Corinne Loperfido — people and stories of travel. DOTSONAMAP.NET

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This article is the first of a series of interviews with badass women who have shaped their lives according to myriad skills and passions. Oftentimes, they incorporate travel into their work, and have resourcefully found ways to successfully lead lifestyles many would consider “alternative.” All of these women inspire me immensely, and I am featuring them to inspire you as well. Hope you enjoy! 


While living in Austin, TX, I stumbled upon a queer DIY strip club party called “Big Dick’s House of Big Boobs.”

In case you were wondering, a DIY strip club is a volunteer-based strip show put on by locals. Gay, straight, trans, drag, solo, group — all are encouraged to get as down and dirty on stage as the wet dream you had last night. Toss all rules on debauchery out the door, eliminate cell phones and photography, and you have yourself a nice cup of BDHOBB. The filthier your performance, the crazier the crowds go, translating into more Big Dick’s bucks in your pocket.

Yes, this event even has its own currency.

Corinne Loperfido is the creative powerhouse behind BDHOBB events. An incredibly talented artist, costume designer, stylist, graphic designer, interior decorator, bounce dancer, and traveling party-thrower, there is not much that Corinne cannot do. She lives her life with enviable freedom, and is simply a bad ass. Her elaborate costumes, extravagant headpieces, and art installations will wow you, leaving you wondering to yourself about what the f*ck you are looking at.

 

Have you always been a traveling artist, or were you at one point working a 9-6 office job?

I went to college for Graphic Design because I wanted to get a job after college, but I graduated right in 2009 after the economy tanked and NOBODY was hiring. I had no choice but to carve out my own path. I made the most interesting flier I could with rip off tabs (straight up babysitter or dog-walking style) and a few post cards to leave at coffee shops, and I started getting clients! It was a slow start. I was 21 and had just moved to Austin, Texas with all my worldly possessions. I made it work and eventually moved to New Orleans to be with my then boyfriend, who was Big Freedia’s DJ at the time. We started doing conceptual dance and performance events together, and I was touring as a dancer for Big Freedia, all the while getting graphic design clients from Austin on Yelp.

@tristonlane_ @corinneloperfido @reshell.brown @thisaquarianlife

@tristonlane_ @corinneloperfido @reshell.brown @thisaquarianlife

My next boyfriend was an artist, and we would travel doing art shows together. My current partner is a musician and artist so we travel together doing his shows and my events. I never set out to be a “traveling artist,” all of my major partners have been traveling artists or musicians so it just kind of happened. Since you can do graphic design from anywhere, I just kept doing that whenever we had time to sit at a coffee shop and work for a few hours.

@tristonlane_ @corinneloperfido @reshell.brown @thisaquarianlife

@tristonlane_ @corinneloperfido @reshell.brown @thisaquarianlife

When did you begin doing art?

My mother is an incredible quilt maker and my father can pretty much build or fix anything, plus I grew up in a very rural isolated area in Upstate New York, so I have been making art my whole life. Again, I wasn’t really like “I am going to grow up and be an artist” – I believed the lies they tell us that “all artists are poor and struggling” and that “you can’t make a living doing art.” That is why I chose a creative, yet practical major in college. I was always drawing, making clothing for my dolls, dressing crazy, and building weird stuff in my room by myself, and I haven’t really stopped! Now I just make the clothes for myself haha.

Costume making, drawing, graphic design, event planning, interior design, art installations… It seems like there isn’t a lot you can’t do. How did you get into all of these cool, creative projects?

My parents both have MANY hobbies and interests, and they are both very skilled at all of them, so I guess I could say that I was born with it? Or maybe it’s that I grew up around 2 people who were constantly pursing their creative passions so I did the same. Probably a little of both. I had a LOT of alone time as a kid since there weren’t other people my age to hang out with, so it was up to me to occupy myself. In my experience, and this is a generalization, but people who grew up in rural areas tend to be more creative because they had to occupy themselves and make their own fun (alone,with family, or within a small community) as opposed to big city kids, who had “entertainment” and lots of people and stimulation around to react to.

I also grew up pre-internet, so if I wanted music or books, I had to go to the public library. I got really into graphic novels and started making comics because I liked to draw. I got into decorating because I liked making stuff and creating forts and cozy psychedelic environments for my bedrooms. I got into costumes because of living in New Orleans and making looks for myself all the time, and then people started asking if I sold them. I started throwing parties because I was bored of what else was going on and just wanted something more raw and free (with better music haha), so I just kind of fell into that, too. All the things I do are things I did to fill a need in my own life, and then it turned out that other people liked it too and wanted to participate, so now I do a bit of everything! And in today’s economy, without a consistent paycheck, I need to do a bit of everything to make it all work.

During a moment when you are inspired and incredibly in the zone of creating something, what’s going on inside of your head?

I am looking at all the pieces I have at my disposal and trying to figure out how the puzzle fits together. I feel like everything that comes into my life (art supply wise) is waiting for its moment to fit perfectly into place. I have things that I’ve had for YEARS (thanks mom and dad for teaching me how to hoard things forever haha), and then one day I am making something and I’m like “WAIT! I have the PERFECT thing for this part right here!” and I go riffling through my boxes and I find the thing I am looking for. I have a LOT of stuff, but I feel a commitment to using it once it enters my life, so when I am working the inside of my mind is going through the thousands of tiny things I have from beads, to fabric, to plastic crap, to flowers, and a million magical scraps that I’ve collected on my travels, and seeing which thing I need to go find and use.

Are there any specific people you look up to for your craft or simply their lifestyles?

Monica Canilao is a friend and huge inspiration for me because she is able to juggle all kinds of creative projects and incorporate things she finds during her travels into her work. We both share a love of beautiful objects with history and have a desire to bring more beauty and wonder in order to create poetic moments in life. Another person would be Iris Apfel (who is almost my birthday twin!), because she doesn’t give a FUCK about what other people think about her. She dresses how she wants, she is a successful business woman who carved out a name for herself based purely on her talent and passion, and she is still looking more fly than 99% of people out there at 94 years old. All of the “older” people featured on Advanced Style are my inspiration because they are living their best lives, completely in their bodies and confident even when society would rather have them sink into the background. I plan on being a spunky little freak till the day I die, and I encourage all people to do the same  because this is not a dress rehearsal and if you aren’t going to live your life the way you want, nobody is going to do it for you!

Instagram: @iris.apfel

Instagram: @iris.apfel

What is your inspiration for costume making? What’s your favorite thing that you’ve ever made?

New Orleans 100%! I went to my first real non-halloween related “costume” party when I was 20 years old at a dirty warehouse, and everyone was decked out and sweaty and getting down and my little life changed. The party was run by 3 people (now friends) who moved back to Austin after Hurricane Katrina and wanted to bring some New Orleans style madness to their lives, and I’ve been hooked on that energy and spirit ever since. I lived there for 4 years and started going to parades, dressing even MORE crazy than I already did on the day to day, and just getting super super into outdoing myself with each look because I loved to see what I would come up with next. I have made SO many things over the past 6 years that I could never pick a favorite – each piece is a story and has it’s own life, it would be like asking which of your children you love more than the another. I am just grateful that people want to buy costume pieces from me because it gives me fuel for my fire.

Now that I live in LA, I have far fewer opportunities to dress up, but I still get to make things and now I have access to LITERALLY any type of material I could possibly imagine. As I move forward, I plan to work with less and less new materials and focus completely on things made from trash or natural materials that will return to the earth. We are destroying the planet and no matter how much I love plastic beads and fake flowers, I love the earth more and want to see a global shift towards people being CREATIVE with their use of materials and seeing the potential in “throw away” materials or scraps from other industries that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

You were on Big Freedia’s twerk team and led twerking workshops at one point…really…is there anything you aren’t capable of doing? Tell us about that!

I was dating Freedia’s tour DJ at the time and there was one tour when her regular dancer couldn’t make it. I was there, I knew how to dance, and had a passport. I enjoy teaching other people how to do tricks with their ass because it allows people to embrace their “fat,” love their bodies, and to be able to dance in ways that they might otherwise think they weren’t capable of. It was really hard on my body dancing for many shows on tour and ultimately I didn’t want to be on a reality show, so I decided to stop dancing for her (I am in the first episode of the first season of her reality show for a second though haha).

Not too long after that I began dancing for Nicky Da B (RIP) and went to Paris with Katey Red for a show with Rick Owens. It was a crazy journey and I am grateful for the opportunity I had at the time to be able to dance all over the world and to support a gay artist of color in any way. I think gay rap is the future. It is a much needed perspective, and I believe that everyone should have a voice and be able to tell their story. Plus, I loved the style of music and how much joy it brought to so many people. I generally just want to dance all the time too so I got to do what I love and be a part of something culturally revolutionary at the same time.

Corinne Loperfido has become a brand. How did you turn your art and event planning into a business?

That is a mystery to me – I just am who I am without shame or fear! It’s rad, and I am SO grateful that people are on board for the changes I want to see happen in the world! I don’t really see myself as a “brand,” I am just a bad bitch who isn’t going to let society put me or my lifestyle into a box. I hope to inspire others to do the same. I have many radical ideas and I believe (hope!!) that we are on the cusp of a new world order for the better. Let’s pray that Bernie gets elected so we can move forward in a better way, but honestly I think people are just READY to be free and to love themselves and I embody that fearlessness. I am privileged to be white, educated, and able-bodied, and I know it isn’t so simple for everyone to feel this way, but I hope I am inspiring people. We are in a dark age right now on this planet and the only way to transcend it is to light up as many people as possible and encourage people to stand up and fight for what they believe in.

You throw incredible themed events for people of all sizes, shapes, colors, and identities.. Can you talk a bit about your philosophies on sex positivity and self expression and how that influences what you do?

You do not get to choose the body you are born into, and only you can love it. Again, I am not going to ignore my privilege and just say “I can do it, so can you!” – but the least I can do is to help create spaces for ALL people to feel free and accepted and loved for who they are without judgement based on race, class, size, sexuality, gender identity, etc. We are all born innocent babies who just want love, and we are all damaged along the way. I say it is time to air out our dirty laundry, to heal from past generations, and to rise up TOGETHER on this planet as HUMAN BEINGS who all want the same basic things. Everybody is worthy of love and validation, everybody has something special to offer, and to be quite frank everybody is totally fucked up, so let’s all stop pretending that our lives are perfect on social media! I just want to be real, I want to listen to others, and I want people to love themselves for who they are as they move into the future growing and healing from their wounds one day at a time. The more people can just be honest and LISTEN to one another, to be vulnerable and open and to share themselves completely WITHOUT SHAME OR FEAR OF JUDGEMENT, then we can start to heal the planet.

The party is where we all come to let off steam and have fun, to be ourselves and to let loose. I want people to come to my parties and feel completely free to express themselves, to dress however they want, to lighten up and be less judgmental of other people, and to just open their minds and realize that there are 8+ BILLION people on this planet, and 8+ Billion ways of being – no one better or more valid than the next. In the words of Ru Paul (and I say this quote all the time) “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Can I get an Amen!?

You seem to hop around the United States a lot for your art. When did you start traveling for craft, and would you consider it an important component of what you do?

I travel because I can’t throw the same parties in the same cities every month, plus I love to travel. It is a joy and a business move. There are SO many options for people, I can’t ask them to come to my same 4 events every single month, so by spreading it out over cities, each city gets a break and gets to be excited when the event happens again because it is special.

I also travel because my partner is a musician and he plays shows all over the world, so if we want to spend time together we have to make our schedules match up. I really owe so much to my partner Morgan Sorne. He is an incredible visionary and a huge inspiration – I am eternally grateful for all that he does and for all the wisdom and time he has given to me. I also have to thank my ex-boyfriend Jay Pennington in New Orleans (Big Freedia’s ex-DJ) for allowing me to move in with him in NOLA, for teaching me how to DJ, for throwing parties with me, teaching me how to travel, how to make people freak out in the best way, and for all his advice as I was figuring out who I was in my early 20’s. Without both of those men and all their love, support, and feedback, I would not be the person I am today, and I probably would not be traveling for my art.

What are some places you’ve been that have inspired you the most, creatively or otherwise?

New Orleans because of the costumes, music, architecture, community, history, romanticism, chaos, beauty, the ups and downs and the deep life lessons it provides. It is my soul’s city and I owe everything to my time there. I miss it every day.

New York City because of its cultural diversity, the vibrancy of the people who live there and how much they put up with in order to live there, and for fresh bagels. I was raised 6 hours west of there, but I am definitely a New Yorker.

The nature in the Pacific North West. There are too many places to name! It is so ancient up there, so mystical, and so incredibly peaceful. I hope to own property up there sooner than later and plan to be a old witch in the woods, who always travels for her art 😉

How can everyone be more like you?

I’m just going to make a list because I could go on forever haha

1 – NEVER let anyone tell you you “can’t” do something. You cannot give up before you try, and it’s incredible what you can do if you set your mind to it.

2 – ALWAYS be true to yourself and be honest and upfront with your needs. Don’t let society, your friends, family, or peers pressure you into doing things you don’t want to do. Stand your ground, you are the master of your own reality.

3 – There is poetry everywhere and it only unfolds when you take the time to notice it or contribute to creating it. Take the extra time to light candles at dinner, to make your outfit extra spunky, or to dance in the streets. The world is a stage and any moment can be profound if you give life to it.

4 – Remember that everyone is damaged and needs love and validation. If someone is being mean or rude, it’s because that is the best they can do. I read a book called “The Two Truths About Love,” and it is about communication and relationships (to all people). There is much wisdom on how to be a better, more patient and understanding person on those pages.

5 – Take the time to create beautiful experiences in real life with your loved ones (and strangers!) The internet can be a dark portal and you must not get trapped behind it. As one of my dear friends screamed at me in the middle of a chaotic street during a festival in a hilarious psychedelic-fueled moment of joy, “LIVE A LITTLE!”

Thank you so much Corinne for the amazing interview!


FOLLOW CORINNE 

Instagram: @corinneloperfido Website: www.corinneloperfido.com