Hi! I’m Zoë.
I’m a professional musician / starving artist, a fire dancer, and occasional DJ living in a big weird house full of queer folks in Washington, DC. She / her pronouns (amateur-nouns unspecified). When forced to pick a genre my music mainly falls into I grudgingly admit to being in the ‘Sad Lesbians With Guitars, And Feelings To Put In You’ genre; and people generally immediately know what I mean. So, that’s a helpful shorthand!
I’m a witchy queer femme poly sub variety of human (though having switchy feels lately, too! Confusing!). I presently have one local sweetie with whom I am in a D/s dynamic, a wonderful sweetie that lives in Baltimore, and a new sweetie who lives in Philadelphia with whom I’m presently engaged in a nearly endless exchange of flirts.
I spent most of my life identifying as a lesbian, but these days I tend to favor the term ‘queer’ as I feel it more accurately represents my present day identity and my spectrum of attractions to a wider variety of female, femme, genderqueer, and non-binary humans than I tend to feel ‘lesbian’ covers.
‘Queer’ is a term I’ve resisted on and off over time, but these days I feel better about the whole “reclaiming” it thing; and that we’ve mostly “taken it back”, having got past a lot of my experiences growing up as a EXTREMELY NOTICEABLY QUEER kid in and around parts of the DC region’s LGBTQ+ community in the 80s & 90s and having had that term be weaponized against me and my various people, usually followed by physical violence to round out the emotional violence.
The 10-15 people I see most often have in the last year or so taken to calling me ‘Squid’ or ‘Squiddie’ as a nickname largely due to the combination of my general status as a known cephalopod enthusiast, my pink dreadlocks, and my tentacle tattoos. My band-mates, and several former romantic partners still refer to me as ‘Panda’; mainly because they saw me clumsily stumble, roll, bounce, and miraculously emerge mostly intact from my 20s, while often having serious panda-eye from falling asleep still wearing heavy eye makeup after a night/several consecutive nights of making increasingly regrettable life decisions.
Music is my life, my love, and my work. It’s the language of my soul, the thing that gets me out of bed in the morning, that keeps me going, and gives my life form, shape, and purpose. I am very lucky to have had the successes I’ve had and to have developed the audience I’ve built in recent years; and to be able to continue to pursue doing the thing that I am best at which continues to be what gives me the most satisfaction and weird new adventures in my life.
I’ve been a socially and physically awkward human from as far back as I can recall. I *love* talking with and learning about people just as much as I am constantly convinced no one actually wants me around and is only humoring me for any of a variety of reasons my brain chemistry seeks to convince me of. I somehow manage to say just enough of the right things to be clever, funny, and entertaining, and just enough of the wrong things to have caused a surprisingly wide gulf in people’s opinions and experiences of me over the years.
I absolutely thrive on sensation (touch, sound, and taste, most intensely) and human contact in general; but always seem to somehow manage to project some flavor of shyness or awkwardness. And yet... when people are first encountering me or have only had limited interaction I’m constantly told I’m intimidating AF or “too cool to talk to” (hahahaha that’s adorable. I am a huge nerd.)
Being the Manic Pixie Dreamsquid that I am; all the above combined with body image stuff, mental/emotional health weirdness, serious difficulty with face-blindness and name retention, and early-life genderfeels struggles, all of that combines to form the Voltron Of Awkwardness which roars and shoots lasers from its face and chases people away just as often as I manage to actually keep anyone around long enough to get close to.
It is safe to say I have very rarely through much of my life actually felt sexy, attractive, or that my presence is desirable in any way. Except, oddly, for when I’m on stage and in front of dozens/hundreds/thousands of people. If I’m singing, playing music, spinning fire, DJing, etc., I somehow tap into this magical space where I radiate something entirely different; and people who meet me in one context are often surprised by the dramatic difference between Stage-Me or Get Shit Done Me, and Day-To-Day Me.
As someone who’s never been particularly comfortable with their body, being naked or semi naked in a room just with any of my partner(s) was hard enough for most of my life; let alone even entertaining the possibility of PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW SEEING ME OMG WHYYYY WOULD I DO THAT.
Then I fell into the Burner community, and over time found my way into other communities (especially the Kink community at large, but specifically in the Mid-Atlantic region) and spaces that encouraged and lovingly challenged people to find ways to be and and to express themselves in more radical ways, more authentic ways, and ways that challenged an individual to surpass the (often mostly arbitrary) limitations imposed on themselves by *themselves* or from the words, thoughts, or actions of people in their lives.
I should note: nakedness, despite persistent media stereotypes, is not really a major component of nor the point of the majority of the community’s experience at Burns. Being authentic and being yourself, however, very much is. And to some people, becoming comfortable in their own skin can involve becoming comfortable *with* their own skin at Burns and other such events. Taking your clothes off in front of people may not seem that radical, but it’s A BIG DEAL for many. If you’d told me 10 years ago that by the time I was in my 30s I’d regularly be doing fire performances (at all, let alone) in various states of undress in all manner of places and venues, or that I’d be posing naked in front of cameras, or other such things...well, I’d have had a pretty hard time believing it!
I look back on the first Burn I attended at which I was comfortable enough in my own skin being topless and running about in cute tiny underlovelies, and recall talking with several friends of mine about the experience they’d had with finding the things in that community and in themselves which let them not feel like they were committing a crime just by having a body. Those conversations stuck with me, and so has an ever increasing sense of comfort with my physical shape.
I’m constantly told by people about my physical features that I think look too “masculine” at worse or strongly “unfeminine” at best, only they’re all saying how hot the things I see negatively make me. It used to be I couldn’t see myself as attractive *at all*, and there were definitely those in my life I mistakenly let get close to me that reinforced those thoughts; but a good number of friends and housemates and romantic/play partners over the last 6-7 years have done wonders at de-programming that shit by constantly finding ways to challenge my (mis)conceptions about my looks, my personality, and my value and place in their lives. Nowadays I almost actually catch myself defaulting to *not* thinking negatively about myself. Maybe one day I’ll get all the way there. Every year that passes I get better at seeing the things I like about my body instead of the things which I don’t.
Over the last 2-3 years, having to be photographed and videoed and interviewed and all that so often, and performing to ever bigger audiences and having my name and my creative endeavors out there in a muuuuch bigger way than I ever really expected has forced me to re-evaluate a lot of things about my life and myself; not the least of which is that a lot of really great people *do* actually like me, appreciate my work, my personality, and yes, would totally hit that! Who knew?! (Apparently everyone but me.)
The thing that most makes me feel sexy is the look in one of my partners eyes when they watch me perform my music. The perfect mix of desire, deep engagement with and emotional response to the words and sounds I’m channeling, support for me and my life path, and pure love. It tells me everything I need to know about how they’re thinking, looking at, and experiencing me; and often strongly suggests how else they’d like to be experiencing me!
For example: one of the hottest things that’s ever happened in my life was shortly before my (now ex) wife and I started getting serious, she came to see me and my band performing and basically spent the entire show dancing and just absolutely nonstop eye-fucking me from the balcony of the venue we were playing; and it was all I could do not to get lost in her eyes while trying to perform. Damn near everyone in the extremely crowded room seemed to pick up on i;, including my band-mates, who gave me no end of shit for it!
My favorite part of me would have to be my fingers. They are the means by which I turn pretty sounds into emotionally charged experiences for people (and yes ok, fine get out the gutter, y’all... but sure... that, too).
Anyway that’s a lot more than I set out to say (as usual!) but I hope you have enjoyed this long strange trip into the space between my ears, and that you enjoy Braden’s absolutely gorgeous photos! It was so wonderful getting to work with him for Hella Positive Pinup. I’m so excited to be featured on the site and I’m grateful for the ways in which this experience has helped me move even further along toward being able to see some more of what others say they can see when they look at me.