Tell us about growing up in the city of Morelia in Mexico, and about what happened after that.
I lived there until I was 9, and then we moved to San Diego, where I stayed until I was 20. Then, I moved to San Francisco. My family was very hands-on, and they made a lot of things with their hands. For example, my paternal grandfather was a sign painter, my maternal grandfather was a leatherworker, and my mother was a teacher. That had a huge influence on my outlook on life, obviously. My dad, who died when I was very young, was also artistic. The whole notion of sharing knowledge has had a great impact on me. Mexico is so creative, and so loving, and that’s what I’ve taken with me from my childhood: the flourishing culture, and all of its traditions. When I first arrived in the US, I felt so empty-handed, and I needed to find a new way of being creative. In San Diego, my outlet was listening to music. A lot of riot grrrl punk. The live music scene there meant a lot to me. What they had there was a kind of DIY culture. After a few years, I moved to San Francisco, where I discovered something I really wanted to be a part of. There was a strong DIY subculture there, too. I considered going to art school at first, but decided not to in the end. Instead, I made friends with artists, and realised that there were so many ways to do creative work. The artists there didn’t need to show their works in galleries; they painted on walls, or dressed in a certain way. It was an amazing atmosphere. The city has a strong queer history, and it is a vital space for that kind of thing. I wanted to be around these people and fit in without having to adjust. It was all so open. It inspired me. Just imagine San Francisco in the 60s! I spent four years there, and then I met some people from New York, and one of my friends suggested I go there. But it was in San Francisco that I was first able to fully experience the reality of being gay–as well as the whole transfeminist movement, and the sexual openness.
New York is incredibly open. This was in the early 2000s, and you didn’t see many gay people on TV back then. It was still a bit taboo. I don’t think people are that uptight about it anymore. New York brings all these people together, and it’s a very permissive place. There is such a powerful life force here.
When, and how, did you decide to become an artist?
I never intended to be an artist, it was more a case of having a strong desire to learn to be a creative person. Sharing my life with my friends, and turning my emotions into tangible ideas or craft. I simply ended up doing this. It’s all about the experiences you have, that make you who you are.
How did you get by in New York?
I had lots of different jobs. For example, I’ve always been into clothes, so I worked in vintage clothing stores, antique stores, and as a barista. It’s all part of the experience. So, I’m familiar with all walks of life, and I enjoy being around people.