded of how much more work there’s to be done. When it comes to self-development and transformational healing you have to go where the need is and not wait for the people to come to you. So I look forward to going and getting booked to the places where I may have no idea where I’m at, but hey if the healing needs to come here, I’ll be here and I’ll do exactly what I need to do to get it done,” Reign informs with a smile.
Before focusing his musical talent on healing others, Reign was pursuing fame and wanting to make a name for himself as a recording artist in the music scene until he realized it wasn’t fulfilling him.
“The liminality of my life that points me between wanting to make it and seemingly...and the scariest part of your dreams is actually really accomplishing it to a certain point and then comes the reality of, ‘wow! I need to dream bigger’ because life doesn’t end when you “achieve your dreams”. You just have to keep dreaming, keep making bigger dreams and keep aspiring to do more,” Reign says. “There was a space between me not having anything and not knowing anyone and just wanting to be acknowledged for my gifts. There was a space between me actually going for that and getting some grains of success and realizing that it wasn’t exactly what I thought would fulfill me in a long-term basis,” he confesses.
“Sure I will love to be, ‘a world famous singer’, but like if all the music I do only makes you dance, what kind of impact am I really leaving to humanity? What kind of message am I sending to my children that I don’t quite have yet. So the state of liminality is me having a really healthy relationship with humility and how much it’s important for me to have purpose in what I do,” Reign expresses. “I say tomorrow is not promised and I really want to feel the things that I’m doing and the things I’m giving my time to has purpose behind it. I really do feel purposeful when I’m in a room filled with people willing to dive deep and crack that shell of insecurity and vulnerability and see what happens.”
Reign also shares that he has encountered thoughts of self-doubt while being on his current chapter. He struggled with believing if he was actually capable of taking on a path that isn’t common and not feeling as if he’d abandoned his initial dream of being a recording artist.
“Now I realize that sometimes you have these hard resets that tend to rock your spirit a little bit, but ultimately it makes you a better, brighter, more well rounded person when you have this reset,” Reign explains, “Let me figure out what I’m doing, who’s in my circle and how do I get to the next level of anything.”
At this moment, Reign envisions growth that consists of partnering up with other people in the coaching, self-development and transformational community and learning from them. He currently has partnered up with Nichole Sylvester and offered his services through her Harmonious Hustle conference. Reign also is planning to develop a workshop that combines people’s love for singing, their desire and need for spiritual healing.
“Singing is not always meant for competition. It’s not always meant to entertain. Historically tribes have sung their hearts out because that’s exactly where the song comes from the heart. You go back to India, Africa, and China and there’s always this type of chant and some type of musical reglement that we’re all familiar with. I look to travel a lot to do my research to go to these places where these old historical tribal songs were created and bring them back to the people of my own space and incorporate some of that to the program as well. I think anything involving the ancestors and any historical fact and connection is always great and good, something that is going to benefit multiple generations,” he says.
Another goal he seeks to accomplish is to fully communicate to people the ability of song that he’s been blessed with. Reign has encountered some obstacles of having to explain what music therapy is, what it does to help them and having them fully understand in order to be compensated for his time.
“It’s a very experiential thing. That’s one of the challenges that I’ve had, just putting it into words and to explain what it is that I’m having them experience before they experience it," said Reign. "Once they experience it, it’s all well and good."