Life’s A Drag; Be A Queen.

Cord Skyla is a personality rising up in the Orlando nightlife scene. By day he models, by night, he drags. However, the road to gigs has been a fairly bumpy one.

IMG_0648

Cord started acting when he was around 7 years old, modeling at age 15, and has loved the feeling of the spotlight since. To preview his recent accomplishments, the Orlando local has walked in Orlando Fashion Week, Aveda Institute Fashion shows, been signed by BMG Modeling agency and has recently begun his journey with drag. Since starting out in October of 2017, he has performed at Parliament House and Southern Nights.

“What really got me into it was one of my friends was obsessed with Ru Paul’s Drag Race, and she did my make up back for Halloween,” said Cord.
“We went downtown for Halloween, and she dressed up in drag. The whole night people thought I was a girl and she was a guy. It was so funny and ever since that night, I just started doing drag.”
37183913_491429527978672_228298355258687488_n

I’ve walked in about 8 or 9 fashion shows. It’s really made me comfortable with who I am. I’m not your basic model, I don’t even look like a model. I’m a little bit on the thicker side compared to all the male models that are usually casted with me. They’re usually all fit and buff and I’m always the oddball,” said Cord.

32247723_206574133472305_5230478135903911936_n
DSC08254-Edit_preview

Cord has also done photoshoots for Lupus Disease Awareness.

Although he continues to work his way up the ladder of entertainment, he has endured an intricate level of losses along the way.

Cord came out when he was around 21 to his mother who was very religious.

“I was experimenting with my clothes. I was cutting off my jeans into short shorts and cutting my shirts. I was getting really comfortable with dressing like who I wanted to be. (the argument escalated) and I just said “You know what mom, I’m gay!” I slammed the door and went outside,” said Cord.
36161200_200274777495006_2123987058744623104_n
“A few weeks passed and I was sitting in the car with my mom during a car ride and she was like “you’ve always talked about wanting to have kids and a family.” And I told her I’d still have kids and a family, I just don’t know if it’ll be with a woman. She accepted me no matter what but she was just really hurt at first.”

Eventually she came to accept her son and their relationship grew even more. Cord’s father wasn’t around much because of his traveling career in baseball. Despite all of this, Cord has remained a stable faith and left judgement of others at the door.
Since I’ve come out, I’m still a believer of God. I don’t judge anyone on religion, I have friends of all different religions,” said Cord.

Cord described his mom as his best friend. She struggled with breast cancer and multiple rounds of chemo. Once his mother reached a state of remission they visited Tennessee for his sister’s wedding. While vacationing in Tennessee, they were in a tragic car accident. Cord’s mother lost the ability to walk and became very weak in the hospital. Shortly thereafter, she passed away.

FullSizeRender

This loss had followed another even more tragic loss; Cord’s fiance had died.

He told me about his fiance, Chris and how the two of them were at their friend’s 40th birthday party. He claimed they were having the times of their lives during a photo shoot, when he noticed Chris’ absence from the party.
He walked outside to find a crowd surrounding his fiance. As he picked up Chris’ head to hold, he noticed black and blue bruising around his left eye and a large gash above his left ear. Cord explained this to police and was instead questioned about being an attacker.
During this night, they had even gone on Facebook live because the incident was such an outrage.
There’s still video footage from that night that I cant bear to watch it,” said Cord.

cord1

The police’s lack of empathy ensued as they dismissed the guests from the party and never followed up with Cord about his fiance’s death. Articles came out claiming the death of Cord’s fiance, was due to natural causes. They stated that his blood vessels simply burst in his brain and there was not further investigating into the external injuries that were visible, though camouflaged with make up, even during the wake of Cord’s fiance Chris.

For a year after both of the close losses, Cord moved to Tennessee to be close to his mother’s grave so he could grieve and heal.

Since Cord has moved back to Orlando, he has jumped right back into the world of work.
32388951_1910148145673665_6410989956369481728_n

“When I moved back in October, I started getting all these gigs. I was in a Disney Live Action Film a couple of weeks ago with Breaking Bad’s Brian Cranston. It’s called One and Only Ivan and it’s coming out Summer of 2019,” said Cord.

During this, he has decided to start exploring in the world of drag. Although he said he gets mostly positive feedback, he hinted that the community of queens is tight-knit and hard to join.
Some of the push back from other queens has included insulting his wigs and questioning his looks.

Starting out, you get a lot of hate but I’ve still kept going,” said Cord.IMG_9716

On the upside, Cord also told me how he has met some of his truly best friends while out in drag.

“Drag is a form of art for me, a way to escape to be someone else and to perform your talents. I just love how the transformation is for people, how different of a transformation that people can make of themselves. Drag has made me really comfortable with who I am personally,” said Cord.

While he isn’t out in drag or performing, he teaches classes on commercial modeling and acting and runway tactical classes to other aspiring talents.

30601791_845242209005044_5403875015139524608_n

Overcoming his past has not only thickened his skin, but made him a bit of a role model. When life gets you down, you don’t give up. You heal, and you come back stronger than ever. When considering his past and younger self, he said this-

“I wish I wouldn’t have been so afraid of what everyone thought of me. I used to care so much about what I looked like.
It’s okay to be who you are, God made you a certain way for a reason.”
Cord-Hi-Res-Glossy (1 of 1)
Thanks for reading! Much love~
If you’d like to see more of Cord Skyla, click the links below.
Cord’s Instagram
Cord’s Youtube

Behind the Chair and Beyond the Locks

Nicole Grajewski is a hairstylist and business owner planted in St. Petersburg, Florida. Rollie Locs is a brand she created through the branches of the dreadlock community. Her roots in art and hair began in Orlando at UCF as a studio art major, yet have flourished into a love for locks that currently reaches over 40,000 people. She may make her living behind the chair, but there’s much more going on within the locks that frame her auspicious endeavors.
IMG_3216
Her start-up: While Grajewski was in college, she also worked as a receptionist at a local hair salon. As she observed the stylists, her interest in becoming one herself solidified. As for the dreadlock side of doing hair, her admiration began even earlier.
“I found them aesthetically pleasing ever since I was young. I thought ‘dreadlocks make people look sexy,’ so I wanted to wear them. Once I started to wear them I noticed more and more people reaching out to me wanting to wear them as well,” said Grajewski.

I found Nicole a little over a year ago when I asked her to maintenance my own dreadlocks. The is what one of my more recent maintenance sessions looked like.
The before is on the left.

Nicole explained the locking process as a journey that one chooses to take.
“The locking process is a journey, that people take totally knowing it’s a commitment and knowing that it’s going to take time and that it’s going to take patience,” said Grajewski. “So people go in knowing that it takes time for dreadlocks to flourish and be perfect. So it’s usually people who want connection to their hair; people that are willing to go through all that, because it’s not easy like you think.”

One of her favorite parts to creating and maintaining dreadlocks is the transformation itself.
“My favorite thing about doing dreads is starting from soft hair to creating a full head of dreadlocks and seeing people’s reactions. And then pretty much I can only picture that person with dreads ever again,” said Grajewski.

Her most memorable client is Willam, a drag queen that was on Ru Paul’s drag race.
Willam-0
“I was always a really big fan before she (Willam) reached out to me to make her wigs. I even got to go to her house/studio in Hollywood and I couldn’t believe that that was really happening,” said Grajewski. “She found me through Instagram, which was crazy. Totally reached out to me organically and asked me to make her some dreadlock extensions. I delivered them to her there (in Hollywood) and she sewed them into a wig she already had.”

She has made Willam 2 synthetic dreadlock wigs, and is currently working on another one as well.
rollie6
“I feel like if a drag queen approves then you’ve made it,” said Grajewski.

Since Grajewski is a pretty big deal as Rollies2thesky on Instagram, the popular photo centralized social media app. Currently she has over 40,000 followers. I absolutely had to ask her if she bought her following.
“No I definitely haven’t bought any followers or likes, I feel like that would be pointless. Basically when I first started my business, I was making the synthetic extensions, and shipping them. I was working from my house,” said Grajewski. “I reached out to a lot of people that had a lot of followers and asked if I could mail them dreads and if they would wear them and shout me out.”

IMG_3215

The up and up of her business has been growing ever since. Despite the growth, she truly emphasized the client to stylist connection and how important it is to form that trust.
“I feel like the person that’s letting me touch their dreads really trusts me, and I want that. I feel like there has to be a bond.” Fortunately she hasn’t had any situations where she wasn’t able to form that bond.

The biggest obstacle in beginning her business was gaining her parents’ approval.
“I was going to UCF and I was only doing that to please my parents. I knew that I wanted to stop going there and go to cosmetology school. They were supporting me financially at that time in my life so I had to do whatever they wanted me to do,” said Grajewski.

Over the course of four years, she began cultivating synthetic dreadlocks and saving the money she made. From that, she was able to fund her cosmetology schooling all on her own. To further prove her passion wasn’t just a hobby to her parents, she worked as a hair stylist for two years as well. Now her parents see how successful and financially independent Grajewski has become and are quite impressed by the range of clientele she reaches and services. Nicole commented on her mom especially being impressed.
“Now she (Nicole’s mom) sees that I can tell her about my really cool clients. Like she watches the lightning, and I did J.T. Brown’s hair, who now plays for Anaheim, but he was with the lightening. She thought that was the coolest thing ever. She supports me now.”
img_3214.jpg

During the interview, I brought up the topic of cultural appropriation. With social media at our fingertips and cultures merging and collaborating, it does seem important to show credit and respect as well. Unfortunately, she has experienced a small amount of negative feedback.
“I feel like it really tests me online because of the way people come at me isn’t with educated opinions. It’s usually people attacking the photo or attacking the person that has dreads,” said Grajewski. “I definitely respect that African Americans wear dreadlocks so proudly and have for a really long time. But also I think that it’s just a really trending hairstyle and white people can have them because our hair does knot. I think that’s the main issue, people think that our hair doesn’t actually knot on its own.
Everybody has assistance with their dreadlocks.”

Grajewski listed how all races maintain their dreadlocks in some way; whether they are organizing sections or twisting their roots.
“If anything I would say it’s a compliment to different cultures. I think it originated from many different cultures, not just Jamaica,” said Grajewski.

When I asked what it was like being her own boss, she blurted out how it was one of the absolute best parts of what she does.
“I can do hair while I’m traveling, I can create my own hours. I don’t have to be by a book; nothing is corporate.
I don’t have to follow rules, I can be my truest self. People that come to see me accept that,” said Grajewski.
IMG_3213

Her only drawback was that being only one of her, restricts her from reaching more people in her audience online and in person. For her, traveling is one of the bigger parts of her work. The process basically goes like this:
“If there’s a city I want to go to, all I have to do is go on instagram and say “hey I’m gonna be in this place on these dates” and I get an overwhelming amount of people that want to have their hair done by me. I get a vacation and work out of it. Work to me is always fun,” said Grajewski.

The synthetic dreadlocks that she makes are another interesting aspect of her work. The hair she uses comes from a website http://ikickshins.net/ and once the dreadlocks are made from the synthetic pieces, they are dreaded forever. Although the pieces cannot change in color and are much courser, they are perfect for someone who only wants to have dreads temporarily.

The dreadlock community is a plethora of different beings. Grajewski described it as a community of open minded positive people.
rollie5
“Usually people with dreadlocks are living an alternative lifestyle. Dreadlocks come with a stigma. Dreadlocks come with a stereotype,” said Grajewski. “So if someone is willing to live their life knowing they are pushing the boundaries, they going to be more accepting of other people doing different things too.
I live a no judgement life towards pretty much anything. It’s cool to meet those likeminded people.”

Her idea for the name Rollie Locs originated from a Biggie Smalls song. The lyrical inspiration was to “put your rollies to the sky.” A younger and more naive Nicole thought it meant to put a blunt to the sky, so she made her instagram name Rollies2thesky. She later found out the reference was to Rolex watches.
Her laughter during the interview explained that she accepted her mistake and decided to own it.
rollie1
“Then I started wearing dreads and doing them and people would be like start thinking that was my name. So I remember one night I was sitting at a bar with this guy named DJ Nigel in Orlando and he said ‘You gotta name it Rollies locks, I can see it! I can just see it!’ And that was the moment,” said Grajewski.

That moment would lead her to creating a business uniquely her own with a goal of one day owning her own space for the dreadlock community to come together.
“I live in St. Pete Florida and there’s a lot of dread heads here. There’s a really cool scene. I would ultimately like to create a space where I can do hair but I can also bring my community together,” said Grajewski.

Her upcoming work includes flying out to Las Angeles to personally deliver yet another wig to the drag queen Willam and she will also be doing another top secret celebrity’s dreads while she is there.
Grajewski wouldn’t disclose who the celebrity was with me because she didn’t want to jinx the opportunity.

Nearing the end of the interview, I asked Grajewski to share something with me about herself that nobody else really knew. I thought this might be interesting because she already leads such an unconventional career and lifestyle. She get’s to travel and party with some of the best and has such a large following. Her answer actually surprised me.

“I’m a really big dork. I guess people think because I have a lot of instagram followers that I care about social media that I’m some like fame crazed person but I’m not that at all. I’m actually like kind of shy, super awkward and I really don’t like talking about myself to be honest,” said Grajewski.
IMG_3211

Her humble tone was highly refreshing. Although she’s been doing hair and dreadlocks for years now, her own actual dreads have been locking for about 10 months. They will be one year old in August.

As a fresh graduate and beginning freelancer, I asked for some advice. I too aspire to achieve the ability to work for myself one day.
“My advice is just to take that risk and if you feel it inside yourself that it’s gonna be a success like there’s a need, desire or demand for it, then just do it. Don’t hold back, give it your all,” said Grajewski.

In a moment of reflection she also added what she would have told her younger self.
“I would tell myself, ride the wave of life, follow your intuitions, and to not be so hard on yourself,” said Grajewski.

That’s all I’ve got folks, you saw it here first. Nicole Grajewski, the future of dreadlocks and what life is like when you take a chance on yourself. Ride the wave of life. That’s surely what I’ll be doing from here on out.
rollie1


Thanks for taking the time to check out this feature on Nicole Grajewski.
If you’d like to view more of her work, or get into contact with her, I’ve posted her social media links below. She responds quite promptly and always has an incredibly positive attitude.
Much love!

Rollies2thesky Instagram
Rollies Locs Facebook

Tasting, Toasting and Hosting with Ashanti Middleton

logo

New York’s own entrepreneur Ashanti Middleton,
is a black female with a brand all her own, married to her wife of two years. Her food and drink review channel “Taste and Toast” has gained a following and a prominent internet residency through her website and youtube channel.

What set her a part from all the other channels and reviewers was her distinct passion for the entire process, while staying true to her authenticity.

headshot

“I went to college for business management. I found a passion in film and entertainment afterwards,” said Middleton. “I’m like a self proclaimed food connoisseur. It really comes from a passion of wanting to go out and try new foods. So I took that, in addition to me loving the entertainment industry, in addition to me wanting to help.”

She described to me that her ultimate goal is to drive more traffic into these
cheers-worthy bars and delectable restaurants,
while growing her personal platform.

Her many years of experience in retail, customer service and product management gift her the understanding of creating an entire dining experience.
This gives her a leg up to reviewing all types of eateries.
I asked her to describe the overall process of reviewing a location and to detail her experience thus far.

“We profile the business as a whole, the ambiance, the history of the restaurant, and then of course, the food,” said Middleton.
“My favorite reviewing experience was when I went to go visit a Thai restaurant in Brooklyn called Samui. What I usually do is tell the owners to prepare two dishes and two drinks.
They prepared 30 dishes and 20 drinks.
We were eating all day!”

I had a moment of rethinking what I was doing with my life; free food and drinks? It sounds too good to be true. Of course, I then had to follow up with asking about some of the biggest struggles that parent the experience of entrepreneurship.

“Right now I’ve been able to self finance everything. As you grow and as you become more in demand, you need more money. I don’t get any money for shooting but I’m still paying my videographers,
so it’s like an investment. I don’t want to say I’m losing money, but it is money out of my pocket,” said Middleton.

As a Human Resources manager with a local retailer, she is able to fund her channel entirely on her own. Middleton hopes that her next obstacle can be one building atop her current journey. She aspires to be picked up by a major platform; ie a TV or or major digital channel.
Taste and Toast has even been featured in the Huffington Post.
Click here to see the article.

The idea for the channel Taste and Toast originated from Middleton and her close friends several years ago.

“I have two best friends of 25 years and we were brain storming for maybe 3 days. We came up with a whole bunch of names. And finally I came up with the name, Taste and Toast. I said ‘I like Taste and Toast, because that’s what I want to do!
It was a name for keeps,” said Middleton.

Beyond her personal youtube channel and website,
Middleton has other projects as well.

“I have another venture too, my wine. I have two business partners and it’s called Esrever,” said Middleton.

esrever


“We were at the table, drinking, probably 6 or 7 years ago,
me and my two best friends of 25 years were like,
‘What would it be like to own your own wine business? How do you even do that?”
Middleton shared more on the beginning of creating her wine brand.

“We just started with the basics, what type of wine would we like to taste and then we came up with some names. We were throwing a whole bunch of names out there. They give me credit for the wine name as well,” said Middleton.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the name Esrever,
pronounced Ehz-reh-veer,
is actually
Reverse spelled backwards. The name is catchy and flows well.

Middleton’s biggest inspiration is her friend that she refers to as her younger brother, David; he’s integrated as an actor in the entertainment industry.
“He’s 27 now and I knew him when he was 18. I was around him when he first dibbled and dabbled into the acting field and now he does work for the Food Network and all types of stations. He’s really prominent in his field,” said Middleton.
“So watching him go to auditions, get turned down and get picked up, get paid gigs and just go through this, I began to love it just by follow him to his gigs.
I grew an interest and took it from there.”

Middleton also hosts food related events as well. Her MC persona thrives when she’s hosting and shooting new episodes at these events.

fff


“I’m happy to say that I’ve been picked up as an
official media partner for Famous Food Festival. It’s this big food festival that happens every year and they go on tour, so they’re coming here July 14 and 15th,” said Middleton.
The festival is put on by Eric and Ryan; Middleton will be their media partner for the festival.

“I’m also the host and media partner for Bronze magazine. They’re having their second annual pop-up event, a pop-up shop, which is May 12th.” Between Middleton’s successes, she unfortunately has received some push back because of her identity. However, she remains collected and unbothered when speaking about it.

“I do have two companies that didn’t want to work with me because I’m gay. I did experience that. But it doesn’t bother me. None of that bothers me at all. It’s their choice, it’s what they want to do. So I just keep going,” said Middleton.

When I asked her about how companies have embraced the gay community, she elaborated.

“Most companies use it as a selling point. Like a a lot of companies. Even if they don’t agree, that’s what’s in now, accepting homosexuality. If you talk bad about the homosexual society, they’ll come after you. So if they find out that your business doesn’t support homosexuality, you have a big battle against you. So a lot of companies welcome it because it just helps their business grow, even if they’re doing it selfishly,” said Middleton.

Middleton’s ambition precedes her persona in the reviewing and entertainment industry. Her hard work and emphasis on direction forward amplifies her strength in character and passion for her work.

The key to this is consistency. There are days where I just want to throw in the towel. Like more than not, honestly. There’s a lot of days that I go through being discouraged, but you have to remain consistent,” said Middleton.

Surrounding herself with positive influences makes all the difference as well.

“I really find the most joy in talking to people that are like me, that are like minded and that are in something that they want to grow. I love that. Like regular people that are trying to build their dream.”

Here’s one of my favorite reviewing videos from her channel.
Episode 6 – Sneak Peak #Extra Taste Coco-Roco

Keep an eye out for Taste and Toast, Esrever, and Ashanti Middleton
as she climbs the ladder to all her successes.

You can find her social media platforms here:
Facebook:
Taste and Toast
Instagram:
@tasteandtoastam
Website:
Taste & Toast
Youtube:
Taste and Toast Channel

Make Music Not War

“What are you going to do so you wake up everyday, to be happy?
If you live by other people’s opinions then you aren’t going to be happy with yourself and you’re going to be miserable,” said Laura.


IMG_2529



Orlando’s own singer/songwriter shared this personal philosophy with me. Laura is a graduate from Full Sail University with her Bachelors in Show Production. As a freelance sound engineer, she has made music her life. As her story unfolded to me, I realized she wasn’t the quintessential 22 year old. Creating lyrics and musical experiences for the betterment of others, has become her sole purpose in life.


IMG_2502



Laura, better known as Lauralite, has cultivated this musical existence since diapers.
“I was a little girl, and I was 2 years old saying ‘I’m gonna be a singer when I grow up.’ I had to do it, like this is my calling,” said Laura.

She began her song writing journey as most musicians do; in fourth grade, writing love songs. However, the depth of her intuition to make this her life, bled deeper than some schoolgirl tunes.

“Just like you know your hair is brown, I knew. Like I always felt that. In my heart and in my soul. Like you see those people in the Olympics and you know they took years to do that. So I knew I had to start. I took piano lessons, I took voice lessons,” said Laura.

She told me that music had been there for her in her lowest times and explained that music quickly became her best friend. She described making music as therapeutic and spiritual.

“I think the biggest thing has also been my faith. I’m actually a christian. I’m a spiritual person. I believe in God and I believe that God gives everybody gifts. And it’s like my purpose in life is through my music; to help and heal people.”


IMG_2499



As a refugee from Colombia, it was unlikely that her parents would immediately be on board with this idea of pursuing a songwriting career.

“I’m from Colombia, I was born in Colombia. So I came here when I was 4 and my dad was a Doctor and a lawyer in Colombia. My mom was an industrial engineer and they just like, quit their job, and just moved here. They didn’t know anything, or the language,” said Laura.

She went on to detail how her father owned a farm, and how the bombings started in.

“My parents left because they were bombing my dad’s car and they took over his farm. It’s a crazy story that you wouldn’t even think that that happens but in that time period, people didn’t care. They needed land, they wanted drugs, they were fighting against the government,” said Laura.

I was baffled. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in our first world bubble and miss that the person right next to us could have gone through something so traumatic and barely escaped a fatal place.

Her family and her were granted political asylum but couldn’t leave America for ten years. Since that time lapse has ended, she’s been nonstop exploring. Whether it’s road trips cross country, exploring Canada, or flights to LA, she’s always on the go.


IMG_2476



Although her parents, weren’t expecting their daughter to pursue music, they now support her aspirations whole heartedly.

Although Laura considers her voice to be her primary instrument, she also plays the piano, ukulele, guitar and Kazoo. She highly recommends looking up the Kazoo kid on youtube if you never have before.

Her biggest musical influence is Hayley Williams from Paramore.

“She is the Queen. For me Hayley Williams has been this icon of badass, just do whatever you want to do and be proud of it. She’s such a strong feminine character, especially in the rock industry,” said Laura.

Her most significant role model is her Dad, because he has always supported her dreams.
Things got a little personal when I asked what Laura’s family thought about her sexuality. She has been out to friends for a while, but recently went public with announcing her presence as not only a musician, but as a lesbian. She referenced her latest single “Coffee” while further explaining.

“Coffee was officially the first time of me coming out. It’s been interesting.
I felt like I was tired of hiding,”
said Laura.


IMG_2515



Laura told me her family members had this story line of how they wanted her to be and when she didn’t turn out that way, she felt they might not accept her.

“It’s honestly been a surprise. My dad was the most supportive. It’s taken my mom a long time. If I were to be with a man, I would be hurting him. I would never be 100% happy,” said Laura.

“I’m blessed that I have a lot of people that were there for me and supported me and helped me feel okay.”

She then elaborated on her coming out experience from a Christian woman’s perspective.

“When I was 16 or 17 and I was apart of a church, I told one of my friends who was a church member. Shortly after, they completely cut me off. They didn’t want me to perform. They didn’t want me on the stage. Two years later the church shut down. And it’s because they were preaching hate, and that’s not at all what the universe needs.”

Despite her family’s escape from Colombia and the set backs she’d experienced from her peers, Laura still emphasized leading a life true to her authentic self.


IMG_2454



After the Pulse tragedy, she felt she had even more of a duty to become a supporter and proponent to embrace her sexual identification.

“If I look at it now, Pulse was a wake up call for me. There’s so much hate in this world and I’m not doing enough. I started working twice as hard by trying to connect with more people and spread more of my music,” said Laura.

Her opinion as an Orlando local on the shooting was powerful.

“The reality of it is that, yes he (the shooter) was fucked up, but we as a society fucked up, because we haven’t spoken up. We haven’t talked about it. We haven’t communicated the things that are happening.
We have had this prejudiced hate spreading for so long, and our generation needs to step up and talk about it,” said Laura.

Our children’s children are going to grow up in a different world. We need to start talking about this; especially in the southern states where it’s the worst,” said Laura.

So let’s recap. Not only is Laura a refugee, singer/songwriter, instrumentalist, an Orlando LGBTQ staple/activist, she really doesn’t drink either.
I mean she’s practically a God-sent saint.

“The reality is that it (drinking) just brings me to a lower frequency. I do make some exceptions but I don’t like to drink. If I’m gonna drink, I’m gonna be safe about it. A lot of people aren’t safe about it and they don’t realize how easily you can mess up your life,” said Laura.

When I probed deeper on the subject, she explained to me even more so why she prefers not to drink alcohol.

“Alcohol brings out personality traits that you want. Like you want to be confident, but why don’t you just apply that in your actual life? Like is there a lesson I can take from this, and apply it to my regular life? You wanna feel free, you wanna feel confident. So what are the areas you can kind of dissect?”


IMG_2493



Her sobering perspective was refreshing.

With all this mental clarity, it’s no wonder she has a set way to fuel her inspiration.

“I write a poem everyday. I’m very in touch with myself, and how I feel. It helps the words just flow for me. And I love that state, because nothing else matters. That, for me, is when the best songs come,” said Laura.

Her most current obstacle with her music is basically staying out of her own way. When I asked her to elaborate she stated,

“Overcoming myself, staying motivated, my ego and staying humble.
Failure is not an option for me.
I have to define what I’m doing and how I’m going to keep growing.”

A note worthy detail rose up when we started to talk about her freelance work.

My entire industry is male dominated. There is one girl for like, ten guys,” said Laura. “In my industry, I obviously have to work twice as hard to prove myself, but I think being a lesbian has made guys take me more seriously and made me connect with them.”


IMG_2530



Her security in herself seems to be her most ample strength. I asked Laura if she could offer any advice to people coming out.

Nobody will ever understand you better than you, so take that time to get to understand you. Just like you take the time to get to know the people you love, take that time with yourself. Once you do that, it will help you be more secure in coming out and being able to represent who you are,” said Laura.

The theme of self love continued. Her paradoxical album
“Everything That’s Wrong With Me” is her next releasable project.

“It’s basically me learning that there’s nothing that’s wrong with me. It’s like a 7 year long album that I wrote since I was like 14 until now. I recorded it all last year.
This is what I wish somebody would’ve told me or what I would’ve had somebody tell me that it’s okay,
you have to love yourself,” said Laura.


IMG_2516



The album will be an interactive experience for fans and listeners. Once you subscribe to the album on her website, you will be emailed one song per day for a week. Each email will include the link to the song, where you can download it. The link will also bring you to the story behind the song. It’s like unlocking a new level each day.
You can explore her site
here.
You can visit her
Spotify page here.

Laura will also be performing at the Earth Day Festival on April 22nd at 4 pm.
You can view the festival’s 
schedule here.

Be sure to click below for her social media as well so you can follow her!
Facebook 
Instagram 
Youtube
Twitter

Thanks for reading! Much love.

Going with the Flow

Orlando is home to individuals from all walks of life pursuing the most diverse careers in Florida. Jess Harvey, better known by her stage name Jess Neptune, represents this part of the demographic and exceeds  in the variety factor. The performer runs her own entertainment business, Cirque Bishop with her boyfriend and partner, Brad Bishop. The duo hosts events with their crew of 20+ performers that specialize in the flow arts.



Cirque Bishop-2_preview


According to Jess, flow artists “manipulate an object to make shapes and dance. It sometimes puts you in a flow/meditative state, that’s where it gets it’s name from.”

Some examples of flowing are juggling, hula hoop dancing, spinning staffs and fans and spinning poi, which are weighted tear drop shaped objects attached to rope or string. Basic flow art objects are called day props and then there are also props that light up, called LED’s. Cirque Bishop elevates the flow art experience by lighting many of their props on fire. Yes you read that correctly; fire.



Image (14)
Tera-42



Jess began her journey with flowing as a college student, with friends who shared her interest in hooping. I asked her about how Brad and her created their business and what the idea was behind the name.
“Before I started performing it was mainly Brad who was doing it. We tried to come up with a name for him which was, Cirque Bishop, his last name is Bishop. The name stuck and now that I started performing we kept the name as we plan on getting married and I will also be Bishop too one day.” This fiery romance flows better than most.



Image (1)


Although Jess runs this exclusive and uncommon business, she leads a pretty normal daily life.
“I love cooking and hanging out with my pets and my friends. Listening to music and doing yoga. I like creating art and being surrounded by it.”
She’s a civilian by day and fire spinning funambulist by night.
Jess Neptune claimed that her biggest obstacle with running her own business is to continue pushing herself to work hard for herself; which makes sense when you are your own boss. Something she is working on most recently is stilt walking.



nature clown 3



Despite the fun loving atmosphere that the flow arts create, a lot of blood sweat and tears goes into these effortless-looking flow performances.
“I don’t think people realize how much time, money, and effort is put into performing. Also, people think of flow artists sometimes as ‘lazy hippies’ and that is not what we are. We are hard working performers” said Jess.


Sunfest-54
Sunfest-3



Cique Bishop’s  mission statement reads:

Cirque Bishop LLC is a circus entertainment and equipment business. Our goal is to provide quality and innovative cirque entertainment to people from all walks of life. Cirque Bishop performs and teaches throughout the entire state of Florida, but will travel world-wide. 

To get started in flowing, learning new tricks or even simply meeting other people that flow, she suggested attending music festivals, flow events and fire jams.
“You can find flow artists near you in many different groups on facebook. I would recommend trying all the props to see what interests you the most because everyone is different and everyone’s brain’s work differently.” Each person seems to approach their flow individually and their process tends to vary. So it’s helpful to realize that there are so many different types of flow and objects to utilize rather than be overwhelmed by the amount of options.

 


14311219_10210089667979111_3170343466038596084_o



Jess Neptune’s encouragement for others to experience the flow arts seems to be apart of her natural energy. She ended our interview with this.
“Follow your heart & dreams. Work hard to make your dreams come alive. Don’t let your dreams just be dreams.”

 


Image (12)



Her tangible success has been admired by onlookers in Orlando locally and on social media as well. To contact her for booking, you can visit CirqueBishop.com and email CirqueBishop@gmail.com or call/text their office
407-900-3285.
You can also catch up with Cirque Bishop on facebook- facebook.com/CirqueBishop
and view their instagram- @cirquebishop.