breathless, a story of addiction

Breathless is a French New-Wave film from 1960 directed by Jean-Luc Godard based on a story by Francois Truffaut. It stars Jean Seberg (as Patricia) and Jean-Paul Belmondo (as Michel). Michel is the quintessential smoker, the eternal bad boy. Throughout the entire film, a cigarette dangles from his lips. It is more than an accessory. It is a statement.

The film feels intentionally fragmented, thus jarring the viewer. And, the plot line is tragic from the beginning. Yet, this is not what sticks with me. It is the smoking, the constant smoking.

Three years ago, my respiratory doctor said, “I’m sorry to say this. I know how much you love cats, but you really shouldn’t be living with one.”

After my cats of seventeen and fifteen years passed, I decided to listen to my doctor. My asthma and allergies had me feeling strained. For breath. For air, for release. Waking in the night—lungs struggling, my throat tight.

I cried for weeks, mourning their deaths. Their twin passing, first Tigre, and then two months later, Laila.

Two years ago, my respiratory doctor said, “Yes. I know. Your cats passed. I am so sorry. But, I don’t think it was just the cats. I think you are allergic to smoke.” I didn’t want to believe it. I was still suffering—mourning and struggling to breathe. It had been a year since their tiny paws touched my face first thing in the morning, since their wet noses nuzzled mine, since I was covered in cat-hair constantly.

My breathing? Worse. Much worse. Worse each day. Smoke? Allergic? Damnit.

At the end of Breathless, Michel, a dying man, falls to the ground. He has just been shot and in his last breath, he exhales smoke.

Cigarettes? Never my thing. Yes, though, at one point, I was a smoker. I smoked because my friends smoked. I smoked because the movie stars I idolized in the French films constantly smoked. I smoked because I did not know what else to do with my life. But after seven years of this, I quit cold-turkey and I never looked back. But, smoking cannabis? Another story completely.

I did not want to listen to my doctor. I blamed my breathing issues on everything else, besides the actual smoke.

For a year, I felt breathless. Every day I awoke, feeling more and more unable to breathe. I felt unable to truly yawn. Only little, small breaths escaped and entered my lungs. I felt capsized in my body. For a year, I didn't heed his concerns. I’ve been a daily cannabis smoker for longer than I often admit. Other than a few spotty teenage moments, I’ve been a stoner since my very early teens. It’s part of my creative identity. It was, at least.

It used to be something I was ashamed of, like I needed to keep my smoking a secret. In the past, culturally, cannabis users have been stigmatized as lazy and lacking ambition. Yet, that is the opposite of my experience with the miracle herb. For me, smoking flower always equaled creativity. I would put on some music, light-up, and within moments, be transported. In this dreamy, smoky state, I’d find inspiration. And relief.

Anxiety? Headaches and pain? Stress? What stress? But now? I’d wake up breathless. Too many visits to the ER. Chronic bronchitis. Nebulizer breathing treatments. Steroids and antibiotics for my lungs. Straining to breathe. Trying to quit.

Multiple visits to my respiratory doctor, where he treated me with compassion. Where he listened to me. I spoke about struggling with chronic pain and anxiety and grief. How I felt like I needed to smoke. Trying to quit. I did not like to use the word “addiction.” I still don’t. The chronic pain and anxiety increased as I decreased my smoked-flower intake. Finally, I hit rock-bottom.

Oregon was alight with smoke. Our beloved forests were burning. The sky rained ashes, like the earth was angry and needed to start over. The red smoke on the sun glowed over the city, and I cried, thinking of the gorge and its gutted landscape. Habitats, gone. The blaze that consumed everything. I imagined tiny chipmunks and soft bunnies and stoic elk and deer and cougars and bears, gone. The fire that started from carelessness consumed everything, growing by the moment, creeping towards the city, smog and orange skies. Apocalyptic. It got to a point where just the thought of smoking cannabis made me feel queasy.

Alone in my room, I thought of my dead cats as I struggled to breathe. I lacked their comfort. I used my inhaler and imagined those on the streets of the city who lacked resources to breathing treatments and shelter.  I missed my cats and imagined the bunnies that were now gone, the flowers that were now dead, the depravity of humanity’s effect on Mother Nature. It seemed sacrosanct to smoke flower now. I could see beyond my body. My throat constricted whenever I would leave my house as I breathed-in the hazy air. I couldn’t even take walks or go to the park without becoming violently ill.

The world, my world, became very small. I hated my cage. I felt stuck in my body. I stayed in my apartment, waiting for the fires to die out.

Seasons changed. The fires blazed and were contained again and more sprung up. I decided to quit, to really quit. No more relapses. No more damage. No more deciding to quit on a Friday night and lighting up on a Saturday afternoon. The landscape was scarred enough. I was done. I was really done. I wanted to breathe, freely. I tried and I failed, over and again. Over and Over. Over and Over.

Then, somehow, I finally quit.

I’ve haven’t been smoking for the better part of a year. The level of pain I am experiencing on the daily is beyond my ability to express. I need relief still, and I’m learning how to medicate with tinctures and edibles. I ache… And, I ache… Yet, I can breathe. I’m not breathless. Anymore.

These days, I microdose on CBD tinctures and THC tinctures daily. When I desire that hazy-smoke feeling, I take indica or hybrid edibles.

I don’t have cats now. I have a dog. I adopted an elderly Pomeranian and we take walks around the neighborhood. She loves to sniff around, just like I do.

I pick flowers. I breathe deep. Each step I take is an assertion. My life is worth it. Self-care is sometimes omission. Creativity is a challenge, but it is also self-compassion.

I am allowing myself to be vulnerable. I feel more present. I am back in therapy, again. On the couch, I talk about emotions I didn’t even know I had. So much is surfacing. It’s overwhelming sometimes.

To relax, I take lots of showers and long baths. I sit quietly at the park and observe everything. Crows in the sky. Kids teetering on the edge of the fountain, hunting for lucky pennies. I watch movies over and over, especially ones I’ve seen already. There is something soothing in their predictability.

I watch Breathless.  I admire Jean Seberg’s looks: her short hair and striped shirt. I do not relate to her coolness and am fascinated by her still. It’s familiar.

Sometimes I’m out and pass-by people smoking cigarettes or sharing a blunt. Catching a whiff startles me. I have an instant reaction. I associate the scent of smoke with the ER waiting room. With burying my cats. With needing a nebulizer treatment. With the forest burning.

After the devastation of a forest fire, fresh life begins a new cycle. Nutrients are lush in the ashes. The sky permeates the soil. Decades-worth of seeds start to germinate once the forest canopy is no longer there. Saplings will have a new chance. Biodiversity has a chance to help heal and begin again. The sky clears. Smoke is no longer in the air. Yet, so much has been lost. It’s a natural cycle, this grief.

Taking a deep breath is a radical reminder. While I still crave the experience of smoking, opening the door to my subconscious, the place where my poetry lays dormant like seeds, ready to germinate… I know that it’s not the only way for me to feel alive. To find the words, to open the door. To go outside of myself.

 

Julia Laxer writes in the afternoons from a messy desk in a rose-lit room in Portland, Oregon. She uses performance art and spiritual practice to explore archetype and ritual and writes poems, essays, erotica, and memoir. Julia won the Orlando Prize in Nonfiction from A Room of Her Own (AROHO) in 2014, and is featured in magazines, including Luna Luna Magazine, CLASH Media, The Los Angeles Review, So-to-Speak, and Zócalo Public Square.


the poetic bruja and her weed

It is 2019, and culturally, we demand change. We crave diversity and new ideas. Boundaries of gender, sexuality, ethics, and power are being redrawn. And, within this redefining moment, there is a new vitality of women’s voices pushing forward with unstoppable force…

Anna Suarez is a debut visionary poet of empowerment. And for this poetic bruja, cannabis is her herb of choice—an essential step in her creative and spiritual processes.

Papi Doesn’t Love Me No More,” is a meditation of feminist spirituality and confessionalism. In her new full-length volume from Clash Books, Suarez writes as both witness and warrior. On the surface-level, her work addresses sexuality, loss, sex work, and abuse. Suarez identifies with the pain of women—all women. Yet, these poems contain lifetimes of knowledge culled from far beyond the “multitudes,” and even beyond the current zeitgeist...

In “Papi Doesn’t Love Me No More,” WOMAN is elevated beyond just being a gender, trope, or a symbol. WOMAN is a history, a being, a place, a landscape. These are beautiful poems, but they address violence, too. Suarez stares-down evil and refuses to back away. There is softness within the harshness.

In “Salome,” Suarez recognizes the women, demoralized by patriarchy and capitalism.

“...I see myself in young women. Lonely, tired eyes… dejected./They wear the tight black dresses. Pray they are paid./I need to make the electric bill this month, fuck….”

Later, in the poem, she envisions a place where scarcity, poverty, and dejection does not exist. In this re-vision, abundance replaces pain, and there is rest.

“...I want to come home. Perform a ritual while the moon’s/bloody harvest rains all over me, sleeping on the altar you/built. I will be sleeping under the willow tree, the lilacs./Then burn the money that belongs to my darkest self./I want to come home…”

By the end of “Salome,” the speaker owns her inner-darkness, her experiences, and locates repose within her own “home”— a place of safety within her body and soul. Money does not provide her peace. Peace is found within her own boundaries and desires as she accepts all the facets of herself.

From beyond her twenty-five years, here is the story of women. Of joy. Survival. And, of love and damage. In her poem, “Magnolias,” Suarez writes “...they should have told you/the body weakens over time,/we blossom before the/rest of the tree &/those brought to/life in pieces/must break.Suarez address pain like no other female poet.

I met Anna several years ago in a college women’s spirituality class— we were both searching. For love, inspiration, and the perfect shade of red lipstick.

As I learned about the history of the goddess alongside her quick mind and bright dark eyes, I felt her strength. Suarez’s sensitive intellectualism struck me intensely, but so did her down-to-earth Jersey-Girl ways. I was instantly won-over.

Anna Suarez is the hardest-working young woman I know, never one to deflect from her goals. It comes as no surprise to me that her first book will be released in June while she is at the precociously ripe age of twenty-five.

*

How do you identify?

Capricorn sun, Cancer rising, Virgo moon.

What communities are you a part of?

I’m a bit of a loner, but I have a wonderful community in Portland. We are all artists, witches, queers, stoners, and the kind of people who need to know your astrological sign before they can fuck with you. It’s diverse. I like having a lot of different cultural/social perspectives in my community.

How did this work find you?

I fell in love with fantasy: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and those weird dragon books you find at the Scholastic Book Fair in elementary school. I loved fairies and magical creatures. I began writing about that and often inserting myself in a fantastical narrative. I was an outcast, like the kids at Hogwarts. I felt at home in these stories. Kids in my class called me a spic, a weirdo, a satanist, a lesbian, ugly, poor… You name it. I was deeply depressed starting around age nine, and I found myself in my writing. Creating my own magical world was my safe space. I kept writing and it turned into a career goal, but even though my writing is deeply personal, there is still that little nerdy fantasy girl.

Your manuscript is confessional. Who are the writers that speak to you? Are you speaking back to them—or is your audience someone else?

I am speaking back to my favorite writers, but I speak to a lot of different people in my work. Anne Sexton and Anais Nin are my major influences. I speak to my spiritual guides, the artists who inspire me, my grandmother who showed me poetry, the outcasts, the weirdos, Latinas, sluts, stoner babes, witches, survivors.

Which writers/artists/musicians/creatives impact your worldview? Who influences you?

I started seriously writing poetry when I was sixteen. My grandma showed me Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton. She told me they are her favorite poets. I felt a deep connection to Anne Sexton. My Grandma read me her poem, “Just Once” and I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.

I found Anais Nin when I was 20 years old and I was never the same after reading Delta of Venus. I finally read Henry and June, which felt like I was reading my own thoughts. Anais taught me a lot about my erotic self and how to empower my sexuality.

How is cannabis part of your life?

Cannabis is one of the most important parts of my life. It's how I wind down at the end of the day. When I practice my magic, cannabis inspires my spiritual practices and opens my chakras. My aura is smooth like honey. I love cannabis before and after sex. I feel connected to my body as well as my partner’s body. Sensations are maximized.

How do you use cannabis to access your spirituality?

I am a practicing witch/bruja. I like to smoke a little weed before my rituals because I feel opened to the spiritual realm. Sometimes I experience anxiety doing rituals because you never know what you’ll open up, cannabis helps with anxiety and calms me down.

What strain(s) help you and why?

I only use indicas or indica-dominant hybrids. My favorite strains are: Obama Kush and Purple Hindu Kush. I find that they are the most creative indicas. I can fall asleep and have beautiful dreams or I can mix them with my green tea and write.

What are your preferred methods of cannabis use?

I am East Coast, so I love my blunts. Other than that, I love cannabis edibles, vapes, and bong rips. Though, I recently tried cannabis personal lubricant and it was… incredible.

How does cannabis use affect your mindset?

Cannabis is so multifaceted. I can be giggly, goofy, sexy, erotic, playful, creative, confident, and chill.

How do you use cannabis to access your poetry?

I find creative strains and take pleasure in smoking while I write. I develop a stronger imagination and connection to imagery.

Academically, you have a philosophy-based background. How does this interplay within your writing? What is this space like for you? What did you learn from this path?

My existentialism teacher gave a disclaimer that a lot of the texts we will read may trigger depression. He was very sweet about it and opened a space to confide in him about how the texts affected us. I had the opposite experience. I was empowered by the idea that “existence precedes essence.” I fell in love with semiotics and deconstructing language, specifically, how language is merely symbols. I wanted to decolonize and develop language in my work.  I continued with philosophy, which had a lot of bumps in the road as far as studying in a department so devoted to analytical thinkers. I guess you could say that analytical thinkers are sexist, racist white men, trying to justify human experience with logic. What did I learn from studying philosophy? That human experience is much more than logic and deductive reasoning.

If your life was a T-shirt slogan / bumper sticker what would it say?

“I can’t wait to go home, smoke weed, and eat pasta.”

You’re a “Jersey Girl.” What’s your favorite Bruce Springsteen song?

“I’m on Fire.” Hands down. That’s my go-to karaoke song.

What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? Tomorrow?

I’m only 25, so I’m trying to figure that out. All I can see in my future are lots of flowers, cats, books, love, and of course….cannabis.

*

Follow Anna Suarez  on Instagram.

Anna Suarez’s “Papi Doesn't Love Me No More” is available for preorder from Clash Books. The book’s official release date is June 18th, 2019, though through preorder, the book ships-out in May.

 

Julia Laxer lives for the stories and writes in the afternoons from a messy desk in a rose-lit room in Portland, Oregon. She is obsessed with rose and oud perfumes, Lana Del Rey, and wants to eat all the peaches. She uses performance art and spiritual practice to explore archetype and ritual, and writes poems, essays, erotica, and memoir.

 

 

 

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the stoner makeup queen

The first time I saw Shenekah Telles, I was in a captive, stoned audience at a variety show in Portland, Oregon. We all held our breath in a building of many faces. The July sun set, hot, streaming through the huge windows of walls built in 1915. Originally, the building had been a library funded on a Carnegie grant. In later years, the library was repurposed. It then functioned as an office for an anti-poverty agency concerned with juvenile justice. At one point, for two short weeks, the building was even a temporary “baby-clinic.” And, later on, it became a music studio. And tonight? A performance. Music and poetry from earlier still echoed. The Hallowed Halls had huge windows, placed high, to cull light from grey skies; to let light fall on pages. Those gone books left, but their energy of learning was alive, electric. I watched Telles—a makeup and performance artist and designer—onstage, in front of a mirror, as she discussed beauty and ritual.

Portrait of Telles by Katerin Johnson Photography.

Now, the building belongs to a historic registry. A library, with windows. The audience— we held our breath as she transformed. It feels like a church in there, and Shenekah Telles was doing it justice. I felt like I was at a giant sleepover— and now, the makeover!

Telles applied canary-yellow eyeshadow to her lids, explaining the motive for her aesthetic. She laughed, brushing-on pigment. She painted her face. Performing a “look.” Colors and palettes.

Almost done... Then, she shaved her eyebrows off. It was intimate, sweet, and shocking. Beauty rituals enchant me, and I saw her eyes. I don’t know her sign— should have asked— but, she’s a natural... Wide windows. Some people don’t need restraint; frames, or arches. It suited her. I loved the drama. Behind-the-scenes Telles works creatively as a stylist/photographer with Neverland Images and Kate Johnson. She dreams of art collectives and has logged long hours of theatrical design and costuming at Milagro Theatre/Teatro Milagro, Theatre Vertigo, Clackamas Repertory Theatre, and Oregon Adventure Theatre. Yet, what invigorates and piqued my curiosity is the way she sees her world— the world. She’s self-described “extra”— real. It’s not just theatrics, though. In real-life, she’s tender and spirited.

Instantly lovable, extra-lovable. She’s the type of stoner that you know has brilliant ideas when she lights-up. Telles is a master of image, in a way that feels natural and earthy, even though she often creates “otherworldly” looks. Portraying Cindy-Sherman-esque multitudes, in Kryolan and Ben Nye pigments, she shares drag-life personna experiments: makeup and hair styles (and even dances!) on Instagram at @shenwen. Her account is journal-like: open and sweetly raw. Perfect and beautiful, in that “truth is beauty” mode, with extra love to vulnerability. Pretty/ugly, and all that’s between-and-beyond. Beauty and strength. The world: her apt oyster; a captive breath... While, we are the audience; awaiting the razor-edge.

And yellow eyeshadow.

Is the world ready for Shenekah Telles?

It better be!

*

At Rose City Variety Show, I witnessed you shave-off your eyebrows in front of a crowd. What was it like to perform such a daring beauty ritual in public? What did you learn from this experience?

I had been really nervous before doing it, and I shared that with the audience. Everyone was so with me in that moment it felt like I had thirty friends right there with me supporting me. The experience helped reinforce that I grow every time I do something I'm scared of. I grow stronger and stronger every time I do... It was such an invigorating experience!

The ritual of makeup application fulfills many roles, and Instagram is the epitome of the intersection of public and private selves. Viewing your work— your many selves— your myriad of looks— it’s startling. You have a true ability to transform. What is it like to be a femme who creates private looks which are displayed publicly like this? How has this practice defined how you see yourself?

I am someone who really adapts to my surroundings and the people around me. I used to hate how changeable I am, but I've found how to embrace that and make it work for me. I always thought, ‘Okay, but which one am I? Who am I?,’ and it's taken me a long time to realize I am all of them. I am the bubblegum looks and dark necromancer looks. I am multifaceted and vast, and I don't need to be one thing... Posting these selves or characters for people to see, though, can definitely take its toll sometimes. Like everyone else, I can get too caught-up in algorithms and likes. I start to edit myself and that's when I try to take a break and step away. I worry too about my personal life getting misinterpreted. Like, if people make judgments based-off this fraction of my life I reveal. I go back and forth all the time between showing the truth of bad days or personal matters or whether people deserve or need to see that side of me. Will it serve me in the end?

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

As long as I can remember! I knew I wanted to go to college for theater by my freshman year of high school. I was reflecting on my past fairly recently thinking I was much more reserved and less expressive, but looking back, I've always been an artist. My bedrooms had shoes walking up my walls and paint cans dripping paint down them. I even had a hamburger bed!

What’s your connection to cannabis?

My connection to weed is complicated. It's taken me a while to find the strains and balance that works for me for my day-to-day.

What strains inspire your fierce makeup looks?

Sativas all day baby! Maui Wowie is a favorite for some bright, colorful, floral vibes. Durban Poison is my shit for spooky, dark lewks. Both get my feeling-in-that-right vibe.

What are your favorite things to do while stoned?

I love smoking and then just kinda letting my mind wander while I work. That’s usually how I end up coming up my next project. Getting stoned is pretty personal for me. I love getting high and taking a bath. And, if you want a double whammy, smoke while in a bath with some cannabis bath salts. Then get in bed and prepare to melt.

Your art has a message. What is it?

I feel like my art is about not taking yourself too seriously. I want it to be fun and just a little off. I want it to be absurd.

Your Instagram account is spectacular— it’s curated, yet genuine. How do you achieve this balance?

Wow, thank you! I think I am able to achieve that balance because it is genuinely who I am and how I live. I choose to live my life this way and I do it for me. I wear the silk nightgown to bed because it is what I’m happiest... regardless of if anyone sees me in it, or not. I have crafted my life into what I want it to be. My room is my installation, and I am my own art piece. I present to the world every day I go out. I run into trouble with this, though, because I start to question who I am and if I am crafting this life. Is it truly mine or something I just want to be? I’m gonna keep curating in the meantime, though.

If you could give advice to a young person who wanted to explore makeup artistry, what would you tell them?

There are no rules when it comes to makeup, so if you decide you want to draw some squiggles on your face then go for it! Society can be very homogenous so please bring your own unique style to it. Also, good makeup can be really expensive, especially when you’re starting from square one, so don’t worry if you don’t have the nicest stuff right away. As you build-up product, you’ll start to cycle some of the older stuff out.

How does cannabis use affect and inspire your makeup application?

Smoking before creating a look helps me turn off the rest of the noise in my head and focus. I get more in the moment and just apply the makeup without overthinking it and ruining it.

What are your favorite makeup products? What are some products you wish existed?

I love CoverFx Illuminating drops! Best highlighter I've ever used, and a full face requires a tiny dot. I swear by theater makeup lines like Ben Nye, Kryolan, and Mehron. They're great for more intense looks because the makeup is meant to hold-up under hot stage lights. I really wish there was mood-changing makeup! Like, I can just imagine how cool it'd be to have my full body painted blue and then I get angry or something and I suddenly turn red. Damn, now I really want that!

Describe your dream lipstick shade?

My dream lipstick would be a black lipstick with Vantablack so I could have the blackest black on my lips!

If a nail polish was named after you, what would it be called?

If I had a nail polish named after me, it would be the cutest, hottest pink and it'd be called BigClit Shenergy.

Your style is brave and bold, and it’s completely unique. You are cutting-edge. Portland is known for being a city defined by athletic wear and lumberjack-looks. How do you find the courage to express yourself in such a defiantly different way? How did you learn to summon this power within yourself?

I struggle a lot with wanting to be seen or not in my day-to-day life. I want to wear the things I like just like everybody else. My style just happens to be less common. I have a love/hate relationship with the looks I get because my anxiety can get the best of me sometimes. So, when I go out dressed-up, it's a rebellious act for me. It is me loving myself and saying “No, you have a right to be here and be yourself. You don't need to dim your light for anybody.” This music group Blood Orange has a great quote in one of their songs that inspires me constantly: “People try to put us down by saying ‘She's doing the most,’ or ‘He's way too much.’ But, like, why would we want to do the least?”

 

Julia Laxer lives for the stories and writes in the afternoons from a messy desk in a rose-lit room in Portland, Oregon. She is obsessed with rose and oud perfumes, Lana Del Rey, and wants to eat all the peaches. She uses performance art and spiritual practice to explore archetype and ritual, and writes poems, essays, erotica, and memoir.


straddling corporate and queer

Kathleen Boudwin, a self-described “grunge queerdo,” is an artist who values mindfulness, sexuality, playfulness, and freedom. She is also a major stoner. To stay present in the moment, she uses cannabis to medicate for anxiety and emotional pain. She takes pleasure in it too, and her work reflects it. Creativity swells in sensual and hyper-colored pigment. Figurative work is Boudwin’s domain, both as a painter and as an illustrator.

Portrait of Boudwin by V.E. Richmond

While much of her content is considered NSFW, she has been able to accomplish what many artists-on-the-edge have struggled with: Boudwin expertly straddles the thin line in-between high-profile corporate beauty and fashion gigs and edgy transcendental feminist artmaking that centers on sexuality. For example, she managed social media posts for giants like Kat Von D, Marc Jacobs, and Dior, and she also worked at makeup-monolith Sephora’s headquarters as the in-house illustrator. Her personal work, her paintings, are bold, brazen, and highly provocative—an artist to watch.

Liz

I met her at a group art show at The Champagne Gallery in Portland in November of 2016 where her self-portraits were displayed, and I have been following her ever since. In the gallery’s light, I was awestruck by her persona and charm. Her style reminds me of Lisa-Yuskavage-meets-Roy-Lichtenstein, gone vagina dentata.

It’s fascinating to see a femme who is so successfully maneuvering through both corporate America and queer culture. Boudwin is empowered by her sexuality and her art, and she refuses to bow-down to societal pressures in these trying times, where FOSTA-SESTA controls individual rights, threatening all that is sacred and divine and true. In-person, Boudwin is warm and charismatic, yet daring and colorful. She is the modern woman, the type you’ll wanna roll a blunt with.

Baby

Where are you from?

I'm a former-sheltered Christian girl from the suburbs of Washington, [who spent time] riding horses and dancing ballet. [In] my earlier years, I lived in Seattle a block down from where Kurt Cobain lived the last years of his life.

How did this work find you?

I've always been a creative… After art school and some deep traveling around the South Pacific, I picked up painting again. The Portland art community has let me thrive ever since.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I have always been encouraged to be an artist. It's all I've ever wanted to be, besides [being able to create] the dog hotel I dreamed of building as a child. My oldest gig is my family Christmas card. I started out by tracing my toddler hand and spelling my name wrong, to designing the entire thing, year after year.

Ego

What are your favorite things to do while stoned?

I love to dance, talk, go on dates, paint, and stretch. I've had some of my best yoga sessions stoned, some of my best dates after dabs, and the best sex after sharing a blunt.

How is weed part of your daily life as an artist?

I am a daily stoner, therefore I'm always creating when I'm high. Some designs I prepare sober, and then I dive into detail after a joint. I usually start my day with a dab and treat myself to a blunt here and there.

What are the best strains to inspire creativity and artmaking?

Cinex for creativity and focus and Sherbet for euphoria.

Where does your art come from?

This strange weird higher self that lives in my gut and the back of my mind. She's fucked up and scares even me some of the time, but she always keeps me laughing. I pull a lot from my own sexual identity and the experiences I have.

Thirst 3

How do you come up with concepts for your art?

I am an improvised designer and painter. I chose a subject matter and I let it evolve in front of my eyes. Some details and directions I chose shock even myself.

If your art has a message, what is it?

Self-love, sexual freedom, and the celebration of freaks, queers, femmes, and all bodies. I like to focus on femme energy and experiences, because this is my own gaze, but I attempt to explore creating anonymity in ethnicity, race, and gender. This explains my obsession with aliens and androgynous bodies. I want my art to... be more intersectional and fluid.

Heather

You illustrate and paint. What is more personally satisfying to you and why?

Painting gives a whole new value to art for me. My paintings are mounted on the walls [for] my clients, ready to be presented and glorified for all their guests to see. It gives them this sort of pedestal. I came from a social media design job where my art lasted only a day to get thousands of likes and [then it would] disappear into the internet void.

What’s next for you?

Bigger things. I want to paint murals, I want to build installations, and I want to start a brand. Everything is going to get big.

 

Julia Laxer lives for the stories and writes in the afternoons from a messy desk in a rose-lit room in Portland, Oregon. She is obsessed with rose and oud perfumes, Lana Del Rey, and wants to eat all the peaches. She uses performance art and spiritual practice to explore archetype and ritual, and writes poems, essays, erotica, and memoir.

 

 


the stoner babes coloring book

“Babe” means many things to many people. To me, it signifies femme strength, yet to some, the word is sexualized, deflated, and negatively stigmatized. Regardless, “babe” challenges notions of femininity. It’s a playful term that even subverts versions of old-school feminism.

And the word, “stoner”? Even with recent efforts towards legalization, culturally, it’s still one of those loaded, messy, complicated words. Thousands of Americans— especially people of color—are incarcerated for nonviolent charges of marijuana possession. Let’s be real, 4:20 ain’t no celebration yet. And, to further complicate the usage of the term, “stoner,” many still associate those “in the industry” with Phish Heads. Nag champa. Legions of dull, white men.

So, when I cracked the spine of “The Stoner Babes Coloring Book” I had no idea that I was in for a read about resistance. Some sass with that grass, from the mouths of babes.

In “The Stoner Babes Coloring Book,” Portland, Oregon author and illustrator Katie Guinn asked women and non-binary people the simple, yet thought-provoking question: What does empowerment mean to you?

“Babes”— they responded. Guinn listened. And drew...

Because Guinn is a multidisciplinary creative, she was uniquely prepared to execute her project. As a writer, visual artist, fashion designer, and educator, Guinn is on-the-pulse and in good company with some seriously righteous babes. She explains the roots of her inspiration: “I created the idea of ‘Stoner Babes’ as a group of women. I imagined all the women I knew who are bad-ass babes who make shit happen in the world and also partake in the transcendental qualities of marijuana.”

Artist Katie Guinn. Photo courtesy of the artist.

What once was a small vision grew. In 2016, Portland indie giant Microcosm Publishing accepted her proposal for an adult coloring book based on her “Stoner Babes” vision. Suddenly Guinn had a full-blown project on her hands.

In selecting the participants of “The Stoner Babes Coloring Book,” Guinn explained that “It was important to me to be as diverse as possible to represent all the babes I could convince to participate. I knew I wanted to keep it women- or female-identifying, and gender non-conforming or fluid.”

Guinn utilized social media, “I asked many people I already knew and went deep into searching for people on instagram using hashtags like, #stonerbabe (there weren't many people using this then) #womenstoners #melaninstoners #ganjababe and others… I spread the word to as many humans as possible.”

And, on the page? It is a thrill to color beyond “the lines” so fluidly! Guinn’s babes are multidimensional. Pleasingly, gender expressions vary and are celebrated alongside different ethnicities and body types.

Guinn worked mostly from source photos she took herself in creating the drawings. Participants from far away also sent her images, which she manipulated. “Some of them I had to mix and mash together, study their bodies to make them in a different pose that made more sense than what they sent me. I've studied drawing people's likenesses since I can remember, so it's really easy for me to transfer what I see to the page.” The skill in Guinn’s artistry is apparent in these mash-ups. Wild stars emanate from a woman’s hair like brazen, bold thoughts.

Art-making is visceral and spiritual for Guinn. “I must tell a story and get it out of my body,” she says. This imperative is obvious in her work. The collection is excellent, and while a simple coloring book— white paper, line art— it’s vivid. The art moves across the page in psychedelic swells. Definitions take it further, and everyone defines it differently. Babes tempt the eye. It’s intimate. Empowerment, in those stars.

Coloring this book is a meditation and exploration in multitudes that also asks: ‘How many ways must we say free? And, how may we empower others to heal the wounds that must be addressed in order to achieve this freedom?’

Collected visions found in “The Stoner Babes Coloring Book” are a product of creativity. And creativity, after all— is a product of thought.

Katie Guinn thrives in possibility. In the state of process, of progress. She is, after all, an Aquarius—motivated by many directions, including family and motherhood. Still, she focuses on the larger picture. “Being hungry for justice, equality, and equity motivates me,” Guinn says, and it is easy to see evidence of her applied beliefs.

Motivation, for Guinn: “It comes in waves. Some days I'm not motivated at all, but I remind myself that I'm extremely lucky to have this gift, and therefore, have a duty to attempt to make the world a more beautiful place in all the ways I’m capable of. I'm constantly working on growth and evolution because I want my art to say something… I have a deep passion to be heard and help others feel heard.” Passion is something that she nurtures. And, The Babes are bodacious.

Am I a Stoner Babe?

Well, maybe I was a convert from the start, as anyone who chases the zeitgeist like Katie pulls me right in, like a moth to a flame. And, after coloring her book? Yes. I proudly call myself a stoner babe. Totally, 100%.

 

Julia Laxer lives for the stories and writes in the afternoons from a messy desk in a rose-lit room in Portland, Oregon. She is obsessed with rose and oud perfumes, Lana Del Rey, and wants to eat all the peaches. She uses performance art and spiritual practice to explore archetype and ritual, and writes poems, essays, erotica, and memoir.


patrick buckmaster: sativa diva

There’s people in The Bible. And then, there’s people who smoke biblically… Can strike a pose. Know a thing or two…

Patrick Buckmaster is the latter. A Portland performer, DJ, and party producer with “bad attitudes towards drag,” seethes kindness, charm, and a loaded subversiveness. It is within this aesthetic of genderfucked gorgeousness, “glamorous but deranged” that we embark...

Smoking weed with a drag queen is like eating honey with the bumblebees.

Nothing sweeter.

Let’s chat.

All photos courtesy of the artist.

What songs do you listen to while high & getting ready for the club?  

I listen to lots of disco and 60’s girl groups. That sound really gets me in the mood to groove. It also helps me prepare to talk to and communicate with people. Sounds crazy, but even giants like me are small too. I live a life of solitude and would rather be alone than anywhere on earth. When I’m alone, I restore myself so I can be the (anti)social butterfly that a night in nightlife requires. Dusty Springfield, Cher, The Supremes, Diana Ross, The Crystals, and my ab-fav Deee-Lite all get me in the mode. “Groove is in the Heart” is my favorite song and will be played at my funeral. And the meet and greet with my dead body is $300.

Who are some thinkers whose work that you believe in (modern-day or ancient)?

I think for myself. I don’t read anything by anyone or listen to anyone. Maybe I’m a spoiled brat, or genius, or both or neither. I don’t really pay attention to new films, media, music, or TV because I like my mind untainted and a world of my own. Being in control of myself is the only true control I have in this world. I am aware that can sound arrogant and insane and inspiring but I really do just keep to myself and my own path. I used to spend a lot of my time focused on other people’s lives and thoughts and that really didn’t get me anywhere. So I take all that time and focus and apply it to myself! But nothing has really changed but I’m certainly headed somewhere…

What motivates your creativity?

Money! Scamming! The pursuit to get paid/laid! My creativity is never ending to the point it’s overbearing. I can make anything I want happen. The entire creativity process—from the initial thought to seeing it through—is what I enjoy. Sometimes I get bored of the end result because I am already onto the next idea. I only share my creations as a mean to survive. I keep the best to only myself. Nightlife is my life so it’s usually in the form of entertainment: performances, DJing, hosting, event production. I’m a born entertainer who gets off making others happy: win/win. My entertainment/self-expression is my greatest form of creativity. I’m sharing it, though, because it comes so naturally and I have bills to pay. As Dolly Parton says “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.”

What personal and/or spiritual needs does drag satisfy, for you?

Drag is therapy. Drag is creativity. Drag is family. To be celebrated and loved for who you are is what every single human is searching for. And to find that and share it with others is what life is actually all about.

If we all have a part in the world, what's yours? How do you see your role, and how does your art fit-in?

My role in this world is lead actress/producer/director/the academy. I am here to shake shit up, stir the pot, AND smoke the pot. I am here to entertain, push buttons/boundaries, and be a living example that you can do and be anyone/anything/everything you want. I just wanted to be a supermodel and now I’m a role model.

How do you stay motivated? Focused?

I have no idea. If you find out, let a bitch know.

Favorite strains of weed?

Sativa Diva!

 

Julia Laxer lives for the stories and writes in the afternoons from a messy desk in a rose-lit room in Portland, Oregon. She is obsessed with rose and oud perfumes, Lana Del Rey, and wants to eat all the peaches. She uses performance art and spiritual practice to explore archetype and ritual, and writes poems, essays, erotica, and memoir.