I am excited to be introducing to you people who live, work, play and do business in our community and city. Learning about people of every lifestyle, talents, and personalities that I think would be interesting for our readers to enjoy. San Diego has a wonderful diversity of individuals that make our slice of paradise the greatest place to live and enjoy each other’s uniqueness.
How did you end up in San Diego and what do you love about it?
In May of 2008, I was 29 years old and had only been living in Berkeley for a year and a half as the drag show director at the White Horse, the oldest continuously operating LGBT bar in the United States. It was my 10th consecutive year already as a drag entertainer. When a job transfer gave me the chance to reinvent myself in sunny San Diego, I took it! San Diego’s a melting pot of people and cultures. I especially love that we have access to all weather climates within our county alone! Want to go to the beach, hike under waterfalls, bake naked in the dry heat of the desert sun, and hit the slopes all in the same week by car travel? Move to San Diego.
What gets you excited about life?
Lifting people and myself up using art and beauty. Whether it’s touching somebody through a drag performance or empowering someone while coaching them through a photoshoot. Modern Aperture and Vivian Prowl are both culminations of empowerment and the passion to create art fueled by beauty. I have a need to touch peoples’ souls through creating art in my chosen mediums. It’s my purpose.
As a business owner what makes your business stand out?
Modern Aperture Photography and Vivian Prowl standout because my esthetic is always modern, bold, and beautiful, yet with simplicity. I encourage and empower my clients or myself by making them feel beautiful and treating them like Rockstar’s. Hair, makeup, coaching. I’ve been known to bring champagne to photoshoots and love sipping on top shelf bourbon in drag. At the end of the day, I present an elevated and beautifully bold editorial esthetic that shows flawless time and commitment, but with visible ease and effortlessness.
What small act of kindness were you once shown that you’ll never forget?
In 1997, I was 18. I found myself with a fast group of “friends.” They took me on a ride; and after the money and drugs were gone, I found myself stranded. There was a knock at the door. When I opened it, and there appeared the most beautiful trans black ebony enchantress I had ever gazed upon. Her name was Janet. She asked if I needed a place to stay and if so, I could stay with her until I figured my life out. LOL, I still haven’t completely figured things out, but at that time I took Janet’s offer. She would essentially become my drag mother and teach me how to be a fierce queen as well as protect myself being a lamb in a world full of hungry gay wolves. Little acts of kindness turn into bigger acts and the Universe is completely cyclical. Unbeknownst to me, Janet is a drag sister of Jelecia King (Coco Chanel) here in San Diego. Just over a year ago, I came to know Jelecia through photoshoots, and we both uncovered our pasts to each other only to discover (technically speaking) I’m her drag niece and she’s my Auntie Coco! So that little, tiny act of kindness has led to the present moment, and who knows where else it will take me. That small act of hospitality from my beautiful Janet is one I will never forget because it continues to connect me to my future.
If the universe could grant you one wish, what would it be?
Perhaps it’s naive, but I wish all people in positions of wealth and power would have no choice but to use their wealth and power for acts of kindness and love. That’s all.
If you wrote a book about your life, what would you title it and why?
“Rob and Vivian, Another Beautiful Reinvention.” I’ve lived in Florida, Michigan, The North Bay and San Diego. I’ve been everything from a Pizza Maker, Drag Queen LGBT Resort Spokesmodel, Marketing Director to Photographer and just recently reinvented my gender-fluid drag personality. I have been passionate about them all.
If you had a chance to spend one million dollars on yourself, how would you spend it?
I would travel the world with my husband David. I love nothing more than discovering new places with him. We took an amazing trip to Costa Rica and honeymooned in Paris. We’d travel to Italy, Greece, Thailand, Japan, Bali, Morocco and Denmark. Discovering cultures, eating authentic cuisine, staying in amazing spaces (he’s a brilliant interior designer with D3 Home in Little Italy. I’d direct photoshoots with beautiful people and use the connections I have already forged to entertain with my drag all over the world. I’d surround myself with the beauty of life and beautiful people, making myself and them even more beautiful. No shocker there!
If you could give someone advice about your art, hobby, or business, what would you tell them?
If you’re doing business with me, the quality of the product you receive is worth every penny I charge. In life you get what you pay for and my unique services, brand, talent, and time come with a specific price tag. To ask for a discount is an insult. Besides, I’ll often offer one anyway. I’m not greedy nor do I bite more off than I can chew, and “my mouth will never write a check my ass can’t cash.”
If you were granted one superpower for life, what would you choose and why?
Time Travel. When I was little, like so many other “special” little boys, I expressed interest in art, dance, theatrics, modeling, and fashion design. “Unlike” so many other special little boys, I had a biological mother who encouraged those interests. She put me in dance and even modeling. She was a painter herself and we always sang together. She sat me down one day. I had to have been about seven or eight years old, and handed me a needle and thread along with some gingham cotton fabric; and one of my sisters’ Barbie dolls. I believe it was Peaches and Cream Barbie stripped of her cream revealing only her peaches, but I digress. She looked at me and said, “let’s make her some clothes.” Together we made clothes and discussed how she could see me becoming a fashion designer someday. She always dreamed big for me. She told me I needed to be near Hollywood where opportunities were more plentiful. She also often told me I needed to be onstage in the spotlight. She saw me being a star and it was my purpose. We lived in Central Florida at the time, and it wasn’t like I could grab those types of opportunities, so these moments of artistic creativity and expression were between me and her and the walls in which we lived. My father didn’t know how to handle it. Most fathers don’t. I can’t blame him. 3 years later, on a foggy September morning, she would take a leap of faith off of the peak of one of Florida’s longest and highest bridges to find her true peace at last. On the day of her funeral, after returning from the service my father showed me a clipping in our local newspaper casting boys my age for the Musical “Mame.” He took me to the audition. I was cast in the lead role of Patrick. Since that time, I have always been on stage acting, singing, and performing in some type of way. My mother just knew. Even before I did. So, naturally I would travel back in time to speak with her and to be guided on what’s to come.
If you had the opportunity to join someone you love, admire, or wanted to meet over a cup of coffee, who would it be, and what one question would you ask them?
Again, it would be my biological mother. She was born in Budapest, Hungary. Her home, family and life were stolen from her during the Republic’s Russian Occupation. She watched her friends slaughtered by military forces. She told me a story of how she was 13 years old sitting on a park bench one day while reading a book. A soldier came up to her and pressed the barrel of a shotgun to her forehead. She closed her eyes and prayed. He walked away. Escape to freedom was inevitable, however her family was captured and put into a concentration camp. They prayed for a swift and painless death, but empathy overcame their captors. They were set free and safely made it America. So, I would sit down and ask, “What do I do now, Mama? What’s next? Part of me thinks I could have the guts to ask her not to jump; but I’m not that selfish of a person. I know she is at peace.