Let's start at the beginning. What was your childhood like, and how was creativity and self-expression cultivated in your adolescence?
I decided to ask both my parents this question because I’ve always wanted to know what my upbringing was like from their point of view:
Mom: Jo was exposed to as much art and culture as was available both in her hometown of Miami Beach and in our travels to cultural hubs like New York, California and Paris. These trips included museum and gallery visits, ballet and theatre. And of course, an eye towards fashion and fashion trends. Shopping and window browsing was always a fun outing.
Jo took lots of lessons to see where she might excel and show interest in areas of the arts. These included painting and drawing, ballet and theatre. Holiday and birthday gifts were fresh boxes of crayons and paints, glitter and glue, paper and scissors, googly eyes and pipe cleaners. Living in a creative home, a place where visual and auditory stimulation was important, a space where a mess was always encouraged and life without sparkles was unimaginable.
Dad: As a baby, you were hyper-sensitive to the external world, so we would try to keep things as quiet and calm as possible. We encouraged you to use your imagination, and participated in your play time. You would create characters, like the bakery lady, and we would spend hours at your bakery–ordering treats that would always run out of just before we ordered them. You also created the “Bob and Stock Show” which we loved to watch.
With such a wide introduction to different art forms, what was it about writing that resonated with you?
I’m sure a lot of authors say this, but writing always felt like a proper creative outlet for me. I always knew there was something I wanted to say, but for a long time I didn’t know if I could take up the space to say it. I think once I realized I could, I was constantly writing down new ideas for pieces or waking up in the middle of the night and jotting down exactly how I felt, wondering if other people felt the same. Like my mom said, I was always doing something creative and as I grew up, writing just felt like the thing that I wanted to continue to do.
You contributed to the 2019 edition of Lingerie On Film. Is there anything you would like to share with us about shooting the project?
Someone that I’ve always had a crush on shot these rolls, so it’s interesting to see what I look like from their perspective. I didn’t know if I was allowed to keep the underwear or not so I wore my own underwear underneath the cute Araks pairs...can you tell?
You are an artist, a writer, and a model–what is at the heart of all of these creative endeavors for you?
Being as much of a real person as I can be. Whatever that means when I wake up in the morning.
|Jo wears the Beatrice Bralette and Aaron Panty|
Jo wears the Tamara Bralette
So, Valentine’s Day is coming up and much of your writing encapsulates thoughts on relationships, dating, and love. What are your thoughts on Valentine’s Day?
Well, first thing’s first: I love chocolate. Valentine’s Day is for dark chocolate and Easter is for milk chocolate, and sex on those holidays is merely a vehicle to reach the bonbons. Everyone feels a little romantic everyday, and the added pressure on Valentine’s Day can either make that funner or feel lonely. Give yourself permission to feel fun.
Any Valentine's Day ideas for those in new relationships, old relationships, no relationships, or friendships?
First of all, I think friendships are MOST important. That’s the type of relationship that will be around way longer than most romantic love. Speaking about romantic love, I would really love to go on a date or meet someone new. I’ve had my eye on some cuties, but I tend to be quite awkward and don’t know how to put myself out there. This sounds cheesy, but I think if something is meant to be then it will pan out the way it’s supposed to. But I also don’t think we should be afraid to reach out to those we are interested in–there’s no use in trying and you have nothing to lose because there’s like seven billion people on the planet.
Much of your writing deals with vulnerability and emotions. How can we do better at embracing these sometimes scary things?
I feel like since the invention of non-fiction writing authors have been trying to use this genre as a way to express themselves and what it’s like to be them. I think everyone should try writing in this style because every person I meet makes me wonder what it’s like to be them. My one and only tip is to that if you see something significant or feel something significant, share it–know that you have something to say, don’t ever question it, and put it out into the world in the way that makes you feel most comfortable.
There's an essay on your website, "Robinhood" that is so wonderful–everyone should go here to read. Can you talk about it?
This is such a hilarious story because I was asked to write this three years ago for a benefit helping homeless youth in NYC. I spent about a week writing it only to read it in front of a bunch of rich frat bros who kept talking over me, walking out of the room or laughing at me. It felt like a huge failure, but that just ended up making good content. Sometimes I wonder when we share things if people are actually listening. I think listening is a skill that everyone should spend more time focusing on.
Congrats on becoming a columnist at Puss Puss Magazine this past year. What do you want to focus on with this voice?
First of all, thank you! Writing on this platform feels like a dream come true. Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s real. I want to focus on sharing with the world that the industries that we work in that seem glamorous and inclusive actually have a long way to go before they really *do* become this way. I also want to share with the world that it’s okay to be emotional and that any feelings you have are beautiful and wonderful and you should never be afraid to have them. A lot of my writing is inspired by this one Kanye West quote: “I have a problem with spending before I get it, we’re all self-conscious, I’m just the first to admit it.
Many of your Instagram captions end with “That’s showbiz baby.” What does it mean?
Showbiz (baby) isn’t just a feeling or something we participate in, it’s a way of life and it’s all around us.
Do you use your creative outlets as healing outlets as well? What is that process like and how does it affect you afterwards?
I first started writing as a way to cope with things that I was dealing with that I felt like I could only handle if I wrote them down. The rest is herstory ;) I think that if I wasn’t writing to heal, I wouldn’t be writing at all. I keep a sketchbook in every room in my house and whenever something strikes me, I write it down or I’ll forget. I constantly go back through my notes and when a thought or feeling keeps occuring to me, I’ll know it’s a story I need to put into the world.
Jo wears the Tamara Lace Bralette and Tris Panty
|Jo wears the Beatrice Bralette & Aaron Panty||
A lot of your writing is about finding and being our true selves - Any tips on figuring out who we really are?
If I knew the answer to this one, I think I’d be a lot more liked than I am.
Don’t pressure yourself to write something. The world and feelings will come to you, even if it takes 10000000 years to have that happen.
Truman Capote always and forever. I also recently finished reading this book about women in Michigan in the lighthouse service and I think those women were extremely strong physically and emotionally and inspiring and more people should read about them. They basically paved the way for why so many people could come in and out of the country at a certain time in American history.
How do you stay inspired? Are there places you go / people in your life?
I watch a lot of Law and Order, eat a lot of Indian food and sit on the couch. I also take the East River ferry a lot, drink a lot of matcha and laugh and smoke weed with my best friends Will and Izra. I’m also a sucker for gin and tonic.
What motivates you to keep creating? Is there part of the process that is nourishing for you?
I don’t know what I would be doing if I wasn’t creating so it really feels natural to me. Creating something, whether it be a piece of writing or a piece of art feels like more important nourishment than most things in my life.
Any projects on the horizon that you are excited about?
After watching the most recent Van Gogh movie (At Heaven’s Gate) I have started to paint again.
So many great looks on your IG! How would you describe your personal style?
Grandma from the 70’s eating at a diner with a teenage boy from the 90’s.
You say that “I find that the way I dress really influences who I set out to be in the world." Can you talk to us about that?
What piece of clothing makes you feel most like yourself and why? Do you have a picture?
Is there a particular time period in fashion or subculture that you feel a special kinship with stylistically?
What do you enjoy most about being a part of the fashion industry?
Dream collaborator–dead or alive?
What is something you've loved for a long time?
A hunter accidentally shoots his friend. He calls the cops and says “I think my friend is dead, I accidentally shot him” and the operator says “first let’s make sure he’s dead” then the hunter shoots his friend again and says “now what?”
Can you share a favorite quotation, lyric, or line from a book or song that has stuck with you?
From the Velveteen Rabbit: “Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
What is your favorite instagram account?
Please fill in the blank.
Beauty is like.. a box of chocolates. Wait, no. Beauty IS a box of chocolates.
What are you currently….
Coveting? More friends and enough money to travel.
Watching? Joe Pera Talks With You. You need to watch it, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I don’t even want to describe it because you should just watch it. It’s everything.
Listening? Piano & A Microphone 1983 by Prince.
Reading? Portraits and Observations by Truman Capote and Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel (RIP to both of them).
Dreaming? That everyone will be a little less hard on each other.
Thank You, Jo!