MTHR TRSA: "My culture is mayo and flip flops."

MTHR TRSA: "My culture is mayo and flip flops."
MTHR TRSA is the photographer for issue 03: NEW YORK CITY (photography by Kai Proschan, art direction MTHR TRSA)

MTHR TRSA isn't related to the Catholic church at all, but she is a sister to the dolls. I had been following the Florida-born and now Brooklyn-based artist-photographer-performer since I lived in Brooklyn years ago, attending the same nightlife events as her. It was a no-brainer to work with TRSA on the third issue of The Girls Book; Doll 4 Doll. I have never seen someone move so quickly and catch as many image options as her. It was giving one-woman show, down. On God.

We talked to TRSA about where her artistic lens come from, why Brooklyn is home to her, and the must-have items for the getting ready pre-game (hint: other dolls). Read on to learn more about her.

What borough are you in, and what tethers you to your neighborhood?
I am in Brooklyn baby!!!! It was a few different things that brought me to Bushwick. One being the Florida friends I had moved in with; I already lived in the area and wanted to stay. Two, I knew most of the Brooklyn drag scene existed on this side of the borough.

If you were one of the train lines, which one would you be and why?
HAA!!! Okay I am not just saying this because I live off this train, but I would be the J train through and through. I’m a downtown girl at heart. I like being above ground and enjoying sunlight. I love that there is an occasional tweaker smoking crack on the J, and I love Broadway and its chaotic rhythm.

What’s your bodega deli order?
Saulsalito turkey on a roll with lettuce mayo and onion, an orange celcius and a bag of jalapeño chips. I am trash.

How would you describe the artistic work that you do, and how did you get into it?
I find it hard putting a singular label on what I do because of the different projects I get my hands on, but, in my mind, it makes sense to describe myself as an artist because it doesn’t limit myself. I am mostly a photographer. However, I also produce, perform and creatively, direct. As a child I was constantly placed in the performing arts. My love for organizing, choreographing and performing was very apparent at a young age when I would give shows in the living room for my mom and sister. I didn’t get into photography until I was a teenager when I happened to pick up a friend’s dusty DSLR. Been photographing ever since. I was always performing in school musicals and dance teams, but it became more of career for me when I moved to New York and began booking shows myself.

What is your cultural background, and how does it shape your art, if at all?
I am a white girl who was adopted into a white Floridian family. My culture is mayo and flip flops. In my photography, having grown up in Florida, I ran away from my background in my images. I always made my subjects look like they were anywhere else but Florida. I hated it and did everything in my power to not come off as “Florida.” It wasn’t until I began producing a comedy show with my friend Brendan called “What’s Happening” where I was really able to take things from my past and mold them into something humorous and beautiful. I would’ve never been able to play as this 45 year old Jewish woman if it wasn’t for the fact that I lived in Boca Raton for my whole childhood.

MTHR TRSA is a Brooklyn-based photographer, artist, performer, and Floridian (photography by Kai Proschan, art direction MTHR TRSA)

What’s your relationship to hustling? How do you not get lost?
Ooooof hustling is not for everyone. I think hustling and I have a healthy relationship. Maybe she clocks me from time to time for not hustling to my fullest but I will say I know how to play the game. It can be chaotic, especially when your definition of hustling is juggling multiple jobs. I try to keep myself on track with a really shitty mobile calendar, a wish and a prayer.

New York City is such a transient transplant town where people come from all over the world, but what’s your relationship to America overall?
My relationship with America... I’m not too sure it’s a healthy one. I drove from New York to California once, and can I just say: nonmetropolitan places are spook!!!"

The city can be considered a “doll’s paradise,” where not only trans femmes can thrive in their personhood, but also in term of career, from fashion, to modeling, nightlife, etc. How true has that notion been for you, in your experience of working in the City?

I always think about how insane it is to just be present in New York City. The bubble that is doll paradise is very real and very present, however I wish this applied to all of New York, because it really doesn’t. As many woke liberals we have here, there are just as many crazy white supremacists, transphobes and cops. As long as Eric Adams makes NYC his lil’ cop city, I’m gonna go ahead and say this is not doll paradise, unfortunately.

What’s your ideal get-ready routine for a night out?
My ideal get-ready routine for a night out is my AC on blast, and I have more than two girlies in the crib also getting ready. There's something really special about all doing your make-up together and helping each other during an outfit crisis. Gassing your girls up before the night out. Essential.

How do you go about finding community?
I didn’t fully understand what finding community meant until I left highschool. While in high school, I had a small group of lesbians and gays that I hung out with, but for the most part, my community was cis girls who tolerated me. Stepping into nightlife after graduating high school, I naturally found my community when a friend of mine dragged me to a queer monthly party in Miami. I remember vividly being gagged at the amount of queers I met that night. I ended up becoming a part of the monthly queer party where my drag career began.

Beyond nightlife, the journey of finding my community really flourished online. I hate to admit it, but I would be nothing without the internet, girl. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have realized how extended my community really is. I began posting about my journey via gender and performance art and found myself connecting with people in places I had never even visited. Very grateful for those who I have connected with in other cities and even countries.

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