Under the celebration of Pride Month and the release of our Summer 2022 collection, Tethered, we spent some time learning more about the New Pandemics models featured in our campaign, who are all artists in their own right. Read our final interview with filmmaker, metal worker, and model Nic as we discuss body confidence, self-discovery, and personal identity.
Name: Nic Villarosa
Who are you, and where are you from?
I'm somewhere between a Raymond Rabbit and a dragon. At times I'm yelling, full of ideas, doing something goofy, and on another, I'm sharing beauty with an expansive cutting fantastical edge. I'm from Brooklyn. I wouldn't be alive if my moms didn't move here in the 90's, but that doesn't mean you have to either :)
What is something that you’re passionate about?
art! I think a lowercase "a" art is one of the most eye-opening practices someone can try, develop, and maintain. Over the years, I've talked to many people about how they fear taking a dance class for the first time, and I understand. Your body is exposed, and you feel watched, BUT there is so much bodily knowledge, play, and joy that can come out of it.
"I fear the lack of spirituality in the art world, so I try to make art slowly."
Another piece of this is that the art world has become so expansive, and it is beautiful to see how artists - Black Queer, as those are the ones I am most inspired by but artists of all forms - show and share. Yet, I have this sense that it's too big, neo-colonial at times. It has become intertwined with other major industries like fashion scares me as a young artist. I fear the lack of spirituality in the art world, so I try to make art slowly.
To tie these two together, maybe I'm driven to art that you wait for out of traces of that same fear. Yet, it creates a passion inside me to make 4 forms of the same idea in different mediums, to create with what I have, and collaborate.
How do you find balance between the online and offline world?
I'm working on it.
I was on a set, and the woman playing the grandma character, Lucinda, explained how she rid dependencies from her life. She said a lot, as older people do, so I took in what felt right for me. It made me think about something the world has become familiar with as compulsory scrolling. Ever since I thought of it through the lens of attachment with that depth of wisdom and life, I've become disgusted by it. I'm trying to provide myself with alternatives, especially in small moments like in transit, like people watching, drawing, and writing. It's a contemporary struggle like neck issues from looking down, which I also have, but it's also an important learning lesson. My tech threshold is nearing capacity.
"As someone who doesn't align with the binary, it's become crucial that I'm patient, experimental, and open."
How has the relationship you have with your body changed over time?
I've become a lot more patient with my body as I've started transitioning in the last few years - socially and then physically. As someone who doesn't align with the binary, it's become crucial that I'm patient, experimental, and open. I choose to actualize my body rather than submit full control to the medical industry and how the state affirms trans people within the binary. I've survived in this world being experimental - creative and otherwise - so it hasn't been a difficult shift. My friends help me remember the range of possibilities and time on this earth.
How do you stay connected with your body and the present moment?
Throwing it back.
Have you always been encouraged to express yourself?
One of my favorite memories was finding the box of drag - wigs, boots, dresses - under a bed in Fire Island. My 8-year-old self got all dolled up and marched downstairs in thigh-high, on me at the time, black boots.
I was raised by lesbian moms. Ever since I was young, I've been able to experiment, explore, try, taste, learn, and aspire. It profoundly changed the way I see myself. From a young age, there have always been external pressures that shaped my relationship with gender and sexuality. In my family, I didn't feel as much of that pressure.
What are some totems, personal objects or clothing, that you hold dear? How are they tied to your personal expressions?
I have a scrap of a friend's tank top on my altar. A tattered headscarf with pearls, champagne glasses, and diamonds on it that I wore every day for a year. A tattoo of one of my favorite photographers on my stomach. My grandma's ring. Friends' drawings. My mother Linda's copy of The Dead Behind Us by Audre Lorde and my mother Vickie's copy of This Bridge Called My Back. It would be an understatement to say I have personal objects.
I believe in queerness as a process of adornment rather than this idea that I wear a dress or skirt or earrings to match my internal expression, and when I take those things off, I'm somehow expressing less. I adorn my body, my people, my lovers, my queerness, my community, and my sexiness. It's all wrapped up.
Has there been a moment recently where you experienced a special connection with someone? With a stranger, friend, or loved one?
My sister and I backpacked in Basque country last month. I don't think there is anything more special than struggling through the mountains, letting the view and ocean wash everything away with someone you feel safe with and love. Traveling to remote places is difficult, but I felt secure with her. It was also right after a beautiful love affair that began in New York and extended to Spain, as he lived in Barcelona coincidentally and being able to share those recent memories with her and talk about intimacy, excitement, and the connection was extremely special.
"Society needs to understand the profound impact on Queer people's well-being when given reliable infrastructural support to provide spaces of care, wellness, and kin."
What is one thing you feel our society could improve for the LGBTQ+ community?
A friend recently told me about a person who decided to reshape the trajectory of his generational wealth by gifting a group of people a portion of land in the Hudson Valley to create a farm, community space, and kitchen for Queer people. Outside of the government, outside of the state. There is such a deep and painful history of Queer people using the state to affirm their rights. It's work that laid the foundation of what became the gay liberation movement, but rights were never the end in themself.
Society needs to understand the profound impact on Queer people's well-being when given reliable infrastructural support to provide spaces of care, wellness, and kin.
Many Black communities have had this built into the fabric of just how to be in the world, so it feels tangible and natural. Closest to me, my family created a residency program called Baldwin for the Arts that gives Black artists a space to create, rest, and use the time and land as they wish. It's about giving without judgment or ego and tapping into mundane forms of care, not having to be told. If we're good, many others will be good too, trust me.
Any advice for someone still trying to find their way of becoming their most authentic selves?
"Remember: your first site of protest was your body. Your heartbeat: the most palpable chant you have ever marched."
– Femme in Public, Alok Valid-Menon