this is part of a photo series i’ve been working on since 2011. it is a collection of photographs of badass women involved in metal, hardcore and the borderline metal/punk/avant-garde worlds. these are the people who make up the music scene. these are my friends.
Cristy C Road illustrates her life for public consumption. Her work perfectly describes the struggles of a young Latinx punk in the US: what it’s like to live in a world of absolute love (the community and affection of family) and hate (homophobia, nationalism, classism, etc) and confusion (because every part of you wants to destroy the system). Her latest project, The Next World Tarot, brings together spirituality and living on this earth as queer Latinx punk.
What was your first punk experience?
Cristy Road: Well, there was a lot of small little moments that pulled me in since I was a tiny kid, so here they are: The first was on Alvin and The Chipmunks, there was an episode called Chippunk and the chipmunks start playing punk music; they got arrested for noise complaints, but as a kid I straight up thought punk was illegal! So the idea of it was always in the back of my mind, like this thing that was so secret, it was illegal. I wasn’t into fast old school punk. I needed to eventually discover the Ramones and then Green Day to understand that theres a punk subgenre that I could totally fall in love with. After discovering Green Day in 1994, I started exploring their world, cause that was it. I loved their music and their lyrics in this deeply profound way, I wrote a book about it! And I loved the D.I.Y., super-queer, East Bay, CA punk circuit that they came from. It included queer and feminist bands like BLATZ and SPITBOY and PANSY DIVISION, and artists and zine writers like Aaron Cometbus and Janelle Blarg Hessig—that stuff really defined my whole pre-teen years. It helped me realize there was a place to go, as a closet baby-queer who was trying to understand her internal anger. From that point on, that love grew and I found ways to participate in that world. I started my zine in 1997 and became friends with this kid at school, Chuck Livid (before he became Chuck Livid and before I was Cristy C. Road); he introduced me to a lot of local stuff happening, and from that point on I kept searching, between triumphs, disasters, moving away, reconnecting. And here I am!
THIS story about your grandma. I love it so much. This isn’t really a question. When you posted this I sent it to a bunch of people. It’s perfect.
Since you started giving readings and working on your own Tarot deck, how has your life changed?
CR: I definitely have an understanding of my intuition now, and my anxiety and ptsd has always clouded that. Some backstory: I searched for a connection to magic a long time ago. I saw so many connections between witchcraft and my ancestry, feminism, and queerness; it felt like the REAL connection to the earth existed through magic, and we were kind of denied of that knowledge [through being around a conservative religious majority]. My family is Cuban and I grew up around a lot of conservative Catholic values, so finding punk left me sorta disconnected from my magic. I think it was important for me to strip myself of Catholic brainwashing, and religious ideas that were oppressive and especially homophobic. But then I was on this weird life plateau where I had NO connection to the earth—I was vegan and all about saving trees; but there was still this obvious rift between me and nature, that was obviously created by relating magic and spirituality* to religious dogma. I think exploring that connection, and the connections that existed LONG before colonialism and fundamentalist religions. Even in Catholicism itself, there was female martyrs; and in a lot of Latinx communities, that female power was manifested through becoming a Curandera, or a bruja. That, to me, felt like achieving an ultimate connection to the earth. So to answer your question—the Tarot was the first physical tool that helped me believe in that magic, and consider that maybe I deserve that connection. Making a deck myself emphasizes that power. But even still, I wouldn’t have found that power when I was first asked to do this as a collaboration in 2009, because I wasn’t out to my family, I felt distant from my culture, and I didnt know how to read Tarot—all that stuff changed around the same time and it all assisted each other.
*spirituality meaning access to the spirit world, your ancestors, your magic.
When I look at your work I’m reminded why it’s so important to create and to have feelings and then express those feelings. Which makes so much sense that you’re working on an MFA and plan on teaching. When/how did you realize that you wanted to teach?
CR: I always knew I wanted to educate people through art and music, or at least share my story with the intent of breaking silence; and I think I have felt “educated” from a lot of writers and artists who have done that. I entertained the idea of teaching art to high schoolers when I was in high school; so that was a big reason for attending undergraduate college for illustration. I was already illustrating and publishing zines; so I didn’t really see a reason for a degree unless I wanted a specific job that required that.
I was probably about 22 and living in Philadelphia when I realized that a big part of my “Activism” was education. I started working at an after-school program, when I moved to Philly after undergrad; and I enrolled in a program for teaching art in public school. This made me realize that I wasn’t fit for it. I can blame my astrological makeup and its high-gemini-content; or punk! But I definitely am not fit for such a huge responsibility. I needed to develop my art anyway, so I quit the program in 2005 and moved to Brooklyn, and have been focused on mostly making art ever since. I knew the direction I wanted my art to go in (discussing topics of sexuality and drugs); I needed time to myself. I really needed to soul seek. I’ve missed teaching ever since, but have been able to do a ton of workshops at schools and colleges, and thats definitely a big portion of what I do for a job. I primarily do freelance illustration, and I love the people I usually work with, but I’m not about to work harder for high-end clients; or write books that a publisher asks for. It’s just not in my abilities … sometimes its morals, but sometimes I know some things will be difficult or not for me. Ive always had other jobs, at restaurants mostly. I got to a point where I wanted to stick to a job and not stress about bills every month. I kinda loved working at restaurants and bars and still think maybe that will be something in the future, but I would always get fired for going on tour. I had to make a decision, and teaching art can accommodate traveling with my art in a different way. I also just miss teaching and talking about art and getting really stoked and having others get really stoked for their own work, you know?
What are some FL bands you love(d) that never got/get enough attention?
CR: Oh damn, well, here is a story: There was this band called Bitchin’, and as far as I remember, they had attention, a big album on No Idea records, and a lot of people loved them! I just loved them and their style of grungry southern pop-punk so deeply. I don’t think they got the attention they deserve (but they also were super punk and super not-willing to compromise their journey as artists). Samantha the singer had this band before Bitchin’, called VANBUILDERASS, that I actually think only had a 7″ record out. I LOVE THEM. They influenced my songwriting so damn much. Omg, everyone youtube that shit, cause its on there. Best band ever…
Another band that didnt last as long as I wished was TRENCHTOWN, amazing ska band from Miami. They were my friends, and we were all punk workaholics. Having such talented friends at the time felt like “well, thats how punk is, people do cool shit” — then you grow up and realize that not everyone in the punk scene is in a genius ska band with heavy roots reggae influence and beautiful duel femme and masculine vocals and an amazing ensemble with a huge Caribbean AND punk influence. So awesome. My closest friend in Trenchtown (Arielle Castillo) is actually a news reporter right now and she seriously covers Major League SOCCER. FYI.
What music is helping you get through your busy ass life?
CR: My taste in music is deeply inconsistent, aside from everything being super poppy and epic. But lately, my top choices to listen to while I work are hip hop (and reggaeton) by Orishas, Calle 13, and Ana Tijoux; and then punk music by Downtown Boys, Lipstick Homicide, and Mischief Brew—and always ska. All ska, but mostly traditional. Except at my house, you will def hear Less Than Jake and Save Ferris sandwiched between Desmond Dekker, The Selecter, and Toots and the Maytals.
If people wanted to get a tarot reading from you or have you lead a workshop, how should they get in touch with you?
CR: They are free to write me! All EVENT-BASED info is on www.croadcore.org, but all questions are welcome. I check my email frequently, especially if its an event proposal. As far as Tarot readings, Ive never offered them publicly, but if anyone wants one, I’m down to share. I take anything in exchange really: plants, pies, cookies. I don’t often ask for money, but accept it, and might make a public announcement soon for folks who aren’t in my immediate circle and might want to support the fundraiser for the deck. But for now, its mostly a “come to my house while I’m in the mood to give a reading” basis”. I always offer them when I have guests! I can’t help it. Either way, e-mail is best for anything: croadcore[at]gmail.com