Dressed Like Rappers, The Sun Tirade
For as long as I can remember I struggled with my weight. I was always the big kid in school. Straight out of high school I weighted 232 pounds. Everything shifted for me in 10th grade when I expanded my taste palette. I was an EXTREMELY picky eater. I mean I never had pizza, hamburgers, steak and certain foods because it looked weird to me haha. Admittedly the krabby patty’s on SpongeBob looked fire.
In the college environment, sophomore year, due to depression I really stop caring about my image. Ate unhealthy everyday. Nothing remotely healthy. Didn’t exercise. Only exercise was walking from one place to another around campus.
2019, after an art show in Mid-City LA hosted by my friend, Ethel, she offered to collaborate on a photoshoot. This photoshoot was meant to unlock the sexual/sensual side of myself. At one point, I went nude for the shoot and it felt great. Due to the nature of the shoot and my body image issues I decided not to share any of them. I’m still not going to share any of them.
December 2020, two months out of the hospital after battling covid. I gained so much weight because I couldn’t move around at home. My heart rate would shoot up as a side effect of long covid. For example, i by me moving my arm gently it would shoot up to 120 instantly after resting at 75-80 (which is already high to be doing nothing at all.) There was a moment when I was hospitalized with covid, doctors calmly asked me if I was excited about something on the 2nd or 4th day of bring there. I remember being happy I could see my mom. Unfortunately I could only speak to her on the other side of a glass a few feet away from me through a phone. Later come to find out my heart rate was over 200 as I was strapped to the bed. That entire week I couldn’t walk around the room because i was so weak and re-learning how to breathe. I keep saying by the grace of God I am here. Without God I would not be here, I wouldn’t be walking out of that hospital alive.
I took a trip to Monterey County because things at home was tumultuous. Bought my own hotel room for a week and started recorded my debut album (which had a different concept and title at the time.) I could barely move around because my back was hurting so much, due to being super overweight; while I was in Monterey a group of content creators/artists/photographers asked to do a photoshoot with me, after being published in the Monterey County Weekly newspaper. It felt like I was the shit. That shoot really boosted my confidence. Through that same shoot I met two other photographers, Heather K Purdy & Renee Flanders.
Heather K Purdy is an elopement photographer, she had a dope idea to do a nude shoot at Marina State Beach…at the 7am in the morning. Walking up those sand dunes was unbearable. My body was so damn sore. The photos came out super dope! One of the most memorable shots I ever done. Due to my insecurities, I didn’t post any photos.
Renee Flanders, is a photographer who created and owned Generation Ave a consignment shop in Seaside. Another shoot that really boosted my confidence, however I started to get a bit more comfortable with posting pictures that showed my belly. We cultivated a relationship were I model for her business time to time.
Photo by Renee Flanders
Photo by Julie Chon
March 2021, I was given the opportunity to audition for Euphoria season two, while I did feel great about the audition itself I fear I wouldn’t get it because how I looked with my body image. At that point, I felt I needed to make a change in my habits. Starting with limiting my portion sizes and drink nothing but water and sparkling water. I start a keto diet in combination of taking Ketones (shouts to Christina!) April 2021 I really started getting into exercise mode. I was over 330 pounds. Did 10 minutes a day on the treadmill. Then building up slowly to 65 minutes a day walking, jogging and running alternating. Combining that with gauntlet style workouts. In April 2021, I did a shoot with Ryan Smith in Cannery Row that was a very emotional holding conversations and understanding how I got to this place of not loving myself. That same month I had my first sold out/over capacity solo spoken word performance at Pearl Hour in Pacific Grove. There was even people hanging out in a nearby alley to hear me speak.
Photo by Ryan Smith
July 2021, I shot my first music video with Shelby Adair & Nana Razaia for my single, Lately. For that video it was empowering at the time for me to not have my shirt on and perform it. I was at 272 pounds. Now, I can’t look at the video. I can’t promote it. In a lot of ways I feel I was back where I was. To this very day, I get out of bed and immediately check my weight. In the mirror I check my side profile to see if I’m getting a belly. Oddly enough, the song is about insecurities. I even said, “being fat, black and ugly are my shining scars.” Shortly after that shoot I made two new friends via instagram who become my closest friends, Nhi & Kaitlyn. Nhi posted a modeling photo and I asked about the photographer.
Video Shot & Directed by Shelby Adair
She put in contact. Eddie and his family of photographers shoots a ton of models and people around the globe. Initially I was nervous as hell modeling for him not because I was nude, but I had to shoot with another model. At the shoot I was self-conscious about EVERY part of my body. I had to let her know about my sexual trauma and my problem with physical touch since Eddie wants us in specific positions. Before doing anything at all, I asked her if everything was okay to do. I was scared as hell. I’m sure I annoyed the hell out of her and Eddie that day haha. Later on Nhi and Kaitlyn came over in the middle of the shoot. I got even more self-conscious. They ended up jumping in the shoot and admittedly I felt a bit uncomfortable. Nothing on their end. It was all on my insecurities.
Photo by Edward Isais.
Model: Sarah Vita
November 2021, had a shoot with another model again. I was getting the hang of it. Still was nervous as hell about positions and sure I annoyed her and Eddie (again) haha. I was about 228 pounds at the time.
Photo by Edward Isais
Model: Eirenne Suicide
From then up until now, I had several more shoots and the point I’m trying to get to is that I still don’t feel comfortable in my body. It truthfully doesn’t matter how much you lose or gain it comes down to building a foundation of love for yourself. My foundation isn’t there yet, but I have the building blocks. I just need to structure it correctly. Unfortunately as the world treats me differently, I actually treat myself more harsh.
Looking at my photos from the Poetry Brothel last week performance where I was wearing a harness, leather pants and a jock strap G-string my body dysmorphia kicked into high gear.
Before I do a dive deep in my head of what was happening with myself the night of show, I HAVE to give so much love and respect to Frankie and Madam Tallula. I had my eye on the Poetry Brothel for a couple years actually. When my poetry friend in crime, SoulStuf told me he was performing with them I reapplied. Originally I was scheduled for June 2022, however I was scheduled to perform in Seattle that week so I had to push it back. I applied to go for it to because I felt I was back in a space where I wanted to explore sensual/sexual side of myself. The cast was extremely supportive and loving. Nothing but great conversations. The people were attentive and engaged with the poems and dancers. Definitely a great experience.
What was intimidating for me was the idea of approaching people and selling my poems in this persona I created for myself. Icarus James. Icarus is a name, a Dom given to me weeks ago exploring different sides of myself (story for another time or post.) The story of this character plays off of the idea of trauma and heartbreak but just in more sensual fashion. To be clear, Icarus James isn’t someone who I am, but rather someone I aspire to be. I guess i had difficulty putting on the persona because I’m not there yet. That’s the accountability piece of it all that this falls under my personal emotions.
Photo by Daniel J Sliwa
I was almost at the point of ruining relationships because of my self-worth body image issues.
If anyone reading this can resonate with this, just know you are definitely not alone. I just felt inclined to share the journey so far. I am now 163 pounds.