I first met Luna when I moved down to Los Angeles and was immediately struck by her beauty. There she was a fully-formed woman named after the moon - the original femme icon. On top of being a gorgeous, gorgeous girl, the Compton-based musician and artist exuded a confidence I hadn't encountered before. What was her secret? This is a question I've thought about as I began my own transition and growth into becoming an artist. I sat down with Luna and we talked about transitioning early on, what music she's loving, and cholas being the original trendsetters. Read below for some of her secrets to being a star.
Kai: First off, I'd love it if you can introduce who you are, how you identify, and what you do.
Luna: My name is Luna Lovebad. I was born and raised in Compton, California. I am Chicana. I am a woman of trans experience. I'm an artist. I make music, model, and do online sex work.
And I love my friends, my family, and my cat.
Kai: I’ve heard of many artists who changed how they make art or what kind of art they make because of the pandemic. Did you change your artistry, or did you create anything new?
Luna: The pandemic allowed me the time to reflect and figure out what direction I wanted to go with my art. Because before that, I was just working with a bunch of different producers. I would write, they would put a beat together, and then it’d be a song. That’s how Lit Up came together. But the next project I’m working on I’m creating with more intention.
Kai: What direction do you want to go in now?
Luna: A few songs I’m currently working on are very pop. I’m working on a song called Jeepin’ right now. It’s based on the conversation that Dionne and Murray have in the movie “Clueless” where he asks her if she’s been jeepin’ behind his back. And she’s like, “Jeepin!?” It’s part of the song and beat; it’s so fun. I’m trying to find a dope female rap artist to be on it. I’m trying different things and seeing what fits into this project. I’m really excited for people to hear it.
Kai: I'm so excited to hear it. I love when an artist tried out new things because you get to see different sides of their personality.
Luna: I’m a Libra, so I’m constantly indecisive about the direction I want to go. Like, I really love moody R&B, but also really poppy shit. I also love being able to sing and rap on a track. You’ll see a lot more of my personality come out in this project.
Kai: I love that. When are you trying to release the songs?
Luna: I'm really bad at deadlines, but I'm hoping to have something out by the beginning of next year. I was trying to get Jeepin’ out this summer because I want to put out a summer bop so that dolls can pussy pop and shake their asses.
If it wasn’t the supermodels doing it, it was the cholas.
Kai: Amazing. I will definitely be up there listening to your songs, streaming, the getting the numbers up. What are your top five most played songs right now?
Luna: SZA just came out with Ctrl (Deluxe), and it’s really exciting to hear the different directions she was going when she first started. Before it was more indie and electronic, and this album feels more R&B.
There’s an artist named Raven Lenae who dropped an album called Hypnos. There’s something about a high-pitched, falsetto voice that reaches a part of your soul, honey.
Kendrick Lamar’s new album, Mr. Morales & The Big Steppers is really great. I admire him as a lyricist and artist, and he’s from Compton, so I have to shout him out. He touched on many topics that rappers wouldn’t on this album. He has a song called Auntie Diaries about his aunt transitioning to become male. It’s a flow of consciousness of someone who doesn’t understand gender and pronouns, but as the song goes on, he starts to learn more. It’s beautiful because most rap artists aren’t touching on subjects like gender. He worked with Summer Walker and Baby Keem, both of whom I love very much.
I wasn’t super into Bad Bunny, but my sister is really into him, and I like his new album. It has this tropical, beachy vibe to it. The album features one of my favorite artists from Puerto Rico, Buscabulla. That’s four so far. Oh, I just discovered a song by an artist called Alemeda and it’s called “Gonna Bleach My Eyebrows”. I don’t have eyebrows, but if I did, I would bleach them too.
Kai: Those are all excellent choices. I'm listening to those new songs from SZA, and it's taken me back to when she first released Ctrl. That was a whole moody sad girl vibe. Switching gears a little bit to your eyebrows…
Luna: Yeah, I shaved them off. I used to have really thick eyebrows four years ago. I was super into that very thick, bushy eyebrow and filling them in constantly. As I got more comfortable with my face, especially after getting facial feminization surgery (FFS), I was more comfortable with trying different styles.
Growing up and going to school in Compton, I was around predominantly Brown and Black people. A lot of the Chicana Latina girls would have the really thin, arched eyebrows. If it wasn’t the supermodels doing it, it was the cholas.
I vividly remember being in the sixth grade at a new school and not knowing anybody. I was standing around, waiting for class to start and this group of cholas came up to me and were like “Hey little boy, you don’t wanna talk to me? You don’t wanna go out with me?” And in my head, I was like “I don’t wanna go out with you. I wanna look like you.” They were inspirations for my eyebrows and then I started to shave off the end to get that straight look that people are doing now. Now, they’re all shaved.
Kai: No eyebrows is a look. I've been thinking about shaving mine too because there's only so much I can do with my eyebrows. And especially as I started transitioning, it’s the “What can I do to my eyebrows? My face? What can I do to my body to change it?” When did you start realizing you could change your face with makeup?
Luna: I remember growing up, and my parents would leave me with my abuela. She would stand in front of the window in her living room, because it had the best light, and would take her little compact and eyeliner pencil and draw a straight line. Every time it looked so fierce and I would think, “Wow, that is so fun. I want to do that too.” And then I had two tias who are closer to me in age and I would look at their style. They had arched eyebrows, the dark lip liner and lip gloss, and the crunchy mousse hair.
When I started playing with makeup I was into the punk, emo scene. I would paint my nails black. I had really arched thin eyebrows and I over-plucked. I wore black eyeliner and would take a lighter to burn the pencil. That way, it was smooth and it stayed on your eye for longer. It was a trick I learned from the homegirls.
I was going to the performing arts high school and loved the style of the other kids. It was very DIY, very alternative, very boho.
Kai: I love that you went to a performing arts high school. The artist was born young.
Luna: I auditioned to go to LACHSA, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts. My mom worked for the district in Compton and she didn’t want me to go to Compton High. At first I was like, “Why? All my friends are there.” But when I toured LACHSA I realized that was it. I wanted to be around other creative people. At the time they had a zero tolerance rule about people’s outfits and identities and it really opened up my world.
Kai: It sounds like a utopia for like queer and trans people. I wish I had that growing up, but I also had no idea about transness. Is high school also when you started transitioning?
Luna: I was very comfortable being gender ambiguous. I’ve always presented as female even though it was this extreme, alternative version. People would constantly misgender me.
I met my first boyfriend on MySpace and we were in a long-distance relationship for a year and a half. I was so in love with this person that I moved to a completely different state. I had just gotten my cosmetology license and was working on getting a transfer to get a license to work in Texas. The guy I was dating identified as a gay male and was very scene as well. At the time I was into Japanese fashion and Harajuku style. I would wear these Bordell heels that had sequins all over them and were six-and-a-half inches tall. Ultimate doll with the big lashes top to bottom. Nicki Minaj just came out with Pink Friday and has a collaboration with Mac. I had extras of her lipstick and was very into blush. I would go heavy-handed on the blush, it was insane. He knew that I dressed like on a regular basis, but when we’d be out in public and people would say, “Oh my god you guys are such a cute couple, Your girlfriend is beautiful,” he would get uncomfortable.
We had a conversation where he told me, “I don’t know if I’m attracted to you like that because I’m a gay man and I’m attracted to other gay men.” And I was like, okay let me dress it down a bit. I wore less makeup and changed my style, but people would still assume I was female. My voice has always been this way, too. I didn’t really care; if anything it made me comfortable in myself. But because I was dating someone that wasn’t comfortable with it I had to ask if I should break up with this person and be lonely and sad and go through all of that? Or do I compromise?
It wasn’t until I moved back here when I was hanging out with a trans girlfriend of mine who asked me where I was in terms of how I identified. Because when I came back to Los Angeles, I went back to being this doll.
She broke it down to a really simple hypothetical situation. She asked me if I met a guy and wanted to get married, would I hear the tux or the wedding dress? I was like, “Oh girl, you know I would be in a fu&king gown.” She hooked me up with spironolactone. Then, one of my tias drove me to the LGBT center where I watched the whole video about transitioning and filled in all the paperwork. I was 22 or 23 at the time, and it’s herstory from there.
As a trans person, you're transitioning to the day you die.
Kai: Herstory. That's right. I feel like that is a common thing where other people might suspect it before you do.
Luna: Oh, yeah. I mean, my family and especially my sister knew, but it was a matter of me having the courage to come out and say it. And when I did, I received a lot of love and support. My parents were worried about how the world would perceive me My dad works for the LA public health department and he’s used to being around people of all different walks of life. He caught on more than my mom who’s religious and more sheltered. When I changed my name and told them my pronouns, he jumped on it fairly quickly.
He bought me breakfast one time from Louis Burger in Compton and it was on a styrofoam plate. He wrote Luna on it and I remember taking a photo of it and I still have it in my phone. I texted him thank you and he said “You’re welcome. I love you Luna.” It was so affirming and powerful and made me feel like nothing in my transition was unreachable.
Kai: When you're seen by your parents, it's just like a whole other level of affirmation and validation. Do you have any advice you can share with the girls?
Luna: You have to imagine and put all your focus and energy into being the woman or the person that you would want to be. That really stuck with me because in the beginning I would look at my other homegirls and I'd be like, “Oh my God. Damn, y'all bitches got B-cup titties from hormones and I'm barely starting. And I got little mosquito bites. Don’t compare yourself to other people's transitions; understand that everyone's transition is different.
Kai: It’s hard out there for the girls!
Luna: It is. But just know that life in itself is a transition. As a trans person, you're transitioning to the day you die.